The Assassination of Congresswoman Omar Has Already Been Planned, Many Times Over, and One of The White Christian Men Who Have Planned Her Assassination Will Carry It Out

I wish that headline was hyperbole, but it isn’t. And I wish I didn’t have to write it, but somebody does. And I want to make it clear that it is unacceptable that there are several men, all of them white, who self describe themselves as “patriots” and good “Christians”, and unfortunately, probably a few who self describe as “good Jews”, who are right now thinking about assassinating Congresswoman Omar, including how they would personally go about doing it. Unfortunately the simple truth is that in the United States, in 2019, this is most likely happening. The only good news, if you even want to call it that, is that the vast majority of these political snuff fantasies are just that: snuff fantasies. They will never be attempted. Unfortunately, there will be at least one, if not more than one, of the men who are fantasizing about striking a blow for America, the flag, mom, apple pie, and God in order to cleanse the Republic of the Islamic menace that they believe Congresswoman Omar poses who will actually try. And unlike Patrick Carlineo, the self described “patriot” and lover of the President, they won’t call in a threat first and, because they’re considerate in regard to the busy lives of the US Capitol Police Department, give their names to whichever staffer happens to answer the phone.

Congresswoman Omar is a target right now because one of her colleagues, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, decided to retweet a fake imam who both took Congresswoman Omar’s quote out of context in order to amplify and weaponize it against her and other Muslims and who, because he does this type of thing regularly, has become a darling of hard right politicians who would normally not give him the time of day.

Mohamed Tawhidi never completed his clerical training, he isn’t even a Hujat al Islam, which is the lowest rank of cleric within Twelver Shi’ism, but he does have a really big turban* He is, however, a self righteous fraud used by non-Muslim politicians to beat up on Muslims. Basically, Mohamed Tawhidi is the Candace Owens of Stephen Millers. (emphasis below is mine)

In the space of just 12 months, a man called Mohammad Tawhidi has come out of nowhere to become one of the most prominent Muslim voices in the Australian media.

Imam Tawhidi claims to be a Muslim leader — and a brave Muslim reformer.

Through his appearances in the mainstream media, Imam Tawhidi has warned that Australia is being “infested by extremist Muslims”.

“When I am worried about what I see is happening from my community and religion, trust me that there is something going on,” he told the Seven Network’s Today Tonight program on February 27, 2017.

On social media, his supporters, some from right wing groups, support his calls to shut down Muslim schools and ban Muslims from the Middle East coming to Australia.

But strangely for a Muslim leader, he has very few supporters in the Muslim community.

He has no mosque, and only a handful of followers. And just as curiously, he only appeared in the media for the first time just over a year ago.

So who was he before he became a media star?

This is what Imam Tawhidi claims about his educational qualifications:

“I travelled to Iran, to the holy city of Qom, in 2007, and I engaged in my Islamic studies from there. I received my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree in Islamic theology from the Al-Mustafa University.”

– Mohammad Tawhidi, 2GB, May 25, 2017

But Al-Mustafa International University in Iran says Imam Tawhidi has no bachelor’s degree from their university, let alone a master’s.

He started at the university, but dropped out.

In a letter, Al-Mustafa International University said:

“In spite of given warnings and notifications, the above-named person did not take heed of them each time and had not satisfactory academic record in his courses … he was placed on probation and [dropped] out on March 27, 2012 … the aforesaid person has no educational degree (or any given score) in his profile … Al-Mustafa University does not recommend Mohammad Touhidi for lecturing in any way. Accordingly, he has no competency to do religious activities or to preach sermons.”

His own teacher seems to contradict his teachings

Imam Tawhidi says he is a moderate Muslim reformer — but his very recent past shows he has connections to a religious leader who is anything but moderate.

After Imam Tawhidi dropped out of university, he fell in with a fringe seminary school in Iran, run by a controversial religious family known as the Shirazis.

Imam Tawhidi studied under its senior cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Husseini Shirazi, and later went to work in one of the Shirazi-run TV stations in Iraq.

In February 2016, when Imam Tawhidi set up his Islamic Association of South Australia in Adelaide, Ayatollah Shirazi put out a press release in Iran claiming a connection with Imam Tawhidi and this new Australian-based organisation.

