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Thursday, February 28, 2013

If this were an Arab child, it would be flashed around the world

The picture is actually from November 21, 2012, but the message remains pertinent.
This is a jewish baby who got stoned by arabs today, if it was on the other side, it would have being posted by all the media in the world. Now with Facebook we have the power to spread it out all over the net.
No, I don't really expect the world to care. I'm beyond that. But here's an important comment in the last hour. 
Mudar Zahran As a Palestinan myself and a political figure; I could not but fail to fathom why do we humans get children into our lame struggles....I just feel for this baby, and pray whoever hurts a child vanishes...
Maybe there's hope after all. 

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When Kerry meets Erdogan

In an earlier post, I reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had referred to Zionism as a crime against humanity, and I asked what Secretray of State John FN Kerry would say to Erdogan when he meets with him on Friday. Noah Pollak of the Emergency Committee for Israel has now released a statement dealing with that very issue.
"Yesterday, at a UN-sponsored conference and in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Zionism is a "crime against humanity." Moon, who was on stage with Erdogan, said and did nothing in protest. But tomorrow, the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrives in Ankara to meet with Erdogan.

"What will Kerry say? How will he respond to Erdogan? If he says nothing, he will be turning a blind eye to an explicit denial of the Jewish State's right to exist. The denial of Israel's right to exist is defined by Kerry's State Department as a form of anti-Semitism. Will Kerry stay silent in the face of such a reprehensible statement by a member of NATO, a major recipient of advanced American arms, and -- ostensibly -- a U.S. ally?

"President Obama likes to say that "when the chips are down, I have Israel's back." Erdogan's call for the destruction of Israel does not mean the chips are down. But shouldn't the U.S. president and secretary of state speak out when they hear such a statement? Will American leaders remain silent in the face of eliminationist rhetoric from leaders who seek our good favor? We will see tomorrow whether Secretary of State Kerry and the White House have Israel's back, not when the chips are down, but when the leader of an important country over whom the U.S. has substantial influence speaks in a way that forecasts and encourages the worst kinds of deeds."

Indeed.

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Video: The United Nations v. Israel

In the last few decades the United Nations has been obsessed with one country. Is it North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria, China or some other nation with a reprehensible human rights record? Those would all be fair guesses and they would all be wrong. Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Human Rights Institute, answers this riddle and explains the upside down moral universe in which the United Nations resides.

Let's go to the videotape.



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A new tanker arrives on site in Qatar....

Heh.

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The end of AIPAC?

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, February 28.
1) Water, water everywhere

At the Times of Israel, editor David Horovitz writes about how Israel's dealt with its water crisis. (h/t Yaacov Lozowick)

“How did we beat the water shortage? Because we said we would. We decided we would,” says Kushnir, a big man with a warm smile and a robust Russian accent. “And once you’ve made that decision, you build the tools to reduce your dependence. We’re on the edge of the desert in an area where water has always been short. The quantity of natural water per capita in Israel is the lowest for the whole region. But we decided early on that we were developing a modern state. So we were required to supply water for agriculture, and water for industry, and then water for hi-tech, and water to sustain an appropriate quality of life.” The National Water Carrier — which takes water from the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) south through the whole country to Beersheba and beyond — exemplified Israel’s ambition. Contemplated even before the modern state was founded, its planning and initial construction were “a dominant feature of the first Ben-Gurion government — an unprecedented investment,” Kushnir notes. “It stressed our desire to achieve a different reality.” Carrying almost 2 million cubic meters a day nationwide, that supply line, together with water from underground aquifers, kept Israel watered through the 70s. By the 1980s, though “we had a bigger population, bigger needs and the natural resources were overstretched. So we experimented with a small desalination plant in Eilat. And we began recycling purified sewage, and bringing industry into purifying water.” 
 The details are fascinating and well worth a read. Since part of Israel's water program involve re-use, a joint team of Israeli and Palestinian scientists is looking for possible dangers:
While people – and even their farm animals – continue to consume more and more medicines and chemicals, the effect of these substances once they have passed through the body and into the country’s water system are unknown, Tal explained. No one in Israel, or the Palestinian Authority, is currently looking for the presence of these chemicals or their effects “in a systematic way,” he added.
...
Tal has received a three-year, $560,000- grant from the USAID’s Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program to conduct the project. Many of his own students from Sde Boker will conduct the lion’s share of the laboratory testing in Health Ministry labs.
In the Palestinian contingent is water engineer Nader al-Khateeb, who also serves as Palestinian director of Friends of the Earth Middle East; Dr. Alfred Abed Rabbo, an assistant professor at Bethlehem University’s Water and Soil Research Unit; Dr. Shai Armon; and a group of Palestinian students, Tal explained.
One point that these two articles underscore is that if the Arab world would put aside its boycott of Israel on account of the Palestinians, it probably could benefit its own citizens by using Israeli technologies.

2) Is AIPAC obsolete?
In Tablet Lee Smith explains How AIPAC is losing, as evidenced by its non-response to the Hagel nomination:
Yet AIPAC has remained totally mum. The group says it focuses its energies on matters of policy rather than personnel. If it campaigned against Hagel, where would it stop? The organization would potentially have to take a position on every Cabinet nominee. Meantime, in the absence of AIPAC, other pro-Israel organizations have come out publicly against Hagel, like the Emergency Committee for Israel. For taking the lead on this issue, they have been labeled partisans, while AIPAC has preserved its bipartisan status.
But it’s not clear how much that label matters when a very influential segment of the Democratic party has made it plain that supporting Israel isn’t a top priority. I’m not just referring to the delegates who booed pro-Israel changes to the party platform on the floor of the convention in Charlotte last summer. I’m talking about the White House.
Pro-Israel Obama supporters on the Hill and in the press keep trying to make the case that in spite of how it might look on the surface, the administration cares deeply about the U.S.-Israel relationship. They point to the success of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense batteries as evidence that the security and military cooperation between the United States and Israel has reached unprecedented highs under Obama’s stewardship. But politics is mostly about how things look. And if the administration really cared that much about Israel, it wouldn’t nominate a secretary of defense who referred to defenders of the U.S.-Israel relationship as “the Jewish lobby.”
AIPAC is a lobby built to cultivate a pro-Israel bi-partisan consensus. AIPAC probably figured that Senators like Schumer and Cardin will be around after Obama's second term ends and the bitterness of a contested nomination wasn't worth alienating them. Still Smith persists:
The Iranian negotiating team meeting with its Western counterparts in Kazakhstan this week has earned the right to its smugness. The Iranians are installing equipment that will allow it to accelerate the production of nuclear fuel. And then there was North Korea’s nuclear test two weeks ago. At the very least, it signaled to the Iranians that in the end, despite all of the tough talk coming from the White House, the Americans are not going to stop the Iranians from acquiring the bomb.
Tehran has the upper hand in negotiations because it recognizes that all the White House wants is some sort of deal it can sell as a victory. And the all-powerful pro-Israel lobby has no choice but to swallow it and smile.
In other words, generally, it's worth it for AIPAC to preserve its bipartisan appeal, but this issue was important enough to take sides on. The New York Sun has a related editorial criticizing numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations for staying silent.
That was the Zionist Organization of America, which is the oldest pro-Israel organization in America, having been founded in 1897, the same year in which Theodor Herzl convened at Basel, Switzerland, the First Zionist Congress. It opposed the Hagel nomination early, forthrightly, and unapologetically. The result, according to the ZOA’s president, Morton Klein, is that it received objections from several leaders worried about the consequences for the Jewish community of such a public position. Mr. Klein believes the Hagel nomination would not have been confirmed had the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee taken a formal public position against Mr. Hagel. All three agencies have had many heroic moments. But they stood down on Mr. Hagel. Said Mr. Klein: “Several senators — and important ones — said to me: ‘If Aipac, ADL and AJCommittee — especially Aipac — had come out and lobbied against Hagel, he would have been stopped.” What such public opposition would have done, Mr. Klein argues, is that it “would have given a number of Democrats, who thought Hagel was awful, cover to vote against him.” Instead, the response leaders of the Jewish community received was, “If he’s so awful how come we’re not hearing anything against him from other Jewish groups.” Mr. Klein says he heard such a message from both sides of the aisle in the Senate.
Would it have made a difference? Morton Klein (and apparently the New York Sun) believe it would have. I am less certain.

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Would Abu Bluff name a successor?

Jonathan Schanzer has what seems like a pretty modest goal for President Obama to pursue during his March meeting with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen: Get Abu Mazen to name a successor.
Alarmingly, there is nobody in that role now. Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, is 78 years old. He is a heavy smoker and a cancer survivor. In 2010, he reportedly was admitted six times to a Jordanian hospital for unspecified health reasons. It's unclear how much longer he'll be fit for office.
Should the unthinkable happen, according to Palestinian Basic Law, Article 37, "the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council shall temporarily assume the powers and duties of the Presidency of the National Authority for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days, during which free and direct elections to elect a new President shall take place."
But here's the rub: The current speaker is Aziz Dweik, who ran on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform ticket. His history does not recommend him. In 1992, Dweik was expelled from Israel for his involvement with Hamas. He was among those the Israelis rounded up and arrested in 2006 after an Israeli soldier was captured in Gaza. He was arrested again in 2012 for alleged "involvement in terrorist activities."
Should Dweik succeed Abbas, it would be the end of any possible peace process.
Schanzer even has a candidate to take Abu Mazen's place:
Of course, Abbas has a prime minister. Salam Fayyad has done an admirable job and is worthy of succeeding Abbas. But Abbas has not identified him as the next in line for reasons that only he knows.
The reasons that Abu Mazen has not identified a successor, and why he has not identified Fayyad in particular, are known to all in the region. First, Abu Mazen has one and only one goal: Staying alive. If he named a successor who was popular, that successor could decide to throw Abu Mazen out. After all, having been named, why should he wait? (Abu Mazen waited for Arafat's departure because Arafat was an icon who was far more popular than Abu Mazen). When a Prime Minister or President is thrown out of office in the Middle East in any country other than Israel, it doesn't happen because he lost an election. It happens because he lost his life.

And why not Fayyad? Because Fayyad, although a competent technocrat, has absolutely zero support among the 'Palestinian people.' None. He hasn't spent significant time in jail and hasn't got lots of Jewish blood on his hands - the two main qualifications for holding office in the 'Palestinian Authority.' He couldn't be elected dog catcher in the 'Palestinian Authority.' Yes, it's sad, because he's probably the only person who's qualified, and he's certainly the only one who's trusted by the West. But why let reality intrude on the 'Palestinian' dream of extirpating the Jewish state?

Besides, for Abu Mazen to do what Schanzer is suggesting would require statesmanship and a vision. If Abu Mazen has shown nothing else over the past ten years, he has shown that he has neither of those. 

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Dems to US Jews: If you don't stick up for yourself, we won't either

A great editorial directed at the American Jewish community in the New York Sun:
There is no sugar-coating the point. The Senate has just confirmed the most truculent cabinet officer in respect of Israel in more than a generation because important institutions and leaders shrank from making an issue of it.
This is a story that is painful for many people to talk about. It would be inaccurate to suggest that the only objection to putting Mr. Hagel in at the war department had to do with Israel. He would be inadequate, even were Israel not an issue. There is a broad sense within the Jewish community — as there is among a number of non-Jewish senators who permitted his nomination to go to the floor — that Mr. Hagel has proven himself incompetent and disingenuous.
Yet there’s no gainsaying the special concern that his hostility to Israel has raised among the Jewish leadership. And one of the stories that is being spoken of in private is how humiliated the leaders of the Jewish community feel. Nearly all of them — not all, but nearly all — were opposed to the elevation of Mr. Hagel to the Pentagon. But only one of the Jewish defense agencies spoke out forcefully against him.
That was the Zionist Organization of America, which is the oldest pro-Israel organization in America, having been founded in 1897, the same year in which Theodor Herzl convened at Basel, Switzerland, the First Zionist Congress. It opposed the Hagel nomination early, forthrightly, and unapologetically. The result, according to the ZOA’s president, Morton Klein, is that it received objections from several leaders worried about the consequences for the Jewish community of such a public position.
Mr. Klein believes the Hagel nomination would not have been confirmed had the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee taken a formal public position against Mr. Hagel. All three agencies have had many heroic moments. But they stood down on Mr. Hagel. Said Mr. Klein: “Several senators — and important ones — said to me: ‘If Aipac, ADL and AJCommittee — especially Aipac — had come out and lobbied against Hagel, he would have been stopped.”
Read the whole thing

Any word yet who will run against Schumer?

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White House attacks Bob Woodward for telling it to stop Iran regardless of sequester

Bob Woodward? They're attacking Watergate hero Bob Woodward? (Hat Tip: Jack W and Memeorandum).
Bob Woodward said this evening on CNN that a "very senior person" at the White House warned him in an email that he would "regret doing this," the same day he has continued to slam President Barack Obama over the looming forced cuts known as the sequester.
CNN host Wolf Blitzer said that the network invited a White House official to debate Woodward on-air, but the White House declined.
"It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, 'You're going to regret doing something that you believe in,'" Woodward said.
"I think they're confused," Woodward said of the White House's pushback on his reporting.
The White House aide who Woodward said threatened him was Gene Sperling, the director of the White House Economic Council, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith reported.
Huh? What's that about?

Let's go to the videotape.


All I can say is, thank you Bob Woodward for proving that the phrase 'honest reporter' need not be an oxymoron, and thanks also for pointing out that stopping Iran cannot be dependent on a budget.

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Kerry also considers Iran's government 'elected'

Not only did the Obama administration not help the 'greens' in Iran in 2009, they now pretend that those demonstrations never happened and that the 'elections' in Iran in 2009 were as legitimate as Obama's own election. Ooops... Given how much cheating there was in the US election in 2012, perhaps that was not the best example.... But you get the idea....

Anyway, you'll all recall that 'slip of the tongue' in the Hagel hearings in which Hagel said something about Iran's 'legitimate, elected government.' Now, Secretary of State John FN Kerry has said the same thing.
"Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations," Kerry said in France standing alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world."
The comment is similar to what Hagel said on Jan. 31 when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Iran was "an elected, legitimate government, whether we agree or not."

...

Hagel had to walk back his declaration that Iran was "an elected, legitimate government" after being challenged in the hearing by Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
"I can understand if you meant it's a legal entity that has international relations and has diplomatic relations, that is a member of the UN, I do not see Iran or the Iranian government as a legitimate government, and I'd like your thoughts on that," Gillibrand said.
"What I meant to say, should have said, it's recognizable," Hagel replied. "It's been recognized, is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our allies have embassies there. That is what I should have said."
So apparently, it is now official Obama administration policy that the Iranian government is 'legitimate' and 'elected.' So it makes perfect sense for the equally 'legitimate' and 'elected' government of Barack Hussein Obama to offer to open bilateral negotiations with them over their nuclear program.
Describing Iran as a country with an “elected” government and a “remarkable history,” Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday reiterated President Obama’s willingness to hold bilateral talks with the regime.
“It’s a matter of public record that he personally communicated to the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] that he was prepared to engage and to discuss these issues,” Kerry told a news conference with his French counterpart in Paris.
Responding to a reporter’s question about negotiating with a “terrorist” regime, Kerry pointed out that “Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations.”
“And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world,” he added, drawing a parallel with President Reagan’s willingness to sit down with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Nixon’s decision to engage with China.
 What could go wrong?

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#BDSFail at Oxford


Students at England's Oxford University on Wednesday voted down a proposal to boycott Israeli institutions, goods and produce.
Students at the prestigious university voted against the motion, as reported by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, at Oxford University Students’ Union (OUSU), with 69 votes against, 10 for and 15 abstentions.
The vote failed by a margin of seven to one.
Oxford University’s collegiate system is made up of 38 colleges and six private halls founded by various Christian denominations. Each college has a “junior common room” that votes at the OUSU. The number of votes each college has is determined by the size of the college.
The motion called for the OUSU and National Union of Students to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, known as the BDS movement, against the Jewish state.

...

The motion also called on the union to “conduct research into higher education institutions’ contacts, relations, investment and commercial relationships that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement.”
The decision was hailed by the Union of Jewish Students who called on students to constructively engage with Israel, its ideas and people, rather than choose to boycott.
“It’s encouraging to see that this vote reflects a student body who are willing to discuss the complexities that exist within Israel and do not see boycotting it as a viable option or avenue to discuss the conflict,” UJS campaigns director Judith Flacks said.
I wish I could be optimistic and say that this is a turning point and that the world is finally starting to recognize that it is employing a double standard with respect to Israel. But it isn't.


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Obama's BFF tells UN Conference that Zionism is a crime against humanity

President Hussein Obama's Best Friend Forever, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has told a United Nations summit on 'tolerance' that Zionism is a crime against humanity.

Let's go to the videotape. More after the video.



UN Watch called on UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Desmond Tutu and others to denounce Erdogan's remarks.
“We remind secretary-general Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he welcomed its repeal.”
UN Watch urged all members of the Alliance’s High Level Group, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “to denounce remarks that fundamentally contradict the very purpose of a forum supposedly dedicated to mutual tolerance.”
“Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmandinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world, will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel.”
US Secretary of State John FN Kerry is due to meet with Erdogan in Ankara on Friday.  Does anyone believe these remarks will even be a topic of conversation? Surprise me.... Please....

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West drops demand to close Fordow

In an amazing concession to Iran, the West has dropped its demand that the Mullahcracy close its Fordow uranium enrichment plant, instead offering an agreement that Iran will not enrich uranium there - except for a 'tiny bit' of 20% enriched uranium that Iran claims to need for medical isotopes.
But the six powers dropped their demand that Iran shut down its enrichment plant at Fordo, built deep underneath a mountain, instead insisting that Iran suspend enrichment work there and agree to take a series of steps that would make it hard to resume producing nuclear fuel quickly. The six also agreed, in another apparent softening, that Iran could keep a small amount of 20 percent enriched uranium — which can be converted to bomb grade with modest additional processing — for use in a reactor to produce medical isotopes.
Before you decide that this is 'reasonable,' keep in mind that Iran is a regime that has consistently deceived the world as to what it is doing and what its intentions are - just yesterday I reported on a newly discovered Iranian attempt to make a bomb out of plutonium.

For that it's worth, the Iranians are now exuding optimism about the negotiations, and the West is a little less optimistic.
The chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, called this week’s meeting positive, asserting at a news conference that the six powers, representing the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, had offered a revised proposal that was “more realistic” and “closer to the Iranian position.”

Mr. Jalili, whose comments were notably short of the aggressive wording he has used in the past, called the meeting “a turning point.”

But senior Western diplomats were less enthusiastic, saying that Iran had not in fact responded to the proposal of the six and that real bargaining had not yet begun. A senior American official described the meeting as “useful” — refusing to call it positive — and emphasized that it was “concrete results” that counted, not atmospherics.

A senior European diplomat was even more skeptical, saying that the technical meeting was essentially to explain the proposal to the Iranians once again, and that Iran might very well come back in April with an unacceptable counterproposal that swallows the “carrots” of the six and demands more.
The West thinks it has imposed enough conditions to make sure Iran cannot resume enrichment again, and it regards letting Iran keep the plant as a 'face-saving measure.' But what will happen when Iran bars IAEA inspectors again?

Iran is running out the clock and the West is going along with it. What could go wrong?

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Hysterical: Jon Stewart on Dov Hikind's Purim costume

As many of you know, there is a custom on Purim to dress up in costume. Here in Israel, people dress up in appropriate costumes, like the ones below, and no one makes a big deal out of it. For an example, see below:

Of course, in America, where they actually know what that costume signifies, no one would wear a Fez (here, everyone wears them). Here's an example from America:

And with that we come to New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Hikind, the man that Chuckie Schumer doesn't want to be, dressed up in a costume that would not have made anyone bat an eyelash in Israel: He colored his face black (that's him in the middle).

