Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already “beginning to break” between his country and the West. This despite the fact that there has been no meeting, no hand-shake, not even a polite nod in passing between himself and President Barack Obama in the UN halls in New York City.
White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no meeting would take place, indicating that meeting would be “too complicated” for the Iranian when he goes back home.
Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and then sounded conciliatory in a CNN interview. He said there had been “some talks” to arrange a meeting to give himself and Obama an opportunity to “talk with each other” but there was not sufficient time to coordinate such a meeting.
There you go, it wasn’t obedience to the ayatollah back home, it was just bad timing.
Asked whether he has been “authorized” by the Iranian supreme leader to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said he has the authority to do what he wants, according to national interests.
The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.
“But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it’s already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world,” Rouhani told CNN.
While the centrifuges keep on churning and while Iran is putting together warheads. A brave, new era, indeed.
When the CNN host asked him to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Obama’s call for Iran’s recent “conciliatory words” to be “matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”
A JTA report suggested that Netanyahu’s insistence on dismantling any Iranian nuclear capacity as a condition for stopping the boycott against it could signal a major difference with the Obama administration as the U.S. engagement with Iran advances.
Trust us on this: being the parents of a child who was murdered changes the way you look at things.
Others might glance at a report quoting this political figure or that official, but that lens of bereavement and the immense frustration and anger that accompanies it tends to make you look a little more deeply than others do.
The secretary general of the Arab League probably makes headlines whenever he issues a public pronouncement. Without wanting to be unkind, we don’t really care that much what he says or thinks under normal circumstances, and the feeling is probably mutual. Naturally, we respect and defend his right to speak in the name of the people who appointed him, but Nabeel Elaraby‘s views are background noise so far as we’re concerned. For the record, he’s a professional diplomat who served as Egypt’s Foreign Minister of Egypt for four months in 2011 and before that was his country’s ambassador in New Delhi between 1981 and 1983. A lawyer, he has an Egyptian law school degree as well as a Masters in Law from NYU.
This morning, we noticed that he has some things to say that actually do intrude into matters about which we take a personal interest. Speaking about a group of convicted practitioners of terror who are serving long prison sentences in Israel, the jurist/politician is quoted yesterday (Tuesday) saying that he is
following with concern the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners who entered indefinite food strike under very serious health conditions, especially the captive, Abdullah Barghouti, who entered into a dangerous condition due to his continued food strike since last May… Elaraby called on the international community to put an end to arrogance of the Israelis who use violence against the Palestinian prisoners [Emirates News Agency/WAM]
In the name of the Arab League, this senior figure launches into an appeal to “the international community, particularly the United Nations, the International Committee of Red Cross and human rights organization [sic]” to get involved and to “save the lives” of the terrorists who are refusing to eat and “to stop the inhumane practices against them“.
It’s significant that the hungry terrorists are not named by Mr Elaraby except for one of them: Barghouti. (We have the other names here.)
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt: Mr Elaraby may have said the things he said because his Arab League secretariat aides failed to give him a proper briefing ahead of his speech. So we will try to help. And we plan to send this posting to his office by mail right after it goes up on our site.
We have written about this dedicated killer several times in this blog. Most people who speak about him seem to know next to nothing factual, so allow us to share some basics.
Start with this: the judges who sentenced him expressed regret that condemning Abdullah Barghouti to the death penalty was not an option available to them.
If you have seen the award-winning CNN/CBC/Associated Producers documentary “Impact of Terror”, you will recall that it opens with an extreme closeup of a musical instrument, while an explosives expert explains its diabolical character:
The uniqueness for me was the guitar. Nobody was thinking that inside there is a bomb. He put inside the guitar something like four or five kilogram of explosives, four kilogram or five kilogram of nuts and nails. That’s enough. That’s enough to kill tens of people [CNN transcript]
Among the fifteen people, mostly children, killed by the work of Barghouti’s hands was Malki, our daughter. 130 others were maimed. The lives devastated by his evil amount to many times more than those awful numbers.