However, the beliefs of Ayatollah Shirazi are not at all aligned with the moderate brand of Islam that Imam Tawhidi calls for when he appears on Australian television.

For example, central to Ayatollah Shirazi’s teachings is the insistence on an Islamic system of government, not a secular democracy.

Ayatollah Shirazi also teaches that women should be covered head to toe, and are not suited to holding positions in government, and that it is permissible for a girl to marry from the age of nine.

There is much more exposing the fraud that is Mohamed Tawhidi at the link. Unfortunately, all Congressman Crenshaw saw was someone claiming to be a Muslim cleric bashing Congresswoman Omar for saying something she didn’t say, which gave him both an excuse and a rhetorical weapon to go after Congresswoman Omar to score political points. This was, unfortunately, all Congressman Crenshaw was actually interested in.

So what did Congresswoman Omar actually say? Not the barbered clip taken out of context, but the actual remarks? I’m glad you asked. Here are the full set of the remarks before the barbered clip put out by Tawhidi and then amplified by Congressman Crenshaw. This portion of her remarks begin around the 12 minute mark of her speech and immediately follow Congresswoman Omar discussing how Muslims, in regard to fully claiming their civil liberties, can liberate themselves.

Muslims for a really long time in this country have been told that there is a privilege. That there is a privilege in that we are given and it might be taken away. We are told that we should be appropriate. We should go to school, get an education, raise our children, and not bother anyone. Not make any kind of noise. Don’t make anyone uncomfortable. Be a good Muslim. But no matter how much we have tried to be the best neighbor people have always worked on finding a way to not allow for every single civil liberty to be extended to us.

(Aside to someone in the audience: you can clap for that…)

So the truth is you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house. But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife, or maybe yourself, is having a baby, and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.

It doesn’t matter how good you were if you can’t have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal’s office. So to me, I say, raise hell; make people uncomfortable.

Because here’s the truth — here’s the truth: Far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say, “This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why.” Because that is a right you have.

And here’s the video so you can watch the entire speech and draw your own conclusions:

It is well documented that Muslim Americans, as well as those mistakenly identified as Muslims in America, such as Sikhs and non Muslim Arab Americans and non Muslim Americans whose families originated on the sub-continent/southeast Asia and from parts of sub-Saharan Africa, faced serious threats to and violations of their civil rights and liberties from all levels of government and law enforcement after 9-11. The NY Advisory Committee to the US Commission on Civil Rights actually conducted an investigation into these issues. Among their conclusions were (emphasis mine):

1. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was important that law enforcement authorities at all levels of government take steps to respond to the threat of terrorism. However, some actions have adversely affected the civil rights of immigrants and nonimmigrants, particularly members of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. Policies of particular concern are the federal government’s expanded authority to detain nonimmigrants without charge, to hold detainees with no possibility for release on bond, and, when final deportation orders have been issued, to subject detainees to prolonged confinement. Other policies of concern are the federal government’s Call-In Special Registration program and sharing of national databases on immigration status with state and local police.

2. There are parallels between the racial profiling of Japanese Americans during World War II, pre-9/11 profiling of African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and post-9/11 profiling of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. Racial profiling has been statistically proven by government studies, including the New York State Attorney General’s 1999 study of stop-and-frisk practices, to be an ineffective law enforcement tool for identifying criminal conduct. Much racial profiling of African Americans and Latinos continues unnoticed in the post-9/11 law enforcement environment. Beyond law enforcement acts of racial profiling related to drug prevention and street crime, racial profiling has taken on new dimensions targeting Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians regarding business license violations, financial transactions abroad, and international travel at airports.

3. There is a perception that local law enforcement authorities did not take seriously the complaints of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian residents who were subjected to hate crimes in acts of misplaced retaliation for the events of September 11. This has been an issue in the taxi industry, where many drivers are South Asian in origin. In the immediate months following 9/11, South Asian taxi drivers found themselves particularly vulnerable to attacks and in need of police protection.

4. The federal Call-In Special Registration program requiring male nationals 16 years and older from predominantly Muslim countries to register is seen by some as a form of racial profiling, targeting Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. The program ceased after nationals from predominantly Muslim countries had registered.

5. In New York City, implementation of the Call-In Special Registration program was marked by a lack of community education on the program’s requirements, excessive processing times lasting 14 hours or more, lack of sufficiently trained interviewers and translators, and inconsistent application of policies.