That was too much for the politically correct New York City media and for some in the black community in New York who are looking for an excuse to seethe.

But Jon Stewart has the answer. Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Debbie R).




I'm not usually a big Jon Stewart fan, but he's spot-on this time. The criticism of Hikind is nonsense.

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The three stooges

Indeed.

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National security experts urge rejecting John 'al-Quds' Brennan

The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote on Thursday on the nomination of John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency. This video includes several national security experts - household names - speaking out against the Brennan nomination.

Let's go to the videotape.



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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pentagon lowering standards to help F-35 pass

Of all the things the Obama administration has done to destroy the United States' defense capabilities, this could yet turn out to be the worst.

You might recall that in the first months of his administration, President Obama effectively vetoed production of the F-22 fighter (which was already being sold to other countries), because after all the F-35 was in development and would eventually replace everything else.

The F-35 has had enormous cost overruns and delays (not to mention fights with Israel over integrating its own computer systems into the plane).

But now comes what is perhaps the most ominous news of all. After a trillion dollars in development costs, the F-35 is too heavy and slow, and so the Pentagon is dumbing down the performance standards to help the manufacturer meet them (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News).
The Defense Department's annual weapons testing report reveals that the military actually adjusted the performance specifications for the consistently-underperforming line of F-35 fighter jets. In other words, they couldn't get the jets to do what they were supposed to do, so they just changed what they were supposed to do.
"The program announced an intention to change performance specifications for the F-35A, reducing turn performance from 5.3 to 4.6 sustained g’s and extending the time for acceleration from 0.8 Mach to 1.2 Mach by eight seconds," reads the report drafted under J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. (The F-35A is the standard model, so to speak, that the Air Force will use. The line also includes the F-35B, the Harrier-like vertical landing version built for the Marines, and the F-35C, a Navy version that's optimized for aircraft carrier takeoffs and landings.)
To put it bluntly, the Pentagon's new trillion-dollar fighter jet doesn't go a fast as it should, doesn't turn as sharp as it should and doesn't handle as nimbly as it should. This is bad news, explains Wired's David Axe. For the pilots who will eventually take the F-35 into combat, the JSF’s reduced performance means they might not be able to outfly and outfight the latest Russian- and Chinese-made fighters," writes Axe. "Even before the downgrades, some analysts questioned the F-35′s ability to defeat newer Sukhoi and Shenyang jets." That all sounds like bad news, doesn't it? If our expensive new jets can't beat the Russians or the Chinese, who can we fight? I'm pretty sure al Qaeda doesn't have an air force.
The good news in the new Pentagon report is that... well, there is no good news, really. Not only have the requirements been adjusted down to make up for the F-35's poor performance, but a series of problems with the plane's software and safety measures hint at future downgrades to the jet, including adding on heavy hardware that will make the planes even more sluggish. That's what you get when you try to design a single plane to do everything–ironically enough, which was done partly to cut development costs.
But like President Obama, the F-35 has lots of vapid, meaningless glitz.

Let's go to the videotape.



But I'm sure Chuck Hagel will get right on it as soon as he can find his way to the Pentagon. What could go wrong?

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Nasrallah appears on Lebanese television, denies Qassem killed

In a bid to quash rumors that he is severely ill, Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared on Lebanese television on Wednesday night.
Nasrallah also repudiated reports that he was ill, saying “the rumors… pushed me to move forward a media appearance,” in reference to Turkish Anadolu news agency’s report Tuesday night that the Hezbollah chief had been rushed to Iran after facing a medical emergency.

“The rumors prove that there has been a media war against Hezbollah in the past years.”
But JPost reports that Nasrallah does have cancer....

Nasrallah also denied reports regarding his deputy, Naim Qassem.
He also denied reports claiming his deputy Naim Qassem was seriously injured in an explosion that occurred near a convoy in Syria earlier in the day calling them "lies." Qassem was said to have assumed command of the organization while Nasrallah was away.
What could go wrong?

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So much for the 'all-powerful' Israel lobby

The 'Israel lobby' really is being flushed down the toilet. Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and Iran is likely to go nuclear. What happened? Why has AIPAC (which to many is the embodiment of the Israel lobby suddenly gone wobbly? Lee Smith explains.

For the past two months, those invested in the Israel-U.S. relationship have been fixated on whether or not Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would fundamentally alter U.S. policy toward Israel. In addition to his revealing statements about Jews, the former senator from Nebraska voted against sanctioning Iran and against designating the Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization.
Yet AIPAC has remained totally mum. The group says it focuses its energies on matters of policy rather than personnel. If it campaigned against Hagel, where would it stop? The organization would potentially have to take a position on every Cabinet nominee. Meantime, in the absence of AIPAC, other pro-Israel organizations have come out publicly against Hagel, like the Emergency Committee for Israel. For taking the lead on this issue, they have been labeled partisans, while AIPAC has preserved its bipartisan status.
But it’s not clear how much that label matters when a very influential segment of the Democratic party has made it plain that supporting Israel isn’t a top priority. I’m not just referring to the delegates who booed pro-Israel changes to the party platform on the floor of the convention in Charlotte last summer. I’m talking about the White House.
Pro-Israel Obama supporters on the Hill and in the press keep trying to make the case that in spite of how it might look on the surface, the administration cares deeply about the U.S.-Israel relationship. They point to the success of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense batteries as evidence that the security and military cooperation between the United States and Israel has reached unprecedented highs under Obama’s stewardship. But politics is mostly about how things look. And if the administration really cared that much about Israel, it wouldn’t nominate a secretary of defense who referred to defenders of the U.S.-Israel relationship as “the Jewish lobby.”

***
The paradox is that by giving personnel a pass, AIPAC has lost the policy debate. Policy is made by people who believe in certain ideas, principles, and even fantasies. What Hagel seems to have learned from his tours of combat in Vietnam is that it is a fantasy to imagine that you can bomb a country into submitting to the will of the United States. Presumably, this is why he also opposed the war in Iraq. The problem is that deconstructing such a fantasy does not necessarily leave you with reality. In Hagel’s case it has left him only with an equally dangerous fantasy: that instead of waging war, it is possible to reach an accommodation, if not an amicable understanding, with nations that have clearly identified themselves as adversaries.

Read the whole thing.

Not going after Hagel was a serious mistake by an organization that can be taken for granted by the Democratic party.

