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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘president’

Rabbi Ovadia’s Daughter May Bid to Succeed Peres as President

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Hillary Clinton is the odds-on favorite as Democratic presidential candidate for the 2016 elections, and if the Republicans continue to prefer arguing rather than uniting, she will succeed.

In Israel, none other than Adina Bar Shalom, the Haredi left-wing daughter of the late Torah sage Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is contemplating running for the post that will be vacant with the end of the term of President Shimon Peres this year. The Knesset elects the president.

Bar Shalom, 69,  said last month that she has not talked with anyone about the possibility of running, but she told the Forward this week she might take the plunge. She said she is now talking about the prospect with several key people and supporters who believe she can be a “bridge between religion and the state.”

One of the reasons for her hesitation on declaring herself as a candidate is that she wants to know who else will be running. Another woman, former  Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner whose decisions were left-leaning, said Thursday she intends to run for president.

So far, veteran Knesset Members Reuven Rivlin of the Likud and Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer of Labor have announced their candidacies, as has outsider Dan Shectman, who like Bar Shalom has no  experience in politics. The Technion University scientist  is a Noble Prize winner in chemistry.

The position of presidency had been a ceremonial one until Ezer Weizmann actively pushed political policies during his term of office in the 1990s, and Peres has often acted more like Prime Minister then president.

Bar Shalom might win support from Israel’s popular media, which would promote her because of her leftist views and because she is a woman, considered to be a credential in and of itself by a pro-feminist media.

She told the Forward she firmly believes Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas is a “partner for peace” and believes his statements that “I won’t allow terrorists and terror” and “I prevent the terror.”

She founded a college for Haredi women in 2000 and which now is also open to men, who learn separately from women.

Bennett Walks Out on EU President: I Won’t Be Rebuked in German

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, started a small riot in the Knesset Wednesday afternoon, when he rebuked the MKs on the lack of equality which, evidently, forces people to blow up their Jewish neighbors. Not a lot has changed in the Fatherland, it appears.

“There is no alternative to peace if we want to give people an honorable life,” Schultz said, adding, “The Palestinians, too, have the right to self determination and to justice. Tell me, and I ask you if this is right, that Israelis are allowed to use 17.5 gallons of water a day, while the Palestinians only 4.25 gallons.”

One of the most celebrated studies to date on the issue of who gets more water, is the 2012 The Israeli-Palestinian Water Conflict: An Israeli Perspective, by Prof. Haim Gvirtzman of The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The paper details the water agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, refuting any criticism against Israel for not adhering to its commitments. “Israel has not only fulfilled all of its obligations stemming from the 1995 Interim Agreement signed with the PA,” writes Prof. Gvirtzman, “but has met all water commitments requisite of a permanent status agreement as well.”

The study documents the fact that “there is almost no difference today in the per capita consumption of natural water between Israelis and Palestinians. The large difference that existed in 1967, when the administration of Judea and Samaria was handed over from Jordan to Israel, has been reduced over the last 40 years and is now negligible. As well, the per capita domestic water consumption of the Palestinians is significantly higher than the minimum human needs defined by the World Health Organization.”

And here comes the point which the EU president should probably take back to his hosts in Ramallah, “While Israel has ensured that nearly all Palestinian villages and towns are connected to running water, the Palestinians have violated their part of the agreement by refusing to build sewage treatment plants (despite available international financing). Moreover, the Palestinians have drilled hundreds of unlicensed wells and set up unauthorized connections to Israeli water supply pipelines.”

Jewish Home MKs calling Schultz's lie, moments before they stood up and left the plenum in disgust. Photo by Flash 90.

Jewish Home MKs calling Schultz’s lie, moments before they stood up and left the plenum in disgust. Photo by Flash 90.

Many Jewish Home MKs reacted with appropriate rage, and Chairman Naftali Bennett, MK Orit Struk and a few others yelled: “It’s a lie!”

Jewish Home MK Motti Yogev yelled at Schultz something about the fact that Eretz Israel was given to the nation of Israel, and was promptly removed from the plenum. He was followed by a few colleagues from his faction. MK Struk said: “When the president of the European Parliament spits on you, you can’t keep quiet, wipe your face and say it was the rain.”

Bennett wrote in his Facebook page a short while later: “I will not accept a lying sermon against the nation of Israel in the Israeli Knesset, certainly not in German.”

