Russia ‘Primary Threat’ To Euro-Atlantic Security, Says U.S. General
By RFE/RL March 13, 2019
The commander of NATO forces in Europe, U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti, has said that Russia continues to be the “primary threat” to Euro-Atlantic security and voiced concern about Moscow’s military modernization program.
Speaking on March 13 at a hearing in the House of Representatives, Scaparrotti also said Russia seeks to undermine any steps toward Euro-Atlantic integration in the Balkans using disinformation and backing extremist forces throughout the region.
“Russia has continued its reemergence as strategic competitor and remains the primary threat to a stable Euro-Atlantic security environment,” Scaparrotti told the House Committee on Armed Services.
“While the United States maintains global military superiority over Russia, evolving Russian capabilities threaten or erode our competitive military advantage, challenge our ability to operate uncontested in all domains, and diminish our ability to deter Russian aggression.”
Scaparrotti also said that, in the face of Moscow’s drive to upgrade its armed forces, U.S. military dominance could only be maintained if America keeps investing in defense.
“I am very concerned about their [military] modernization program. It’s real and it’s a good modernization program that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has been able to keep on track by-and-large. And so while today — as I noted in my opening [remarks] — we have a dominant force, in the years ahead we won’t unless we continue to invest as well,” he said.
The U.S. general voiced concern about Russia making inroads in the Balkans, a region where the United States has “invested heavily and is critical to the security of Europe.”
“Generally speaking, their efforts are to undermine any movement toward integration with the Euro-Atlantic [structures] — EU, NATO, etc. That’s their general objective in every case throughout the Balkans,” Scaparrotti told the committee.
“Primarily they do this through disinformation, they do it through funding and support for fringe parties — they don’t necessarily determine whichever side it might be on as long as it’s undermining the present government in any forward movement within those governments. We see that and, as I said, that has stepped up in the past six or eight months within the Balkans.”
The NATO commander voiced concern about Russia’s potential attempts to undermine North Macedonia’s efforts to join the alliance.
The Balkan country last year signed a landmark agreement with neighboring Greece that changed its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia, ending a 27-year naming dispute. The agreement has opened North Macedonia’s path to likely NATO and EU membership, which Greece had previously blocked.
“I would also say that Montenegro’s accession to NATO — now the 29th member — and North Macedonia, who would potentially be the 30th [member], I believe is exactly what Russia did not want to see. I think they’ll continue to try and address this with North Macedonia just as they tried to interfere in Montenegro’s accession [to NATO].”
Authorities in Montenegro, which joined the alliance in June, have accused two Russian officers with the GRU military intelligence of organizing a failed coup plot to prevent the small Balkan nation from joining NATO.
Moscow, which opposed Montenegro’s bid to join the military alliance, has denied the allegations.
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
March 13, 2019
By David Vergun
China a Rising Threat to National Security, Say DOD Leaders
WASHINGTON — China is building up its military in ways that threaten U.S. and allied interests in the Western Pacific and in the South China Sea in particular, the deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said today.
For example, its DF21 and DF26 missiles are capable of targeting ships in the area and land targets, including Guam, a major resupply location for U.S. forces, Alan R. Shaffer said.
Shaffer spoke at the McAleese and Associates-sponsored Defense Programs Conference here, along with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller and Undersecretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.
China is also building advanced, fifth-generation fighter aircraft and have expanded their navy to around 300 ships, including an aircraft carrier, Shaffer said.
Battle for Digital Supremacy
Much of China’s military and industrial technology was developed through intellectual property theft, he said, noting that there’s a strong resemblance of their J-20 fighter’s canopy and landing gear to the F-35 Lightning II.
The U.S. is in a fierce battle with China for digital supremacy, he said, referring to artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantitative computing.
AI has to do with powerful systems that can rapidly crunch a large amount of data, search for patterns, abnormalities and targets, and learn on its own through machine learning algorithms that are programmed into the software.
The power of AI, Shaffer said, is that it quickly delivers warfighting options to commanders that are easily understood. Winning in combat is no longer about “the size of the biceps, it’s about the speed of decision-making,” he said.
For example, an AI-enabled platform could also allow a commander to find and terminate targets faster, Shaffer said.
One area of concern with developing AI in this country is that there are companies who don’t want to work with the Defense Department and would rather sell to China. “That’s a problem,” he said.