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Israel to lose $175 million in foreign aid to US sequester

If President Obama and Congress don't reach a deal by Friday - and it seems unlikely that they will - Israel stands to lose $175 million in foreign aid as a result of the automatic sequester that is to take effect.
Israel is set to lose $143 million in foreign aid in 2013 and an additional $32 million in direct military assistance if U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress do not work out an agreement to prevent automatic sequestration by Friday.
The cuts reflect a 8.2% cut in the remainder of Israel’s foreign aid package for fiscal year 2013, and a 13% cut in the U.S. defense budget - excluding military pay - from which Israel receives direct assistance for specific military programs. Both aid packages are directed at military assistance and security collaborations, though they come from different sources within the U.S. budget.
Well-placed sources said that while aid to Israel enjoys wide support in Congress, it has not been publicly singled out either by U.S. lawmakers or by pro-Israel lobbyists during the ongoing and often acrimonious debate about sequestration.
The sources added that although the sequestration aims to cut the U.S. budget by $1.2 trillion over a period of ten years, from FY2014 onwards it would be possible to exempt Israel from the mandatory budget reductions.
I honestly don't believe that this will greatly impact Israel....

Meanwhile, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Mn) unloaded on Sean Hannity on Fox News last night regarding the sequestration.

Let's go to the videotape.



Isn't Ellison a pleasure?

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Syrian rebels kill Hezbullah #2?

Lebanese news portal Now Lebanon is reporting that Hezbullah's second-in-command, Naim Qassem was killed in an attack by Syrian rebel forces on Tuesday.
Russia Today on Wednesday cited Hezbollah sources as denying rebel claims that party deputy chief Naim Qassem had been seriously injured or killed in an attack on a convoy Tuesday in Syria.

Syria rebels had posted on Twitter that Qassem had been targeted in an attack on a convoy that killed Syrian regime general Mohammad Ali Durgham.

The sources told Russia Today that they expect Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah would tackle the "false rumors" in the speech he is set to give Wednesday evening.

The same sources also stressed that some media outlets as well as social networks were recently trying to release false statements in an attempt to implicate Hezbollah in the Syrian crisis.

Meanwhile, Free Syrian Army spokesperson Louay Almokdad told NOW that the rebels do not have enough information on the Jdeidat Yabous explosion, in reference to an attack that purportedly hit a convoy of high ranking Syrian and Hezbollah officials Tuesday.

A rebel group had said in a statement that they attacked a convoy transporting Syrian general Mohammad Ali Durgham, injuring the officer and killing a number of Hezbollah members.

The rebels also uploaded a video showing an IED detonation amid a series of cars driving on a winding road.
It doesn't appear to have started yet, but Now Lebanon is going to be carrying Nasrallah's speech live here.   Warning: Nasrallah's speeches last for hours....

UPDATE 6:45 PM

 JPost adds:
Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal quoted the Syrian rebels as saying mines placed on the Beirut-Damascus highway had detonated as the convoy returned from a high-level security meeting in Lebanon. The explosion reportedly took place near the town of Jdeidet Yabous near the Lebanon-Syria border.
The al-Mustaqbal report made no mention of Qassem being killed in the attack, saying that he had merely been injured.

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War on terror celebrates 20th anniversary two years too late

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, February 27.
1) It's been more than 20 years 

Jonathan Tobin writes in The Day the War on America Began:
Exactly 20 years ago on this date, a terrorist attack at the World Trade Center took the lives of six people and injured more than a thousand others. The tragedy shocked the nation but, as with other al-Qaeda attacks in the years that followed, the WTC bombing did not alter the country’s basic approach to Islamist terrorism. For the next eight and a half years, the United States carried on with a business-as-usual attitude toward the subject. The lack of urgency applied to the subject, as well as the disorganized and sometimes slap-dash nature of the security establishment’s counter-terrorist operations, led to the far greater tragedy of September 11, 2001 when al-Qaeda managed to accomplish what it failed to do in 1993: knock down the towers and slaughter thousands.
All these years after 9/11 and the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, are there any further lessons to be drawn from that initial tragedy? To listen to the chattering classes, you would think the answer is a definitive no. Few are marking this anniversary and even fewer seem to think there is anything more to be said about what we no longer call the war on terror. But as much as many of us may wish to consign this anniversary to the realm of the history books, the lessons of the day the war on America began still need to be heeded.
 
The truth is that the war on America didn't begin with the first World Trade Center bombing. It began two and a half years earlier. El Sayyid Nosair was an associate of those who carried out the bombing. He also was the killer of Rabbi Meir Kahane.

In the wake of the World Trade Center bombing, the New York Times reported Trade Center Blast Prompts Kahane Case Review:
It was not clear to what extent the disciplinary action and the reopening of the Kahane investigation were part of an effort to pressure Mr. Nosair to divulge information that could help in the bombing case. A senior law-enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, maintained that Mr. Nosair had been thrust into the bombing investigation because of his contacts with others under investigation.
Federal agents, meanwhile, continued to trace the flow of foreign money into bank accounts of two of the arrested suspects, Mohammed A. Salameh, a 25-year-old illegal immigrant who was born in the West Bank, and Nidal A. Ayyad, 25, a chemical engineer who was born in Kuwait.
...
Throughout the Nosair investigation, Chief Borrelli has insisted that the assassination was the work of a gunman acting alone. While he said yesterday that he remains convinced that no one else was directly involved in the killing, he allowed for the first time that Mr. Nosair might have been involved in a terrorist organization that had ordered the rabbi executed for his hard-line approach toward Palestinians in Israel.
 
It took two and a half years until Nosair's connection to others was investigated. Until the World Trade Center attack, authorities insisted that the Kahane murder was an isolated incident. However as the New York Times reported a few months later in RENO SEES GROWING EVIDENCE AND MAKES CALL; New Charges Give U.S. 2d Chance to Try Kahane Suspect:
And when Mr. Nosair was arrested on Nov. 5 in the Kahane shooting, a search of his home in Cliffside Park, N.J., turned up formulas for the construction of bombs, political tracts and documents, video and audio tapes advocating the destruction of symbolic statues, tall buildings and buildings of political significance, the indictment said.
Investigators have said that the reams of materials, all in Arabic, sat in boxes untranslated until the bombing of the World Trade Center, and that the emergence of associates of Mr. Nosair as suspects led them to reopen the Kahane case.
 
