Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorneys Heorge West & Chris Fields @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
George West, Baruch Cohen, Chris Frields @ CAALA
CAAAF (Consumer Attorneys Against Auto Fraud) is your first line of defense when victimized by the ‘tricks of the trade’ in purchasing an automobile. The law offices of George O. West III is dedicated to the aggressive and zealous representation of consumers who have been wronged by dealerships who practice fraudulent and deceptive business practices against citizens. Through working relationships with attorneys throughout the entire United States, Attorney West has woven a safety net that stretches out to support people wherever they are being wronged. CAAAF has developed a unique auto fraud law practice which involves both individual cases and class actions practice. CAAAF welcomes contact by consumers or other Attorneys seeking relief or information with regard to automobile dealership fraud. For additional information about auto fraud and about Mr. West's unique practice, you are encouraged to also visitwww.americasautofraudattorney.com.
Lee & Fields, a professional law practice located in the heart of Los Angeles, is committed to providing quality legal service in the fields of Civil/Business Litigation, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury as well as a growing entertainment law division. With a statewide presence, Lee & Fields takes pride in their honest and diligent work ethic and their responsiveness to client queries and concerns.
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with State Bar Investigator Thomas Layton @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen & Thomas Layton, Law Enforcement Liaison, Judicial Liaison, Consulate Liaison, Government Liaison at State Bar of California
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen & Adina Cohen take a selfie with trial attorney Browne Greene @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen, Browne Greene, Adina Cohen @ CAALA
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorney Douglas Silverstein @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen & Doug Silverstein @ CAALA
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with Judge Michael Marcus @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Judge Michael Marcus & Baruch Cohen @ CAALA
Judge Michael D. Marcus (Ret.) has
a well deserved reputation as a skilled, personable and forceful mediator and a fair and impartial arbitrator, having been honored by the Daily Journal as a “Top Neutral” in 2007 and 2009 through 2013 and as a “Southern California Super Lawyer” for 2008-2013. He has mediated over 2000 matters and arbitrated more than 60 cases.
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorney Joseph Barrett @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen & Joe Barrett @ CAALA
Joseph M. Barrett is a Senior Trial Lawyer at Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP, and specializes in handling major and complex cases involving catastrophic injury or death, and impact litigation across the diverse fields of tort law including civil rights, insurance bad faith, product liability, professional negligence, vehicle and premises major injury cases, and road design. Over the course of his career, Mr. Barrett has helped individuals and families obtain multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, providing them with the resources they need to achieve the fair compensation they deserve.
As a recognized leader in the California legal industry, Mr. Barrett will serve the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) as President-Elect in 2014 and is expected to serve CAALA as President in 2015. CAALA is one of the most influential local trial bar organizations in America. Along with such leadership roles, including the Los Angeles County Bar Association Litigation Section Executive Committee and the St. Thomas More Society Red Mass Executive Committee, Mr. Barrett served as the President of Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities in 2012.
Mr. Barrett is a member and supporter of the American Association for Justice as well as numerous Los Angeles organizations dedicated to helping the poor, homeless, and disabled veterans. He is a frequent author and featured speaker throughout California because of his extensive experience in trial practice and tort law.
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorney Michael Alder @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen & Mike Alder @ CAALA
Mike Alder is one of the top trial attorneys in California, consistently obtaining record verdicts and settlements for his clients. Mr. Alder has repeatedly been recognized for his accomplishments as a trial lawyer and for the verdicts and settlements he obtains for his clients. In 2014, he received the Clay Award and was named the personal injury “California Attorney of the Year” by California Lawyer. Mr. Alder is the only attorney in the country to ever have 3 verdicts listed in Verdict Search’s “Top 100 Verdicts” of the year. He achieved this accomplishment in 2011 when he obtained the largest personal injury verdict in Ventura County history ($39.4 million); the largest personal injury verdict in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, history ($29.1 million); and a breach of contract award with punitive damages in Los Angeles County ($33 million). Mr. Alder has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) since 2003. He was the youngest lawyer to ever be named CAALA’s “Trial Lawyer of the Year.” He has also been named a “Top 100 Super Lawyer” for Southern California every year since 2004. Mr. Alder is a 5-time nominee for California’s Trial Lawyer of the Year and is one of the youngest recipients of Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California (2011).
