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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘region’

Nadler: Major Disaster Declaration for NY Will Aid in Rapid Recovery

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

On Tuesday, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) welcomed President Obama’s declaration of major disaster for New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The designation will allow for timely allocation of federal funds through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Nadler released the following statement:

“Hurricane Sandy hit New York and the Northeast hard last night and will complicate life in our region for the coming days. I am astounded at what I have seen in my own congressional district: flooding throughout Coney Island, Battery Park City, and other areas; widespread power outages; felled trees everywhere you look; and some very tragic fatalities. I am grateful to our local responders and laborers, who are doing a tremendous job on emergency response. And, through the President’s declaration of New York as a major disaster area, we will be able to immediately allocate FEMA funds to begin to repair the billions of dollars in damage locally and bring relief to New Yorkers whose lives have been turned upside down.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Despite Egyptian Military Buildup, Israel Will Adhere To Accords

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Despite the deteriorating security situation along the Egyptian-Israeli border, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has rejected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s request to reconsider the terms of the 1979 Camp David Accords. Morsi wants a substantial increase in the number of Egyptian tanks and armored divisions to patrol what has seemingly become the lawless Sinai Peninsula.

“It is important for the Egyptians to get a handle on their security troubles, but there isn’t a chance that Israel will change the [Camp David] military protocols. The Egyptians should not delude themselves by repeatedly insisting on this request,” Lieberman told Kol Yisrael Radio.

News outlets in Israel and the U.S. have reported that Morsi intends to press White House officials to renegotiate aspects of the Camp David Accords during this week’s UN General Assembly meetings in New York. Morsi also reportedly sought a face-to-face meeting with President Obama during his U.S. trip, but was rebuffed after Obama allegedly upbraided Morsi less than two weeks ago in a tense phone conversation. The exchange took place following the violent attacks by protestors on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

The Camp David Accords stipulate that, “no more than one division [mechanized or infantry] of Egyptian armed forces will be stationed within an area lying approximately 30 kilometers east of the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal.” After terrorists murdered 15 Egyptian border policemen in August during an intended attack on Israeli forces and civilians, the Egyptian High Command ordered several armored and infantry divisions into Sinai to hunt down the terrorist cells operating in Sinai.

While Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave tacit approval to the Egyptian move, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has informed Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Egyptians seem to be in no rush to weed out the terrorist cells and instead are continuing to upgrade their forces in the region – a clear violation of the Camp David Accords.

A senior member of the Egyptian parliament warned the IDF against pursuing terrorist cells within Egyptian territory in the event of another cross-border incident. But General Tal Russo, commander of the IDF Southern Command, told the Israeli media that the army will bolster its forces along the border and respond to any terrorist incursion. The IDF recently added armed reconnaissance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) – which can fire into Egyptian territory from inside Israel – as well as mechanized border patrols and at least one elite infantry division to the region.

Several Arab and European newspapers have reported that several jihadist cells operating in Sinai are comprised of Hamas soldiers who were trained in Gaza by operatives of the al-Quds Brigades. The force is Iran’s so-called foreign legion, as it is greatly influenced by the Revolutionary Guards.

Israeli political commentators have expressed the view that while Morsi is determined to show his Muslim Brotherhood allies that he is willing to challenge strategic aspects of the Camp David Accords, he must also confront radical Islamic terror organizations in Sinai (one columnist wrote that Sinai has turned into “a latter- day Wild West).”

The Sinai terror attacks have greatly impaired Egypt’s tourist industry in el-Arish and Sharm el-Sheikh, major sources of revenue for the country’s economy. The Sinai’s increasingly dangerous atmosphere has prompted Israel’s security services to recommend the closing of the Eilat-Taba border crossing to Israelis and foreigners wishing to enter the Sinai coastline. While the crossing remains open for now, Israeli border guards are discouraging their countrymen from entering the region.

Steve K. Walz

Theory of Palestinian Centrality no Longer Viable

Monday, September 24th, 2012

While the entire Middle East explodes around us and the states which traditionally waged open war on us, such as Egypt, are in the process of returning to their aggressive postures (with a little help from an Obama-led bailout in Egypt’s case), there may be a silver lining for Israel: The theory of Palestinian centrality is no longer viable.

According to the theory, the main Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern claim against the United States and the reason for violence in the region is the lack of justice for the Palestinians. If a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority can be reached and a Palestinian state established all of the hatred will melt away and the region will be at peace.

In an interview I conducted with Elliot Abrams for the Jerusalem Post, for example, Abrams recounted how immediately after the 9-11 attacks, officials in the State Department proposed to President Bush that he pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, on the grounds that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main source of Arab hatred for the United States.

(Abrams said Bush rejected this argument, but not that long after 9-11, Bush adopted the Road Map for Peace).

