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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Video: John Bolton on Netanyahu addressing Congress

Here's former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton discussing Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming address to a joint session of Congress.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Leader of the free world to address Congress today

When Prime Minister Netanyahu strides to the lectern in about five hours time, he will be doing so as the leader of the free world, argues Quin Hillyer at the National Review (Hat Tips: Memeorandum and Pete F).
The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. The American president is doing everything possible to undermine him. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a nation surrounded by enemies, a nation so small that it narrows at one point to just 9.3 miles.
Yet, in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies.
Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad, Netanyahu talks like this (from his speech to the United Nations on September 27, 2012):

As Barack Obama complains (with scant grasp of the historical context) about how Christians were such gosh-darn meanies a thousand years ago in the Crusades, Netanyahu protects the ability of Muslims today to have free access to the Old City of Jerusalem, even as Jews and Christians are prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount. At the beginning of his first term, in his first trip overseas as president, Obama delivered a speech to Turkey’s parliament, under the thumb of the repressive Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” he confessed, sounding like America’s therapist-in-chief. “Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
Netanyahu, in contrast, in a 2011 Meet the Press interview, offered unabashed words of praise for the United States: “Israel is the one country in which everyone is pro-American, opposition and coalition alike. And I represent the entire people of Israel who say, ‘Thank you, America.’ And we’re friends of America, and we’re the only reliable allies of America in the Middle East.” (Netanyahu was accurate in his description of how much Israelis appreciate Americans, as I saw last summer during a visit to the country.)
In thanking America, Netanyahu was not posturing for political advantage. Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. He also speaks and acts, quite obviously, to preserve security — for Israel, of course, but more broadly for the civilized world. On Tuesday, as he has done for more than 30 years, Netanyahu will talk about the threat to humanity posed by Iran.
It’s mind-boggling to imagine that any national leader in the free world would fail to understand the danger. The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.”
Read the whole thing.

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Democrats boycott Cruz, Wiesel panel

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach held a panel in a Senate office building on Monday, which featured Ted Cruz and Elie Wiesel. The panel addressed Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and was intended to be bipartisan. Unfortunately, the Democrat who was supposed to be on the panel didn't show up.
The Cruz-Wiesel event was intended as a bipartisan dialogue. But Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., pulled out after the host, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times accusing White House national security adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide.
The ad featured a photo of Rice looking away from a stack of human skulls. Sherman called it vulgar, and Boteach opened the event by apologizing, insisting his disagreements with Rice are strictly over policy.
Because after all, what's more important: Stopping an Iranian nuclear weapon or defending what's left of Susan Rice's honor?

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Report: Obama has cut intelligence cooperation with Israel on Iran

A report from Israel Television's Channel 10 indicates that Barack Hussein Obama has cut intelligence cooperation with Israel on Iran's nuclear program out of fear that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will use what he knows through that intelligence cooperation to keep Obama from endangering Israel (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
A report on Monday night by the Hebrew-language Channel 10, notes that the cooperation between Israeli and American intelligence agencies until now has aided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in formulating reports on Iran's nuclear program, reports that advanced the sanctions against the Islamic regime.
At the moment, while Israel is cooperating with various countries in terms of intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, the cooperation with the United States has stopped according to the report.
In closed conversations senior sources in the White House have expressed concerns that Netanyahu will reveal details Obama has kept secret from the nuclear deal being sealed with Iran, according to the news channel.
While US Secretary of State John Kerry has claimed Israel isn't familiar with the details of the plan, that claim was undermined when Kerry on Monday asked Netanyahu not to reveal certain details in his Congress speech Tuesday.
According to senior Israeli sources cited in the report, Obama has not only made clear he will not meet with Netanyahu, but is even refusing to talk with the Israeli prime minister on the telephone during his visit.
It is fair to point out that there have been other reports that cooperation had been stopped over the past week that have been denied. Still, it's 12 hours since this report was issued and I have not heard of a denial.  We will know more after Netanyahu speaks to Congress on Tuesday. But this much can be said for sure. Netanyahu is not a fool and he would not flush Israel's relations with the United States down the drain unless he felt there is no choice. Netanyahu has been holding fire through six years of abuse by Obama. If he's firing now, there has to be a reason.

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Saudi columnist: 'I'm glad Netanyahu decided to speak to Congress against the nuclear agreement despite Obama's anger and fury'

It's come to this: A Saudi columnist has written that he is glad that Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to speak out against President Hussein Obama's Iran agreement. From MEMRI:
In a March 2, 2015 article in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj supported Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to speak at the U.S. Congress against the upcoming deal with Iran. Al-Faraj said that Obama, "one of the worst American presidents," is working to sign a deal with Iran at the expense of America's longtime allies in the Gulf, and therefore Netanyahu's campaign against the deal is justified and serves the interests of the Gulf states.
"This unprecedented tension between the Obama administration and Netanyahu is another in a long series of tense and unfriendly episodes between Obama and Netanyahu. But the tension has never before reached this level, as reflected in statements by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said that Netanyahu's conduct was unacceptable and even destructive...
"The Obama administration does not suffice with condemning Netanyahu's visit. Obama has announced that he will not meet with Netanyahu on the grounds that he does not meet with state leaders a short while before elections take place in their countries, [though] elections in Israel will take place weeks after the visit!! Likewise, American Vice President Joseph Biden, whose presence at Netanyahu's speech in Congress is expected by virtue of his constitutional role as Senate president, announced that he would be on a trip abroad [on the day of] Netanyahu's speech!! U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said he would be in Switzerland meeting with the Iranians on the nuclear dossier and therefore would not be able to attend Netanyahu's speech!! What angers the Obama administration even more is that Netanyahu refused an official request by several Democratic Congressmen to meet with him during [his] visit!!…
"I will conclude by saying the following: Since Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and since he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations, and since he is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.'s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu's firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration's anger and fury. I believe that Netanyahu's conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents. Do you agree with me?"

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Monday, March 02, 2015

We are all Netanyahu

Today and tomorrow, we are all Netanyahu (although I'm pretty sure Netanyahu would never publicly make the statement in the image).

This administration has gone too far.

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Another bipartisan tradition bites the dust: AIPAC breaks with Obama on Iran

AIPAC has broken a longstanding tradition of bipartisanship by breaking with the Obama administration's handling of Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.
The leadership of the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. publicly broke Sunday from the White House over the issue of Iran policy during the first of a three-day policy conference in Washington attended by 16,000 of its members.
Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, outlined a strategy moving forward of working through Congress to disrupt any nuclear agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak in denying the country a nuclear weapons capability.
This would be achieved, they said, both by seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran and to block the White House’s ability to lift standing U.S. sanctions, which would be required as part of any comprehensive agreement.
“Congress has a critical role” in determining this deal, Howard Kohr, Aipac’s executive director, said in opening remarks aimed at rallying the group’s membership. “Congress’s role doesn’t end when there is a deal. Congress must review this deal.”
Mr. Kohr and other Aipac leaders believe any final agreement with Iran must involve the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, something Obama administration officials have said is no longer on the negotiating table.
Aipac also is seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement by a late March deadline and to legislate an up-or-down vote in Congress. The White House is opposing both legislative actions.
AIPAC's position sounds a lot like Netanyahu's position. Waiting to hear whether Herzog and Livni disagree. 

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This is rich: Boehner to give Netanyahu bust of Churchill

House Speaker John Boehner plans to present Prime Minister Netanyahu with a gift when Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. The gift is a bust of a politician whom Netanyahu greatly admires: Winston Churchill.
House Speaker John Boehner plans to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a bust of Winston Churchill when he speaks to a joint meeting of Congress about the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
The gift was chosen because Netanyahu and the former prime minister of Britain are the only foreign leaders who have addressed Congress three separate times.
Boehner also has invited former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. 
But that's also a thumb in the eye of Barack Hussein Obama, who clearly does not admire Churchill:
President Obama has described himself as a 'citizen of the world.' In doing so, he is characterizing himself as what we would call a multi-culturalist. But he's not just someone who is tolerant of other cultures - he's a dogmatic multi-culturalist and his 'tolerance' extends to different forms of government. In Obama's world, all forms of government and all governments are equal. None is any better than the others.

Winston Churchill (Obama's anti-hero in more ways than one) is known to have quipped that liberal democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. Obama disagrees with that statement. He would argue that democracy is a form of government that is no better nor worse than the others. Once one accepts that statement, there is no advantage to be gained by promoting democracy. Each form of government is to be treated as equally meitorious and is to be dealt with on its own terms.
Maybe this has something to do with Obama's disdain for Churchill.


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Must see video: Judge Jeanine rips Obama some new body parts over his treatment of Netanyahu

Judge Jeanine Pirro rips President Hussein Obama some new body parts over his handling of Iran, Islamic State, and of course, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Varda N).

If only Obama was listening.

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History repeats itself

Is history repeating itself? Let's have a look (Hat Tip: The Beguiling Avigayil) (Daughter #1 Child #1).
Once there was a King in Shushan, the most powerful ruler in the world, who had a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews. Today there is a President in Washington, the most powerful ruler in the world, who may not always be a friend of the Jews.
Once there was a Persian who wanted to kill all the Jews, but needed the King's authorization to proceed with his plan. Today there are Persians who want to kill all the Jews, but needs the President's authorization to proceed with their plan.
The King didn't really care, as long as there was something in it for him - lots of money. The President doesn't really care, as long as there is something in it for him - a deal with the Persians (Iran).
The Jewish Queen wanted to tell the King what was really happening, but going in to talk to the King was dangerous. The Jewish Prime Minister wants to tell the President and his Congress what is really happening, but going to talk to them is dangerous.
Some people thought she shouldn't go, it would just anger the King and make things worse. Some people think he shouldn't go, it will just anger the President and make things worse.
She asked the Jews to fast and pray for the success of her mission. They did so, the King accepted her words and the plot to destroy them was thwarted. Will we fast and pray for the success of his mission? Will the President and Congress accept his words? Will the plot to destroy us be thwarted?
We commemorate the fasting prior to the Queen's plea to the King on The fast of Esther. The Prime Minister of Israel has been invited to address the United States Congress on March 3rd. This year The fast of Esther begins on March 3rd.

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IAEA: Iran may be developing nuclear weapons

As President Hussein Obama prepares to appease Iran, Yukia Amano, the chairman of the body that will be asked to monitor any agreement with the mullahcracy, says that his agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is unable to verify whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons due to Iran's refusal to cooperate.

The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said on Monday Iran had still not handed over key information to his staff, and his body's investigation into Tehran's atomic program could not continue indefinitely.
"Iran has yet to provide explanations that enable the agency to clarify two outstanding practical measures," chief Yukiya Amano told the body's Board of Governors in Vienna, echoing a report seen by Reuters last month.

The two measures relating to alleged explosives tests and other measures that might have been used for bomb research should have been addressed by Iran by last August.

"The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Amano said. 


The Agency remains ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues, he added, but "this process cannot continue indefinitely".
What could go wrong?

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Kerry warns Netanyahu against revealing details of Iran nuke deal

A day before Prime Minister Netanyahu's address, US Secretary of State John FN Kerry has warned the Prime Minister not to disclose details of the P 5+1 agreement with Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is warning that public discussion of select details of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran will make it more difficult to reach a deal that prevents the country from developing atomic weapons.
In comments to reporters in Geneva on Monday, Kerry said he was concerned by reports that details of the talks would be revealed in coming days. He did not elaborate, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak in opposition to a potential Iran deal in an address to Congress on Tuesday.

Netanyahu arrived on Sunday night in Washington D.C. Speaking to reporters during an in-flight briefing, a senior official in the prime minister's entourage said Israel holds a significant amount of trustworthy information regarding the deal taking shape with Iran that points at concessions agreed to by the world powers, which run counter to Israel's interests.

The senior official travelling on the prime minister's plane noted that Netanyahu had received the impression that members of Congress are not fully aware of the details of the deal being worked out. Netanyahu, the official said, is interested in using his speech to inform members of Congress of the information Israel holds in regards the deal, and seeks to help lawmakers there stop it from going ahead.
It is long past time for a little bit of sunshine to bring the 'most open administration evah' out into the open. Here's hoping that Netanyahu has the junk to do it. 

The hell you'll turn us into Czechoslovakia.

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Former IDF chief of staff: There never was an order to strike Iran - the IDF nixed it

In an interview to be aired tonight by Israel's Channel 2, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz tells Ilana Dayan that - contrary to what was reported on Sunday - there never was an order to strike Iran because the IDF refused to go along.

The Times of Israel previewed the Ilana Dayan interview with Lt. Gen.(ret.) Benny Gantz who was Israeli Chief of Staff until February 16th of this year. Gantz said there was never an authorization for an Israeli attack on Iran:
“It never reached, ‘OK, take off and fly,'” said Gantz in the interview, which is set to air Monday night in Israel. But he added: “I want the to believe they listened and took into consideration what I have to say.”
Gantz, who retired in February after 38 years of service, also revealed a dispute between the political leadership, which was moving toward a military strike, and the IDF, opposed to such a move.
Despite the disagreement, the army would implement such a strike if ordered to do so by the political leadership, Gantz affirmed.
Gantz’s period as chief of staff was a tumultuous one, as he found himself shepherding the IDF through the instabilities caused by the Arab uprisings, the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the cyclonic civil war in Syria, and the ever deteriorating security situation along Israel’s northern and southern borders.
But his legacy may be shaped by inaction against Iran’s nuclear program. The decision to strike was not his to make, but his opposition to a strike during this period, together with the reported opposition of several other security chiefs in recent years, may have helped prevent the political decision to carry it out.
Last year Gantz said that a resolution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program was “preferable without force, but if there’s no choice then it can [be done] with force.”
He said that Israel “unequivocally” had the capacity to strike Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and that “we’ll know how to act when needed.”
If one believes General Gantz over an anonymous source in Kuwait, then there was never an Israeli attack planned for President Obama to threaten. 
And of course, you all remember why Gantz was appointed Chief of Staff instead of Yoav Galant, right? I guess he did his job....

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Poll: 'Even if Netanyahu has seen his relationship with the White House deteriorate ... no impact on his standing with the American people'

A Gallup poll shows that Prime Minister Netanyahu is viewed favorably by 45% of Americans and unfavorably by 24%. That's a statistical tie with his 1998 favorable rating of 46% (which was around the time that he signed the Wye Agreement), and a significant improvement over his 2012 rating of 35% positive and 23% negative.
While Netanyahu's favorable score has varied slightly over the years, his unfavorable score has been relatively stable, ranging from 20% to 28%. Notably, even while his favorable score increased since 2012, his unfavorable score stayed about the same. Meanwhile, fewer Americans have no opinion of Netanyahu today than did so in 2012, with 31% vs. 41%, respectively, either saying they are unsure or have never heard of him.
[E]ven if Netanyahu has seen his relationship with the White House deteriorate, it appears to have had no impact on his standing with the American people.
Perhaps it should go without saying that Netanyahu does better among Republicans than among Democrats.
Though the American public in general views Netanyahu more favorably than unfavorably, there are sharp party differences in these views. Republicans are much more likely to view Netanyahu positively (60%) than negatively (18%), while Democrats are evenly divided in their views of him: 31% favorable and 31% unfavorable. Independents' favorable ratings of Netanyahu are twice as high as their unfavorable ratings.
And his ratings have improved since 2012 among all parties.
Despite White House and other prominent Democratic officials' criticism of Netanyahu's visit, his favorable rating has improved among all major party groups since 2012. The increase has been slightly higher among independents (+13 points) and Republicans (+10 points) than Democrats (+6 points). Democrats are slightly more likely now to see Netanyahu favorably compared with 2012 -- the well-broadcast break with the Obama administration in recent weeks notwithstanding.
Maybe it pays to pick a fight with Obama.

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Why the Schabas Report will be every bit as biased as the Goldstone Report

Until he was forced out a month ago when it was discovered that he had worked for the PLO, William Schabas headed the United Nations 'human rights council's commission of inquiry into Israel's summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The UN has tried arguing that Schabas' resignation means the report won't be biased. That's nonsense. But not for the reason you think. In a lengthy article published by the Tower, Hillel Neuer explains how Richard Goldstone was duped when he headed the Commission of Inquiry into Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and how as much as Schabas was anti-Israel, his presence or absence on the Commission likely made little difference.
There seems no question that Goldstone was duped. He never suspected that OHCHR, the UN agency in charge of providing him with professional staff support, had quietly embedded one of the world’s top anti-Israel lawfare strategists into the team. After all, only four years before, Goldstone had worked on another UN inquiry on the oil-for-food program. In that case, he was supported by a highly professional staff based in New York, with most if not all of them lawyers and experts hired from the outside. Goldstone assumed the Gaza inquiry would be the same.
But it was not the same. The culture of the Geneva-based OHCHR secretariat is known to be far more anti-American, anti-colonial, and anti-Israel than the one in New York. In his naiveté, Goldstone was blind to the prejudice and political agenda of his own bureaucracy. Indeed, there is not the slightest indication that Goldstone had any knowledge of Baars’ extremist activism. But OHCHR knew—and that is why they hired her.
On March 23, what for six months was the Schabas Commission, and now in its final and seventh month has become the McGowan Davis Commission, will present its report to the Human Rights Council. Do we have any reason to expect a fair, objective, and credible report?
Not if we consider the built-in prejudice of the commission’s founding mandate, spelled out in resolution S-21/1 of July 23, 2014, which preemptively declares Israel guilty. It condemns the Jewish state “in the strongest terms,” citing “widespread, systematic, and gross violations of international human rights,” “the targeting of civilians and civilian properties” as a form of “collective punishment contrary to international law,” “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks,” “grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population,” and “military aggressions.” The resolution mentions Israel 18 times. Hamas is not mentioned once.
Not if we consider that Schabas, the activist chairman who says that he “devoted several months of work” to the project, is someone who performed undisclosed paid legal work for the PLO—on the subject of how to prosecute Israelis in international courts—and who famously declared barely three years ago that the leader he most wants to see in the dock at the International Criminal Court is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And—as the cautionary tale of lawfare general Grietje Baars as the key author of the original Goldstone Report makes clear—not if we consider the outsized role played by OHCHR in compiling the evidence, processing submissions, and picking the people to draft the report’s chapters and conclusions. Everything we now know about how OHCHR engineered the travesty of the original Goldstone Report indicates that Goldstone II will suffer the same politically-motivated fate.
Read the whole thing. The woman whose picture is at the top of this post is Grietje Baars, whose name you probably never heard until today.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

State Department at work


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Rav Chaim Kanievsky: It's a Torah commandment to make aliya now

This is for all of you who sit abroad and say that you don't have to move to Israel because we are not commanded to do so today.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, possibly the pre-eminent Lithuanian scholar of this generation, says that it's a Torah obligation to make aliya (immigrate to Israel) today.

Let's go to the videotape.

I didn't hear him say anything about parnassa (making a living) either.

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Republican Jewish Coalition runs full-page Sunday Times ad calling on Congress to attend Netanyahu's speech

Netanyahu at least deserves to be heard.

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Netanyahu campaign ad uses 2011 Congress speech

A campaign ad for Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party, which debuted today, uses footage from the Prime Minister's 2011 address to a joint session of Congress. On Iran of course.

Let's go to the videotape.

I wonder if those same words will be used on Tuesday.

There's a second campaign ad that was posted in the last hour, but it's in Hebrew with Hebrew and Russian subtitles, so I will wait for English subtitles to post it.

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Kerry's friends to prevent Netanyahu from speaking at #AIPAC2015?

John Kerry's friends at Code Pink are planning to prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu from speaking by disrupting #AIPAC2015 (that's the hashtag for this week's AIPAC convention).
Much more on Code Pink's recent activities here.

And Kerry wonders why Israel won't give him the benefit of the doubt (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Kerry said in an interview broadcast before he left for more talks in Switzerland with Iran's foreign minister that Netanyahu was welcome to speak in the U.S. and that the administration did not want the event "turned into some great political football."
That sentiment was a step back from some of the sharp rhetoric between the allies in recent weeks, and Kerry mentioned that he talked to Netanyahu as recently as Saturday.
But Kerry stressed that Israel was safer as a result of the short-term nuclear pact that world powers and Iran reached in late 2013, and he described that improvement as the "standard we will apply to any agreement" with the Islamic Republic.
Officials have described the United States, Europe, Russia and China as considering a compromise that would see Iran's nuclear activities severely curtailed for at least a decade, with the restrictions and U.S. and Western economic penalties eased in the final years of a deal.
"We are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you don't have to turn to additional measures including the possibility of a military confrontation," Kerry told ABC's "This Week."
"Our hope is that diplomacy can work. And I believe, given our success of the interim agreement, we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future."
This administration cannot be trusted on anything - it's that simple. 

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Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

Just a reminder....

July 24, 2008, the middle of a US election campaign.

More here.

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Obama says he'll veto bill giving Congress a say on Iran

Maybe this will make all those people who think they can compromise with Obama think again. The White House announced on Saturday night that the President will veto a bill currently making its way through Congress which would stop Der Fuhrer from suspending sanctions against Iran without Congressional vote.
"The president has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran.  If this bill is sent to the president, he will veto it," said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act would require to submit to Congress the text of any agreement within five days of concluding a final deal with Iran. The bill would also prohibit Obama from suspending or waiving sanctions on Iran passed by Congress for 60 days after a deal.
Meehan said United States "should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts." 
Republican Senator Bob Corker, one of the bipartisan group of sponsors of the bill, said it was "disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country." 
The questions are whether the Democrats will also recognize Obama's arrogance and whether the Congress will stand up to him and override the veto. There is no compromising with this President - at least not if you're the US Congress or a putative US ally.

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This one speaks for itself

But yes, Susan Rice fits right into the Obama administration. That's the entire administration's attitude.

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Why I'm not crying too much over Leonard Nimoy

I was never a Trekkie but it was kind of hard to miss the passing of Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek's Mr. Spock) this weekend. Over the past few years, Nimoy has gotten a lot of positive press in the Jewish community for incorporating the Jewish priestly blessing sign into Star Trek (a fact that largely came to light due to the Obama campaign's use of the gesture as a 'sign of progress' in 2008).

Alas, there was another side of Nimoy which makes me think of him less fondly. In 2011, Nimoy wrote a letter calling for the division of Jerusalem.

The Americans for Peace Now (APN) organization published Tuesday a letter written by actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series and movies, in which the actor supports the establishment of a two-state solution.
The 80-year-old actor called upon the American people to support the peace initiative.

"I reach out to you as someone who is troubled to see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continue apparently without an end in sight," Nimoy wroe.

"In fact, there is an end in sight. It's known as the two-state solution - a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state. Even Israel's nationalist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has come to see this as the shape of the future. The problem is how to reach that end point. It's something we should be concerned about - not only as world citizens, but as Americans."
He went on to write that he supports the division of Jerusalem, mentioning 50 other prominent Israelis, including former heads of the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the military who support a two-state solution.

"There is a sizable number of influential voices in Israel saying the same thing… a call for two states for two nations. Their plan includes a Palestinian state alongside Israel with agreed-upon land swaps. The Palestinian-populated areas of Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine; the Jewish-populated areas the capital of Israel."

"I'm a strong supporter of APN and the work it does," Nimoy wrote. "Peace Now's activities and programs… keep peace on the world's agenda… Like those Israelis who issued the peace plan, the members of Peace Now have their boots on the ground. They serve in Israel's military reserves and see every day what life is like without a negotiated peace with the Palestinians." 
There's more. Read the whole thing.

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Where's Hillary? Netanyahu doesn't want you to ask

After the Sabbath started on Friday, the Emergency Committee for Israel, which is based in the United States, circulated this advertisement asking where Hillary Clinton is in the current controversy over a deal with Iran. If you watch the political talk shows on Sunday morning in the US, you are likely to see it.

Let's go to the videotape.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu's office condemned the ad, along with a full-page ad against Susan Rice that was placed in Saturday's New York Times by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach (ad below followed by story).

Susan Rice's Blind Spot for Genocide

"We condemn these ads and oppose personal attacks of every kind," Netanyahu's office said, shortly before the prime minister's scheduled flight to Washington where he was to address Congress this week. "We have no connection to these ads and we believe that the discourse on the Iranian issue must remain to the point."
Netanyahu is really trying to walk a tightrope here....

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Breakthrough in the P 5+1 talks with Iran?

@Haaretz 's @BarakRavid has details on why a deal between the P 5+1 and Iran might be possible.
The Iranians surprised the representatives of the six powers when they presented their own alternative proposal, the diplomats said.
That proposal included, for the first time, concessions regarding their stockpile of enriched uranium, as well as a bid to cut the number of old-generation centrifuges by one third.
The Iranians proposed they keep 6,000 centrifuges out of the 9,400 for the first 10 years of the agreement, and keep 500 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, or, alternatively, to operate 6,500 centrifuges and only retain 300 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, the diplomats said. After 10 years, with only five years left on the agreement, the Iranian proposal would gradually increase the number of centrifuges to the number they have today, the diplomats added.
But proponents of a deal should not be celebrating just yet.
However, among the unresolved issues is the Iranian demand that all sanctions be lifted immediately upon signing the agreement, whereas the United States and the other powers want the sanctions lifted gradually if Iran is seen to be meeting its obligations.
Another stumbling block is Iran’s continuing refusal of the world powers’ demand to fully open all aspects of its military nuclear program to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Commission.
The diplomats say that, considering the issues still in dispute, it is difficult to imagine the parties coming to an agreement by March 30. If such an agreement does emerge, because of an Iranian and American need to show progress, it will be a general document of principles only and will not include details on the outstanding bones of contention.
Meanwhile, Iran apparently has no intention of giving up.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday announced it has test fired a "new strategic weapon" in the final day of a large-scale naval and air defense drill, saying the system would play a key role in any future battle against the United States.

The claim was a new show of force by Iran just weeks ahead of a deadline for reaching a deal over its nuclear program with the U.S. and other global powers.
Iran announced the test on the final day of military drills it is calling "Great Prophet 9." The exercises are being held near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which about a fifth of the world's oil passes.
Iran often holds live-fire war games and frequently boasts of advances in its weaponry that cannot be independently verified. The latest drill, which included a simulated attack on an American aircraft carrier, appears to be aimed at sending a message that Iran has no intention of backing down to the U.S. in the nuclear talks.
Adm. Ali Fadavi, the Republican Guard's naval chief, said the new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.
Of course, strategic weapons aren't part of the P 5+1 negotiations.

I want to go back and address Barak Ravid's last line:
“The challenge is for those who oppose the agreement like Netanyahu. They must present an alternative that will produce better results,” a senior U.S. official said over the weekend.
Really? Silly me. I thought even Obama believed that no deal is better than a bad deal

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Report: Israel aborted 2014 mission against Iran because Obama threatened to shoot down planes

A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper that has not been confirmed by any other source claims that President Obama forced Israel to abort a 2014 mission to destroy Iran's nuclear capability by threatening to shoot down the planes.
Al-Jarida newspaper quoted "well-placed" sources as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had taken a decision to carry out airstrikes against Iran's nuclear program after consultations with his minister of defense Moshe Yaalon and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman in the presence of top security commanders.

The decision came, according to al-Jarida, after Israel revealed that the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back.

According to the report, Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army's chief of staff Beni Gants to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran's nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel's security.

The sources added that Gants and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets even carried out experimental flights in Iran's airspace after they managed to break through radars.

However, an Israeli minister "who has good ties with the US administration revealed Netanyahu's plans to Secretary of State John Kerry" and as a result Obama then threatened to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.
I would take this one with a grain of salt. Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz was a known opponent of striking Iran, at least in 2012. 

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Black pastors slam Congressional Black Caucus plan to boycott Netanyahu

A group of prominent black pastors has slammed the Congressional Black Caucus for its plan to boycott (I've heard that they actually plan to walk out during the speech) Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
“The thing to me that makes no sense is why the Congressional Black Caucus has teamed up with this current administration against Israel,” said Pastor Dexter D. Sanders of the Rock Center for Transformation in Orlando, Florida.
“And yes, black caucus, I’m saying you have gone against Israel when you decide to protest the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from coming and speaking on the behalf of the nation of Israel,” Mr. Sanders said. “That is a slap in the face to the people of Israel, and not only that, it’s a slap in the face to God. And not only that, it’s also a slap in the face of all Bible-believing African-American people in this country.”
The Christian pastors, representing churches nationwide from California to New York, delivered an often fiery defense on behalf of the speech at Thursday’s press conference at the National Press Club, organized by the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
Pastor Cecil Blye of More Grace Ministries in Louisville, Kentucky, dismissed suggestions that the House violated protocol by extending the invitation to weigh in on U.S. negotiations with Iran.
“Charges from some members of the United States Congress about the breaking of protocol are no more than a very red herring,” Mr. Blye said. “The American people need to hear Israel’s voice on this urgent matter now. If one side of the aisle can facilitate this, so be it.”
Critics have accused Mr. Netanyahu of using the speech to boost his party’s chances in the March 10 Israeli election. Some House members have asked Mr. Netanyahu to delay his speech until after the vote, but many pastors said they were alarmed by any effort to undermine the prime minister at a time when Israel faces an existential threat in the form of a potentially nuclear Iran.
Israel knows and understands Iran better than the rest of the world. This is not the time to involve ourselves in petty political maneuvering designed to embarrass our friend,” said Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas.
Pastor Carlton Smith of the Antioch Fellowship Assembly in Cleveland recounted how Jews had stood alongside black Americans in their fight for civil rights.
“They stood and marched with us in our struggle then, and we must stand with them in the face of their enemy now,” Mr. Smith said.
Read the whole thing. I hope this means that more Americans are starting to get it.

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Obama preemptively attacks Netanyahu, even the NY Times doesn't buy it

The White House on Friday sent an anonymous official to 'brief' reporters with answers to what the President anticipates that Prime Minister Netanyahu will say on Tuesday, but the attack was so transparent that even the New York Times saw through it (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
But the American officials speaking Friday avoided directly answering some questions about important outcomes of the agreement still being negotiated.
Asked whether the accord would guarantee that Iran would remain at least a year away from being able to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear weapon, a senior official said that the agreement was still under negotiation and that it was not yet clear how long the accord might last. He noted that some “transparency measures” that might provide insight into the inner workings of Iran’s nuclear activities might be in effect for an “extended period of time.”
Several news organizations, including The New York Times, reported this week that Iran’s capacity to produce enriched uranium would be sharply limited for at least a decade under a phased accord. But Tehran would be able to build up its capacity again in the last years of an agreement. That suggested that in those final years of a deal, Iran could move closer to where it is today — two or three months away from being able to produce a bomb’s worth of material, rather than the required year that the administration says is its bottom line for the first phase of an agreement.
The officials were also vague about whether, and how quickly, Iran would have to answer a dozen questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency about research it is suspected of carrying out on nuclear designs — what the agency calls the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program. The I.A.E.A., the United Nations’ inspection agency, said again last week that Iran stonewalled inspectors on answering most of its questions, which the Iranians insist are based on fabricated evidence.
[T]he concerns voiced by Mr. Netanyahu are also shared by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that are regional rivals of Iran. Mr. Kerry plans to meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and other Arab officials over the next week to try to reassure them about the agreement.
While the United States has taken the lead in the nuclear talks with the Iranians, the negotiating partners also include France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. European officials have suggested in recent days that an agreement is closer than the “50-50” assessment by Obama administration officials.
 What could go wrong?

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Egypt gets what Europe doesn't

One month after an Egyptian court branded Hamas' 'military wing' a terrorist organization, a second Egyptian court has branded the entire organization a terrorist group.
Hamas slammed the decision calling it a “stain on Egypt’s reputation.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the ruling has turned the Palestinian people into the enemy of Egypt and Israel, its friend. He accused the Egyptian court of trying to blame outside forces for the internal unrest.
Last week, state-run newspaper al-Ahram accused Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood of conspiring to overthrow the Egyptian regime within the next few years.
The newspaper quoted “informed sources” who accused Hamas’s military wing of coordinating plans with the Brotherhood to hit Egyptian military targets and vital installations and distribute footage of the attacks in order to lower national morale. They claimed that the two groups planned to spread rumors of an Islamic State presence in Egypt in order to sow panic among the population.
Hamas and the Brotherhood thus hoped to spread fear and disappointment with the Egyptian armed forces, the sources alleged, while also working behind the scenes, using agents in the government to disrupt internal services and erode trust in the regime.
On February 6 hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated outside Egypt’s diplomatic mission in Gaza City to protest the ruling outlawing Hamas’s armed wing. Protesters waved green Hamas flags and chanted in support of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades: “Qassam are the pride of the nation, not terrorists!”
Al-Jazeera adds (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by two lawyers against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ghazi Hamad, a deputy foreign minister, rejected the court decision as "very dangerous."
"They are now saying that the [Palestinian] resistance and struggle against the occupation is a crime," he said.
Mustafa Barghouti, a senior Palestinian official who is neither from Hamas or Fatah, told Al Jazeera in a separate interview that the verdict "is a very unwise decision" that carries political complication.
"Hamas is part of the Palestinian national unity movement, and this decision is not useful."
Being part of the 'Palestinian resistance' apparently no longer provides immunity from lawsuits in Egypt, and that's good news. But this could also have serious repercussions.
Saturday's ruling comes just days after Egypt adopted a new anti-terrorism law allowing the authorities to close the premises of any declared "terrorist" organisation, and to freeze its assets as well as those of its members.
It couldn't happen to a nicer group.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why Netanyahu is suddenly standing up and fighting

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

With Prime Minister Netanyahu heading to Washington this week, Caroline Glick looks at why a Prime Minister who kowtowed to Obama for the better part of six years is suddenly standing up and fighting
[T]oday Netanyahu, the serial accommodator, is putting everything on the line. He will not accommodate. He will not be bullied. He will not be threatened, even as all the powers that have grown used to bringing him to his knees – the Obama administration, the American Jewish Left, the Israeli media, and the Labor party grow ever more shrill and threatening in their attacks against him.

As he has made clear in daily statements, Netanyahu is convinced that we have reached a juncture in our relations with the Obama administration where accommodation is no longer possible.

Obama’s one policy that Netanyahu has never acquiesced to either publicly or privately is his policy of accommodating Iran.

Since Obama’s earliest days in office, Netanyahu has warned openly and behind closed doors that Obama’s plan to forge a nuclear deal with Iran is dangerous. And as the years have passed, and the lengths Obama is willing to go to appease Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been left their marks on the region, Netanyahu’s warnings have grown stronger and more urgent.

Netanyahu has been clear since his first tenure in office in the 1990s, that Iran’s nuclear program – as well as its ballistic missile program – constitutes a threat to Israel’s very existence. He has never wavered from his position that Israel cannot accept an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.

Until Obama entered office, and to an ever escalating degree until his reelection in 2012, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons has been such an obvious imperative among both Israelis and Americans that Netanyahu’s forthright rejection of any nuclear deal in which Iran would be permitted to maintain the components of its nuclear program was uncontroversial. In some Israeli circles, his trenchant opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities was the object of derision, with critics insisting that he was standing strong on something uncontroversial while buckling on issues like negotiations with the Palestinians, where he should have stood strong.

But now we are seeing that far from being an opportunist, Netanyahu is a leader of historical dimensions. For the past two years, in the interest of reaching a deal, Obama has enabled Iran to take over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. For the first time since 1974, due to Obama’s policies, the Golan Heights is an active front in the war against Israel, with Iranian military personnel commanding Syrian and Hezbollah forces along the border.

Iran’s single-minded dedication to its goal of becoming a regional hegemon and its commitment to its ultimate goal of destroying the US is being enabled by Obama’s policies of accommodation. An Iran in possession of a nuclear arsenal is an Iran that can not only destroy Israel with just one or two warheads. It can make it impossible for Israel to respond to conventional aggression carried out by terrorist forces and others operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.

Whereas Israel can survive Obama on the Palestinian front by stalling, waiting him out and placating him where possible, and can even survive his support for Hamas by making common cause with the Egyptian military and the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the damage Obama’s intended deal with Iran will cause Israel will be irreversible. The moment that Obama grants Iran a path to a nuclear arsenal – and the terms of the agreement that Obama has offered Iran grant Iran an unimpeded path to nuclear power – a future US administration will be hard-pressed to put the genie back in the bottle.

Read the whole thing.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Obama is making such a big deal out of Netanyahu's speech

The reason President Obama has manufactured a crisis in US-Israel relations over Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress has nothing to do with breaches of protocol or interference in Israel's election campaign. According to Elliott Abrams, the national security adviser in the Bush administration, Obama is hoping to permanently damage American support for Israel.
I well remember how we in the Bush White House handled the poor personal relations between the president and French president Jacques Chirac. In 2004-2005 especially, the two men did not get along (arguing mostly about Iraq and just plain disliking each other as well) but we wanted to prevent their poor personal chemistry from damaging bilateral relations. So National Security Advisor Condi Rice in 2004, and then her successor Steve Hadley in 2005, set up a work-around. The French National Security Advisor Maurice Gourdault-Montagne traveled to Washington almost every month and came to the White House. There the French ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, joined him for meetings with key NSC, DOD, and State Department officials. In 2005, Secretary of State Rice would come over from State to join Hadley and several of us on the NSC staff, and in the course of a half-day we would review every issue facing the United States and France. It was a serious time commitment for the American and French officials, but that is because we were determined to quarantine bad personal chemistry and prevent it from infecting the entire relationship—a goal set by President Bush himself.
Quite obviously, President Obama has no such goal. Israeli officials have complained to me for several years about the lack of contacts and communications with the White House. Susan Rice has determined that her job is to make bilateral relations worse, and has established no relationship with her Israeli counterpart Yossi Cohen. So the problem is not just bad chemistry at the top; it is an administration that has decided to create a tense and negative relationship from the top down.
One reason, as noted, is the hope that tension with America can lead to Netanyahu’s defeat in the March 17 election.  The second reason is Iran policy. The administration is desperately seeking a deal with Iran on terms that until recently were unacceptable to a broad swath of Democrats as well as Republicans. One after another, American demands or “red lines” have been abandoned. Clearly the administration worries that Israeli (not just Netanyahu, but Israeli) criticisms of the possible Iran nuclear deal might begin to reverberate. So it has adopted the tactic of personalizing the Israeli critique. Arguments that are shared across the Israeli political spectrum—that the likely Iran deal says nothing about Iranian ballistic missile development, says nothing about Iranian warhead development, does not require that Iran meet IAEA demands that it account for past warhead work, allows Iran thousands of centrifuges, will allow Iran to escape all monitoring and limitations after perhaps ten years—are attributed solely to Netanyahu and his election campaign. So Democrats are told they must oppose such arguments, and stiff Netanyahu, lest they contribute to his reelection. Clever, in a way, but of course completely misleading. And irresponsible when it comes to the deadly issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
The third Obama administration reason for building up this crisis is also deadly serious: it is to use the current tension to harm Israel’s support in the United States permanently. All opinion polls in the last several years show a partisan edge in support: overall support for Israel is steady and high, but its composition is changing. More and more Republicans support Israel, and the gap between Democratic and Republican support levels is growing. President Obama acts as if he sees this as a terrific development, one that should be enlarged as much as possible before he leaves office. That way he would leave behind not just an Iran deal, but weakened support for Israel on Iran and everything else.  Support for Israel would become less of a bipartisan matter and more a divisive issue between the two parties. It is not hard to envision Obama in retirement joining Jimmy Carter as a frequent critic of Israel, pushing the Democratic party to move away from its decades of very strong support for the Jewish state.
Read the whole thing. Unfortunately, this makes too much sense.

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