Naturally, the left condemned mightily the Jewish Home reaction, which, as Minister Uri Orbach put it, was a quiet protest. The same left kept mum only two weeks ago, when Arab MK Ahmad Tibbi screamed uncontrollably at Canadian PM Stephen Harper.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was critical of Schultz’s speech, suggesting it reflected the selective hearing which has become rampant in many European circles. He added that the figures Schultz had picked up in Ramallah about the water consumption gaps are simply wrong.

Former President Katzav Asks For Retrial

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Former president Moshe Katzav has requested a retrial from the Supreme Court.

Katzav claims that his conviction was solely based on the testimony of ‘A’, and no other evidence.

Katzav claims that calls made from his car prove he wasn’t with ‘A’ at the times he was supposed to have been raping her.

Katzav has been claiming his innocence since the beginning of the ordeal.

Obama Negotiates Amid Iranian Genocidal Intent

Monday, October 7th, 2013

President Obama’s overtures to Iran are troubling and dangerous, and I find it astonishing that the leader of the free world would reestablish communication with the world’s foremost sponsor of international terror at the Presidential level without any preconditions.

First, there is Iran’s funding of Hamas and Hezbollah, murderous organizations with declared genocidal intent against Israel and Jews worldwide. How could the President of a nation that experienced the horrors of 9/11 pick up the phone to the leader of a country which pays for the maiming and murder of Jewish and Arab children? In Syria, Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army, has become the private militia of Bashar Assad to help slaughter the Syrian people. President Obama has unfortunately chosen not to punish Assad for the chemical gassing of children, rendering his own red line less than useless. But can he not at least demand that Iran cease funding and supplying Assad’s butchers in Syria before they can rejoin the community of nations? Is outreach to mass murderers consistent with American values?

In Israel, Hamas, which until recently received a river of funding from Iran, just a month ago tried to plant a bomb in the Mamilla mall – just a few minutes walk from the kotel – that is at all times packed with people and where I often walk with my children.

Then there are the oft-repeated genocidal aspirations of the Iranian government itself to wipe the State of Israel off the map. And lest someone say that that was all Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and not President Rouhani, I remind you that the real leader of Iran is Ayatollah Ali Khameini who threatened as recently as this past March to “destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa” and last August said that “the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography,” adding that the “cancerous tumor” Israel had to be removed, expressing the hope that the Arab spring would inspire an Islamic “awakening” that would ultimately fulfill Iran’s goal of annihilating Israel.

But even if Iran’s supreme leader did not continue his vows to exterminate Israel, we have not even heard President Rouhani explicitly denounce the crazed threats of Jewish extermination that were the hallmark of his predecessor Ahmadinejad.

Is it possible that an American president would open negotiations with a country who have not renounced their intention to produce a second holocaust and who continue to enrich uranium and work on a plutonium bomb that can be used to that effect?

As for holocaust denial, when Christiane Amanpour asked Rouhani, “Does the right honorable gentleman from Tehran believe the Holocaust actually happened?,” the accurate, as opposed to the misreported, Fars news agency translation of his response was this: “I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify, state and explain the aspects of historical events. But generally we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout the history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews… Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemned, (but) the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers, I am not a history scholar.”

How much real progress from Ahmadinejad is there in this convoluted, ridiculous response? Crimes were committed, but not a holocaust, against both Jews and non-Jews, and even this must still be verified by historians.

All of which leads to the question of why President Obama embarrassed the United States by practically begging the President of Iran, a terror state, to publicly shake his hand at the UN?

With Obama’s phone call to Rouhani, Netanyahu has once again been put on the defensive by the American president. Obama’s inexplicable outreach to the Iranians, amid their genocidal proclamations against Israel and deep hatred of the Great Satan America, have made Bibi appear, once again, like a war-monger.

Yet, last week an acquaintance of mine, who has connections with the Israeli government, received a phone call from an Iranian diplomat asking him to intervene with Prime Minister Netanyahu himself. “Can you tell Netanyahu to leave us alone already, to stop abusing Iran?” This phone call, as well as the many attacks by the Iranian government against Netanyahu personally, show that the Prime Minister’s message of Iran remaining unrepentant murderers is working. Rouhani’s charm offensive is not breaking completely through.

