UPDATED: The President is right to protect the homeland from Radical Islam. But this Executive Order was poorly drafted and mishandled. It can & should be fixed. Then Trump should work closely with our moderate Muslim allies and seek the counsel of their leaders.

trump-executiveorderUPDATED: President Trump triggered a firestorm of domestic and global confusion and protest over his new Executive Order issued on Friday. [To read the full text, click here.]

First let me say that I am grateful for an American Commander-in-Chief who finally recognizes the threat posed by followers of Radical Islam and is willing to take bold and decisive action to protect the American people.

There is a real and serious threat that ISIS or groups like it will try to launch massive terror attacks inside the territory of the United States. There are FBI investigations of ISIS in all 50 states, and the ISIS ideology is metastasizing like cancer, recruiting and radicalizing new ISIS loyalists and future terrorists inside the U.S.

FLASHBACK: “Exclusive: US May Have Let ‘Dozens’ of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees” — ABC News headline, November 20, 2013

If such threats are not taken seriously, and dealt with firmly and effectively, Americans could be attacked without warning.

That said, we must be honest: this Executive Order has been mishandled by the new administration.

It is not a “Muslim Ban,” as it is being portrayed by its critics. But it feels like one.

  • It does not ban Muslims from the largest Islamic nations like Indonesia or India.
  • It does not ban Muslims from our trusted Sunni Arab allies like Jordan and Egypt.
  • It does not ban only Muslims — Christians, Zoroastrians, and other religious groups in these countries are also affected.

The fact is, this Executive Order merely requires a temporary, several month delay of visitors to the United States — Muslim, Christian, or otherwise — from seven countries where Radical Islam and jihadi activity have been very serious. It also temporarily suspends the ability of refugees from such high-risk countries to enter the U.S. until the administration has more time to improve our vetting procedures. These are laudable goals.

The problem is that this presidential directive was poorly drafted. It is being poorly executed. And it is being even more poorly communicated.

As a result, damage is being done to America’s reputation. In pursuit of defending America from Radical Islam, the administration has inadvertently handed the jihadists a talking point they can use to recruit and radicalize more people, that America is at war with all of Islam. This is not true, but to many in the Islamic world it feels true. This is dangerous.

Changes to the Executive Order need to be made immediately. Changes to the White House’s communications strategy need to be made as well.

The last thing we should do in a hot war with the Islamic State and other jihadist forces is to alienate our moderate Muslim allies. But that’s what is happening.

What we should be doing is strengthening our alliances with friends like Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf States, Indonesia, and other Muslim countries who want to work with America. We should be listening to their leaders, getting their counsel, and finding ways to work together to confront and defeat a common enemy.

The President has a strong national security and legal team around him. He can fix this. And he should. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. The President and his team would be wise admit they’ve made some mistakes here while defending their goals and objectives. Humility will go a long way in building trust with the American people and our allies.
  2. The administration can and should work hard to fix the document.
  3. The administration should seek wise counsel and advice from a range of experts in and out of government to achieve the desired end: the protection of the American people and homeland. Hastiness isn’t helpful.
  4. The President would be wise to consider addressing the nation on television from the Oval Office. He could use the address to explain very carefully and thoroughly what the threat to the homeland is, and how best to deal with the problem. He could also use the address to answer people’s questions and calm people’s fears.
  5. The President needs to explain to the nation clearly and often that while the followers of Radical Islam do pose a grave threat to the American people and our allies, this does not mean that all Muslims are a threat, or that Islam itself is the threat. As I have explained before, the data indicate that upwards of 90% of Muslims do not hold violent views or seek to attack us. However, between 7% and 10% of Muslims tell pollsters that they do support suicide bombings and other forms of violence against “infidels.” It is critical that our leaders make these distinctions and educate the public about the nature of the threat. We want the broader moderate Muslim world to be partners in defeating the dangerous actors in their midst.

