ADL alarmed by author speaking to Congress who links gun control and Holocaust

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern that a witness at a congressional hearing on a controversial gun bill  wrote a book arguing that gun control rendered Jews defenseless during the Holocaust.

Stephen Halbrook, who wrote “Gun Control in the Third Reich” in 2015, is set to appear Tuesday at a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, which is considering the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act. The bill would loosen controls on transporting firearms across state lines, an area that Halbrook has litigated as a prominent gun rights attorney.

“We have long been concerned about facile comparisons of gun control legislation in America to policies upheld by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, said in an email to JTA. “The national debate over gun control is a divisive issue with many strong opinions. While there are legitimate arguments on both sides, the notion that Jews could have saved themselves from the Nazi onslaught is not one of them. It is historically inaccurate and deeply offensive to bring the Holocaust into this debate where it simply does not belong.”

Halbrook’s book argued that a key element in the Nazis’ repressive policies was the disarming of Nazi enemies, a theory embraced last year by the then-presidential candidate and now-Housing Secretary Ben Carson. Halbrook emphasizes in his book that gun control was not a factor leading to the Holocaust. Instead, he says, it facilitated it.

Historians of Nazi Germany have widely discredited the theory, saying that whatever restrictions on gun purchases the Nazis placed on Jews must be seen as part of the array of repressive measures Nazis imposed on Jews and not as Nazis favoring gun controls per se. In fact, the Nazis in 1938 loosened controls on gun ownership for non-Jewish Germans.

Others have questioned how Jews in Germany, who made up only 1 percent of the population, could have staged an effective rebellion against the Nazis’ military regime.

JTA was alerted to Halbrook’s scheduled appearance before the committee by Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control advocacy group founded by Gabrielle Giffords, the Jewish Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot and critically wounded by a gunman in 2011 in a deadly attack. She has since retired from Congress.

David Chipman, a senior adviser to the group, also appeared as a witness, testifying against a provision of the bill that would loosen restrictions on silencers. Its sponsor, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., says silencers protect hunters’ hearing.


‘You’re speaking immigrant’: Oklahoma man (White Idiot) goes on berserk rant caught on video by Hispanic woman



An Oklahoma woman was accosted at a thrift store by another shopper who overheard her speaking Spanish on her cell phone.

The Durant woman, Maty Roberts, was speaking to her sister on the phone while shopping at Goodwill when an unshaven white man approached her and began hurling racial slurs, reported KXII-TV.

She said he also harassed her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend before Roberts began recording video.

“He just kept spitting out words, like, ‘You’re an immigrant and you need to go back to your country,’” said the woman’s daughter, Alison Roberts.

The boyfriend, Dakota Hodge, confronted the man as Roberts recorded the encounter.
“Sir, are you the one who hates wetbacks?” Hodge said.

The man replied by repeating a racial slur over and over.

“Wetbacks, wetbacks, wetbacks — because you’re an immigrant,” the man said, and interrupted when Roberts tried to speak. “No, you’re speaking immigrant.”

Roberts said her daughter left the store after the man approached her, and then the man confronted her at the checkout line.
“I don’t speak English, I don’t speak English, no comprende, no comprende — you lousy-speaking immigrant,” the man said, apparently mocking her.

Maty Roberts asked for the man’s name, which he said was “Goofy,” and police arrived after the man left the store, and he told them the same thing from the passenger seat of a car.

“Get that b*tch out of here, get that b*tch out of here,” the man told officers. “I’ll show you World War III, it starts right here.”

“Immigrant, immigrant, immigrant,” the man bellowed. “F*cking wetback.”

The man refused to show identification, and he eventually told officers his name was Jack but would not give his last name.

He then told police he needed to go home because his blood pressure was high, but he continued taunting Roberts.

“On this side of the Red River, north of the Rio Grand, north of the Red River, we speak English and English only,” the man said.

Ex-Mossad chief: On thwarting Iran, Netanyahu should be speaking to Putin, not Trump



Israel’s former spymaster Efraim Halevy urged Israel to reach out to Russia in its efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program and other ambitions, since Moscow, unlike Washington, has direct influence over Tehran.

Halevy was setting out his view of the world today, from Vladmir Putin’s Russia to Donald Trump’s America and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, at Jerusalem’s Beit Shmuel theater on Sunday night, in an event sponsored by The Times of Israel.

“If you’re an Israeli prime minister and you want to rein in Iran, why would you go to Washington?” the London-born Halevy, speaking from over four decades of experience in the Mossad, asked rhetorically. “If you go to Washington and say your biggest problems are: Iran, Iran and Iran,” he said, referring to Netanyahu’s White House talks with US President Donald Trump earlier this month, “what do you say in Moscow?”

Halevy, 82, who stressed he was no longer briefed on the work of the Mossad and didn’t want to be — he said dryly that he carries enough secrets already — also advocated attempting to speak directly with Iran and with most of Israel’s other foes.

