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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2 IDF soldiers killed, 7 wounded in Hezbullah attack near Har Dov

Two IDF soldiers have been killed and seven wounded - two moderately and the rest lightly - in an RPG attack on an IDF jeep near Har Dov, where the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon all meet. This is from a constantly updated post on the IDF blog. It's in reverse chronological order.
19:24 PM: The IDF has confirmed that during today’s attack, Hezbollah militants fired 5 anti-tank missiles at the patrolling force near Mt. Dov. One soldier and one officer were killed:
  • Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, 20, from Shtulim. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
  • Captain Yochai Kalangel, 25, from Har Gilo. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major.
Maj. Kalangel was a company commander in the “Tzabar” Battalion of the Givati Brigade. Staff Sgt. Nini was an infantry soldier. Their families have been notified.
Seven additional IDF soldiers were injured, two of them moderately. The injured soldiers were evacuated to a hospital.
14:20 PM: The IDF has confirmed that two soldiers were killed in this morning’s attack. Additionally, seven other soldiers were wounded, two of them moderately.
13:50 PM: The IDF responded to attacks with combined aerial and ground strikes at Hezbollah operational positions.
13:36 PM: The IDF holds Hezbollah responsible for the attacks in northern Israel today.
12:51 PM: Mortars hit a military position on Mt. Hermon. The IDF closed the site and is evacuating civilians from the area.
11:35 AM: An anti-tank missile was fired at a military vehicle near Mt. Dov in northern Israel. Several injured in the attack.
I'm almost surprised the IDF only went after Hezbullah assets and not after Lebanon's infrastructure. I would expect that if Hezbullah continues to escalate, Lebanese targets will be hit.

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Terror attack leaves 140 million without power

A terror attack on the country's power grid left 140 million people without power in Pakistan. It was the third such attack in two weeks.
A terrorist attack on the Pakistani national grid plunged more than 140 million people into darkness before power was restored, prompting U.S. experts to warn that terrorist cells and “lone wolves” in the United States could cause similar damage to the vulnerable national electric-grid system.
The blackout in Pakistan affected more than 80 percent of the country’s population and all public services in all the major cities, including the capital, Islamabad.
A separatist group in the Naseerabad district of Baluchistan province in the country’s southwest caused the blackout by blowing up a major transmission line connected to the national grid.
It was the third such attack in two weeks.
“It shows the bad guys definitely do know what they’re doing when they want to – in a country with upwards of 100 nuclear weapons,” said Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.
In the latest attack on a major transmission line in Pakistan, two nuclear plants went offline after the outages while problems occurred at the country’s main international airport in Lahore.
Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Senate Democrats give Obama a deadline on Iran

Ten Senate Democrats have sent a letter to President Hussein Obama threatening to vote for time-triggered sanctions if Iran does not agree to a framework by March 24.
"In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24," said the letter, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is the co-author of Iran sanctions legislation.

"After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement," they wrote.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
The White House had been pressuring Democrats to hold back on the sanctions bill, warning it could blow up the negotiations and empower hard-liners in Iran who want to walk away from the table.
With Democrats now pledging to hold their fire until March, it could set the stage for a last-ditch push to try and reach the outlines of a deal.
It is doubtful that any sanctions deal could be passed before then anyway.
All but two of the signatories — Peters and Stabenow — were co-sponsors of a previous version of the sanctions bill. But two Democrats who had previously sponsored an Iran bill — Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — did not sign the letter to Obama.

The letter describes the signatories as "supporters" for a new Iran sanctions bill, which could bring the bill closer to a veto-proof majority. If Republicans were united, they would need at least 13 Democrats in order to override a presidential veto.

"We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 — a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran only if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline," the letter said. 

While the Democrats pledged not to vote for the bill on the Senate floor, it says nothing about a Senate Banking Committee vote on Thursday, when some of the Democrats are expected to vote for advancing the bill.

An aide to Menendez said he still plans to co-sponsor and vote for the bill this Thursday.

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IDF: Hezbullah behind rockets launched from Syria

The IDF is confirming that Hezbullah is behind two rockets that were launched from the Golan Heights onto Israel earlier on Tuesday. This is from the first link.
A senior IDF source remarked on the two rockets fired from Syria that hit the Golan Heights Tuesday afternoon, saying the IDF response strike took out the rocket launcher.
The rockets were fired from territory under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad according to the source, who added that those who actively launched the rockets were members of the Iran-proxy Hezbollah terrorist organization, which has been fighting for Assad.
In the attack on Tuesday, two rockets hit two separate regions on the Golan Heights, one in the Hermon region and the other in El Rom.
Mount Hermon, which is a skiing site, was evacuated on IDF orders following the attack - it is to reopen on Wednesday. The IDF responded with tank and cannon fire at the sources of the rocket strike in Syrian territory.
 I'm kind of disappointed they didn't hit Hezbullah assets in Lebanon as well. Next time....

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Mohammed Allahdadi died because... he left his cell phone on

Hey youngsters - you have to turn your cell phone off once in a while.
An Iranian general killed in an alleged Israeli air strike last Sunday in Syria may have died because he did not turn off his cellphone.  

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria reported on Saturday that a Hezbollah investigation into the strike found that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammed Allahdadi kept his cellphone on in a sensitive area targeted by Israeli intelligence.

According to the report, Allahdadi was in the Quneitra area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Sunday with Hezbollah personnel at outposts that the Syrians and the Iranian built in order to counter Syrian rebels along with Syrian army forces. A few days before Allahdadi's visit a joint "operations room" was established with Hezbollah.

Allahdadi reportedly was killed along with his personal assistant, his driver and a more junior Iranian officer.  

Eleven people total were killed in the airborne attack, including Jihad Mughniyeh the son of the late Hezbollah military leader and Imad Mughniyeh Mohammed Issa, the head of Hezbollah's operation in war-torn Syria and Iraq. Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, said six of its members died in the strike.

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IDF digging trenches along Syrian border in Golan

Good morning to all of you from snowy Boston where, at least from looking out my window, the storm does not appear to be overrated. My boots are arriving tomorrow (I do have rubbers for my shoes in the meantime).

The IDF is reportedly digging trenches on the Golan Heights to prevent infiltration from Syria. That won't stop rocket fire like what happened this morning (see below), but at least it will keep Hezbullah outside the border.

The IDF has begun digging trenches along the border with Syria, Walla! News reports Monday night, amid fears of real escalation between Israel and Islamists in neighboring Syria and Lebanon. 
The mechanical engineering company of the IDF's Northern Command has employed tractors and borders to dig the trenches, a source told the news site, amid specific concerns regarding terrorist infiltrations by car via border crossings. 
"The trenches are being dug along vulnerable spots on the border, after a thorough analysis [of the risks], to prevent free traffic in the area and reduce infiltration," the military source stated. Outposts near the Syrian border are not far from rebel positions from the Al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, who patrol the border regularly in cars and motorcycles. 
In addition, Western diplomatic officials said that Israel has imparted to Lebanon a stronger warning than before, emphasizing that Jerusalem will respond to any attack on Israel or Israeli institutions anywhere in the world.
This was conveyed today the Arabic Al Hayat newspaper, published in London, which claimed that Israel has given warning, through foreign ambassadors, that Hezbollah would be perceived as responsible for any harm to Israeli targets, "even at the other end of the world."

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Obama reinventing 'protocol'

It's been less than a week since the Obama administration started seething over a surprise invitation extended to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Obama administration whined to anyone who would listen that the invitation was a  'breach of protocol.'

The Obama administration is reinventing diplomatic protocol. It is sending a team to Israel - led by Obama's own campaign manager from the 2012 elections - to defeat Netanyahu in Israel's March 17 election. I hope that all Israelis are outraged by this patronizing interference in our country's election. Yet another reason to vote against Livni and Herzog's non-Zionist party (as if you needed one).

This is from the next to last link.
The anti-Netanyahu, left wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports a group called “One Voice,” reportedly funded by American donors, is paying for the Obama campaign team. That group is reportedly being lead by Obama’s 2012 field director Jeremy Bird.
As Jerusalem Post columnist and putative Knesset candidate Caroline Glick reported on her Facebook page, “Obama won’t meet Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington when he addresses the Joint Houses of Congress in March because of Netanyahu’s visit’s proximity to the Israeli elections. And Obama, of course believes in protocol and propriety which is why he won’t get involved.” And yet, Glick adds, “He’s just sending his 2012 field campaign manager to Israel to run a campaign to defeat Netanyahu.”
For all the harsh accusations of foreign interference currently being leveled against GOP Speaker John Boehner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, reports of Obama operatives actively working to unseat a democratically elected leader of a strong U.S. ally is hardly the news it might appear to be.
The Obama White House has aggressively worked to defeat allied leaders it has not liked and to elect or re-elect foreign leaders it does like. As the Times of Israel recently reported, the list of Obama Administration meddling in foreign elections is a long one.