6. Persons required to undergo special registration in New York City were deprived of the right to counsel while interrogated by the investigations unit of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), when they were most vulnerable. If registrants were placed in detention, families were not informed of their whereabouts.

In sum, the law enforcement policies and practices described above pose a threat to civil rights and civil liberties, especially within New York’s Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. These programs may be counterproductive. They fuel distrust of law enforcement authorities among many members of affected communities, hinder local reporting of crimes, and diminish the cooperation between local police and community members necessary to identify and thwart future terrorists.

The entire report is at this link.

Unfortunately Congressman Crenshaw’s political and rhetorical attack was picked up and transmitted by Brian Kilmeade, the left boob of Fox News’ morning show A Blonde with Two Boobs on a Sofa, which is also doing business as the President’s Daily Briefing. And that’s how it got to the President who then decided to take the gasoline pump, turn it on, pump gasoline all over, light a match, and throw it in. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post decided that wasn’t a visible enough conflagration, so they threw a crate of fire crackers onto the pyre.

All of this, from the fake imam who conservatives and extremists on the right love to quote to Congressman Crenshaw doing exactly what you’d expect him to do in amplifying and weaponizing Tawhidi’s rhetorical hit job to the President finding a way of making it all about him because he cannot stand it if anyone else is getting any coverage to Rupert Murdoch’s minions making it worse, the die has been cast. Right now, somewhere in the United States, at least one white man who most likely describes himself as both a “patriot” and a “good Christian”, but possibly a “good Jew”, is planning to assassinate Congresswoman Omar in order to save the Republic from her. And at least one of these white men will be smart about what they are doing. They will hold their planning close. They will not make a threatening phone call and leave their real names with a staffer. They won’t tweet that they’re going to shoot her or cut her throat or whatever other snuff fantasy gets them off. They will, instead, quietly plan all while stewing in their own juices until their own internal pressure has built to the point where they decide to take action. And that day, which will, unfortunately, eventually come, will be a very, very, very bad day for America.

Finally, this is the creed of the Navy Seal. The creed that Congressman Crenshaw adopted professional fealty too as a Navy Special Warfare Officer. It might be a good idea for Congressman Crenshaw to reread the creed and take it to heart. (emphasis mine)

SEAL Ethos/Creed

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

Congressman Crenshaw: you have failed!

Open thread.

*  Having a really big turban is a common insult within the Twelver Shi’a community regarding clerics who have an overinflated sense of themselves and their authority. Drawings of Twelver Shi’a clerics with enormous turbans are often used in political cartoons lampooning them and their pronouncements.


Breaking: Suspect in Custody For Burning Down Three African American Churches in Louisiana

Glad they got him, but the description of the suspect in custody does not surprise me in the least.

From The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A 21-year-old named Holden Matthews has been arrested in connection with fires that destroyed three Louisiana churches in the span of two weeks, local news outlet KATC reports.

Throughout the end of March and in early April, three churches in rural St. Landry Parish were burned down. Matthews is reportedly the son of a St. Landry Parish Deputy, and he was booked into St. Landry Parish jail at about 5:30 this evening. Holden’s family declined to comment to The Daily Beast.

On a Facebook page that appears to belong to Matthews, he was active in black metal and pagan pages. Although both scenes are predominately apolitical, both have large neo-Nazi fanbases. Matthews commented on two memes about Varg Vikernes, a far-right (and self-described former neo-Nazi) metal musician who served 15 years in prison for burning churches in Norway and killing a fellow metal musician.

Matthews commented on two memes about Vikernes. Neither comment was particularly revealing, but they indicated his familiarity with the fringe figure. The pagan circles Matthews and Vikernes frequented can be popular with neo-Nazis. Matthews frequently posted about pagan beliefs, and recently uploaded a picture of a gun and a knife with the caption “I carry this…..maybe not legally but I only truly follow the law of Odin….. which says as you said,arm yourself…… Odins advice> modern law.” Odin is a pagan Norse god.

One of the pagan pages Matthews was active on specifically forbade racism and “nazi stuff.” Matthews also appeared aware of the religion’s white supremacist associations. In one post, a group member noted that a drawing of a pagan figure had a swastika-like design on his belt. “well yea the belt gives him extra strength and power…..white power lmao jk jk I had to,” Matthews wrote.”