At AlderLaw, Mr. Alder has established a unique formula for success where a team of lawyers, paralegals, and legal assistants vigorously pursue all cases on behalf of his clients; however, Mr. Alder maintains ultimate control over every case at AlderLaw, from small day-to-day decisions to trying the case to a jury when necessary. This formula has permitted AlderLaw to grow in size while still allowing Mr. Alder to be personally involved in each and every case.
Mr. Alder is a past president of CAALA and is a frequent speaker at seminars on trial strategy and has published numerous articles regarding trial strategy. Mr. Alder has a long history of supporting other trial attorneys. Mr. Alder maintains a deposition database and an expert witness directory and provides information at no charge to any trial lawyer requesting it. Mr. Alder also created the “Warrior Fund” to serve as a funding sponsor to make sure new attorneys have the resources necessary to pursue cases against well-funded insurance companies. In addition, Mr. Alder founded the Trial Lawyers Charity, which has been extremely successful in raising money to support causes in the Los Angeles area. He has also served as a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee since 2008.
A native of Louisiana, Mr. Alder received his undergraduate and law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Following a clerkship with the Hon. Lenore Prather, the presiding justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, Mr. Alder moved to Los Angeles and began practicing law and representing plaintiffs who needed a strong advocate for their case. A firm believer in giving back to the community, Mr. Alder established the Alder Family Foundation to assist local students in obtaining a quality education based on merit, not their ability to pay. He is also a member of the Board of Governors for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorney Geoffrey Wells @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Baruch Cohen & Geoffrey Wells @ CAALA
Civil Trial Attorney Baruch C. Cohen takes a selfie with trial attorney Brian Panish @ the CAALA Convention at the Wynn
Brian Panish & Baruch Cohen @ CAALA
One of the country’s leading trial attorneys, Brian Panish has obtained some of the most significant jury verdicts in United States history on behalf of plaintiffs. His courtroom victories include a $4.9 billion record verdict in the landmark products liability case Anderson v. General Motors, and over thirty verdicts and settlements in excess of $10 million in personal injury, car accident, wrongful death and business litigation cases. He also has obtained more than 250 verdicts and settlements over $1 million dollars. Mr. Panish has obtained three jury verdicts in excess of $50 million in personal injury cases – more than any other attorney in California.
Since 2011 alone, Mr. Panish has obtained more than $150 million in verdicts, including a $36.5 million jury verdict against Schneider National for a big-rig crash that left a woman with severe spinal cord injuries, a $17 million jury verdict against the Los Angeles MTA in the wrongful death of a visually impaired passenger, a $17.845 million award in a wrongful death case involving four family members killed when a Marine jet crashed into their home, a $20 million jury verdict for a woman who suffered a brain injury in a hit-and-run accident involving a J.B. Hunt tractor trailer, a $17 million jury verdict for a 84-year old man hit by a bus resulting in a leg amputation, a $15.3 million jury verdict for a woman and her daughter after the woman was severely injured on a negligently driven Alameda Contra-Costa Transit District bus and a $8.3 million jury verdict in the first DePuy ASR Hip Implant case to go to trial.
Because of his expertise in personal injury, wrongful death and product liability cases, Mr. Panish has been appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering and Executive committees in numerous high profile mass torts and major disaster cases, including litigation involving train crashes (co-lead counsel in the the Chatsworth Metrolink disaster, the Glendale Metrolink crash, and the Placentia Metrolink collision), airplane disasters (Alaska Airlines Flight 261 and Singapore Airlines Flight 006 crashes), pharmaceuticals (Vioxx and diet drugs), and defective product cases (Welding Rods, DePuy ASR Hip Implant Litigation, and Toyota Unintended Acceleration cases.) He is currently handling numerous cases involving the Asiana Flight 261 plane crash.