Yes, Mr. Trump called for such a ban during the campaign, and he was highly criticized for it by many people (myself included), and rightly so. Banning people from entering the U.S. based on their religious views would be both unconstitutional and morally repugnant. To be fair, it should be noted that Mr. Trump backed down and sought advice on how best to protect the country from the threats of violent jihadists trying to enter the homeland.

Protecting the American people from all threats, foreign and domestic, is absolutely the most important job of the President of the United States. So is abiding by the American legal tradition of commonsense and fair play.

The new President and his team need to remember that this is not just a “kinetic war,” one fought with bullets and bombs. This is also a “war of ideas,” an ideological battle fought for hearts and minds.

We have seen some unforced errors on a matter of high national importance. They can and should be corrected and lessons should be learned. Winning the fight against Radical Islam will be a long and difficult mission. But with wise, humble and dedicated leadership — in Washington and around the world — we can prevail.

SOME USEFUL ARTICLES TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE:

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as a dual US-Israeli citizen and an author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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With Trump & Putin set for first phone call, exclusive new poll finds 71% of Americans see Russia as “clear and present danger” to US & NATO. (My column for TownHall.com, with the poll results.)

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HOW AMERICANS SEE PUTIN

By Joel C. Rosenberg, a column published by TownHall.com, January 27, 2017

During the campaign, candidate Donald J. Trump rightly warned that America’s friends “are beginning to think they can’t depend on us” while “our rivals no longer respect us … [and] think they can get away with anything.”

In his inaugural speech, President Trump wisely vowed to “reinforce old alliances and form new ones” in light of current and emerging threats.

Trump is moving quickly to keep this promise. On Friday, he will welcome the first foreign leader to the White House: British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Among the topics the two plan to discuss: how to strengthen the “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K., and strengthen the NATO alliance amidst current and emerging threats. Among their most serious challenges will be dealing with the increasing aggressiveness of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

[UPDATE: Presidents Trump and Putin are reportedly set for their first phone call on Saturday.]

Unfortunately, in the U.S., the subject of Putin has become the subject of bitter partisan wrangling, especially after allegations that Moscow tried to interfere in the American elections. But Russia should not be treated like a political wedge issue. The stakes are far too high, and Americans of both major parties are deeply concerned by the growing challenge posed by the Kremlin.

Consider the results of an exclusive new survey conducted by John McLaughlin, the respected American pollster. At my request, John and his team asked 1,000 American voters two questions concerning their views of Russia.

First: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? In light of Russia’s invasion and seizure of Crimea in southern Ukraine, Russia’s invasion of the country of Georgia, Russia fighting alongside Iran to defend dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, Russia’s continuing sales of arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and reports of Russian hacking of American computer networks, I have come to believe that Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia pose a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe, and our Mideast allies, such as Israel.”

The results were overwhelmingly bipartisan. A stunning 71 percent of Americans said they believe Putin and Russia pose “a clear and present danger” to our security and that of our allies. Only 14 percent disagreed. The rest said they did not know.

The second question….

[To read the full column I wrote for TownHall.com — including more details from the exclusive poll we commissioned — please click here.]

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as a dual US-Israeli citizen and an author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

Who will it be? One of the most consequential decisions of the Trump presidency will be announced Thursday. Here’s the latest on the “short list” for the Supreme Court. Let us pray without ceasing.

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NOTE: Until a few years ago, I had never visited Auschwitz. Now, having walked through the death camp, and the adjoining Birkenau camp, and learned so much more of its horrors, I believe every Jew and every Christian should. Here’s a video I made when I was there. It’s short, but I hope it’s helpful, especially today as we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Never Forget.

UPDATED: President Trump will announce on Thursday his choice to replace the late-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump may choose the venue of the National Prayer Breakfast, to be held at the Washington Hilton that morning.

That would be fitting. This will be an enormous political and spiritual battle, and we need to be on our knees in prayer.

Make no mistake: choosing the next Supreme Court Justice will be one of the most consequential decisions of the Trump presidency. It will also be a critical test of how serious he is in keeping his promises to conservatives and Evangelicals to appoint solid, experienced, pro-life, pro-freedom, Constitutional conservatives to the High Court.