From KATC Channel 3 (video and picture of Matthews at the link):

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, in collaboration with the ATF, FBI, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and several other local agencies have been investigating suspicious fires at three churches in St. Landry Parish.

US Attorney David Joseph released the following statement on the burnings.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.  A special thanks to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, H. “Butch” Browning Jr., Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Cybercrime Unit, the Louisiana State Police, and the Florida State Fire Marshal for working seamlessly with federal law enforcement agents in this investigation.”

The first fire occurred on March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. The second occurred at Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2. The third occurred on April 4 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

I’m sure Candace Owens will be along any time now to explain that these African American churches didn’t burn down and this isn’t domestic terrorism and/or a hate crime and/or the result of white supremacy, because white supremacy is a hoax. She wouldn’t lie to us, would she?

Also, obligatory:

Open thread!

If There’s One Thing Attorney General Barr Knows Its Legally Questionable Surveillance Programs

Well this is awkward…

From USA Today (emphasis mine):

Justice under AG Barr began vast surveillance program without legal review – in 1992, inspector general finds

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr launched a vast surveillance program that gathered records of innocent Americans’ international phone calls without first conducting a review of whether it was legal, the department’s inspector general concluded Thursday.

It happened in 1992, the last time Barr served as attorney general.

The secret program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, ultimately gathered billions of records of nearly all phone calls from the United States to 116 countries, with little oversight from Congress or the courts, a USA TODAY investigation found. It provided a blueprint for far broader phone-data surveillance the government launched after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Justice Department’s inspector general said both the DEA and the Justice Department “failed to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis” of its authority to gather those records.

The Inspector General’s report identified areas in which the program would be vulnerable to legal challenges, but did not reach a conclusion about whether it was lawful.

Attorney General Barr is going to be very, very sorry that he came out of retirement. The news media is going to go through his dirty laundry and the Intelligence Community is going to leak. The question is whether he’ll be smart enough to recognize the warning shots or whether he’ll just keeping doing what he was appointed to do: protect the President, not be the Attorney General of the United States.Attorney General Sessions was, amazingly enough, smart enough to get the hint. Is William Barr as smart as Jeff Sessions? Only time will tell.

Open thread!

Israeli Election Results: Hang On To Your Tuchases, It’s Gonna Get Meshugenah!

The Israeli election returns are very, very, very, very, very close. Right now at 6:15 PM EDT Haaretz has the average of the exit polls as Gantz’s Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) Party with 37 seats in Knesset, Netanyahu’s Likud Party with 35 seats, Shas (technically the Sephardic extreme right religious party) with 7 votes, the United Torah Judaism (UTJ – a partnership between the two most powerful Ashkenazi extreme right religious parties of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel) with 7 votes, (what’s left of) Labor with 7 points, the Hadash Ta’al Party (the non-Zionist Arab-Jewish communist party), the Rightist Union with 5, Meretz (the social democratic and green party) with 5, Yisrael Beiteinu (Avigdor Lieberman’s extreme right party) with 5, and Kulanu (centrist party focusing on economic issues) with 5.

Gantz has declared victory.

12:14 A.M. Gantz hails historic day for Israel

Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz told supporters Tuesday overnight he believes he should be the next prime minister, after exit polls suggest his party is either tied or leading over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. “This is a historic day,” Gantz told party activists in Tel Aviv.

“We wish to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service for this country, and say that despite our many differences, we will rise above our past disagreements and grudges,” Gantz said. “We will respect the voter’s will — the biggest party is the one that should … form the government.”

And one of the new Kahol Lavan Members of Knesset (MK) Orit Farkash HaCohen has put out a call for Likud MKs opposed to Netanyahu to abandon him and join Gantz in forming a governing coalition. From The Times of Israel:

Blue and White’s Farkash-Hacohen invites Likud rebels into gov’t, sans Netanyahu

Likely Blue and White MK-elect Orit Farkash-Hacohen tells The Times of Israel that she believes Benny Gantz will be able to form a coalition regardless of the final results for the right or left-center blocs.

“We will form a responsible coalition because we can work with parties from across the political spectrum,” she says.