Mr. Panish has been recognized by numerous publications and organizations as being among the top trial lawyers in the country. Some of the honors he has received include the following:
- 2013 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award in the area of Personal Injury
- The National Law Journal’s 100 Most Influential Lawyers In America
- Daily Journal’s Top 100 Most Influential Attorneys in California (various years, including 2012 and 2013)
- 2012 Top 20 Lawyers in California by The Recorder
- 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
- 2010 Champions of Justice award from Loyola Law School
- 2010 Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year – Product Liability Litigation – Los Angeles
- 2009 Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year – Personal Injury Litigation – Los Angeles
- 1999 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles (CAALA)
- Top 500 Attorneys and Litigators in the United States by Law Dragon
- Top 10 Southern California Super Lawyers® (various years, including from 2009-2013)
- Listed in Best Lawyers® since 2001
- Listed in Southern California Super Lawyers® since 2004
In addition to his numerous honors, Mr. Panish is a member of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates, comprised of 100 of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ lawyers. He is also a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers (including serving on the State Selection Committee), the International Society of Barristers, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), and was the 2011 President of the Los Angeles Chapter of ABOTA. He is a member of the American Bar Association (formerly a Litigation Section Board Member), the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (formerly on the Board of Governors), and the Consumer Attorneys of California (formerly on the Board of Governors). He also serves on the Best Lawyers® Board of Advisors.
Mr. Panish received his law degree, with honors, from Southwestern Law School, and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Southwestern in 2011. He received his B.S. from California State University Fresno, where he was named Scholar Athlete, was the recipient of the Athletic Directors Award and was named an outstanding alumnus at the school’s Centennial Celebration in 2010.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Qatar’s Rise and America’s Tortured Middle East Policy How did it happen that Washington has such close relations with a country actively and massively sponsoring terror, even after 9/11?
One of the most notable aspects of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is the prominent role being played by the Emirate of Qatar in supporting the terrorist organization, whose genocidal charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel.
Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the leader of the Emirate of Qatar, is acting as Hamas’ “channel of communication” to the international community. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is now in the Qatari capital of Doha directing his organization’s war effort in Gaza, where the Qatari royals welcomed him with open arms after his welcome in Damascus came to an abrupt end. Qatari funds have been crucial to Hamas’ military build-up in recent years, as they were to the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempted takeover of Egypt under Mohammed Morsi. And the Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera is energetically backing Hamas, as it has other terrorist-connected and supporting movements.
Yet Qatar is not part of the regional bloc of anti-Western states and movements led by the Islamic Republic of Iran. While Qatar has a far warmer relationship with Tehran and Hezbollah than others Arabs states, it also remains America’s landlord, handsomely leasing the U.S. military its largest foreign air base in the world—Al-Udeid. Nor has Qatar consistently pursued a policy of unremitting, unambiguous hostility to Israel. In fact, Doha maintained a trade mission in Israel until the 2008 Operation Cast Lead, also aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
At least for now, Qatar’s clear support for a designated terrorist organization does not appear to be hampering its flourishing relations with the West. In recent days, at a time when Hamas was openly engaged in attempts to murder Israeli civilians, it was announced that Qatar had sealed an arms deal with the U.S. worth $11 billion. The deal includes the purchase of Apache attack helicopters, as well as Javelin and Patriot air defense systems. Indeed, last December, the U.S. signed a 10-year Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Emirate.
Ironically, Qatar’s relations with fellow Arab states have been far less cozy, even downright hostile. Qatar’s massive funding of terrorists and support of Islamic radicals seeking to destabilize neighboring Arab governments, has sharpened tensions in the region, highlighting the three way divide in today’s Middle East – moderate and Western-oriented Sunni Arab states, like the Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and others; the Sunni extremists terrorist supporting states, Qatar and Turkey, who fund and promote forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas; and the dangerous and radical axis of Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah. In recent weeks, the U.S. appeared to momentarily favor the Qataris—alongside the Hamas supporting government of Turkey —over Egypt in the diplomatic effort to end the Gaza conflict. On , Secretary of State John Kerry met with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar in Paris as part of his attempt to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Egypt and Israel were furious—and so was the Palestinian Authority. PA officials blasted the U.S. for “appeasing” Qatar, and referred to the Paris meeting as a gathering of “friends of Hamas.”
This move, fronted by John Kerry, was especially ironic, given his personal record on the fundamental contradiction posed by Qatar and its support for terrorism. It was Kerry himself, speaking at the Brookings Institution in March 2009, shortly after the last defensive war Israel waged against Hamas, who warned that “Qatar cannot continue to be an American ally that sends money to Hamas .”
In one of the most telling responses to the disturbing shift on ceasefire terms, an unnamed PA official quoted by the respected Sharq al-Awsatnewspaper said that Kerry was seeking to sabotage the Egyptian peace effort by offering his own plan “in order to restore the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.”