Liberal Justices have wrought enormous damage to the United States, and helped set the country on the road to judgment. To date, for example, more than 58 million babies have been aborted in America since the morally and legally reprehensible Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. Even “Jane Roe” herself — her real name is Norma McCorvey — has repudiated and called for that dreadful decision to be overturned. May that come to pass soon. [Read, “Woman Behind Roe v. Wade: “I’m Dedicating My Life to Overturning It.”]

Let us, therefore, pray without ceasing for the President to have the wisdom to make the right choice. Let’s be pray faithfully, too, for the Senate to have the wisdom to confirm that person quickly.

Rumor has it there are now just three names on the President’s short list — Neil Gorsuch, Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor, each of whom are federal Appeals Court judges, and all under the age of 55. Some say Gorsuch is the favorite, and Pryor’s chances are fading.

A very conservative source I have who is close to the selection process tells me the list is down to just Gorsuch and Hardiman and says “both would be excellent” choices.

Here are brief but useful profiles of each of the three, via SCOTUSblog:

Also, today in the March For Life in Washington — please participate in person if you’re anywhere near D.C., and by prayer if you’re anywhere else. May the Lord have mercy on America at this critical time.

Developing….

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as a dual US-Israeli citizen and an author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

“Without Warning” named one of the “must read thrillers of 2017.”

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(Central Israel) — With less than two months to go before the launch of the next (and final) novel in the J.B. Collins series, I’m excited to report that a great website that tracks and reviews all the latest thrillers and spy novels has named Without Warning one of the “20 must-read thrillers of 2017.”

Ranking it #6, they say “the jaw-dropping ending alone is worth the price of admission.” To read the more detailed “feature review” — the first that’s been published so far — please click here. Thanks to “The Real Book Spy” website for your support!

In other news, this weekend I plan to head back to Washington to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, have meetings on Capitol Hill, and continue to prepare for the release of Without Warning on March 14th.

Would you join me in praying for those planning the National Prayer Breakfast that all the many logistical details will come together just right? Let’s pray, too, that those who will be speaking will be clear, compassionate and courageous in their messages. I’ve been to several of these in the past (though it has been awhile) and each time it’s been a truly fascinating and impactful event.

First started in 1953 under the leadership of President Dwight Eisenhower and the Reverend Billy Graham, among others, this one-of-a-kind annual event typically attracts more than 4,000 leaders of all kinds, from Evangelical pastors and ministry leaders to Members of Congress to members of the administration to ambassadors and world leaders, and usually the President of the United States.

Especially now as we pray for our new leaders and pray for a great national spiritual awakening, let’s pray together that the Lord will use this year’s breakfast in a unique and very special way.

 

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On Inauguration Day, some thoughts on Obama’s disastrous legacy, the Trump-Pence approach towards Israel & the Arab world, and prayers for safety.

inaugurationdayToday is Inauguration Day in Washington. As the nations watch the world’s oldest democracy in action, let us pray for the safe and peaceful transition of power.

Let us pray the Lord shows great mercy to the American people by granting wisdom and discernment to the new President and Vice President and their families and team. America is in trouble. She is on the wrong track. She is at risk of implosion. A great turnaround is needed spiritually, politically, economically, and militarily. Americans, and the world, need this new administration to get the country back on track, to steer in the right direction, to stand tall with our allies and confront our enemies.

An encouraging note: I understand that Mike Pence will be taking the oath of office on President Ronald Reagan’s Bible, and that the Bible will be open to 2 Chronicles 7:14. Good for him. This is one of my favorite verses, and one we need to embrace.

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” said the Lord.

To be clear: this verse is not a promise to America. It’s actually a promise to Israel, and one I pray all Israelis will embrace. But 2 Chronicles 7:14 is based on a principle that is echoed in Jeremiah 18:8 for all nations. “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned,” said the Lord. God wants the people of every nation to turn to Him for forgiveness, wisdom and blessing, and if a nation says yes to Him, He promises to be gracious. Let’s say yes to that wonderful offer.

