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May 27, 2015 / 9 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

Gulf Arab Leaders to Confront Obama on Iran

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama just can’t catch a break.

First he is questioned about Iranian aggression by Israel or members of the U.S. Congress, and now he’s about to be confronted by Arab leaders at a summit.

And that comes after some fast footwork to bring Saudi Arabia back into the loop altogether. Over the weekend King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud decided to excuse himself from Thursday’s upcoming summit, throwing the White House into ‘scramble’ mode.

The king was clearly sending a strong message to Washington: “Stop dithering and making excuses; let’s see some action on Iranian violations and on ending the nightmare in Syria.”

Saudi Arabia itself has led the way in its own mini-war against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. Its disregard for “collateral” casualties and damage in favor of simply “getting the job done” is a typically Middle Eastern way of doing things but in fact also makes it clear that players in the region expect no less from Obama.

Leaders of Persian Gulf nations are arriving at Camp David to meet Thursday with the U.S. president, according to the Saudi state-run SPA news agency.

Discussion at the summit will focus on Iran’s “aggressive” moves in the region, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Monday.

“We see Iranian support for terrorist organizations and facilitating the work of terrorist organizations, so the challenge will be in how to coordinate US-Gulf efforts in order to collectively face these aggressive moves on the part of Iran,” al-Jubeir told the news agency.

Several weeks ago, Iran captured a cargo ship sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands and seized its crew of 34 sailors. The ship, its cargo and crew was stopped as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and boarded by members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Its captain was forced to navigate the vessel into a southern Iranian port city, where it has remained since.

The United States is obligated under a mutual defense treaty to protect vessels and personnel operating under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

For a number of days after the capture, U.S. warships escorted American and British-flagged vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. The escort, however, has since been discontinued, according to media reports.

At least four U.S. citizens still remain captive in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Chabad Prepares for Nepal’s New Nightmare – Monsoon Season

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Volunteers at Chabad of Nepal are working nearly around the clock as the dark clouds of the approaching monsoon season gather in the skies above Nepal.

Co-directors Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz and his wife Chani are working together with the volunteers to supply thousands of Nepalese with sturdy tents to shelter them from the coming storm.

“Just thinking of what the impending rains will do to those living in makeshift tents makes your heart tremble,” Chani Lifshiftz told Chabad.org on Sunday.

To make their lives easier, she and the volunteers, including many Israelis, are distributing water, food, medicine, warm clothing and waterproof tents throughout the area around the Chabad House in Kathmandu.

Monsoon season, which begins in June and runs through September, is likely to make life even worse for victims of last month’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

As for those who did not survive the earthquake, Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz and British volunteer Yehuda Rose are still working with foreign embassies and families of the missing to identify and honorably transport home those who are Jews.

Last Wednesday German rescue teams and diplomats helped recover and return the remains of two Jewish German nationals to ensure a proper burial.

But as many as 170 Western citizens – among them a number of Jews – are still missing.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ilan Shohat traveled to Nepal from the Israeli city of Tzefat (Safed) on a fact-finding mission. Shohat spent time at the Kathmandu Chabad House and participated in a Lag B’Omer celebration. He also saw first-hand the growing need for humanitarian aid.

For those readers who wish to help with the earthquake relief effort, Chabad of Nepal has opened a special fund for the purchase of tents and other desperately needed supplies. Click here.

Israel Issues Travel Warning for Nepal

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning for Nepal on Tuesday, reminding citizens the country still faces hardships and disease due to recent earthquakes and an avalanche on Mount Everest.

The death toll is still rising in the devastated nation high above in the Himalayas, with more than 7,200 dead and more than 14,000 injured found.

United Nations estimates place the damage and/or destruction of homes at more than half a million, and up to 600,000. Of the country’s 28 million citizens, at least 2 million are completely homeless and in need of tents and basic survival supplies. Up to 8 million are affected and many of those displaced.

