Monday, December 26, 2011

Bible Comes to Life


2000 year old clay seal discovered in Jerusalem

Ancient seal found in Jerusalem linked to ritual -Matti Friedman

A rare clay seal found under Jerusalem's Old City appears to be linked to religious rituals practiced at the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago, Israeli archaeologists said Sunday.

The coin-sized seal found near the Jewish holy site at the Western Wall bears two Aramaic words meaning "pure for God."

Archaeologist Ronny Reich of Haifa University said it dates from between the 1st century B.C. to 70 A.D. — the year Roman forces put down a Jewish revolt and destroyed the second of the two biblical temples in Jerusalem.

The find marks the first discovery of a written seal from that period of Jerusalem's history, and appeared to be a unique physical artifact from ritual practice in the Temple, said Reich, co-director of the excavation.

Very few artifacts linked to the Temples have been discovered so far.

Archaeologists say the seal was likely used by Temple officials approving an object for ritual use — oil, perhaps, or an animal intended for sacrifice. Materials used by Temple priests had to meet stringent purity guidelines stipulated in detail in the Jewish legal text known as the Mishna, which also mention the use of seals as tokens by pilgrims.
[Associated Press]
HatTip: LarryH

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teach Your Children Well



UNESCO Funds Palestinian Magazine Glorifying Hitler -Jordana Horn

The Simon Wiesenthal Center asked UNESCO's director-general to suspend its sponsorship of a Palestinian children's magazine that applauded Hitler for murdering Jews.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, the educational magazine Zayafuna published an essay by a teenage Palestinian girl who wrote about meeting Adolf Hitler in a dream.

Hitler tells her that he killed the Jews "so you would all know that they are a nation who spreads destruction all over the world."
(Jerusalem Post)


PA Leader Abbas Meets Woman Who Aided 2001 Killing of Israeli Teen

Israel is furious at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for meeting in Turkey with Amna Muna, a Palestinian woman who infamously lured an Israeli teen to the West Bank in 2001, where he was murdered by Palestinians.

Muna was serving a life sentence until she was released in October in a swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said, "the Palestinian leadership seems to be putting murderers up on a pedestal."
(AP-Washington Post)
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fayyad Sinking along with Palestinian Future



The End of Fayyadism -Jonathan Schanzer

PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad [pictured], perhaps the only Palestinian leader who earnestly sought to usher in an era of good governance, is now under siege from political rivals. President Mahmoud Abbas has orchestrated a series of trials against the prime minister's top officials to discredit Fayyad. These cases are not designed to rid Palestine of corruption. Rather, by ousting ministers and hobbling Fayyad, Abbas creates an opportunity to replace them with figures more to his liking.

According to officials who work with them, the two figureheads of the Palestinians are barely on speaking terms. Fayyad has become a glorified accountant, leveraging his strong relationship with international donors to collect checks that ensure his government can continue to pay salaries - while Abbas pursues a provocative foreign policy that endangers those sources of funding. Fayyad opposed angling for international recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN - a finger in Washington's eye.

Washington still pays lip service to the potential of Fayyad's reform agenda, but the White House knows the prime minister's days are numbered. The end of Fayyadism means the end of an era that offered hope for political reform for the Palestinians.
(Foreign Policy) *

Monday, December 12, 2011

Newt, Golda Meir & The Question of Palestine



What do Golda Meir [pictured], lifelong socialist and prime minister of Israel, and Newt Gingrich, lifelong conservative and current presidential candidate, have in common? The courage to tell the truth about ”Palestine.”

Gingrich stirred up a hornet’s nest last week when he remarked that “The Palestinians are an invented people.” Golda made the same point when she told the London Sunday Times on June 15, 1969 that “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”

What could have possessed the Prime Minister of Israel and the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to say such a thing? Simple: an appreciation of history.

Gingrich has a Ph.D. in the subject. Golda lived it.
[The Algemeiner]


The Year the Arabs Discovered Palestine -Daniel Pipes, PhD

Palestinian identity goes back, not to antiquity, but precisely to 1920. No "Palestinian Arab people" existed at the start of 1920 but by December it took shape in a form recognizably similar to today's.

Until the late nineteenth century, residents living in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean identified themselves primarily in terms of religion: Moslems felt far stronger bonds with remote co-religionists than with nearby Christians and Jews.

Then came the ideology of nationalism from Europe; its ideal of a government that embodies the spirit of its people was alien but appealing to Middle Easterners. How to apply this ideal, though? Who constitutes a nation and where must the boundaries be? These questions stimulated huge debates.

Some said the residents of the Levant are a nation; others said Eastern Arabic speakers; or all Arabic speakers; or all Moslems.

But no one suggested "Palestinians," and for good reason. Palestine, then a secular way of saying Eretz Yisra'el or Terra Sancta, embodied a purely Jewish and Christian concept, one utterly foreign to Moslems, even repugnant to them.

[T]he fact that this [Palestinian] identity is of such recent and expedient origins suggests that the Palestinian primacy is superficially rooted and that it could eventually come to an end, perhaps as quickly as it got started.
[Jewish World Review]


Gingrich and the ‘Invented People’ -Jonathan Tobin

Was Gingrich right? Yes, of course, he is right.

There was no Palestinian Arab state or political entity under the Ottoman Empire or any previous ruler of this region. Indeed, prior to the 20th century, there is no evidence of there ever having been a consciousness on the part of the inhabitants of having a separate political identity that was distinct from the rest of the Arabs of the region.

It is a fallacy to claim, as some do, that Zionism is as much a modern invention as Palestinian identity.

The only people to call themselves "Palestinians" prior to the creation of the state of Israel were the Jews who were the first, and up until that time, the only group to conceive of the land as being the home of a separate people or national identity. That was no accident since the land now called Israel or Palestine was sacred only to one people. For centuries, it was an Arab backwater, but it has been the object of prayers for two millennia for the Jews who not only never ceased to hope for the restoration of their sovereignty but also, as is rarely mentioned, never entirely left its soil. Zionism was merely a new name for an ancient though still living people's belief about their homeland and their destiny.

By contrast, Palestinian nationalism is, as Gingrich rightly said, a 20th century invention. It arose and flourished purely as a reaction to Zionism, a factor that has fatally complicated the quest for peace as Palestinian identity seems to be predicated more on a desire to extinguish the Jewish state and to delegitimize the Jewish presence than it is on the re-creation of an Arab political culture that is specific to this locality.

That said, it must be conceded that even if the Palestinians did invent themselves in the last 100 years, it is pointless to deny they do exist now. Millions consider themselves to be part of a distinct Palestinian people with a common history and destiny. The United States and Israel both understand that their desire for self-rule must be accommodated so long as it does not infringe on the rights and security of Israel.

The catch is that the Palestinians seem unable to accept the idea of the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. And that is where their "invented" history comes in. Since the Palestinians only arrived on the world stage as a result of their revulsion at the notion of Jewish sovereignty over any part of the country, it is difficult, if not impossible for them to come to terms with a peace that would imply Israel's permanence.

The role of the United States in this mess is not so much to point out the myths about Palestinian history, though myths they are, as to impress upon the Arabs and their supporters that they must abandon their rejection of Zionism.

As for Gingrich's judgment in saying what he did, it must be said it was refreshing to hear a major American political figure state the truth about the history of the Palestinians and to say the myths they have created have been in service to one goal only: the destruction of Israel. Doing so will not fuel anti-American terrorism as much as it will disabuse the Palestinians of the idea they have long cherished that sooner or later, the United States will abandon Israel.

Nevertheless, it must also be pointed out that if he is elected president, Gingrich will have to deal with the Palestinians and the Arab world. Being upfront about America's closeness with Israel and that there will be an end to Obama's practice of treating the Jewish state and those that desire its destruction as being morally equivalent is fine. But it remains to be seen whether Gingrich has the ability to be more than an accurate student of the history of the Middle East. It is fair to say as president, he will have to be more guarded in his statements and even fairer to express skepticism about his ability to do so.
[Jewish World Review]
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Iran Policy Conflict




Congress Rebuffs Administration Pleas to Ease Iran Sanctions

Republicans and Democrats are pressing ahead with sanctions that would target foreign banks that do business with Iran's Central Bank. Tough sanctions are the most viable option short of a military strike on Iran. The sanctions measure sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was added to a broader defense bill now the subject of closed-door negotiations.
(AP-Washington Post)


Sending the Wrong Signals to Iran -Editorial

Iran has been showing signs of increasing nervousness about the possibility that its nuclear program will come under attack by Israel or the U.S. From the West's point of view, this alarm is good: The more Iran worries about a military attack, the more likely it is to scale back its nuclear activity. The only occasion in which Tehran froze its weaponization program came immediately after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when it feared it might be the next American target.

What doesn't make sense is a public spelling out of reasons against military action - like that delivered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last Friday. Alarmed Iranian leaders could well conclude that they have no reason for concern after all.

The administration is resisting pressure from allies such as France and from Congress to sanction the Iranian central bank. The administration's stance resembles Mr. Panetta's message. In effect, it is signaling that it is determined to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon - unless it means taking military or diplomatic risks, or paying an economic price.
(Washington Post)


The Importance of Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank -Ilan Berman

The Administration worries about the potential impact of such a designation on global oil prices. However, countries like Saudi Arabia have already indicated their willingness to ramp up oil output in order to offset any commodity price increases that would occur if and when Iranian oil goes offline. And if Washington makes judicious use of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate price spikes in the global energy market, the effects on domestic consumers are likely to be more minimal still.
(Forbes)
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Hebron: Holy City, Holy Mess, Holy Sheikh

Sheikh Jabari [center], a true Muslim moderate, shown here meeting in his tent with Jewish representatives in Hebron


The Future of Hebron's Jewish Past -Melanie Phillips

Hebron has become a synonym in the West for oppression of the Palestinians, but it is in fact those Jewish residents who are hanging on by their fingernails to a minimal right of access to one of Judaism's holiest sites - the Cave of Machpelah, where Abraham and the patriarchs and matriarchs are said to be buried.

It is also grotesque to call the Jewish residents "settlers" as if they are colonizing land with which they have no connection. Jews have lived in Hebron for thousands of years but have been repeatedly driven out, as in the 1929 pogrom when Arabs slaughtered 67 adults and children.

The restored Jewish presence in a town of 130,000 Arabs is a mere 90 Jewish families, restricted to an area comprising some 5% of the town.

Far from the impression that Arab Hebron is wretched and impoverished, it is highly prosperous, delivering around one third of the West Bank's entire GDP.

Friendly relations have been established between local rabbis and the remarkable Sheikh Jabari [pictured], leader of Hebron's largest clan, who some years ago prevented the planned torching of a nearby synagogue. Sheikh Jabari has publicly acknowledged the right of Jews to live in Hebron.

The PA is trying to ethnically cleanse the Jews again from Hebron, while Sheikh Jabari is supporting the rights of the Jewish people to their own heritage.
(Jewish Chronicle-UK)
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Friday, December 09, 2011

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Egyptian Election Confounds Some



Islamists' Election Victory in Egypt Leaves Western Predictions in Shambles -Tony Blankley

Just a few months ago leading experts were overwhelmingly predicting that all those great secular, liberal, college-educated kids with their iPhones in Tahrir Square represented the new Egypt and would bring all their wonderful values to the revolution. It was primarily those who have been writing about radical Islamic politics (and, of course, the Israelis, who can't afford to get it wrong on Muslim political habits) who warned that this was all going to end in the rise in Egypt of radical Islamist, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-American, anti-Western governance.

In the first round of elections, the grand total for all the parties that are considered part of the liberal-secular bloc - the makers of the glorious Arab Spring democracy - was 13%.
(Washington Times)
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Egypt's Sham Election -Daniel Pipes & Cynthia Farahat

What about Western policy?

[I]nstantly cease all economic aid to Cairo. It is unacceptable that Western taxpayers pay, even indirectly, for Islamizing Egypt. Resume funding only when the government allows secular Muslims, liberals, and Copts, among others, freely to express and organize themselves.

[O]ppose both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Less extreme or more, Islamists of every description are our worst enemies.
[National Review Online]
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Israel on the Islamist Surge in Egypt: Told You So -Karl Vick

Inspiring as much of the world found events in Tunisia, Tahrir Square and elsewhere, Israelis harbored deep wariness from the start. Some flat-out said Arabs can't govern themselves. Others broke down the elements of Western democracies -- universal education, civil society, rule of law -- and concluded that elections are not the only thing that matter.