At the same time, let us pray for the Lord to show mercy on the outgoing President and his family. I believe Barack Obama has done great damage to our country and our world. This damage needs to be identified, corrected, and healed, and lessons learned. But I don’t wish the Obamas ill will. I want the Lord to be very gracious to this couple and their daughters and draw them close to Him in their post-White House life.

A few thoughts as we make this transition from one administration to the next:

  1. The world order is more unstable and dangerous than at any time since the peak of the Cold War.
  2. The United States has been badly weakened — the national debt is soaring, the military has been emasculated, the people are bitterly divided, our alliances are severely strained, our enemies find themselves emboldened.
  3. The Middle East is on fire — Iran is ascendant and increasingly aggressive, the Islamic State is engaged in genocide, Syria is imploding, Christians and other minorities are being slaughtered, and threats against Israel are steadily mounting.
  4. The strategic situation facing Israel is a conundrum, actually — on the one hand the Jewish State is stronger economically, technologically, and militarily than at any time since her prophetic rebirth as a sovereign state in 1948. On the other hand, global forces are working hard to isolate and delegitimize Israel.
  5. Far too many liberals in the academia and the media are engaged in a relentless assault against Israel’s morality and legitimacy, all of which is having a deleterious effect.
  6. At the same time, I regard this plummeting support for Israel among liberals and young people that I discussed in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post column as part of President Obama’s disastrous legacy on foreign policy.
  7. Yes, I readily agree that Mr. Obama did some good things vis-a-vis Israel, including supporting Iron Dome, the sale of F-35s to Israel and the recent Memorandum of Understanding on US-Israeli defense cooperation. For this we are and should be grateful.
  8. But let’s be honest: far too often, Mr. Obama castigated Israel as the major problem in the Middle East rather than support her as America’s most important and faithful ally. Mr. Obama was often belligerent with Israeli leaders while handling the leaders of Iran or North Korea, China or Russia with kid gloves. Mr. Obama and his senior advisors repeatedly expressed derision and disdain for Israel’s democratically elected leaders and policies while showing unconscionable deference to America’s enemies.
  9. “Do not be deceived,” say the Scriptures. “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) Over the past eight years, the Obama administration has sown doubt and disrespect towards Israel. Now we are reaping bitter fruit.
  10. That said, I am not discouraged. While I honestly have no idea how to change liberal views towards Israel (apart from prayer and leading them to Christ), I believe we can educate and influence Independents and Millennials about the strategic value of Israel as a faithful and trustworthy ally and friend. And we can — and must– work especially with Christian Millennials to help them learn what the Bible teaches about God’s love and plan for Israel and the Jewish people.
  11. At the same time, we need to make sure we show respect and friendship to the Palestinian people. After all, we want there to be real and lasting peace and security between Israel and the Palestinians. We want the Palestinian people to have wise and courageous leaders who will end the incitement of hatred and violence, root out corruption, establish security and the rule of law, create an environment of economic growth and job creation, and will sit down and really work together with Israel to build a better future. Let’s not be cynics. Blessed be the peacemakers. Let us pray and work to this end.
  12. At the same time, we also need to show respect and friendship to our other friends and allies in the Sunni Arab world. Wanting a healthier US-Israel alliance is not a zero sum game. Yes, we need to pray for and actively encourage the new administration and Congress to stand strongly with Israel on a bipartisan basis. But we also want our leaders to actively reaffirm our alliances with Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, the Gulf States and other key allies in the region.
  13. Indeed, we need to pray for and encourage the President and his administration  to choose to build on the encouraging if quiet strategic alliances that are being developed between Israel and many Sunni Arab states, in part because they have serious common enemies in Iran and the Islamic State.
  14. We also want the President and his administration to speak accurately and respectfully about Islam — to help the American people understand the threat posed both by Radical and Apocalyptic elements within the Muslim world, but also to help them understand that the vast majority of Muslims (90% or so) are not violent, not supportive of jihad or extremism, and are, can and should be friends and allies if we engage them respectfully.
  15. I’m encouraged that President Trump and Vice President Pence have repeatedly indicated their intention to reaffirm the importance of a strong, healthy US-Israel alliance, and that they see the Obama legacy on Israel and throughout the Mideast as unhealthy and in many ways harmful.
  16. I’m encouraged by most of the President’s picks for his national security team. Overall, it’s a very smart and experienced team. They have good relations both with Israel and Sunni Arab leaders. They see the significant threats posed by Iran and ISIS and seem committed to confronting both. Most of them rightly see Vladimir Putin as a serious threat to US national security and believe in a reinvigorated NATO alliance. They want to rebuild the American military and American alliances around the world. They can provide a much needed breath of fresh air and hope for a new beginning.
  17. Getting American economic, domestic and foreign policy back on the right track will not be quick or easy. There will be moments of frustration, discouragement and dismay. But let us be prayerful and patient and let us trust the grace and sovereignty of the Lord each and every day. After all, we are in His hands, and they are good, strong, faithful hands.