China is going forward with a plan to dominate the world in AI in the 2025 to 2030 time frame, Shaffer noted. “They have the people and resources to do that.”
5G Network Warning
China wants to control the world’s 5G network, Shaffer said. A 5G network would allow a rapid transmission of huge amounts of communications data.
The problem with using Chinese 5G equipment is that the Chinese could use it to collect data and feed it to their intelligence apparatus, he said. Most Americans probably are unaware of that threat, Shaffer said, and yet it is a national security risk for the U.S and its allies and partners.
Other areas the U.S. and China are in competition is in the space and cyber domains, he said.
Dealing With Threats
McCarthy noted other threats from China, such as hypersonics and unmanned aerial systems.
The Army eliminated or reduced many programs that did not focus on these threats, resulting in six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, a future vertical-lift aircraft, protecting the network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality.
It also changed the way it trains. Three years ago, he said, “if you visited Fort Irwin, you’d think you were in a village in Afghanistan.”
Fort Irwin, California, is the location of the National Training Center, the Army’s premier training site that can host brigade-sized units. Mock villages were built there to resemble those found in Iraq and Afghanistan, the focus of counterinsurgency warfare over the preceding years. But today, McCarthy said, NTC rotations include maneuver force-on-force training, which simulate what it would be like to fight a peer competitor such as China or Russia, he said.
Going Back to the Future
Neller said that over the past 18 years, Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan have not had to deal with an enemy with aircraft, a maneuver force and cyber and space capability.
Over that time, he said, deployed Marines were well fed, didn’t worry that their heat or electromagnetic signal would enable them to be targeted and had little worry of being targeted by long-range precision fires.
That would change in a peer fight against the Chinese or Russians, Neller said.
As such, the Marine Corps, like the Army, has changed the way it trains in its premier training site at 29 Palms, California, he said.
Region of Strategic Importance
Richardson noted that fully a third of the world’s trade passes through the South China Sea, an area where there are numerous islands contested by nations in the region. China has occupied a number of those islands and built military installations on them.
The Navy is there to ensure trade keeps flowing through the area unimpeded, he said. It’s not just important for the U.S. economy, it’s important for the world economy.
MARCH 13, 2019
PM addresses revelation of secret Hezbollah unit which planned attacks in Israel. ‘What we uncovered today is just the tip of the iceberg.’
OPEN BORDERS ARE DANGEROUS TO OUR (PUBLIC) HEALTH
Ellis Island was a quarantine station.
In recent years there have been outbreaks of dangerous communicable diseases that had either been eradicated in the United States or were uncommon in the United States altogether such as diseases commonly found in the tropics or in other parts of the world.
Within the past few months the mainstream media has reported on how a number of dangerous communicable diseases. such as the measles, have infected many people, particularly children in the United States. The focus of the reports has been on children who because of religious beliefs or fears about the perceived nexus between vaccinations and autism have not been vaccinated to protect them against measles and other such communicable diseases.
For example, on March 7, 2019 the New York Times reported, “Measles Outbreak: 1 Student Got 21 Others Sick.”
These reports blithely ignore the nexus between illegal immigration and outbreaks of these debilitating and deadly diseases.
In the Orwellian world all too many journalists and politicians inhabit today, aliens who evade the vital inspections process at ports of entry and enter the United States without inspections are simply referred to as “Undocumented Immigrants.” I have addressed this linguistic “sleight of tongue” in many of my articles so I won’t delve into the dishonesty this represents. It suffices to say that aliens who enter the United States without inspection evade a serious vetting process to make certain that criminals and terrorists not gain access to the United States to protect national security and public safety.
The vetting process is also supposed to make certain that aliens with dangerous communicable diseases are prevented from entering the United States to protect public health.
This is yet another vetting process that aliens who enter without inspection are not subjected to.
The United States Public Health Service (USPH) explains its mission at U.S. Ports of Entry on its website under the heading, Protecting America’s Health At U.S. Ports of Entry
Here is how USPH explains its mission:
Detect, respond, and protect 24/7 Strategically placed at 20 U.S. ports of entry, CDC protects America from public health threats, both foreign and domestic. Highly skilled CDC staff work 24/7 to detect, respond to, and prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
With our partners, CDC responds to sick travelers who arrive in the United States at major airports, seaports, or land border crossings. We alert travelers about disease outbreaks and steps they can take to protect themselves.
