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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘president’

Israel’s 9th President Shimon Peres Dead at 93

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth President, former Prime Minister, Nobel Prize winner, who served for nearly five decades as a member of the Knesset, passed away on Wednesday morning at age 93, following a severe stroke. He will be buried in a state funeral in the plot on Mt. Herzl dedicated to the nation’s great leaders. Peres was married to the late Sonia Peres who died in 2011. They had three children: Tsvia Walden, Yonatan (Yoni) Peres, and Nehemia (Chemi) Peres.

Peres was born on August 2, 1923 as Shimon Perski (a relative of Lauren Bacall a.k.a. Joan Persky), in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus). In 1934, together with his mother Sara and younger brother Gershon, they followed his father, who made aliyah in 1932. Peres grew up in Tel Aviv and studied at the Ben Shemen agricultural school. He met Sonia in Ben Shemen and they got married in 1945.

Peres became active in the Socialist youth movement Hanoar Haoved and in 1947 was recruited by Levy Eshkol to serve in the Hagana underground headquarters, alongside Eshkol and David Ben-Gurion. In 1953, after a stint as head of naval services in the newly formed IDF, Peres was appointed (at age 29) as Director of the Defense Ministry by Ben-Gurion.

His mission, and greatest achievement as head of Israel’s fledgling defense apparatus, was to turn Israel into a nuclear power. Peres began negotiations with the French in October 1956, during the Sinai War, which was a collaboration of Israel, France and Great Britain to take over the Suez Canal from the revolutionary government in Cairo. Peres stressed Israel’s loyalty to France and the fact that a strong Israel is vital to the French national interest, seeing as the Egyptians were supporting the Algerian FLN underground whose aim was to expel the French from North Africa.

According to Peres’ biographer Michael Bar Zohar, the birth of the Dimona nuclear plant was an exciting tale of intrigue, as the promise to provide the technology was made by French Defense Minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, but on the date set for signing the secret deal, the French government collapsed in the National Assembly. Peres was waiting for Bourgès in his chambers with a bottle of whisky, only to discover that his host was out of office and that his likely successor, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, objected to spreading French nuclear know-how. Peres took advantage of the fact that Bourgès would on occasion tell his wife that he was in a meeting with the Israeli visitor when he was actually meeting with his lover, and demanded to cash his chips with the fallen politician. They agreed to backdate the agreement to the day before, when Bourgès still had the authority to sign it. The Frenchman said “D’accord” and the deal to set Israel up as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East was signed — fraudulently.

In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset as member of the ruling Mapai Party, and continued to serve as MK and in various ministerial positions, including as prime minister, almost uninterruptedly for 48 years. In 1965, Peres followed his mentor Ben-Gurion out of Mapai, and formed, together with former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, the Rafi party. After the 1967 war, an alignment of Mapai, Rafi and Ahdut Haavoda formed the Israel Labor Party, now also known as the Zionist Camp.

In 1973, after the Yom Kippur war which created a wave of anti-Labor sentiment in the public at large, and following the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Dayan, only two labor senior politicians retained their public prestige: Shimon Peres and former Chief of Staff and Ambassador to the US Yizhak Rabin. Rabin won and went on to become prime minister, with Peres as his defense minister, and their campaign for the leadership of Labor started two decades of enmity combined with forced cooperation which culminated in Peres eventually presenting to Rabin the Oslo agreements as an almost fait accompli.

In 1976, as defense minister, Peres was responsible for the Antebe Operation. Meanwhile, his disagreements with Rabin led to the latter’s resignation and the 1977 elections that, for the first time in Israel’s history, placed Likud’s Menahem Begin at the country’s helm. In the 1980s, as Labor’s leader, Peres failed to gain a resounding victory over his rightwing foes, and ended up in a coalition government with Likud in which he and Yitzhak Shamir rotated in the role of prime minister. While serving as Shamir’s foreign minister, Peres launched the London Agreement, a precursor of the Oslo Accord, which was torpedoed by Shamir.

