Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) issued the following statement:
President Obama’s terrorism speech was a frightening disgrace. Not only was there no new policy, but it was filled with falsehoods about the daily intelligence briefings. It misled us on his exaggerated bombing raids, intimidated Americans into silence of suspicious radical Muslim activity, while dismissing legitimate American concerns of bringing Syrian Muslim refugees to America. And why did he spend a disproportionate amount of time defending Muslims and warning us against anti-radical Muslim actions when there is no evidence of any outbreak of increased violence against American Muslims? In fact, the clear majority of hate crimes in America are against Jews — at four times the rate compared to Muslims. President Obama’s speech last night offered virtually nothing to comfort the American people’s well-warranted fears about the radical Islamist threat to our country. The president’s speech also included serious distractions from the real issues. Moreover, many of the steps the president listed to combat ISIS are not being implemented as stated, are ineffective, unrealistic, and/or counterproductive.
Why is Pres. Obama refusing to use all of our resources to destroy the greatest scourge facing the world and America, namely radical Islamist Jihadist terrorism? Why won’t he state that we are at war with radical Islam, as president Hollande of France and others did? Obama’s speech brings to mind his refusal to attend the anti-radical Muslim rally in Paris, his ordering the deletion of the term “radical Islam” in our military documents, his releasing radical Islamic terrorists from Guantanamo, and his invitations to Muslim Brotherhood to meet at the White House. It reminds one of his attendance for 20 years at Rev. Wright’s anti-America, anti-Israel church, his claiming that Hezbollah and Hamas have legitimate claims, and telling Jewish leaders that Abbas is sincere about peace, but Jewish and Israeli leaders should search their souls to see if they are serious about peace, and his opposing sanctions on Iran every time they were introduced, and on and on. Is the president’s attitude toward radical Islam an appropriate attitude?
Here are some specific areas of concern:
1. President Obama’s speech reinforced the “political correctness” that discourages and intimidates the American public into not reporting suspicious activities by Muslims. Neighbors of the San Bernardino terrorists did not report the terrorists’ suspicious activities because the neighbors feared being accused of bigotry and “racial profiling.”
2. The President’s speech showed no respect for the American people’s legitimate concern about bringing Muslim Syrian refugees here, and our legitimate worries that this would increase ISIS infiltration, radical Islamic terrorism, rapes and other attacks. Even prior to the San Bernardino massacre, Americans opposed bringing in more Syrian refuges, by a margin of 2 to 1, and 47 Democrats joined their Republican brethren in voting to restrict Syrian Muslim immigration, for good reason: U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress that U.S. intelligence officials have a “huge concern” about Islamic State’s ability to infiltrate Syrian refugees flowing into Europe and potentially the United States. Lebanon’s education minister Elias Bousaab warned that two in every 100 Syrian migrants smuggled into Europe are ISIS-trained jihadists, sent under cover to attack targets in the West. President Obama’s FBI Director James Comey admitted in Congressional testimony that we have no data for vetting Syrian refugees.
3. Similarly, the President’s claim that “it is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country” violates U.S. law – as well as endangers U.S. security. Under federal law, the definition of “refugees” who may obtain asylum in the U.S. includes persons being persecuted or having a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home country on account of their religion. (See 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(3) and 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)(A).)
4. President Obama described the Christmas party where the radical Islamists attacked innocent Americans as a “holiday party.” Why? Was this to avoid acknowledging that radical Islamists were attacking a Christian celebration?
5. The President’s statement that “we have no evidence that the [San Bernardino] killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home” was apparently false. The San Bernardino terrorists’ actions, ability to exercise a military-style operation, skill at (and costs of) building, modifying, acquiring and operating a huge arsenal of assault weapons and IEDs, and ability to execute difficult maneuvers such as shooting and hitting pursuing police out of the back of a moving vehicle (which requires significant advanced training), all indicate that the terrorists received outside funding and specialized training – the earmarks of a conspiracy.
6. President Obama again refused to use the term “radical Islamist terrorism.”
As the Homeland Security Committee’s Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Chairman, Congressman Peter King (R-NY), aptly noted: “Nothing the president proposed or spoke about had any relevance or connection to the San Bernardino massacre. Once again he failed to say that our enemy is Islamist terrorism. Nor did he call for increased surveillance of the Muslim community. Instead he tried to raise the phony specter of Islamophobia.” Presidential candidate Donald Trump likewise tweeted: “Obama refused to say (he just can’t say it), that we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS.” Similarly, Governor Mike Huckabee stated on Fox News: “We are fighting them here. They are here. . . . it is radical Islam.”
7. President Obama’s claim in his speech that we have decimated the al Queda leadership is overly optimistic. As the federal district court in the Havlish case found, based upon a seven-year investigation (which followed up on leads about Iranian complicity that the official 9-11 Commission Report (p. 241) initially uncovered), much of the al Queda leadership and fighters and their families fled to Iran after 9-11. They used Iran as a base of operations for directing IED attacks which killed hundreds of our American servicemen in Iraq. Al Queda continues to be active in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Mali and elsewhere. Prominent al Queda leaders, including its global leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (who was #2 under Osama bin Laden), continue to lead al Queda. Al Queda perpetrated the deadly attack on a Mali hotel one week after ISIS perpetrated the massacre last month;the New York Times called al Queda’s Mali attack part of a lethal al Queda-ISIS rivalry.