Few of us have the platform of an Israeli premiere. But when the stakes are this high, with Iran threatening a genocide of the Jews, each of us, Democrat, Republican, and Independent, as well as Jew and non-Jew, must make our voices heard and tell the President that words mean nothing and the only thing that matters is action. Demand that Rouhani defund Hezbollah, stop arming Syria, renounce all threats against Israel, and immediately stop enriching uranium before the United States engages him in further diplomacy.

A Week after Phone Call, U.S., Iran, Exchange Doubts

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Entangled as he is, in a government shutdown in its fifth day, President Barack Obama devoted only a marginal portion of his interview with the Associated Press Saturday to his diplomatic outreach to Iran, in an attempt to bring an end to Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. A week or so after Obama’s phone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani—the first direct talk between American and Iranian leaders in more than 30 years, some of the initial excitement appears to have given way to pragmatism.

“Rouhani has staked his position on the idea that he can improve relations with the rest of the world,” Obama told the AP. “And so far he’s been saying a lot of the right things. And the question now is, can he follow through?”

Obama acknowledged that Rouhani is not Iran’s only “decision-maker. He’s not even the ultimate decision-maker,” he added, alluding to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Israel and other countries have questioned whether Rouhani’s public relations effort represents real change in Iran’s leadership.

The supreme leader Khamenei himself said on Saturday that he supports Rouhani’s attempts at moving closer to the West, but said that the U.S. leader is “untrustworthy, arrogant, illogical and a promise-breaker.”

He could probably win if he ran on a Republican ticket in most southern and mid-western states…

“We support the movement in the government’s diplomacy, including the New York visit, since we hold trust in the government and we are optimistic about it, but some of what happened in the New York visit were not proper because we believe the U.S. administration is untrustworthy, conceited, illogical and unfaithful to its pledges,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a cadets graduation ceremony in Tehran on Saturday.

Obama was careful to distance U.S. assessments of when Iran might have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from what Israel is predicting. Israeli officials have been saying that Iran is a mere months away from building a bomb, but Obama said today that Tehran is at least a year away from having that capability.

The president used the same time frame last March, before his visit to Israel.

The Fars News agency reported that, in their phone conversation, Presidents Rouhani and Obama stressed the necessity for mutual cooperation on different regional issues. Then Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary Kerry were commissioned to begin follow up talks between the two countries.

“But after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, the US president made a U-turn, and said that ‘we take no options off the table, including military options,’” Fars complained, saying this “revealed the U.S. administration’s lack of independence and decision-making power.”

Oh, Bibi, Bibi, why must you rule so harshly over poor President Obama…

Elie Wiesel and Kagame of Rwanda Discuss Genocide & Syria

Monday, September 30th, 2013

There were several important news making items that emerged from our historic discussion on genocide that our organization, This World: The Jewish Values Network, together with NYU Hillel, staged on Sunday night, 29 September, at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City – the venue that brought Abraham Lincoln to national prominence in 1860 – before 1000 people. The event – introduced by philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Michael Steinhardt and which I moderated – was historic because it brought together the two biggest names in global genocide remembrance: Prof. Elie Wiesel, the living embodiment of the martyred six million of the holocaust, and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the only man alive who can claim to have stopped a genocide when his RPF forces conquered Rwanda in 1994 and ended the slaughter that had taken the lives of nearly one million Tutsis.

As to the discussion of whether President Franklin Roosevelt did enough to stop the murder of Europe’s Jews, Elie Wiesel came down firmly on the side of those who say he failed at this great moral responsibility. He deserves credit for defeating Hitler, Wiesel said, but as a someone who confronted a genocide and did not limit it, he deserves to be severely criticized.

I then turned the question to Kagame, adjusted to the Rwandan genocide. Did he harbor anger toward the United States, a moral and righteous superpower who blew it completely in Rwanda, doing next to nothing to stop the genocide and, arguably, even obstructing the efforts of other nations to assist. No, the President said. We’re way past that. It’s not about anger but our conclusion that we alone can protect ourselves and can never rely on a fickle world for our defense. Rwandans can rely on Rwandans for their defense.

I pointed out to the president that Israel came to the same conclusion about its defense in general, and is now pondering whether it will apply that principle by striking Iran alone, now that President Obama has decided to engage the Iranian president even as he continues to enrich Uranium and fund Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.

