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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

Netanyahu Asking Kerry to Avoid UN 2-State Resolution

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night phoned Secretary of State John Kerry to tell him Israel expected the Obama Administration not to change its policy and promote or support a vote on the Israeli-PA conflict at the UN Security Council between the November 8 vote and the inauguration of the next US president in January, Ha’aretz reported citing an anonymous Israeli official.

According to the same source, Kerry responded by saying the Administration has not yet made its decision on this matter — which is probably what he would have said if he didn’t want an Obama anti-Israel move to hit the news before the election.

The chances for a hostile American move have increased following reports on the plan to relocate the Jewish residents of Amona in Judea and Samaria, which is slated for demolition on orders from the Israeli Supreme Court, to new homes that will be built for them in nearby Shilo, also in Judea and Samaria. This is because while the Supreme Court only objects to keeping Jewish residents on land whose ownership has been disputed by local Arabs, the US objects to any sign of new Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.

According to Ha’aretz, Netanyahu did not raise the issue of an anti-Israel US vote at the UNSC during his meeting with President Obama in New York in September. But following Netanyahu’s meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a few days later, the latter issued a statement saying she objects to any unilateral US move against Israel at the UN. Netanyahu is hoping that, should she win—which appears to be a certainty at this point—Clinton would restrain Obama during the transition period.

Pundit Eli Lake writing for Bloomberg suggested the mildest move on Obama’s part after November 8 would be a speech in favor of the two-state solution. This approach is similar to a speech Bill Clinton gave at the end of his presidency that laid out such parameters. Lake expects Obama to disclose in such a speech the concessions Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were willing to make in their negotiations that fell apart in 2014.

A second option, which Hillary Clinton has vowed to try and block, could be US support for a new Security Council resolution to replace resolution 242, which was drafted after the 1967 Israeli liberation of the territories occupied by Egypt, Jordan and Syria in 1949. 242 does not mention a Palestinian State, but instead calls on Israel to return liberated territories to the Arab aggressors along its borders.

A third option would be for the Obama Administration to declare war on rightwing Israeli NGOs. Anti-Israel Jewish organizations such as J Street have suggested altering the US tax code to exclude rightwing Israeli NGOs which today frustrate Arab illegal settlement in Area C, placed under Israeli custody in the Oslo Accords. The NGO Regavim, for instance, has done an aggressive job compelling the Israeli Supreme Court as well as the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria to act against illegal Arab squatters, enraging the EU and Us which have been paying for those illegal settlements.

Finally, the Obama Administration might declare its recognition of a Palestinian State in borders that include Area C, and issue an ultimatum for Israel to withdraw its military and civilians from the new state. It’s probably the least likely option, but it’s out there, being bandied about in think tanks in Washington DC and in Jerusalem.


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.


Bennett: We Must Sacrifice to Preserve Judea and Samaria [video]

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday night announced that Israelis must make sacrifices in order to preserve the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria. Speaking in the wake of the Obama Administration’s assault on Netanyahu’s cabinet’s plan to move the residents of Amona to new homes in Shiloh, 11 miles away, Bennett said that “regarding the Land of Israel we must switch from blocking to winning.” He also promised that he and his two Religious Zionist colleagues in the cabinet are “taking responsibility for a strategic arrangement for the settlement enterprise.”

Bennett spoke at a conference in Jerusalem in memory of MK Hanan Porat, one of the founders of the Gush Emunim movement which led the National Religious wave of settlements in the newly liberated territories after the 1967 Six Day War. Habayit Hayehudi is facing an existential dilemma these days, as many of its voters have said they’d rather see their elected representatives leave the coalition government than participate in the decision to uproot the Amona residents. Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been advocating a permanent legal resolution of the problem of thousands of Arab claims, initiated and financed by anti-Zionist NGOs like Peace Now, with European and American funding, against existing Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria. The Habayit Hayehudi ministers prefer to work from within the Netanyahu government on legislation to compel such claimants to accept market value compensation, rather than stage a dramatic exit from the coalition.

“We should highlight the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria become part of the sovereign Land of Israel,” Bennett told his audience. “We must act today and we must make sacrifices. We cannot continue to consider the Land of Israel as our tactical goal and a Palestinian State as our strategic goal.”

Bennett cited the late Hanan Porat “who said we have no right to divide the land. Not through words, nor through action, silent acquiescence, or quiet excuses. Neither by politicians nor by jurists. The path of concessions, of partition, has lost out.” He then promised that because of the people of Amona, and because of their faith and trust, “we will lead with a strategic solution to the entire settlement enterprise.”

Zionist Camp (a.k.a. Labor) MKs Tzipi Livni and Ksenia Svetlova condemned Bennnett’s vision, calling it “the nightmare of the entire people of Israel,” and accusing him of warmongering. Interestingly, current polls are showing Habayit Hayehudi leading the Zionist Camp by between two and four Knesset seats, had the elections been held today.


Final Obama Battle Waged Against Amona Jews

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The new, and, God Willing, final confrontation between the departing Obama Administration and the still ticking Netanyahu government appears to center on Amona, located on a hill overlooking Ofra in Benjamin Region, at the heart of the liberated territories.


Amona was founded in 1995, and has 200-plus residents — 50-plus families. Amona’s very name is a densely packed tale of occupations: it is mentioned in the Book of Joshua 18:24 as Kfar HaAmmonai, meaning Village of the Amonites, but the Amonite kingdom was well to the east of the Jordan River, so that when the Israelite tribe of Benjamin took it over, it actually liberated it from foreign occupation. A dozen or so conquests later, Amona was initially redeemed and rebuilt in 1995, not as a community but as an archeological site and the location of the Mekorot national water company’s containers. In 1996, the head of the regional council, with the support of the defense ministry, placed three caravans with young people from Ofra on the Amona hill, for strategic purposes.

Since then, and until 2005, a succession of Israeli governments invested in Amona’s infrastructure and encouraged its settlement by young families, mostly from nearby Ofra. In fact, in 2001, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon encouraged the locals to start building permanent homes, into which they moved from the 30 or so caravans where they lived. In 2003, then Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu participated in the celebrations of opening the community’s first mikvah. There was no doubt that the State of Israel was sanctioning the Amona enterprise.

In 2004, the Amana residents completed construction of nine permanent homes. Then, in October 2004, the Israeli Civil Administration ordered the demolition of the same structures, based on complaints that the lands had been acquired illegally from local Arabs who used to graze their flocks there.

According to the Amona residents, the reason they can’t produce the proper registration of their land has to do with the Palestinian Authority law that penalizes anyone who sells land to Jews. Over the years, dozens of Arab real estate brokers who dared to sell to Jews, often through a straw man, have been imprisoned and even executed. The Jews of Amona claim they purchased most of the land from local Arabs, with the understanding that they would protect the sellers’ identity by not registering the sale.

In July 2005, Peace Now petitioned the Supreme Court, complaining that no demolition had been executed. And in November 2005, the destroyer of Gush Katif, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, ordered the demolition of Amona be carried out by the end of January 2006.

On February 1, 2006, local Jewish residents and a few thousand protesters, including several MKs, clashed with a force of 10,000 Police, Border Guard, and IDF troops. The cops were as brutal and cruel as Israel had ever seen. An estimated 300 Jewish protesters were injured. Young Jewish girls accused the cops of sexual assault.

Eventually, the nine newly built homes of Amona were destroyed.

In December 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the entire community of Amona had to be evacuated and their homes demolished. The court has rejected an idea by then cabinet secretary and now Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit, that in cases like Amona, where government was involved in a community’s establishment, the Arab claimant be compelled to accept market value or comparable land. Most recently, Habayit Hayehudi cabinet ministers have suggested moving the Amona residents to nearby land — and that is the move which caught the ire of the lame duck Obama Administration.


