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inFOCUS Quarterly

Spring 2016

Israel - Beyond the Headlines


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What Now: ISIS, an Ascendant Iran, and the Road Ahead in the Middle East

March 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm
North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Highland Park, IL

More than 300 people turned out for The Jewish Policy Center Forum in Highland Park, IL on March 16th. Author and radio talk show host Michael Medved was the moderator. Panelists Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the JPC, Clifford May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute delved into Russian policy in Syria, Iranian nuclear capability and the American response.

In light of the announcement of Russia's partial withdrawal from Syria, Doran described Russian goals there as a) securing their bases at Tartus and Latakia, and b) ensuring the survival of a pro-Russian regime in Moscow. Bryen added that there were secondary goals met as well, including the testing and demonstration of new Russian weapons and tactics, as well as the opening of diplomatic conversations with a variety of American clients/allies, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. Israel's coordination with Russia, she added, had been strengthened as well. The panel agreed that the war would likely continue, but with far less - if any - Russian military participation. This, they said, would have an impact on the political process being organized in Europe.

The absence of American leadership in the region and elsewhere was also a prime topic of conversation. May described Iranian penetration in South America (where Peruvian Indians have been converting to Shiite Islam) as well as North Africa, and Bryen pointed to the concerns of American allies in Asia over Chinese military advances there.

In keeping with the JPC's non-political mandate and 501-c-3 status, the evening provided a respite from political commentary and focused on military and national security policy, without reference to campaigns or candidates.

inFOCUS Roundtable: Defense Modernization and Challenges Ahead

March 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Jewish Policy Center
Washington, DC

Dr. Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, Dr. Dakota L. Wood of the Heritage Foundation and Paul Joyal of National Strategies discussed the requirements of a sound American defense policy at a program sponsored by the JPC.

On the subject of American leadership, Dr. Goure pointed to the current international system of trade and security and noted that the U.S. is uniquely able to manage the system so that it protects Western interests. "We tend to think that, even if we were not leading, somehow things would more or less run as they run now. That is not true. There is no other system that would safeguard our interests like this one," he said. "A system led by the Chinese might more closely resemble 1984." In sum, "Europe will not lead; China cannot lead; and Russia must not lead."

Dr. Wood noted that, "Capacity - having a sufficiently large force- is an enduring, critical reality of conflict and securing U.S. interests. This should drive discussion about defense spending." In the Cold War period, the U.S. spent roughly $1.3 trillion annually - 7% of GDP. In the last 40 years - the period of the collapse of communism and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism - the U.S. spend an average of 4.5% of GDP, or $775 billion annually; and now we spend 3.2% of GDP, or $505 billion. He postulated that 5% of GDP could permit investments in all of the services that could help bring them closer to ready for their main mission - "to make it possible for the U.S. to physically impose its will on an enemy when necessary."

Mr. Joyal, speaking of Russian cyber capabilities, said the Russians are graduating hundreds of thousands of technically trained people while the U.S. has a deficit in trained manpower. At the same time, the Russians have thought through how to us cyber capabilities to pursue its interests against the United States rather than investing in tanks and planes. "Cyber warfare is a force multiplier. The Russians are not doing 'force on force simulations' against the U.S.; they are doing 'system on system' simulations. The U.S. is making progress," he said, "but not at the pace the threat demands." Mr. Joyal advocated creation of a "Cyber Reserve Force" that could take advantage of the skills of Americans in the civilian market without making them members of the military.

The program, an offshoot of the Winter issue of inFOCUS Magazine, was deemed "enlightening," for the expertise of the speakers, though not "uplifting," a nod to the fairly grim set of circumstances the United States faces in exercising leadership abroad.

Dr. Daniel Goure

Dr. Dakota L. Wood

Paul Joyal


Jewish Policy Center Forum in Cleveland

October 15, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Park Synagogue
Cleveland, OH

Nearly 400 people turned out on a rainy night in Cleveland to attend the Jewish Policy Center's October Forum. Best-selling author and radio host Michael Medved moderated the program as panelists John Podhoretz, Jennifer Dyer and Clifford May considered "What Next?" for Israel and the United States in the Middle East.


