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April 2, 2015 / 13 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

US Orchestrated Anti-Bibi Bomb May Bite its Backers

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Remember Al Capone?

He was the notorious American gangster who met his downfall by the inelegant and unexciting – but sometimes deadly – U.S. tax code. So, too, may be the ultimate fate of the ubiquitous and well-funded Obama-style campaign machine gunning for Netanyahu, known as V15.

That entity and its creators are barred under US tax law from attempting to achieve its two stated goals: defeating Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and changing Israeli law in order to create a Palestinian State.

For some reason the fact that V15 is an avowed effort to oust Netanyahu did not raise enough eyebrows when it was first announced.

The lack of sustained attention back in January caused some to scratch their heads. That V15 was run by the same folks, and in the same style, as U.S. President Barack Obama’s notorious street theater, in your face, take no prisoners-style campaign director, Jeremy Bird; that its financial, emotional and political source received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S. State Department; and even though that same source is an entity which has tax exempt status in the U.S. – which means it cannot fund projects to either support or defeat a political candidate in the U.S. or anywhere else, did not lead to a long media shelf life.

The first two issues should have drawn attention to V15 not because political operatives are barred from selling their strategic skills – that is, after all, the nature of their job – but because it was so odd for someone like Bird to come all the way to Israel to sell his skills. Bird is not Jewish, and his only apparent connection to Israel was working for an anti-Israel American radical activist back in his graduate days.

But who was paying for Bird? Campaign funding is very strictly regulated in Israel. The strategist who managed Obama’s two U.S. presidential campaigns – in which billions of dollars were spent – was likely to have a very high price tag.

Then there was the matter of the U.S. State Department grants to OneVoice, V15’s “creator.” The airy dismissal that all State Department funding ended at the end of November, so there was no U.S. government money being used for the election — which was publicly announced in early December — was, incredibly, accepted without any further interrogation by the American (and most of the Israeli) press corps. Former Naval Intelligence officer J.E. Dyer  pursues that angle with the kind of tenacity one should be able to expect from the seasoned press corps members who show up nearly every day at State Dept. briefings.

But the least interesting angle, at least to most, is the one that involves the Internal Revenue Service. Before your eyes glaze over, recall that the U.S. actually had what could almost be called a juicy scandal beginning nearly two years ago, that involved the IRS.

Quite a few politically conservative (and one pro-Israel) organizations claimed that the IRS was treating their applications for tax-exempt status in a discriminatory fashion. The initial response from the IRS was that many of those groups were not really entitled to tax-exempt status, because they were engaged in political, not educational or charitable, work.

That seemed to many like a reasonable response. The Internal Revenue Code states that even a non-profit organization cannot be exempt from paying taxes, and its donors will not be entitled to tax deductions, if the organization is involved in politics or lobbying.

But while much of the IRSGate attention has since focused on where are Lois Lerner’s emails and whether they are really gone forever or just deleted, hidden or irrelevant, the fact that tax-exempt organizations cannot engage in raw politics seemed to be one tiny aspect of American government that many people learned.

Democrats Ready to Side with GOP and Override Obama Veto of Iran Bill

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Republican senators may have a veto-proof majority from Democrats backing a bill that would require  President Barack Obama to submit any deal with Iran to Congressional review, Politico reported.

Almost all 54 Republican senators are on board as are more than 12 Democrats, which comes out to more than the two-thirds majority that is needed to override a presidential veto.

It is not clear if the Democrats supporting the bill would go so far as to vote against a veto by Obama, but a two-thirds majority would make it very difficult for him to exercise his veto power over a law giving Congress 60 days to review a deal.

The Democrats were offended by the “open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran”” initiated by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and which warned Iran that Congress might be able to challenge an agreement between President Obama and Iran.

The White House and the other P5+1 powers reportedly are considering going through the U.N. Security Council to lift sanctions, which would raise a question in international law concerning Congress’ power to decide to re-impose sanctions.

The legalities may not matter because it is doubtful if Obama would be willing to act against such a large majority in the Congress.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said there is chance that a deal could be struck with Iran as early as this week,” but his constant optimism has to be taken with a few grains of uranium.

The open letter damaged relations with Democratic senators, but Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who did not sign the open letter, said:

Let a couple days go by. We think there’s going to be really ignited momentum. Nobody’s dropping out. We’ve had reaffirmed commitment [from Democrats.]”

The White House is trying to convince Sen. Corker to hold off on the bill and let the administration try to reach an agreement with Iran, but that night not happen until June even if a framework agreement is signed this month.

Even several Democrats are not willing to wait.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told Politico that he still would back the bill demanding Congressional approvals for a deal even though “this is a sad day in America when people are trying to kill negotiations that are underway.”

Another bill, proposed by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, would put into law that sanctions will be slapped against Iran if Congress doubts the Islamic Republic’s commitment to reach a deal or stand by its promises.

According to Kirk, there are enough Democrats behind him to give the bill more than a two-thirds majority.

Senate Launches Bipartisan Investigation Of State Dept. Funding For Anti-Netanyahu Campaign

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News

A Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee has launched a bipartisan investigation into funding by the OneVoice Movement—a Washington-based group that received $350,000 from the State Department—the Israeli Victory 15 campaign, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel, Fox News reported Saturday.

Democrats in the subcommittee, which has subpoena powers include Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Republican subcommittee members, who form the majority, are Senators John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, in addition to Portman.

Fox News cited a source involved in the effort to find a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which said: “It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15.”

The report emphasizes that both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have launched the investigation.

Last week, Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two TV that foreign governments were behind the “Anyone But Bibi” campaign.

OneVoice spokesman Payton Knopf told Fox News that “OneVoice is eager to cooperate with any inquiry, and after a fair examination, we are confident no wrong doing will be found.”

Because of its tax-exempt status, OneVoice is legally prohibited to campaign against Netanyahu directly.

According to NGO Monitor, One Voice is the “legal-organizational channel” for Victory 2015 (V15), a campaign seeking to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 March elections.

The NGO Monitor website quotes OneVoice Israel’s Executive Director Polly Bronstein as saying: “We believe that it’s critical that the majority of Israelis who are concerned about the numerous security and socio-economic challenges we face have their voices heard in the next election. We need a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”

The NGO Monitor website claims V15 posted a statement on its website saying: “Among those that donated are Daniel Lubetzky, Alon Kastiel, Uri Weiss and S. Daniel Abraham. Some organizations also donated, among them OneVoice.”

According to FoxNews.com, in its 2014 Annual Report One Voice said its Israel branch would be “embarking on a groundbreaking campaign around the Israeli elections.” In partnering with V15, the two groups have operated from adjacent offices in Tel Aviv.

In Israel, V15 has been assisted by Jeremy Bird, President Obama’s deputy national campaign director in 2008, and national campaign director in 2012.

The State Department has denied that its funds were used for election campaign activities.

Reaction to GOP Letter Exposes Attempt to Outfox Congress on Iran Deal

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Reactions to the letter by Republican senators to Iran that a deal on its nuclear deal could require Congressional approval have exposed the Obama administration as possibly being involved in international moves to make an agreement binding through the United Nations.

The United States and other world powers have been secretly talking about going to the U.N. Security Council to lift U.N. sanctions if the P5+1 powers strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

The possibility of a Security Council resolution being considered legally binding would make the Obama administration’s statement to the contrary look ridiculous.

The open letter to Iran from the senators underlined what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and told Congress – that a deal would not be binding on future presidents.

“If there’s a nuclear deal, and that’s still a big ‘if’, we’ll want to move quickly on the U.N. sanctions issue,” an unnamed official told Reuters.

“There is an interesting question about whether, if the Security Council endorses the deal, that stops Congress undermining the deal,” the news agency quoted a Western diplomat as saying.

Iran was quick to pick up the thread,

Supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who apparently is far from critically ill or and certainly not dead, as reported last week, scoffed at the threat in the letter that Congress could alter any possible nuclear deal between the US administration and Iran. He said:

According to international norms, governments are bound to their commitments and those rules cannot be breached with the change of governments.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is also the country’s top negotiator in talks with powers, mocked the United States for acting as if it is equal to the world and stated:

I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law…..

I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law….

Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of the US obligations.

Omri Ceren, press director for The Israel Project, stated, “The letter forced the administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm.

“The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight.”

 

Rabbi Lau Hints at Israel’s Real Enemy

Friday, March 6th, 2015

There’s a Midrash (external story to the written text) that says when King Achashverosh asked Queen Esther, “Who is this, and which one is he, that has the audacity to do such a thing?” referring to the plot to kill the Jews, Queen Esther pointed her finger back at the King, and said, “A man who is a persecutor and an enemy.”

The Midrash says that an angel then pushed her hand away from the king to point it at Haman and, realizing what she had done, Esther continued, now pointing at Haman: “This evil man, Haman!”

Former Chief Rabbi Rabbi Yisrael Lau cited the above Midrash in an appearance on a Kol Yisrael radio Friday afternoon news show. He said that sometimes we can’t say out loud who the real enemy and the real persecutor actually is. You start to point your finger, and you realize that the target is too dangerous.

This is, for instance, why a Torah portion dealing with the great, evil wizard Bala’am is named after the weakling king Balak who merely hired his services.

Likewise, these days, the Rabbi continued, we point our finger at Iran, accusing it of plotting to kill all the Jews. Because we can’t afford to point our finger at the true culprit.

And then, the good Rabbi concluded with the quip: “V’hamevin yavin.” Meaning, if you get what I mean, fine, if not – ask someone…

US Ambassador to South Korea Slashed by Activist

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul as he was about to begin a breakfast meeting.

Lippert, 42, was slashed in the face and on his hand.

Security officers leaped on the attacker, pinning him down. The attacker, Kim Ki-jong, reportedly shouted demands for North and South Korea to be united. He also condemned the annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises which are currently taking place.

North Korea has condemned those exercises as well, claiming they are preparations for an invasion of North Korea.

Lippert is a Stanford University graduate, who served in the U.S. Navy and served as Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and previously held numerous posts in the U.S. government, including stints working for Sen. Dianne Fienstein and Cong. Tom Daschle.

The ambassador was a foreign policy and defense adviser to Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign, and later served as an official adviser to President Obama. The president called Lippert after the attack to wish him a speedy recovery.

Lippert was posted to South Korea in May, 2013.

It took 80 stitches to close the slash wound to Amb. Lippert’s face. After his medical treatment, Lippert  tweeted that he is “doing well and in great spirits!”

Lipperttweet.jpg

Wikipedia lists Lippert as having “a Jewish ancestry.”

A Concrete Proposal

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

The NY Times claims that Netanyahu’s speech was short on concrete proposals, but I couldn’t help but note that former Senator Sam Nunn (D) made a concrete proposal on the Iran nuclear problem, just 8 months ago, on the pages of the NY Times.

Nunn’s proposal was to set up an international nuclear fuel bank.

From Wikipedia:

Enrichment technology is primarily used to create enriched nuclear fuel, but it can also be used to create weapons-grade nuclear material. The main goal of a fuel bank is therefore to minimize the risk of further nuclear weapons proliferation by removing the need for countries to possess enrichment technology.

The proposed fuel bank would assure a back-up supply for power reactors throughout the world on a non-discriminatory, non-political basis, reducing the need for countries to develop their own uranium enrichment technologies at a time when concerns about nuclear proliferation are growing. The IAEA’s former chairman Dr. ElBaradei confirmed this, saying that the importance of nuclear fuel banks is “by providing reliable access to fuel at competitive market prices, we remove the need for countries to develop indigenous fuel cycle capabilities. In so doing, we could go a long way towards addressing current concerns about the dissemination of sensitive fuel cycle technologies.”

The concept is simple. Countries don’t need enrichment technologies if they have access to all the fuel they need. Without enrichment technologies, it is very difficult for them to make nuclear weapons – but they have as much fuel as they need for peaceful energy purposes.

Nunn writes:

“The fuel bank may be directly relevant to an Iran agreement”

And Sam Nunn is right.

Prime Minister said the alternative to a bad deal is not war, but a better deal. This would be a better deal.

If President Obama isn’t going to listen to Netanyahu, at least he should listen to the concrete proposals by members of his own Democratic party.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-concrete-proposal/2015/03/04/

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