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Dear Reader: 
 

2017 is on track to see a significant change in U.S. relationships with friends and foes across the Middle East.  As Director of the Forum’s Washington Project (WP), my work centers on translating MEF’s research and recommendations into action with the executive branch and with Congress. 

To aid the Trump administration's execution of the President's pledge to establish a commission on radical Islam, MEF has prepared a comprehensive plan for its implementation. 

 

In Congress, MEF will soon announce a new and bipartisan coalition to support our Israel Victory Project (which calls for Washington to back an Israel victory and a Palestinian defeat to resolve their conflict). We are also working on a parallel caucus in the Knesset and other sources of support in Israel to bolster the message.

 

We have been working since April, 2016 to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. A new bill from Sen. Ted Cruz toward this end is likely to pass and the White House has signaled an intention to sign it. (For more details, see the Spotlight below on Cynthia Farahat.)

 

The shakeup in Washington is good for us. An invigorated focus on combatting radical Islam and supporting Israel gives MEF a chance to makes its mark on policy as never before. 

 

I look forward to your learning of our successes in the months ahead.


Sincerely, 



Cliff Smith

Director
The Washington Project
The Battle for Mosul: A Frontline Report
by Jonathan Spyer
So how is the fight against Islamic State in Iraq's second city going? Slower than expected, but in the right direction, is the verdict of Captain Ra'ad Karim Qasim of the Golden Division.  Mosul is an overwhelmingly Sunni Arab city. Many of its inhabitants welcomed the jihadists when they arrived in the summer of 2014. The stark sectarian dynamics of Iraq mean that many Sunni residents are now mainly afraid not of the departing Islamic State forces, but of the government troops coming in, and with them the possibility of revenge attacks.
Click here to read more

 
Linda Sarsour, the Left’s Latest Star
by Daniel Pipes
What to make of Linda Sarsour, Brooklyn, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against President Trump's immigration order and the new, seemingly ubiquitous symbol of the hard Left-radical Islam alliance? Sarsour, in brief, is "venerated by leftists," observes Muslim reformer Shireen Qudosi. And Islamists too: for example, Al-Jazeera celebrates her  Her long record of incompetence, extremism, vulgarity, and eccentricity makes us wonder how Islamists and Leftists jointly swoon, as they do, over Linda Sarsour. If she's their vaunted star, conservatives can rest easy.
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Why Israelis Like Trump
By Efraim Inbar

Israel is a very pro-American country, maybe the most so in the world. As in the past, Israelis followed the U.S. presidential election with extreme interest, amazed that the American political system didn't produce more palatable presidential candidates. In a poll following Donald Trump's victory, 83% of Israelis considered Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the "worst" U.S. president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years. Indeed, after eight years of tense relations with the Obama admin, most Israelis are relieved to see a friend in the White House.

Click here to read more

Turkey's Record-breaking Academic Purge
by Burak Bekdil
A Turkish university these days, expanding on historian Shelby Foote's famous quip, is "just a group of buildings gathered around a library," a mosque, and classrooms cleansed of unwanted scholars.  The "Great Turkish Purge" launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist, autocratic government in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July surprised many in its size. It should not have done. The failed putsch gave Erdogan's government a golden opportunity to advance his crackdown on dissent of every kind.
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  • Middle East Forum Education Fund (MEFEF) grantee Dr. William A. Saxton, Chairman of Citizens for National Security, received praise for his work vetting textbooks in the Palm Beach County School District in Florida.  Due to his organization's work over the last four years, the district (the 11th larges in the nation) now has accurate, unbiased textbooks for grades K-12. 
  • Canary Mission, which is supported by MEFEF, successfully lead an effort to remove a pre-K teacher from a Texas school for posting violent, anti-Semitic remarks online.  Nancy Salem was one of 24 anti-Israel activists in Texas that Canary recently exposed.  The group posted screen shoots which showed Salem's re-tweets of posts that encouraged followers to kill Jews and deny the Holocaust.  Outrage from parents and the community followed, which lead to Salem's firing.
  • Dr. Clemens Heni of the Berlin International Center for the study of Anti-Semitism, another MEFEF grantee, successfully published the first German translation of The Israeli Nation-State: Political, Constitutional, and Cultural Challenges. 
MEF Writing Fellow - Cynthia Farahat

Cynthia Farahat, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, has been working closely with WP Director Cliff Smith on designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.  To this end, she has had more than 50 meetings with members of Congress and staffers and has encouraged them to support classifying the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization by discussing her personal story as well as her research, from a cache of thousands of previously undisclosed documents, into the nature of the Brotherhood. 

 

Cynthia is an Egyptian national and founder of the Liberal Egyptian party, which was the first secular classical liberal political party in the history of modern Egypt.  She has co-authored several books in Arabic, among them Desecration of a Heavenly Religion, which analyzed and criticized Egypt’s blasphemy law. The book was officially banned in Egypt by al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2008. Cynthia’s work on countering Islamic terrorism has lead Lebanon’s intelligence officials to officially bar her from entering the country.  She also received hundreds of death threats from Islamists and was placed on an al-Qaeda affiliated hit list.

 

During January, 2011 protests, violence against her family and her associates, and numerous threats to her life, prompted her to flee to the United States where she was granted political asylum.


She is currently a columnist in the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Maqal and is writing a book in English on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thursday, March 2
Lunch in Boston with Gregg Roman
In the first 40 days of his term, President Trump has already taken bold steps on vetting Islamists and strengthening ties with Israel. Gregg Roman, the Forum's director, will review other potential policy actions for the first 100 days of the Trump administration, providing insights and hope for the next four years.
Contact: Patel@MEForum.org
Wednesday, March 22
Lecture in Stanford, CT with Daniel Pipes
The Middle East is in Upheaval: Interpreting and Predicting.  In a tour d'horizon, Daniel Pipes will discuss background on Middle East cataclysms since 2011, analyze their significance and make predictions. 
Contact: Patel@MEForum.org
Thursday, March 30
Lunch in Chicago with Daniel Pipes and Gregg Roman
Mr. Pipes and Mr. Roman will discuss new and emerging Trump administration policies, followed by recent regional developments (in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt) and conclude with an assessment of the role of Middle East immigration in forthcoming, European elections.
Contact: Patel@MEForum.org

The Middle East Forum is a Philadelphia-based think tank working to define and promote American
interests in the Middle East and protect Western values from Middle Eastern threats.

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