Another example is the Iraq Study Group report, which was commissioned by President Bush to find solutions to the violence in Iraq. One of the report’s key recommendations was pursuing Israeli-Arab peace.

The theory of Palestinian centrality has been put forward by many in the diplomatic field, probably because  this is what their Arab counterparts are telling them.

For example, in July 2008 then-Senator-and-candidate Barack Obama explained to NBC’s Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press why Jordan’s King Abdullah was correct in asserting that Iran was not the number one threat to peace but that “the lack of peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] is the major threat.”

Obama said as follows:

[O]ne thing I want to pick up on, because I think King, King Abdullah is as savvy a analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is, one of the points that he made and I think a lot of people made, is that we’ve got to have an overarching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected.  If we can solve the Israeli/Palestinian process, then that will make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf states to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region.  If we’ve gotten an Israeli/Palestinian peace deal, maybe at the same time peeling Syria out of the Iranian orbit, that makes it easier to isolate Iran so that they have a tougher time developing a nuclear weapon.

In other words, because of Palestinian centrality an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is the silver bullet to all the problems of the Middle East.

(Side note: Brokaw asked Obama if he told Abudulla that as president he “would appoint a presidential envoy who would report only to you to work exclusively on the issues of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Obama said ” I told him something approximating that.” Obama also told former President JimmyCarter that he wouldn’t wait a month to make a peace agreement a top priority. Two days after being sworn in as President, Obama appointed George Mitchell as a special envoy and pressured Israel for the next two years).

But as Barry Rubin noted in his article today on the JewishPress.com:

Remember the old argument that the Arab-Israel or Israel-Palestinian conflict was the centerpiece of the region; all the Arabs cared about, and what they judged the West by? Now there are a dozen other issues more important to the extent that this cannot even be hidden by the Western mass media and “experts.”

With Muslims attacking American U.S. embassies in the Middle East and rioting all over the world over an obscure youtube video, and various Muslim factions vying for power, the State Department, the E.U., etc., can no longer seriously contend that regional volatility and violence is related to Israel – either Western support Israel or the fact that a Palestinian state has not been established or that Israeli-Palestinian/Arab peace accords have not been signed.

Daniel Tauber

Obama Tells ’60 Minutes’ He Tunes Out Netanyahu’s ‘Noise’ (Video)

Monday, September 24th, 2012

President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: “You‘re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand…?”

The president responded: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”

Obama sounded belligerent later on, when he commented on Mitt Romney’s charge that his foreign policy is “a policy of paralysis,” blurting: “If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.”

Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul commented:

“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East… As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”

Romney worked hard to make “more elegant” his secretly taped remarks to an audience of wealthy donors in May, that 47 percent of the American people paid no income taxes, were dependent on government and would never vote for him.

He also distanced himself from his running mate’s reputation regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Congressman Paul Ryan wanted to reduce payments to the Medicare program by about $700 billion.

“Yeah, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit,” Romney said of Ryan’s proposal. “I’m putting it back into Medicare, and I’m the guy running for president, not him.”

Romney discussed his plan to reduce income tax rates by 20%, adding that the plan would also limit deductions and exemptions. Responding to criticism that his tax reductions would favor the rich, Romney said in his tax plan “there should be no tax reduction for high income people.”

He said he wants to give middle class families a tax reduction by cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. But he wouldn’t name the specific tax deductions and exemptions he would cut.

Skip to 10:59 for the ‘noise’ segment.

Yori Yanover

Syria: Is the Proposed Cure Worse than the Status Quo?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Originally published at Rubin Reports
The Syrian civil war has crossed a red line. Some people may think this happened a few weeks or months ago but at any rate it is clearly true now. The prospects for an Islamist (Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and Jihadist) takeover have risen high enough that it is better to freeze Western intervention. In other words, the West should not do more to aid the rebellion and should consider stopping its current efforts in that direction.
Here is a fact so shocking that it should be the centerpiece of any discussion over Syria. It is so important I’m going to put it in bold:
The Obama Administration is backing (Islamist) Turkey as the distributor of weapons supplied by (opportunistically pro-Islamist) Qatar.  Turkey and Qatar want to give the Muslim Brotherhood a monopoly over receiving weapons even though most of the rebels are non- and even anti-Islamist. As this happens, the Obama Administration is thus working directly to install a revolutionary Islamist regime in Syria that will disrupt the region, help shred, U.S. interests, and battle with Israel for decades to come. A number of Republican senators see no problem with this strategy. Actually, it’s even worse.  Due to historical developments, the Syrian Brotherhood is more radical than its Egyptian counterpart. To maintain illegality under President Husni Mubarak, for decades the Egyptian Brotherhood had to restrain itself. