Conflicting reports on IDF radio. Egyptian sources claim entire Israeli diplomatic staff returning home to Israel. Reuters says that the embassy staff are remaining and the embassy remains open as usual.
Posts Tagged ‘embassy’
In the last week of October, I Vote Israel has reported that it sent some 80 thousand ballots, weighing 500 lbs., to the U.S. embassy in Tel-Aviv (which should, naturally, be moving to Jerusalem by the end of January, if candidate Mitt Romney makes good on a promise made traditionally by every presidential candidate in the past few decades).
According to the I Vote campaign National Director Elie Pieprz, those represent close to a quarter of all the overseas ballots filled out by U.S. citizens around the planet. We are one involved tribe, aren’t we.
So, here’s some information regarding those ballots, filled out mostly in the offices of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel:
First, how crucial were those ballots? Well, to paraphrase the well known adage, some folks are more crucial than others. The most crucial were Ohio ex-pats, who sent in 3500 ballots. Pennsylvanians, whose state is baby-bluish, leaning Democrat, also sent in 3500 ballots. And Floridians (who presumably came to Israel for a change of climate?) sent 7500 ballots.
Obviously, besides the presidential choice, each ballot also offered individuals to vote for the Senator from their state and the congressperson from their district.
The Shaviv Strategy and Campaign service conducted an exit poll among the ex-pats (no one asked us, in faraway Netanya, incidentally), so here goes:
With a sample of 1,572 voters, and a margin of error of around 2.5%:
Warm-up question: What was the most important issue for you in these elections? Taxation 0.9%; Healthcare 2.7%; Jobs and the economy 11.2%; Iran 11.2%; Israel-centered issues like the Palestinians and the status of Jerusalem 61.3%; other 10%.
In the overall congressional vote: Republicans 62%, Democrats 28.2%.
Very similar results in the Senate vote: Republicans 63%, Democrats 27.8%.
Finally, for the Chief Executive: Republican Mitt Romney 85.0%, Incumbent Democrat Barack Obama 14.3%. Daffy Duck and other write-ins 0.6%.
The U.S. Embassy and other sites connected with the U.S. were allegedly the target of terrorist attacks that were thwarted by the arrest of 11 suspected terrorists in Indonesia over the weekend.
The U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya, the local office of a U.S. mining company, as well as a plaza near the Australian Embassy and the headquarters of a special police force in Central Java were apparently the targets.
Indonesian national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Suhardi Alius told the Associated Press that the suspected terrorists were arrested in raids in four provinces.
“From evidence found at the scene, we believe that this group was well prepared for serious terror attacks,” Alius told the AP.
Bombs, explosive materials, a manual for making bombs, ammunition and a gas cylinder filled with highly explosive material was discovered in the raids. Also seized were videos and images of attacks on Muslims in different parts of the world.
The suspects belonged to a new group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI.
According to the group’s website, HASMI was created in 2005, and seeks a strict interpretation of Islam, “since all innovation is misguidance.”
It is unclear whether the targeting of U.S. diplomatic posts is a new trend in Islamic terrorist activity, following the murderous assault by what U.S. officials now admit was a well-planned terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.
It should come as no surprise to readers that The Jewish Press endorses Governor Mitt Romney in the November 6 presidential election. We’ve regularly expressed serious concerns about Barack Obama’s views on the Middle East in general and the Arab-Israeli situation in particular from the onset of his 2008 presidential campaign through his four years in the White House.
We recognize that there are those who can and do point to several pro-Israel actions President Obama has taken as being indicative of fundamental support for the Jewish state on his part. Indeed, some of those actions are unprecedented. However, we believe it is clear that Mr. Obama came into office determined to significantly alter downward the decades-long special relationship between the U.S. and Israel – as we discuss below, he indicated as much – but that he was forced to put his intentions on hold following serious pushback from Jewish leaders and Democratic Party allies.
We fear that once he is freed from reelection concerns, the president in a second term will resume the tough talk to Israel and the disturbing policies of his earlier months in office that, if implemented, would result in a truncated and weakened Israel and an empowered Muslim world.
On the other hand, from everything we have heard from Mr. Romney it appears he not only believes in the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel but is intent on enhancing it.
Of course, separate and apart from the issue of Israel there should be a healthy skepticism when it comes to most of President Obama’s claims of accomplishment.
On the domestic front, the economy remains listless, the unemployment rate is a national disgrace, and the national debt is spiraling out of control.
Mr. Obama’s recent dissembling over the Benghazi disaster is only the latest in a series of foreign policy mishaps that taken together only serve to increase our unease. He claims to have referred to the incident as a “terror attack” in a speech the next day. The transcript does indeed show that he used the phrase, but in context he appeared to be making a broad generalization rather than specifically affixing the terror appellation to Benghazi.
Moreover, for days afterward his vice president, UN ambassador and several other administration spokesmen maintained either that they still didn’t know whether the attack was the work of terrorists or that it was a spontaneous, violent reaction to an anti-Muhammad video – the latter a notion that has now been discredited. In running as fast as they could from using the word “terrorism,” they claimed to have been relying on the intelligence information that was available at the time. What intelligence, then, was the president – assuming he really was, as he claims, referring to Benghazi – relying on the day after the attack?
Also contributing to our dismay with the administration were the unprecedented threats to the Supreme Court over Obamacare, the open violation of our immigration laws respecting the deportation of illegal aliens, and the leaking of classified information to burnish the president’s foreign policy credentials.
Getting back to Israel, despite the above-mentioned positive actions taken by Mr. Obama – which have included supporting Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system; backing Israel during the controversies over the Goldstone Report and the Gaza flotilla fiasco; and opposing the Palestinians’ efforts at the UN for a unilateral declaration of statehood – we believe our skepticism is well-founded. Mr. Obama has set forth his fundamental beliefs regarding the Middle East in both word and action and they are decidedly not pro-Israel by any calculation.
During the 2008 campaign we were disturbed by Mr. Obama’s close ties to the virulently anti-Israel and anti-U.S. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church the Obamas attended for years. The claim by the president that he was conveniently absent whenever Rev. Wright gave his notorious sermons is hard to take seriously. After all, Rev. Wright officiated at his wedding and other family events and indeed mentored him.
Mr. Obama’s close association in his formative years with several anti-Israel leftists rang some alarm bells. Also ringing bells was his comment during the 2008 campaign that “There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel.”
On Friday, “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach hosted a press conference with Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo for a discussion of holocaust and genocide denial and its peril to human rights worldwide. The discussion came on the morning following a vote to include Rwanda on the UN Security Council for 2013-2014.
The meeting touched on how much Rwanda has progressed economically, agriculturally, and technologically, as well as on women’s rights in the 18 years since the 1994 ethnic cleansing of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda.
The two ethnic groups are actually very similar – they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions. But the Tutsis are often taller and thinner than the Hutus. When the Belgian colonists arrived in 1916, they considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus. The Tutsis enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than the Hutus.
Resentment among the Hutus built up, and when Belgium granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed as the scapegoats for every crisis. The decades of officially promoted hatred ended up in the mass genocide that started in 1993.
The meeting between Boteach and the foreign minister revealed how holocaust and genocide denial have become a political tool over the years and how the newly-voted seat on the Security Council will help the Rwanda enter into a positive new phase in its history.
The two also stressed the deep-rooted connection between the Rwandans and the Jewish people, given their tragic histories and their commitment to “a hopeful future absent of hate or recrimination.”
Mushikiwabo stated that when Rabbi Shmuley had met with President Kagame and her in New York a few weeks ago, Shmuley had spoken passionately of the importance of solidifying a closer relationship between Rwanda and Israel by having Rwanda open a permanent embassy in Israel. Mushikiwabo noted that Kagame had turned to her on the spot and said how much he agreed with Rabbi Shmuley about the establishment of an embassy. He asked the Foreign Minister to work on its creation as soon as possible. Mushikiwabo thanked Rabbi Shmuley for the role he played, saying Rwanda now plans to open an embassy in Israel within the next six months.
Rabbi Shmuley said, “As someone who is deeply committed to the connection between the Rwandan and Jewish people, I was so grateful to hear from my friend, Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo, that she and President Kagame have now taken the decision to open an embassy in Israel. Having witnessed firsthand this summer the pain and the rebirth of the Rwandan people, I was incredibly inspired by their warmth and their ability to come together as a unit in times of hardship, much in the way that the Jewish people have done for centuries.”
An official Guardian editorial on Oct. 1, ‘In praise of the political cartoon,’ commended the Egyptian newspaper Al Watan for “publishing… pictures with the message that the west misunderstands Islam,” which the editorial contrasted with “Charlie Hebdo‘s senselessly inflammatory caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.”
The magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, explained that they were “using its freedom of expression to comment on the news in a satirical way.” The news he’s referring to is rioting by Muslims throughout the world, beginning in mid-September, in response to the low-budget anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims.’
In addition to praising the Egyptian cartoons, about the West’s apparent misunderstanding of Islam, the Guardian editorial contrasted such attempts at greater understanding with “…Charlie Hebdo‘s caricatures which, “produced a week of protest, embassy closure, legal complaint and, most gravely, 19 dead [and 160 injured] in Pakistan.”
What the Guardian is referring to is violent rioting, on Sept. 19, in Pakistan’s largest cities – on a day of government-sanctioned protests over the film and cartoon. According to a New York Times report on the violence, most of the deaths occurred in Karachi, where “protesters burned effigies, stoned a KFC and engaged in armed clashes with the police that left 14 people dead and more than 80 wounded by evening.”
Regardless of the details of the deaths, however, to claim that the Hebdo cartoon – of a man who Muslims believe was a messenger and prophet of God – “produced” the Pakistani deaths is absurd.
The editors of a French satirical magazine do not have blood on their hands.
Citizens of Pakistan, Israel, America, or adults of any faith in any other nation in the world who possess moral agency, can freely chose to engage in senseless rioting over a religious or political insult - thus risking death or injury – or they can choose not to.
Is such an intuitive understanding of ‘case and effect’, and individual moral responsibility, even debatable?
A small group of Israelis, many university students, gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv on Monday evening in a show of support and friendship with America.
The rally, organized by the pro-Israel student movement, Im Tirzu, came in response to the recent attacks on U.S. embassies across the Middle East.
The attacks first began in Cairo when the American embassy was stormed two weeks ago, and then in Benghazi, when a U.S. consulate was penetrated by armed jihadists who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three other U.S. employees.
Im Tirzu director Ronen Shoval explained that he and his team organized the rally in order to show that in Israel “we are behind America.”
“Israel and the United States share many important values including those of freedom and liberty,” Ronen told Tazpit News Agency. “It is crucial that we show America that there is one country in the Middle East that will always stand with her no matter what.”
Anti-U.S. demonstrations have also taken place in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Afghanistan and elsewhere from North Africa to south-east Asia, apparently fanned by a crudely produced anti-Islamic video that had been made in California. German and British embassies have also been attacked. In Sudan, the German embassy was set on fire and significantly damaged.
At the Tel Aviv rally, a passing American visitor, Tani Zarelli, of Washington State, stood with the Israeli demonstrators and was clearly moved by the enthusiastic support.
“This means a lot to us,” Zarelli told the crowd, which chanted ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’ while waving Israeli and American flags. Several Israelis even attempted to sing The Star Spangled Banner.
“University students have come all over Israel to be here at the U.S. Embassy today to show their pride in the special friendship between the United States and Israel. No matter who attacks the values of freedom that define Western society, America can always count on Israel to her friend,” concluded Shoval.
In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, eight members of congress have demanded that a request to release Omar Abdel-Rahman from federal prison be rejected. Abdel-Rahman, known as the “blind sheikh,” inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.
It is believed that the unrest blanketing much of the Middle East last week was inspired at least in part by the demands that the Blind Sheikh be released, and that any consideration of such a request was inspired by an effort to quell the widespread anti-American fury.
The letter sent by Representative Pete King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and seven other key members of congressional leadership warned of the consequences of appeasing terrorism through such a blatant act of submission:
Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength….The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.
In addition to Rep. King, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers; House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon; House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.
The administration has not yet formally responded to the letter, according to Rep. King’s communications officer.
The full text of the congressional letter follows.
September 19, 2012
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,
We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “blind sheikh,” to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons. If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason.
The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary, for seditious conspiracy to wage war upon the United States, based on his role in a 1993 plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City. The blind sheikh was the first person convicted under this statute since the Civil War. Nonetheless, the newly-elected government in Egypt has indicated that his release is amongst its top foreign policy priorities.
While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events. The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.
Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength. The blind sheikh should remain in federal prison.
The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President.
We request a briefing this week by representatives from each of your Departments on the accuracy of recent reports and the status of any negotiations with Egypt. We look forward to your immediate response.