Think about that. There was potential evidence at Nosair's house but no authorities bothered translating it. There was an assumption that Rabbi Kahane had brought his fate upon himself. It is incredible that many documents at Nosair's house were not analyzed. Had authorities done that they might have prevented the first World Trade Center bombing! 
And yet despite this, there are those who think that authorities are too aggressive in seeking to prevent terrorism. Matthew Continetti recently wrote in the Matter in Handschu:
Elshafay, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2007. Siraj is serving a 30-year sentence. Their conspiracy is just one of the 16 known terrorist plots against New York City that have been foiled in the decade since nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered in Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Hard to argue, it would seem, with the NYPD’s 12 years of keeping its city safe. But people do argue, intensely, and with a lack of proportion and context that is simply mindboggling. Consider: For years now, the February 9 New York Times editorial page breathlessly informed readers, New York police officers, “deploying an army of spies,” have been “spying on law-abiding Muslims” and “targeting Muslim groups because of their religious affiliation, not because they present any risk.” Such is the allegation of a motion lawyers connected with the New York Civil Liberties Union filed in federal court in early February. “New York City police,” the motion details, “routinely selected Muslim groups for surveillance and infiltration.” Which is “more than ample reason,” concludes the Times, “to be concerned about possible overreach and unconstitutional activity.”
... At issue are the so-called Handschu Guidelines, an unwieldy set of judicial protocols that limit NYPD surveillance of “political activity.” These guidelines, named after Black Panther attorney Barbara Handschu, are the result of a class action filed against the police in 1971 and settled in 1985. “No other police department in the country is bound by these rules,” notes former director of NYPD intelligence analysis Mitchell Silber. And no other police department in the country has had to deal with such a persistent and adaptive terrorist threat, while assuring critics in activist groups and the media that no, sorry, martial law has not been imposed on the five boroughs. A federal judge recognized as much in 2003 when he modified the Handschu Guidelines to allow the NYPD freedom to uncover and disrupt incipient plots.
The scrutiny given the NYPD would be comical if it weren't so dangerous. There is still a hesitance among certain elites to acknowledge religious based violence, when the perpetrators are Muslims. Tobin is correct when he writes:
All these years after 9/11 and the tracking down and killing of Osama bin Laden, are there any further lessons to be drawn from that initial tragedy? To listen to the chattering classes, you would think the answer is a definitive no. Few are marking this anniversary and even fewer seem to think there is anything more to be said about what we no longer call the war on terror. But as much as many of us may wish to consign this anniversary to the realm of the history books, the lessons of the day the war on America began still need to be heeded.

My only disagreement with him is that February 26, 1993 reflected one of those unheeded lessons.

2) Iran vs. Israel

Yesterday I cited a New York Times report that the Al Aqsa Martyr brigades claimed credit for the recent rocket fired into Israel breaking the three month old ceasefire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense. However taking credit (and whatever that reflects) is not the same thing as being responsible. Avi Isacharoff reports for the Tower, Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Operating in Gaza; Grad Rocket Fired at Israel:
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps are currently in the Gaza Strip, high-level Palestinian security sources tell The Tower. The Iranians, according to our security sources, are experts in missile production, and are in Gaza to help Hamas and Islamic Jihad develop long-range missiles. Israeli security and political officials declined to elaborate, telling The Tower only that this isn’t the first time delegates from Tehran had entered the Hamas-controlled territory. ... This morning’s rocket attack was apparently not carried out by Hamas, but by its rival Islamic Jihad, a smaller organization believed to be largely, if not entirely, under Iran’s control. Two weeks ago one of Islamic Jihad’s leaders in the West Bank, Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi, told TheTower his group enjoys “warm and positive” ties with the Islamic republic. There are also reports in Arabic media that Fatah has claimed responsibility.
While it doesn't prove that the IRGC was behind the Grad attack, the presence of the IRGC in Gaza is notable as Israel (apparently) recently killed an IRGC commander in Syria. It would appear that Iran - nuclear weapons or not - is attempting to project its power against Israel by its proxies.

3) Has the New York Times ever tried this? 

Simply Jews and Honest Reporting note an excellent tactic employed by the New York Daily News. Pesach Benson of Honest Reporting explains:
Here’s something I never saw before: After Omar Barghouti was given op-ed space in the NY Daily News to explain the BDS movement, the paper itself slammed Barghouti with a staff-ed. It’s one thing to present dueling op-eds. But responding with a sharply worded staff editorial — which represents the paper’s official view — is much stronger. I also liked the staff-ed’s style. Bloggers would refer to the point-by-point refutations as a fisking.
A few years ago in defending the New York Times for publishing an op-ed by a Hamas spokesman, the paper then-public editor wrote The Danger of the One Sided Debate:
Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.
This was silly on a number of levels. Fundamentally the problem is that the New York Times, if it is one-sided any way, it one-sided against Israel. The New York Times doesn't shine light on extreme anti-Israel opinions as much as it reinforces them. The behavior of New York Daily News is an admirable counterpoint to the dishonesty of the New York Times.

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Assad regime reelected to senior post on UN committee

The United Nations has decided to reward the Assad regime for murdering 70,000 of its own people by naming it to a senior position on a decolonization committee charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples.
UN Watch today called on Ban Ki-moon, US Ambassador Susan Rice and EU representatives to condemn the world body’s “revolting and absurd” decision to unanimously re-elect the Assad regime to a senior post on a decolonization committee charged with upholding fundamental human rights in opposing the “subjugation, domination and exploitation” of peoples — a propaganda victory now being trumpeted by Syria’s state-funded SANA news agency.
“It is incomprehensible for the UN to say that Syria has killed at least 70,000 of its own people and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” said Hillel Neuer, director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
“The UN is helping the Assad regime portray itself a U.N. human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible, and an insult to Syria’s victims,” said Neuer.
 But this fits right in with the UN's ordinary behavior....

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Hezbullah denies Nasrallah is dead

You will recall that on Tuesday I reported that Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah had been taken to Iran for cancer treatment (or was it wounds sustained in a Free Syrian Army bombing of Hezullah positions in Lebanon).

That report has left Hezbullah scrambling to convince anyone and everyone who will listen that Nasrallah is still alive
Lebanon-based Shiite terror organization Hezbollah denied the death of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, Tuesday amid reports that he had been flown to Tehran to undergo cancer treatment.
The rumor of his death spread quickly on social media site Twitter, where purported screen shots of the Hezbollah-affiliated website Al Manar announcing Nasrallah’s death were posted. Hezbollah said the photos had been doctored, with the organization calling them a “cheap forgery.”
One thing I can tell you for sure: Whatever day Nasrallah dies is going to be a holiday here in Israel.

Luckily for all of you, I know how to find my favorite Nasrallah video, so even though I cannot listen to the music, you can.

Let's go to the videotape.

video

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Did Michael Moore tell a lie?

I'm sure that many of you recall the story of the 'Palestinian' director on his way to the Oscars, who was 'held' by immigration authorities at Los Angeles International Airport, all as excruciatingly tweeted by Michael Moore. I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that Moore just might have been lying.
But while there is nothing in the log to contradict Burnat's account or his gratitude to Moore for leaping to his aid, the document does suggest that Moore overstated, at least, the length of the incident. The filmmaker's tweets originally drew complaints from an airport official that Moore was overhyping a routine, and relatively brief, incident. That account, in turn, prompted Moore to accuse BuzzFeed (and presumably the source) of dishonesty.
Airport officials Tuesday agreed to show BuzzFeed the agency's log from February 19, whose timeline appears to confirm the original source's claim.
According to the log, which is kept in the secondary inspection area at LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal:
5:28pm: Burnat was referred to secondary inspection
5:30pm: Burnat was admitted to secondary inspection
5:53pm: Burnat was released from secondary inspection
Officials at LAX made the logbook available and five officials spoke to BuzzFeed on the condition of anonymity, citing a policy against discussing individual cases. (A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the incident.)
I'm shocked. Just shocked....

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Arab filmmakers making movie glorifying Khaiber genocide

The Anti-Defamation League reported on its blog last week that a Qatari movie company is making a feature film glorifying the Khaiber genocide.
A pro­duc­tion com­pany in Qatar will report­edly start film­ing a multi-million dol­lar tele­vi­sion series next month com­mem­o­rat­ing the geno­cide of Jews in Ara­bia in the 7th century.
The series, called “Khaiber,” is based on a script writ­ten by Yusri Al-Jindy, an Egypt­ian writer who has pre­vi­ously depicted Israelis and Jews as blood­thirsty sav­ages in his work. One of his plays about the 1967 war, titled “The Wan­der­ing Jew,” was banned in Egypt.
The series, pro­duced by the Doha-based Echo Media Qatar, is sup­pos­edly sched­uled to be filmed in sev­eral Arab coun­tries, includ­ing Morocco, Egypt and Jor­dan, and will appar­ently fea­ture sev­eral well-known Arab actors. Echo Media Qatar has report­edly started build­ing sets with struc­tures sim­i­lar to the ones inhab­ited by Jews 1,400 years ago.
A report on Al Jazeera in Ara­bic yes­ter­day described “Khaiber” as “the most impor­tant fea­ture of the Islamic-Jewish fight. Mus­lims always raise its name in their ral­lies against Israel because it con­sti­tutes a mem­ory of a harsh defeat for the Jews who lived in the Ara­bian Penin­sula dur­ing the time of prophet.”
The story of “Khaiber,” accord­ing to most Islamic sources, ends with the exe­cu­tion of thou­sands of Jews, includ­ing women and chil­dren. Pro­test­ers at anti-Israel ral­lies around the world, includ­ing the U.S., often evoke this bat­tle in their chants to gal­va­nize supporters.
Accord­ing to Al Jazeera, Al-Jindy said he wrote the script because “the Zion­ist move­ment is cur­rently pass­ing through a turn­ing point as a result of the changes in the Arab world.”
For those who have forgotten, the IHH terrorists on the Mavi Marmara three years ago invoked the Khaiber massacre to incite the murder of the IDF soldiers who raided the ship.

Let's go to the videotape.



Jonathan Tobin adds:
The filming of “Khaiber” is just the latest instance of major TV productions in the Arab world (which are often broadcast in prime time during Ramadan) being used to promote anti-Semitic themes. Egyptian TV’s “Knight Without a Horse” blockbuster centered on the forged “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” canard. Echo Media Qatar has previously produced a film blaming the Jews for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
But the “Khaiber” film is especially significant because it blends ancient hatreds with contemporary hopes for a similar destruction of the Jews. The goal of such a film is to dehumanize the Jewish people and to delegitimize their rights, especially to self-defense.
The genocide of the Jews of Arabia is a historical fact that speaks to the intolerance of early Islam that need not inform contemporary relations between Jews and Muslims. But the glorification of the slaughter of Arabian Jews more than 1,300 years ago is a not-so-subtle signal that justifies the efforts of those who intend a similar fate for the 6 million Jews of Israel. The embrace of these ideas by a popular Muslim audience is an ominous sign that the sea change in Arab culture that will be required to create a genuine peace in the Middle East is nowhere in sight.
The attitude has always been the attitude of Muslims toward Jews. What is ominous is that in a nuclear age, the World continues to pretend that it doesn't exist. 

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1956 interviews with Ben Gurion, Hussein, Nasser

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here are 1956 interviews with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, Jordanian King Hussein and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Let's go to the videotape.



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UN staffer missing on Golan Heights is Canadian lawyer

A United Nations staffer who was reported missing on the Golan Heights on Tuesday is apparently a Canadian lawyer.
Eduardo Del Buey, deputy spokesman for the secretary general, told a media briefing in New York that an employee working with the peacekeeping mission along the Golan Heights is unaccounted for in the region.
He would not confirm a name or nationality, but media reports in Israel identify the man as Carl Campeau, a Canadian legal adviser.
Del Buey refused all other comment.
The Times of Israel reports that the staffer was stationed with the UN Disengagement Observer Force, which is based on the Syrian side of the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.
Troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad have apparently fled the Golan Heights, leaving rebel forces in control of the area.
Campeau has apparently been missing for several days. 

...

Government sources said Campeau is a civilian working directly for the United Nations and is not acting on behalf of the Canadian government. 
Hmmm.

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Iran's Plan B for nuclear weapons exposed

London's Daily Telegraph published the photo above, which proves that Iran has a Plan B to obtain a nuclear weapon. The photo, which shows vapor coming out of Iran's Arak heavy water production plant, shows that Iran is now operating a plant that can produce plutonium, which is exactly how its ally North Korea is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been unable to visit the facility since August 2011 and Iran has refused repeated requests for information about the site, which is 150 miles south-west of the capital, Tehran.
Western governments and the IAEA have held information about activity at Arak for some time.
But today’s exclusive images are the first to put evidence of that activity into the public domain.
The details of Iran’s plutonium programme emerged as the world’s leading nations resumed talks with Tehran aimed at allaying fears over the country’s nuclear ambitions.
The new images also show details of the Fordow complex, which is concealed hundreds of feet beneath a mountain near the holy city of Qom. At talks in Kazakhstan yesterday, world leaders offered to relax sanctions on Iran in exchange for concessions over Fordow, which is heavily protected from aerial attack.

...

Previously, international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme have focused on the Islamic Republic’s attempts to enrich uranium at plants including Fordow.
But the new images of Arak highlight the progress Iran has made on facilities that could allow it to produce plutonium, potentially giving the country a second option in developing a nuclear weapon.

...

Other images of the area around Arak show that numerous anti-aircraft missile and artillery sites protect the plant, more than are deployed around any other known nuclear site in the country.
The missile defences are most heavily concentrated to the west of the plant, which would be the most direct line of approach for any aircraft delivering a long-range strike from Israel.
The Arak complex has two parts: the heavy-water plant and a nuclear reactor.
Unlike the heavy-water plant, the reactor has been opened to examination by inspectors from the IAEA. During a visit earlier this month, the inspectors noted that cooling and “moderator circuit” pipes at the reactor were “almost complete”.
Let's go to the videotape. 