The official explained the U.S. stance by suggesting that the Americans “wrongly believe that moderate political Islam, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, would be able to combat radical Islam.” He further contended that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was furious with the attempt to hold “Palestinian blood” hostage to “regional rivalries.”
More substantively, the ceasefire proposal formulated by the U.S. and rejected by Israel on was seen by many observers, in Israel and beyond, as leaning toward the Qatari-Turkish ceasefire plan, and away from that proposed by Egypt, which Israel had already accepted.
The proposal did not refer to the need to dismantle the tunnel system built by Hamas or ensure the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip—both key war aims for Israel. Yet Kerry’s proposal did support a number of Hamas’ key demands, including the opening of border crossings and the need to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza.
So what is going on? Why has Qatar emerged as the key backer of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas and its control of Gaza? What are the implications for Israel and the West of this stance? Why has the U.S. tolerated Qatar’s increasingly shift away from longstanding American interests and allies in favor of adversaries like Hamas and Tehran? And why is Qatar’s pro-Hamas position so far having no effect on its relations with the U.S. and the West in general, who regard Hamas as an unrepentant terrorist organization?
Qatar’s support for Hamas is part of a broader regional policy of building a strategic partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the movement’s most famous and influential preacher, is a resident of the Qatari capital. His sermons, broadcast on Al-Jazeera from Qatar, replete with anti-Semitic hatred and loathing for Israel, are listened to by millions. Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood in its push for power in Egypt, and was a major financier of the Morsi government during its chaotic and disastrous year in power. Many Egyptian Brotherhood leaders have now found refuge in Qatar. The Emirate has also promoted militias supportive of Muslim Brotherhood-type ideology in the Syrian civil war, such as the Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo, and alongside Turkey, supported groups even more radical.
From 2011 to 2013, it looked like the alliance between Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood was about to emerge as a major Middle Eastern power bloc. In early 2013, the movement held power in Egypt and Tunisia. The Syrian rebels looked set for victory, having taken control of much of Aleppo and broken into the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Qatar’s enormous wealth, deriving from its extensive natural gas reserves, was financing all of this. And its influential Al-Jazeera channel was celebrating it.
In this period, Hamas drew closer to Qatar. Hamas found itself facing a dilemma when the Arab revolutions of 2011-12 took place, particularly as the attempted Syrian revolution became a bloody civil war. Since the early 1990s, Hamas, which emerged out of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, had been a member of the so-called “resistance axis” led by Iran. This alliance included the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and a number of other elements.
The growth of a new, Brotherhood-centered regional bloc represented both a dilemma and an opportunity for Hamas. On the one hand, the movement was thrilled by the bloc’s emergence, and particularly by the Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt. For Hamas, this represented a potential game-changer. It now expected to have an overtly sympathetic regime to the immediate south of Gaza.
Why is Qatar’s pro-Hamas position having no effect on its flourishing relations with the U.S. and the West in general, who regard Hamas as an unreconstructed terrorist organization?
But the importance of the Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt was not merely geographical. With its ideological confreres in power in the most populous and traditionally most influential Arab country, Hamas could begin to seriously contemplate a future in which it would entirely eclipse its Fatah rivals and emerge as the dominant party among the Palestinians.
Due to its Iranian leadership, the “resistance bloc” had always been vulnerable to the charge that it represented a “foreign” non-Arab and non-Sunni interest. No such charge could be leveled against Qatar or a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt. Hamas was a natural fit for this emerging Sunni extremist Islamist bloc. But moving toward this bloc also meant that the movement would in effect be distancing itself from its mainly Shia allies in the “resistance” bloc. Because the two blocs were effectively at war in Syria, it seemingly eased the decision.
Hamas made its choice. Over the course of 2012, following Hamas’ condemnation of Assad’s shelling of Palestinians in Syria which precipitated a schism with Assad and strained their ties with his backers in Tehran, the movement’s leadership cadres departed the Syrian capital of Damascus. Doha and to a lesser extent Cairo became the new home of the Hamas leadership.
Ties with Iran were not entirely severed, however. Teheran remained a crucial source of arms to Hamas’ Gaza enclave. But Qatar and Turkey were set to emerge as Hamas’ main political and financial backers.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the then-Emir of Qatar, visited Gaza in October 2012, cementing the new alliance. At the same time, Qatar pledged $400 million to Gaza. Because the alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood was undertaken in order to acquire regional diplomatic and strategic influence, and support for the Palestinians remains an important tool to generate legitimacy in the Sunni Arab world, sponsorship of Hamas formed an important part of this larger project.