In 1992, with Rabin once again the leader, Labor won the elections and formed a narrow, leftwing coalition government that relied on the Arab votes in the Knesset. Peres and his emissary Dr. Yossi Beilin began secret, illegal negotiations with the PLO, which resulted in the August 20, 1993 Oslo deal. The agreement, which resuscitated a dying PLO and gave it dominion over the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, resulted, as many had predicted, in rivers of blood, as the Arabs residing in the newly formed Palestinian Authority launched a campaign of bombing and shooting attacks against Israeli civilian centers. In 1995, on the eve of the next elections, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated and replaced by Peres.

In 1996 Peres lost his final bid for sole possession of the Prime Minister’s office when he lost the election to newcomer Benjamin Netanyahu. The televised debate between them showed the nation a tired, old political hack versus a youthful and well spoken leader. Netanyahu succeeded in forming his first coalition government despite the fact that his party had won by a mere 30,000 votes.

At that point, possibly the lowest in his political life, Shimon Peres reinvented himself and began the next phase in his career, as statesman inspiring an entire world. He founded the Peres Center for Peace, and although he continued to serve in the Knesset and was member of Ehud Barak’s security cabinet, his goals have changed. In 2005 Peres resigned from the Labor party to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government, to support the second assault on Jewish life in the 1967 liberated territories: the expulsion of the Jews of Gush Katif. His reward was his election by the Knesset to be Israel’s ninth president in 2007. He gained 58 out of the 120 MK votes in the first round (38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then threw their support to Peres in the second round and he received 86 votes, with 23 objections.

He spent his seven years in office in an indefatigable global activity, attending conferences, giving speeches around the planet, meeting world leaders and becoming synonymous with the image of Israel’s future as drawn by Israel’s leftwing. He maintained his rigorous schedule after the end of his term in 2014, until, two weeks ago, his body succumbed to a stroke.

His death marks the end of Israel’s generation of founding politicians. He will be remembered for his great contribution to the Jewish State’s military supremacy in the Middle East, but also for his grave mistakes in acting to reverse the same state’s remarkable territorial gains of 1967. May his memory be blessed.


How the Next President Can Defeat ISIS

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

Chief among the many foreign policy challenges that President Barack Obama faces — and his successor will have to meet — is how to successfully defeat ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or Daesh.

When ISIS burst onto the scene in 2014, by taking advantage of Middle East instability and conquering large swathes of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria, the international community was shocked by the sheer speed with which the terrorist group inflicted its brutality on the region’s inhabitants, especially non-Muslim minority groups, such as Christians and Yazidis.

Since then, a United States-led loose coalition, comprised of more than a dozen European and Middle East countries, with the mission to slowly erode ISIS’ control in parts of Iraq and Syria, has had limited success. While coalition airstrikes and Iraqi government ground forces have made progress against in Iraq, the ongoing civil war in Syria, where ISIS has its de-facto capital in Raqaa, has enabled the terrorist group to continue to operate, and even carry out terror attacks abroad.

Amid this slow progress, a new organization, The Committee to Destroy ISIS, believes an alternative is needed to defeat the terror group. It proposes creating a secular homeland for Sunni Muslims and other minority groups in western Iraq.

JNS.org spoke with the organization’s executive director, Sam Patten, to get his thoughts on the current situation in Iraq and how the US can successfully destroy ISIS.

Who’s behind your organization?

Sam Patten: “The Committee to Destroy ISIS brings together Iraqis and Americans who share a vision for a better way of combating the scourge that’s the so-called Islamic State. Our members include business people, former members of the military, intelligence community, policy and political officials and experts.”

What’s your background and how did you became involved?

“My own Iraqi background includes work for the International Republican Institute (IRI), which I served as resident political director in Baghdad in the run-up to the first Iraqi elections in early 2005. I’ve also done advisory work for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Erbil in 2005 and 2006 and advisory work for former Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq during the 2014 parliamentary elections. My experiences in Iraq have led me to the conclusion that Sunnis have gotten a bad deal in the last 13 years, and rectifying this is critical to restoring any semblance of balance in the country and the region.”

How does your group seek to defeat ISIS?

“To destroy ISIS, it’s necessary to address the environment which it arose. Before “liberating” Mosul, why [did it fall] to ISIS so quickly? Why did the Iraqi army drop their guns and run in the summer of 2014? The Iraqi army and associated Shi’a militias so brutalized the population during an era of heightened sectarianism, that they’d become not protectors, but hated occupiers. Now that ISIS has left Fallujah, what is happening there? Reuters recently published a damning account of how the abuses of the local population that survived ISIS domination have ramped up significantly over the last couple months. This is precisely the cycle of mass human rights abuse that seeds the desire for vengeance and delegitimizes the Iraqi state and its current enforcers.”

What’s the answer to handling the sectarian tensions in Iraq?

“It is to create greater autonomy for West Iraq so the people there can essentially govern, and protect themselves. This would deny groups such as the so-called Islamic State territory from which to organize and expand their campaigns of terror.

“We’re not talking about ‘Sunni-stan.’ Rather, we’re talking about a secular statelet (small state). Other groups in this area, like Christians and Yazidis, have also suffered enormously in the past couple of years under ISIS. Islamic governance has failed the region, whether it comes from Tehran, Baghdad or Raqqa. Sunnis are generally quicker to eschew Islamic governance than Shi’a, and even more so after the past 13 years. Instead, we’re talking about a secular form of governance for West Iraq that equally protects all religions under law and denies the very basis of sectarianism.”

President Barack Obama’s complete withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 is considered a contributing factor to ISIS’ rise. What else has the Obama administration gotten wrong in Iraq?

“In recent years, the US has taken a policy of accommodation towards the Baghdad government that has reaped negative consequences.  Much of this, we fear, stems from the Obama administration’s evident zeal to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran, for which much else has been sacrificed. Consider the 2010 Iraqi elections. A secular Shi’a, Ayed Allawi, won with the support of more than 80 percent of Sunnis. But the Obama administration bowed to pressure from Tehran to keep their man, Nuri al-Mailiki, in power. As such, sectarianism increased dramatically once this permission was given. While there’s been more emphasis by Washington in recent months on destroying ISIS, the underlying issues haven’t changed. The US didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 to create the current disaster. We believe there exists a moral responsibility to restore the broken balance.”

It sounds like your plan is very similar to previous proposals to partition Iraq into separate states?

“When partition was first suggested by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 2006, the timing was wrong. But the idea was arguably a decade ahead. A recent article by a former George W. Bush administration official, Mark Pfeifle, called on the next president to consider regionalizing Iraq. A day or two after this piece came out, TV talk show host Joe Scarborough asked Biden again about his plan. And while he’s in a different role now [vice president], he’s tried to pay lip service to the fading notion of a unitary Iraq, it was clear that he too still supports the basics of our plan: more budget authority, more security and policing authority, and more self-governance for Western Iraq.”

What about Iraqi Christians and other minority groups who have suffered from ISIS. Should they get their own region?

“Christians and all other groups will be welcome constituent parts of West Iraq. This region has been tremendously diverse for millennia it should remain so.”

Which presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, has the best plan to defeat ISIS?

“We are not endorsing US political candidates; we are suggesting that America’s next president adopt a longer-term vision with respect to Iraq and the region. The significant shift to Tehran we’ve seen in the last six or seven years is destabilizing for the region. Whoever wins the November election, we hope will be less committed to the ‘legacy’ of an Iran deal and better able to take a balanced view that puts the interest of people in places like West Iraq into the equation. We look forward to the debates and hope this issue will be discussed, as it should, because it’s a critical element to destroying ISIS.  And that is something that matters to all Americans.”

Sean Savage

Empowering 9/11 Families: The President Should Get Out Of The Way

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

As it now stands, President Obama intends to veto a bill passed unanimously by the Senate and House that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts based on its government’s alleged involvement in the attacks.

Despite evidence of such involvement, the Saudis have previously been immune from legal action in the United States pursuant to a 1976 American law recognizing the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which bars suits against foreign governments in U.S. courts.

