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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘deal’

Minority Leader Schumer Not Ready to Kill Iran Deal, Despite 2015 Nay Vote

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

The new Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Politico on Friday that he is not ready to commit to working with Trump and the Republican majority to ditch President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran — which Schumer opposed back in the summer of 2015.

“I’m willing to try. I think the jury’s still out, and I’m willing to wait another year or two,” Schumer said.

In that context, Schumer was vague guidance on when or how often he and fellow Democrats plan to use the Senate’s super majority rules to deny Republicans the votes on their upcoming legislation.

“There’s a lot of troubling things coming down the pike,” Schumer said, revealing for now that the Democrats are prepared to block a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, as well as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.

As to his most famous constituent, President Elect Donald Trump, who over the years had given him $9,000 in political donations, Schumer told politico, “He was not my friend. We never went golfing together, even had a meal together. He’s called me, we’ve had civil conversations a couple of times.”

Trump, for his part, said MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in January: “Hey look, I think I’ll be able to get along well with Chuck Schumer. I was always very good with Schumer. I was close to Schumer in many ways.”

Not very memorable ones apparently. There’s a limit to how much one should expect from a politician in return for 9 grand…

David Israel

Trump Once Again Promising to Deal Peace for Israel

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

President Elect Donald J. Trump, possibly the most unpredictable man in American political history, has reiterated his promise to employ his “Art of the Deal” in achieving lasting peace between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. In an interview to the Wall Street Journal Friday, in which he also said he would leave in place parts of Obamacare, and said he got a “beautiful” letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his victory,  Trump repeated his promise “to help craft a resolution” for the Israel-Palestine situation, which he called “the war that never ends.”

Back in March 2016, candidate Trump told the NY Times regarding the 2-state solution, “I would love to see if a deal could be made. If a deal could be made. Now, I’m not sure it can be made, there’s such unbelievable hatred, there’s such, it’s ingrained, it’s in the blood, the hatred and the distrust, and the horror. But I would love to see if a real deal could be made. Not a deal that you know, lasts for three months, and then everybody starts shooting again. And a big part of that deal, you know, has to be to end terror, we have to end terror.”

Trump then said, “Basically I support a two-state solution on Israel,” with the proviso that “the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Have to do that. And they have to stop the terror, stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred, you know?”

The Trump/Pence campaign website has since then removed all references to the 2-state solution from its “Foreign Policy and Defeating ISIS” positions page. But now, in his WSJ interview, the President Elect confessed to his desire for incorporating what he termed “the ultimate deal,” noting that “as a deal maker, I’d like to do… the deal that can’t be made. And do it for humanity’s sake.”

Walid Phares, a Trump top foreign policy adviser, told BBC Radio on Thursday that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is a Trump top agenda item. “He is ready and he will immediately move to try and solve the problem between Palestinian and Israelis,” Phares said. “He told me personally that, as the author of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ it’s not going to be impossible for him to broker a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. At least he’s going to go in that direction and not waste eight years — four years for now — not doing something for the Palestinians and Israelis.”

Somebody should tell Ivanka Trump and Jason Greenblatt as soon as Shabbat is out. Greenblatt on Thursday told Israel’s Army Radio that “Trump thinks Israel is in a difficult situation and must defend herself. Peace must arrive through a bilateral initiative and he has no plan to get involved in it.”

But that was Thursday.

JNi.Media

In VP Debate Pence Fails to Score Resounding Blow on Iran Deal

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

In Tuesday night’s debate between Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), most of the pundits early on scored a slight win for Trump’s VP, mostly because he was much more restrained than Trump had been in his bout with Hillary Clinton a week earlier, and did not let Kaine go under his skin. One pundit even joked how presidential this guy Pence is, I wonder who’s going to be his VP pick. But while Pence held his own for 90 minutes, although he left all of his opponent’s challenges on Trump’s scandals and questionable statements unanswered, he let Kaine get away with at least one terrible lie: that the nuclear deal carved in part by Clinton as the former Secretary of State removed the Iranian nuclear threat.

This point should probably be scored as a win for the Democrat, because it’s one issue about which the consensus is wide and clear among many Democrats, as well as the bulk of the media: the much celebrated deal was forced on Congress by massive political trickery and outright lies, led to the release of an estimated $150 billion to the world’s largest perpetrator of terrorism, and freed Iran to start working on its nuclear weapon in as little as five years.

Overall, the debate veered to the Iran deal four times, and Gov. Pence was not able to turn any of them into a decisive knockout, or even a win on points.