“I feel bad because the number is only 66. This is the answer you want to hear? Yes, I feel bad because I want more.” [Quoted on a CBS site]
Speaking in an Israeli court in 2010, he again reiterated his dedication to killing more Jews once he is freed again.
Do the people in the Arab League’s leadership know these things? Perhaps we will be able to let our visitors know when our letter gets answered. (We recommend to stay busy in the meantime.)
The wheels of justice caught up with Barghouti a decade ago. Convicted for the murder of dozens of ordinary people, he is serving a longer custodial sentence than anyone else in the history of this country. Yet, when parts of the Arabic press write about him, they call him “administrative detainee” and “captive”; bitter experience tells us their readers largely believe such nonsense.
The people who operate the world’s most influential social media website allowed an Abdullah Barghouti page to go up, and have permitted it to stay up. Do they know the facts? We pointed this out two weeks ago [see “25-Jun-13: Dogs, psychopaths and the Internet“], when Barghouti’s active Facebook page had gotten 6,805 Likes; that’s more than a hundred for every one of the dead Israelis he murdered. Go visit his Facebook site this morning and notice that Barghoutti’s savagery now has 7,266 Likes. And of course rising.
What does the Arab League leadership think about such things? Who do they say to questions like these?
When you seek to put an end to what you call “arrogance of the Israelis“, is this part of a larger anti-arrogance plan? Is it arrogance when Barghouti boasts willfully proudly, openly about how good it is to kill Jewish children? Is it arrogance for him (and the others like him, and who Like him) to come out in favour?
How will the world know when the “arrogance of the Israelis” has come to an end? If Barghouti is allowed (heaven forbid) to leave his Israeli prison cell under pressure from you, would that be a sign in your value system that the Israeli arrogance is over?
When the proud, unrepentant Islamist murderers like Barghouti and Tamimi make speeches in public congratulating themselves on their great deeds, is that arrogant? Will you condemn it? Have you ever said one critical word in public – in Arabic – about the satanic hubris that it represents? Did any otherArab leader? Ever?
Why do we write about matters like this? Because so many people are interested in hearing what we think? Think again. Because we are obsessive? No, though others think we are. Because we’re vengeful? No; others have certainly told us we seek revenge, but we say and firmly believe this is about justice, and injustice, and about human rights in the original, honest, non-politicized sense of that term. And to be clear about this: it’s not for lack of constructive things to do with our time.
We are the parents of a child whose beautiful life, filled with constructive acts of goodness, was brutally ended by the guitar-case bomb engineered by Barghouti. Inside us, there is a burning sense of obligation – call it a hunger – to shake the apathy of people who fail to see that of the dozens of innocent victims of this despicable man, not a single one was caught in the crossfire. They were his target as Barghouti himself confessed. The same is true every time jihadists and other terrorists seek out civilian victims, as they invariably do.
The FBI released on Thursday two fuzzy pictures of suspects in the Boston marathon bombings that killed at least three people and maimed and wounded 176 others.
Both men were pictures wearing backpacks, which authorities think contained the bombs that were detonated at the finish line, not far from where the two young suspects were photographed in a crowd on a sidewalk. One wore a white cap backwards and was seen putting his backpack on the ground. The other suspect wore a dark baseball cap.
“Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members of the suspects,” Richard DesLauriers, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s special agent in charge in Boston, told a news conference. “Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.”
The longer the attack remains a mystery, the more theories have cropped up, ranging from an Al Qaeda-linked cell to a domestic plot with an infinite number of motives.
The FBI was extra careful before releasing the pictures. At least two people have been falsely suspected as the terrorists, One of them is a Saudi student who others have been false suspected, one of them questioned in the hospital where he was being treated for burns from an explosion and the other being a teenager who was singled out Internet uses and whose image was published on social media.
Comedian Jon Stewart skewed CNN for its report that the FBI had arrested a suspect. He ridiculed network for having become the “human centipede of news.”
CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed former first lady Laura Bush about the Women’s Initiative program Bush heads with her husband, former president George W. Bush, on Monday, March 11. During the interview, Burnett threw a question out to Bush that was so shocking, had Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck asked an analogous question, there might actually have been rioting in the streets.