“It is essential to talk to your enemy. You must do it, but we haven’t been,” he said. “We have to talk to Hamas. We must talk to [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal. Everybody’s talking to him.” (Halevy was brought out of retirement by Netanyahu to head the Mossad in 1998, having salavaged Israel’s ties with Jordan following a botched Mossad assassination attempt on Mashaal’s life in Amman the previous year.)

Reflecting for a moment, Halevy added: “I don’t think we have to talk to Daesh. Daesh is something else.” (Daesh is the Arabic nickname for the Islamic State terrorist group.)

“What do you have to lose from talking to people?”

Efraim Halevy is interviewed by the Times of Israel's David Horovitz, February 26, 2017. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Halevy served in the Mossad for over 40 years. He started in 1961, after service in the army’s Education Corps, and left the clandestine agency after acting as its ninth chief from 1998 to 2002. He played a pivotal role in the peace negotiations with the Jordanians in the early 1990s.

Cover jacket, 'Man in the Shadows,' by Efraim Halevy. (Courtesy)

“I never had doubts about what I was doing. And I was never asked to do something I was uneasy about doing,” he said of his entire Mossad career.

Halevy appeared to take some degree of delight in noting that Israel’s only successful attempts at making peace with its Arab neighbors came about following direct involvement from his spy agency.

“Every successful peace agreement had some element of the Mossad in it. Everywhere where it failed, did not,” he said.

He noted that six Israeli prime ministers have attempted to make peace with Syria, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who tried twice, but all of them failed. The last efforts foundered over Bashar Assad’s demand for “paddling” rights on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, he recalled, and said he was sure that the intelligence services could have come up with some kind of formula to resolve that demand, had they been asked to do so.

Had the Mossad been more involved in attempts at peace with Syria, had a deal been struck, and if as a consequence “three million Israelis were eating hummus in Damascus,” he suggested, the history of Syria and the neighborhood might have been very different from the past years of civil war.

‘Limited sovereignty’ won’t work

Interviewed by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz in front of a sold-out crowd, the former spy master required little questioning. Prompted with a short query, Halevy would often launch into lengthy answers, including historical insights, personal anecdotes and droll humor.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz (photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

He recalled being taught chemistry in Israel in the eighth grade by famed contrarian thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who on the last day of class “taught us how to make an atomic bomb.”

The white-haired, bespectacled British-born Halevy, who came to Israel aged 14 in 1948, is often compared to John le Carré’s fictional “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” spymaster George Smiley. But though a reader of Le Carré’s espionage novels, Halevy has said the character was not based upon him in any way.

Unassuming and proper, Halevy was prone to sitting back in his orange chair on stage with his fingers intertwined. He regularly addressed the audience as “ladies and gentlemen here tonight” and started many of his remarks with “let me be clear.”

Early in the conversation, Halevy was asked about the qualities that he thought led to him being recruited into the Mossad, and spoke of his language skills, and his persuasive abilities — the art of what he called “gentle persuasion”:

Along with biographical questions, Horovitz’s prompts centered around the conflict with the Palestinians and Israel’s strategic stance.

Halevy said he expected some degree of conflict between “Mr. Trump” and “Mr. Netanyahu” over the issue of the Palestinians. Trump, he said, was interested in “making a deal” between the two sides, while Netanyahu was in the business of “maintaining the conflict.”

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

According to Halevy, the government was not actively trying to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, but was conducting a “maintenance operation.” He warned that without taking risks toward reaching a resolution with the Palestinians, Israel “will never get anywhere.”

“Maybe today that’s necessary because of public interest. But I think that maintaining the conflict has enormous risk,” he said.

Halevy was wary of directly criticizing Netanyahu, but expressed doubt regarding the viability of the prime minister’s declared vision of a “state-minus” for the Palestinians. Under Netanyahu’s plan, the Palestinians would be granted a demilitarized state, with Israel retaining overall security control.

He referred specifically to a failed attempt at a regional peace agreement last year that was centered around this concept, in which Netanyahu met Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

“I don’t know what ‘limited sovereignty’ is. I know what sovereignty is. I know what ‘not sovereignty’ is,” he said.

Halevy was skeptical that Palestinians would ever agree to such a notion, since it would require them to accept Israeli security concerns as being more important than their own desire for a full state.

The third-largest superpower

The former head of the Mossad spoke with a mixture of admiration and concern about Putin, who he said was the “near perfection of an intelligence officer.”

Netanyahu “should be complimented for reaching a level of dialogue” with Moscow, which has been taking a previously unknown level of interest in the Middle East, he said.

Halevy cited World War II, in which Russia and Germany began as allies under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, but later became bitter enemies, in order to show that Moscow has historically had no qualms about switching sides suddenly and dramatically.

