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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘administration’

Report: Kerry’s Push for Iran Bank Transactions Defies Obama Administration Guidelines

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

At an awards ceremony in London on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that there are clear guidelines set by the Obama administration to protect banks doing business with Iran from American sanctions, even if the money they pour into Iran ends up in the accounts of entities that are still being sanctioned. According to The Weekly Standard, citing Republicans in Congress, that statement is disturbingly misleading, and reflects a fight that’s going on inside the Obama Administration.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) told the Standard that Kerry “appears to be more concerned with acting as Iran’s de facto trade representative than criticizing the regime for taking hostages, not coming clean on Bob Levinson’s case, and supporting terrorists attacking the United States.”

The senator warned US companies about the financial risks involved in doing business with Iran, especially the Revolutionary Guard, whose “tentacles are pervasive throughout the Iranian economy.”

“That’s the opposite of what Treasury Undersecretary [Adam] Szubin said a few weeks ago,” writes Omri Ceren, who notes that Szubin, discussing the same guidelines Kerry was alluding to, said there is “an enhanced level of due diligence” regarding doing business with Iran, asserting that the US would continue to impose “the most draconian sanctions in our toolkit” on firms that get caught working with the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC).

According to the Washington Free Beacon, tensions have been brewing between State and the Treasury over the Administration efforts to boost Iran’s economy with unprecedented access to US money: should US banks be held accountable if by following Kerry’s urgings they stumble over Szubin’s harsh restrictions. Can the US President allow this kind of yawning gap between the positions of two of his top departments?

The rest of this story is dedicated to the Kerry haters in the crowd… At the Chatham House Prize ceremony in London on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry praised his award co-recipient, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (who didn’t show up), saying: “I want to make it clear that Javad is a very tough, very capable negotiator, a patriot all the time, who fought hard for his nation’s interests, while always trying to find a constructive way to solve the problems that we both understood were gigantic hurdles for both of our countries, for both of our people, for our politics, and the divisions that exist at home for each of us.”

Yes, one man’s heartfelt praise is another man’s clear example of Stockholm Syndrome, especially in light of Kerry’s praise for supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at that same awards event: “I think ultimately to the credit of the ayatollah and Iran, they made a fundamental decision they were willing to submit to the scrutiny and give up that [nuclear] program.”

Give up the program? More like suspend some of it for about four years, according to mainstream media reports.

And while praising those two promoters of global and regional terrorism, Kerry took a last-chance swipe at Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his failed opposition to the nuclear deal. “There were powerful forces,” Kerry said, “that were deeply opposed to this. I mean, it’s not often that a prime minister of another country comes to the Congress, and in the middle of the Congress speaks against the sitting president’s policy. That happened, and you can imagine the forces that were unleashed as a result, and the tension that existed.”

To sum up: In John Kerry’s feverish mind, Iran’s murderous leaders are the good guys, deserving of lavish investments from US banks, even if some of the money goes to Iranian groups that scheme to annihilate the country led by Netanyahu, the bad guy.

Can’t wait for Friday, January 20, when this bad dream officially ends.

David Israel

How to Avoid The Pitfalls of Estate Administration

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Efficient estate administration minimizes the amount of time it takes heirs to receive an inheritance. Estate expert Peggy Atkins Munro, author of Estate and Trust Administration for Dummies, explains the basics that everyone should know when dealing with an estate, whether it is preparing your own estate or an inheritance. Find out the difference between a will and an estate plan and why both are important.
In addition to estate planning, it is also important to pay attention to your investments while you are still alive. On today’s show, Doug Goldstein CFP® discusses how a brokerage firm works. Where does your money go when you invest it in a brokerage account, and how is it handled?
The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Claim: Administration Secretly Transferred $1.7 Billion To Iran To Keep It Out Of Terror Victims’ Hands

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center – which represents American families of terror victims who have won U.S. court judgments against Iran for its support of terrorist attacks in Israel – alleged this week that the Obama administration kept secret the details of large cash payments made to Tehran in order to evade efforts by its clients to recover those funds to satisfy outstanding court awards.

A letter to Congress from attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv and Robert Tolchin of New York recalled that President Obama on January 17 announced the settlement of a legal dispute between the United States and Iran over $400 million held by the U.S. in a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program account since 1979.

The administration agreed to pay the $400 million it conceded it owed Iran, plus payment of an additional $1.3 million in interest on that amount.

In recent weeks, the $1.7 billion, which was secretly paid out in cash, has come under scrutiny because the timing and circumstances of the payments appeared to confirm the Iranian claim that the White House agreed to pay the money as ransom to Tehran for the release of American hostages.

However, in light of revelations during a Sept. 8 Congressional subcommittee hearing, Shurat HaDin is asserting “it is now clear the administration has deliberately kept numerous payments to Iran secret in order to shield Iran from having to forfeit those funds to pay terror victims amounts Iran owes under outstanding U.S. judgments.”

Shurat HaDin says that under legislation passed in 2000, the U.S. was legally entitled to apply the $400 million in the FSM account to satisfy terror victims’ judgments, eliminating the $400 million balance and nearly 16 years of interest claimed by Iran.

The Shurat HaDin letter cites the “suspicious revelation” at the Congressional subcommittee hearing that the United States and Iran did not draft a written settlement agreement or any other formal documentation of the cash transfers, and that “Iran specifically directed the Iran-U.S. Tribunal at The Hague, where the claim was to be resolved through arbitration, that it not record the settlement of the claim for the parties.”

Shurat HaDin’s Darshan-Leitner said in a statement: “We believe that the secrecy in which these cash payments were made was part of an effort by the White House to conceal these payments from the terror victims and to hide the fact that it was effectively canceling Iran’s debt for its terror-related activity. This is a horrible fraud against the terror victims.

“It appears the secret cash transfers were specifically done as an end-run around the ability of the families to attach the money and enforce their federal court judgments. Instead, the administration went to great lengths to ensure that the $1.7 billion payment was shrouded in secrecy, never reduced to writing nor even recorded with The Hague, and was paid to Iran in cash as quickly and directly as possible.”

Shurat HaDin urged Congress “to take action to guarantee that further payments to Iran are not made as long as Tehran remains a state sponsor of terrorism and a threat to its neighbors “and until it has paid every judgment it owes to American victims of terror.”

 

(JNi.Media, Jewish Press staff)

Combined News Services

Report: Israeli Civil Administration Accelerates Mapping of State Lands in Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in 2015 re-mapped an area of 62 thousand hectares in Judea and Samaria, in a manner that may hint at plans for wide range construction there, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday. The re-mapping is carried out by a special task force dubbed the “blue line” team, within COGAT. The work involves examining state lands that were declared in the last century. The old maps are being digitally scanned to enhance their accuracy. The report notes that Israeli law demands re-mapping areas that were declared state land before 1999 before releasing them to construction.

The report, composed by Dror Etkes, founder of Kerem Navot, an NGO “monitoring the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” is based entirely on speculation over the map digitizing effort at COGAT, which may be simply an administrative move to preserve them, rather than a secret plot to populate those areas. However, since Etkes is not a newcomer to observing and reporting on the Jewish settlement enterprise, his conclusions, coming as they are from a hostile, leftwing source, may be a cause for (muted) celebration in rightwing circles.

“It’s important to understand that the mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively at the depth of Judea and Samaria and to settlements which are well outside the ‘settlement clusters,’ as well as, most emphatically, to areas declared by Israel to be ‘fire zones’ despite the fact that in reality they are part of the lands reserve which Israel gradually assigns to settlement,” Etkes told Ha’aretz.

The re-mapping effort of those 62 thousand hectares constitutes a significant increase in the rate of this work, compared with only 20 thousand hectares re-mapped in 2014 and 13 thousand in 2013.

Ha’aretz speculates that one of the goals of the new, wholesale re-mapping effort, is intended to deny Arabs living in the fire zones the right to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against infrastructure and construction work carried out near their homes. Should such appeals be filed, Israel would be within its rights to argue that the Arab homes were built after the area had been declared state land.

Etkes also suggests that the re-mapping of areas near Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria indicates planned expansions. He noted 962 hectares re-mapped near Nokdim, and 3 hectares outside Gitit.

JNi.Media

Analysis: Obama Administration Fighting Netanyahu Via AP Leak

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The Obama Administration has apparently decided on its course of action regarding Judea and Samaria until the inauguration of a new president in January: threats and attacks delivered through well placed leaks with the major news outlets, which are intended to foster anxiety in Jerusalem. A case in point is this weekend’s AP story, citing US and other diplomats who say Obama plans to endorse a “tougher tone” against Israel in the upcoming report by the so-called “Quartet” of mediators from the US, the EU, Russia and the UN. Said diplomats have promised that the US will no longer endeavor to temper the language of the report, criticizing settlements construction, demolitions and property seizures. They also promise to place the blame for the impasse in the peace negotiations squarely on Israel.

The report, due in late May or early June, will bear no intrinsic penalties against Israel, an island of violence and unrest in an otherwise peaceful and idyllic Middle East, but the diplomats who leaked the news have told AP it could be used by the UN assembly and “possibly sent to the Security Council for an endorsement.”

It is curious why the Obama White House would want to create yet another problem for the Democratic presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who would be forced to comment on such a report and run the risk of alienating either the left- or right-flank of the party. Is the Obama need for revenge against the Jewish State stronger than his support for his own party’s campaign? Time will tell.

On its face, the AP leak looks more like a taunt than a change in policy, reminiscent of the reference to the comparison by an anonymous Administration official of Netanyahu to chicken droppings in the famous October 2014 Jeffrey Goldberg article. Like that and so many other poisoned arrows, the report will probably enrage Netanyahu and his circle, and will also endorse complaints on the part of the PA, but its influence on policy changes is doubtful. Scores of anti-Israeli, pro-Arab reports cannot change the math of the 20th Knesset nor the precarious balance of Israel’s Labor party under Chairman Itzhak Herzog.

As the AP story put it soberly, “The Quartet, which is supposed to guide the two parties to peace, has been largely irrelevant for the past several years. It was created in 2002 at a low point in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and in the years since has held sporadic meetings. Most have ended with bland statements condemning violence, criticizing settlements and calling for both sides to improve security and the atmosphere for peace talks. … The new report will repeat those calls, but the diplomats said they hoped the new criticism of Israel, in particular, would jolt the parties into action.”

Not in this Knesset, apparently.

JNi.Media

What Will Happen Now with US Middle East Policy?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Turkish Reader: Haven’t you understood yet that the US does not care about whether a Muslim country is ruled by Sharia [dictatorship] or by secular [democracy] law as long as that regime is pro-American? Isn’t this U.S. interests “über alles”?

Me: Yes I do care. First, no Islamist government is really going to be pro-American or pro-Western. Second, it won’t be good for that country’s people. Why should I feel differently to handing over Czechoslovakia to Nazi rule or Hungary to Communist rule than Turkey to Islamist rule?

Already there are starting to appear evaluations of what President Barack Obama’s second term will be like. I think that even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know or have a blueprint it is clear and consistent what the Middle East policy would be. It is a coherent program though as I say it is not necessarily fully or consciously thought out. The plan would be for a comprehensive solution which will leave the Middle East situation as a successful legacy of the Obama Administration.

There are three main themes of this plan, though as I say I’m not sure it has really taken shape. By 2016 they will all fail, and leave the West weaker.

The first is with Iran policy. The goal would be to “solve” the nuclear weapons’ issue by making a deal with Iran. One thing that is possible is that the Iranians just deceitfully build nuclear arms. The other that the will go up to the point when they can get nuclear weapons very quickly and then stop for a while. Probably either result will be hailed as a brilliant diplomatic victory for Obama.

This is how the nuclear deal is interpreted by Iran, in a dispatch from Fars new agency: “It seems that the Americans have understood this fact that Iran is a powerful and stable country in the region which uses logical and wise methods in confrontation with its enemies.” In other words America is an enemy of Iran that has backed down.

One thing Iran might get in a deal for “giving up””its nuclear ambitions would be something in Syria perhaps. It would probably look like this. It is possible that this deal would be in the shape of an unofficial partition of Syria, with the Bashar Assad regime surviving in 40 percent of the country including Aleppo and Damascus; another 40 percent would be controlled by a U.S.-backed rebels, mainly Muslim Brotherhood; and 20 percent would be a Kurdish autonomous area. I want to stress that I don’t believe that this would work and would in fact be the object of another Iranian stalling technique.and effort to gain total victory..

Iran wants primacy at least in the Shia world – meaning Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. It would just require Iranian patience if Iran is willing to devote extensive resources to this enterprise until it could seize the whole country. The U.S. probably won’t provide ground troops, which is understandable. And would the U.S. provide military and economic aid to an al-Qaida-Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood regime? At any rate the Iranians would either develop nuclear weapons or simply get to the point where they could if they wanted to and then stop, knowing that they could so at any time. Of course, this would relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

And if a nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t materialize you can tell who will be blamed by an article named, “A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is Within Reach, If Congress Plays Its Part,”” in the prestigious magazine, Roll Call.

The second theme would be an illusion that it would be possible to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a two-state solution but actually moving toward the Palestinian real goal which is an Arab Palestine. Period. Regarding this issue it is probably that both sides would stall. Only Secretary of State John Kerry believes otherwise.

The Israeli side would mount a strategic retreat by gradual concessions hoping that the Obama Administration would end before too much damage was done. It is clear, for example, that prisoner releases, the granting of economic benefits and the entry of more laborers would be among the concessions given.Of course, this would also relatively ignore Israel’s security needs.

Barry Rubin

What the Syria Crisis Tells Us about the Israel Lobby

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Barely minutes after the news broke earlier this month that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was planning a major effort on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Obama administration’s plan for a limited military operation against the Syrian regime, the conspiracy theorists were having a field day.

As always, it’s instructive to note how the notion that American foreign policy is a prisoner of organizations like AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group in America, is an idée fixe on both the far left and the extreme right. Juan Cole, a left-wing academic with a strong online following, grabbed the opportunity to argue that AIPAC, in advocating for what he described as “attacking Syria,” is out of touch with the opinions of most American Jews, who are not evil neoconservatives but solid progressives. The anti-Zionist Jewish blogger M.J. Rosenberg ranted about how “AIPAC and its cutouts are the only lobbying forces supporting the administration’s plans for war.”

Not to be outdone, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan, wrote that in supporting military action, AIPAC was endangering the lives of Syrian Christians, whom he believes are better off under the Assad regime.

Such concern for the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East is touching, but also a tad disingenuous, as The American Conservative has never shown much sympathy for the fate of those Christian communities, from Nigeria to Pakistan, who suffer from Islamist atrocities. When you bring Israel into the equation, however, the magazine suddenly finds its voice.

The combined message here is clear: Syria is Iraq Redux, another “endless war” America is being pushed into by a shadowy Jewish cabal.

Critics of these conspiracy theories have rightly pointed out the anti-Semitic pedigree on display here. The idea that Jews are powerful enough to manipulate their governments from behind the scenes is a staple of modern anti-Semitism. Still, let’s for a moment take the Israel Lobby thesis on its own merits. Is the charge that the “Lobby” is the real authority when it comes to U.S. foreign policy empirically verifiable?

The answer to that question is a resounding no. In fact, what the latest developments on Syria demonstrate is that rather than the “Lobby” running the administration, it is the administration that runs the “Lobby.”

AIPAC, along with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations, had been largely silent on the atrocities taking place in Syria. In that sense, they were no different from the other influential groups and individuals who were either undecided on the issue of a limited military operation or firmly opposed to it. It’s no secret that Obama always faced a rough ride in Congress, especially as some of his traditional supporters, like the MoveOn.org PAC, actively opposed any intervention in Syria.

Similarly, the Jewish left is uncomfortable with the prospect of taking on the Assad regime; J Street, a group that once ludicrously claimed to be Obama’s “blocking back” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue, has deserted the president over Syria.

Rather than pushing for war, then, AIPAC and similar groups were drafted in at the last minute to boost support for a president who was looking dangerously isolated. The irony of an administration that includes Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary who famously bemoaned AIPAC’s influence, running to groups like AIPAC to secure backing shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Even so, away from the political point scoring, what this shows is that the influence of pro-Israel groups is something this administration values. Equally – and this is key – these groups will wield that influence when the administration requests that they do so.

Importantly, this is not the first time the administration has turned to the “Lobby” for support on Middle East-related matters. Part of the reason Secretary of State John Kerry was able to galvanize support and publicity for his efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was that he turned to American Jews, whose principal organizations dutifully trumpeted his message. The fact that Kerry’s diplomacy has yielded few results isn’t really his fault, nor is it the fault of American Jews. The stasis on the Israeli-Palestinian front is the consequence, as it always has been, of rejectionism among the Palestinians, whose leaders remain distinctly queasy about doing anything that might smack of accepting Israel’s legitimacy.

Any worry about all of this on the part of American Jewish organizations should relate not to accusations of outsize influence but to association with failure. So far Israel has little to show for its decision, under pressure from the Americans, to release Palestinian terrorists ahead of the talks; meanwhile, the Syrian intervention proposal is mired in confusion because of widespread concern that an American-led operation will be too little, too late.

If the Obama administration can be confident of anything, it is that its American Jewish partners will never go so far as to openly criticize the president. Far from being the war-crazed cabal depicted in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists, the “Israel Lobby” is in reality an oasis of calm reliability for a president who may just be on the cusp of his biggest foreign policy failure.

Ben Cohen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-the-syria-crisis-tells-us-about-the-israel-lobby/2013/09/25/

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