Noting that the American foreign policy establishment is wedded to a "two-state solution" between Israel and the Palestinians, May, President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, called the idea "not currently viable...Abbas has no power in Gaza and little power in the West Bank. If he signed a deal (with Israel) no one would agree to participate. In addition, President Obama has empowered Iran – which believes in the destruction of Israel. Abbas can't go against Iran. What would he say? 'I don't care what Iran wants, I'm making a deal with Israel.'?"

Dyer, a retired U.S. Navy Commander and intelligence specialist, said, "Oslo is dead. The mental construct has to change and the U.S. has to become credible behind Israel. Abbas is not a credible partner and throwing him out is not credible. The U.S. has to agree on goals with Israel, and then go forward."

"What we need," Medved said, "is someone who will build a strong, united America. Nothing damages Israel more than the idea that we are in decline.

"The future is not written," added May. "Decline is a choice; failure is not inevitable. That said, the trends are not good."

Podhoretz, editor of Commentary Magazine, responded to a question about Russia's Middle East ambitions. "The rise of Putin is a consequence of the U.S. absence," he said. "Russia should be a second-rate, tin pot country. It is in terrible condition. But we invited Russia into Syria so President Obama could avoid his own red line on chemical weapons. We ceded Russia that role."

Dyer said the future of the Middle East, and the world, depends largely on what happens in the United States. "We are the one country with universalist principles. We are the one country that makes it policy to advance the principles of democracy, rule of law, and tolerance for others. There is now a feeding frenzy in the Middle East – Iran, China, and Russia are all looking for clients in a part of the world the U.S. used to claim as its primary area of interest."

In closing the program, Podhoretz said, "A lot of the bad news is the result of American withdrawal from the field and some of it might be righted if the U.S. participates. Russia and China don't really want to challenge us – we may rise to the challenge and they may not. They're taking what they can get while we're not playing.

"But if you had a choice of where to be born, of the 192 countries in the world, you would choose the United States. The U.S. is MORE the place to want to be born now than it was in the 1970s."


Ilan Berman: Iran's Deadly Ambition

October 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm
The Islamic Republic's Quest for Global Power
Washington, DC

Jewish Policy Center members and friends in Washington, DC met in October to hear Ilan Berman, author of Iran's Deadly Ambition. Berman, President of the American Foreign Policy Council, described Iran as both "a country and a revolution," operating around the world to spread its ideology and find ways to attack American interests.

Wednesday, October 7th 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Israel Institute, 1250 Eye Street, NW, Floor 7, Washington, DC 20005

Gabriel Scheinmann on Talk Back Radio

August 12, 2015 | Newstalk KGVO AM 1290

Gabriel Scheinmann appears on Newstalk KGVO Talk Back to discuss U.S. foreign policy and Iran.

Shoshana Bryen on Lisa Benson Radio

August 10, 2015 | Lisa Benson Radio

Lisa Benson interviewed Jerry Gordon and JPC Senior Director Shoshana Bryen on the reaction to the Iran deal, the President's American University Speech and his CNN interview with President Obama by Fareed Zakaria.

Shoshana Bryen Talks on the Middle East Round Table

July 16, 2015 | 1330AM WEBY Radio

JPC Senior Director Shoshana Bryen talks to the Middle East Round Table on Your Turn with host Mike Bates on 1330AM WEBY radio on July 16th, 2015.

Gabriel Scheinmann Discussing Iranian Nuclear Deal

by The Hard Line
June 26, 2015 | NewsmaxTV

Gabriel Scheinmann discusses the prospects of a U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement on NewsmaxTV.

The Kurds: A Guide for U.S. Policymakers

by Shoshana Bryen
June 4, 2015 | Center for Security Policy

On June 4th, during the Center for Security Policy's National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill, Shoshana Bryen who is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center offered practical steps that the U.S. can do to help assist the Kurds and advance U.S. interests in the region. Bryen says that the first step "is for the U.S. to recognize the Kurds politically, as an ally, as a partner in the fight against ISIS."

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