For now, Israel and Russia have some level of cooperation in Syria. Russia has boots on the ground to bolster the Assad regime, while Israeli jets reportedly conduct airstrikes there to thwart arms transfers to the Hezbollah terrorist group. But that dynamic could change, he said.

A Russian Su-24 fighter jet taxis at an air base near Latakia, Syria, with an alleged S-400 air defense battery in the background. (Russian Defense Ministry Facebook)

Russia is also working working alongside the Iranians in Syria, he noted, and Putin is a key figure when it comes to Israel’s nemesis, Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit in Tehran on November 23, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Moscow, which Netanyahu is due to visit next month, is the more relevant address for issues concerning the Islamic Republic, he said, also citing Russia’s “massive” rearmament of Iran following the nuclear accord that was signed in 2015.

“I think the Israeli public is entitled to know about the massive Russian support for Iran,” Halevy said.

Halevy said it was a mistake to refer to Iran as presenting an “existential threat” to Israel, which he described as “indestructible.”

Founder and editor-in-chief of The Times of Israel, David Horovitz (Times of Israel)

Horovitz asked if he believed Israel was laboring under a false “siege mentality,” referring to the notion that the country is constantly under threat. “Are we stronger than we think we are?” he asked.

“I think so,” Halevy answered.

Speaking about the new US president, Halevy encouraged caution.

“I think we have to wait a little before assessing what we’re in for. I think we have to wait a little before we know what the significance of Trump’s victory is. Not to divulge any secrets, but I don’t think [Trump] knows either,” he said, prompting laughs from the crowd.

“I don’t know if he’s playing a part, if he’s an actor. Or if he means what he says. But I hope we won’t be in for a rude awakening.”

Netanyahu bans ministers from speaking to Trump administration



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned government ministers from speaking with President-elect Donald Trump or members of his administration.

Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman sent a letter on Monday to ministers instructing them not to speak with the nascent government.

The letter instructed ministers that all contact must be either through the Prime Minister’s Office or the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

This highly unusual move follows the publication of a letter on Saturday written by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) to Stephen Bannon on the Breitbart website. Ariel thanked Bannon for his support of and friendship with Israel.

President-elect Donald Trump's appointment for senior counselor and chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon looks on during a national security meeting with advisers at Trump Tower, October 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ariel specifically mentioned Bannon’s opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, his opposition to BDS boycotts of Israel, and Breitbart opening a Jerusalem bureau “to promote Israeli points of view in the media.”

Bannon, who was appointed as President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has been roundly condemned by many Israeli and Jewish groups for his alleged support of the white nationalist alt-right movement.

Last week, as the results of the election were announced, Netanyahu instructed his government not to speak publicly about the new president-elect. However the instruction was issued only after several right-wing ministers had praised Trump in the media for his supposed support for Israeli activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu himself congratulated Trump shortly after the results were announced.

“The bond between the US and Israel is based on shared values, shared interests and a shared future. I am sure that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the US and we will bring them to new heights,” he said.

The prime minister also released a video after the election congratulating Trump.

Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer met with Trump in New Yorkon Thursday, and declared that Jerusalem was looking forward to working with his entire team — including Bannon.

“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Dermer told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

President says he is no longer speaking to Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have not spoken for nearly two months, the president revealed Tuesday.

Relations between the two have been particularly strained since Rivlin openly criticized Netanyahu for his combative stance toward US President Barack Obama.
Their last meeting took place July 17. Till then, the two had met at least once each month since Rivlin’s election last year.

Netanyahu reportedly met with Rivlin’s predecessor Shimon Peres every two weeks over dinner.

“I think we’ve said [to each other] everything that can be said — not about the Iranian issue but about our relations with the international community,” Rivlin told Army Radio in an interview published Wednesday morning, when asked why the two had not met since mid-July.

He indicated the disagreements over Netanyahu’s foreign policy were the cause of the disconnect.

“We’ve said everything that can be said on this issue, and until the question is off the agenda we probably don’t have to meet, because each of us is busy with the same issues,” he said.

There was no immediate response from Netanyahu, who was en route to London Wednesday morning for a state visit.

In July, Rivlin chastised Netanyahu’s policy toward Washington. “Israel has three things it must ensure – its relationship with the United States, its relationship with the United States, and its relationship with the United States,” he said.

He reiterated the criticism in the Wednesday interview in a reference to Netanyahu’s March speech to the US Congress on the Iran nuclear deal.

“There’s no doubt we’d be very angry if the American president had come to the Knesset and argued against the government of Israel. We’d ask why we were hosting a guest who preaches for or calls to support one position or another in our [political] system,” he told Army Radio.

There is a long history of enmity between the two longtime Likud politicians. Netanyahu torpedoed Rivlin’s reelection as Knesset speaker in 2013 and worked to prevent Rivlin’s election as president last year, while Rivlin was not shy about criticizing Netanyahu and other cabinet ministers during his term as speaker.