8. President Obama’s attempt to confine the terrorist threat to two “organizations” (al Queda and ISIS), and the president’s statement that “Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11″ woefully understates the scope and length of radical Islamic attacks on our nation. The president’s statements also ignore the dangers of Iran, Iran’s terrorist proxies, the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists. Radical Islamic terrorists have been at war with America since the Iranian Islamic regime seized the American embassy in Teheran in 1979, and held hostage and tortured 52 Americans for 444 days. In the 1980s and 1990s, Islamic Iranian-supported Hezbollah terrorists attacked and murdered hundreds of Americans in barracks in Lebanon, embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the Khobar Towers residence in Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.S. Cole. (Al Queda also were involved in the later attacks.) Palestinian Arab Islamist terrorist groups have repeatedly killed Americans in Israel. President Obama refuses to acknowledge the common anti-Western ideology and terrorism perpetrated by the numerous tentacles of radical Islam.
9. The President’s claim that “For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing” is belied by the reports from dozens of US intelligence professionals, including America’s former Defense Intelligence chief, Michael Flynn, that Obama ignored clear intelligence and “dire” warnings about ISIS’ rise in 2012 because the dire intelligence reports “didn’t meet the [Obama] narrative”; and that there was a “persistent effort. . . to downplay or even change reports that questioned how much progress [was made by] a U.S.-led coalition.” The President’s briefing attendance claim is also belied by the Government Accountability Office’s report, compiled from the White House’s official calendar, that President Obama only attends the in-person Presidential Daily Briefing 42.1 percent of the time. (In other words, he skips four out of every seven briefings.)
10. President Obama’s statement “it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination [against Muslims]” concocts a form of discrimination that is virtually non-existent among the American public. FBI hate crime statistics throughout the past two decades confirm that bias offenses against Jews, Asians, whites, blacks, lesbians, other members of the LGBT community, Hispanics, and other ethnicities are all far greater than offenses against Muslims.
Presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio aptly called the President’s diversion of spending a significant amount of time talking about discrimination against Muslim “cynicism” and asked rhetorically: “Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims? . . . I think not only did the president not make things better tonight, I fear he may have made things worse in the minds of many Americans.”
11. The President’s assertion that “we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground” is another apparent falsehood. The head of the United States Central Command in the Middle East, General Lloyd J. Austin III, told the Senate Arms Service Committee in September that only four or five Syrian individuals trained by the United States military to confront the Islamic State remain in the fight – and that the United States would not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian fighters anytime soon. The New York Times called this “a bleak acknowledgment that the Defense Department’s $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters has gone nowhere.”
12. The President also grossly exaggerated the impact of air strikes on ISIL. The President’s claim, “I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets” misleadingly omitted the fact that, as U.S. Army General (ret.) Jack Keane testified before the U.S. Senate, “Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs.” U.S. military strikes on ISIS number just 14 per day (versus 953 per day in the first Gulf war). For fifteen months, U.S. strikes have not hit ISIS oil trucks – a lifeblood of ISIS’s economic strength – because the trucks are driven by civilians, and this would violate President Obama’s “rules of engagement” that hamper American military efforts against ISIS. The New York Times also reported that “a group of intelligence analysts have provided investigators with documents they say show that senior military officers manipulated the conclusions of reports on the war against the Islamic State,” including regarding “the readiness of Iraqi security forces and the success of the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria.”
13. President Obama’s statement “we’ve hardened our defenses” is belied by the recent end of the NSA data collection program, cuts in the FBI’s budget that have severely hampered the FBIs anti-terrorism efforts, and the cuts in the U.S. military budget.
14. The coalition the President spoke of is also virtually non-existent. Last night, on Fox News, Lindsey Graham noted that it is a lie that there is a coalition to fight ISIS.
15. President Obama’s push for additional gun control regulations is a distraction and likely to be ineffective against the terrorism we are experiencing. The San Bernardino terrorists were not on the “no fly” list. In addition, the terrorists modified weapons and built pipe bombs; gun control won’t stop this.
16. Although, as noted above, President Obama still refuses to use the accurate term “radical Islamist terrorism,” we were pleased with one aspect of President’s speech, that the President began to acknowledge, in his words, “the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities” and called on Muslim leaders here and around the globe “to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Unfortunately, however, the President failed to mention that the same hateful radical Islamist ideology is also shared by numerous other entities that incite terror and terrorize and murder innocent civilians in the name of Islam – including Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PLO/Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah.
As Congressman Peter King accurately summed up the President’s address: “The truth is that the Obama policy against ISIS has failed totally and his speech totally failed to address or correct that failure! Nothing he said will calm the fears of the American people.”