Read the whole thing.

There's another possibility: That Arak is meant to replace or back-up Fordow, assuming that one gives credibility to reports last month about an explosion in Fordow

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AIPAC's incredibly foolish 'designated incumbents' policy: Is it designed to benefit Democrats?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who was the Republican candidate for my old Congressional district in New Jersey, takes AIPAC to task for the manner in which they determine their 'designated incumbents' policy.
I am a huge AIPAC fan. There is no more important American Jewish organization. Well beyond the Jewish community AIPAC is a model of professionalism lobbying for an unqualified good. In 20 years I have barely missed an AIPAC policy conference, such is the ardor of my support. I publicly introduced my friend Mayor Cory Booker, now running for the United States senate, at an AIPAC summit in Chicago and we have jointly addressed AIPAC groups around the country.
But with 10,000 activists about to gather in DC next week for AIPAC’s annual policy conference, the organization’s definition of friendly incumbents being based solely on a lawmaker’s voting record on Israel must undergo serious review.
When I ran for Congress last year against Congressman Bill Pascrell [a Democrat. CiJ], AIPAC designated him a friendly incumbent based on his voting record for Israel aid and in favor of Iran sanctions. The problem was that Pascrell had also signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter which falsely condemned Israel for collective punishment against the Palestinians rather than soundly laying the blame at the Hamas terrorists who have turned Gaza into a launching pad to kill Israelis.
Now, I completely understand AIPAC’s policy of friendly incumbents. Why would any politician feel loyalty to AIPAC if someone who is considered more pro-Israel comes along and immediately gets their support? But my candidacy was an opportunity for AIPAC to approach Pascrell and pressure him to repudiate past statements. Israel’s battle today is not just one against bullets and bombs but against a ferocious attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. It is a war of words and pictures and what political figures say matters.
Indeed. 

But the real message of Boteach's article is to take AIPAC to task for its silence on the Hagel nomination - and to contrast it with AIPAC's activism when George H.W. Bush tried to withhold loan guarantees from the Shamir government in 1991.
Now, what a lone congressman opines is far less serious than the contemptible comments coming out of an incoming secretary of defense. Hagel’s broadsides against Israel are shameful and he must be called on it. American Jewry gave President Obama seventy percent of their vote. Is Hagel the reward?
In 1991 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir requested $10 billion in loan guarantees to help settle Russian Jewish immigrants. President George H. W. Bush said Israel could only have the guarantees if it froze all settlement building and guaranteed that no Russian Jews would be resettled in the West Bank. Shamir demurred and called on the American Jewish community to mobilize in support of the loan guarantees. AIPAC drafted a letter that was signed by more than 240 members of the House and 77 senators supporting the loan guarantees. On September 12, 1991, Jewish lobbyists from all over the country descended in huge numbers on Washington. President Bush famously responded with a televised press conference in which he complained that “1000 Jewish lobbyists are on Capitol Hill against little old me.”
Then, on the very next day in a speech I will never forget and at which I was present, Tom Dine, AIPAC’s Executive Director, declared that
September 12, 1991 is a day that will live in infamy” as an American President had had the chutzpah to criticize the constitutionally guaranteed right to lobby our government, found in the very first amendment.
It was high theater and I had chills down my spine as Dine directly challenged a sitting American president. We all know the rest of the story. Months later, the loan guarantees were approved. Bush would later receive only 12 percent of the Jewish vote and was trounced by Bill Clinton. President Bush’s son would eight years later become President of the United States and would take a completely different posture toward Israel, becoming its greatest ally ever to occupy the White House.
I also remember how, the following day, Ron Brown, Chairman of the National Democratic Committee, stood up and said that this November we had to send President Bush packing from the White House. The crowd erupted with huge applause. There was no attempt to disguise the hostility to a President whose policies were simply unfair to Israel.
Maybe the difference is that Bush I was a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. Could it be that AIPAC - like nearly every other mainstream Jewish organization in the United States - is in the pocket of the Democratic party?

Read the whole thing.

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Obama to visit Temple Mount?

President Hussein Obama may visit the Temple Mount while he's here next month, and the 'Palestinians' are - wait for it - seething about the prospect (Hat Tip: IMRA).
Noted Palestinian figures declared their intention to hold a news conference on Sunday before afternoon in the Palestinian national theater in occupied Jerusalem to state their position towards the upcoming visit of US president Barack Obama to the Aqsa Mosque.

A number of religious and national figures, including head of the higher Islamic council Ikrima Sabri and head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, will participate in this news conference.

"It is known that we have our constants as Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians regarding the issue of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, and we confirm that Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque are under occupation, which has no sovereignty or legitimacy over them and will inevitably end," the Aqsa foundation quoted Sheikh Ra'ed Salah as saying.

"The US president is likely to visit the Aqsa Mosque, but we should affirm that our position towards such situation will be in conformity with the constants of the Muslim and Arab nations, and the Palestinian people as well as with the issue of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque," he added.

For his part, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri said that the Palestinians would welcome any visitor to the Aqsa Mosque, provided that he should abide by the regulations set by the Islamic Waqf authority.

Sheikh Sabri explained that if Obama wanted to visit the Aqsa Mosque, he should enter through Al-Asbat gate and not Al-Maghariba gate under Israel's control in order to show his respect for the Islamic sovereignty over the Mosque.

He added that Obama should not be accompanied by an Israeli official during his visit to the holy Mosque because it belongs to Muslims and it is their holy site alone.
The funny thing is that Obama would probably agree to all this, and Israel would have no choice but to accommodate him, but it would be a nightmare for his American security guards. In the past, visiting officials, including French President Jacques Chirac, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, abided by the Wakf's regulations.

Times of Israel adds:
Responding to unconfirmed rumors that US President Barack Obama intends to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during his trip to Israel next month, the Hamas terror group and local clerics warned the American leader against the idea on Tuesday, calling it “a diplomatic catastrophe.”
A statement issued by Hamas called Obama’s potential visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located at the southern perimeter of the Mount, “an imminent danger which the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem have never faced.”
Hamas stated that a visit by the American president to the contested site under the auspices of “the Zionist occupation” would be more dangerous than the relocation of any country’s embassy to Jerusalem, considering the international preeminence of the United States.
The Temple Mount, revered by Jews as the site of the first and second temples and by Muslims as the point from which Muhammad ascended to heaven, is administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust that has governed the site since the 12th century.
Someone needs to remind the Wakf who won the 1967 War, and that were it not for the Leftist General, Moshe  Dayan, they would no longer control the Temple Mount.

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