web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kerry’

Identities of the Murdering Terrorists Released

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Israel is set to release 104 terrorists for the questionable privilege of getting the Palestinian Authority to simply show up to the negotiating table.

The identities of the terrorists have finally been released.

All of them have served so far between 19 to 30 years for murdering Israelis, and even their fellow Arabs. Some of those slated to be released have been serving time for killing children, Israel Prize winners, and even Holocaust survivors.

Many of the prisoners were serving life sentences, which have been reduced to allow them to be freed. The list includes all terrorists captured before Oslo.

These terrorists set to be released are among the worst of the worst. Last week the number of terrorists to to be released was only 82, and the number seems to keep going up.

Netanyahu has called the release of these terrorists an “incredibly tough decision”, and one that is a “matter of national importance”.

Likud MK Danny Danon has called on government ministers to vote against “the crazy release of dozens of terrorists with the blood of hundreds of Israelis on their hands”.

JewishPress.com will be providing profiles on many of the murderers and their victims in an upcoming article.

Kerry Leaves without a Date for Talks, but Says Progress Is at Hand

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel without bringing Israeli and Palestinian officials back to the peace negotiating table.

Kerry said, however, that “real progress” had been made during his whirlwind trip and he would return to the region.

He left Israel for Asia on Sunday afternoon, following three meetings each with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably,” Kerry said before boarding his plane. “We are making progress. That’s what’s important and that’s what will bring me back here.

“I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach.”

Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday morning that Israel will not compromise on security in a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also said any agreement would be brought to a vote of the people.

“Israel is ready to begin negotiations without delay, without preconditions,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians.

“There are things that we will strongly insist on in the talks themselves, especially security,” Netanyahu said.

PLO official Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that there had been no breakthrough in the marathon.

“There has been no breakthrough so far and there is still a gap between the Palestinian and Israeli positions,” chief PLO negotiator Erakat told reporters after Kerry had finished talks in Ramallah with President Mahmoud Abbas, his third meeting in as many days.

“Netanyahu and his government are not serious about establishing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, they speak of a state without clear borders, and we need clarity according to international resolutions,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior official of Abbas’s ruling Fatah party.

“We are ready to resume negotiations according to our clear guidelines,” he told Voice of Palestine.

“Even with regards to the prisoners’ issue, Israel did not provide any clear answer. We want a serious process to be launched,” he said.

JTA and Ma’an content was used in this report.

Ron Dermer to be Appointed Israel’s Ambassador to U.S.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Galei Tzahal reported today that Ron Dermer will be appointed as Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. in August.

It was first reported by Makor Rishon in December 2012 that Dermer would be the next Israeli ambassador to the U.S., but the story was quickly denied a few days later by Israel’s Embassy in Washington.

Dermer fell out of the good graces of the Obama administration for his support of Mitt Romney, but he has been working to imporive his relationship with the current adminstration, and with John Kerry in particular.

Dermer made Aliyah from Florida in 1998, and served as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu for four years.

Russia is Playing a Losing Hand like a Winner

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

History is back and so are the Russians.

After an interregnum of twenty years, during which the communist Soviet Union was demolished and a crony capitalist, Russian kleptocracy turned inward to establish firm control of journalists (oh wait, that might have been the Obama Administration), civil society practitioners including lawyers, businessmen, and little girl punk bands, Vladimir Putin has laid down a marker in the Middle East. The suggestion that advanced SS300 air defense missiles are already in Syria and that Yakhont ship-to-ship missiles are coming, plus Russian warships steaming toward the region along with obstruction in the U.N. are all steps toward establishing Russia as the “go to” imperial power to control or end the Syrian civil war.

The Russian interest is twofold. First is to be the master of the diplomatic front. Whether the Russian-touted “peace conference” results in “peace” or a change of government in Damascus is less relevant than whether the Putin is in the driver’s seat. Second is to stop the spread of Sunni expansionist Islam that threatens Russia with the potential to reignite the Caucasus. Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ossetia are historically restive, but now are increasingly Islamic rather than nationalistic in their hatred of Orthodox Russia.

Two things make this really interesting. First, Putin is dealing with Israel much more forthrightly than he is with the United States, something that should be considered less a sign of respect for Israel’s red lines than disdain for the Obama Administration. Second, he has taken a narrow view of a broad problem — and thus is playing a losing hand.

On the American side, neither Secretary of State Kerry nor the president he serves seem to understand Russia’s goals in the region, and thus neither is prepared to uphold our own interests. When Kerry flew off to Moscow in early May to find a mechanism for an international conference on Syria, Putin kept him waiting three hours and, according to the London Daily Mail, “continuously fiddled with his pen as the top American diplomat spoke about the ongoing crisis.” Ever the good guest, Kerry told Putin, “The United States believes that we share some very significant common interests with respect to Syria — stability in the region, not having extremists creating problems throughout the region and elsewhere.”

Actually, we don’t. Kerry touted “stability,” but without specifying acceptable and unacceptable parameters for achieving it, he abdicated fundamental American principles. “Stability” is a tricky word. Russia was stable under the communists at a price of millions dead, and is working its way out of the messier parts of capitalism and back to stability by jailing people and having prominent “enemies of the State” conveniently drop dead. (See BerezovskyMagnitsky and Politovskaya for starters.) Syria was stable for years under Assad & Fils – and Russia would like to see it stable under Assad control again. If “stability” is all we seek, Kerry can just jump on the Russian bandwagon.

Moreover, aside from the rude treatment Kerry received in Moscow, contrasted with the very polite reception Prime Minister Netanyahu received a week later, the Russians waited until Kerry left to drop a bombshell. On May 16, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Lebanon’s Al-Madayeen that Iran would have to take part in any international conference. The State Department spokesman was forced to say the U.S. wouldn’t rule it out, because to do so would admit that Kerry’s trip was a failure. The U.S. may find itself negotiating directly with Iran on an issue other than nuclear weapons, which would be an abject failure for stated U.S. priorities.

David Kramer, President of Freedom House, reminded Washington Post readers that Moscow also detained a former U.S. official in the airport for 17 hours without food or water before deporting him; had camera crews film a civil-society activist when Kerry arrived at his home; and publicized the name of the presumed CIA station chief in Moscow, calling him a spy.

President Obama chalked it all up to the Cold War.

I don’t think it’s any secret that there remains lingering suspicions between Russia and other members of the G8 or the West… It’s been several decades now since Russia transformed itself and the Eastern Bloc transformed itself. But some of those suspicions still exist.

On the one hand, he gives Russia far too much credit for “transforming” itself; the roots of Russian imperialism haven’t changed in centuries. On the other hand, he can’t imagine that the current situation is driven by current Russian needs, not the old Cold War.

Why Salam Fayyad Stood No Chance against Fatah

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Administration has resumed its efforts to achieve peace not only between Israel and the Palestinians, but also between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

These efforts, however, seem to have failed: Fayyad is apparently out.

Over the past few years, Abbas and his Fatah faction have been trying to get rid of Fayyad, but to no avail.

Abbas and Fatah leaders see the U.S.-educated Fayyad, who was appointed prime minister in 2007 at the request of the U.S. and E.U. countries, as a threat to their control over the Palestinian Authority in general and its finances in particular.

Some Fatah leaders, such as Tawfik Tirawi and Najat Abu Baker, are even convinced that Fayyad is plotting, together with the U.S. and other Western countries, to replace Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Were it not for U.S. and E.U. intervention, Abbas and Fatah would have removed Fayyad from his job several years ago.

Each time Abbas considered sacking Fayyad, U.S. and E.U. government officials stepped in to warn that such a move would seriously affect foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who made separate visits to Ramallah recently, also found themselves devoting much of their time trying to persuade Abbas to keep Fayyad in his position.

But U.S. and E.U. efforts to keep Fayyad in power seem to have been counterproductive. These efforts further discredited Fayyad in the eyes of many Palestinians.