We restrict the importation of animals and products that may carry disease. We are always on call—during the workday, on weekends, and in the middle of the night. We’re on the frontlines, protecting you and your community.
Disease is just a flight away
When sick passengers are on a flight, the airline lets CDC know. We evaluate whether they might be contagious to others on the plane. Some diseases can spread quickly through a community, so CDC works with state and local health departments to evaluate and respond. When necessary, CDC can prevent a sick person from traveling and exposing others to disease. It’s all about making sure 1 sick traveler doesn’t become 100 sick people in your community.
At the beginning of my career with the former INS I served as an Immigration Inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport and worked closely with USPH.
This calls to mind an article I wrote in July of last year, The Left’s Immigration Con Game in which I debunked the lies about Ellis Island which when it was completed more than one hundred years ago included the largest hospital complex in the United States at that time.
Here is an excerpt from the my earlier article:
An extraordinary film, Forgotten Ellis Island, is a must-see documentary that tells the true story about Ellis Island, and the story is not particularly pretty or romantic.
To begin with, Ellis Island was not a natural island but was constructed on rocks and debris removed during the construction of the massive New York City subway system.
By situating this federal facility on this artificial island, no aliens could come ashore and abscond the way that today aliens exploit the lunacy known as “catch & release” — a policy that incidentally does not only occur along the borders of the United States but, similarly plagues the integrity of the immigration system from within the interior of the United States.
The only way for aliens to get from Ellis Island to New York City, and hence the U.S. mainland, was by a government-operated ferry.
According to the documentary, Ellis Island included a massive hospital complex that consisted of 22 buildings.
One hundred years ago, Public Health officials worked with immigration inspectors to process the arriving immigrants. Back then, the most significant concerns with admission decisions centered on health-related issues.
In my piece I noted that there were two concerns about the health of arriving immigrants. Obviously the greatest concern was that relatively minor infections could lead to the deadly epidemics because there were no antibiotics back then.
The second concern was to make certain that arriving immigration were of sound mind and body so that they would be able to be gainfully employed and support themselves.
Those concerns can be found in a section of the current Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
8 U.S. Code § 1182 (Inadmissible Aliens).
This extremely important section of law that was enacted to protect America and Americans begins with the following:
(a) Classes of aliens ineligible for visas or admissionExcept as otherwise provided in this chapter, aliens who are inadmissible under the following paragraphs are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States:
(1) Health-related grounds
(A) In general Any alien—
(ii) except as provided in subparagraph (C), who seeks admission as an immigrant, or who seeks adjustment of status to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and who has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices,
(I) to have a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others, or
(II) to have had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder, which behavior has posed a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others and which behavior is likely to recur or to lead to other harmful behavior, or
(iv) who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to be a drug abuser or addict,
Nevertheless, for the members of Congress who refuse to fund the construction of an effective barrier on the U.S./Mexican border and now seek to block President Trump’s declaration of an emergency, none of this matters.
For them, dead bodies are mere speed bumps along the road to their political objectives.
IRAN WARNS ISRAEL OF ‘FIRM RESPONSE’ IF IT ACTS AGAINST OIL
“The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Defense Minister Amir Hatami said.
LONDON – Iran will respond firmly to any Israeli naval action against its oil shipments, Iran’s defense minister said on Wednesday, in comments that came a week after Israel’s prime minister said its navy could act against Iranian oil “smuggling” to evade US sanctions.
US President Donald Trump last year quit a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed some sanctions, aiming to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told naval officers last week that Iran was still resorting to clandestine measures to ship fuel.
Iran’s Minister of Defense Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA that Tehran had the military capabilities to confront any Israeli intervention, and said the international community would also not accept such action.
Hatami said such confrontation would be considered as “piracy” and warned that “if it happens, we will firmly respond.”
“The Iranian armed forces have certainly the capabilities to protect the country’s shipping lines in the best way against any possible threat,” Hatami said.
According to maritime experts, Iran has used a variety of measures to evade sanctions, including changing the names of ships or flag registries, switching off location transponders on ships and conducting ship-to-ship transfers offshore and away from large trade hubs.
Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. They intervened on Friday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden.