While the previous law granted such immunity to foreign governments for terrorist attacks committed off American soil, the new law would carve out an exception for such acts carried out on American soil. The previous law was at the heart of a $655 million U.S. jury verdict against the PLO and the PA for terrorist acts committed In Israel, which was recently vacated by a federal appeals court. The court reasoned that the Constitution requires terrorist acts to have been committed in the U.S., or to have specifically targeted Americans overseas, for Americans to sue in U.S. courts.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that he anticipates the president will veto the legislation but that it hasn’t been presented to him yet. Mr. Earnest went on to explain that the new law was “objectionable” because it “opens the United States to the risk of being hauled into courts in countries around the world.”

New York Senator Charles Schumer, one of the prime movers of the legislation, said he thinks there would be enough votes to override a presidential veto.

It is certainly not an idle concern that there could be adverse repercussions for the U.S. should the new law actually take effect, but that risk should be trumped by the prospect of justice for 9/11 class victims. Additionally we must not forget that the U.S. is still a major power with significant leverage around the world. Further, if in practice the cases brought in U.S. courts are based on compelling rather than circumstantial evidence, the chances of retaliation might be diminished.

There is also something buried in the law that should have some impact. A belatedly added provision would allow a president to bring about an indefinite halt in any case brought against a foreign government if the Department of Justice can demonstrate that the administration was engaged in good faith settlement negotiations with a defendant country.

To be sure, this provision could enable the executive branch to unilaterally render insignificant a piece of legislation unanimously passed by the Senate and the House. However, since many who voted for the law are said to have misgivings over the retaliation issue, the way the legislation now reads is probably the most realistic way forward.

Editorial Board

Former President Shimon Peres Fights For Life After Massive Stroke

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Former President Shimon Peres was fighting for his life at Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer Tuesday night, just an hour after he was felled by a severe stroke.

Peres was rushed to the hospital Tuesday evening after feeling “weak” and becoming confused. Dr. Ayelet Frisch, Peres communications consultant, said his personal physician, Prof. Rafi Walden, had him taken to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. Walden is the deputy director of Sheba Medical Center.

As of 02:00 am Israel time, the former president was breathing with the aid of a respirator, in an induced medical coma to ease the stress of his condition on his body. Doctors convened late Tuesday night to decide whether surgery would be helpful to the former president in any way; it was decided that surgery was not an option and the best thing was to simply keep their patient as comfortable as possible.

Upon his arrival at the hospital, Peres underwent an initial CT scan to determine his medical status, and then was sedated and placed on a respirator in the intensive care unit.

The initial CT showed the 93-year-old elder statesman had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage, with a second CT scan to assess his condition about an hour later having showed no improvement.

Hemi Peres, the son of the former president, asked the public to pray for his father (name for prayers: Shimon ben Sara) in a statement outside the medical center.

“These have not been easy hours for my family and I,” he said. “We have received many messages from people in Israel and abroad, and we have been wrapped up with warmth and love.

But “at some point,” he acknowledged painfully, decisions will have to be made.”

“Nothing is more precious to my father than the nation of Israel and its people,” he continued. “My father is a special person. I am remaining optimistic. I am praying and hoping for the best.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his wishes for a speedy recovery. “Shimon we love you and the entire nation is praying you will recover,” Netanyahu said.

Both chief rabbis of Israel — Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef — also sent their blessings and prayers for a swift recovery.

Incumbent President Reuven Rivlin expressed concern over his predecessor’s condition, and said, “I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and praying together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery.”

Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog also extended wishes for a speedy recovery to Peres, his predecessor in the party. “I wish you, our former president and eternally beloved Shimon Peres, that you recover quickly and return to make your wise, clear and sober voice heard. A complete recovery!” Herzog wrote on the Twitter social network site.

The former president had undergone a procedure last week to implant a pacemaker after returning from a diplomatic conference in Italy. He was released from the hospital the following day.