NOTE: here are links to the two new polls I referenced in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post column, “Liberals Are Turning Against The Jewish State.”

I would encourage you to carefully study the details of both surveys to get the full picture.


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Latest example of liberals turning against Israel? “Columbia prof. says Israel advocates will ‘infest’ Trump administration.” No wonder Millennials are trending in the wrong direction.

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UPDATED: Earlier today, the Jerusalem Post published a column I wrote on liberals increasingly turning against Israel.

Need a fresh example?  Check out this breaking headline: “Columbia prof. says Israel advocates will ‘infest’ Trump administration.

Let me be clear: many liberals love Israel and continue to defend the Jewish people and the Jewish State. But the trend lines are troubling.

Yes, overall, the majority of Americans still support Israel and see her as a faithful friend and ally of the U.S. and Western democracy. But the steady drumbeat of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and biased reporting by liberals throughout academia, the media and the political class are having a deleterious effect, poisoning the thinking of a growing number of Americans.

President Obama’s deeply flawed Mideast policies and highly contentious relationship with Israeli leaders over the past eight years have also had a decidedly negative effect, souring liberal — and especially those who see themselves as “very liberal” — on the morality, trustworthiness and utility of Israel as an ally.

The data show Millennials are souring on Israel. Professors like this one at Columbia are a significant part of the reason why. We need a new approach to reaching Millennials and helping them understand God’s Biblical love and plan for Israel and the Jewish people, while also helping them understand God’s love and plan for Israel’s neighbors.

“True, the Trump-Pence administration is expected to be pro-Israel,” I noted in the Post. “But growing numbers of liberals, Independents and young people are breaking against Israel. This is a serious strategic challenge and one Israeli leaders and American friends of the Jewish state urgently must analyze and address.”

A new strategic challenge is emerging: Liberals are turning against Israel. My column for the Jerusalem Post (Update: here are links to important new polling)

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LIBERALS ARE TURNING AGAINST THE JEWISH STATE

By Joel C. Rosenberg, The Jerusalem Post, January 19, 2017

The inauguration of Donald Trump will mark the first time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ever had a Republican to work with in the White House.

Bill Clinton was President in Bibi’s first term (1996 to 1999) and repeatedly pressured Israel to make dangerous concessions to Yasser Arafat. When Bibi resisted, Clinton deployed his top political advisors — James Carville, Bob Shrum and Stan Greenberg – to run Ehud Barak’s campaign to oust Netanyahu from office.

When Bibi returned to office in March 2009, Barack Obama had just been inaugurated. The Illinois Democrat proceeded to skip Israel on his first visit to the region. He suggested creating “daylight” between America and Israel would help make peace. He aggressively pressured Israel to divide Jerusalem and to retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 lines. And when Netanyahu balked, Obama made Hillary Clinton his “designated yeller.”