But in recent months, a problem has emerged for both Hamas and Qatar: Things have not turned out as they had hoped. Their regional ambitions are largely in ruins. And their enemies have proved more resilient than they expected. General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s military takeover of July 3, 2013 abruptly ended the Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt. In Tunisia, the Nahda party peacefully gave up power. The Syrian rebellion has run aground and is now in disarray—pushed back by both the Assad regime and the murderous Islamic State (IS) forces.
Today, the alliance of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other moderates is the strongest force among the Sunni Arab states. Qatar has few regional allies left. Neither does Hamas. Indeed, over the last year, the movement has been trying to regain favor with the Iranians. So the war on Israel, supported by Qatar, was a desperate move by Hamas. Broke and presiding over a failed economy, unable to break through Egypt’s sealed border and restored power, the terrorist group and its allies sought escalation with Israel. It was a way for the Emirate and its Muslim Brotherhood partner to try and achieve a return to relevance and influence, and to end a period in which Qatar’s regional star appeared to be fading. Notably, of Hamas’ initial five demands to end the conflict, only one was of Israel, while four were of Egypt.
Qatar’s aid to Hamas is not military, but it is hugely important nonetheless. It doesn’t supply weapons to Hamas, and as a purchaser of U.S. weapons systems, it is not in a position to do so. Instead, Hamas acquires its weapons from Iran and Syria, or its own domestic production capacities.
Qatar’s support is financial, and very considerable indeed. Hamas has been in financial straits since 2012, when Iranian financial support declined. Then, after the Egyptian military coup of July 2013, the Sisi government in Cairo began to destroy the tunnel system which had served as a lucrative source of income for Hamas members. The movement controlled access to the tunnels and charged Gazans for using them. Hamas itself also used the tunnels to smuggle in weapons and funds.
The tunnels’ destruction thus left the movement increasingly strapped for cash. Qatar attempted to step in by transferring funds to Hamas in order to help pay the salaries of 40,000 civil servants in Gaza. (The transfer was blocked by the U.S., and so far no bank has been willing to risk sanctions to do so. Getting the money has been one of Hamas’ key demands for ending the recent conflict.)
Qatar also championed the cause of Hamas in Arab diplomatic forums. In recent days, for example, the Arab League backed the Egyptian ceasefire plan, which effectively called for a restoration of the status quo ante bellum. But Qatar formulated its own plan, together with non-Arab, pro-Brotherhood Turkey, which was far more favorable to Hamas’ demands.
As can be seen from the resulting diplomacy, Qatari support for Hamas has had the effect of “sanitizing” the movement, allowing it to present itself as a normal political actor, rather than a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.
This is partly because Qatar is regarded in Western capitals as a legitimate regional actor. The fury now felt toward it by the main bloc of Sunni Arab states is not shared in Europe or the U.S. As a result, Qatar is able to insert Hamas’s demands into the negotiations for ending the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.
It is noteworthy, for example, that the controversial ceasefire proposal supported by Secretary Kerry specifically mentioned only three countries that might play a role in the implementation of the plan. According to the leaked wording of the proposal:
Members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar, and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire and agreements reached between the parties.
Qatar and Turkey, both supporters of Hamas, are thus placed alongside the U.S. as the key implementers of the proposed deal, while Egypt is nowhere to be found. Moreover, the deal itself, as noted above, privileges Hamas’ demands over Israel’s. Presumably the insertion of these demands is the result of successful diplomacy on the part of Hamas’s “interlocutor” with the international community, which faithfully communicated the minimum the Hamas feels willing to accept. That interlocutor is Qatar.
So while Qatar cannot match the “hard power” of the Shia resistance bloc in providing arms and weaponry to its clients, it possesses a diplomatic power and influence in the West of a very different kind. The current war between Israel and Hamas has demonstrated for the first time, perhaps, the pernicious role this influence can play. But it is in the nature of diplomatic power that it works by consent, rather than coercion. Qatar is able to play an outsized role because the West, and most importantly the United States, permits it to do so. Why is this the case?