When Sen. Kaine asked, “Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile? … [Sec. Clinton] worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

Pence responded, astonished, “Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?”

Kaine came back, “Absolutely, without firing a shot.”

Pence let that statement stand and was dragged instead into a debate over who was responsible for the US withdrawal from Iraq. Advantage Kaine on the Iran deal.

Later on, the moderator, Elaine Quijano (CBS), asked Kiane, “Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased?” To which he responded, among other things, “The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped.”

Kaine continued with an avalanche of points about why Clinton was a better leader to deal with terrorism, repeating ad nauseam that Donald Trump is an admirer of Vladimir Putin and other world tyrants.

When his turn came to respond, Pence first waded through a sluggish attack on Clinton’s responsibility for ISIS, which is not easy to prove, and only towards the end he reached what should have been his money shot, saying, “And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.”

Kaine said, “Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?”

Pence then retorted, “You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.”

Kaine said, “Yes, we did.”

Pence was then cut off after blurting, “You essentially…” by Kaine, who actually said, “Even the Israeli military says it stopped.”

Pence, instead of pausing to challenge that misleading half-truth, made a weak statement lacking in specificity, that the deal “guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.”

A little later on, Kaine said, again essentially unchallenged, “Hillary Clinton is the secretary of state who knows how to build alliances. She built the sanctions regime around the world that stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that’s what an intelligence surge means. Better skill and capacity, but also better alliances.”

Had Pence been better versed with the history of the Iran deal, he could have done a lot with this generalized statement, including, perhaps, mentioning the fact that by the Obama Administration submitted the nuclear deal for Congressional approval, it had already been implemented by all its “allies,” so that a continued US embargo would not have mattered — Iran’s revolutionary regime had already been legitimized by the world powers.

Pence then missed his last opportunity to score big on the Iran deal, when he opened, “But let me go back to this Iran thing. I mean, he keeps saying that [the deal] Hillary Clinton started [with the Iranians] prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Kaine quickly interrupted: “That’s what the Israeli [chief] of staff is saying right now.”

Pence said, quite correctly, “Well, that’s not what — that’s not what Israel thinks.”

Kaine announced triumphantly, “Gadi Eizenkot, you can go check it.”

For the record, in January 2016, IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six world powers was “significantly changing the vector that Iran has been on.” But in that same speech, and in many assessments that followed, Eizenkot and other Israeli generals have been warning against “many dangers as well as opportunities” created by the accord.

And on the day after that much quoted Eizenkot speech, a mini diplomatic crisis erupted when Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement comparing President Obama with British Premier Neville Chamberlain, who signed the 1938 Munich agreement with Adolph Hitler, basically abandoning the free democratic state of Czechoslovakia. But Gov. Pence probably did not bone up on that part, as can bee seen from his weak response, “You wouldn’t necessarily know that,” regarding Eizenkot’s supposed blessings for the Iran deal.

Kaine challenged him, saying, “Go to the tape.”

Pence then had enough of his wits about him to recall a talking point, when he said, “I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech when he came before the Congress.”

Kaine did not deny the charge, but said, apologetically, “No, I visited him in his office. I visited him in his office.”

Pence then, finally, pounced on him, saying, “You boycotted the speech.” Except that instead of marshalling the facts to expose the Iran deal for all its dangerous failures, Pence delivered a weak jab: “The point is, what this Iran — so-called Iran deal did was essentially guarantee — I mean, when I was in Congress, I fought hard on a bipartisan basis with Republican and Democrat members to move forward the toughest sanctions, literally, in the history of the United States, against Iran.”

Which Kaine, quick on his feet, responded to, saying, “And then Hillary used them to get a deal.”

Pence would not let his opponent have the last word, though, repeating, “We were bringing them to heel, but the goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear ambitions. […] Elaine, let me finish a sentence. They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. And when the deal’s period runs out, there’s no limitation on them obtaining weapons. […] And the fact that they got $1.7 billion in a ransom payment… is astonishing to the American people.”

That was the sum total of Gov. Pence’s effort, which could have revived a very sore, anti-Obama sentiment among undecided American voters, especially Jewish voters who at this point are second only to African Americans in their commitment to the Clinton camp. Perhaps Presidential Candidate Trump would be able to articulate a forceful argument in Sunday’s debate. It would require an intimate familiarity with the details of the deal, as well as with the range of violations of a variety of UN resolutions on the part of Iran. Can Donald Trump do it? If he wants to become president, he really should.

JNi.Media

Ground Zero for the Iran Deal: Rosenthal Versus Nadler

Friday, September 16th, 2016

More Jews live in New York’s tenth congressional district than in any other district in the United States. Philip J. Rosenthal – the kind of guy who could easily be a character on television’s The Big Bang Theory – wants its citizens to elect him as their representative.

Jerry Nadler, however, has been representing that area of New York, first in Albany beginning in 1977, and for the past 14 years in Washington, D.C.

So, why not vote for Nadler? Nadler voted for the Iran Deal, that’s why.

And if you don’t recall, the Iran Deal was the one issue behind which nearly all of the organizational Jewish world united against. The Iran Nuclear Deal which many Americans, especially Jews, and most especially Jewish New Yorkers, realized at the time was a deal only for Iran but a disaster for the safety of the United States, Israel and much of the West.

And yet, thumbing his nose at his constituents, Cong. Jerrold Nadler came out in support of the disastrous Iran Deal. Many folks in his district felt badly betrayed by Nadler. Some saw him as bowing to the wishes of the Democratic administration while ignoring their wishes and their safety. Nadler was the only Jewish member of the New York delegation who came out in favor of the deal.

Into the breach now steps Philip J. Rosenthal, a shiny example of a Bronx boy made and does good.

Rosenthal grew up facing a train yard and across the street from Bronx High School of Science, from which he graduated (“salutatorian, my father would want me to tell you,” he says.) Rosenthal went on to graduate from Yale University with a degree in Physics, “summa cum laude, phi beta kappa,” he says, sheepishly, again hearing his father’s voice echoing in his head).

Where next? The California Institute of Technology, where Rosenthal studied string theory and cosmology, garnering both a master’s degree and a PhD. Ouch.

When queried about whether he actually understood those topics, Rosenthal’s retort is pure Big Bang-ish: “Physics is beautiful, elegant, it’s the essence of everything; it’s politics that’s messy!” But back to that later.

As if Rosenthal’s resume wasn’t already impossibly impressive, after Cal Tech he went to work on a program dealing with Pluto. And this is when he began to realize that the American dream was no longer as assured as it had seemed.

“It used to be that America led the world in everything – today if you want to work in space, you need to hitch a ride with the Russians,” Rosenthal said.

“As a child I was inspired by the American space program, but now the greatest fundamental physics labs, the particle accelerators, they’re in Europe, at CERN labs, on the French/Swiss border.”  Rosenthal explained that is where the best research, the most exciting laboratories in the world are. That’s a huge economic and national security disaster for our country, he says.

Rosenthal wants America to again be the global leader. And the key to economic leadership and national security is for America to be second to none, Rosenthal insists. We need to focus on science, space and technology,” and, he says, we’re not doing that anymore.

Rosenthal’s sites began shifting away from science. In 1996 he graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to the venerable Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, where he practiced, amongst other things, nuclear law.

Without access to legal research technology, Rosenthal recognized that individuals and even solo and small firm practitioners are unable to compete with the big guys. But legal research software is very expensive.

So Rosenthal, with a friend, created a new kind of legal research software that is far more affordable, faster and easier than the standard software packages. In addition, his company, FastCase, utilizes different kinds of tools which the old guard systems do not.

“There is a great lack of access to legal justice. We founded FastCase in order to democratize the law.” FastCase is being used by nearly a million lawyers today, and the FastCase legal app is both the first of its kind and absolutely free.

So what does Rosenthal want to do in Congress?

Though he’s been many places since his Bronx boyhood, Rosenthal still has the concern for the little guy that has long animated New York politics.  His focus on making the law more accessible to everyone also shows up in his platform — he’s a strong advocate of making sure poor Americans have access to the legal services they need to help them protect their rights, their homes, their jobs and their families.  And he’s strongly committed to helping the homeless in real ways — not just by feeding them today, but also by investing in them and their skills so they can become productive men and women tomorrow.

Last summer, when signing the anti-BDS legislation passed by Congress, President Obama announced that on his watch the U.S. would not be enforcing the provision of the law which prohibits boycotts of Israeli products in the disputed territories.

Rosenthal practically explodes: “Really? The President proudly tells everyone that boycotting certain Jews is acceptable? Where was our representative?” Incensed that Nadler didn’t make a peep about this, Rosenthal goes on to list the other ways in which this administration – without sufficient or any pushback from Nadler and others – has disrespected and mistreated Israel.

And he once again draws the conversation back to the Iran Deal. “This district is literally Ground Zero and our representative supported the Iran Deal? Is no one paying attention?”

Unlike many members of Congress, Phil Rosenthal has actually read every page made public of the Iran Deal. With his science and legal background, Rosenthal is confident we could have done much better, just as he knows America could and should be doing much better in the global economic arena.

“This is a wonderful year to run as an outsider. I haven’t been on Capitol Hill for the past dozen years, but,” he ticks off, “I have a background in physics, in law, I’m an entrepreneur, my dad was in manufacturing. I have experience in the real world.”

Most importantly, Rosenthal says he knows that the people in New York’s tenth congressional district deserve better representation than they have. And, he says, he’s ready to provide that.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Netanyahu Representative in DC to Negotiate $38 Billion Aid Deal

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Brigadier General Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting National Security Council, arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to meet with President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in preparations for signing a new US military aid package. The new US aid deal, which the two governments have been negotiating since November 2015, awards Israel $38 billion over 10 years.

Nagel met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to work out the final details before leaving for Washington — including the text of the official announcements. The new aid package is expected to average $3.8 billion a year, a considerable cut from Netanyahu’s initial request for $4.5 billion. The deal is also contingent on Israel agreeing not to approach Congress for additional funds, as in the case of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which Congress has been paying for outside the annual aid package. Now an estimated $5 billion out of the package will be spent over 10 years on missile defense development.

In other words, the new aid package is only adding $300 million to the previous amount. To remind you, the sum of $3 billion annually was set during the Camp David peace negotiations with Egypt, as compensation to Israel for giving up the Sinai peninsula as a military asset. That amount has never been raised in close to 40 years, even though the current value of that annual package would have been $10.48 billion.

The critical disagreement between the two sides over the current deal has been whether or not Israel could continue to invest a percentage of the aid package in Israeli made military products. The Obama Administration wanted the entire amount to stay in US corporations, which would have been devastating to Israeli manufacturers and to the IDF. A short episode during the 2014 Gaza War, in which the Obama Administration stopped shipping to Israel all defense items, including Hellfire missiles, served as a memorable lesson to the Israeli security apparatus about the need to increase its self-reliance.

The new deal ended up adding six years in which Israel can continue to spend as much as 26% of the US aid money on Israeli made products, as well as another 13% for fuel purchases. By the seventh year, or halfway into Clinton’s or Trump’s second term, the Israeli military industrial complex would have to quit US aid cold turkey — Unless Netanyahu or his successor is able to renegotiate that part — depending on who is in the White House and who controls Congress at the time.

David Israel

Burkini? Big Deal! You Don’t Have to Be Muslim!!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

I couldn’t find a head to toe picture of me in my bathing suit, but it’s more burkini than any classic tank, blouson, skirted, one or two-piece held up by skinny straps. Actually I do wear a two piece bathingsuit, but the top has a high neck, and the sleeves go past my elbow. Most of the time I wear it with a swim-skirt past my knees, that has sewn in shorts. The running joke is that I’m dressed up for a fancy outing. It really doesn’t look like a bathing suit. And I guess you may be surprised that I wear it to female only swimming time in our local pool.

No, I’m not some sort of overmodest repressed nut-case. And I’m not Muslim.

  • I’m a religious Jew who adheres to the Jews Laws of Modesty, and wearing this sort of bathing suit, swimsuit as some call them now, means that I can walk around in public, from house to pool without a robe or having to change my clothes/cover up.
  • Another reason is health. I’m high risk for skin cancer, and besides slathering sunscreen on my neck, face etc, the shirt covers me well.
  • When I swim in our outdoor pool at night, I wear my swimming shorts and a top like this. At night the covering protects me from the cool breezes which used to make night swimming just too uncomfortable. At night I wear a heavy robe to go to and from my house and pool to both cover up and keep warm.
  • The “modest swimsuit” also makes it possible to swim when there’s a male lifeguard and the rare occasion when I am at a “mixed swim.” The special swimsuit fabrics provide more modest cover up and better protection from the sun, than a wet T-shirt.
Honestly, I don’t see how wearing modest swimwear could be considered a security, moral or cultural problem. On this I’m with the Muslims!! The French are nuts!!
Batya Medad

U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding: An Unbalanced Deal

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two parties — in this case, the governments of Israel and the United States. It is less than a treaty, more than a handshake. The first MOU was signed in 1981, recognizing “the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations.” The current MOU, signed in 2007, represented a 10-year commitment. The Obama Administration and the government of Israel have been negotiating a new 10-year agreement that will come into effect in 2017.