But Peres experienced a number of medical episodes during the past year. He was hospitalized on January 14 for a heart condition and doctors performed angioplasty in order to unblock an artery. He was discharged from the hospital five days later, but was compelled to cancel a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos the next day. Peres had planned 15 meetings with world leaders and officials for that trip, and doctors advised him to “rest,” instead.

A professional politician for more than six decades, Peres has held just about every top position in the government of Israel, including stints as prime minister, foreign minister, finance minister, defense minister, and president. Since completing his seven-year term in 2014 as president, he has hosted numerous public events at his Peres Peace Center in an attempt to create his own unique brand of peace and co-existence between Arabs and Jews.

Known throughout the world as an “ambassador for peace,” Peres was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his part in reaching the 1993 Oslo Accords together with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat – the agreement that created the Palestinian Authority.

Hana Levi Julian

Walter Bingham File – Who Should Be The Next President Of The US? The choice of Prof. Alan Dershowitz [audio]

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Have you made up your mind yet whom you would like to see in the White House? This programme brings you the first of two prominent American political commentators giving their conflicting views in frank conversation with Walter.

Also: Hear about the despicable behaviour of Yossi Beilin

And: Why the General wanted to be in command of Judea and Samaria

The Walter Bingham File 11Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, Reported Dead at 78

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan has passed away at the age of 78, according to an official televised announcement Friday by Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

The announcement had not yet been confirmed by the Uzbek government, by noon Friday EDT, and it is not clear what the next steps will be in the Euro-Asian nation, in terms of how the population will determine who the next leader will be.

Karimov was rushed to the hospital a week ago after suffering a cerebral hemmorhage, but no further information was released. Military, police and security forces had surrounded the hospital in a circle that was several kilometers wide.

The president has led the nation since Uzbekistan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union 25 years ago. The country’s 25th anniversary of that event was celebrated Thursday, led for the first time by Uzbekistan’s prime minister rather than by Karimov, who was present each year at the celebrations.

Hana Levi Julian

Leftist Dilma Rousseff Stripped of Presidency in Brazil After 13 Years’ Rule

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Leftist Dilma Rousseff was impeached Wednesday in a 61-20 vote by the Brazilian Senate after 13 years as president of South America’s biggest economy.

Rousseff was stripped of her office on grounds of deliberate financial mismanagement and corruption, specifically on charges of manipulating the federal budget in order to hide the growing economic problems in the country.

The power struggle, which had consumed the nation for months, abated somewhat in May, when Rousseff was suspended in order to stand trial.

But the impeachment was also a condemnation of her Workers’ Party and a confirmation that the nation is facing its worst economic crisis in decades. Nor is that crisis likely to end any time soon: Michel Temer, 75, was Rousseff’s vice president and has now taken the helm after breaking with her earlier in the year. He is expected to remain in the office until the end of the current term in 2018, but questions remain as to how much his centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party can accomplish, given the overwhelming poverty and corruption that has swallowed the country over the past decade.

Temer has named a male-only cabinet in a nation where diversity is key. Several ministers have already resigned, among them the “anti-corruption minister.” Temer himself is facing a claim that he received a bribe of $300,000, which he denies.

The controversy-clogged Rio Summer Olympics have just barely ended, leaving huge structures for massive sports events and spanking-new entertainment arenas in their wake. The mammoth buildings are great places for an economy that is revved up and ready to roll, but hardly the infrastructure for a limping nation battered after a political brawl with a kicked-out president.

Rousseff proved herself no friend to Jerusalem after refusing to accept the credentials of Israel’s choice for ambassador to Brazil, Dani Dayan, because he lives in Judea and Samaria.

That snub was an unprecedented show of rudeness of Rousseff’s part, but she apparently had chosen to align herself with Israeli Arab Knesset members and MK Tzipi Livni, who lobbied against Dayan’s appointment.

At the end, the current Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Reda Mansour, was forced to remain and New York City won an outstanding new Israeli Consul-General instead.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/leftist-dilma-rousseff-stripped-of-presidency-in-brazil-after-13-years-rule/2016/08/31/

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