First, it is vital to remember Qatar’s role as a provider of natural gas to Europe, and its investments in both Europe and the U.S. Qatar sits on 26 trillion cubic meters of natural gas—the world’s third largest reserve. It has a sovereign wealth fund of $85 billion. And European countries are currently seeking private investment as they emerge out of austerity into growth.<
The Qataris have money to spend, and have already invested heavily. They own, for example, London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, and London’s most exclusive shop, Harrods. This is a friendship which the British and other Europeans naturally wish to preserve. If this means permitting Qatar to play the outsize role it seeks in Mideast diplomacy, there are few signs of objection from the Europeans. If it includes championing an organization the European Union considers a terrorist group, at least one aligned against Israel, this doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem either.
Among Western European countries, the notion that the appropriate response to terror groups is dialogue, or at least keeping the possibility of dialogue open, is prevalent. Thus the Qatari desire to promote Hamas is easy to accept.
But the Europeans are only peripheral players in Mideast diplomacy, despite their substantial economic relationship with the region.
The central actor is the United States. And the U.S. is far less dependent on Qatari money and natural gas. Yet it is this U.S. administration that has been most visible in welcoming and encouraging Qatar’s role as a mediator in the current conflict—as evidenced by Kerry’s high profile meeting with the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers, the wording of his ceasefire proposal, and so on. What is the reason for this stance?
There are two, related explanations. First, as noted above, Sunni Arab regional politics are currently dominated by an alliance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Sisi government in Egypt. U.S. relations with Sisi are particularly bad, and there is a legacy of mistrust felt by Cairo, Riyadh, and their regional partners toward the current administration. In the Saudi case, this derives from what the Saudis regard as the failure of the Obama administration to adequately back its allies and contain Iranian regional and nuclear ambitions.
With regard to Sisi, the differences are perhaps deeper. The Egyptian military holds the administration responsible for toppling former President Mubarak and the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood — a rise to power the White House supported after helping engineer then demise of a longstanding ally. It is easy to see the continued mutual distaste and incomprehension between Sisi’s government and the Obama administration. Washington views Sisi as essentially grabbing power through a military coup and engaging in severe political repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Cairo sees Obama as inexplicably championing the forces of instability in Egypt against elements long allied with the U.S. who are interested in continuing that alliance. Given the strained relationship between Cairo and Washington, it becomes easier to understand U.S. acceptance, if not preference, for the Qataris as mediators.
Such a view only makes sense, of course, if Hamas is viewed not as an enemy to be vanquished or at least contained, but rather as a player whose desires and needs must be met on some level. This is the final part of the picture.
The U.S. administration in the 2011-12 period regarded the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate movement with a legitimate hold on power, despite its extremist and anti-Western ideology. Thus, the U.S. championed the Brotherhood’s right to stand in the presidential and parliamentary elections, and continued to relate to the Morsi Administration as a partner, in spite of Morsi’s openly antisemitic remarks and his demanding the release and return to Egypt of “The Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abd al-Rahman, convicted in the U.S. for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and effort to blow-up the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge, as well as assassinating a U.S. Senator.
American agreements to supply sophisticated weapons systems to the Morsi government were strictly fulfilled, despite the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government’s clear lurch toward the construction of an Islamist regime, evidenced by, for example, Morsi’s awarding of broad, new,pharaoh-like powers to himself in November 2012, and by the passing of a new, repressive, Islamist-drafted constitution in December of that year. After 30 million Egyptians took to the streets objecting to the Islamic radicalism being imposed on the secular country, and the Egyptian military stepped in to reestablish calm by removing the Muslim Brotherhood from power, the White House called for Egypt “to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible.”
All of this took place in spite of the clear and available evidenceregarding the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and its ambitions. The Brotherhood seeks not to participate in democratic politics, but rather to re-construct the Islamic “caliphate.” Thus, a book published in 1995 by Muslim Brotherhood leader Mustafa Mashhur called Jihad is the Way openly notes this objective. Mashhur writes that Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna “felt the grave danger overshadowing the Muslims and the urgent need and obligation which Islam places on every Muslim, man and woman, to act in order to restore the Islamic Caliphate and to reestablish the Islamic state on strong foundations.” Mashhur’s foundational work contains a vision of jihad until all lands formerly under the control of Islam are returned to it.
Jihad for Allah…is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, and the State of Islam established.