Burnett seemed to be strongly implying to Bush that Americans should reward and honor someone who bravely protested their own mistreatment even if that person (repeatedly) cheered the brutal murders of Americans and Israelis. To withhold an Arab’s reward on the basis of terrorism-glorification is merely American chauvinism, was Burnett’s suggestion.
The CNN host appeared to be trying to get Bush to see that if the U.S. wants to see Egypt and other countries in the Middle East prosper, we cannot hold their heroes to western ethical standards.
Bush was a guest on “OutFront,” Burnett’s CNN show. “Designed to showcase Erin’s unique style – casual, smart, and confident,” is how CNN describes the show. Two out of three ain’t bad.
The Women’s Initiative Fellowship Project is a part of the George W. Bush Institute. The WIF project helps women in the Middle East develop the necessary skills to become effective leaders and build a stronger civil society. The Fellows study leadership skills, exchange expertise, and learn to advocate for social stability. On Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day, Bush celebrated the graduation of WIFP’s first class of 14 Egyptian Fellows, and welcomed the incoming 19 Fellows of the 2013 class.
It was ostensibly to talk about this initiative that Burnett invited Bush to appear on “OutFront.”
Just prior to the terrorism glorification exchange, Burnett asked Bush why her husband, George W. Bush, is a partner in the initiative.
Mrs. Bush explained that he, like “all Americans, if we want peace in the world, and to have peace in our own country, we have to help other countries,” and she said that, “we look at countries where women are marginalized and we nearly always see a failing country.”
“It’s important, when you look around the world, to make sure that men and women can help their countries prosper in every way,” is how Bush expressed her own view. Without skipping a beat, Burnett grabbed the ball with a point she apparently thought would be supported by what Mrs. Bush had just said. Burnett said,
There’s an Egyptian woman, Samira Ibrahim, and she’s done a lot of things, some courageous things, she’s also been criticized for sending tweets that are anti-Semitic, anti-American, does the U.S. need to accept that? When you want to make change, you have to support people who do that, financially, in terms of awards, in terms of all these things – because it pays off in the end? Is that a trade-off we have to make?
Laura Bush, gave a startled “No, I don’t think so,” and went on to discuss how important it is for Americans to support women in every way they can, and how easy it is for WIFP to recruit American women who are eager to be mentors to the Egyptian Fellows because American women are interested in women from all over the world and want to support them.
Samira Ibrahim was criticized – legitimately – as reported here at The Jewish Press, for sending a series of terrorism-glorification tweets within the last year, including ones expressing: joy that 5 Israelis were murdered by Hezbollah terrorists in Bulgaria; hope that more Americans will burn every year on 9/11; and support for an observation that Adolf Hitler accurately noted that at the root of all evil you can find the hand of a Jew.
When enough people made noise about the hatred Ibrahim had expressed, the State Department ultimately called off – temporarily it wrote – having First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry honor her at an event, also on International Women’s Day, to receive the Secretary of State’s Women of Courage Award.
The award presentation was withheld so that the state department could investigate Ibrahim’s claims that her twitter account had been hacked and she was not responsible for any of the hate-filled tweets. The state department cautiously but publicly supported that version of events.
Ibrahim later tweeted that she refused to back down to the “Zionist lobby” and apologize for her tweets, even though the state department was trying to get her to do so. Presumably that will end the expenditure of additional American taxpayers funds to exonerate Ibrahim. And despite the best efforts of CNN’s Burnett to recruit Laura Bash to the “Save Samira” campaign, it is unlikely Ibrahim will ever receive any courage awards from the U.S. government.
Sitting in the CNN studio today, with an earpiece jammed in one ear and a microphone clipped to my jacket, the disembodied voice of some CNN guest urgently proposing that the government take advantage of historically low borrowing rates to invest in infrastructure howled in my ear. Without a monitor, the voice had no body belonging to it. It was the muse of liberalism. The idiot angel standing on the shoulder of Uncle Sam crying out, “Spend, spend, spend.”