Asked if that included the Likud, Farkash-Hacohen, number 15 on the Blue and White slate, repeats the party line that it would not sit with Netanyahu but that his party was an option.

Who will they speak to in Likud? “They will have to come to us first,” she says of potential Likud rebels. “And they are welcome to.”

The Labor Party’s chairman (for now…) has indicated that Labor will support Gantz and Kahol Lavan:

12:09 A.M. Labor chairman says disappointed with exit polls, Netanyahu must go

Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay told supporters he was disappointed with the exit poll results, which predicted his party receiving anywhere between six and eight Knesset seats, adding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must go.” Gabbay vowed to “spearhead the political and social struggle” against Netanyahu, facing potential charges in several corruption cases.

Gabbay also said he spoke with Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. “I told him we will do everything” necessary to help Gantz form a government, he said.

He also pushed back at criticism from his own party over his leadership, including some calls to resign, saying he will go on leading the Labor Party.

The Times of Israel‘s most recent live update indicates that Labor has pulled ahead in the actual tallying of votes and that the Kulanu Party leader will recommend Netanyahu for Prime Minister.

With 228,000 votes tallied, Likud ahead by 5%

228,367 votes have now been counted.

Likud is ahead, with 29%, compared to Blue and White’s 24%.

The front-runners are followed, in descending order, by Shas (6.3%), Yisrael Beytenu (5.5%), Labor (4.9%), United Torah Judaism (4.7%), Union of Right Wing Parties (3.8%), Kulanu (3.6%), Meretz (3.2%), the New Right (3.1%), Zehut (2.8%), Ra’am-Balad (2.6%), Hadash-Ta’al (2.2%) and Gesher (1.8%).

Kulanu leader says he’ll recommend Netanyahu for PM

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon says he’ll recommend Netanyahu as prime minister.

Reports earlier in the evening suggested Kahlon was waiting for the final results before making a decision.

Netanyahu, of course, has also declared victory and announced that he will have his new coalition government formed by tonight.

10:21 P.M. Netanyahu claims victory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory, minutes after Benny Gantz did the same. “The right-wing bloc led by Likud won a clear victory,” Netanyahu writes on Twitter. “I thank the citizens of Israel for their faith. I will begin forming a right-wing party with our natural partners tonight already.” (Jonathan Lis)

I expect that if Likud does not win a larger plurality than Gantz’s Kahol Lavan Party, then Bibi will do what he did when he lost to Tzipi Livni in 2009, which is simply form a majority coalition as quickly as possible and dare anyone to do something about it. I would expect that Benni Gantz, a retired 4 star general and former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces to put up more of a fight than Livni did in 2009, but Netanyahu has demonstrated time and time again that he really does not care about what the law requires and will do what he wants, when he wants to attain, maintain, and/or consolidate power. Which is why he sent Likudniks to polling places in Arab neighborhoods and had them plant over 1,200 cameras to surveil Israeli Arabs voting just to make sure that nothing untoward was being done by Israeli citizens exercising their right to vote. This led to police intervention, calls for an investigation, but also what Netanyahu wanted most: a large drop in Israeli Arab turnout in today’s elections.

The final results are likely to be very close and I fully expect plenty of Bibi’s usual shenanigans. I also expect Gantz to fight to deny Bibi another term as Prime Minister and his execrable, racist, theocratic, xenophobic, and neo-fascist coalition another term as Israel’s governing coalition. If Bibi brazens this out once again, then I expect that Zone C of the West Bank, which includes the legal and illegal settlements, will be annexed in short order, the President will announce that the US recognizes this annexation as legal, legislation will be pushed through Knesset that makes it illegal to prosecute a serving prime minister, and Bibi will, effectively, have pushed Israel into full on authoritarianism using democratic systems and processes to achieve illiberal and undemocratic outcomes.

Updated at 6:35 PM EDT

Here’s the chart from Pfeffer’s twitter feed:

Here’s a bit of positive news and progress:

Oy vey…

Updated at 6:45 PM EDT

From The Times of Israel:

Report: Netanyahu may ask Kahlon to merge with Likud, forming largest party

The pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom newspaper reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may ask Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon to merge his center-right party with the Likud, making it the largest party and the best-poised to form a government.