"Who says that protests against dictatorship necessarily lead to democracy?" asked Gabriel Ben-Dor, a political scientist at Haifa University, at a recent conference at Bar-Ilan University. "Democracy is not what emerged from the revolution against the Tsars of Russia 100 years ago, nor has democracy emerged in many CIS states that threw off the Communist yoke. Thus there is no rational, logical or historical basis for assuming that democracy will result from the revolutions underway today in the Arab world."
[Time Magazine]
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Egypt: We've Heard What the Majority Thinks -Barry Rubin

Let's figure out what the voting in Egypt means. Basically, nationalism has collapsed completely. Liberalism is weak. Moderate Muslims are few. Radical Islamism is the only game in town. Many Western journalists insist that the Egyptian people don't want an Islamist state. Of course they do! We are seeing the democratic election of a dictatorship.

By the time the election is finished, there should be an easy two-thirds majority for an Islamist constitution.
(PJ Media)
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Obama Continues Assault on Israel: Hillary Spits Fire



An ally no more -Caroline Glick

Rather than warn Egypt that it will face severe consequences if it completes its Islamist transformation, the Obama administration has turned its guns on the first country that will pay a price for Egypt's Islamic revolution: Israel.

State Hillary Clinton hammered Israel, the only real ally the US has left in the Middle East. 

The same Secretary of State that has heralded negotiations with the violent, fanatical misogynists of the Taliban; who has extolled Saudi Arabia where women are given ten lashes for driving, and whose State Department trained female-hating Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the lead-up to the current elections in Egypt accused Israel of repressing women's rights. The only state in the region where women are given full rights and legal protections became the focus of Clinton's righteous feminist wrath.

In the IDF, as in the rest of the country, religious coercion is forbidden. [One interpretation of] Jewish law prohibits men from listening to women's voices in song. And recently, when a group of religious soldiers were presented with an IDF band that featured female vocalists, keeping faith with their [ultra] Orthodox observance, they walked out of the auditorium. The vocalists were not barred from singing. They were not mistreated. They were simply not listened to.

And as far as Clinton is concerned, this is proof that women in Israel are under attack. Barred by law from forcing their soldiers from spurning their religious obligations, IDF commanders were guilty of crimes against democracy for allowing the troops to exit the hall.

In attacking Israel in the way she did, Clinton showed that she holds Israel to a unique standard of behavior. Whereas fellow Western democracies are within their rights when they undertake initiatives like banning Islamic headdresses from the public square, Israel is a criminal state for affording Jewish soldiers freedom of religion. Whereas the Taliban, who enslave women and girls in the most unspeakable fashion are worthy interlocutors, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which supports universal female genital mutilation is moderate, Israel is an enemy of democracy for seeking to preserve the government's ability to adopt policies that advance the country's interests.

Clinton's assault on Israeli democracy and society came a day after Panetta attacked Israel's handling of its strategic challenges.
 
Under President Obama, the US government has become hostile to Israel's national rights and strategic imperatives.
[Jewish World Review]
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Female Soldiers in More Positions in the IDF

Women make up 33% of the IDF. 51% of IDF officers are females serving as both career soldiers and reservists. Women make up 3% of combat soldiers and 15% of technical personnel. Today, almost every single position in the IDF is open for female soldiers including combat, field instruction, intelligence and more. Combat positions include artillery, field intelligence, Home Front Command, and search and rescue.

The Karakal infantry battalion was created to enable female IDF soldiers to serve in a combat position alongside males. The K9 unit, Oketz, also drafts females as elite combat soldiers.
(Israel Defense Forces)
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UPDATES

Israel Furious at Hillary Clinton's Concern for Israeli Democracy -Phoebe Greenwood

Israeli government ministers have reacted with fury to comments made by Hillary Clinton expressing her concern for the state of democracy in Israel.

An official within the Israeli Foreign Ministry asked, "Does she deal with the same urgency to the social problems in states other than Israel? There is capital punishment in America; this is not the practice in Israel. America's hard-line Mormons practice polygamy....We could make many more comparisons which would point out just how ridiculous her criticisms are."
(Telegraph-UK)


Israeli Officials "Disappointed" by Clinton's Remarks -Herb Keinon

Israeli officials expressed "disappointment" during recent conversations with U.S. Jewish leaders at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments about threats to Israeli democracy. She was reported to have likened efforts in the haredi sector to have separate seating on buses for males and females to Rosa Parks, the black civil rights icon. "A comparison between the issue of Orthodox Jews and what happened to Rosa Parks is simply beyond the pale," the officials said. They noted that haredi buses with separate seating for men and women travel daily in New York, but that no one is saying that poses a threat to U.S. democracy.

"Is there a law in Israel, like in France, preventing women from wearing a burka?" the officials asked. "Is there a law here, like in Switzerland, banning the construction of minarets on mosques? Is there really a threat to Israeli democracy?"
(Jerusalem Post)
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Hillary, Israel Is Not Iran -Gilad Erdan

Hillary, our dear friend. A few days ago, you expressed your deep concern about harm to the status of women in Israel, which you said reminds you of the events in Iran.

By the way, in our country, a woman serves as the president of the Supreme Court, a woman is the head of the opposition, a woman serves as a major-general in the army...
If you are concerned about the status of women in Israel, I'm certain you are much more concerned about the status of women in other countries friendly to the U.S., such as Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive; or in Arab countries such as Egypt or Qatar, where men can marry several women and divorce them without any reason, leaving them without any rights, without custody for their children and without alimony; or in Muslim countries such as Indonesia or Pakistan, where women are executed on charges of adultery. But, somehow, I do not recall that you have expressed your concern about it or have taken any steps to stop it.

We get a little offended when we are the targets of moralistic preachings on this subject. Israel is not Iran or Saudi Arabia.
The writer is Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection.
(Jerusalem Post)
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VideoBite: Arab-Israeli conflict thru the eyes of Facebook



Hasbara Fellowships, a pro-Israel campus group, posted this video describing the Arab-Israeli conflict taking place within a social network

Monday, December 05, 2011

Tobin: "Obama hostile to the Jewish state"



An Administration Ready to Blame Israel -Jonathan Tobin 

The ground is fast sinking beneath the feet of President Obama's Jewish defenders. While the president is trying to raise money from Jewish donors by patting himself on the back as Israel's greatest friend in the White House, the Secretary of Defense has now made it clear that he sees the Jewish state as responsible for the isolation it faces. 

Equally as egregious is the fact that Howard Gutman, Obama's ambassador to Belgium, told an audience this week he thinks Israel's policy toward the Palestinians is responsible for the creation of a new kind of anti-Semitism that he believes is understandable on some level.
 
Panetta's speech at the Brooking Institution and Gutman's comments to a conference held by the European Jewish Union were obviously not coordinated, but they combine to give us a clear view of the distorted mindset of administration officials. This is an administration that sees Israel as a source of trouble, not an ally. Combined with the sorry history of three years of Obama's picking fights with Jerusalem, the positions of both Panetta and Gutman give the lie to the notion this is an administration friends of Israel can trust.

That the secretary of defense would choose to blast Israel in this manner just as Obama is starting to crank up his re-election campaign speaks to the cognitive dissonance many Jewish Democrats are experiencing. For Panetta to claim Israel is responsible for its own isolation just as Obama boasted of his friendship for the Jewish state shows either a lack of coordination between the Pentagon and the White House or a desire on the president's part to signal the Arab world he is prepared to put the screws to the Israelis as soon as the election is concluded.


As for Panetta's assertions, while sandwiched between some of the usual boilerplate rhetoric about supporting the alliance, they made it clear that Washington views the hardening of anti-Israel positions on the part of Turkey, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority as Israel's fault. Even more, he made it plain that the administration's belief is this rising tide of anti-Israel hate can only be dealt with by a new round of concessions on Israel's part to the Palestinians.


Israel's peace treaty with Egypt is now endangered by the victory of Islamists. Their former ally Turkey is now aligning itself with Hamas terrorists. The Palestinian Authority is about to conclude a unity pact with Hamas that will end its experiment with good government and expand the reach of the Gaza-based terrorists. These events are not the fault of Israel, but are the result of the embrace of Islamism and extremism by a Muslim world that seems to be sinking into the abyss of extremism.


But the administration looks at this and says it is the fault of the Israelis who have spent the last 18 years trying to make peace, to no avail. Rather than drawing conclusions from the Palestinians' rejection of peace and the bloodthirsty hatred for Jews at the heart of the siege of the Jewish state, Panetta believes the time is ripe for Israel to weaken its defenses and hand over more territory that may become another safe haven for terrorists, as Gaza has proved to be.


The secretary's remarks were a not-so-subtle hint that pressuring Israel is still Obama's priority
. That key officials of this administration could hold onto a belief in a peace process even the so-called moderates of the Palestinian Authority have rejected speaks volumes not so much about their naivete as it does the grip of ideology on their thinking.


While the White House sought to distance itself from Gutman's remarks, his views give those of us who have wondered about the source of the animus for Israel in this administration new insights about the advice Obama has been getting.

Taken together, these two speeches paint a portrait of a government that is at its heart hostile to the Jewish state. Only a blind partisan would think such an administration could be trusted to deal fairly with Israel once the constraints of Obama's re-election efforts are removed.
[Jewish World Review]

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Cartoon that leaves you Speechless

May G-d protect the Christian communities in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and beyond

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Boycott Backfires!



Boycott Leads to Increased Sales for Israeli Shoemaker -Sharona Schwartz

An effort by pro-Palestinian activists to convince Canadian shoppers to boycott the Israeli comfort shoe store Naot in Montreal has unleashed a boomerang effect resulting in a surge in sales.

Furthermore, for 20 years the company has employed hundreds of Palestinian workers.
(The Blaze-Ynet News)*

Friday, December 02, 2011

Dem Senator Lashes out at Obama's Iran policy: VideoBite



While this video is longer than I usually post, this is stunning. 
Democrat Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) lashes out at Obama's Iran policy


UPDATES:

Senate Votes Unanimously to Sanction Iran Central Bank -Siobhan Hughes

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 100-0 to adopt economic sanctions against Iran's central bank similar to those announced by the UK to block Iran's entire banking sector from the UK financial system. The vote came in spite of warnings from the Obama administration that the sanctions would alienate allies and drive up oil prices.

Lawmakers say the Obama administration needs to show a greater sense of urgency in the wake of reports from the UN nuclear agency that Iran has been developing technologies needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Lawmakers also point to U.S. allegations that Iran was plotting to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington.
(Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal)
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Administration Tries to Water Down Iran Sanctions -Josh Rogin

President Obama's administration is working behind the scenes to water down congressional language that would impose crippling sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). The administration sent to Congress this week a list of requested changes to the sanctions language found in the Senate's version of the defense authorization bill, which was passed last week. Those sanctions, which would punish any bank that does business with the CBI, were part of an amendment authored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that passed over the administration's objections by a vote of 100 to 0.

The administration wants to delay the implementation of sanctions not related to oil purchases from 60 to 180 days, and wants to water down the severity of sanctions measures if and when they are put into effect.
(Foreign Policy)
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ANOTHER UPDATE:

House-Senate Panel Agrees on New Sanctions on Iran

Leaders of a U.S. House and Senate negotiating panel said they had agreed to compromise legislation imposing new sanctions that target Iran's central bank, despite Obama administration misgivings over the measure. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the bill was probably "96 percent" the same as legislation that passed the Senate last week. It would penalize foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's central bank, the main conduit for its oil revenues.
(Reuters)
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Obama's Chutzpah

Obama: I've Done More for Israel than previous Administrations -Daniel Halper


Last night, at a campaign fund-raising event in New York City with Jewish donors, President Obama had this to say about his record regarding Israel:

"I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration. Whether it's making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we're able to construct something like an Iron Dome ...we have been consistent in insisting that we don't compromise when it comes to Israel’s security."

[But] a Democratic pro-Israel insider [wrote the following in an email]:

"Making the conscious choice to distance us from Israel, and blaming them for the failure to make progress toward peace, while putting no blame on the Palestinians whatsoever, has badly undermined Israel's position in the region, in the international community, and in the peace process, while emboldening their enemies."

"Not to mention that by walking away from written agreements we made with Israel, and denying the sheer existence of others, let alone threatening the entire bilateral relationship in a fit of presidential pique, this White House had badly damaged the trust that underpins the relationship."