The biggest fear now is, how to prevent disease from taking over next.

Despite assistance from the international community – with Israel providing one-third of the total human resource aid – Nepalese are struggling for survival. There are areas with contaminated drinking water, remote villages without food, shortages of medicine and medical aid. Aftershocks are continuing, some stronger than others.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry advises that under such circumstances, it is not wise to travel to Nepal at this time. Those already in the country should take these conditions into consideration before deciding to extend their stay – including those who independently decided to remain as volunteers in rescue efforts.

In the last few days that search and rescue teams were tracking down stranded Israelis, there were reports of attacks against the young foreign trekkers by Nepalese as conditions became more desperate and food, water and other survival necessities were needed.

Israel Energy, Nepal, and Whether Israel Owes Its Birth to the UN

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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Yishai is joined in-studio by Tamir Druz, director of Capra Energy Group, an independent energy consulting firm advising different governments, among them Israel’s, to answer some key questions. Is natural gas the fuel of choice and why? What about pollution? Is the air in Israel’s third largest city, Haifa, really harmful? And why do gas prices keep fluctuating?

Then, Yishai is joined via phone by Arjun, a Nepalese national, who describes the situation on the ground in Kathmandu following the earthquake.

Finally, Yishai is joined in-studio by Eugene Kontorovich, law professor at Northwestern University and senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, to discuss how the narrative of Israel’s birth has an impact on its future. He says that If Israel is a product of the UN Partition Plan, then it makes sense for it to be shrunk at some point. On the other hand, if Israel’s original borders clearly encompass Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), then maybe its future is to remain there. Kontorovich also lays out the dangers of a potential anti-Israel Security Council resolution.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit threw out a $10 million libel suit by one of the sons of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas Friday, the same day the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a suit demanding compensation from settlers for “terrorist stacks.”

The suit in New York charged several right-wing Israeli charities with funding settlers in violation of anti-terrorism laws. “American federal judges recognize the difference between the financing of murder and violence… and legitimate bona fide financial support of the daily needs of peaceful Israeli settlements over the Green Line,” said attorney Nathan Lewin, who represented the charities.

The libel suit that was rejected in Washington may go to the Supreme Court, said a lawyer for Tarek Abbas, one of the PA chairman’s sons.

He sued Foreign Policy magazine and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies researcher Jonathan Schanzer, who in 2012 wrote an article for the magazine, whose subhead line read:

Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father’s system?

A three-judge panel unanimously agreed that defining defamation to include raising a question would “dramatically chill” public debate.

The judges wrote:

Just imagine the severe infringement on free speech that would ensue in the alternative universe envisioned by Abbas. Is the Mayor a thief? Is the quarterback a cheater? Did the Governor accept bribes? Did the CEO pay her taxes? Did the baseball star take steroids? Questions like that appear all the time in news reports and on blogs, in tweets and on cable shows. And all such questions could be actionable under Abbas’ novel defamation theory.”

Admitting that journalists often unfairly raise questions to imply a negative conclusion, the judges stated, “There is no good or predictable way to neatly divide (i) the questions that are routinely posed in America’s robust public forums from (ii) the kinds of questions that would be actionable as defamation by implication under Abbas’s theory.”

Abba’s lawyer Louis Adolfson told Politico. “We are considering our options,” meaning a possible appeal to the Supreme Court.

Schanzer wrote in his article for Foreign Policy, “The conspicuous wealth of Abbas’s own sons, Yasser and Tarek, has become a source of quiet controversy in Palestinian society since at least 2009, when Reuters first published a series of articles tying the sons to several business deals, including a few that had U.S. taxpayer support.

“Yasser, the elder son,…owns Falcon Tobacco, which reportedly enjoys a monopoly on the sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the Palestinian territories. According to the Toronto Star, Yasser also chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian corporate conglomerate that owns Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company, an engineering interest that was established in 2000 and boasts offices in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank.

“This business success has come with a helping hand from Uncle Sam: According to a Reuters report, Abbas’s company received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005 to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron.

Yasser Abbas also manages a company that engages in public works projects for his father’s regime and which was awarded $300,000 in USAid funds between 2005 and 2008.

His younger brother Tarek’s advertising firm received $1 million in USAID funds “to bolster public opinion of the United States in the Palestinian territories.”

And what do Palestinian Authority Arabs think about the sons of their leader, who now is serving something like the 10th year of his elected four-year term of office?

Schanzer wrote:

On a research trip to Ramallah last year, several Palestinians told me that the Abbas family dynasty is common knowledge. However, discussion of the issue rarely rises above a whisper — thanks to growing fear of retribution by PA security officers, who have apprehended journalists and citizens for openly challenging President Abbas’s authority.

Tarek could have been $10 million richer, but the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington ruined his plans.

Israel Independence in the Druze Community and Why Israel Is Organic in Its Land

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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Yishai is joined in-studio by Ata Farhat, chairman of the Druze Zionist Council, to talk about his community’s celebration of Israeli independence. Though of a different religion and culture, the Druze fight in Israel’s wars and consider themselves an integral part of the Israeli nation-state. Find out why.

Then, Yishai rants about the beauty of Israeli independence. He says that while Israel’s enemies paint the Jewish state as foreign to the Middle East landscape, the truth is that there is nothing more organic — more holistic — than the Jewish people being back in Judea.

Finally, for his “Spiritual Cafe” segment, Yishai is joined by Rabbi Mike Feuer to discuss issues of Jewish statehood. Is there such a thing as “good” post-Zionism, for example? Rabbi Feuer sees Zionism as a holy re-entry vehicle into Jewish statehood. But is normalcy all Israel yearns for, or is there a grander vision?

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Barak Invests $1 Million in Firm Linked to Military-Industrial Complex [video]

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News
by Ilan Shavit

The start-up Reporty Homeland Security Ltd has taken a $1 million investment from Israeli former prime minister, former defense minister, and former IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak.

Reporty is developing a platform to transmit real-time emergency reports. The company says the investment is designed to accelerate the development, recruitment and continued distribution in 911-type agencies worldwide.

Founded in 2014, the company is well-connected within Israel’s military industrial complex and the politicians that receive their flowers via FTD: there’s CEO Amir Elihai, a former special forces officer, as was Barak. He has worked 10 years in security organizations and has extensive experience in venture capital in Israel; and Pinchas Bukhris, former defense ministry director general and former commander of the IDF cyber unit 8200, now a director at Reporty. Ehud Barak said in a Reporty press release statement: “Reporty provides an answer to the essential need of every citizen – a sense of security, based on immediate and easy access to emergency services, including municipalities, hospitals, airports, Police, Fire and Rescue, etc. “Reporty will provide a platform for control and reporting, including large masses while protecting the privacy of each citizen.” Each year emergency services in Israel and around the world receive hundreds of millions of calls, goes Reporty’s raison d’etre. The average conversation time is from two and three and a half minutes, during which the operator must quickly assess credibility of the report, the event’s location, and what resources are available for use. Despite the long time spent delineating the relevant information for decision-making, various organizations still report that between 20 and 30 percent of their calls turn out to be false alarms. Another critical aspect is the speed of detecting the location of the caller. In the US alone, about 10,000 people die annually due to authorities’ failure to identify the locations of reported emergencies.

Report aims to change the scene when it comes to communication between the reporting caller and the various authorities, by streamlining the process of reporting and receiving, saving on expenses, and, more importantly, saving lives. The new application works through a broadcast video in real time, which, with the click of a button, transmits two-way video and audio to the appropriate emergency center, including accurate data about the location and the report’s degree of credibility.

This article was written by Ilan Shavit

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/barak-invests-1-million-in-firm-linked-to-military-industrial-complex-video/2015/04/14/

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