An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander also said on Wednesday that enemies will regret any confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
“We never welcome any war, but we are ready to respond to any invasion. We hope the aggressors do not need to understand this point by trying it and paying a high price,” Major General Gholamali Rashid was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
The Israeli navy, whose largest vessels are missile corvettes and a small submarine fleet, is mostly active in the Mediterranean and Red seas.
Iran has one of the world’s biggest tanker fleets in the world.
In November, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook called Iranian vessels a “floating liability”, saying the US sanctions would bar them from international insurance markets, making them a risk for ports and canals which allow them access.
Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route in the Gulf, if the United States attempts to stop the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.
DAVID HOROWITZ EXPOSES THE LEFT’S DARK AGENDA
Freedom Center founder documents the assault on America’s Christian roots.
This article was originally posted at American Thinker
To order David Horowitz’s new book, “Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America,” CLICK HERE.
David Horowitz has always been a writer whose work I’ve appreciated since his compelling political biography, Radical Son, which related the author’s break from his communist upbringing after Black Panther associates murdered his bookkeeper friend Betty Van Patter. But brevity and crisp linkage of multiple intellectual threads were never characteristic of Horowitz’s brilliant, often voluminous, exposés of leftist thought and practice. By contrast, Dark Agenda is a concise, chilling book brimming with evidence that links numerous cultural depredations to one overriding theme: The left’s attack on Christian America’s founding in the name of “cultural Marxism.”
“Christian America” is the novel component in Horowitz’s analysis, a term that acknowledges the historical fact that America, at its founding, was 98 percent Protestant. Protestantism, in turn, was intimately linked to the doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers” and to the more broadly Christian idea that all people are created by God. In view of these beliefs and the fact that Protestant groups were living side by side, it followed that in America there would be no institutional or governmental mediator between the individual and God. It also meant that each individual’s rights were endowed solely by their Creator and that freedom of conscience and speech would be hallmarks of the new republic.
“Cultural Marxism,” by contrast, represents the application of its “oppressor versus oppressed” vision of society to various victim groups: blacks, “people of color,” women, native Americans, homosexuals, transsexuals, and any other group claiming victimhood. For Marxists what stands between these oppressed groups and a world in which “social justice” and equality is fully realized are the oppressors, those who supposedly establish the laws and mores that keep them in power. Thus, failure or success isn’t the result of individual choices but the inevitable outcome of a system designed to unfairly help one group (white, Christian, males) and harm the others. Accordingly, what matters politically is destroying the patriarchal Christian system itself with its emphasis on individual moral and economic choices and replacing it with a group-focused system that, in my own words, oppresses the oppressors. Put quite simply, “Christian doctrines were foundational to the American Republic, which the left despises.”
After reading the last two paragraphs, one might think Dark Agenda is highly philosophical and abstract. This impression couldn’t be further from the truth, as these core ideas are given clear expression and development via an array of examples, many of which are doubtless unknown to even the most politically-astute readers. Who knew, for example, that the $621 million U.S. Capitol Visitor Center that opened in 2008 “is less a monument to the nation’s founding and institutions than it is to the antireligious left’s vision for America. When it opened, all references to God and faith had been carefully, deliberately edited out of its photos and historical displays.” For example, the national motto was said to be “E Pluribus Unum” when, in fact, it is “In God We Trust.” Among other historical travesties, a large “image of the Constitution was photoshopped to remove the worlds ‘in the Year of our Lord’ above the signatures of the signers.” Similarly, the “table on which President Lincoln placed his Bible during his second inauguration is on display — just the table, not the Bible.”
These examples are picayune compared to the spiteful governmental coercion that’s been employed to force The Little Sisters of the Poor, among others, to violate their consciences thanks to Obamacare abortion provisions. The Supreme Court has been the giant secular lever employed by leftists to fundamentally transform “Christian America” into a state hostile even to a school-girl who joined hands with classmates to give thanks for her food. These politically-motivated “lawyers,” as Horowitz contemptuously labels the high court, began their anti-Christian, anti-Constitutional mission with the expulsion of prayer from public schools in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale). That assault on the free exercise of religion now extends beyond commencement ceremonies and football fields to a bakery that was embroiled in legal battles for years for refusing to provide a celebratory cake for a gay ceremony billed as a wedding — a “crime” made possible by Court rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act and in favor of redefining marriage.
