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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘AP’

Kerry: Chem Weapons Used in Syria; Arabs Lied on Talks Walkout

Monday, August 26th, 2013

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry spoke to reporters at a press briefing today to discuss the issue of chemical weapons used against civilians in Syria.

Kerry was emphatic that the U.S. is absolutely certain chemical weapons were used against Syrian civilians, and he brusquely brushed aside claims made by the Syrian regime that it was the opposition who used the weapons.  The secretary of state was aggressive in his denunciation of the Assad regime’s offer to allow in inspectors while continuing to attack the same area where the chemical weapons had been used.

“It is a moral obscenity and, despite equivocations, is undeniable,” Kerry said about the use of chemical weapons.

“Our sense of basic humanity is offended,” by the use of the weapons, but also by the regime’s “cynical attempt to cover it up,” Kerry told reporters.  He said the regime’s “belated offer to allow access,” coupled with “today’s attack on U.N. investigators” is “not the behavior of a government with nothing to hide.”

The secretary of state’s report was long on emotion but short on direction.

All Kerry would say about actions being taken is that President Obama is “actively consulting with members of congress” and with “key allies,” and that the president would be “making an informed decision,” presumably about whether and when the U.S. will take any military action against Syria.

In the daily briefing given by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf following the secretary of state’s statement, it appears that any response that the U.S. is formulating at the present time is focused solely on the use of chemical weapons, and not as a response to the ongoing civil war.

PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP LIED ABOUT CANCELLING TALKS IN JERICHO

Spokesperson Harf also, in response to intense questioning by Matt Lee of the AP, reiterated her earlier unequivocal statement that there had been no cancellation of talks between the Israeli and Arab Palestinian negotiators.  Lee, frustrated by Harf’s refusal to be cajoled into going off message – she repeatedly stated, “we are not going to confirm every meeting that takes place,” finally burst out, “one party is lying…” and later wondered aloud “why won’t you just say the Palestinians” are lying? Harf refused to respond, leaving Lee’s statement uncontested.

In other words, Lee revealed that despite the public statements by Arab Palestinian leaders following the funerals of those who died in Qalandiya on Monday, no talks were cancelled.  The Arab Palestinian leaders were playing to their street, while going forward with the talks.

Shilling for Shalom: Israel Hiring Students to Defend It Online

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks, while not identifying themselves as pros, officials in Jerusalem told the AP.

The prime minister’s office said that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to go after antisemitism and calls to boycott Israel online. The students would work off talking points provided by government officials.

“This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption,” the PM statement said.

An Israeli official said that scholarship recipients would decide for themselves if they wish to identify themselves as part of a government program.

“Everyone who believes in the cause, and wants to join, can join,” he told AP. The budget is expected to be around 3/4 million dollars, and the Israeli student association will be doing the hiring.

US Does not Know If Israel Freed Terrorists or ‘Freedom Fighters’

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The U.S. State Dept. is not able to decide whether the 26 murderers and attempted murderers whom Israel freed early Wednesday morning are “terrorists,” “prisoners” or  “freedom fighters.”

As Jewish Press journalist Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote Tuesday in her profile of the State Dept.’s song and dance on whether Jewish “settlements” are “illegal “ or “illegitimate,” Associated Press reporter  Matt Lee also wanted to know how the United States agrees with the Palestinian Authority title of freed terrorists as “political prisoners.”

A rose is a rose is a rose, but Gertrude Stein isn’t around today, when a murderer is a freedom fighter.

“Most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people, and the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists,” Marcus quoted Lee as saying. “The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners, and…they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world, to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners.

“Do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as political prisoners?’ Lee asked State Dept. deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.

He response was, “I do not have a position on that.”

The State Dept. indeed has to be careful about every word it uses regarding the Palestinian Authority’s demands. Every word is placed under a microscope by each side and by the predominantly pro-PA media.

As yesterday’s article by Marcus clearly illustrated, the State Dept. refused to be backed into a corner by Lee when it comes to defining settlements as illegal. Doing so would effectively be a position that Israel’s borders are those that existed under the Temporary Armistice Lines in 1949 until the Six-Day War in 1967.

State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf settled for the not very complimentary word of “illegitimate.”

But the American government has no problem in labeling as a “settlement” every place where Jews live in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and areas in Jerusalem claimed by the PA. The word itself is a disguise for “illegal” because “settlements” that are legal are called cities and towns.

The United States even uses the word “settlement” to describe the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Ramot, each of which are home to more than 50,000 Jews.

At least the State Dept. does not call Gilo an “outpost,” but the word “settlement” implies is should not part of Israel.

The U.S. government does have a serious problem of stating where the capital of Israel is located. It does not place the capital as Tel Aviv, where the American and virtually every other foreign embassy is located. It also does not call Jerusalem the capital, and it even refuses to allow Americans living in Israel to state on their U.S. passports that their residence or their children’s birthplace is “Jerusalem, Israel.”

If it were to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would open up a can of worms, very violent worms, with the Arab world by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem as its  capital. Of course, the United States could simply state that Jerusalem, based on the old borders, is Israel’s capital. But even that would be too much for the Arab world to swallow, out of fear that such recognition might leave open the future possibility of acknowledging the entire city as Israeli.

But what is the United States’ problem with stating that murderers are not freedom fighters or just plain “prisoners,” even if not terrorists? Calling them “political prisoners” would be an outrage to any sane person in the Western world. Recognizing them by either term would be a justification for terror.

Would that affect the outcome of the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Apparently so.

Calling them terrorists would imply that the Palestinian Authority employs terror, and that would contradict the ugly lie that the State Dept. perpetuates with the claim that Abbas has stopped terror, even though it is the IDF that has been mainly responsible for the decrease, but not the eradication, of terror.

The U.S. government, outside of the Congressional branch, has never condemned Abbas for glorifying terrorists and his official media for encouraging “martyrdom.”

When Lee asked, “If there isn’t anything that you call them, do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as freedom fighters?” spokeswoman Harf replied,  “The answer is I don’t know, and I will endeavor to get an answer for you on that as well.”

Stay tuned, but rest assured that although a rose is a rose is a rose, a terrorist is not a terrorist and a murderer is not a murderer.

AP Reporter: Is Construction Deal Killer Despite Murderers’ Release

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

For days the discussion throughout Israel and most of the pro-Israel world has been focused on the Jewish State’s decision to release more than 100 Arab Palestinian terrorists from prison, nearly all of whom are murderers who had been given life sentences.

Even those who approved of the release of more than 1000 Arab prisoners from jail in exchange for the freedom of Gilad Shalit several years ago had difficulty understanding this round of convicted murderer releases.

Why would the Israeli government agree to release prisoners guilty of heinous murders in exchange for…the privilege of sitting down with the Palestinian Arab negotiators? Particularly when it is clear to everyone who has been watching this peace process parade for years that the talks will only be about what else Israel will have to give up.

Israel is not going to obtain any reliable guarantees that terrorism will cease or decrease. What is a more likely guarantee is that terrorism may well increase, with potential terrorists emboldened by the realization that no matter what crimes they commit, no matter how young or how old their Israeli victims, no matter if they use bomb belts or firebombs or axes or pitchforks to murder Israelis, they will eventually be released from prison.

Anyone who thought that it was worth it for Israel to take such a painful step because it will convince those countries/journalists/diplomats who are not simply inveterate Israel haters that Israel really is committed to peace, need only watch the videos of the State Department’s Daily briefings from the last two days to understand that it simply does not matter what Israel does, it will be vilified and treated as if it – the party making concessions – is the wrongful actor, and the Arab Palestinians are the ones who are forced to suffer the grievous harm inflicted on them by Israel’s actions.

For example, the state department briefing on Tuesday, August 13, started out with outrage from Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, who repeatedly sought to provoke Marie Harf, the state department spokesperson, into condemning Israel’s approval of housing construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem. And Matt Lee is one of the more even-handed of the White House press corps reporters.

To her credit, Harf repeatedly refused to be baited and would not take a specific position on the housing approvals, other than to say – repeatedly – that the U.S. government has “serious concerns” which they have “made known” to the Israeli government.

What seemed to particularly irk Lee and some of his colleagues is that while the U.S. keeps referring to the two parties being “at the table in good faith,” they saw Israel as being totally in the wrong for daring to build housing for its citizens in areas that many people and many countries – but not Israel – think is not rightfully theirs.

Here’s an example of what went on:

The Palestinians meanwhile don’t seem to have done anything except kind of sucked it up on this, and I’m just wondering if you view – is this evidence of Israel’s good faith – what you talked about yesterday when you said both sides were at the table in good faith?

and then, Lee said: “does it bother you that the Israelis are doing exactly the opposite of what you would like them to do?

Another topic that came up several times – and has been the topic of many news stories over the past several days – has been the secretary of state Kerry’s description of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Line as “illegitimate.”

Harf  was pressed on this point several times, and was asked to find out from her boss whether it is the view of the U.S. government that only “continued settlement activity is illegitimate,” or is prior “settlement activity” also illegitimate?

Again, it was Lee who articulated this.  Here are his questions, with the single word interruptions by Harf deleted:

And I just want to make sure that my question is clear. I want to know if the U.S. regards any existing settlement –or housing construction in the West Bank — I mean, in East Jerusalem — to be illegitimate or if it’s –all in the future.

Of course, this is the “facts on the ground” argument against Jewish homes being built anywhere over the Green Line.  Watch this be the new buzz phrase adopted by people like Jodi Rudoren from the New York Times.  Somehow the idea that no Jews would ever be permitted to live in any potential Palestinian state is never one that troubles reporters.

Not nearly so trepidatious as the Americans, the European Union took little time in denouncing Israel for the housing construction approvals, describing Israel’s decision “to approve the building of nearly 1,200 new settlement apartments in occupied territories” to be “illegal under international law and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

No word from the EU on the impact of continued terrorism, or whether the description by the Palestinian Authority of the Arab murderers who will be released from prison as “freedom fighters” is an obstacle to peace or might threaten the “two state” concept.

AP reporter Lee asked the state department spokesperson whether the U.S. has a position on the Arab Palestinians referring to the prisoners as “freedom fighters”:

most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people, and the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners, and I – and they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world, to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position –

About the only thing less pleasant than having to be state department spokesperson with people like Matt Lee in the press corps would be having root canal surgery if the dentist was using a buzzsaw.

The next round of talks between the negotiators for the Israelis and the negotiators for the Arab Palestinians is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14.

BDS Tries to Keep Israel’s SodaStream Out of Super Bowl

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

As cheerleaders shake their pom poms, top-dollar players hone their victory dances, and marketers prepare to rake in the dough raised through advertising and sales, Super Bowl XLVII will not just showcase a rivalry between this year’s best winningest football teams, but stands to highlight a burgeoning campaign against Israeli life in the biblical heartland.

SodaStream, an Israeli maker of home soda machines, aims to place its first advertisements in the US during the upcoming Super Bowl, according to an article by the Associated Press.  Aiming to make it big in the United States, SodaStream – the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of home beverage coronation systems – seems to be a natural choice for Americans who want easy convenience, lower costs, and an effortless way to take part in protecting the environment by reducing the number of plastic bottles produced to hold their drinks.  The company is willing to stake a lot of money on that possibility – $3.5 million, the amount it takes to purchase just 30 seconds of advertising time during the Super Bowl.

And while simple consumerism might assure SodaStream a steady stream of sales, pro-Palestinian activists are working to ensure that SodaStream fizzles out.

Soda Stream is produced in Mishor Adumim, according to the AP, an industrial zone adjacent to Maale Adumim, a Jewish community in the Judean desert which has gained notoriety recently for its proximity to Israel’s latest building project, E-1.

“The new SodaStream publicity blitz has given the US boycott, divestment, sanctions movement a marvelous opportunity to bring our campaigns targeting settlement products to a new, unprecedented level of visibility and success,” said Anna Baltzer, an organizer of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in the AP report.

Though Israeli products enjoy success in the US and Europe, the massive international campaign encouraging governments, companies, and private citizens to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel has enjoyed limited success, winning an EU case stopping products made in Judea and Samaria from enjoying the same duty free status as products made in other parts of Israel, and convincing the United Kingdom to ban a SodaStream TV ad on the pretense that it disparaged other soda manufacturers.

For his part, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum says he’s “got to laugh” thinking he’s a target of pro-Palestinian activists, telling the AP that his company provides jobs and economic benefits to many Palestinians workers.

The Very Impressive Iron Dome

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Though the international community has been consistent in calling for Israel to stop defending itself from Gazan missile attacks by destroying missile launching sites and parties, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense systems have gained respect and admiration worldwide, dependably annihilating rockets on their way to targets in Israeli residential areas.

The Associated Press wrote a report touting the success of Iron Dome, and explaining its specs and uses.

In the report, the AP noted that the Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems produced Iron Dome, which was intended to shoot down missiles and artillery in an up to 45 mile range.  So far, the five Iron Dome batteries deployed in Israel’s south and outside Tel Aviv have succeeded 8 out of every 10 uses.

The state-of-the-art Iron Dome system calculates the trajectory of each missile, allowing those which are headed toward unpopulated areas to land, and immediately intercepting those which are headed toward populated or important areas using a special warhead.

If there is any downside to Iron Dome, it is the price tag.  Each missile costs $40,000. In 2010, the US put $200 million into expanding the development – a greater budget is being anticipated for 2012.

The Iron Dome system operates under the same principal as the “Arrow” missile defense system, which is meant to protect against long-range missiles from Iran, and is the predecessor of the upcoming “David’s Sling” anti-missile system, being developed by Rafael to neutralize medium-range missiles by 2014.

Palestinian Economy in Downfall Born by ‘Reluctance’ to Accept Israel

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A cash crunch due to a severe drop in foreign aid since 2011 may be ushering in business failures and layoffs in the area under Palestinian Authority rule, leading to the worst crisis in the PA’s 18-year existence, according to AP.

It appears that the Palestinian Authority will not survive this crisis without a major infusion of cash.

In recent months, the PA has been unable to meet all its obligations, most notably the salaries paid out to some 150,000 civil servants and security personnel, which account for about half of the Palestinian government’s $4 billion budget.

For comparison, Israel’s annual government expenditures in 2011 were estimated at $74.8 billion, with estimated revenues at $66.68 billion, for a population roughly three times that of the PA.

Arab citizens constitute close to 25% of “green line” Israel.

One of the reasons this coming crisis may last longer and hurt worse is the fact that the PA can no longer borrow money to fill its gaping deficits. Economist Samir Abdullah told the AP that the PA owes more than $2 billion to local banks, private companies and the public pension fund.

“If there is no reversal in the current trend, the Palestinian Authority will not survive this year,” said Abdullah, who used to serve as a PA government minister.

And the PA has received only half the needed foreign aid to close its 2012 budget deficit of $1.2 billion, according to its Finance Ministry.

Palestinian officials blame the U.S. for withholding aid as a means of applying political pressure. The PA was counting on $200 million from the U.S. in budget support in June, but the payment was held up by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The U.S. 2011 payment was delayed by a congressional hold, in response to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ appeal to the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in the disputed territories.

The United Arab Emirates cut aid from $174 million in 2009 to $42.5 million since the beginning of 2011.

Qatar refuses to send money as long as there’s no reconciliation between Abbas and the Hamas.

Israel has been blamed for the inability of the Palestinian economy to be self-sustaining, because of the security-related restrictions it places on movement of goods, and the 5-year blockade on Gaza.