On Wednesday, in an angry press release reminiscent of the Days Secretary John Kerry was first realizing there was no Nobel Peace Prize for him for fathering a new Palestinian State, the State Department “strongly condemned” the planned Amona move, stressing it violates Israel’s promise not to build new settlements. State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said

“it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the US and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for a two-state solution that he so passionately supported.”

Never mind what you do to us, look what you’re doing to Shimon!

The NY Times cited Martin Indyk, Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and, as rumors have it, President Hillary Clinton’s next envoy for the same Sisyphean chore, who threatened, as only a Jew who passionately hates the idea of an independent and strong Israel can: “At a certain point, the administration may well decide that there needs to be consequences for what it now sees as an effort to close off the two-state solution.”

For his part, Spokesperson Toner told the State Dept. press briefing on Wednesday:

“…when we see Israel carry out this kind of action – new settlement activity, announcement of new settlement activity – that, frankly, contradicts its stated goal to have or to achieve or pursue a two-state solution, it raises serious concerns and we have to publicly and privately convey those concerns to the Government of Israel.”

Then came this from Toner:

“…with regard to the UN Security Council and any action at the UN, our position hasn’t changed. We’re always concerned, frankly, about one-sided resolutions or other actions that could be taken within the UN, and we’re always going to oppose those kinds of resolutions that we believe delegitimize Israel and undermine its security.” Then, having paid the proper lip service, Toner delivered the zinger: “But we’re going to carefully consider our future engagement, if and when we reach that point, and determine how to most effectively pursue and advance the objective that we all at least claim to share, which is that of achieving a negotiated two-state solution. That work is going to continue with our international partners and we’re going to continue to make clear when we have concerns, such as we do today, with regard to Israel’s actions. We’re going to make those concerns clear to the Israeli Government.”

Do you see the veiled threat of the US deciding to support or abstain at a UNSC unilateral vote on establishing a Palestinian State?

Netanyahu heard it, loud and clear. On Wednesday night, Israel’s Foreign Ministry (PM Netanyahu is also the Foreign Minister) issued a statement rejecting the American criticism, arguing that the construction plan the cabinet initiated a week ago does not constitute building a new settlement, and, besides, “the settlements are not the barrier to peace.”

“The 98 housing units approved for the Shiloh settlement do not constitute a new settlement,” went the statement. “These units are to be built on state-owned land in the existing settlement of Shiloh, and will not alter its municipal boundaries. These housing units are intended to provide housing to the residents of Amona who must leave their homes according to home demolition orders issued by the Supreme Court of Justice.”

The Netanyahu argument will probably not persuade Toner or Kerry and Obama for that matter. Their vision inherently encompasses Judea and Samaria as Judenrein (German for “clean of Jews”), and so the argument regarding Shiloh’s unchanged municipal boundaries is meaningless to them — they hold there shouldn’t have been a Jewish Shiloh there in the first place.

Or, as Toner put it,

“…that’s particularly why we find [Israel’s] actions so befuddling, when it takes actions such as continued settlement activity that run counter to what we’re all trying to achieve here. And so we’re going to continue to press that case to them. We have a very close and very frank and candid relationship with Israel. We’re going to continue to call it like we see it, and when we see this kind of activity that we believe is counterproductive, we’re going to say so.”

Al Quds reporter Said Arikat pressed Toner:

“You keep saying that the UN is a forum that is somehow inherently opposed to Israel, while in fact, it was created through that UN organization. But let me ask you this: I mean, if this is in occupied territory, which you acknowledge, and there are laws that pertain to the occupying power’s rights and privileges or obligations under international law, why not push forward, put your weight behind what is internationally lawful in this case, and bring Israel to bear on these issues – holding it to account?”

Toner would not say, because to actually reveal what the Administration is, presumably, planning for the day after November 8 could start WW3. But there’s no doubt that, should the US decide to support a UN vote on a two-state solution, Amona, that ancient home of the invaders from across the Jordan River, will definitely play a major role in the decision.

David Israel

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.