These are not the messages of a movement committed to a pragmatic path of liberty and tolerance. They, and the Brotherhood’s track record in power in Egypt in the 2012-13 period, confirm its extremist nature. The Brotherhood has, for the most part, lost power and influence over the course of 2013 and 2014. This does not, however, mean that there has been a fundamental change in the way the movement is seen by the administration. In fact, it appears that in the mind of the Obama White House, this basic acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s legitimacy, as well as the willful denial of its true nature, remains unchallenged. As a result, the U.S. administration appears keen to work alongside and in cooperation with the two main champions of the movement—Turkey and Qatar—in resolving the current Gaza conflict in a way that, at least partly, addresses Hamas’ wants and needs.
Qatar has emerged in recent years as the main diplomatic and financial backer of Hamas and its enclave in the Gaza Strip. The current conflict shows how this is reflected in regional diplomacy, as Qatar uses it to carve out a central role in the Mideast, to the dismay and anger of the rival Sunni bloc of Cairo and Riyadh.
Qatar’s regional strategy is based on support for and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood, the destabilizing of its fellow Sunni Arab neighbors, and hedging its bets on American regional leadership with warmer ties with Tehran. Support for Hamas constitutes a part of this. The Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-Western, anti-Jewish movement, and Hamas is a designated terrorist organization.
Yet, for the present time at least, Qatar’s deep links to this movement, far from incurring penalties, are enabling it to reap rewards. This worrisome trend derives from a short-sighted Western attitude toward Hamas, and to a lesser extent toward the Muslim Brotherhood in general. Hamas is not favored, but neither is the extent of the movement’s commitment to its genocidal ideology—or the danger it represents—properly acknowledged, let alone accepted in various capitols.
In the U.S. case, strained relations with the government of Egypt, which fiercely opposes Hamas, are further contributing to the willingness, if not outright desire, to award a central diplomatic role to Qatar, in spite of its championing of violent anti-Western, anti-Israel, and anti-moderate-Arab forces across the region. This indulgence of terror sponsoring Qatar ought to end, and there are small signs that this complacency is ebbing, at least outside the confines of the White House and Foggy Bottom. U.S. legislators are circulating a letter questioning Qatar’s behavior, beginning to voicedeep objections to their dangerous and unacceptable actions. Congressional leaders must continue to call out Qatar for its support for Hamas, and the administration for its apparent support for Qatar. In Europe, it is possible that Qatari financial investment and gas exports make adequate opposition to the Emirate hard to imagine. But neither of these constraints exist in the U.S., where the main reason for its stance toward Qatar and its terrorist allies is a naïve view of the region.
OY VEY! THIS IS A TRAGEDY! Entenmann’s Factory Shuttering on Long Island Kosher-certified baked goods company closing plant after nearly a century
Entenmann's products. (Flickr/Jen Gallardo)
“The bakery was closed because it can no longer effectively compete in the market,” said David Margulies, spokesman for Entenmann’s parent company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, which bought Entenmann’s in 2009. “The transition was smooth, with no disruption to the marketplace.”The factory’s closure is being keenly felt in Bay Shore, as longtime employees, some of them second-generation Entenmann’s workers, seek jobs elsewhere. (In the 1990s more than 1,500 people worked at the plant.) But it’s also a blow to local fans of the company’s donuts—particularly those who keep kosher, for whom the trademark white Entenmann’s box—which bore a kosher certification—was both a delight and a relief.
Of the plant’s 265 workers, 176 were laid off as the company shifted production to other locations, including Pennsylvania.
According to Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the kosher certification of Entenmann’s in the early 1980s was a major moment in the history of the temple kiddush. “At my shul in Richmond, Va., the kiddush ladies would buy a bunch of Entenmann’s on sale and stick them in the freezer,” Marks told Tablet contributor Leah Koenig in 2012.
The closure likely won’t affect Entenmann’s stock in grocery stores—the company’s owner, Bimbo Bakeries, operates 75 manufacturing facilities around the country, so those Entenmann’s coffee cake donuts aren’t going anywhere just yet.
Report: Over a Dozen Hamas Terrorists Admit to Use of Hospitals, Kindergartens and Mosques for Military Activity | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com
A number of Hamas operatives who were arrested and detained by Israel during Operation Protective Edge admitted to the use of civilian establishments, such as mosques, schools and hospitals, as covers for terrorist activity, according to a report released on Monday by the Israel Security Agency (ISA).
The report cites extensive and detailed testimony from the Hamas members to support Israel’s long maintained assertion that the group operates behind human shields, which often accounts for civilian casualties as it exchanges blows with the Jewish state.