I asked Elie Wiesel about Syria. Given the Bible’s commandment ‘not to stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,’ did the United States have a moral obligation to punish Assad for gassing children, even if he surrenders his chemical arsenal? Wiesel was unequivocal. Both the American political, and Jewish communal leadership had failed on Syria. Chemical gas was a trigger point for genocide and mass murder. The fact that Assad had paid no price for gassing children was a tremendous moral failure that had to be corrected, and the Jewish community should have been at the forefront of saying so.

President Kagame echoed that sentiment. Those who use either chemical, or even conventional weapons to slaughter innocent people must be held accountable or nothing will check further aggression and murder. Here were the world’s two leading voices on genocide were being jointly critical of the American government’s decision to commute the military attack on Assad to simply destroying his arsenal. Even if he did so he still had to pay a personal price for mass murder.

My close friend Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had already announced, at a press conference we convened in October of last year, that Rwanda would be opening an embassy in Israel. I turned to the President and said to him that countries like Rwanda can understand Israel’s security situation in ways that few others could. The similarities between the two countries is striking. They are of similar size. They have terrorist enemies on their borders. Israel has Iran-funded Hezbollah and Hamas and Rwanda the FDLR in Eastern Congo. Both are regularly criticized unfairly by the UN. Both have had frictions with France which has at times assumed a curiously negative posture toward both countries. And, of course, both have experienced genocides of staggering proportions.

In light of the unique relationship between the two countries, I asked the President would it not be proper for Rwanda to open its embassy not in Tel Aviv but in Jerusalem, becoming one of the first nations to affirm the holy city as Israel’s eternal and undivided capitol? The President was surprised by the question but answered graciously. Rwanda and Israel indeed share similar histories and security challenges. He was very happy that they were increasing their bilateral relations with Rwanda opening an embassy in Israel. It was an important step in an evolving relationship and opening an Embassy in Jerusalem would be too great a leap for now. He and I both smiled at his response, with the President knowing I had put him on the spot and with me knowing that he had artfully dodged my question.

I turned to Professor Wiesel and told him that the full page ads he took out in America’s major publications in March, 2010, mildly rebuking President Obama, with whom he is close, for his pressure on Israel to cease building in parts of Jerusalem were widely credited with reversing the Administration’s policy. Would he be consider taking out similar ads questioning the President’s decision to open diplomatic relations at the highest level of the Iranian leadership without first demanding that Iran cease funding Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, or enriching Uranium? Wiesel said that Iran’s holocaust denial was dangerous and delusional, and that opening diplomatic relations with the Iranians before they had formally renounced their genocidal aspirations against the Jewish state was unacceptable. He would consider the ads.

At last, I asked Professor Wiesel about a subject he and I had discussed many times. Why was it inappropriate to hate those who have committed genocide? Should we not despise the SS who murdered his family, or Hutu genocidaires who hacked children to death with machetes? Wiesel was adamant. Once you start hating, the emotion is internalized and you cannot control its spread and growth. It’s not long before it is directed even at those whom it is inappropriate to hate.

I have been close to Wiesel for 25 years. He is my hero and teacher. But on this one point, I remain unsure, and continue to despise those monsters who would murder a child because of his nationality, religion, or race. Never again must mean just that, Never again.

Rouhani Says Ice Beginning to Break with the West, Bibi Not Impressed

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already “beginning to break” between his country and the West. This despite the fact that there has been no meeting, no hand-shake, not even a polite nod in passing between himself and President Barack Obama in the UN halls in New York City.

White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no meeting would take place, indicating that meeting would be “too complicated” for the Iranian when he goes back home.

Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and then sounded conciliatory in a CNN interview. He said there had been “some talks” to arrange a meeting to give himself and Obama an opportunity to “talk with each other” but there was not sufficient time to coordinate such a meeting.

There you go, it wasn’t obedience to the ayatollah back home, it was just bad timing.

Asked whether he has been “authorized” by the Iranian supreme leader to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said he has the authority to do what he wants, according to national interests.

The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.

“But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it’s already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world,” Rouhani told CNN.

While the centrifuges keep on churning and while Iran is putting together warheads. A brave, new era, indeed.

When the CNN host asked him to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.”