Fayyad’s enemies have cited these efforts as “proof” that he is a “foreign agent” who has been imposed on the Palestinian Authority by Americans and Europeans.

Fatah’s main problem with Fayyad is that he has almost exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority budget.

In other words, Fatah does not like the idea that its leaders and members can no longer steal international aid because of Fayyad’s presence in power.

The Fatah leaders are yearning for the era of Yasser Arafat, when they and others were able to lay their hands on millions of dollars earmarked for helping Palestinians.

In a bid to regain some form of control over the Palestinian Authority’s finances, last year Abbas exerted heavy pressure on Fayyad to appoint [Abbas loyalist] Nabil Qassis as finance minister.

Until then, Fayyad had held the position of finance minister in addition to the premiership.

Earlier this year, Fayyad, in a surprise move, announced that he has accepted the resignation of Qassis without providing further details.

Shortly afterwards, Abbas issued a statement announcing that he has “rejected” the resignation of the finance minister.

Fayyad has since refused to comply with Abbas’s demand and reinstate Qassis.

But the dispute between Abbas and Fayyad is not only over financial matters.

In fact, much of it has to do with the feeling among Fatah’s top cadres that Fayyad is seeking to undermine the faction’s influence and probably end its role in the Palestinian arena.

They accuse him of cutting funds to Fatah’s members and refusing to pay salaries to former Fatah militiamen.

In this power struggle between Fatah and Fayyad, the prime minister is certain to emerge as the biggest loser.

Fayyad has no grassroots support or political power bases among Palestinians.

He does not have a strong political party that would be able to compete with Fatah.

Nor does he have his own militia or political backing, especially in the villages and refugee camps.

In the 2006 parliamentary election, Fayyad, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, ran at the head of an independent list called Third Way. He won only two seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Most Palestinians did not vote for Fayyad because he had never played any active role in the fight against Israel. For Palestinians, graduating from an Israeli prison is more important than going to any university in the world. Fayyad, however, did not sit even one day in an Israeli prison.

Had Fayyad killed a Jew or sent one of his sons to throw stones at an Israeli vehicle, he would have earned the respect and support of a large number of Palestinians. In short, Palestinians do not consider Fayyad a hero despite his hard efforts to build state institutions and a fine economy.

Israel Won’t Hand Over Maps

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

On Friday, JewishPress.com reported on the change in strategy on the part of the Palestinian Authority.

The PA is now demanding that Israel hand over maps of their vision of a final arrangement, to use them as a starting point for negotiations, as opposed to dealing with the primary issue that Israel is most concerned about, ending the conflict.

Handing over the maps would also have hurt Israel’s negotiating ability, as the negotiations would have then only circled around the depth of Israeli withdrawal from Israeli territories in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, as opposed to how to actually reach a workable and sustainable peace agreement with the Palestinians, which is not something the Palestinian Authority actually wants to reach.

In response, Israeli government officials said they would not be delivering any maps or a list of other concessions to US Secretary of State John Kerry, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas demanded.

Israel is insisting that any talks begin without any preconditions.

A Quick Analysis of Obama’s Trip

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

What a far cry he is from his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. I cannot think of two more opposite ends of the pole with respect to their views on Israel and the Jewish people. The President has already amply shown his support for us in both word and deed. Financially, militarily and in the world of intelligence cooperation. That is old news. But with this visit he exceeded even my own optimistic expectations.

The President’s visit to Israel ended this morning as he continues on to Jordan. But he has left behind a far better understanding between himself and Israelis… and dare I say even many Jewish people who have been skeptical about his true support – suspect of his underlying motives. Unless one is completely detached from reality, I don’t see how anyone can come away with anything but appreciation for what the President has done and what he has further committed to.

I have been paying pretty close attention to what he has been saying over the last couple of days. I am now convinced that he understands what Israel is all about. He understands the biblical connection and the millennia of yearning to return to our homeland. Up until now that was not clear. He also still recognizes the additional imperatives of Israel as a Jewish homeland because of the Holocaust. Where ‘Never Again’ can be worked upon with the freedom it requires.