The case of Roe v. Wade (1972), which awakened religious conservatives to the fundamental attack on Christian America, is cogently dissected in Dark Agenda, both from a constitutional perspective as well as through the eyes of Norma McCorvey, the anonymous “Jane Roe” who was intentionally deceived and reduced to a legal prop to secure the Supreme Court’s “right to privacy” abortion ruling. (As Horowitz notes, in Marxist thought it’s the grand arc of history and oppressed groups that matter, not mere individuals.) That ruling officially brought about the cultural civil war that for the anti-Christian left involves not simply a virulent hatred of President Trump but also hatred directed toward his supporters who are regularly vilified as Nazis, sexists, racists, homophobes, and “deplorables” who are rightly denied freedom of speech and conscience. Trump’s Oval Office predecessor did his best to stoke these emotions as Horowitz’s litany of anti-Christian comments and actions by President Obama illustrate — from avoiding religious references during a traditional Thanksgiving ceremony to pursuit of a foreign policy that led to the annihilation of the ancient Christian community in Syria.
Among the sidebars accompanying Horowitz’s central narrative are insights into the abusive and mendacious character of atheist Madelyn Murray. For example, in 1960 Murray “set out with her two sons . . . intending to renounce her American citizenship and defect to the Soviet Union.” Her repeated attempts at emigration were rebuffed by the Soviets who were probably aware of her emotional instability and violent outbursts. Murray’s revolutionary predecessor, Margaret Sanger, was also a communist sympathizer and racist. A 1930 article in TheNew Yorker about Ms. Sanger noted that her monthly newspaper, Woman Rebel, “mixed its birth-control propaganda with a good deal of red-flag-waving, and perorations of the ‘Workers of the World, Arise!’ variety.” The author also observed that she “composed an editorial declaring: ‘Even if dynamite were to serve no other purpose than to call forth the spirit of revolutionary solidarity and loyalty, it would prove its great value.'”
Horowitz ends Dark Agenda with this chilling paragraph reminiscent of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “A nation divided by such fundamental ideas — individual freedom on one side and group identity on the other — cannot long endure, any more than could a nation that was half slave and half free. The urgency that drew the religious right into politics fifty years ago is now an urgency of the nation itself.” Even individuals well aware of the cultural Civil War that now rages in America would do well do arm themselves with the insights in this book — insights that both explain the ideological roots of the conflict and document a host of grievous wounds that “Christian America” has already suffered. Horowitz, an honest agnostic, is doing his best to prevent those wounds from becoming mortal.
NETANYAHU: MAY BE DOWN – BUT CERTAINLY NOT OUT
A glimpse at the Israeli PM’s legal challenges and election prospects.
The major media outlets both in Israel and the U.S. have already made the determination that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is about to go down and should resign. That comes following intense pressure put on Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit to issue an indictment less than 100 days before the general elections scheduled for April 9, 2019. Mandelblit issued a recommendation to summon PM Netanyahu for a pre-indictment hearing due to alleged corruption.
Days before Mandelblit was to announce his intention to file corruption charges against PM Netanyahu, Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a lifelong liberal democrat, wrote an open letter to Mandelblit warning that if he (Mandelblit) were to proceed with the charges, he would “endanger democracy and freedom of the press” in Israel. Dershowitz pointed out that “Voters, not the police or the courts, should decide Netanyahu’s future.”
In his open letter to Mandelblit, Dershowitz argued:
“According to press reports, you are about to charge the Prime Minister with charges related to his relationship with the media. In my view, any such charges would, as I pointed out in the attached article, endanger democracy and freedom of the press… Such charges would open the Pandora’s box out of which would flow a parade of horribles: every government official – legislators , judges, prosecutors, police officers, administrators – who sought positive coverage with the media, and did anything that helped the media, would have to be investigated.”
Dershowitz went on to say:
“In the case of the Yediot Ahronot matter, more than 40 Knesset and cabinet members voted in favor of the newspaper, while PM Netanyahu effectively killed the bill and went into elections. Many of these Knesset members then received positive coverage in Yediot Ahronot. Yet they were not investigated. Only the PM (Netanyahu), who killed the bill, is being persecuted. This disparity illustrates the enormous discretion prosecutors have in selectively prosecuting alleged violators of this open-ended prosecutorial tool…Any such charge would give law enforcement far too much power to dictate to the media and to the officials they cover how they relate to each other. In a democracy, criticism of the relationship between media and government should be left to voters, not prosecutors. I urge you to consider the dangerous implications for democracy and the freedom of the press if you go forward with these charges against the PM.”