Obama Unites Congressional Democrats, Republicans, in Overriding Veto Damaging 9/11 Families

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby was in the middle of his daily press briefing Wednesday when a reporter informed him that the House had just joined the Senate in overriding the presidential veto on a law permitting the families of 9/11 attacks victims to sue Saudi Arabia should it turn out that the Kingdom was involved in carrying out those attacks. The reporter wanted to know if the Obama Administration, as it had warned would happen, had been approached by any foreign government threatening to “pass legislation that could affect the sovereign immunity of the United States and U.S. officials abroad?”

As expected, Kirby admitted he was not aware “that any government has expressed an intention to do so since the President’s veto. Before the President’s veto, though,” he noted, “some of our European friends — who are less likely to have been affected by the intent of the law itself — have expressed concerns about the issue of sovereign immunity surrounding the law. … France being one of them.” But no country like, say, Saudi Arabia, has so far stated its intent to seek anti-American retribution.

Possibly because Saudi Arabia is not interested in alienating the American public even more at this stage of the game, when the Iranians are running roughshod along its borders and the only reliable protection for the Saudis comes from the US.

However, as Kirby pointed out, the new law, now officially on the books, is forcing the US’ European allies “to rethink the whole issue of sovereign immunity. We didn’t make that up. That was communicated to us by other countries.”

Is the State Dept. expecting diplomatic difficulty with Saudi Arabia as a result of the veto? In Kirby’s view, “it goes beyond just Saudi Arabia. It goes to a larger concern that we have had about this idea of sovereign immunity — not just for diplomats but for our troops, for US companies that operate overseas.”

Possibly. What was most poignant about this vote was the fact that Congressional Democrats clamored to support the veto override, signaling to their voters that they are not captives of an irrational White House on this and other issues. Congressman Jerry Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat whose 10th Congressional District actually includes Ground Zero, was adamant in attacking the president’s arguments.

“Despite the overblown rhetoric of some critics of this bill, JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) will not pose a threat to American military personnel or diplomats,” Nadler told the house. Debunking Kirby’s fretting, he added, “They would be absolutely protected if another country passed legislation mirroring this bill because JASTA applies only to governments. To the extent that a foreign government might pass broader legislation that would make American personnel subject to liability, that country would not be reciprocating. It would be engaging in a transparent and unjustifiable act of aggression.”

Nadler also noted that, despite Obama’s exaggerated fears, “the economic, diplomatic, and military strength of the United States makes such action unlikely, and any rogue state inclined to target US interests can already do so. We must not hold justice for the 9/11 families hostage to imagined fears.”

Over at the Senate, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cast the only vote in favor of Obama’s veto. No Democrat argued in favor of Obama’s version of reality before the vote. The Senate voted 97-1 Wednesday to override the veto.

The White House was irate, obviously, and spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One following the Senate override, “I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983.”

For speculations as to what act of the Senate Earnest was referring to, check out this website, which tried to figure it out (White House Is Profoundly Wrong About the Most Embarrassing Thing Senate Has Done). We went to Wikipedia (so you won’t have to) and dug up possible embarrassing things Joe may have been thinking about, although, to be fair, most of them were attributed to the president, not the Senate:

On February 24, 1983, a special Congressional commission released a report critical of the practice of Japanese internment during World War II. That sure was embarrassing, but the shameful stuff didn’t happen in 1983, obviously.

On April 18, 1983, the US Embassy was bombed in Beirut, resulting in 63 dead. Then, on October 23, 1983, simultaneous suicide truck-bombings destroyed both the French and the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, killing 241 US servicemen, 58 French paratroopers and 6 Lebanese civilians. That was horrifying and embarrassing, especially since at that point President Ronald Reagan decided to cut and run — a point not mentioned often enough in those stories glorifying him as a brave commander-in-chief.

Finally, on October 25, 1983, American troops invaded Grenada, possibly to show the US could still defeat somebody. Yes, that was pretty embarrassing.

Of course, Earnest was not referring to any of the above. He was merely responding to a reporter who had told him that Wednesday’s veto was the most overwhelming since a 1983 95-0 veto override. President Reagan vetoed a land bill that gave a few acres to six retired couples who had paid good money for it only to find out later that, due to a surveying error, it was still government property.