"How can Israel count on the security relationship he is so anxious to tout if the president can so casually walk away from American understandings?  Sort of undercuts his claims, don't you think?"
[The Weekly Standard]
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cartoon Bites

A cartoon pointing to the Divine nature of Israel's struggle with the world

Israeli Dance Group Kicked Out of "Multicultural" Festival


Israeli Dance Troupe Axed in Australia -Livia Albeck-Ripka 

    A multicultural folk dance festival supported by the government of Victoria has dropped an Israeli dance troupe from its program after the group refused to change its name.


    Members of the Machol Israeli Dancing Club were bewildered when all references to Israel in the program were deleted, while no changes were made to Chinese, Hungarian, Armenian, Ukrainian and Irish groups.


    When the troupe approached festival coordinator Marta Balan to clarify the anomaly, she said their style of dance was Jewish rather than Israeli, adding that she would not be held responsible for the "consequences" if the troupe insisted on having "Israeli" in their name.


    The troupe has submitted complaints to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission which funded the event.
 
(Australian Jewish News

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not So Grateful



Israelis Save Drowning Iranians in Thailand -Reuven Weiss

Shimshon Machani, 60, a former seaman and Tel Aviv lifeguard, and his son, Nimrod, 27, opened a surfboat business for local tourists in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Last week, as the father-son team went out on their daily rowing course, "On the way back, the weather changed all at once. The winds got stronger and the waves grew tall," Shimshon explained.

Suddenly, they noticed two swimmers crying out for help. "Their kayak had overturned in the storm and was swept away, they were left alone in the water," said Shimshon. "They didn't have much of a chance."

"When we reached them they were already at the point of exhaustion," Nimrod noted. "We loaded them on to the surf boat and kept rowing towards the shore, a kilometer away," battling against the winds and the waves.

"When they came around and started talking among themselves, I noticed they were speaking in Persian. I was born in Iran and speak the language. I told them in Persian: 'Don't be scared, you're in good hands'," Shimshon recalls.

When they reached the shore and "we told them we're Israelis, they just got up and fled," Nimrod noted.
(Ynet News)*

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iran Heats Up Israeli Border



Four Hezbollah missles rained on Northern Israel overnight, possibly an answer to leaks related to a potential Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.  Hasn't the UN has done a fine job of making sure Hezbollah doesn't rearm?  Don't be surprised when you see headlines that read "Israel Hits Lebanon," ignoring the order of events. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sabotage Plagues Iran: Go Israel



Mysterious Explosions Pose Dilemma for Iranian Leaders -Thomas Erdbrink

A massive blast at a missile base operated by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps nearly two weeks ago was the latest in a series of mysterious incidents involving explosions at natural gas transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases - blasts that have caused dozens of deaths and damage to key infrastructure in the past two years.

Iranian officials said the Nov. 12 blast at the missile base was an "accident," and they ruled out any sabotage by the U.S. and its regional allies. But suspicions have been raised by a fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines since 2010. 

At least 17 gas pipeline explosions have been reported since last year. At the same time, nearly a dozen major explosions have damaged refineries since 2010. Four key gas pipelines exploded simultaneously in different locations in Qom Province in April.
(Washington Post)
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UPDATE:

A Second Iranian Nuclear Facility Has Exploded -Sheera Frankel

An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack. Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran. The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident."

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Israel's former director of national security, told Army Radio that the Isfahan blast was no accident. "There aren't many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it's the hand of God," he said.
(Times-UK-The Australian)
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Friday, November 25, 2011

VideoBite: Bob Dylan Meets Arab Spring





A new bold video spoofing the "Arab Spring" to Bob Dylan's classic tune

Palestinians Pretend Bus Access is Civil Rights Issue

Recent bus protest

Recent bus protest

What really matters...19 murdered in this bus attack




Bus Security Is for Self-Defense, Not Inequality -Editorial

Six Palestinians arrested on West Bank buses used by Israelis sought to claim they were acting like the Freedom Riders in the American South in the early 1960s. But this ignores just one minor detail: The black victims of segregation and racism in the American South did not plant bombs on the buses they tried to integrate, did not throw bombs at those buses, did not shoot women and children on those buses, and did not steer those buses off the highway into ravines, killing the buses' passengers. 


Palestinians suffer from separate bus lines due to the violent, deliberate, massive, sustained attacks by Palestinians on Israeli buses. We wish it were different. Separate Israeli buses in Palestinian areas are a means of self-defense, not inequality.

Let the Palestinians affirm not only non-violent action on buses, but also lay down their rockets fired into Israel from Gaza and their knives from the West Bank used to butcher Israelis sleeping in their beds. 

Then we can talk about equal access to buses. 
(Intermountain Jewish News)


Not-So-Easy Riders
-Liat Collins


Six Palestinian activists tried to revive memories of the American "freedom riders" of the 1960s, followed by a crowd of some 50 journalists. The protesters pointed out that they cannot travel freely from Ramallah to Jerusalem without the correct permits, or an Israeli identity card. 


Jews, of course - no matter what papers they are carrying - cannot travel on a Palestinian-owned bus to Nablus, or Shechem as it's been known in Hebrew ever since the Bible put it on the map. That, apparently, is not considered discrimination. 
(Jerusalem Post)
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Egypt's Path to Islamism



Egypt the Middle East Fulcrum -Yisrael Ne'eman

[T]he Muslim Brotherhood is the best organized most popular force in Egypt and yes, the Middle East today.  The slogan "Islam is the Answer" will be increasingly heard throughout the region even if it is not being pushed at the moment.  As the Facebook and Twitter liberal generation are ushered out one can expect a good few decades if not two generations of Islamic control in one form or another.  The last several days of massive protests still finds liberals and secularists among the demonstrators but their presence and influence will dwindle.  There are those like the Nobel Prize winning liberal and presidential candidate Mohammed ElBaradei who are calling for a national unity government to replace the military regime, but this can only be a temporary measure.

The military is accused of trying to force a legal framework whereby they would continue to hold power and reserve the right to intervene politically if they deem it necessary, something akin to the Ataturk legacy in Turkey until very recently.   This is certainly an immediate cause but not necessarily the focus of all anger.  Barely mentioned and much less discussed is the army insistence on guaranteeing minority (Christian Copts) and individual rights (women and non-conformists).  Now pit that against Muslim Brotherhood demands for Sharia law, even should it not be immediate.  Let's be honest, if the military was advocating Sharia law while asserting its right to intervene in civilian matters liberals and secularists might take to the streets but there would not be tens of thousands of Islamists demanding "democracy" and an end to military intervention.  Paradoxically some of the liberals are staying away, correctly understanding their future liberties are being defended more by the military than anyone else.  Others are playing the democracy game, one which would work very well in Europe or America and are joining the demonstrators.

In the face of rising anarchy, a turning inwards towards Islam appears the only answer.  The Islamists are calling on the demonstrators to honor the people's will and move towards next week's elections.  The idea is that in a step by step process the military will be sidelined and the Brotherhood can consolidate power.

What Western pro-democracy observers are forgetting is that democracy is not the tyranny of the majority but rather rule by the majority and equal rights for all including minority groups, women and specific groups and/or individuals with a different political, economic or social perspective.  What we are seeing is popular anger against the military, yet to demand civilianization of the regime does not necessarily mean one supports democracy as an ideal.  If holding elections is the way to gain power, so be it, but the results cannot be foretold as leading to democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood will not hold pro-democracy demonstrations, but rather demand elections to attain power.  Should they not win power legally one can expect them to undermine the elected regime until they will succeed.  

Egypt may very well go the way of the Iranian revolution although by a different route, a more anarchical one. 

Egyptian elections are of no great importance and will only be seen as a technical detail in the long run.  The Muslim Brotherhood, the most cohesive grass roots organization can be expected to take power in the not too distant future.  One can expect a form of Islamized military at their side when a new Egyptian state solidifies.  Egypt's better educated more secular classes will be marginalized or forced to conform.  And of course the Middle East will be heavily influenced by what happens in Egypt, the fulcrum of the Arab world.
[Mideast: On Target]
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Islamotopia: The Muslim Brotherhood's Idea of Democracy -Uriya Shavit

•Democracy without the Muslim Brotherhood is impossible, but so is democracy under its leadership. There is no doubt that the Brotherhood enjoys broad support in every Arab country that has undergone democratic revolutions or uprisings in the last year. Elections in which the movement is not allowed to participate will therefore lack popular legitimacy.

•The inevitable result of its electoral victory, however, will be the formation of a theocracy. It will not permit the scientific and technological revolution of which Arab societies are in such dire need. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood must be permitted to run in elections, but not gain power.

•How can the West deal with the very tangible threat that Arab societies will be taken over by Islamist movements? If it confronts them, it will only confirm the Brotherhood's claim that the West conspires to undermine the religious identity of the Muslim world and seize control of it.

•However convoluted the knot may be, Western decision-makers must not ignore the astonishing truth revealed during the previous year: Forces within Arab society yearn for genuine democracy, and understand that the Western form of government embodies a formula for human success and political stability.

•The West must make plain what it holds to be the essence of democracy, why the political ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood are incompatible with it, and, thus, why it cannot offer economic or diplomatic support to Arab states that follow the path of political Islam.

•The West needs to explain, to all who are willing to listen, that the conflict is not between the secular and the religious, the West and the East, the Christians and the Muslims. It is, quite simply, a clash between freedom and tyranny.
The writer teaches Islamic history and theology at Tel Aviv University.
(Azure-Shalem Center)
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Obama Throws Softball at Iran



Bank Markazi, Iran's Central Bank, gets a pass from President Obama

Obama refuses to enact stiff economic punishments against Iran -Paul Richter

The Obama administration slapped Iran with a new round of sanctions for its alleged nuclear and terrorist activities, but stopped short of the tough economic punishments favored by many in Congress.

In an announcement coordinated with Britain and Canada, U.S. officials said they are imposing new punishments aimed at Iran's petrochemical sector and organizations involved in the country's nuclear program or terrorism, such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Quds Force. The most damaging new step will be to identify Iran as a source of "primary money laundering concern." Officials hope the designation will prompt many international companies to break off business with Iran for fear of damaging their own reputations.
 
Yet while the administration added another layer to the many existing punishments aimed at isolating Tehran's economy from the world, officials stopped short of imposing full sanctions on the Iranian central bank.

[Jewish World Review]
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UPDATES:

EU Reaches Deal on New Iran Sanctions 

EU governments are expected to discuss proposals by France and Britain for further sanctions, such as targeting the Iranian central bank. France also wants to target the oil industry.  
(Reuters)
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More Half-Measures on Iran -Editorial

On Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps against Iran for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. 


Sanctions were toughened on Iran's oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated "a primary money laundering concern," but the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank.
    

At the forefront of the Western effort to pressure Tehran is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who issued a statement calling on "willing countries" to "immediately freeze the assets of Iran's central bank" and suspend purchases of Iranian oil. 

Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's dictatorship. 

By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the U.S.  
(Washington Post) 


Only Threat of Military Action Will Stop Iran -Michael Eisenstadt 

  • The recent plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington should be a wake-up call. It indicates that 30 years of Iranian terrorist attacks on American interests, without a U.S. military response, has convinced Tehran that it can continue to act with impunity - even on U.S. soil. Unless Washington alters Tehran's risk calculus, the U.S. may be targeted again.
  • Advocates of containment frequently gloss over the fact that to work, it must be backed up with a credible threat of force; that the costs of a nuclear deterrence failure in a proliferated Middle East may be measured in millions of lives lost; and that the likelihood of a nuclear deterrence failure is not trivial, given the propensity of an embattled and increasingly insular and hard-line regime in Tehran to miscalculate and overreach.
  • Paradoxically, to succeed diplomatically and to deter, the U.S. needs to be ready to use force in response to further acts of terrorism by Iran, or to an attempt by Iran to build a bomb. For the threat of force to work, however, it has to be credible, and it has to dramatically alter Iran's risk calculus. Right now, neither condition is present.

    The writer is a senior fellow and director of the military and security studies program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(U.S. News)
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Tobin: President Obama can stop Hamas Deal



Obama Must Act to Stop Hamas-Fatah Deal -Jonathan Tobin 

President Obama may be fed up with Israel, but the Palestinian Authority appears to be about to take one step closer to effectively ending all hope for peace in the foreseeable future. 