The President understands our need for security as well as anyone. He knows that Israel is surrounded by enemies that would destroy her if they could. He recognizes that many countries in the world unfairly criticize Israel. And perhaps most importantly, he recognizes that any peace deal must be predicated on security. One cannot move forward without insisting upon it.

He also recognizes the amazing contrasts of our ancient biblical homeland and its modern contributions to humanity in medicine, science and technology; business and the arts. Israel has given the world 10 Nobel Prize laureates.

He respects Judaism and has even incorporated a Pesach Seder into the White House. Not that it is an entirely Halachic Seder. But that he knows enough about it to think it a valuable addition to the White House and its message of freedom as a lesson for his daughters to experience.

There are those who might cynically say that he says and does all of this just to get Jewish support. But I truly believe that is not his reason. I think he is genuine in his expression of appreciation – and even admiration for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

And yet there are those who still compare the President to his former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. How, they say, could he be a part of that church for so many years and not share Wright’s negative extremist views of both Israel and the Jewish people?

I can’t answer that question. But I do not have scintilla of doubt in my mind. He does not share those views. He truly repudiates them. Those who somehow still think he does must have a mental block against reality when it comes to him. I can only speculate why… and won’t attempt to do so here.

The issues I did have with him in the past have mostly disappeared on this trip. I did not think he had any warm feelings for Israel… and that his support was based on an intellectual understanding of “the right thing to do.” Which is one reason why I supported Romney in the last election. I felt his relationship with Israel was a much warmer one.

The President’s cool relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu bothered me too. But I no longer feel that way. The relationship between the two leaders seems to have improved considerably. I never thought the two hated each other. But it seems from this visit that they might even like each other.

Not only that, but their positions on key issues are either identical or very close to it. They are on the same page with respect to Syria. They are nearly on the same page with respect to Iran. The President even went a step further than he has in the past supporting Israel’s right to act unilaterally against Iran. He understands that Israel’s proximity to Iran plus the constant threats to wipe it off the map pose a far more immediate and greater danger to Israel than the lesser but very real danger it poses to U.S. and the rest of the world.

Even his position opposing the settlements seems to have moderated a bit. Although he still opposes them – he seemed to understand the need for construction within established areas due to natural growth. His criticism in this respect was mild, but understandable as he still sees it as an obstacle to peace.

But he also understands that a bigger obstacle is the security that Israel requires before any peace deal can be achieved. A security that is far from being realized at the moment. The “Arab Spring” has toppled old despotic regimes but has caused instability. Egypt, the largest Arab nation has been replaced by Islamists far less sympathetic to Israel than the previous Egyptian government. That lessens – rather than increases security.

Barack Obama seeks peace in that region. He correctly says that peace is ultimately the only real way to achieve security. And he has repeatedly emphasized that to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He also correctly says that there are many Palestinians who reject the violence of Hamas et al and their supporters. He feels that Abbas would be a partner for peace. I agree with him. Not that Abbas wouldn’t rather take over all of Israel and expel all the Jews if he could. But he knows he can’t. He is a realist. I think he would make peace if Hamas et al were not ‘players’ interested in undermining that goal.

My only difference with the President is that the religious fanaticism that has been driving much of the Arab Spring and has democratically elected an Islamist government in Egypt. It is the dominant force in the Middle East. Syria, Iran, Egypt, Gaza… all those places are governed and mostly populated by religious fanatics whose fanaticism outweighs common sense. Just yesterday in Syria 42 people were killed by a suicide bomber whose target was a cleric that supported Assad. Suicide bombers are what Israel sees when they think about security issues.

One cannot make peace with a realist like Abbas when the religious fanatics are in control. Increasingly so it seems. So the President’s idea about taking chances for peace are at best wishful thinking. But I agree with him in principle. If we could eliminate the Islamist terror, I think we could – and would – make peace very quickly. As of now. It is at best a pipe dream.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the President even understood that deep down – and only advocates “taking chances for peace” for political reasons. Secretary of State, John Kerry’s upcoming trip to “restart” peace negotiations is probably not going to produce anything. But it will at least send a message that the U.S. is trying.