Kahlon is a former Likud lawmaker. The report comes as exit polls are split on which party is the biggest, with Channel 12 and Kan handing the title to Blue and White, and Channel 13 giving Likud a one-seat edge. The official results are being counted.


Amended Channel 13 poll has Likud ahead by one seat

Channel 13 has adjusted its exit poll as real-time official results emerge. The amended poll gives Netanyahu’s Likud a one-seat edge over Gantz’s Blue and White at 35-34.

The network had previously predicted that the two front-running parties would be tied at 36. Both Netanyahu and Gantz have crowned themselves the winners of the election.

Updated at 6:50 PM EDT

From Netanyahu biographer (it just came out, I just bought it, it’s in the queue, haven’t read it yet):

Updated at 7:00 PM EDT

Updated at 7:05 PM EDT

The Times of Israel, based on Israel Channels 11’s and 13’s exit polling, has this projection:

Updated exit polls indicate Netanyahu headed for victory

Channel 12 and Channel 13 update their exit polls as the official ballots are counted.

Both networks’ revised samples indicate Netanyahu’s Likud will win 35 seats, compared to Blue and White’s 34.

The Channel 12 survey previously predicted 37 seats for Blue and White and 33 for Likud; Channel 13 had the two parties tied at 36.

Both exit polls now indicate that Shas would be the third-largest party with eight seats, followed by United Torah Judaism with 7. According to the TV stations, the New Right, Zehut and Gesher will fall under the electoral threshold.

In its breakdown of the political blocs, Channel 12 gives 63 of the 120 Knesset seats to the right, compared to 57 for the center-left, giving Netanyahu a clear path to forming a government. According to Channel 13, the right-wing bloc would receive 65 seats, compared to 55 for the center-left.

Haaretz is also reporting this:

01:55 A.M. Updated exit polls show Likud overtaking Kahol Lavan by one seat  

The most recent exit polls still gave advantage to the right-wing bloc, showing that it is likely to garner 63-65 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has 55-57 seats, with the Likud overtaking Kahol Lavan by just one seat.

According to both exit polls by Channel 13 News and Channel 12 News, the Likud will snag 35 Knesset seats.

Both exit polls also showed that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s Hayamin Hehadash party did not pass the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party is going to receive four Knesset seats, the exit polls indicated, while the United Arab List-Balad, which was at risk of not making it into the Knesset, will get four to six seats as well.

The exit polls also predicted that Orly Levi-Abekasis’ Gesher party as well as Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party will fail to enter the Knesset.

Gantz’s path to victory is quickly being closed off.

Updated at 7:30 PM EDT

From Haaretz:

02:11 Netanyahu in celebratory speech: ‘This is a night of great victory’

“We love you,” Netanyahu told Likud supporters in a victory speech he held after exit polls showed his party has likely won the election. “23 years ago it was the first time Sara [his wife] and myself stood here, and here we return because of you and for you.”

“This is a night of great victory,” Netanyahu said to a standing ovation.

“I operate day and night for you, for the country, for our land,” he added. “You earned an almost unfathomable feat in the face of biased media and under impossible conditions,” he extolled Israelis who voted for his Likud party.

“The right-wing bloc will continue to lead Israel for the next four years,” he added.

The Times of Israel:

Netanyahu says he’ll form right-wing government, but will be PM for all

Netanyahu says Israel, under his leadership, is strong, prosperous and “a good place to live.”

Even as he declares his win, Netanyahu also counsels patience until all the ballots are counted.

“A long night, maybe a long day, is still ahead of us and we will wait for the final results,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu says he is contact with right-wing parties, “our natural partners.”

“Nearly all of them have publicly declared that they will recommend that I form the next government,” he says.

“It will be a right-wing government. But I intend to be the prime minister of all of Israel, right and left, Jews and non-Jews alike.”

So to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson: grab on to your tuchases because things are going to get meshugenah!

Open thread!

Just a Quick Note Regarding the President, Members of His Administration, and Operational Security Matters

Anne Laurie covered the details that we currently have regarding the recent security breach at Mar a Lago, but I wanted to add a couple of quick points.