It is hard to get the nuance right in a security arrangement between a superpower and a small country, even if the small country is a first-world democracy in terms of education, income, technology, and political structure. It is harder when large sums of money are involved, and harder still when the small country is, in military terms, a “security producer,” one that provides more security to a region than it requires in assistance, but is still uniquely threatened in the world.

The Obama Administration is making it harder, perhaps because one of the President’s goals has been to remove the United States from its role as security guarantor not only for Israel, but also for the region, and possibly, it seems, for the rest of the world, such as the South China Sea, Crimea and the Balkans.

The administration proposes somewhat more money for Israel — from $3.1 billion to close to $4 billion — but with important caveats:

1) 100% of the money will be spent in the U.S., while Israel is presently able to spend 25% in Israel.

This is a subsidy for U.S. defense industries and constrains Israel’s defense choices by forcing the IDF to exclude weapons from Europe and elsewhere. While some think of Israel as an expense to the U.S., the fact is that Israeli R&D innovations — shared with the U.S. by agreement — have helped mitigate the decline in the U.S. missile defense budget in an era of growing threats. Without the ability to spend some money in Israel, it will be harder for smaller defense and high-tech industries to keep up.

2) The total figure will include money for missile defense, which in this administration has been an add-on from Congress. That makes the increase substantially less than it appears to be.

This could be particularly problematic: an administration that opposes missile defense in principle — as does the Obama administration — could effectively stifle Israel, which protects its people with a layered missile defense system. As Iran continues to violate UN prohibitions on ballistic missile testing, and Hamas and Hezbollah increase their arsenals, the consequences could be devastating.

3) Israel will be prohibited from asking Congress for additional funds, effectively removing a bipartisan center of support for Israel’s security from the equation and reducing Israel’s flexibility in addressing rapidly emerging threats. This year, Congress wrote in $42.7 million for anti-tunnel cooperation — something that emerged as essential only after the 2014 Gaza war.

In deference to the outsized threats and acknowledging Israel’s status as an American ally, it has been U.S. policy for decades and law since 2008 that “Israel will be made capable of defending itself against and defeating any likely combination of conventionally armed adversaries.” This is known as Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

It was simple once — Arab armies were Soviet equipped and trained. But the world has changed.

On the plus side, Jordan joined Egypt in making peace with Israel, and the Soviet Union disappeared. On other hand, the U.S. has been selling arms and equipment to Arab states that maintain a state of war with Israel. Israel still receives more cutting edge technology, but at some point, the quantity of oil-financed Arab purchases can tip the quality scales. Saudi Arabia spent $9.3 billion on U.S. weapons last year.

To be fair, Israel understands Saudi purchases to address the war in Yemen and the larger conflict with Iran, not aimed against Israel. Israeli-Saudi relations have thawed at least temporarily, but other threats, some conventional, some not, have increased.

ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah are what former IDF Chief of Intelligence Amos Yadlin calls “substate actors” — terrorist organizations that have attributes of statehood, such as territory, populations, etc. Syria remains in a state of war with Israel and as the civil war continues, Iran and Hezbollah have forces and weapons close to the Golan Heights. Iran is only a decade away, if that, from the freedom to openly pursue its nuclear capability as the JCPOA ends.

It was the release of hundreds of millions of dollars by the U.S. to the Islamic Republic, destined to improve and enhance Iranian military capabilities, which added urgency to Israel’s request for missile defense and other capabilities.

The U.S., then, is on both sides of Israel’s security conundrum.

On one hand, U.S.-Israel security cooperation is embodied in QME joint R&D on missile technology, joint training and exercises (most recently a joint missile defense exercise in Israel), and Israel’s new diplomatic mission to NATO Headquarters.

But on the other hand, having to spend all the money on U.S. procurement, U.S. arms sales to countries still in a state of war with Israel, the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran and removing Congress from its pivotal role as a security partner for Israel are all positions that clearly express administration weariness and irritation with Israel.

Israel, of course, does not have to sign. There is a new administration coming, and no doubt Israel can manage evolving bilateral relations with the U.S. under either party. There is, however, something to be said for the reassurance of a 10-year American commitment, even if the current terms are not ideal.

On balance, Israel is a strong, accomplished, and increasingly capable country with both military and civilian assets sought by countries around the world. It finds itself in a vastly improved international situation even as its neighborhood declines. It would have been in the larger interest of the United States to enhance those capabilities rather than trying to constrain them.

 

Shoshana Bryen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/u-s-israel-memorandum-of-understanding-an-unbalanced-deal/2016/08/16/

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