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Friday, August 28, 2015

Time to say good-bye

Looks like I will miss this.... But if you're in New York, please be there (Hat Tip: Leah P).

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Small world syndrome

One of my neighbors just came by for something and invited us to a Kiddush (celebration) at his synagogue tomorrow morning. The Kiddush is to celebrate 45 years (on the Jewish calendar) since he was released from being a hostage at Dawson's field in Jordan.

More here.

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IAEA: Iran may have built extension to Parchin

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran may have built an extension to its Parchin nuclear weapons testing facility since May, making it impossible to determine how far along Iran was in nuclear weapons research before entering into its farcical deal with the P 5+1 (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:
"Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building" appeared to have been built.
The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.
The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as "fabricated".
...

"We cannot know or speculate what's in the (extended) building ... It's something we will technically clarify over the course of the year," the senior diplomat said. The report said the extended building was not the one that some countries suspect has housed the controversial experiments.
"It’s funny that the IAEA claims there has been a small extension to a building ... Iran doesn't need to ask for the IAEA's permission to do construction work on its sites," Reza Najafi, Iran's envoy to the agency, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

I can't even say what I'd like to say about this. Certainly not in any forum that is likely to be widely dispersed.



Messiah should be arriving soon. It's the only solution.

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Unbelievable: Senate may not even vote on Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran

It's come to this: Thanks to Mr. Congeniality, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tn), President Hussein Obama's sellout and endorsement of a nuclear armed Iran may never even come to a vote in the Senate. This is Jonathan Tobin.
With only two Senate Democrats announcing their opposition (Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez), there now appears to be a chance that the White House will be able to orchestrate a filibuster of the bill if at least three more Democrats join a unanimous Republican caucus. That will make a mockery of the approval process that Congress has been going through. If it does, the blame will belong to a president who has not hesitated to use inflammatory rhetoric and heavy-handed tactics to stop Congress from interfering with a policy of appeasement of Iran. But Obama didn’t do it alone. He could never have succeeded had he not had the unwitting help of Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Without Corker’s foolish belief in working with the White House and pusillanimous unwillingness to push for an approval process in line with the Constitution’s provisions about foreign treaties, the administration might never have been able to get away with sneaking through the most important foreign policy decision in a generation.
...
The Tennessee Republican didn’t get much cooperation from the administration. However, he did listen to a lot of his Democratic colleagues who were unhappy about confronting Obama but wanted to preserve some sort of Congressional oversight on the Iran negotiations. Thus, hoping to maintain the bipartisan consensus on Iran, Corker shifted the emphasis in the Senate away from a bill that would toughen sanctions against Iran that had been proposed by Menendez and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Instead, Corker’s attention was focused on something else: something that would compel the administration to present any deal with Iran for a Congressional vote.
Thus was born the Corker-Menendez bill that would be renamed Corker-Cardin after Menendez was forced out as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and replaced by Senator Ben Cardin. Considering that the administration had openly said that it did feel compelled to present any agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, some sort of response was required. But the only thing Corker could get Corker and other Democrats to sign on to was a bill on an Iran nuclear deal that would provide for a simple up and down vote in both the House and the Senate.
What was wrong with that? The Constitution explicitly states that foreign treaties must be presented to the Senate where they must get a two-thirds vote to be approved. The impetus for this high bar was the thought that treaties ought to be a matter of national consensus since they involve the security of the nation and their impact will be felt beyond the current Congress or the incumbent president.
Corker’s bill turned that approval process upside down. Instead of 67 votes to pass a deal that would give Iran Western approval for becoming a nuclear threshold state and a nuclear power once the deal expired in 10 to 15 years, all Obama would now need was 34 votes in the Senate or one-third plus one vote in the House.
It can be argued that Democrats would never have gone along with a bill that would have designated the Iran deal as a treaty as it should have been. The administration knows that there is no legal argument for not designating the deal as a treaty. As Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the only reason they didn’t present it as a treaty is because it is too hard to pass a treaty.
...
Corker is flummoxed by this prospect, telling the New York Times that he cannot imagine that a Senate will do it.
“Ninety-eight senators voted to give themselves the right to vote on this,” he said. “Surely they are not going to deny themselves a final vote on the deal.” …
“To block a vote on the deal would be a fascinating turn of events at a minimum,” Mr. Corker said.
Fascinating isn’t quite the word I’d use for such a turn of events. A better description of what is happening is that a tough-minded administration has run rings around an inept Corker. Did he really trust liberal Democrats who promised that they wanted a vote? If so, he is clearly not smart enough to be left in the position of influence he has been given. Far from his accommodating attitude rebuilding the consensus on Iran that Obama has been busy destroying, Corker’s willingness to bend over backwards has facilitated Obama’s disastrous policy.
A filibuster will enable the president to say that Congress never defeated his Iran deal. That’s something that he would have been denied if he had been forced to veto the bill. Even a complete end run by the administration around congress where no vote at all would have been held would have been preferable to a successful Iran deal filibuster. Then opponents would have been able to point to the extra-legal way the president was sneaking his treaty with Iran through. A failed effort to designate the deal as a treaty would also at least have set the record straight about Obama’s disregard for the Constitution. But now Obama can say the deal was reviewed and in a sense passed. This will strengthen his efforts to undermine existing sanctions and make it harder for the deal to overturn it in the future once he leaves office.
For that he can thank Corker.
By the way, if you're wondering how this pea brain became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee... the party was looking for an ideological conservative. Maybe the party ought to be looking for some intelligence before worrying about ideology?

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iran to pay for its own 'nuclear inspections'?

With the IAEA looking for money to pay for inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the US State Department suggested on Wednesday another source of payment aside from the American taxpayer: Iran itself.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the Department of State, declined to answer multiple questions about how international inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites would be paid for by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is requesting at least $10 million to carry out the work.
The United States will likely fund some portion of the cost, and Kirby left open the possibility that Iran could also foot some of the bill.
The matter has been the subject of much speculation in recent days after it came to light that Iran would be permitted to inspect its own nuclear sites, raising the possibility that Iran could continue to hide nuclear weapons work.
“I don’t have any specific funding contributions to speak to today in terms of amount,” Kirby told reporters. “We’re still working our way through that. I do want to add that we have every intention to continue to contribute to the IAEA for the purpose of this—doing this very important work of the verification of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments.”
“I won’t speak for Iran,” Kirby added. “I don’t know what, if any, commitments Iran has or will engender under this, but we’ve—as we noted in the statement, we’re committed to working with all the member states to ensure that the IAEA has the resources that it needs.”
When pressed to explain whether the United States would pay for Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites or press the Iranian government to foot the bill, Kirby demurred.
“Honestly don’t have a specific answer for you in that regard,” Kirby told reporters. “I mean, again, we’re going to contribute—continue to contribute to the IAEA and their funding needs specifically as it relates to this deal. And it’s not just us; we want other member states to do it as well.”
“I’ll let Iran speak for itself in terms of what, if any, contributions it plans to make,” he added.
“But I don’t know that I would characterize the funding resources applied to IAEA and their need to do this work as sort of then paying for any efforts done by Iranian officials to meet compliance.”
Matthew Lee, a reporter for the Associated Press, continued to question Kirby on the issue.
“Well, I mean, someone’s got to pay for it,” Lee said. “They’re not going to work for free, whoever they are, whether they’re Iranians or they’re from Djibouti.”
“Well, I’m assuming many of them are government—work for the government of Iran,” Kirby responded.
 What could go wrong?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ICYMI this says it all: J Street elects Muslim of Pakistani descent as President

After this one, let no one say that J Street is pro-Israel: J Street U has elected a Muslim of Pakistani descent as its President.
At its “Summer Leadership Institute” in Washington this week, J Street U elected Amna Farooqi, a senior at the University of Maryland who is of Pakistani descent, Haaretz reported. Farooqi co-wrote a blog post for the Times of Israel in March on Hillel President Eric Fingerhut’s decision to withdraw from a commitment to speak a the J Street National Conference.
Approximately 120 J Street U student leaders attended the four-day gathering, according to Haaretz, and J Street U says it has 4,000 active participants on 75 college campuses in the United States.
A native of suburban Washington, D.C., Farooqi grew up in a “fairly religious Muslim home” with “a lot of Jewish friends,” Haaretz reported.
But “growing up in a household sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, the Palestine-Israel conflict was always the elephant in the room,” she said in a video filmed at the J Street conference last March. “This conflict evoked a level of anger and emotion in me, and I needed to learn more. Everything I was learning about the conflict made me not want to be pro-Israel. … As someone who wanted to contribute to ending this conflict I knew I needed to understand all sides.”
Pro-Israel anyone? Their  heads are so open their brains have fallen out.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Polish reporter: Yes, Hamas used human shields

A Polish reporter who spent a month in Gaza in the summer of 2014 has once again confirmed what we all knew all along: Hamas used the civilian population of Gaza as human shields in a cynical attempt to cause civilian casualties during Operation Protective Edge.
Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people. I do not have hard evidence, but for me, spending a month in the middle of this hell, it was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields. 
The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.

From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed. 
When we calmed down, we started to analyze the situation. It became obvious that the man or his supervisor wanted the Israel Defense Forces to destroy civilian houses, which our tiny street was full of. Whoever it was, Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam or others, they knew that the IDF can strike back at the same place from which the rocket was fired. Fortunately for us, the rocket missed its target in Israel.

The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”
But then you knew all this. For those who have forgotten (I have posted it before), here are out-takes of Alarabiya-TV reporter Hannan al-Masri learning of a Hamas missile being fired from the ground floor of the building housing the Alarabiya studio in January 2009 (Operation Cast Lead).

Let's go to the videotape.



It's still nice to hear foreigners confirming what we knew all along.

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Your favorite uncle to preserve Obama's 'legacy'

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that its budget will be busted by the end of September (of this year) if it has to keep monitoring Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons (Hat Tip: Gershon D).
Yukiya Amano, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced on Tuesday that his organization's funds to monitor Iran's nuclear program will run out next month, indicating a potential road block for last month's Iran nuclear deal.
Up to this point the IAEA has been receiving funding for its monitoring of Iran thanks to member state contributions that were outside the scope of the body's regular budget, reports Reuters.
The IAEA chief asked member states to fork over more funds to continue the monitoring of the Islamic regime, revealing that the 800,000 euros ($924,000) a month that it has received to this point will run out by the end of September.
Amano detailed the expenses needed in order to monitor Iran until the nuclear deal is implemented - presumably early next year - listing them at 160,000 euros (over $184,000) per month. He added that 9.2 million euros (over $10.5 million) a year will be needed by the IAEA to monitor Iran under the framework of the deal.
The IAEA's annual budget hit 350 million euros (over $402 million) last year, and according to Amano he will seek to incorporate the costs of monitoring Iran as part of the deal into the IAEA's regular annual budget starting in 2017.
But have no fear. Your favorite Uncle (his name is Sam in case you've forgotten) is going to step in to pay all the costs of monitoring that no one else will pay. 
The United States said on Tuesday it will make sure the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has enough money to report on Iran's past, present and future nuclear programs.

The UN nuclear watchdog has asked its member states to step up financial contributions for its monitoring activities in Iran which are set to widen after Tehran reached a deal with world powers in July to curb its atomic program.

"The United States is committed to working with all (IAEA) member states to ensure the agency has the resources it needs to verify Iran's nuclear-related commitments under the (July 14 agreement)," the US mission in Vienna said in a statement.
And if no one else will pay, Uncle Sam will pay it himself. Or the IAEA will just leave and we'll let Iran monitor itself. Because, after all, Obama's gotta have a legacy.

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Europeans: 'Obama administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians'

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Europeans - particularly France - are having some buyer's remorse about the sellout to a nuclear Iran.
French President François Hollande ran into a difficult question late last month about war and Iran. It’s time now to pay attention to his answer.
Invited to dinner by members of the French Presidential Press Association on July 27, the president was asked if he went along with the contention of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, later voiced by President Barack Obama, that war would inevitably follow rejection by the U.S. Congress of the nuclear deal between the great powers and Iran.
Mr. Hollande, whose full-page photo on a French magazine cover this week is headlined The Anesthetist, doesn’t do alarmisme. He didn’t assert, as Mr. Obama so often has, that war is the single alternative to the Iran nuclear agreement. No way.
My recollection of Mr. Hollande’s response—jibing with that of the journalists seated to my left and right that evening—is that he said disapproval by Congress meant new “uncertainty,” and uncertainty in the Middle East could sometimes mean war.
A month later, this much is clear about the approach of the other European parties to the deal: Neither German Chancellor Angela Merkel nor U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have made an explicit link between Congress’s possible September vote against the agreement and anything resembling the Obama administration’s notions of instant cataclysm.
After initially nodding “yes” to the deal, the French have partially reverted to form reflecting their traditional hard-nosed antinuclear proliferation position. It’s OK in Paris to acknowledge that the accord is an oversold mediocrity, and its character nonhistoric. Mr. Obama’s notions of co-opting a suddenly tranquilized Iran to embrace the Forces of Good in the Middle East can get characterized as naive. American sanctions experts say big French banks have informed them they are in no rush to return to Iran.
Citing the profound weaknesses of an agreement that allows controls over Iran to end after 15 years and the mullahs to keep an absurdly high number of centrifuges, a French official told me he graded the accord as C-plus. He expressed concern about America’s willingness over time to continue paying the enormous expense of its vast Iranian surveillance operations. And he also said that the deal’s concessions to Tehran made a pressing reality of Saudi Arabia’s quest for an atomic weapon.
One of the toughest of the country’s hard-nosed security experts, Bruno Tertrais, wrote last month in the Canadian newspaper Le Devoir that “with pressure from the Obama administration” European negotiators’ original intent deteriorated from a rollback of Iran’s nuclear ambitions to their containment.
Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research—a think tank with a reputation for telling truths the French government might prefer to avoid—told me how this slippage had come about. “From 2013 on,” he said, “the Americans gave the impression they wanted the deal more than Iran did. The administration put more pressure on its friends in the negotiations than on the Iranians.”
... 
For now, even if there are French critics, there is no political or governmental force actively fighting the deal. It creates the impression of a French security establishment that will shoot from the cover of the sidelines, yet isn’t mobilized to urge that the agreement be renegotiated.
But shooting from the sidelines can still have an effect. Consider the recent ado about reports that Jacques Audibert, Mr. Hollande’s national security adviser, told a U.S. congressional delegation to Paris in July that France, while supporting the deal overall, would view a move by Congress to block the deal as manageable without causing a break between the U.S. and Europe. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat, described the conversation later. Although the French denied her account, her colleagues on the delegation affirmed it—and why would she concoct a story so inconvenient to a president of her party anyway?
So how come didn’t France lie across the tracks to block the accord? My explanation:
Because an economically nonperforming President Hollande couldn’t say “no” to French industry wanting a shot at new Iranian contracts. Because France no longer musters the international political levers to shoulder splendid isolation. And because it would not assume the cost of being regarded as Benjamin Netanyahu’s single objective ally.
And now, French buyer’s remorse? In theory, a bit. But not enough to try holding off on its own what France knows is a lousy Iran nuclear deal.
Is anyone in Congress listening?

For the record, France opposed the 24-day wait period for inspections. 

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Image: Abu Mazen's new palace

Life is so, so hard in the 'occupied territories.'

From here (comments are mostly in Hebrew). According to the person who posted it, it's Abu Mazen's 'guest palace.'

By the way, there are many luxurious homes in Judea and Samaria. Back in the old days, before the existence of the 'Palestinian Authority' necessitated bypass roads in order to prevent Jews from being murdered, we used to play a game when we road through the 'Palestinian' suburbs in Jerusalem on the way to visiting Mrs. Carl's sister in Samaria. In the game, we tried to choose in which house we would most want to live (based on the house and not the neighborhood).

But if you're wondering where all that western aid money to the 'Palestinians' went, this ought to give you an idea.

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Iran: 'Israel should still be annihilated'

MP Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary who raced to Tehran to reopen his country's embassy over the weekend and complimented Iran on its 'more nuanced' approach to Israel, got his answer today from a key foreign policy adviser to Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani:
Hussein Sheikholeslam, a foreign affairs adviser to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, told Iranian media that contrary to remarks by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, “Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all; Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan.”
Hammond was in Iran on Monday for the reopening of the UK embassy in Tehran, and said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had indicated a “more nuanced approach” to Israel’s existence. Hammond said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “revolutionary sloganizing” should be distinguished from “what Iran actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy.”
...
Sheikholeslam told a Hamas news outlet earlier this month that Iran has resisted pressure exerted by the P5+1 world powers during the nuclear negotiations to halt its political involvement in Gaza, Syria and Yemen.
“These powers admitted that the reason for their pressure on us is our position on Israel,” he said. “We told them that we reject the existence of any Israeli on this earth.”
Even Jeffrey Goldberg noticed the statement, but I doubt that the former IDF officer has figured out yet why that might be personally connected to him.

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John Bolton: On Obama's Iran deal, the choices are bad and worse (MUST READ)

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton writes that no matter what Congress decides to do with President Hussein Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran, the only choice left now is a military one. Or a nuclear-armed Iran.
Obama’s mistakes, concessions, and general detachment from Middle Eastern reality for six and a half years make it impossible to travel in time back to a theoretical world where sanctions might have derailed Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. If Obama can save the Vienna agreement from Congress, he will lift sanctions for the remainder of his presidency. Alternatively, if his veto is overridden and U.S. sanctions remain in place, Europe, Russia, China, and everyone else will nonetheless proceed to implement the deal on their own. (And given Obama’s propensity not to enforce laws with which he disagrees, which he is already signaling in this case, U.S. sanctions will almost certainly prove ineffective.) Either way, it is naïve to think that a new Republican president in January 2017 will find any takers internationally to revive sanctions. However Congress votes, Iran will still be marching inexorably toward deliverable nuclear weapons. 
Deals don’t constrain the mullahs, who see this capability as critical to the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s very survival. Not surprisingly, therefore, existing sanctions have slowed down neither Iran’s nuclear-weapons program nor its support for international terrorism. General James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, testified in 2013 that sanctions had not changed the ayatollahs’ nuclear efforts, and this assessment stands unmodified today. 
Tehran’s support for such terrorists as Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen’s Houthis, and Syria’s Assad regime has, if anything, increased. As for the sanctions’ economic impact on Iran, Clapper testified that “the Supreme Leader’s standard is a level of privation that Iran suffered during the Iran–Iraq war,” a level that Iran was nowhere near in 2013 and is nowhere near today. 
In short, to have stopped Tehran’s decades-long quest for nuclear weapons, global sanctions needed to match the paradigm for successful coercive economic measures. They had to be sweeping and comprehensive, swiftly applied and scrupulously adhered to by every major economic actor, and rigorously enforced by military power. The existing Security Council sanctions do not even approach these criteria. 
...
In recent history, the only sanctions regime to approximate the ideal paradigm was that imposed on Saddam Hussein in 1990, just days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Security Council Resolution 661 provided that all states “shall prevent . . . the import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in Iraq or Kuwait” except food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies. 
That is the very definition of “comprehensive,” and the polar opposite of the congeries of sanctions imposed on Iran. Significantly, while Resolution 661 approached the theoretical ideal, even its sanctions failed to break Saddam’s stranglehold on Kuwait. Had Washington waited much longer than it did before militarily ousting Saddam, Kuwait would have been thoroughly looted and despoiled.
Read the whole thing.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Leading BDS'er writes post blasting ban on Matisyahu, post disappears down memory hole

Leading BDS'er Benjamin Norton wrote a post criticizing the ban placed (and subsequently removed) on Matisyahu by the Rototom festival in France last week. The post has disappeared down the memory hole.
Norton writes for the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, as well as a slew of other places on the topic of how bad Israel is. While I don’t agree with most of what Norton says, he certainly is prolific and an upcoming opinion-leader in that sphere.
So when I saw Norton pen a column severely criticizing the ban on American Jewish musician Matisyahu at the behest of a Spanish branch of the BDS movement, I was, well, surprised. All the more so because leading American BDS activists like Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal were seeking to justify the ban because Matisyahu was too pro-Israel.
...
While I disagree with some of the characterizations — for example, in reality BDS does boycott individuals, and it is not a peaceful movement which seeks justice for all — the overall point was pretty much the point that Zionist supporters of Matisyahu are making: Keep politics out of music, and don’t single out Jews for extra political scrutiny.
Now the post, however, is gone.
Read the whole thing

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New Barak leak: Netanyahu opposed 'terrorists for Gilad' deal

In yet another leak of the supposedly 'secret' tapes of Ehud Barak's autobiography, it was disclosed today that Prime Minister Netanyahu opposed the 'terrorists for Gilad' trade.
Speaking of the Shalit prisoner exchange, Barak tells his interviewers — who are working on his biography — that Netanyahu was opposed to the exchange of the captive IDF soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, but gave in after Barak pressured him.
“Bibi [Netanyahu] is forced into action, and shows a side [to his personality] that is less elegant, less about self-control, less pretty, when he’s in a personal crisis over something,” Barak says in recordings he did not know would become public.
“As much as he was opposed to [the] Gilad Shalit [exchange], and I pressured him for months to do two things, to do Gilad Shalit and immediately afterward to pass in the government [and in] the Knesset [the recommendations of] the Shamgar Committee” that recommended changing Israel’s prisoner exchange policy.
“In the end he was convinced he had to free Shalit but wasn’t convinced to do the obvious next step [of passing Shamgar], and that’s how he found himself in the [June 2014] kidnapping of the three kids,” teenagers whose kidnapping by a Hamas-affiliated cell in the West Bank triggered that summer’s Gaza war.
What he refers to as 'Shamgar' was a law that would prohibit Israel from trading terrorists for Israelis being held hostage. As if that would stop any Israeli government from doing exactly that.... 

As some of you might recall, I opposed the 'terrorists for Gilad' trade. And I still think it was the wrong thing to do.

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791 American Rabbis sign petition against sellout to nuclear-armed Iran

791 (at least count) American rabbis - more than double the number who signed a petition in favor - have signed a petition against President Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran.
PLEASE SIGN ONLY IF YOU ARE AN ORDAINED RABBI —THANK YOU!
We, the undersigned rabbis, write as a unified voice across religious denominations to express our concerns with the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran.
For more than 20 months, our communities have kept keen eyes on the nuclear negotiations overseas. As our diplomats from Washington worked tirelessly to reach a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear challenge—we have hoped, and believed, that a good deal was possible.
Unfortunately, that hope is not yet realized.
We have weighed the various implications of supporting—or opposing—this agreement. Together, we are deeply troubled by the proposed deal, and believe this agreement will harm the short-term and long-term interests of both the United States and our allies, particularly Israel.
Collectively, we feel we must do better.
If this agreement is implemented, Iran will receive as much as 150 billion dollars, without any commitment to changing its nefarious behavior.
The Iranian regime denies basic human rights to its citizens, publicly calls for America’s downfall and Israel’s annihilation, and openly denies the Holocaust. This dangerous regime—the leading state sponsor of terrorism—could now be given the financial freedom to sow even more violence throughout the world.
But what do we get in return?
Even after flooding Iran with an influx of funds, this deal will not subject Iran to an airtight, comprehensive inspections structure—granting the regime the means to violate the agreement and develop a covert nuclear program.
The deal would also lift key arms embargos, so that in eight years Iran will be given international legitimacy to arm terror groups with conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.
The agreement also entitles Iran to develop advanced centrifuges after 10 years—all-but paving Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability with virtually zero “breakout time.”
We fear the world we will leave our children if this deal is approved. And we fear having to someday bear the responsibility for Iran becoming wealthier, further empowered and better equipped to produce nuclear bombs when we had the chance to stop it.
For these reasons, we agree with the assessments of leaders and experts in the United States, along with virtually all Israeli voices across the political spectrum, that we can, and must, do better.
We call upon our Senators and Representatives to consider the dangers that this agreement poses to the United States and our allies, and to vote in opposition to this deal.
Furthermore, we strongly support and heed the call to action of many Jewish organizations to express our collective opposition to this dangerous agreement.
At this historic moment, with so much at stake, we have a critical responsibility to shape the world we pass on to our children. With no less than the safety of future generations hanging in the balance, we must insist on a better deal.
We hope and pray that God will assist us in ushering in for the entire world a time promised by Isaiah (2:4) when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they engage in war anymore,” when peace will prevail. Until then, we simply cannot afford to empower and enrich a regime that continues to lift its sword without mercy towards so many who stand for good, freedom and peace.
If you're an ordained rabbi and have not signed yet, you may add your name here

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When liberalism replaces Judaism

Jonathan Tobin takes the Union of Reform Judaism to task for refusing to take a position on President Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran.
From the point of view of those opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, the decision of the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) to sit out the battle is not the worst possible outcome. To expect a religious denomination whose very identity is inextricably tied with liberal politics to take a stand against President Obama — a man that the majority of their adherents likes and admires — was a stretch. That was especially true since the president is treating this debate as a litmus test of loyalty to the Democratic Party. Equally unlikely was the possibility that the Reform movement would align itself with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a man that most of their members dislike and distrust — on any issue. Indeed, the unwillingness of the URJ to join the ad hoc group of liberal rabbis that have endorsed the pact with Iran reflects the unease among even liberal Jews who care about Israel over what President Obama has done. Yet the eagerness of Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs to pat himself on the back for staying out of the fray merits criticism. Contrary to Jacobs’s formulation, the real problem with the debate about Iran is not the nature of the rhetoric being used by both sides but the way in which the administration is downgrading the U.S.-Israel alliance. As difficult as it may be for Reform Jews to admit it, Obama is forcing his Jewish admirers to choose between him and Israel and that is not a choice any American, let alone a Jewish supporter of the Jewish state, should be asked to make.
That's true. But count this non-admirer of Obama's as someone who could have predicted that the one thing the official arm of Reform Judaism could not do would be to oppose what President Obama has in effect turned into a 'no confidence' vote on his Iran policy. For most Reform Jews, loyalty to the Democratic party - and particularly to its Left wing - trumps any identification with Judaism or Israel.
When President George H.W. Bush spoke of fighting a lobby when he opposed loan guarantees to Israel in 1991, a united Jewish community slammed him for using language that was redolent of anti-Semitic slurs. When conservative commentator Pat Buchanan also spoke of Jews not fighting in a war they wanted America to fight for Israel, he was labeled an anti-Semite. Yet liberals aren’t being as tough on Obama with many of them looking for ways to rationalize or excuse his rhetoric.
Yes, yours truly slammed Bush Senior for his behavior toward Israel. For that matter, if you look back in this blog, I slammed Bush Junior many times too, even though he might have been the most pro-Israel President the US ever had this side of Lyndon Johnson. I am more loyal to the Jewish people and to Israel than to any American political party (I moved to Israel in 1991). But you won't find a whole lot of liberals slamming Obama on Iran (Tobin mentions Leon Wieseltier; I could have added Alan Dershowitz).
In examining the choices that the URJ and other liberal Jewish groups face, it is fair to ask how they would react if a Republican president had embraced détente with Iran and feuded with Israel. The answer is pretty obvious. In spite of the growing alienation of many of their members from Israel, even the Reform movement would have acted as American Jews did a generation earlier when the elder Bush aligned himself against a Jewish state that had yet to take the sort of risks for peace that were made in the following two decades.
Polls have showed that the majority of Americans oppose the deal with Iran. But if the deal is going to survive, it will be because partisanship is a far more potent factor in our political life than many of us are prepared to admit. If Reform Jews are incapable of choosing a side in a battle where the interests of the Jewish people and the U.S. is at stake, it is because they reflect the demographic reality of an American Jewry that sees liberal politics as being equal to if not more important than their support for Zionism. Throw in their affection for Obama and antipathy for Netanyahu and the Reform decision not to back the president must be seen as a victory of sorts for the deal’s opponents.
Read it all.

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Israel must call Obama on Iran's Fateh 313 missile

Iran has produced a new surface-to-surface missile - the Fateh 313 - which has pinpoint accuracy and a range of 500 kilometers (about 310 miles). This is from the description in Iran's government-owned Press TV's YouTube account:
Fateh-313 is a domestically produced missile with a range of five-hundred kilometers. It uses combined solid fuel and is capable of striking targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Defense Ministry is planning to start the mass production of Fateh-313 which was unveiled on the occasion of the Defense Industry Day. Iran domestically produces a wide range of missiles, rockets, military hardware and weapons. It says they're meant to boost its defense might.

Let's go to the videotape.



Israel is not within 500 kilometers of Iran. However, Damascus is 213 kilometers from Tel Aviv and Beirut is 211 kilometers away. Given that Bashar al-Assad and Hezbullah are both clients of Tehran, that's a real concern. Longer range missiles may also not be far away.

And yes, of course, this violates the Obama-led sellout to a nuclear Iran.
Iran's missile program is one of the largest in the Middle East and a major sticking point to the agreement, according to Reuters. Under the Iran nuclear deal, any ballistic missile technology is subject to UN Security Council approval, something US President Barack Obama promised to veto.
An arms embargo on Iranian missiles remains for another eight years, The New York Times reported; for conventional weapons another five. Iran, however, said it refused to follow any part of the deal that would restrict its military capabilities. 
"We will buy, sell and develop any weapons we need and we will not ask for permission or abide by any resolution for that," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during the unveiling Saturday, on Iran's Defense Industry Day. 
Despite a blatant disregard for the nuclear deal signed just over a month ago — a deal Obama hailed as a triumph of "diplomacy" — Iran continued with the rhetoric that its military power is necessary for Middle Eastern peace.
Now - before Congress votes on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - is the time to call the Obama administration on this development and stop Iran from immediately violating an agreement which is already far too favorable toward Iran.

What could go wrong?

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Britain reopens embassy in Tehran with 'death to England' still graffitied above Queen's portrait

Yes, that's the picture.

British Foreign Secretary and MP Phillip Hammond is in Tehran today, and I want to start this post with some of the tweets I posted today about Britain's tuches licking foreign policy chief.
British Foreign Secretary Hammond announced on Sunday that Britain will reopen its embassy in Tehran. In fact, it's already been reopened. Yes, with the graffiti pictured at the top.
The graffiti, one of numerous slogans sprayed across the embassy in Tehran when it was ransacked by a mob four years ago, had not been removed for the grand-reopening of the embassy, despite the attendance of VIPs including the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond
Officials claimed that removing the graffiti without damaging the building's elegant Victorian walls required specialists who had not yet been brought in. But there was surprise that the offending graffiti, which was written in Persian, had not been covered up in anyway prior to Mr Hammond's visit. There were other signs of damage as well, including mirrors that were still broken.  
Mr Hammond declared on Sunday there "should be no limit" to what Britain and Iran could achieve together when he reopened the UK Embassy in Tehran.
Paying the first visit to Iran by a Foreign Secretary for almost 12 years, Mr Hammond watched as the Union Flag was raised and God Save the Queen played over a loudspeaker in the spacious Embassy compound. 
...
In an interview in this otherwise elegant example of Victorian architecture, Mr Hammond told the Telegraph why he had not insisted on Iran paying for the damage as a precondition for reopening the Embassy. British taxpayers have footed the bill, which runs into several hundred thousands of pounds.

"In my experience, if you set down preconditions in a situation where you have no dialogue, then you get stasis. We have a number of issues which need to be resolved. The right thing to do is to establish a channel for communication," said Mr Hammond.
Funny, I seem to recall Iran setting down some preconditions before the nuclear talks started, and they seem to have gotten everything they wanted.

For those who have forgotten, here's a picture of what happened the last time the British embassy in Tehran was open:


 What could go wrong?

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Must read: How Obama is enabling the Syrian genocide

Until I read this article, I thought that Assad and Islamic State were enemies - both evil but nevertheless enemies (not uncommon here in the Middle East). I've had my eyes opened. I've also had my eyes opened to the bogus nature of the Obama administration's claims that it is working with Iran to help defeat Islamic State.

The truth - and it has become clear to me for the first time - is that Bashar al-Assad, who is Iran's most loyal client, and the Islamic State have an unwritten, unspoken agreement not to fight each other, so as to ensure that only the two will remaining standing once hundreds of thousands more Syrian civilians are murdered. And the Obama administration - through its feckless pursuit of a legacy nuclear deal with Iran - has  become Assad's and ISIS's number one enabler.
Every barrel bomb dropped on defenseless civilians by regime helicopters is a recruiting gift to Baghdadi, the head of a vicious criminal enterprise that combines the worst aspects of al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Baathism. Every Syrian child killed by barrel bombs or starved to death by regime sieges convinces others that if the “international community” can muster nothing but words, perhaps the self-styled caliph can offer protection. Eager to help rid its Syrian client of credible, nationalistic opponents, Iran consciously supports a program of mass murder that only gives Baghdadi power in Syria and in the Sunni Muslim world at large.
For Obama, who has said that his goal is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” an organization known variously as the Islamic State, ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh, Assad’s atrocities ought to provoke a reaction that extends beyond the same tired rhetoric. They do not. This is because Iran — the object of the administration’s courtship — is fully enabling the mass homicide strategy of its Syrian client.
In its single-minded pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration adopted a Syria policy rich in rhetoric and empty of substantive action. Until June 2014, when the Islamic State used its bases in Syria to overrun much of Iraq, the administration could use the indifference of the U.S. and European publics to Syria’s agony to duck the fact that Assad had continuously undermined the White House’s credibility — ignoring the president’s loose talk about how Assad had lost legitimacy and the chemical “red lines” that ought not be crossed.
Getting a legacy-boosting nuclear deal with Iran was everything for the Obama administration. Nothing should be done in Syria that would offend Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ support for Assad’s mass murder strategy. Offending them — or so the theory went — might cause Iran to walk away from the nuclear talks and forsake a monetary cornucopia in sanctions relief and foreign direct investment.
Public indifference toward Syria’s hellish humanitarian crisis still prevails. But by committing the United States to a war against the Islamic State, the administration found its task complicated by the fact that Assad’s atrocities and his lack of legitimacy had created the very vacuum in eastern Syria filled by Baghdadi and his followers. From the beginning of the uprising, Assad had proclaimed himself a bulwark against terrorists: Yet even as his forces gunned down peaceful demonstrators, he ejected extremists from regime prisons, seeking to inject them directly into the bloodstream of the revolution. The Islamic State became the Assad regime’s enemy of choice; an adversary that would supplement regime attacks on nationalist rebels, only engaging regime forces in combat when they sat atop something they wanted, such as an oil field, a military base replete with weapons stockpiles, or a town filled with priceless antiquities.
This symbiotic relationship enabled the Islamic State to sweep through much of Iraq in June 2014, pulling American combat aviation and ground forces back into Mesopotamia and the Levant. Iranian fingerprints were all over the Assad regime’s scorched-earth policies, which enabled this catastrophe. In a diplomatic tactic designed to advance the nuclear talks, the Obama administration pretended that Washington and Tehran were essentially on the same page with respect to the Islamic State. But they were not, and they are not.
Iranian policies in Syria and Iraq have made vast swaths of both countries safe for jihadis. This is an awkward fact for the Obama administration: It now seeks, as part of its strategy to move forward with the nuclear deal it struck with Tehran, to convince Congress that it is not in fact blind to Iranian depredations in Syria and elsewhere in the region. Thus far, the convincing has been all talk, and that is why it is falling short.
 Read the whole thing.

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Are we having fun yet?

It looks like the fun of destroying a country is wearing off. Or maybe Mooch just wanted to go someplace other than Martha's Vineyard this year.

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Just because she can act doesn't mean she's not a fool

On Sunday, I tweeted this:
I'm not the only one who slammed Natalie Portman's comments that the Holocaust was 'no different than any other genocide' (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
“While I agree with Natalie Portman that hatred exists in every part of the world, our area included, her understanding of the Holocaust seems limited,” Colette Avital, the chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“Natalie should understand that the Holocaust which befell us cannot be compared to other tragedies – our empathy notwithstanding. It was not merely hatred, it was a policy whose aim was to systematically wipe out a whole people from the face of the world,” she explained. “I agree that the education we give our children should not encourage a continuous sense of being the eternal victims. The lessons to be drawn from the Holocaust are that life should be sanctified, and that we should be more humane. What should be taught is also the incredible resilience of our people who have risen from the ashes, rebuilt their lives and built a country of their own.”

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, a professional Nazi hunter who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, agreed, telling the Post that “with all due respect for Ms. Portman’s great acting and directing talents, her success in the movie world does not turn her into an expert in history or on genocide. If she wants to express her sympathy with all victims of such tragedies, this is definitely not a smart way to do so.”

Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich voiced similar concerns.

“As human beings and especially as Jews, we need to be sensitive to all tragedies, to all genocides. As human beings and especially as Jews, we must ensure that all remember the uniqueness of the Holocaust, in it’s scope and in it’s scale,” he said to the Post.
...
“I both agree and disagree with Natalie Portman,” said Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, who teaches about genocide law at Columbia and Cornell universities. “Of course all genocides, as well as all similar atrocities, are tragic and must be acknowledged and commemorated as such. And no one should engage in comparative suffering.

I tell my students that from the point of view of the victims or their families, it really makes no difference if they were murdered in a gas chamber or with machetes. And, as World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder has emphasized, Jews must not be silent when Yazidis and Christians are persecuted and murdered by ISIS [Islamic State].”

“At the same time, the Holocaust is unique – not worse and certainly not more tragic – because of its enormous, continent-wide scope, because of the complexity and systematic methodology of the annihilation and the willing participation of such an enormously broad-based part of not just German but other societies,” he said to the Post on Sunday. “In this respect, the Holocaust must be acknowledged as the epitomic manifestation of genocide, as the ultimate consequence of bigotry and hatred as official public policy combined with international indifference and inaction. This, too, must be taught and emphasized.”
I used to think she was smart.  Maybe the fact that her new movie is based on Leftist Amos Oz's autobiography has messed up her head?

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It's come to this: IDF 'strategy' paper calls for more use of 'soft power,' ignores Iranian nuke threat

I have to wonder whether the IDF understands that in less than 17 months Barack Hussein Obama will no longer be President of the United States, and that the next President could conceivably disavow his widely unpopular sellout to a nuclear Iran. The IDF published a 'strategy' paper that eschews military solutions, calls for more use of 'soft power,' worries about our relations with the United States (where our problems are not with the American people, but with Hussein Obama and the Left wing of the Democratic party), asserts that we face no existential threats, and ignores the possibility of a nuclear Iran that continues to threaten to destroy us.
The Iranian nuclear threat is not specifically mentioned in the IDF’s new strategy document, at least not in the unclassified version approved for public release.
While its hegemonic Islamic designs on the region and its support for extreme terrorist organizations is a central and recurring point of reference, the existential threat Tehran presumably poses through its nuclear program does not appear in the 33-page document signed by Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, IDF chief of staff.
Instead, Eisenkot warns against “exposing the state of Israel to risks that are not reasonable for its existence.”
Eisenkot repeatedly references the military’s total subordination to the political echelon and the need to fortify deterrence through a credible military threat. He also writes of the IDF’s obligation to achieve all objectives as defined by the government and to “defend and win” in any government-mandated use of force. But Eisenkot also states that use of military force should be aimed at achieving an improved strategic situation as a result of combat.
At a time of plummeting relations between the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the administration of US President Barack Obama over the Iranian nuclear deal, Israel’s top officer  prioritizes fortifying bilateral cooperation.
Similarly, he defines Israel’s international standing as a key tenet of national security strategy that must be strengthened through multidisciplinary action of which the IDF is only one part.
Israeli experts here welcomed Eisenkot’s publicly released document, yet decried the fact that the Netanyahu government has not come out with a strategy paper at the national level.
As you might imagine from my introduction, I disagree. The Iranian nuclear threat is real and cannot be ignored. We cannot afford to take the risk of going along with the Obama administration's assertions that the agreement will stop a nuclear-armed Iran. It is plain to see that it will not. This report was written for political correctness.
“Even when a conflict develops, as has happened four times over the past decade, the enemies cannot be defeated through exclusively military means, whether due to the minimalist definition of political aim, or as a result of constraints in using force by international law and the lack of international legitimacy for using military force in a civilian environment,” they write.
The INSS authors called for a revised national strategy for promoting Israel’s interests and political-security goals that must include public diplomacy, “instruments of soft power,” cooperation with actors whose interests overlap those of Israel; cyber operations, and the establishment “of a legal and public relations apparatus aimed at reducing Israel’s isolation in the international arena.”
The only time the World sympathizes with Jews is after we've - God Forbid - gone like sheep to the slaughter. This has been proven time and time again throughout Jewish history. We have only the Holy One Blessed Be He on whom we can rely. We cannot rely on the United States or anyone else. Any attempts to do so betray a weakness of spirit and could God Forbid lead to calamity.

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