The bottom line for me is that after this visit, the President leaves no doubt in my mind that he is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Perhaps the best friend Israel has ever had. And I didn’t even vote for him. But I also know that there are those who refuse to believe it… and that they will always see him in a negative light.

Which is too bad. I think he deserves Hakoras HaTov for what he’s done, and what he has promised to do. Israel recognized that and that is why they presented him the Presidential Medal of Distinction – Israel’s highest honor… the first sitting President in history to ever receive it.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Obama Training Radical Islamists in Syria

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

In a new development, the Obama Administration is apparently not only arming (indirectly, technically) but now training Syrian rebels. We know that the weapons are going to radical Islamists–both Muslim Brotherhood and smaller groups.

We don’t know which groups are now being trained militarily by the CIA in Jordan. It has been suggested that these are only Syrian army defectors who are thus likely not to be from radical Islamist groups including the Brotherhood. But is that selectivity certain? Finding out who is receiving this military training–which they are sure to use for other purposes in future–should be a priority in the national debate and in questions from Congress.

What might be happening is this: Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood; the Saudis who hate the Brotherhood are backing the smaller Salafi groups; and Jordan which is terrified by the Islamists is supporting the Free Syrian Army which is run by ex-army officers.

Such is the nature of U.S. policy that it goes along with all three rather than directs the process toward a specific goal. The State Department is trying to find people who are relatively moderate while also able to have links to the Brotherhood.

You can imagine how tough that is to achieve. What a mess. In the 1980s the United States was convulsed by a scandal because the Reagan Administration was providing arms–through Saudi Arabia–and training to the pro-American Contra group in Nicaragua that were fighting against the Marxist regime there. It was alleged that the Contras participated in some torture and killing of civilians. Well, today the Obama Administration is conducting the same strategy–with Saudi and Qatari help–in Syria, with much more likelihood of atrocities by those it is helping. On top of that, those being helped are largely anti-American and radical Islamist. Yet there is no serious concern being raised.

Largely due to the local situation but reinforced by U.S. policy, radical Islamists will one day rule Syria. What will follow will not be real democracy but another Islamist dictatorial state. Islamist militias armed with U.S. weapons and that new regime might well use U.S. weapons and training to kill Christians and Alawites; enforce second-class status on women; and intimidate moderates as well as to attack Israel. While the mass media has widely reported the U.S. role in arming the rebels and is now picking up the training story, virtually nowhere is the significance of this policy and its escalation analyzed.

As I have repeatedly explained, the issue regarding Syria is not whether the United States should help more—it is already helping to supply arms indirectly through Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—but to whom the arms and help flow. In principle, the Syrian opposition is fighting against a terrible dictatorship (see my book, The Truth About Syria for details, available free here). Yet for all practical purposes, it is dominated by radical Islamist militias (except for the Kurds who are faced with local rule by a radical Marxist militia).

The reality, then, is that the United States is helping arm and perhaps helping to train radical Islamist guerrillas who want a Sharia state in Syria, who believe Israel should be wiped off the map, and who may soon be murdering and oppressing Christians and other groups in Syria itself.

Shouldn’t this be an issue–one day it might be a scandal–that’s widely discussed in Congress and the mass media? There might be a way around this, as is being hinted, if the Americans, British, and French are only training former Syrian army soldiers, relatively few of whom would be in Islamist groups. The excuse would then be that only regular soldiers are qualified for the training but that would also be designed to keep out Islamists. This would be a better approach though it still has dangers.

This brings us to the second problem: the Islamists are getting more international military help than the moderates.

While the nominal Syrian opposition leadership backed by the United States is better than before (up until recently the Obama Administration openly backed the Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council!) it is powerless on the ground. The guys with guns—fully automatic weapons by the way with large magazines—are a nightmare.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/obama-training-radical-islamists-in-syria/2013/03/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: