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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ashton’

Bulgaria: Additional Evidence Connects Hezbollah to Burgas Bombing

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

In what has become a one step forward, one step backward dance by the Bulgarian government about whether or not Hezbollah was responsible for the deadly July, 2012 bombing of a tourist bus outside the resort town of Burgas, the dance added another step forward this week.

Although a Bulgarian government leader recently seemed to step back from the country’s initial finding that Hezbollah was behind the July, 2012 bombing of a tourist bus outside of the resort town of Burgas, which killed five Israelis – including a woman who had just learned she was pregnant for the first time – and a Bulgarian bus driver, the recent presentation of yet another connection between the Lebanese Shia terrorist group and the bombing should put to rest any doubt about who perpetrated the act of terrorism.

A Bulgarian representative to the European Union said earlier this week that investigators have discovered that a Hezbollah operative was the owner of a printer used to produce fake documents that facilitated the July 19, 2012 bombing.

“The Bulgarians put new evidence on the table during this meeting,” a diplomat quoted by Reuters said. “Their representative said the printer had been sold to someone from Hezbollah.”

The reason it matters so much whether this particular act of terrorism is recognized by a European country as one committed by Hezbollah, is because to date the European Union has refrained from placing Hezbollah on its official list of terrorist organizations.

The European Union is made up of 27 countries, and every member country has to vote in favor of placing an organization on the EU’s terrorist organization list.  But once that were to happen, Hezbollah’s bank accounts would be frozen, and the organization and its supporters would be barred from raising funds for the group anywhere in the European Union. Incredibly, until that happens, one can legally host, or simply contribute to, a Hezbollah fundraiser in most places in Europe.

Speaking at a press conference before meeting with the EU foreign policy chief Lady Catherine Ashton, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said he finds it hard to understand exactly what is a terrorist organization, if not Hezbollah.

I hope that those in Europe who refuse to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization will change their mind, and I hope there will be a European consensus on this. I mean, it’s hard to see how you cannot have a consensus on Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. If Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization, I don’t know what a terrorist organization is. I mean, they’re butchering people left and right across the world and now in the cities of Syria. They’re murdering civilians without let-up, including on European soil, as was discovered in Bulgaria, as they try to do in Cyprus. So I would say the designation of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah as a terrorist organization is our second hope that Europe would do, and it would do the right thing.

Netanyahu gave similar remarks when he was in Poland earlier this month.  Poland is also understood to be reticent about placing Hezbollah on the EU’s terrorism list.

The United States placed Hezbollah on its Foreign Terrorist Organization listing in the mid-’90′s. In 2010, the Obama administration described Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world.”

American politicians have also been calling upon the EU to place Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations. Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), last week amended the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  to include language urging the EU to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

“Hezbollah is one of the world’s most dangerous organizations. After al Qaeda, it is responsible for the most deaths of American citizens. Unfortunately, the European Union has not yet designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, ” said Lamborn, who is co-chair of the Congressional Israeli Allies Caucus.

Britain, France and Germany are on record as supporting the placement of the Shia terrorist group on the official list of terrorist groups, but resistance remains in some quarters.  Italy, Austria, Finland and the Czech Republic are considered the EU members which most strongly oppose naming Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

A decision about whether the EU will officially name Hezbollah a terrorist organization is expected before the end of 2013.

Bulgaria: Hezbollah Did Not Blow Up the Airport Bus

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Bulgaria has officially backed down on Wednesday from the charges it made only a few months ago, that the deadly Burgas airport bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists, July 18, 2012, was done by agents of Hezbollah. Five Israelis and one Bulgarian national were killed in the blast.

And in the process of dropping the ball, the Bulgarians have left a brave, conservative British government to its own devices, in the midst of their drive to get the EU to blacklist the Shi’ite terrorists.

On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian interior minister said, referring to two suspects in the attack, that a “reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption, can be made that the two of them were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah.”

They had Canadian and Australian passports and they lived in Lebanon. According to the Europol, DNA evidence left on SIM cards helped investigators to conclude that Hezbollah was indeed behind the bus bomb attack in Burgas.

What happened? A new government happened.

After months of a political impasse, on May 28 Bulgaria was endowed with a new, Socialist-led government, which won a parliamentary vote of confidence, even though it relies on a minority coalition in parliament. This means that the new government of the European Union’s poorest country will be helpless to steer the economy in new directions, or at all, and to attract investment.

The Socialist party in Bulgaria is, really, the leftover bosses from the old Communist regime but with better PR. The former governing party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, was more pro-American. The country’s stalement—still unresolved—has lasted since the February vote.

The minority government received 119 votes in favor and 98 against. It is backed by the Socialists and their ethnic Turkish MRF allies, and it is led by Plamen Oresharski, 53, a non-partisan former finance minister.

“The evidence is not categorical” that Hezbollah planned the attack, said Bulgaria’s brand new foreign minister, Kristian Vigenin, said on Wednesday in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio.

He said it while a European Commission is debating whether to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, even as the Hezbollah is sending expedition forces into Syria, in support of the embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

France and Germany have joined Britain in calling for Hezbollah’s ouster from the civilized world. Britain formally submitted the Bulgarians’ own evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in the airport bombing, coupled with the March conviction of a Hezbollah agent operating in Cyprus of plotting another attack there.

Back in February, correspondent Borzou Daragahi, working for the London-based Middle East and North Africa, apologized for suggesting that Israel bribed Bulgaria to framed Hezbollah. “Sincere apologies and regret for ill-conceived tweet yesterday about Israel and Bulgaria,” Daragahi tweeted.

The previous day, Daragahi had tweeted, “I don’t doubt Hezbollah/Iran could be behind Bulgaria bombing, but also think Israel could pay Sofia to say anything.”

Michael Freund wrote in The Jewish Press last February:

E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, whose pitiful response to the Bulgarian probe was to counsel “reflection.

“We have to reflect on the consequences,” she told a press conference this past Tuesday, “we have to consult and come back.”

Ashton could not bring herself to even mouth the word “Hizbollah,” let alone utter a condemnation for its wanton brutality.

This reporter is known for mixing his private views and speculations with his news reporting, but for once I don’t see a need to speculate wildly. There appears to be a struggle within the EU over one of the vilest organizations in the world, an ally and a partner of two repressive, murderous regimes – and just last night, the supporters of that vile organization inside the EU managed to move the goal posts several yards on the decent folks who were trying to ostracize it.

Europe is in Denial Yet Again

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

It is a familiar pattern. Whenever a terrorist commits an atrocity, his apologists start blaming society or, even worse, the victims. Hence, it was not surprising that after Mohamed Merah, a French jihadist of Algerian descent, killed a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse last week, some immediately blamed the Jews.

Merah had cold-bloodedly videotaped how he chased an eight-year old girl across a school playground and murdered her with three bullets in the head, and how he executed Rabbi Sandler and his three- and six-year old sons. Even so, some did not hesitate to compare his acts to military operations of the Israeli army in Gaza.

That alone is shocking, but that the comparison was made by the head of foreign policy of the European Union makes matters even worse. And yet, one week after comparing the Jewish children that were intentionally murdered in Toulouse with young Palestinian victims of the Israeli army’s defensive air strikes in Gaza, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is still in office. Not a single one of the 27 governments of the member states of the European Union is asking for her resignation.

Israeli politicians reacted with indignation to Ashton’s comparison. Her remarks, however, are not surprising given her past as an activist who belonged to the “Blame the West first” crowd. Some people, when confronted with sociopathic behavior, collaborate with it or look for arguments to prove that it is actually not a symptom of emotional disorder, but an attempt to right a wrong which someone has committed.

The European Union is one of the most outspoken and frequent international critics of Israel. Last week, this column pointed out its frequent unfair and biased reports about Israel. As Israel is a Western country, it is hated by anti-Western elements in the EU who depict the Palestinians as permanent victims of Israeli aggression.

Americans do not seem to be aware of it, but people with an anti-Western past control more than one third of the EU’s top positions. Catherine Ashton began her political career in the early 1980s when she was the treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the main British peacenik organization, which, according to former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, was on the Soviet Union’s payroll. She apparently still subscribes to these discredited and potentially self-destructive policies — evidently still as blind to totalitarian abuse of power as she was three decades ago. She is as unable to see the autocratic nature of Islam today as she was unable to see the autocratic nature of Communism then.

“Imagine,” The Economist wrote in 2010 when Ashton was appointed to head the EU’s foreign department, “a 1980s Europe where CND had triumphed, … surrendering to Kremlin pressure and propping up the evil empire. … Given the Soviet Union’s history of mass murder, subversion, and deceit, it is astonishing that even tangential association with Soviet-backed causes in the past does not arouse … moral indignation.”

No rigorous scrutiny of Ashton’s remarks then, no rigorous scrutiny of Ashton’s remarks last week.

Unfortunately, Ashton is not alone. Ten of the 27 members of the European Commission, the EU’s executive, were on the side of repressive totalitarian rule during the Cold War. They were either Communist Party apparatchiks or anti-Western Marxist Socialists who considered the West as bad as the Soviet Union. Two of the current EU commissioners were members of the Soviet Communist Party (the Estonian Siim Kallas and the Latvian Andris Piebalgs), two were members of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party (the Czech Štefan Füle and the Slovak Maroš Šefcovič), one was a member of the Yugoslav Communist Party (the Slovenian Janez Potočnik), one was a member of the Greek Communist Party (Maria Damanaki), and one was a former member of the Portuguese Maoist Party (EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso). Two others were Marxist Social-Democrats close to the Communist Party (the Hungarian László Andor and the Spaniard Joaquín Almunia), and one, Catherine Ashton, was active in a Soviet sponsored “peace organization” attempting to prevent the West from defending itself against Soviet aggression.

Apart from a vain attempt by Gerard Batten, a British Member of the European Parliament, to block the appointment in 2010 of EU commissioners who “have been associated with oppressive regimes” or “have participated in non-democratic governments or political movements,” no one seemed to mind that a third of the members of the European Commission are former collaborators of a regime that slaughtered 20 million of its own people under Josef Stalin. Today, Israel is paying the price for this lack of rigorous scrutiny on the part of the Europeans.