In the Yediot Ahronot case, Netanyahu was alleged to have worked out a deal with the paper’s publisher, Arnon Mozes, for favorable coverage in exchange for a bill that would weaken the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, Israel Hayom. In another case, the police had alleged that Netanyahu and his family received cigars, champagne, and jewelry from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan. In exchange, Netanyahu has allegedly pushed for the so-called Milchan Law, which would exempt returned Israelis (from abroad) from paying taxes for 10 years. There is also the Bezeq case. The police “suspect” that PM Netanyahu took bribes and acted in a conflict of interest in intervening in a regulatory decision that favored Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, Israel’s major telecommunications company. Netanyahu vowed to refute all the allegations, which he described as “blood libel.” He dismissed the police recommendations as having “no legal status.” In his emotional speech Netanyahu said that “the Left knows that it cannot win in the ballot box, therefore it put tremendous pressure on the attorney general who is only human.” Netanyahu promised, “This house of cards will collapse.”
On March 4, 2019, Netanyahu launched the Likud election campaign by first shaking hands with his chief rival within the Likud, Gideon Saar, in a show of unity within the party. Addressing the nation, Netanyahu said that (translated from Hebrew) “our strength comes from our people, and from you, the best team in Israel. You’re not some team made up by an advertising firm, you’re an experienced and capable team, democratically elected by tens of thousands of dues paying party members.”
He pointed out that an annual report published recently (March 3, 2019) in the U.S., rating the strongest nations in the world, placed Israel as the 8th strongest nation in the world. The report highlighted Israel’s global influence. This is a direct result of the policies we’re leading. It is a direct result of the international connections I have cultivated consistently over the years.
Netanyahu confronted the Center-Left bloc, led by Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz of the new Blue and White (Kahol-Lavan) Party, in particular. “The left”, Netanyahu said, “has recommended a path of surrender, concessions, and weakness. We, on the other hand, chose a path of national pride, strength, and honor. The results are for all to see except for the media. In Warsaw (last month) I was together with six Arab foreign ministers, all in the open, not hidden from the world.” Netanyahu added: “when I meet with my friend, President Trump or my friend President Putin, or any other world leaders in Beijing or Tokyo or Chad, I am filled with pride as the representative of the citizens of Israel. We need to continue this successful way.”
The Israeli media has certainly pandered to the new Blue and White party led by the former chief-of staff, Gen. Benny Gantz. Known as the party of the Generals (the leadership includes former chief-of-staffs Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi), it has been careful in its pronouncements, hoping to win some votes from the majority of Israeli voters who are leaning right-of-center.
Notwithstanding the backwind Kahol-Lavan is receiving from the media, the most recent poll by Israel Hayom and i24 NEWS-TV through Maagar Mohot polling service, Kahol-Lavan leads the Likud by 9 mandates (seats) with 38mandates to the Likud 29. However, the Right bloc is far larger, and would garner 62 mandates. According to the poll, the Right Unity Parties will get 9 mandates, the New Right 8, Torah Judaism 6, and Shas (the Sephardic Orthodox party) 6, Moshe Kahlon’s (current Finance Minister) Kulanu party will get 4 for a total of 62 mandates in the Knesset 120 seats. The Center-Left with Kahol-Lavan’s 38 mandates, Labor 7, and Meretz 6, brings that bloc a total of 51 seats. Should it include the 7 mandates of the Arab Ta’al party of Ahmed Tibi as a voting bloc, it would still not have enough votes to form a governing coalition. In this case, under the best possible scenario, Kahlon’s Kulanu party would join the Kahol-Lavan coalition, thus giving it 55 seats, not enough to form a stable coalition government, since the Arab party is likely to bolt on key decisions. In recent days, Gantz has made overtures to the orthodox parties, knowing full well that without them he won’t be able to form a stable governing coalition.
Asked in the same poll, who is more suitable to serve as prime minister – Netanyahu or Gantz, 43% of respondents said Netanyahu, 36% said Gantz. Netanyahu may be down, be he certainly is not out.