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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Trump in 2nd Debate: Aleppo Has Already Fallen

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Focusing, as we always do, on the Jewish-Israeli niche of presidential politics, we paid great attention Sunday night to the exchange between candidates Trump and Clinton on the situation in Syria. In general, both debaters agreed the situation was tough, and neither was eager to get into specific solutions. What stood out for us was the statement by Donald Trump that the battle of Aleppo between the US-backed rebels and the coalition of Assad, the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah will go to the pro-Assad forces.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News) asked Trump: “What do you think will happen if [Aleppo] falls?” Which Trump answered, “I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It basically has fallen.”

It should be noted that on Saturday in the UN Security Council Russia vetoed a French resolution calling for an immediate halt to its air strikes on east Aleppo, where reportedly hundreds of civilians are being killed, including many children. The Russian delegation, accusing the rest of the council of “Russophobia,” watched many council members walk off as the Russians were giving the floor to an envoy of the Assad regime. The Russians are fast running out of friends over this campaign — except, apparently, for Trump, who described Allepo as collateral damage of the effort to destroy the real enemy of the US in the Middle East — ISIS.

“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said during Sunday night’s debate. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Raddatz pointed Trump’s attention to the fact that not only the entire Western world objects to what the Russians have been doing in Syria, but his own running mate, Mike Pence, had said a week ago, that the “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump, who had praised Pence’s debate performance, came right out and said, “OK, he and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Raddatz: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Trump: “I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who [Clinton] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”

To delineate Trump’s foreign policy point on Aleppo from all of the above, the defeat of ISIS justifies permitting Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and its Hezbollah satellite to recapture all of Syria and turn it into their permanent base, with all the ramifications for Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Israel.

A debate then ensued between Raddatz, who as her network’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent is probably familiar with the issue, and Trump, over the need for secrecy before attacking a target like the oil rich city of Mosul in Iraq. “The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul,” Trump argued. “They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks.”

“Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul,” he continued. “Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success? People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Raddatz suggested, “There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.”

Trump retorted, “I can’t think of any. I can’t think of any. And I’m pretty good at it.”

Raddatz: “It might be to help get civilians out.”

Perhaps. Trump could also be correct in pointing out that the US campaign in Iraq has remained as undisciplined and as badly coordinated as it has been since the 2003 invasion, under two different administrations.

Hillary Clinton sounded as hapless as the Obama Administration when she said the Russians don’t care about ISIS, and are instead “interested in keeping Assad in power.” As remedy, she proposed: “…when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution, unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

Of course, there’s no way the US and its allies would be able to enforce a no-fly zone on the Russian air force, short of starting WW3, which is why Clinton sounded hollow when she declared, “I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.” And she sounded even less realistic when she warned, “…I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Hillary Clinton then committed a blunder that could haunt her in the future should she be elected president, when she suggested, “There are a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and preparation. … I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

That’s not something an American president should say if he or she wish to elicit Turkey’s support in the Syrian campaign. Proposing to arm the Kurds sounds about as bad to Ankara as the idea of the US arming Hamas would be received in Jerusalem. That would be one of those cases where Clinton would be well advised to have one policy for public consumption and another for insiders.

You probably noticed we did not deal at all with the Trump tapes or the Clinton emails, because everyone else in the media are offering a wealth of information on those. We only tried to point out that when it comes to one of Israel’s most burning issues, the escalation of the war north of its border, neither candidate has offered a particularly convincing formula, and Clinton actually declared she would definitely keep US ground troops out of the Syrian civil war.

We should note with satisfaction that Israel was not mentioned even once in the debate and neither was the two-state solution or Jewish settlements. Thankfully, both candidates are too clever to step on that landmine.


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.


The First Presidential Debate 2016 [video]

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

1) The Parody:

2) The Real Deal:

Video of the Day

Everyone Wants a Photo Op With the Jewish Prime Minister

Monday, September 26th, 2016

What a change there is in the world when the candidates for President of the United States vie for some face time with the Prime Minister of the Jewish State of Israel.

Trump and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Clinton and Netanyahu

Trump and Netanyahu

Photo of the Day

Trump Promising Netanyahu Jerusalem Embassy, Wants Advice on Building Fences

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Trump campaign press release following the meeting Sunday between Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP presidential candidate stated that Trump told Netanyahu “a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” The statement also said Trump “agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America,” and “there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries,” should Trump be elected.

Trump emphasized that Israel is a “vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism.” According to the statement, the nuclear deal with Iran and ways to defeat ISIS were also discussed, as well as “Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders.”

A short while before Sunday’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, the GOP presidential candidate and indefatigable tweeter tweeted: “Looking forward to my meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Trump Tower at 10:00 AM.” The meeting lasted an hour and twenty minutes behind closed doors, and the two did not speak to the press before or after.

The Prime Minister’s office released a laconic statement saying, “Netanyahu presented to Trump Israel’s positions on regional issues related to its security and discussed with him Israel’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in our region.” The PM’s office also said that Netanyahu thanked Trump for his friendship and support for Israel. The meeting included Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law, Jewish businessman, investor and political operative Jared Kushner.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet next with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who has already committed to inviting the Israeli PM to her White House as soon as she’s sworn in. Clinton is on the record as supporting the nuclear deal with Iran, but repeats her commitment to Israel’s security. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Clinton said “Trump should worry every Israeli, regardless of his positions on Israel.”

The two meetings were arranged when a senior Netanyahu official told reporters after his meeting with President Obama that he hadn’t been approached by either candidate for a meeting while he’s in the US, but should they invite him he’d be delighted to accept. A day later the invite came from the Trump campaign, followed by one from Hillary.

Monday night the world will follow with bated breath the first presidential debate between the two candidates. Many Israelis have reported setting their alarm clocks (or apps) to wake them up at 4 AM Tuesday, to watch the Monday at 9 PM match.

David Israel

Gush Etzion Council Plenum to Debate Removal of Council Head

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The full membership of the Gush Etzion Council will convene on Wednesday to debate the removal of Gush Etzion Council Head Davidi Pearl, over reports that Pearl was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels to a young woman from Jerusalem who complained against him. An email sent out to the Council members called for restraint in conducting the session over whether or not Pearl should be removed from office.

David Israel

Knesset to Hold Special Debate on Shabbat Train Crisis

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

After the signatures of more than 50 MKs havebeen submitted to the Knesset Secretariat, Speaker Yuli Edelstein decided to convene the plenum on September 19, while the Knesset is still in recess, to discuss motions for the agenda on the following topics:

1. The degradation of Shabbat and the harm caused to soldiers and civilians due to the train crisis

2. The political conduct of the government and the person at its helm caused severe harm to tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians

3. The hysterical conduct, lack of planning and waste of millions due to personal political considerations

The debate will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a.k.a. “the person at the helm.”

The Knesset Rules of Procedure determine that, in accordance with the Basic Law regarding the Knesset, when at least 25 MKs demand to convene the Knesset plenum during a recess, the Knesset Speaker will schedule a special debate.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-to-hold-special-debate-on-shabbat-train-crisis/2016/09/08/

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