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Obama’s call for Iran’s recent “conciliatory words” to be “matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

A JTA report suggested that Netanyahu’s insistence on dismantling any Iranian nuclear capacity as a condition for stopping the boycott against it could signal a major difference with the Obama administration as the U.S. engagement with Iran advances.

What the Syria Crisis Tells Us about the Israel Lobby

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Barely minutes after the news broke earlier this month that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was planning a major effort on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Obama administration’s plan for a limited military operation against the Syrian regime, the conspiracy theorists were having a field day.

As always, it’s instructive to note how the notion that American foreign policy is a prisoner of organizations like AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group in America, is an idée fixe on both the far left and the extreme right. Juan Cole, a left-wing academic with a strong online following, grabbed the opportunity to argue that AIPAC, in advocating for what he described as “attacking Syria,” is out of touch with the opinions of most American Jews, who are not evil neoconservatives but solid progressives. The anti-Zionist Jewish blogger M.J. Rosenberg ranted about how “AIPAC and its cutouts are the only lobbying forces supporting the administration’s plans for war.”

Not to be outdone, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan, wrote that in supporting military action, AIPAC was endangering the lives of Syrian Christians, whom he believes are better off under the Assad regime.

Such concern for the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East is touching, but also a tad disingenuous, as The American Conservative has never shown much sympathy for the fate of those Christian communities, from Nigeria to Pakistan, who suffer from Islamist atrocities. When you bring Israel into the equation, however, the magazine suddenly finds its voice.

The combined message here is clear: Syria is Iraq Redux, another “endless war” America is being pushed into by a shadowy Jewish cabal.

Critics of these conspiracy theories have rightly pointed out the anti-Semitic pedigree on display here. The idea that Jews are powerful enough to manipulate their governments from behind the scenes is a staple of modern anti-Semitism. Still, let’s for a moment take the Israel Lobby thesis on its own merits. Is the charge that the “Lobby” is the real authority when it comes to U.S. foreign policy empirically verifiable?

The answer to that question is a resounding no. In fact, what the latest developments on Syria demonstrate is that rather than the “Lobby” running the administration, it is the administration that runs the “Lobby.”

AIPAC, along with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations, had been largely silent on the atrocities taking place in Syria. In that sense, they were no different from the other influential groups and individuals who were either undecided on the issue of a limited military operation or firmly opposed to it. It’s no secret that Obama always faced a rough ride in Congress, especially as some of his traditional supporters, like the MoveOn.org PAC, actively opposed any intervention in Syria.

Similarly, the Jewish left is uncomfortable with the prospect of taking on the Assad regime; J Street, a group that once ludicrously claimed to be Obama’s “blocking back” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue, has deserted the president over Syria.

Rather than pushing for war, then, AIPAC and similar groups were drafted in at the last minute to boost support for a president who was looking dangerously isolated. The irony of an administration that includes Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary who famously bemoaned AIPAC’s influence, running to groups like AIPAC to secure backing shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Even so, away from the political point scoring, what this shows is that the influence of pro-Israel groups is something this administration values. Equally – and this is key – these groups will wield that influence when the administration requests that they do so.

Importantly, this is not the first time the administration has turned to the “Lobby” for support on Middle East-related matters. Part of the reason Secretary of State John Kerry was able to galvanize support and publicity for his efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was that he turned to American Jews, whose principal organizations dutifully trumpeted his message. The fact that Kerry’s diplomacy has yielded few results isn’t really his fault, nor is it the fault of American Jews. The stasis on the Israeli-Palestinian front is the consequence, as it always has been, of rejectionism among the Palestinians, whose leaders remain distinctly queasy about doing anything that might smack of accepting Israel’s legitimacy.

Any worry about all of this on the part of American Jewish organizations should relate not to accusations of outsize influence but to association with failure. So far Israel has little to show for its decision, under pressure from the Americans, to release Palestinian terrorists ahead of the talks; meanwhile, the Syrian intervention proposal is mired in confusion because of widespread concern that an American-led operation will be too little, too late.

If the Obama administration can be confident of anything, it is that its American Jewish partners will never go so far as to openly criticize the president. Far from being the war-crazed cabal depicted in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists, the “Israel Lobby” is in reality an oasis of calm reliability for a president who may just be on the cusp of his biggest foreign policy failure.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-the-syria-crisis-tells-us-about-the-israel-lobby/2013/09/25/

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