According to the AP, Palestinian officials, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, say the PA government can only become self-sufficient if Israel removes a network of restrictions on trade and access to resources that discourage investment, drive up costs and limit business opportunities.

But despite some loosening of restrictions, the Israeli government is reluctant to open up new opportunities for Palestinian terrorists to squeeze through the protective fences it has erected over the past ten years.

And so it appears the Palestinians are trapped by their own reluctance to accept Israel’s right to exist, coupled with their continued efforts to inflict terrorist attacks on Israel, and this time no one out there seems eager to spare them a dime.

Romney Lays It Out: Progress and Success Versus Name-Calling And Bragging About Being Victims

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/romney-lays-it-out-choose-between.html

There are some broad and important political issues raised by a minor flap concerning presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel. To look at these questions in a detached and honest way can tell us a lot about the future of the world and of U.S. policy.

The controversy began when Romney said at a meeting with donors:

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.” Romney said the economic history of the world has shown that “culture makes all the difference.”

Palestinian leaders complained, saying that this showed Romney was racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. Actually, their reaction showed that they are counterproductive leaders who are out of touch with the realities of the Middle East and human history.

The basis of the complaint is two-fold:

First, is a reference to culture in some way “racist”, and why is Israel so far ahead of the Palestinians?

Racism refers to a belief that some people are inherently and biologically inferior. Consequently, nothing that they do can alter their inevitable backwardness.

This has nothing to do with culture, which is an alterable state of being. Indeed, racism has been disproven precisely because of the abilities of society to change their culture. Once, the Britons were a bunch of barbarian tribes who endlessly warred on each other and painted themselves blue. They have progressed considerably since then.

Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Singapore—to restrict oneself to Asia alone—have dramatically developed in the last half-century. They kept many aspects of their culture and society while altering others. In America, the descendants of slaves brought unwillingly from Africa have proven able to accomplish a full range of technological, cultural, professional, and other things.

So it is never racist to state the reality that some societies at any given time are in advance of others, you are only racist if you say that this can never change. In other words, if Arabs decided to do certain things they could be just as prosperous and developed as Israel or America or anyone else.

Unfortunately, though and with some exceptions—particularly in the smaller Persian Gulf, oil-rich sheikdoms—Arab polities and societies are changing in the wrong way. Both Romney and President Barack Obama have spoken of being on the “right side of history” but the phrase would better be on the right direction of history.

But since Palestinian Authority leaders want to discuss culture, here’s one out of thousands of examples. Recently, at a cultural performance whose audience included the PA minister of culture, the songs and poetry spoke of how the main priority of raising children is to make sure they were ready to use guns—not computers—against you-know-who. And Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, holds summer camps where thousands of young people are encouraged to grow up to be suicide bombers and terrorists.

By heading toward Islamism, increased ethnic strife, and Sunni-Shia conflict, most of the Arab polities are either going backwards in time or being threatened by neighbors who are doing so. This ensures that the gap will not only remain but become larger. Arab and Iranian liberal dissidents have the right ideas but are losing the battle.

Now here’s the problem: If Palestinians deny that there’s a problem they cannot resolve the problem. Failure to acknowledge that there is a real difference is disastrous for the Palestinians. Clinging to the very ideas responsible for that difference is catastrophic.

When Romney refers to “culture” he’s not referring to literature and music but to what is usually called “political culture.” And Romney uses the precise same criteria when he’s talking about America. Democracy, individual liberty, free enterprise, and the rule of law are among the ingredients necessary for success of any society.

Ironically, Romney actually understated the economic differences. In 2011, Israel’s per capita gross domestic product was about $31,000 while that of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was just over $1,500. If he was being so nasty why did he underestimate the Israeli figure by 33 percent and overestimate the Palestinian number by about 700 percent! What would they have said if he had given the real numbers?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/romney-lays-it-out-progress-and-success-versus-name-calling-and-bragging-about-being-victims/2012/08/01/

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