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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘president’

Two Former Senior State Dept. Officials to Incoming President: Lay Off the Peace Vision Thing

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

“Memo to the Next President: Avoid the ‘Vision Thing’ in the Mideast,” two former senior State Department officials whose work centered on Middle Eastern issues, Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky, wrote in Politico this week. Based on their more than half a century’s worth of combined experience working on Middle Eastern issues in the Department of State, the two offered both their former boss, Hillary Clinton, and her opponent, Donald Trump, a list of ten things they should not do or say, if they wish to survive the “landmines, traps, hopeless causes, and impossible missions” this region has to offer in ample portions.

Eighth on their list of commandments is: Thou shall not “chase after Israeli-Palestinian peace without clear indications that the locals themselves and the Arabs, too, are prepared to act.”

“It should be evident by now,” they point out, that the gaps on the core issues “between Prime Minister Netanyahu and [Chairman] Abbas are just too wide to be bridged.” True enough. They also point out that even if they support the two-state solution (which they don’t disclose), it does not stand a chance unless the leaders of both sides “are willing and able to make decisions” — and it’s highly unlikely that whomever is chosen to succeed Abbas would be able to make them.

What’s left to be done, then, without the hope for peace any time soon? Plenty, apparently: “help keep Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation afloat; promote development of the Palestinian economy and issues relating to movement through checkpoints and border crossings; try to identify smaller issues such as the greater development of areas in parts of the West Bank under Israeli control; and increase cooperation on issues such as water, electricity, and infrastructure.”

Until there’s a change in the current stalemate, the two ex-officials, who are now working for Washington think tanks, recommend that the next Administration “stay away from high-profile US-initiated efforts to take on the big peace process issues. The advice Bill Clinton gave to one of us before the July 2000 Camp David summit is inspirational but not always right: trying and failing isn’t better than not trying at all. Failure undermines US prestige and power in war and peacemaking. It already has.”

Still, Miller and Sokolsky advise, don’t hang a closed-for-the-season sign on US involvement in the Middle East. The stakes – terrorism, energy security for much of the world, and nuclear proliferation – are as high as they’ve ever been. The US may not be able to transform the region (no Arab Spring 2.0, please), but it “cannot easily leave it either.”

And so, for a sane and pragmatic Mid-East policy, “avoid the vision thing, in particular major involvement in nation building and conflict resolution where locals have an insufficient stake, will or capacity to take on the lion’s share of the responsibility. Instead, drill down on protecting core vital interests that involve American security and prosperity, work with partners who, while not sharing US values, may share some key US security interests, and look for opportunities to use tools such as economic and technical assistance and support for civil society to build capacity and help governments deliver economic and social justice to their public.”

Amen.

JNi.Media

Iranian President Mocks US Elections, Favors Own Brand of Democracy

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Sunday mocked both major party presidential candidates in the US elections, criticizing their behavior during their recent debates. “Did you see the debate and the way of their speaking, accusing and mocking each other?” Rouhani asked an audience in the city of Arak, in a speech that was broadcast on national TV. He added contemptuously, “Do we want such a democracy in our country? Do we want such elections in our country?”

Iran’s own presidential election will take place in May 2017, and Rouhani is likely to run for a second term. Any Iranian citizen born in Iran, who believes in God and Islam, who has always been loyal to the Constitution and is above 21 years of age may register as a presidential candidate. The Election Monitoring Agency (EMA), which is managed by the Guardian Council vets registered candidates and decides who may run (36,000 candidates signed up to run in 2009). No women have ever been approved by the EMA. It is doubtful either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would have been approved, even if they had agreed to embrace Islam…

The minimum voting age in Iran is 15.

“You see the United States that claims it has had democracy for more than 200 years,” Rouhani said, encouraging his audience to “look at the country, what the situation is where morality has no place.”

Rouhani said that last September, when he attended the UN General Assembly in New York, he was asked which of the candidates he preferred, and answered, “Should I prefer bad to worse or worse to bad?”

Iranian state TV broadcast two complete debates between Trump and Clinton and has been closely following the campaign, using the candidates’ statements as fodder for anti-US observations. They were particularly unhappy with candidate Trump’s declaration in September, after Iranian naval vessels repeatedly shifted close to American warships in a harassing and unsafe manner, that when “they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people, that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”

JNi.Media

Pilot’s Family Tells President Rivlin, Cohen Nov Was ‘A Joyful Boy’

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

President Reuven Rivlin paid a condolence visit to the family of IAF Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov who was killed in a deadly crash of his F-16 fighter jet at Ramon Air Base in the Negev last week upon his return from an air strike on Hamas terror targets in Gaza. The attack had been carried out in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at southern Israel by Gaza terrorists earlier in the day.