The report came as the Hamas controlled Gaza religious affairs ministry claimed Israeli fire throughout Monday destroyed four mosques, raising to 71 the alleged total number of mosques targeted over the past seven weeks.
Detained militants Muhammad Ala’a and Muwaz Abu Tim told ISA they were recruited for Hamas military activity at the Alabrar and Khaled Ben Alulid mosques in Khan Yunis and Bani Suheila, respectively. Another militant, Abdel Rahman Balousha, said the Alsafa and Alabra mosques in Khan Yunis serve as meeting points for Hamas terrorists. He added that in the Alabra mosque the assembly point is in an underground shelter.
Iyad Abu Rida said that the Hamas-affiliated Jamaat Asnad association is located on the second floor of the Altikva mosque in Hazara while another Hamas operative said terrorists used the same mosque to pass along orders regarding where to plant improvised explosive devices to target Israelis.
Another pair of Hamas terrorists said armed police activity was carried out adjacent to the Uthman ibn Ifan and Abdallah ibn Masoud mosques in the Alkheif junction area, the Hassan Albana and Abu Dir mosques, and the Haroun Alrashid school.
Another detainee, Muhammad Ramadan, told ISA that in February 2014 he trained as an anti-tank fighter in a hall located underneath the Alshafi mosque in his hometown of Khan Yunis. He added that the hall is also used as a training and instruction facility for the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.
Another Hamas operative revealed that Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigade terrorists monitor Israel Defense Force (IDF) movements from the Abad Alrahman mosque, and said that two home-made explosive devices were hidden in the Altoheid mosque.
Khan Yunis native Muhammad Alqadra told ISA that mosques in his hometown were used to conceal war material such as RPGs, heavy PKC machine guns and AK-47s. Additionally, he confirmed that local schools and hospitals, including the Nasser and Halal hospitals, are used as weapon arsenals. It is also well known that senior Hamas leaders and their armed bodyguards, who usually wear police uniforms, use hospitals as hideouts, he said.
According to Alqadra, guards are stationed at the admission department in the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. He also believes the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, including senior official Ismail Haniyeh, is hiding in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital in an area closed off to civilians and guarded by plainclothes armed men.
One operative remembered delivering food to his brother, who works for a local terrorist organization, while the latter was hiding in the Nasser hospital.
A different Hamas operative told ISA he believes terrorists are hiding in the Alnajar hospital. He claimed that in July 2013 he saw many terrorists in the three-story hospital building, adding that civilians who needed medical treatment were turned away from the medical facility. Yet another operative said that since the start of the current Israel-Gaza conflict, many armed policeman have been blocking off certain sections of the same hospital and not allowing anyone, including members of patients’ families, to enter.
The ISA report also included testimony from Hamas operative Marad Amr who said he saw a Hamas military vehicle parked outside the European hospital in Khan Yunis.
The report also cited terrorists admitting to digging terror tunnels and rocket launch sites, and placing arsenals near kindergartens in the Gaza Strip. Muhammad Abu Daraz, from Greater Ibsan, said he was stationed in a tunnel that started next to a clinic adjacent to a residential dwelling. He added that there is a kindergarten in Hazara, next to a clinic, to where he was ordered to bring prisoners in the event of a kidnapping.
ISA said information it gathered from the various Hamas terrorists was passed on to the Israel Defense Forces, including warnings about launch sites, attack tunnels and infiltrations, arsenals and booby-trapped access routes.
The report is among the most extensive yet on Hamas’s endangering of civilians in combat and use of civilian structures for military purposes.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, media reports of the Hamas tactics trickled out of Gaza, but were often later retracted for fear of retribution from Hamas.
After journalists began to leave Gaza a more complete picture began to emerge, with some outlets reporting on rocket launchers in densely populated civilian areas and the Foreign Press Association condemning Hamas’s intimidation of foreign journalists.
In conclusion ISA said: “It is clear from the foregoing that Hamas knowingly and intentionally operates in and adjacent to civilian areas, including in kindergartens, hospitals and mosques in order to carry out military activity. Hamas thus endangers the civilian population even in times of calm given that munitions are liable to go off and put lives at risk. During fighting, Hamas deliberately operates in these locales, thus turning the civilian population into human shields on the assumption that Israel will be blamed for any injury and loss of life.”