Obama deserves credit for supporting Iron Dome and a $38 billion. ten-year military aid deal with Israel. But this hardly absolves him from cutting a naïve nuclear deal with Iran, abandoning his own red line in Syria, withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq, and repeatedly underestimating the ISIS threat, all of which put Israeli security at risk.

In his final days in office, Obama doubled down on this disastrous legacy, refusing to veto back Israel at the U.N. and supporting a pointless “peace conference” in Paris that excluded Israelis and Palestinians.

For Netanyahu, Friday can’t come soon enough.

Dismissing recent moves by Obama and the French as the “final palpitations of yesterday’s world,” Netanyahu told reporters, “Tomorrow will look a lot different, and tomorrow is very close.”

The Israeli public overwhelmingly agrees. Fully 83% of Israelis say they expect Trump to be “pro-Israel,” according to a December poll.

This may prove true, but….

[To read the full column on the Jerusalem Post website, please click here]

Here are links to two important surveys that I site in my JPost column. I would encourage you to carefully study the details of both surveys to get the full picture:

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as a dual US-Israeli citizen and an author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

What do Evangelicals believe about Israel, the land of the Bible and the future of the Jewish State? My interview in Jerusalem with Pastor Greg Laurie.

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(Central Israel) — Wherever I travel and speak around the world, I’m asked about what Evangelical Christians believe about Israel and the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish State? I’m also asked about why Evangelicals love Israel so much, why we believe it’s so important, and what we believe about Bible prophecy.

These are questions I love to answer, and I especially loved sitting down recently in the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with my dear friend, Greg Laurie, to discuss these topics for a TV program he was recording. Greg is a well-known pastor, Bible teacher and evangelist based in Orange County, California. He’s been to Israel numerous times, brings tour groups here often, and has been a speaker at one of our Epicenter Conferences.

Here’s a link to the 30 minute program that has been uploaded to YouTube. The videography is gorgeous, the story is fun to watch (especially when Greg and his wife go off-roading in the Judean wilderness with our Israeli tour guide friend, Iddo), and the conversations are relevant and, I believe, quite important.

I hope you’ll take some time to watch it and share it with others.

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Putin directed Russian intelligence to disrupt U.S. elections, concludes DNI report. Heading into his 17th year in power, Putin is becoming more brazen. It’s time to confront and contain him.

 

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Let’s be clear about two important facts.

First, Donald Trump and Mike Pence won a decisive victory in the November elections, and they won fair and square. While Democrats, left-wing activists, and many in Hollywood and the media hate this, it’s still true.

Second, Russian intelligence — directed by Vladimir Putin — actively tried to disrupt, influence and discredit the recent American elections. Tried, but failed. That’s the conclusion of an important new report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

Hillary’s supporters can’t nullify Mr. Trump’s victory with the new DNI report. But Mr. Trump’s supporters shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it or mounting evidence of Putin’s aggression.

  • The Russians hacked into computers of the Democratic Committee, and into other American computer networks.
  • Moscow leaked information negative to Hillary Clinton.
  • The Kremlin used their wide array of propaganda tools to try to influence the American electoral process against Clinton and in favor of Trump.
  • These are very serious issues.
  • Russia launched a direct assault against America’s democratic system.
  • But there is no evidence that Moscow actually changed vote totals or compromised the integrity of our voting process.
  • The DNI report, for example, “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying” — and this is important.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton lost not because the Russians stole the election. They didn’t. She lost because she was a deeply flawed and uninspiring candidate, essentially running for Mr. Obama’s third term at a time when Americans believed the country was heading in the wrong direction and needed big, bold, serious change in Washington.

The Trump-Pence ticket won, as did so many Republicans up and down the ballot, because voters perceived that they offered more hope for such real change. Thus, on Friday, January 20th, Messrs. Trump and Pence will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States, respectively and legitimately.

I pray their administration will be successful. We all should. We need them to urgently reenergize the American economy, recommit America to being governed by the Constitution (not liberal judges), rebuild the U.S. military, protect us and our allies from the forces of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, and begin the process of undoing the enormous damage caused by eight years of Mr. Obama’s weakness, indecision, disarmament and appeasement.

That said, it is equally critical that Mr. Trump make safeguarding the American people, our institutions and our allies, from Russian aggression one of his top priorities.

As I noted in my first column of 2017, “I believe that Vladimir Putin and the way he’s leading Russia is going to be a big, big issue over the next several years.”

Now heading into his seventeenth year in power, Mr. Putin is becoming steadily more aggressive. In recent years, he has:

  • Sent Russian forces into Chechnya, bombing civilians, committing war crimes, and leaving at least 150,000 people dead or missing
  • Invaded the country of Georgia
  • Invaded Ukraine
  • Annexed the Ukrainian region of Ukraine
  • Sent Russian military forces into Syria fight on behalf of the regime of a brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad (with the help of the Islamic Republic of Iran), deliberately targeting civilians in such places as Aleppo and thus committing war crimes
  • Sold state-of-the-art missile systems and nuclear technology to Iran
  • Systematically silenced political opponents, dissidents, and journalists, many of whom have been jailed or found murdered
  • Massed 55,000 Russian troops on the border of Ukraine
  • Made threatening moves against the Baltic states and other NATO allies.

President Obama and Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry should have gotten tough with Putin. They refused. They didn’t understand the threat he posed, or didn’t care. They tried to appease him. They offered a “reset.” We all know what a disaster that was.

The Trump-Pence team should take a dramatically different approach.

Throughout the campaign and the transition, however, Mr. Trump has had a strange and unsettlingly soft approach towards Putin. I can’t say exactly why. I’m hesitant to speculate. But if he wants to avoid the mistakes the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team made, he can and should change course.

The overwhelming evidence of Russian attacks on our political system simply underscores the growing brazenness of Mr. Putin, and the importance of the Trump-Pence team taking decisive measures to confront and contain him from the first days in office.

For starters, Mr. Trump could:

  • support a full bipartisan investigation into Russia’s efforts to attack America’s electoral system
  • use tougher language to denounce Putin’s aggressions against the U.S. and our allies
  • move to bolster U.S. and NATO forces in the Baltics
  • start providing weapons and intelligence to Ukraine to better defend themselves
  • and appoint experienced senior officials in the State Department and throughout his administration who clearly see an unchecked Putin as a threat to our national security and won’t hesitate to speak and act with moral clarity on such vital issues.

Let’s pray that he and his team take these and other steps before Mr. Putin’s aggression moves to the next level.

To read the full declassified DNI report, please click here.

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I officially started writing a new political thriller today after months of research. Here’s a quick update.

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(Central Israel) — As the new year begins, I’m deeply grateful to be back home in Israel and officially underway with writing a new political thriller.

This is a totally new story with new characters (Russians, not Radical Muslims) and a new locale (Moscow, not the Middle East).

As I get deeper into the project, I’ll give you more details and keep you posted on my progress. For now, let me just say that over the past few months I’ve been doing a great deal of research, and I’m deeply grateful for a series of fascinating conversations with a wide range of leaders and experts on Russia whose insights have been invaluable.

Among them:

  • Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada, one of our great NATO allies
  • James Woolsey, former CIA Director who served during the administration of President Bill Clinton
  • Porter Goss, former CIA Director who served during the administration of President George W. Bush
  • Lt.-General (ret.) Jerry Boykin, former Delta Force commander
  • Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of FORBES magazine
  • Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin (2000 to 2005)

Meanwhile, of course, Without Warning will release on March 14th. This is my third and final thriller about the Islamic State, chemical weapons, a New York Times foreign correspondent, a Mossad agent, the Syrian civil war, and a series of catastrophic attacks on the U.S., Israel and Jordan.

We’re working on the details of the book tour right now and I’ll share more details soon.

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