Your weekly look at the latest news, analysis, and RJC activities around the country.
RJC e-Newsletter ~ December 31, 2015
In this issue: Obama administration spied on Israel, Congress  |  Compare and contrast | Upcoming events   | Short takes
Obama administration spied on Israel, Congress

In a must-read article this week, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration intercepted and listened to private conversations between Israeli leaders and U.S. lawmakers and between Israeli officials and Jewish-American organizations. The White House wanted that intelligence in order to counter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lobbying efforts against President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

The WSJ relates that after the embarrassing Snowden revelations of U.S. spying on Western allies such as Germany and France, the White House announced that such eavesdropping would stop. But when it came to Israel, NSA surveillance continued, even when it was clear that such eavesdropping included the contents of conversations with U.S. lawmakers and Jewish activists.

James Jay Carafano writes that countries spy on each other, even allies, but:

What is troubling about these revelations is how the process was managed from the White House.

Elliott Abrams argues that serious national security concerns are the only justifiable reason to spy on our friends.  Doing so to sway domestic politics is a scandal:

Sure, there can be exceptions and moments when the rules must be suspended briefly for national-security reasons. But the pattern of capturing allies' internal communications, the communications of senators and congressmen and women, and the speech and emails of Americans engaged in politics is what we see in the new revelations about Obama-era spying. The administration faced a battle in Congress, and it spied on the other side. That's the kind of conduct we see in third-world countries where control of the spy agency is one of the ways an incumbent regime holds on to power and defeats its political opponents. It ought to be a major scandal when such practices reach the United States.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking into the WSJ's allegations that the intelligence community collected communications between Israeli officials and members of Congress. In addition, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has requested that the NSA provide his committee with documentation of its policies and procedures with regard to communications involving members of Congress.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel would submit a formal protest if reports that the NSA was spying on Israeli officials are found to be true.
Compare and contrast

When it was found that a world-renowned Israeli defense expert had classified information on his personal, unencrypted computer, his celebrated career ended abruptly.

When it was found that a senior American government official had classified information on her personal, unencrypted email server, she continued her campaign for President and was touted in the mainstream media as  the most admired woman in the world.

Upcoming Events
Atlanta Chapter
1/10/2016   Event with Shoshana Bryen on Mideast security issues 

Dallas Chapter
1/29/2016   Leadership conversation with Rep. Pat Meehan

Los Angeles Chapter - Save these dates!
1/20/2016  "American Jihad" with Fox News Correspondent Lisa Daftari

1/26/2016  "Can Obama Defeat ISIS?" - event with Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center

2/1/2016  Iowa Caucus Results Party

Short takes

*   The invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress that so angered President Barack Obama -- and contributed to the breakdown in relations between Obama and Netanyahu -- all began with a routine phone call between then-House Speaker John Boehner and the incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, according to this report.

Victor Davis Hanson explains the nature of deterrence and how President Obama lost the power of deterrence through his statements and policies.

* Glenn Reynolds applauds the news that global poverty has fallen below 10% for the first time ever. He explains that free market capitalism and free inquiry -- not redistributionist government programs -- have changed the world for the better.
Happy new year!
2016 will be a critically important year for our country and our community. 

We hope it will be a happy and successful year for you and your family.
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