On Monday evening, the worldwide Jewish community began solemnly commemorating Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Memorial Day. In Israel, sirens wailed throughout the land, and everyone, no matter what they were doing, simply stopped to stand in solemn quiet prayer and reflection.

In remembrance, some recite a special version of the Jewish mourner’s prayer created in the wake of the mass genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis. Others light a candle in memory of their family and people murdered for being Jewish. We at the CUFI Action Fund likewise engage in reflection and prayer, and we also take a moment to remember that the work we do is intended, above all else, to ensure that when the fascists and bigots come for the Jews, the Children of Israel will never be alone again.

Hitler’s Philosophical Progeny

While many of us seek to prevent another Holocaust, there are those in this world who would relish a repeat of Hitler’s Master Plan. The head of the snake, as regular readers of the Action Update are aware, is the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent weeks, Iran’s Ministry of Terrorism - that’s just what we call it, but you know them as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) - met with leaders of terrorist organizations throughout the region which it funds and arms.

The meetings were apparently a who’s who of murderers and radicals. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad all participated in meetings. And the focus of these discussions? Well, destroy Israel, of course.

In the wake of the recent spate of terror attacks against the Jewish state emanating from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank, it’s clear Tehran is organizing and directing terrorist groups to attack Israel from multiple fronts. Jerusalem thwarts the overwhelming majority of attacks; nonetheless, as we’ve just witnessed, Iran-back terrorists do manage to take the lives of innocent people.

Not nearly enough is being done to starve the IRGC and its proxies of the resources needed for their war against Israel. Just late last week, a bipartisan group of more than 130 Members of Congress signed a letter calling on the European Union to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The U.S. must ramp up its own sanctions and ensure that our allies, such as the EU and the Brits, commit to a similar course of action.

Drilling Down a Bit Deeper

There are numerous cases of Iranian recruitment of terrorists but the very recent case of Yousef Mansour and Marsil Mansour provides a little bit more insight. The two Palestinians were approached by IRGC members claiming to be affiliated with Hezbollah – which is probably true on some level given that Hezbollah is, for all intents and purposes, the Lebanese branch of the IRGC. They were then recruited to spy on Israel’s military, attempt to smuggle weapons into Israeli-controlled territory for use in terror attacks, and the pair were themselves tasked with recruiting additional members.

The Iranian effort was thwarted by Israeli security forces and the two would-be terrorists are now in Israeli custody. But what’s been uncovered gives us a clearer picture into Iran’s tactics and goals. Clearly, this specific IRGC effort exemplifies one of the ways in which a terrorist cell is developed and empowered by Iran. Moreover, if the aforementioned attacks and meetings weren’t enough, there is now even more evidence that the IRGC is stepping up efforts to direct their proxy terrorist groups to attack Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s Recent Guests

Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a stalwart supporter of Israel and a robust U.S. defense posture, visited Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia recently signed a large contract for Boeing 787 Dreamliners, built in South Carolina. Senator Graham described the meeting as “very productive.”

But the senior Senator from South Carolina wasn’t the only guest Saudi Arabia was planning to welcome. On the heels of diplomatic reengagement with Iran, the Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Doha, Qatar, had reached a verbal agreement to allow a Hamas delegation to travel to Mecca this week. However, since then the Saudi government has refused to provide entry to the Hamas delegation.

Had such a delegation been allowed entry it would mark a dramatic departure from Saudi Arabia’s cold relations with Hamas in recent years. Since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, things have been frosty between the Kingdom and terror group. And in 2019, Riyadh arrested dozens of Hamas operatives in their country. However, recently Saudi Arabia has indicated it is willing to bury the hatchet with Hamas.

It is clear the Biden administration has done little to engage Saudi Arabia in a positive way – as shown by Riyadh’s recent diplomatic thaw with both Iran and Hamas. And where once the pinnacle of the Abraham Accords, peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia, was thought attainable, now it seems well outside of reach.

At the same time, the Saudi’s must understand that they have much more to lose long-term with the U.S. if their unhappiness with one administration leads a prolonged break in relations.  Perhaps it is with that in mind, and their desire to continue to build on the commercial and military opportunities the U.S. market provides them, that they have for now drawn the line at welcoming Hamas into their country.

Ultimately, though, this is what happens when Washington allows others to step into the vacuum left by weak American leadership. And if the American approach (or lack thereof) to the Middle East does not change soon, the United States and Israel will find themselves with far fewer allies – especially allies of convenience – in one of the most volatile regions in the world. With each piece of new, bad news that comes out of the Middle East, we’re hoping the President of the United States comes to finally realize that we are all less safe, less secure, and worse off when the United States abandons its seat at the head of the international table.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


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