Ohad’s parents, Doron and Chaya, spoke with the president about their son, about his joy for life and respect for all, and about his love for flying.

“My son loved everyone, he was a joyful boy,” Chaya told the president.

Rivlin responded, “I read and heard so much about Ohad, and on these things alone it is clear what a great loss he is for his family, for his unit, and for all the Israeli people. Your pain is infinite, and no words can bring comfort at this terrible time. All that I can do is come and be with you, together with you in your pain.”

The President spoke with Ohad’s widow, Shachar, and heard from her about the plans they had had for the future as a young family setting out. He wished for her that she should have the strength to continue looking ahead for their daughter, and for all the family.

Hana Levi Julian

FULL TEXT: US President Barack Obama’s Eulogy for Israel’s 9th President, Shimon Peres, z’l [video]

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his eulogy on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 with members of the Peres family, Israeli government leaders and several other world heads of state who bid their fellow statesman a final farewell from the podium. Below is the full text and a video of his eulogy.

Zvia, Yoni, Chemi and generations of the Peres family; President Rivlin; Prime Minister Netanyahu; members of the Israeli government and the Knesset; heads of state and the government and guests from around the world, including President Abbas, whose presence here is a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace; to the people of Israel: I could not be more honored to be in Jerusalem to say farewell to my friend Shimon Peres, who showed us that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea.

A free life, in a homeland regained. A secure life, in a nation that can defend itself, by itself. A full life, in friendship with nations who can be counted on as allies, always. A bountiful life, driven by simple pleasures of family and by big dreams. This was Shimon Peres’s life. This is the State of Israel. This is the story of the Jewish people over the last century, and it was made possible by a founding generation that counts Shimon as one of its own.

Shimon once said, “The message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.” For Shimon, that moral vision was rooted in an honest reckoning of the world as it is. Born in the shtetl, he said he felt, “surrounded by a sea of thick and threatening forests.”

When his family got the chance to go to Palestine, his beloved grandfather’s parting words were simple: “Shimon, stay a Jew.” Propelled with that faith, he found his home. He found his purpose. He found his life’s work.

But he was still a teenager when his grandfather was burned alive by the Nazis in the town where Shimon was born. The synagogue in which he prayed became an inferno. The railroad tracks that had carried him toward the Promised Land also delivered so many of his people to death camps.

And so from an early age, Shimon bore witness to the cruelty that human beings could inflict on each other, the ways that one group of people could dehumanize another; the particular madness of anti-Semitism, which has run like a stain through history. That understanding of man’s ever-present sinfulness would steel him against hardship and make him vigilant against threats to Jewry around the world.

But that understanding would never harden his heart. It would never extinguish his faith. Instead, it broadened his moral imagination, and gave him the capacity to see all people as deserving of dignity and respect. It helped him see not just the world as it is, but the world as it should be.

What Shimon did to shape the story of Israel is well-chronicled. Starting on the kibbutz he founded with his love Sonya, he began the work of building a model community. Ben Gurion called him to serve the Haganah at headquarters to make sure that the Jewish people had the armaments and the organization to secure their freedom.

After independence, surrounded by enemies who denied Israel’s existence and sought to drive it into the sea, the child who had wanted to be a “poet of stars” became a man who built Israel’s defense industry, who laid the foundation for the formidable armed forces that won Israel’s wars.

His skill secured Israel’s strategic position. His boldness sent Israeli commandos to Entebbe, and rescued Jews from Ethiopia. His statesmanship built an unbreakable bond with the United States of America and so many other countries.

His contributions didn’t end there. Shimon also showed what people can do when they harness reason and science to a common cause. He understood that a country without many natural resources could more than make up for it with the talents of its people.

He made hard choices to roll back inflation and climb up from a terrible economic crisis. He championed the promise of science and technology to make the desert bloom, and turned this tiny country into a central hub of the digital age, making life better not just for people here, but for people around the world.

Indeed, Shimon’s contribution to this nation is so fundamental, so pervasive, that perhaps sometimes they can be overlooked.

For a younger generation, Shimon was probably remembered more for a peace process that never reached its endpoint. They would listen to critics on the left who might argue that Shimon did not fully acknowledge the failings of his nation, or perhaps more numerous critics on the right who argued that he refused to see the true wickedness of the world, and called him naïve.

But whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world he brushed off the critics. And I know from my conversations with him that his pursuit of peace was never naïve.

Every Yom HaShoah, he read the names of the family that he lost. As a young man, he had fed his village by working in the fields during the day, but then defending it by carrying a rifle at night.

He understood, in this war-torn region, where too often Arab youth are taught to hate Israel from an early age — he understood just how hard peace would be. I’m sure he was alternatively angry and bemused to hear the same critics, who called him hopelessly naïve, depend on the defense architecture that he himself had helped to build.

I don’t believe he was naïve. But he understood from hard-earned experience that true security comes through making peace with your neighbors. “We won them all,” he said of Israel’s wars. “But we did not win the greatest victory that we aspired to: release from the need to win victories.”

Jewish Press Staff

President Reuven Rivlin’s eulogy at the funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Friday, September 30th, 2016

“Laugh and play with my dreams, I am the dreamer who wanders. Play because in man I will believe, and I still believe in you.” So wrote the poet Shaul Tchernichovsky, and so you played, our dear President, during the uplifting moments of elation, in times of difficulty and crisis, and with the small joys of day-to-day life, “because in man I will believe, and I still believe in you.”

I am speaking to you today for the final time Shimon, “as one President to another”, as you would say each time you called to offer strength and good advice. As I speak, my eyes search for you, our dear brother, our older brother, and you are not there. Today you are gathered to your forefathers in the land which you loved so, but your dreams remain, and your beliefs uninterred. As one man you carried an entire nation on the wings of imagination, on the wings of vision. The “Brave son”, was the pseudonym you chose as a youth, as the name of Isaiah the Prophet, a visionary. Yet, you were not only a man of vision, you were a man of deeds. Like you, I was also born into the Zionist Movement in those decisive years between vision and fulfillment. I was fortunate to look up to you as a partner in the building of the State of Israel from its very foundations. For both of us, the State of Israel could never be taken for granted. However, with much thanks to you Shimon, for our sons and daughters, for our friends – and yes for our opponents – the State of Israel is an indisputable fact.

You had the rare ability, Shimon, to conceive what seemed to be the inconceivable, and see it to fruition. Your eyes saw far ahead, while your feet covered great distances on the landscape of Jewish and Zionist history. You always walked onward and upward, as a skilled mountaineer who secures his hook before ascending ever higher to the peak. This is how you lived your life. At first you would dream, and only when in your mind’s eye could you truly see the State of Israel reaching new heights, would you then begin to climb, and take us all with you towards the new goal. You succeeded in moving even the most stubborn of politicians, and to melt away even the hardest of hearts of our opponents. You strived until your final breaths to reach the pinnacle of the Zionist dream: an independent, sovereign state, existing in peace with our neighbors. Yet you also knew that true peace could only be achieved from a position of strength, and you were sure to secure the path to this goal. Few among us understand, and much more will be written about how many mountains you moved, from the days of the State’s establishment and till today in order to ensure our security and our military qualitative edge. How deep was your belief in the sacred combination of ethical leadership and military prowess, that Israel must act not just with wisdom, but with justice, faithful at every moment to its values as a Jewish and democratic state, democratic and Jewish.

My dear Shimon, you were the only one in the history of the State of Israel to serve in the three most senior positions in government: Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, and Finance Minister. You are the only one to have served as Prime Minister and as President. It is no exaggeration to say that: more than you were blessed to be President of this great nation, this nation was blessed to have you as its President. In all these roles you were our head, but even more so, my dear friend, you were our heart; a heart that loved the people, the land, and the State. A heart which loved each and every person, a heart which cared for them.

Your stubborn faith in mankind and the good of people – in the victory of progress over ignorance, in the victory of hope over fear – was your eternal fountain of youth, thanks to which you were the eternal fountain of youth for all of us. The man of whom we thought time could never stop. With all your love for history and tremendous knowledge of history, you despised wallowing in the past, or being entrenched in a sense of self justice at the cost of the possibilities and opportunities that tomorrow brings. “The future is more important than the past” you said. “What happened yesterday does not interest me, only tomorrow does,” you would say. The love you received, which transcended political divides in the later years of your life – from your supporters and opponents – was an expression of the yearning of all us to be infected by your unequivocal optimism. Even when we did not agree with you we wanted to believe that perhaps you were right. Believe me, it was not easy to refuse your optimism, and at times your innocence.