In 1 Time Warner Circle, all the elevators play the CNN feed in small monitors. On the floor, there is more of the same. There’s no escaping CNN in the tower of the corporate parent of CNN. Like some cheap production of 1984, it’s everywhere and nowhere, one long commercial break for the country’s least popular news network, whose most famous figure is doing his talk show on Hulu, still in his trademark suspenders while his third-rate British replacement shrieks nightly about gun violence.
CNN is irrelevant, but in the ugly Time Warner Center, part shopping mall, part unfinished pile of construction equipment arranged to look like two skyscrapers, defacing the view outside Central Park, it’s all that matters. In the CNN bubble, it’s still vitally important and incredibly influential, even if its most influential moment in the last ten years consisted of two shameless doughy buffoons screaming at each other about gun control.
If America ever goes the way of CNN, then it too will be reduced to some badly designed urban skyscrapers full of important people talking importantly about issues while outside the world has moved on. The disembodied voice in the backlit wilderness cries out that we must invest more in infrastructure. “America built the Panama Canal. They said it couldn’t be done and it revolutionized commerce.”
But where exactly is our Panama Canal? For that matter, where after years of insane deficit spending is our anything? What infrastructure achievement has the shovel-ready administration managed to achieve? What has it done besides rename a few areas after politically correct figures and set up some monuments to the destructive energies of the left?
In December we learned that the National Park Service had spent $1.5 million to restore the graffiti on an Alcatraz water tower put there by leftist American Indian activists in the 70s. Their manifesto read, “We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for $24 in glass beads and red cloth.” But 24 bucks in tourist junk would be a bargain compared to $1.5 million spent during a recession to preserve the sort of leftist idiocy that trolls today leave in comments sections.
That water tower is Obama’s Panama Canal. It’s as close as we’re going to come to it. Either that or one of those light rail schemes that gets funded, but never goes anywhere. These are our expensive monuments to a left that occasionally talks like Stalin, but runs things like Castro, talking incessantly without anything to show for it except a bigger mountain of bureaucracy overhead. This is our CNN government full of commercial breaks and breaking news bulletins, but utterly unaware of its own irrelevance. It can still spend money, but it can’t move out of third place.
There is no Panama Canal project in the works. No great plan to revolutionize commerce and transportation. Only a sad failed attempt to get Americans to switch to electric cars which mainly existed as a way of shoving more pork into the orifices of Obama’s donors.
China can build things, for better or worse, because it has the manufacturing capacity to get things done. America no longer has manufacturing capacity, it has bureaucracy. China makes products. America makes government. We make government at home and we export it abroad.
If any country wants to know how to make a big expensive and unwieldy government ruled by the threat of someone screaming racism and someone else promising free birth control for perpetual grad students who one day hope to teach other perpetual grad students or perhaps file lawsuits on their behalf, then we can do that. If you want us to teach you how to make things, go look up some of our books from the first half of the last century. They may have something of relevance to offer on the subject. The America of 2013, whose government is in its own CNN tower, does not.
Formerly Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu participated in a candid interview with CNN, discussing his departure from observant Jewish life and his connection to his religion.
Just following the release of his album “Spark Seeker”, and a year after he shaved off his beard and publicized it in a controversial Twitter post, Matisyahu said that even though he no longer lives according to Torah laws, he is still as Jewish as ever.
“Judaism is just such a huge part of who I am. I don’t think I could separate that at this point,” Matisyahu told CNN. “I spent 10 years sort of really immersed heavily in the practice and in the study of Judaism. ..it’s still such a part of me that it’s inescapable.”
Regarding his departure from Chassidism which began with his abandonment of the Chabad movement, Matisyahu said “I started out in the Chabad movement, and I started pretty closed up, with the idea of there being that “this is it.” I bought into that fully. I really explored in depth the Chabad ideology. Then I started to open up. … I started to explore other types of Hasidism. … Eventually I began to regain trust into my own intuition and my own sense of right and wrong. I began to realize that there were a lot of things within that lifestyle that were actually holding me back…. and keeping me from tasting a certain freedom of expression.”