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Greetings from Boston

For those who were wondering, I made it.

My flight was supposed to land at 5:55, and after circling to get the most weather-favorable approach, it landed around 6:15. We were one of four international flights that came in at the same time. The international flight after ours, which was scheduled to land at 6:35, was canceled. I have been told that the airport was officially closing at 7:00. I cannot confirm that one. There were signs on the Massachusetts Turnpike (which I took to get to where I was going - probably a good idea, although I considered taking Storah Drive) that said there's a travel ban from Midnight. Skidded once (turning onto Hahvahd Street) and got stuck on ice trying to park in the parking lot (half a dozen people pushed the car into a parking space).

I figure this is my penance because during the Great Blizzard of '78, I was a college senior in New York, and did not come up to Boston until I took the overnight train (the only thing running) on Thursday night. That storm hit on a Monday (Great pictures at that link by the way - beats any Jerusalem snow storm).

If I can stay awake for a while, I will try to post a little more....

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Snowed in?

By the time you see this, hopefully my flight will have taken off.

Have to run now.

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More than I bargained for?

So yes, I am in London, and yes, I am heading to Boston and there's a warning for an 'epic snow.'

Will this make up for the fact that I spent the 'Great Blizzard of '78' in school in New York and just took the overnight train up on Friday? (That storm started on Tuesday and by Friday the streets still were not open).

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Travel Day

Really quick. If you ever see me in Ben Gurion Airport, you should know that I am allowed to bring one guest with me to the lounge.

And with that, it's off to my flight. More later.

And you thought I was joking when I said I wanted a ticket to the Super Bowl.....

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Tit for tat: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declines meeting with Obama

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is visiting the United States this week, has declined to meet with Barack Hussein Obama.
Rivlin will be in New York this week to speak at UN Headquarters, for an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event. The President’s Residence had informed U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in early December of Rivlin’s planned visit, and the information was conveyed to the White House.
A senior Israeli official said that at first Rivlin did not want to impose himself on Obama, and that he would be happy to go to Washington if invited by the White House. The deputy spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Alistair Baskey, said that Rivlin had asked in December about the possibility of a meeting as part of his visit to New York, and that there had been contacts between the two presidential bureaus over the matter in recent weeks.
The White House did not suggest a date for the meeting for some time, but on Saturday night contacts became more concrete. The White House suggested that Rivlin come to Washington toward the end of the week, after Obama returns from his trip to India and Saudi Arabia. The White House also updated the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Journalist Chico Menashe first reported the talks regarding the visit on Sunday.
After consultations, Rivlin finally declined the American suggestion. His advisers explained to the Americans that the two leaders’ schedules do not overlap, because Rivlin is expected to return to Israel before Obama gets back to Washington.
However, beyond scheduling conflicts, it may be assumed that the high tension between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau over the latter’s planned speech to Congress contributed to Rivlin’s decision to forego a meeting at this time. Rivlin did not want a meeting to be perceived by either side as a political move.
The President’s Residence and the White House released coordinated statements last night identical in their wording, that there had been contact between the relevant parties in Israel regarding a meeting while Rivlin was in New York.
“At this stage, it has been agreed not to hold a meeting during his visit, due to the schedule constraints of both leaders, and that a meeting would be scheduled at a later date,” the statement said.
In other words, the White House wasn't interested in a meeting until it became a useful tool to 'get' Netanyahu. Rivlin didn't take the bait.

The only two politicians in this country who might meet with Obama are Tzipi Livni and Yitzchak Herzog. Right now, I'm not sure even they want to risk the fallout. 

If Obama wants to destroy the US-Israel relationship, let him try. But let him suffer the consequences.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Too good not to share...

As many of you already know, I'm a big Patriots fan, so I hope you'll forgive me if I share this Saturday Night Live skit from last night regarding Deflategate (if you don't know what Deflategate is, you can go crawl back under your rock now).

Let's go to the videotape.

For a more serious take on Deflategate, go here.

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The Labor party? Zionist?

Hey - we wouldn't want to say anything controversial, would we?

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Hezbullah endangering both Syria and Lebanon

In the previous post, I noted that Lebanon understands that if Hezbullah attacks Israel from its territory, Lebanon will suffer. While Lebanon gets it, Hezbullah could care less. Moreover, it is possible that even if Hezbullah attacks Israel from Syria, Israel may respond by hitting Lebanon. Israel is also threatening that if it is dragged into the conflict in Syria, it might just put an end to the Assad regime. In the meantime, Hezbullah cannot stop bragging about its activities in Syria. This is from the second link, a lengthy analysis by Lee Smith.
The throngs attending the younger Mughniyeh’s funeral on January 19 yelled “Death to America” only once. “I counted,” says Lokman Slim, an anti-Hezbollah Shiite activist. “And they said ‘Death to Israel’ only a few times. Then they went to more religious slogans.”
According to Slim, the scaled-down rhetoric and modest size of the funeral are evidence that Hezbollah is caught in a bind. “The [Lebanese Shiites] don’t want another war with Israel,” says Slim, “but they also want to know Hezbollah can protect them like it says.”
“The Shia are supposed to side with justice against injustice,” says Slim. “Shia stand with the underdog. And now Hezbollah is fighting alongside a dictatorial regime.” Moreover, Hezbollah has also staked the Shiites to a position against the regional Sunni majority in a war whose best outcome, says Slim, can only be a political settlement. “Hezbollah will have fought this war, and at the end the Shia will ask to what purpose did we sacrifice so much?” The worst outcome, says Slim, is a war that won’t end.
“Maybe trauma,” says Slim, “is the only way back from divinity.” Maybe. We’re on the road heading south to the Shiite heartland to see.
Outside of Lebanon’s Shiite regions, it is very difficult to get a sense of how profoundly the war in Syria has injured the community. Exactly how many Lebanese Shiites have been killed there is unknown—high-end estimates are more than a thousand in the last two years—or even how many are fighting. Slim says the numbers miss the point. “Let’s say there are 3,000 Hezbollah combatants in Syria, but then take into account all the other things you need, everything from intelligence to logistics, and there are perhaps 20,000 committed to the war. For instance, a father and his two sons have a bulldozer, and Hezbollah needs them and their machine in Syria, so they pay them double to be there.”
Hezbollah is unaccustomed to waging a long war of attrition like this, far from the Lebanese villages where it fought guerrilla wars against Israel. To be sure, its fighters are becoming a battle-hardened expeditionary force, but the nature of the war is reconfiguring Shiite society.
“Boys are dropping out of school to join the fight,” says Slim. “They enjoy the benefits of manhood earlier than before, but it’s becoming a community without men, or men who are simply on leave from Syria and waiting to return. The result,” he says smiling, “is that the women will become more powerful.”
Black humor underlines how far Hezbollah has fallen from its divine status. “We have the phenomenon of the widows of the fighters killed in Syria,” says Slim, “beautiful young girls being courted by the organization’s senior officials. ‘Hey, if you need anything, just text me. And if it’s evening, you can reach me on Whatsapp, too.’ ”
The fact that Israel presumably weighed Hezbollah’s predicament before striking the Mughniyeh/Allahdadi convoy—how the scope of its deployment in Syria limited its ability to avenge its fallen—is one of several indignities Nasrallah has to swallow. There’s also the ongoing issue of treason. Not long before the strike in the Golan, Hezbollah disclosed that it had found a spy in its ranks, Mohamed Shawarba, a high-ranking official who allegedly worked for the Mossad. If Hezbollah was eager to boast of its ability to root out traitors, Israel’s operation—netting major Hezbollah and Iranian figures—suggests that its counterintelligence wing has plenty of work left to do, because the organization is still riddled with spies.
We discuss whether Nasrallah will retaliate for last week’s attack and, if so, when and how. Will there be rocket fire from Lebanon, terrorist operations abroad, an IED on the border targeting Israeli troops, or an operation from the Golan? The last, which would come from Syrian territory, seems safest to most of the Lebanese I’ve spoken with. However, it’s worth considering that Israel may have struck not because of an urgent threat near Quneitra, but rather to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from opening another front from which to attack Israel.
The Israelis have been watching the Syrian border with concern. Given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reputation for being risk averse, it’s notable that he chose to risk the possibility of war with elections only two months away. Clearly, the Israeli government will not allow Iran to use the Golan as a launching pad, and firing on Israel from there in retaliation would effectively make it a second front. Accordingly, chances are that an Israeli response, in any escalation, would target Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the south again bearing the brunt of the conflict, likely including, according to Israeli strategists, a large ground operation.
That's the first I've heard of a possible Israeli ground operation in Lebanon, but it's not too surprising. Israel may want to hit Hezbullah while it's down. Read the whole thing.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday that Israel will not hesitate to unseat the Assad regime if Hezbullah turns the Golan into a second front.
While Israel prepared for the fallout from last week's elimination of a top Hezbollah terrorist and an Iranian general on the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had a message for anyone planning to attack Israel from the direction of Syria: Israel would hold Damascus responsible for any “revenge attacks” coming from Syrian territory, to the extent that Jerusalem would side itself with forces seeking to unseat Bashar Assad from the leadership of Syria, if necessary.
Tensions remained high in northern Israel in the aftermath of the elimination of Jihad Mughniyeh, said to be Hezbollah's “commander of the Golan Heights area,” along with a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, and Iranian general Abu Ali Tabtabai. Roads in the area of the Israel-Lebanon border have been closed, and tanks and armored personnel carriers were reportedly deployed along the northern border. Lebanese media outlets are reporting Israeli jets and helicopters over the Har Dov area along the Lebanese border.
 In light of all this, it's a bit bizarre that Hezbullah would release a video of its activities in Syria.

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Lebanon gets it

This is a scene that Lebanon would not like to see repeated. It's Beirut Airport on fire during the early hours of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Lebanon is so eager to avoid being attacked that it is making sure that everyone knows that although Hezbullah is part of its government, Lebanon is not responsible for Hezbullah actions outside Lebanon.
....Lebanese circles have taken into consideration Israeli warnings and informed the ambassadors of the major countries, with emphasis on the lack of responsibility of Lebanon for any action aimed at Israel or Israelis from outside Lebanese territory...

These circles confirmed for Al-Anbaa that Hezbollah understands that officials fear of Lebanese land being used to respond to the Israeli aggression, in any place or direction, and Minister Mohammed Fneish advised the Council of Ministers on Thursday that whenever the response will come, Lebanon’s interest will be taken into account before anything....
Well, good luck with that!

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Winston Churchill died 50 years ago Saturday

Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965. Here are a couple of relevant quotes from him:

Too bad they don't make them like him anymore.

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Video: Fox News' Chris Wallace goes ballistic over Netanyahu visit

Fox News' Chris Wallace is not very happy that Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to 'sneak' into Washington to speak to Congress about a subject that's an existential threat to Israel.

Let's go to the videotape.

Meanwhile, with all of this week's events, the poll numbers moved slightly (putting Likud and Labor in a tie for the lead), with the Right still leading the Left overall. The only Israeli politician who seems upset over Netanyahu's move is the insufferable Tzipi Livni.

Sorry. There's a lot I don't like about Netanyahu, but he's 100% right about this. As Jennifer Rubin wrote on Friday:
The entire episode suggests unseemly cooperation between the White House and Senate opponents of Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation. “The idea that the Mossad would stake out a position against the prime minister is hard to fathom. The Mossad is actually an arm of the prime minister’s office. That’s why the entire episode strained credulity,” says Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But even if it were true, leaking an off-the-record statement from a foreign intelligence official strikes me as both dangerous and underhanded.” Especially suspicious is the speed with which the phony Mossad story leaped from a Senate briefing to Secretary of State John Kerry, who actively worked to fan the story. It seems the administration and weak-kneed senators have a common interest in seeking to submarine critical sanctions legislation that commanded a large bipartisan majority just a year ago.
Given this contretemps, it is laughable then that the White House will not meet with Netanyahu when he visits in March so as not to interfere with the Israeli elections. Snubbing the prime minister and trying to manipulate his own intelligence service into undercutting Israel’s elected government are far more politically inappropriate than a routine visit between two allies’ leaders. In a bit of sarcastic commentary, the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel sent out a release on Thursday announcing, “In order to do our part to make the Israeli Prime Minister feel welcome in Washington, ECI will host a reception in the Prime Minister’s honor to make clear, in case there’s any doubt, that whatever the president does or says, Americans value our friendship with our ally Israel.”
Senator Menendez (D-NJ) was right when he said last week that the Obama administration is peddling talking points from Iran.  Netanyahu is coming to Washington to tell the truth. The timing and who invited him are irrelevant.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

'Palestinians' protest Charlie Hebdo, Steimatsky's to sell it in Israel but backed off special event

'Thousands' of 'Palestinians' turned out at protests in Judea and Samaria today. This time, they're protesting the selling of the Mohammed satirizing French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Thousands of Palestinians rallied in the occupied West Bank on Saturday to protest against the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Simultaneous demonstrations were held in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron less than three weeks after Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people in the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, which has repeatedly featured cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

"France is the mother of terrorism. America is the mother of terrorism," the protesters chanted. They carried black-and-white banners which read "There is only one God and Mohammad is his messenger."
The protests were called by the Islamist Tahrir Party, which advocates the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Muslim countries. 
"We have taken to the streets in order to demand Muslim armies act the way France and the West deserve in response to the repeated offences against the Prophet, peace be upon him," said Baher Saleh, a member of the party.

Steimatsky's, the largest bookstore chain in Israel, has sold Charlie Hebdo for years, and says that they will continue to do so. But after 'warnings' from an 'Israeli Arab' Knesset member, they have canceled a special event that was planned to promote the current issue, and say that they will sell it online instead.

Following the threats and warnings, the book seller backtracked on its decision to hold the launch event at its flagship store. "Steimatzky decisively supports in freedom of expression. The company has sold the magazine for years and will continue to do so. However, the firm has decided the sale of the specific issue will not occur at a special event in our store, but be held online starting Monday at 5 pm."

In a letter to the prime minister, [MK Masoud] Ganaim said, "Steimatzky intends to distribute images which hurt the Prophet Mohammed. This is a very serious, dangerous, and stupid step. This is not freedom of expression but a hard hit on the holiest of holies to Muslims, which will bring about unrest and anger among the Arabs and Muslims in the country… and no one can predict the results."

The Arab legislator urged the rightwing leader to stop the distribution of offending magazine. "I hereby appeal to your sense of honor; please personally intervene to prevent Steimatzky from distribution the magazine and the damaging images of the Prophet Mohammed, lest the Israeli government and Steimatzky be responsible for every consequence."
It will be interesting to see whether the Arabs will try to build on their 'success' to bar the sale of Charlie Hebdo altogether. 

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Obama going to Saudi Arabia, will skip Auschwitz liberation anniversary

Having blown off France two weeks ago, Barack HUSSEIN Obama will skip the Taj Mahal next week to visit the new king of Saudi Arabia. In case that doesn't make his priorities clear enough, the President of the United States will then skip the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

This is from the third link.
World leaders have been streaming into the country to pay their respects to the powerful kingdom, which controls one of the world's largest reserves of oil. The late King Abdullah had been a close friend of the United States, but the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud is less known in the West.
The president has been on a bad streak of late. He skipped the Paris march after the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, instead watching NFL playoof football. The White House later acknowledged that it should have sent someone with a "higher profile" than just the U.S. ambassador to France.
Then this week, the White House announced that Obama will not see the Israeli Prime Minister on his March visit to address Congress, calling the invitation from House Speaker John Boehner a breach of protocol. But the president did make time on Thursday to visit with a YouTube star who once took a bath in a tub filled with milk and Fruit Loops, prompting much ridicule.
Now, with the change announced Saturday by the White House, Biden will stay in Washington as Obama makes the trip to Saudi Arabia.
But once again, Obama will be a day late and a dollar short. He won't stop in Riyadh until Tuesday, while Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito will visit on Saturday and Sunday to offer condolences.
Well, maybe Obama is afraid that Hollande will treat him about as well as Netanyahu does.

And then there's the Auschwitz snub.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States at the 70th anniversary ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Tuesday—rather than President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden—while other countries are slated to send their heads of state.
Tuesday’s ceremony will likely be the last major anniversary where a significant number of survivors of the Nazi camp are present. About 300 are expected to attend, and most of them are in their 90s or older than 100. Nazi authorities killed 1.1 million people at the camp, mostly Jews, which was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945.
The New York Times reported on the foreign dignitaries that would be present:
A preliminary list of those attending includes President François Hollande of France, President Joachim Gauck of Germany and President Heinz Fischer of Austria, as well as King Philippe of Belgium, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The United States delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
The White House claims that Obama will be in India on a 'long-scheduled' trip. As if they didn't know when the liberation of Auschwitz took place. At least he'll avoid Hollande there too. 

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A non-Jewish journalist dressed as a Jew and walked through Malmo, Sweden. This is what happened to him:

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

One place you do not want to visit - this week or any week - is Malmo, Sweden.
What nice people those Swedes are....

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