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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

Rabbinical Congress for Peace Wants Netanyahu to Suspend Everybody’s Basic Rights

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Following a special meeting of the Administrative Committee of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, the rabbis issued a call to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government to declare a state of emergency in Israel. They issued a statement saying “there are times when a nation is confronted with war and terrorist insurgence that threaten the security and lives of its citizens. In such cases, international law acknowledges the curtailment of certain basic rights as a proactive response.”

The Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP), is a group of some 1,200 past and present Torah leaders from the United States, Canada and Israel, affiliated with the Zionist, Haredi and Chabad movements. In their Tuesday meeting, they lamented the fact that the past year has seen innocent Israelis being stabbed, shot and killed by their enemies, with little or no effective response from the Israeli government.

Relying on the Shulkhan Arukh, Orakh Haim 329, as well as on international law, the rabbis declared that the sanctity of life takes precedence over all else, to the extent that one is not only permitted but is obligated to desecrate Shabbat to pick up arms to repel the enemy.

Therefore, the Rabbis called on the Israeli government to “impose a complete, three-month-long closure on all towns and villages from which terrorists have come to kill Jews, as well as impose economic sanctions.”

Also, since the Israeli media justify and support (overtly or by insinuation) terrorist activity, making it the equivalent of a “fifth column” in Israel, the government should “temporarily impose a complete censorship on radio and TV for several months.” The Rabbis have “no doubt that without the support of the Israeli leftist-controlled media, terrorist activity would substantially decrease.”

The Rabbis reiterated their call to the government to “unequivocally declare the annulment of the Oslo agreements, a copy of which should be publicly torn up in the Knesset.”

In addition, “the government should also allow unlimited construction in all parts of Israel. Hesitating on these obvious measures is tantamount to the encouragement of terrorism by the government itself.”

The Rabbis declared that they are “crying out and beseeching the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, government ministers and members of the Knesset to recognize that this is ‘a time of trouble for Yaakov!’ (sic) The Torah’s prediction of the grievous consequences of transferring Israeli territory to its enemies is being actualized before our very eyes.”

Finally, the rabbis told Netanyahu: “Come to your senses and heed the instruction of the Torah, and stop the further shedding of innocent blood, which continues unabated.”

David Israel

‘Woman in Gold’ Helen Mirren Testifies for Holocaust Art Restitution Bill

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

British actress Helen Mirren testified in Congress Tuesday in support of a bill to make restitution easier for American heirs of Holocaust era victims, The Art Newspaper reported. Mirren starred in the 2015 British drama “Woman in Gold,” about Austrian-born Jewish American Maria Altmann’s court fight to recover her family’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” by Gustav Klimt (her late aunt modeled for the picture), which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Mirren told two Senate judiciary subcommittees in a joint hearing on the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act that “the very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane.” She added, “Greed, cruelty, self-interest and domination will always be with us, it’s an easy option. Justice is so much more difficult, so much more complex. But we all dream of justice. We are incapable of changing the past, but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”

“Restitution is so much more, much more than … reclaiming a material good,” Mirren said. “It gives Jewish people and other victims of the Nazi terror the opportunity to reclaim their history, their culture, their memories and, most importantly, their families.”

The legislation is sponsored by Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Other supporters of the bipartisan bill included president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder, and senators Al Franken (D, Minnesota), Chuck Grassley, (R, Iowa) and Orrin Hatch, (R, Utah).

Lauder, who purchased the Klimt painting after Altmann had sued the Austrian government to give it back, and won, told the Senators, “What makes this particular crime even more despicable is that this art theft, probably the greatest in history, was continued by governments, museums and many knowing collectors in the decades following the war.”

Today the Klimt painting is part of the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art Lauder co-founded in New York.

David Israel

Ipsos Survey: One Third of American Students Support Boycotting Israel

Monday, May 30th, 2016

One third of American students believe boycotting Israel is justified and constitutes a legitimate means of applying political pressure on the Jewish State, according to a yet to be released Ipsos survey, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported. Ipsos is one of the world’s leading market research firms for hire, managed and controlled by research professionals, offering comprehensive global research programs in 87 countries.

The original Channel 2 story mistakenly assigned those statistics to the US population at large. It was later corrected.

The survey, which will be officially released in advance of an International conference on the struggle against BDS to open on Tuesday, polled a sample of 1,100 American students. It suggests that 33% find a boycott against Israel to be justified. A similar survey conducted in the UK found that 40% of the students there agree that boycotting Israel is legitimate.

The good news is that a 62% majority of US respondents believe that the BDS movement is a form of modern anti-Semitism. About 50% of Briton students also condemn the BDS as being anti-Semitic.

The anti-BDS international conference, titled, “Building Bridges and Fighting Boycotts,” is organized by Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon, in collaboration with the World Jewish Congress, Keren Hayesod, the American Center for Law and Justice, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, Israel Bonds, StandWithUs, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel, and CAMERA. More than 1,500 are expected to participate, including students, representatives of anti-BDS organizations, Jewish American organizations, and opinion makers.

JNi.Media

White House Withholding ‘Shocking’ Info on Iran Treatment of US Sailors

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The United States is withholding information about the way Iran treated American sailors it captured earlier this year in the Persian Gulf.

Iran seized two American ships that were stalled in the gulf waters.

But Americans were not given a full accounting of what happened to the sailors on those vessels at the time of the incident. Footage of the Iranians photographing the sailors in prisoner positions briefly appeared on Fox News and a few other news networks in the United States before the State Department released a statement saying the matter was being “handled.”

Now Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia has told the Washington Free Beacon that the Obama Administration is holding back some shocking details about Iran’s treatment of the sailors. Forbes said the sailors were photographed in tears and humiliated in other ways.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Forbes told the Free Beacon information he had the opportunity to review the classified information. However, he said that because it is classified, it could take up to a year before the information is released to the general public, if it is at all.

Forbes added that the incident included violations of international and maritime law — and said in the interview that the United States did almost nothing in response to the aggression.

Hana Levi Julian

Speaker of the US House to Israel: “We Stand Shoulder to Shoulder With You”

Monday, April 4th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan stressed that the US relationship with Israel is more important than ever at a meeting this morning, April 4, at the Knesset with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“We will work shoulder to shoulder with you against threats,“ Speaker Ryan said. “That’s why I came here and this is the point I wanted to stress.”

“Our friendship with Israel is more important to us than it was in the past,” Ryan added at the meeting with his Israeli counterpart.

Following Congressional legislation last June requiring European trade partners to reject BDS, members of Congress introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016 this past February, which gave federal approval to US states to divest from or prohibit investment in entities associated with BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel].

“I and members of Congress are working and fighting vigorously with every discovery of BDS and boycott of Israel,” Ryan emphasized.

Paul Ryan has been Speaker of the House for about half a year after having been elected to the position last October following the resignation of his predecessor John Boehner. Ryan elaborated upon his display of friendship with Israel during his current tenure as Speaker of the House.

“I entered the position not too long ago and my first work meeting was with President Reuven Rivlin,” noted Ryan. “Also, this trip of mine to Israel is my first [as Speaker of the House].”

“This was not done by accident,” continued Ryan. “I wanted to come to Israel first to emphasize the level of US commitment to Israel and the valiant friendship with Israel is important to us.”

Speaker Edelstein also expressed his appreciation for the friendship between the United States and Israel.

“We know we have true friends in the US, in Congress, and in the White House,” Edelstein said to Ryan. “I very much appreciate your presence here along with an entourage of other members of Congress.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

WJS: NSA Taps Guided Obama’s Win over Netanyahu on Iran

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

See also: US not Only Spying on Israel, but on U.S. Pro-Israel Legislators and Groups

(JNi.media) In 2011 and 2012, according to a Wall Street Journal revelation Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama were in sharp conflict over what to do about Iran’s emerging nuclear program. Netanyahu was preparing to take a page out of his predecessor, Menachem Begin’s play book on the Iraqi nuclear plant–although striking in Iran would have been far more formidable–while Obama was engaged in secret talks with the Iranians, and by secret we mean without letting Israel know.

According to the WSJ report, the White House was petrified that Netanyahu would blitz Iran without alerting the Americans, thus bringing down the house on the negotiations that were still at their most tender phase. And so US spy agencies enhanced their surveillance of Israeli political targets, for which they had approval from congressional intelligence committees.

After a few years of this, the NSA was fairly certain there was not going to be a repeat of the 1981 Operation Opera, that took out the Osirak reactor in Iraq. Except that by then the American Administration had a new reason to keep tapping Bibi: they wanted to make sure Israel was not aware of the secret talks with the Iranians, because if those became known to the Israelis, they would have sounded the alarm and the fragile negotiations could go bust. So they kept on tapping.

According to the WSJ report, after the Edward Snowden scandal had erupted and it turned out the NSA was tapping all of America’s friends, including heads of state, when President Obama promised to behave better and stop tapping everyone, that’s not what he really meant. The NSA hadn’t spent decades bugging phone and Internet networks around the world to just cut them off all of a sudden. How would they spy on everyone in the future if they needed to? So, instead, they just stopped eavesdropping. The taps stayed in place, but silent.

Except for one particular trouble spot, right around wherever Bibi happened to be at the moment. Apparently, not tapping our friendliest nation, Israel, didn’t enter anyone’s mind over at the NSA. “Going dark on Bibi? Of course we wouldn’t do that,” a senior US official told the WSJ.

And so, the NSA was certain last year that Israel was spying on the Iran negotiations in Europe, and by late 2014 they knew Mr. Netanyahu wanted to block the nuclear deal but didn’t have a strategy yet. On January 8 this year, the strategy was hatched by then Republican House Speaker John Boehner and the new Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: they invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. They contacted Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who told Bibi, who grabbed the offer.

At which point, the NSA started yet another one of their famous walks on legal thin ice, because, according to US law, there’s a huge difference between tapping foreigners, even very friendly ones, like Netanyahu, and tapping US elected officials without their knowledge. If you’re going to tap Speaker Boehner chatting with PM Netanyahu, you must disclose this to the appropriate Congressional committees. Also, an NSA directive dating back to 2011 says that direct communications between foreign intelligence targets and members of Congress should be destroyed when they are intercepted, and only the NSA director can decide otherwise regarding “significant foreign intelligence.”

The NSA is allowed to tap communications between US lawmakers after, as an example, an ambassador tells his government back home about a meeting with said lawmakers. So this is how the NSA, working for the Democrat in the White House, could spy on the conversations of the Congressional leadership, that happened to be Republican.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/wjs-nsa-taps-guided-obamas-win-over-netanyahu-on-iran/2015/12/30/

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