After Ashton was criticized by Israeli politicians for making the Toulouse-Gaza comparison, she expressed her “sadness at the distortion of my remarks.” Instead of apologizing, she blamed her critics for “distorting” her message. Meanwhile, she manipulated the transcript of her remarks by adding to the online version of her speech a reference to Israeli children in Sderot who have been the victims of literally thousands of Palestinian rocket attacks. If thousand of rockets were to land, year after year, in the suburbs Brussels or Florence, what would you recommend the residents there do? Reward the adversary by abandoning those cities? In any event, the previous online version of the transcript made no reference to Sderot.

The EU’s Top Diplomat And Toulouse

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s condemnation of the murders in Toulouse, France, on Monday was symptomatic of the problem facing Israel in the international community.

A man riding on a scooter opened fire at a Jewish school as children were arriving to begin their school day, killing a father and his two young sons and the eight-year-old daughter of the school’s headmaster. A 17-year-old victim was seriously injured. Yet Ms. Ashton seemed to conflate the deaths of children targeted and wantonly murdered with the deaths of children accidentally killed in the course of Israeli responses to terrorist and rocket attacks. To make matters worse, her attempt at clarification only compounded the outrage.

At a meeting of Palestinian youth in Brussels on Monday, Ms. Ashton, commenting on the attack in Toulouse, spoke of remembering “young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy” and then went on to say,

when we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places.

Israeli leaders quickly denounced the comparison. Alluding to the fact that Gaza terrorists often operate in densely populated residential neighborhoods, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was incensed by “the parallel between the pinpoint slaughter of children…and the Israeli military’s defensive surgical strikes against terrorists who use children as live shields.”

Responding in turn, Ms. Ashton’s spokesman issued a statement of clarification on Tuesday, saying Ms. Ashton’s words had been “grossly distorted” and that her remarks “drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza.”

Maybe, but as a sophisticated diplomat, Ms. Ashton could not have been oblivious to the impact her Gaza reference was sure to make. After all, while the Belgian reference was to a tragic bus accident, her Norway reference was to a shooting spree by one Anders Behring Breivik last year that left 77 people dead. And in Syria, the Assad government is targeting civilian areas in a war of annihilation.

Given her position, we would have expected her to take pains to ensure she was not even remotely appearing to suggest Israel was intentionally making war on Palestinian children. Unless, of course, she had a different agenda.

EU Foreign Affairs Chief: Remarks Equating Toulouse Tragedy with Gaza ‘Grossly Distorted’

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton insisted that comments she made on Monday, which appeared to equate Monday’s brutal murder in Toulouse with the killings in Syria and Israeli measures against attacks from Gaza, were “grossly distorted.”

Her statement came in response to the mounting outrage over her comments at a conference titled “Palestine Refugees in the changing Middle East” following the shooting attack in the southern France. Ashton is reported to have said: “When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

A statement released Tuesday by Ashton’s office said: “In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza…The High Representative strongly condemns the killings at the Ozar Hatorah school and extends her sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and to the people of France and the Jewish community.”

“We want to make this clear,” the statement continued, “because her words yesterday at the UNRWA event were grossly distorted by one of the wires.” Still, Ashton stopped short of issuing an apology or retraction.

Ashton was castigated for her remarks by officials from across Israel’s political spectrum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Ashton, saying that it was absurd to compare the “intentional massacre of children and an execution-style killing of an 8-year-old with the IDF’s defensive and surgical actions meant to harm terrorists who use children as human shields.”

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that “[t]his comparison is invalid, outrageous and incorrect. The demand for her to take back her words is correct.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also condemned Ashton’s remarks as “outrageous,” as did Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who demanded an apology from the EU Foreign Affairs chief.

FM Lieberman to EU’s Ashton: Apologize for Toulouse Children Comment

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently on a state visit to China, attacked the controversial remarks made by EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, who equated Monday’s brutal murder in Toulouse with, presumably, the killings in Syria and Israeli preventive attacks on rocket launchers in Gaza.

Speaking at a meeting with Palestinians in Brussels, Ashton said: “When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

Minister  Lieberman said Minister Ashton’s words were inappropriate and he hoped she would review them and apologize.

Lieberman  also stressed that Israel is the world’s most moral country, and even though she is forced to fight terrorists who are operating from within the civilian population, the IDF  is doing everything to avoid damage to the same  population even while it is serving as protection for terrorists.

“There is no army in the world that can compare morally to the Israeli army, which endangers its own soldiers in order to minimize the likelihood of civilian casualties. The children Ashton should be paying attention to are the children of southern Israel, who are living in fear of rocket attacks from Gaza,” Lieberman said.

According to Maariv, during his visit to China Lieberman met Monday with the Governor of Sichuan and announced Israel’s plan to open a consulate in Chengdu by early next year.

With this fourth Israeli consulate, China will become the country with the largest Israeli delegation after the US.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fm-lieberman-to-eus-ashton-apologize-for-toulouse-children-comment/2012/03/20/

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