No Saudis were harmed in the commission of that other veto.


Setting the Record Straight: Clinton Bears Partial Responsibility for ISIS

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

During Monday night’s presidential debate, Candidate Trump accused Secretary Clinton and President Obama of bearing the responsibility for the creation of the Caliphate, a.k.a. the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Trump charged: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out — […] they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.” Trump suggested that ISIS “wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn’t have had them.”

Clinton responded: “I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard.” She explained that “George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama. And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.”

Without taking sides, there is something to what Trump is saying. The fact checkers on Politico found his statement attributing the responsibility to Obama to be wrong, since, as they put it, “ISIS formed as Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004, before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state and Barack Obama became president, and long before the US began drawing down troops in Iraq.” But the fact is that the core of both Al Qaeda in Iraq and its splinter group ISIS that became much bigger and better organized than the original franchise, were Sunni Baath Party members who lost their government and military positions once the Americans had occupied Iraq and handed the national rule to the Shiite majority.

As Reuters reported in 2015, the rising Islamic State, with the help of former Saddam Hussein military officers, out-muscled the Sunni-dominated Baath Party troops which had been fighting a guerilla war against US troops in Fallujah and elsewhere, and absorbed thousands of them. The new recruits joined Saddam-era officers who already held key posts in the Islamic State.

It’s safe to say that President GW Bush, by invading Iraq and then sending hundreds of thousands of Saddam loyalists to the unemployment lines instead of incorporating them into the new, semi-democratic Iraq, created ISIS. The creation of the Taliban and later Al Qaeda, by the way, can be largely attributed to President Reagan, whose CIA recruited and trained the Arab Mujahideen insurgent groups who fought against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Those same highly trained, largely Saudi troops were later galvanized into a disciplined and effective force in Bosnia, Somalia and Chechnya.

So the bulk of the blame rests with the second Bush administration, which altered the Middle East forever. Incidentally, despite the citation of a lone radio interview with shock jock Howard Stern, in which Trump made a noncommittal, off the cuff comment supporting the Iraq invasion, he clearly has been one of the earlier voices against the American presence in Iraq, while Senator Clinton with her vote actually handed President Bush the keys to start the war. She says she and fellow Democrats had been duped by Bush, who promised not to use the war powers they gave him, but some in the Senate (Sen. Obama, for one) did not fall for it.

But the most devastating point was made by Secretary Clinton when she said the Obama Administration had no choice but to pull out of Iraq, because the Shiite government, practically operating on instructions from Tehran, wouldn’t agree to let them stay. Seriously? Had President Obama actually insisted on staying he couldn’t have come up with ways to persuade the Iraqis?

The fact was Obama had promised his voters to pull the military out of Iraq by the appointed time. He did not begin the withdrawal of troops, GW Bush did, starting in 2007. But it must be noted that the last US troops left Iraq on 18 December 2011, just in time for the first Democratic primary in Iowa. They left behind a Sunni-owned Fallujah where only the US military had been able to maintain a semblance of law and order, with a combination of raids and bribes. As soon as the declared date for withdrawal had arrived, those same former Saddam loyalists who had been transformed several times over the previous decade, were ready for their current reincarnation as ISIS.

Many, including several US senators, most notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham, begged for a contingency of troops to stay, just in case things went south in Fallujah. They urged Obama to sell the idea, with a measure of force if necessary, to Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki. But as Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell told NPR in 2015, Obama never really tried. “This is one of the criticisms of Obama — that he sort of wanted the negotiations to fail,” Sowell said, “and, so, he didn’t even talk to Maliki until it was basically all over.”

To complete this fact check: the Obama-Clinton Administration did not start the complex and incredibly expensive process that led to the creation of ISIS, but there’s no doubt they could have stopped it with a comparatively low investment of troops and funds.

Advantage Trump.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/setting-the-record-straight-clinton-bears-partial-responsibility-for-isis/2016/09/27/

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