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to a key concession that will solidify the Hamas-Fatah unity pact. The result will guarantee a strong Hamas role in the new Palestinian government that will ensure it will be impossible for the PA to agree to any deal with Israel... 

It should also be understood that allowing Hamas to get a foothold in the PA has implications for the region as well as the peace process. Hamas is an Iranian ally. A victory for them undermines moderate Arabs everywhere. 

The unity pact also demonstrates the bankruptcy of President Obama's Middle East diplomacy. By focusing almost exclusively on trying to badger Netanyahu into concessions on the 1967 borders and settlements, Obama has only reinforced Palestinian intransigence and set the stage for Hamas to gain ground.  

But it is not too late for the president to start using the considerable leverage he still holds over Abbas. Were Obama to tell Abbas that he will lose every penny of the hundreds of millions of dollars he gets from the U.S. annually and that Washington will work to cut off every other avenue of aid, that would get the PA's attention. Only by cracking down hard on the PA now is there any hope for averting a deal that will expand the influence of Iran's Islamist terrorist auxiliaries. 
[Jewish World Review]
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

VideoBite: High Contrast


An excellent video contrasting Israeli & Palestinian positions

Taking Iran's Nuke Card Away




U.S. Air Force Acquires Giant Bunker-Busting Bombs -W.J. Hennigan
 

Boeing has delivered the first batch of 30,000-pound bombs, each nearly five tons heavier than anything else in the military's arsenal, to the U.S. Air Force to pulverize underground enemy hide-outs. The weapon's explosive power is 10 times greater than its bunker-buster predecessors.

The military disclosed delivery of the new bombs less than a week after a UN agency warned that Iran was secretly working to develop a nuclear weapon in hidden nuclear complexes buried under mountains.
(Los Angeles Times)

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Israel: It's Possible to Stop Iran's Nuclear Project -Herb Keinon
 

    Tehran's fingerprints can be seen in every area of conflict in the region, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University on Thursday. "The significance of an Iran with nuclear weapons capability is that it could create nuclear chaos in the Middle East, and lead to the use of the nuclear umbrella to encourage terrorism and irredentism, and the transfer of a dirty bomb to Manhattan and Europe," he said.

    "One way or another Iran has to be prevented from acquiring a military nuclear capability," he said. "The challenge is not only on our doorstep, it is before the whole free world, led by the U.S." "Our assessment is that it is possible to stop the military nuclear project in Iran if all will cooperate and the Iranians will be faced with the following dilemma: nuclear weapons or survival."  

(Jerusalem Post)
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A Credible Military Threat to Iran -Eli Lake (Daily Beast)

  • As Iran methodically built its nuclear program, Israel has been assembling a multibillion-dollar array of high-tech weapons that would allow it to jam, blind, and deafen Tehran's defenses in the case of a pre-emptive aerial strike

  •  A U.S. intelligence assessment this summer concluded that any Israeli attack on hardened nuclear sites in Iran would likely include electronic warfare against Iran's electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers. Israel has developed a weapon capable of mimicking a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to "sleep," effectively stopping transmissions. In a 2007 attack on a Syrian nuclear site, Israeli planes "spoofed" the country's air-defense radars, at first making it appear that no jets were in the sky and then in an instant making the radar believe the sky was filled with hundreds of planes.

  • Israel also likely would exploit a vulnerability that U.S. officials detected two years ago in Iran's big-city electric grids, which are connected to the Internet and therefore vulnerable to a Stuxnet-style cyberattack, officials say. The likely delivery method for the electronic elements of this attack would be an unmanned aerial vehicle.

  • If past practice is any guide, the Israelis would not likely strike at the same moment that their officials are discussing the prospect in the press. In other words, if Israel is openly discussing a military strike, it is unlikely to be imminent. But if Israel goes radio silent - like it did when it attacked a nuclear site in Iraq in 1981 - that may be an early warning sign that a strike is nearing.

  • In 2007, the Israelis presented what they considered to be rock-solid evidence that Syria was building a covert nuclear facility at al-Kibar. They asked President Bush to bomb the facility, according to the new memoir from Condoleezza Rice. "The president decided against a strike and suggested a diplomatic course to the Israeli prime minister," she wrote. "Ehud Olmert thanked us for our input but rejected our advice, and the Israelis then expertly did the job themselves."

  • One American close to the current prime minister said, "When Netanyahu came into office, the understanding was they will not make the same mistake that Olmert made and ask for something the president might say no to. Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission." 
    [Daily Beast]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Covert Shadow War with Iran




Iran says missile base blast was not caused by Israeli intelligence -Saeed Kamali Dehghan

Iran has insisted that an explosion that killed the architect of its missile programme was not carried out by Israel or the US, despite widespread reports that it was the work of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad.

On Saturday a huge blast at the Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, 30 miles to the west of Tehran, killed 17 of the country's elite revolutionary guards, including Major General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, a senior commander described as the pioneer of the regime's missile programme.

A senior Iranian military official denied reports that Israel was linked to the blast.

Firouzabadi said that the explosion has disrupted the production of "a very important product" but the base would resume working soon, without elaborating on the nature of what the base had been making. It is believed that the Alghadir base is a depot for Iran's Shahab-3 missiles, which have a range of 1,200 miles, making them capable of reaching Israel.

After the incident Iran was quick to state publicly that an accident caused the explosion, saying that it happened while ammunitions were being moved. But anonymous sources with close ties to Tel Aviv and Tehran have since spoken to the press alleging that the Mossad was behind it.

Iran regularly points the finger at Israel and the US as the source of internal disputes but this time Tehran leaders are adamant that their enemies are innocent.

In recent years Iran's nuclear programme has experienced a series of dramatic setbacks by the assassination of its scientists and a computer worm believed to have been designed to sabotage the country's enrichment of uranium.

These incidents, seen as part of a covert war against Iran led by Israel, aimed at halting its nuclear activities, have given weight to speculation that Saturday's blast could also be part of a shadow war over Iran's nuclear programme, but this time with the aim of halting the regime's missile progress.

Many analysts believe that Israel and its allies have opted for a covert war instead of a costly military strike, which is believed to be difficult to achieve.

Time magazine reported on Sunday that the Mossad carried out the blast through sabotage, citing western intelligence sources. An Iranian source with close ties to the clerical establishment told the Guardian that Israel was responsible.

If an Israeli link to the blast turns out to be true, the Iranian government would be hugely embarrassed by the extent of the enemy's access to its most sensitive activities.
[The Guardian - UK]
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Will Obama Support Iranian Dissidents?


Ahmadinejad does not look worried

Iran Activists Join Anti-Nuclear Push -Farnaz Fassihi

A group of Iranian dissidents for the first time openly called on their government to suspend uranium enrichment, in an open letter published Monday that adds to the momentum of the international effort to convince Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "The current deadlock over Iran's nuclear ambitions and empty power play will set the stage for war and the people of Iran will have to pay the price," said the letter signed by 175 expatriate dissidents and publicized by a student activist website inside Iran.
(Wall Street Journal)
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Musicians flock to Israel

 

A video highlighting the top musicians planning concerts in Israel

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Sarkozy-Obama Incident: Glick vs. Rubin



With friends like these -Caroline B. Glick

The slurs against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voiced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama after last week's G-20 summit were revealing as well as repugnant.

Thinking no one other than Obama could hear him, Sarkozy attacked Netanyahu saying, "I can't stand to see him anymore, he's a liar."

Obama responded by whining, "You're fed up with him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

These statements are interesting both for what they say about the two presidents' characters and for what they say about the way that Israel is perceived by the West more generally.

To understand why this is the case it is necessary to first ask, when has Netanyahu ever lied to Sarkozy and Obama?

This week the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's report about Iran's nuclear weapons program made clear that Israel — Netanyahu included — has been telling the truth about Iran and its nuclear ambitions all along. In contrast, world leaders have been lying and burying their heads in the sand.

Since Iran's nuclear weapons program was first revealed to the public in 2004, Israel has provided in-depth intelligence information proving Iran's malign intentions to the likes of Sarkozy, Obama and the UN. And for seven years, the US government — Obama included — has claimed that it lacked definitive proof of Iran's intentions.

Obama wasted the first two years of his administration attempting to charm the Iranians out of their nuclear weapons program. He stubbornly ignored the piles of evidence presented to him by Israel that Iran was not interested in cutting a deal.

So if Netanyahu never lied about Iran, what might these two major world leaders think he lies about?  Could it be they don't like the way he is managing their beloved "peace process" with the Palestinians?

Only when Netanyahu embraced the false claims of Obama and Sarkozy that it is possible to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, could it be said that he made false statements.

[T]he Palestinians — not Israel — have been lying all along. They pocketed Israel's territorial concessions and refused to make peace. So why do Sarkozy and Obama hate Netanyahu? Why is he "a liar?" Why don't they pour out their venom on Abbas, who really does lie to them on a regular basis?

The answer is because they prefer to blame Israel than acknowledge that their positive assessments of the Palestinians are nothing more than fantasy.

Scarcely a day goes by when some foreign leader, commentator or activist doesn't say that being pro-Israel doesn't mean being pro-Israeli government. [L]ike Sarkozy's and Obama's vile gossip about Netanyahu, those who make a distinction between the Israeli people and the Israeli government ignore two important facts.

First, Israel is a democracy. Its governments reflect the will of the Israeli people and therefore, are inseparable from the people. If you harbor contempt for Israel's elected leaders, then by definition you harbor contempt for the Israeli public. And this makes you anti-Israel.

The second fact these statements ignore is that Israel is the US's and Europe's stalwart ally.

Sarkozy's and Obama's nasty exchange about Netanyahu, reflect[s] a wider anti-Israel climate.

Outside the Jewish world, Sarkozy's and Obama's hateful, false statements about their ally provoked no outrage. Indeed, it took the media three days to even report their conversation. This indicates that Obama and Sarkozy aren't alone in holding Israel to a double standard. Like Obama and Sarkozy, the media blame Israel for failing to make their peace fantasies come true.

And that is the real message of the Obama-Sarkozy exchange last week. Through it we learn that blaming the Jews and the Jewish state for their enemies' behavior is what passes for polite conversation among Western elites today.
[Jewish World Review]
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Why Did Sarkozy and Obama ‘Dis’ Bibi? -Barry Rubin

During a conversation when they thought nobody was listening French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. President Barack Obama said nasty things about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A lot of the analysis about what this tells us I think is rather misleading.

Regarding Sarkozy, French-Israel relations have been good and there have not been major problems with Sarkozy. On one hand, Sarkozy has been far friendlier to Israel than his Gaullist and Socialist predecessors. True, he is surrounded by some hostile advisors, including the career staff at the Foreign Ministry, but on the other hand there is a defense and counterterrorism establishment that admires Israel.

Indeed, Sarkozy helped kill the Palestinian unilateral independence effort in the UN Security Council, a major service to Israel. Yet France voted in favor of the Palesstinian entry into the UNESCO organization.

Why suddenly has Sarkozy turned against Netanyahu? I can’t prove it but I think there is evidence for the following scenario. Sarkozy decided that he was going to broker a major deal at the UN, showing that France was a leading great power in the world. So he went to Netanyahu with a proposal: Israel would accept unilateral independence for Palestine and Sarkozy would get Israel something from the Palestinians (perhaps recognition of a Jewish state?).

Netanyahu played along a bit but, of course, knew that Sarkozy wouldn’t get anything from the Palestinian Authority. Sarkozy’s idea — like that of virtually all the well-intentioned or bad-intentioned, naive or cynical, friendly or hostile to Israel busybodies who think they are going to make peace — just didn’t make real sense.
The deal fell through — it was doomed from the start since the Palestinian Authority wouldn’t compromise — and, of course, he blamed Israel and not the Palestinians. Hence his fury that Netanyahu was a “liar.”

As for Obama, some have explained his remark about frustrations in dealing with Netanyahu every day as just going along with Sarkozy. Others claimed Obama’s remark was justified. This latter point is absurd. The truth is that Netanyahu has done everything Obama has asked while the PA has done nothing at all. If only there was a U.S. president who talked that way. But there’s more, apparently, to be gained by bashing Israel and coddling the PA in words.

Remember, U.S. policy has taken virtually no material action against Israel in terms of bilateral relations. The hostility is all words. Better nasty words and okay actions than the other way around.

If I make the mistake of talking in front of a microphone that I think is “off,” I might get caught complaining that we have to deal with Obama every day.
[PJ Media]
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