Who more than you knew the heavy price of innocence, and yet, who more than you believed that heavier still was the price of mediocrity and being of little faith?

Shimon, I unashamedly confess, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at your graveside among the graves of the leaders of our nation, also your forgiveness must be asked. We will ask your forgiveness. It was permitted to disagree with you. Your opponents had a duty to express their opinion. However, there were years in which red lines were crossed between ideological disputes and words and deeds which had no place. You always acted according to what you believed with all you heart was best for the people, whom you served.

As President, you were for us an honest advocate. You taught many around the world to love the State of Israel, and you taught us to love ourselves, not to speak ill, and see the good and the beautiful in everything.

This is a sad day, Shimon, this is a sad day. The journey of your dreams which began in Vishnyeva, comes to its end in Jerusalem our capital, which is also a dream which became a reality. Your death is a great personal and national loss, as it is also the end on an era, the end of the era of giants whose lives’ stories are the stories of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. This is our profound feeling today. A feeling of the end of an era in the nation’s life, the end of a chapter in our lives. Our farewell to you is also a farewell to us from ourselves. When we see world leaders – our friends from near and far – who have come here to bid you their final respects, we understand that not only here but across the world you will be missed. And all of us already miss you. Farewell Shimon. The man whose ‘ways are pleasant, and all of his paths peaceful’. Rest in peace, and act (in Heaven) as an honest advocate for the people of Israel whom you loved so. “Because my soul aspires for freedom, I did not sell her for a golden calf. Because I will also believe in man, in his spirit, his spirit of strength.” Farewell Mr. President.

Jewish Press Staff

Updated Ceremony and Traffic Details for Funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Following are preliminary details regarding coverage for the funeral of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres.


IMPORTANT:

From 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM on Friday, Highway 1 will be shut down in both directions.

From 12:30 PM – 2:00 P:M on Friday, Highway 1 will be shut down in both directions.

Roads leading to Highway 1 will be closed. Expect heavy traffic on roads 6, 431, 38, and 443 during those hours.

The police ask that drivers try to avoid these roads today and tomorrow.


Live broadcasts on all media (television, radio and Internet) will be provided from three locations: Ben-Gurion International Airport during the arrival of the delegations, the Knesset on Thursday, the laying of wreaths by heads of state, and on Mt. Herzl Friday, from 9 AM – 1 AM to cover the eulogies and the funeral ceremony. The live broadcasts will be available on the GPO website and Facebook page.

Roads around the Knesset will be closed starting Thursday; the roads around Mt. Herzl are due to be closed from Friday morning until the conclusion of the funeral.

The public will be able to pay their respects before the coffin at the Knesset on Thursday from 9 Am – 9 PM (or as necessary).

Street closings and transportation to the Knesset

From 8 AM Thursday, all routes leading to the Knesset plaza will be closed to traffic: Eliezer Kaplan Street, Yoel Zusman Street and Road #16 which encompasses the Knesset. These routes will be closed until after the funeral procession has left for Mt. Herzl on Friday.

Members of the public who wish to pay their respects before the coffin are requested to use the free parking lots from which they will be able to travel to the Knesset via shuttles. Parking lots in Jerusalem: Railway Station, Teddy Station, Ammunition Hill and Ein Yael-Jerusalem Zoo. Parking lots outside Jerusalem: Latrun and Modi’in Park & Ride.

Mt. Herzl area street closings

From 7 AM Friday, all routes leading to Mt. Herzl will be closed to traffic: Derech Mordechai Ish Shalom, Yehoshua Farbstein Street, Herzl Boulevard from Chords Bridge junction to Holland Square, Shmuel Beyth Street in the direction toward Mt. Herzl, Bayit Vagan Street and HaZikaron Street. Streets from the hotels to Mt. Herzl: Gershon Agron Street, Ramban Street, Hecht, Herzl.

Vehicles parked on these routes will be towed.

The roads will be opened following the conclusion of the funeral and the dispersal of those in attendance.

The schedule for the Mt. Herzl funeral on Friday

9:30 – 11 AM – Eulogies at Herzl’s Tomb Plaza

11 AM – 12 PM – Moving of the coffin, Peres family and VIPs to the graveside, Great Leaders of the Nation section.

12 – 12:30 PM – Interment ceremony.

David Israel

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.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-unites-congressional-democrats-republicans-in-overriding-veto-damaging-911-families/2016/09/29/

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