When pressed, he said that he ultimately walked away from Orthodox Judaism because “When I’m talking about all the heaviness, I’m really talking about the rules. So at a certain point … I basically said, “I don’t need to do all these things. It’s my life, I can choose how I want to worship God, what words I want to say. I can say less words.” And once I let go of that, just sort of like a freedom that opened up that I began to taste, this freedom in my life that I had been missing.”
Matisyhau said that the professional implications of shaving his beard – a decision he came to over the course of years – did not concern him, as he believed in the power of his music, and said he did not believe he had garnered fans because of the beard. He did, however, say the beard helped “put me on the map and get me attention”.
Matisyahu said he tells his three children that “nobody knows the way” when it comes to religion, and that while teachers and others may represent Judaism as encompassing Torah laws, “you have to decide in your life what’s real for you”. While he infuses their lives with elements of Judaism which are “enriching and meaningful”, he does not remind the children to do things like wear a kippah or say blessings on food.
An international media organization has contacted me – one which no one would ever accuse them of being pro-Israel; few would even really consider them balanced when it comes to coverage of the Middle East. They want to ask me about my life, my blog, where I live, and what I think. They want me to talk about E1 – not that that topic would take long… hill, no building, no disruption, next…
I’ve seen media twist words before – I’m not naive. I know the way the game is played. I’ve seen instances where reporters leave out parts of a statement to make it seem so different than what was intended. Should I open myself up to having my words distorted, to allowing them to take the beauty of where I live and turn it into something wrong, ugly, even stolen?
Years ago, I took a reporter around Maale Adumim and then to the Jewish communities in Gaza. She had once worked for this very media organization now asking to interview me. I took her to the home of a woman who has two children who were injured in terror attacks. The reporter didn’t ask about how her children were coping with their injuries and their trauma…she asked how it felt to live in a house that was stolen?
No, this woman didn’t live in a house that was stolen, not even on land that was occupied. She moved here more than 20 years ago and bought an apartment. She made it a home and raised her children here. There was so much she could have spoken about, but that first question was so telling. It was phrased with cruelty and ignorance, with the reporter’s agenda clear to all.
Before we left the city, I was already regretting my decision to take her to Gaza. I wanted to show her the amazing things Israel does. In Maale Adumim, I took her to a beautiful new children’s park nearby – built in sections so that children of varying ages can play, so many safety issues addressed – soft ground under climbing equipment, things that could withstand the sun, railings and fences and benches for the parents to sit and watch. Surrounded by gardens and paths where it is pleasant to walk, it’s a gathering place all week long for so many.
She didn’t compliment the park’s planning – she asked why Palestinians can’t come there. She asked why the Palestinians don’t have similar parks in THEIR neighborhoods in a tone that made it clear she blamed us, that it was OUR responsibility to build for them the things they didn’t bother building for themselves. I told her she should ask them. The money we pay in taxes goes to building parks here – where does the money go in Palestinian areas, and what happens to the parks and schools we do build in their areas?
In Gaza, I took her to several families – to a man who lost an arm in one war and then several fingers on his remaining hand when he was attacked years later by a terrorist. He told her of the body of a young mother that he found in a car on the side of the road – and how the terrorists had sat in waiting. The dead woman was bait for whatever target came next. They relied on the goodness and caring of the next person to stop and see if she needed help. He was badly wounded, saved more by a malfunctioning grenade than the soldiers who followed and eliminated the terrorist.
I took her to the greenhouses to show her the incredible farms and produce and to meet other people and see other places. And finally, I took her to the home of a family who had lost a son in war and was about to not only lose their home but would be faced with digging up their son’s grave and having it moved rather than leaving it to be desecrated in Gaza. It was the one time I begged her not to ask anything about politics, “please, don’t do that to them – don’t ask them about stolen land and how it feels to lose their home…” She was very good, actually, and I appreciated that she simply asked them to tell her about their son.