A Rabbi on Orlando, the President on 'Radical Islam'

How should we respond to the Orlando massacre? Rabbi Sharon Brous suggests three ways: Fight for gun control, reach out to the LGBT community in solidarity, and condemn murder committed in the name of God. And "We must reject the venal calls for bans on Muslims from entering our country, which only serve to foment hatred and alienation, rendering everyone less safe. We must stand up to those who seek to exploit our fears for their own political gain."

President Barack Obama explained why he does not use the term "radical Islam." He began by asking, "What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above."

President Obama said that the reason he is careful about describing this threat "has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism... if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists' work for them."

If, after reading the president's speech, you still think we should use the phrase "radical Islam," ask yourself this: Can you even define "radical Islam"? Donald Trump and his friends can't seem to define it. The term is, as President Obama said, a political talking point, not a strategy.

The Chicago Sun-Times also agrees with President Obama, writing that "the United States knows exactly whom it is fighting in the war on terror: Not Islam, but an extremist group that twists the religion to justify its pure savagery." 

Hezbollah is not benefiting from the Iran deal. Critics of the Iran deal predicted a financial windfall for the terrorist group. The administration said we had other ways to cut funding for Hezbollah. The administration was right.

The U.S. will increase aid to Israel. People for whom history began on Jan. 20, 2009, are in a tizzy because the administration is proposing less of an increase than Congress is proposing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained last week that the debate is about how much to increase aid, not whether aid will be increased.

This back and forth is normal. The president traditionally asks for a small increase and Congress then increases that. For example, in 2005, the Senate approved an amount almost double President Bush's request. In 2007, Congress upped President George W. Bush's request by $75 million. 

This year, it's more complicated because the missile defense appropriation is only one of a dozen administration objections to the overall appropriations bill. In addition, the administration is likely for the first time in U.S. history to guarantee missile defense aid in a new, 10-year memorandum of understanding, which could be better for Israel in the long-term.

With all these moving pieces, it's hard to predict exactly how this plays out, but there seems little question that Israel will get more than it gets today, albeit possibly not as much as Congress is proposing (and what Congress proposes is not necessarily what Israel wants or needs).

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