I would not be surprised at all if Zhang was sent by the PRC’s intelligence services specifically to be caught and divert attention from their real infiltration work, which involves, among other things, buying memberships to Mar a Lago and the President’s golf clubs. And my guess is she was used at that moment to provide cover for someone actually penetrating a Trump property, most likely Mar a Lago, but possibly somewhere else, at roughly the same time. This technique is not novel. When Ramzi Youssef entered the US so he could build the bombs for the first World Trade Center bombing, he was a number of people behind one of his co-conspirators who just happened to go through the something to declare customs line and when his carry on was opened, they found circuit boards and other suspicious materials. When Youssef came through about 20 minutes or so later, he went through the nothing to declare line and zipped through because everyone was still focused on the guy they were sacrificing to get Youssef into the country. Zhang is most likely a PRC sacrifice. The real questions are who they actually got in by sacrificing her, how many, and what are they actually doing?

I expect that all of the President’s commercial properties are fully compromised at this point between employees, contractors brought on to do day work like A/C repair or other repair/replace projects, and membership. This ties in to the concerns about the President being compromised. As we know was the case with the pursuit of Trump Tower Moscow, the President, his campaign’s, his business’s, his employees’, his political surrogates’ repeated denials that he was pursuing the deal during the election was the only compromising information that Putin needed. And I would expect that the Chinese, the Israelis, the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Estonians, the Latvians, the Germans, the French, and our Five Eyes Allies all new about this attempted deal too from their own intelligence collection. Regardless, because Putin and the Russian government knew something about the President’s and his business that the President, his business, his campaign, and his surrogates were denying, Putin had compromised the President. Or, more accurately, the President had compromised himself for Putin. Repeatedly lying during and after the campaign about pursuing Trump Tower Moscow gave Putin, his government, his intelligence services, his oligarchs, and his other surrogates leverage over the President because they knew something the President had been lying about. Pursuing Trump Tower Moscow wasn’t illegal. Even pursuing the opportunity during the campaign wasn’t illegal. Trying to conceal it also wasn’t illegal. But by doing so the President compromised himself. And one has to ask why it was necessary to lie about pursuing this opportunity and then lie about when that pursuit stopped. Because those lies just further compromised the President.*

There are similar issue regarding the President’s late night phone calls from the residence with Deity knows whom from his unsecured phone. Everyone and their brother is collecting on those calls. And since there’s no readouts, no notes, no note takers, all of this is just more and more compromising information on the President created by the President. Does anyone think that Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs wouldn’t break under even the mildest forms of forceful interrogation? And the same issue exists with whomever Jared is texting with, regardless of whether he’s using WhatsApp, which is insecure. It doesn’t matter whether he’s texting MBS or MBZ or Bibi or Ron Dermer, or his dad – all of that data is being collected by allied, partner, competitor, and hostile foreign state actors. I would also expect that whomever the President is speaking with from his unsecured phone or whomever Jared is texting with are also keeping a record – either recording, transcript, or both – of those phone and text message conversations. I have no doubt that Kislyak and Lavrov’s photographer made a recording of what was actually said when the President was alone with them in the Oval Office, which, of course, produces more compromising material. Just letting them in with their own photographer with his own equipment was a major security breach in and of itself. And I’m sure that a similar situation surely occurred in his one on one meetings with no note takers, interpreters, and/or aides with Putin in Helsinki, with Putin at the G20 meeting, as well as in his two one on one meetings with Kim. I’d put good money on the fact that Putin and Kim surreptitiously made recordings of those meetings, just as I’d be very surprised to find out that Kislyak and Lavrov had not done so.

These are two very, very serious and significant operational security issues. Because the President has refused to divest himself from his commercial interests, those interests – from Mar a Lago to his golf clubs and golf resorts – are all targets for infiltration and collection by foreign intelligence services. And because the President and his senior advisor and son in law Jared Kushner continually compromise themselves because of who they are in communication with and how they communicate with those people, they continually put themselves as representatives of the United States and the United States at risk by giving foreign actors leverage that can be used over them and against the best interests of the US.

Open thread.

* This is similar to one of the really big unanswered questions from the Special Counsel’s investigation: why did LTG (ret) Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Attorney General Sessions, Erik Prince, George Papadopolous, Roger Stone, and many others lie about meetings and contacts with the Russians. Why was Jared Kushner seeking to establish an off the books back channel to the Russians housed in the Russian Embassy in DC? If there was no there there, if nothing illicit, illegal, or even unethical was going on, then why lie about it to Federal investigators, Congress, or both?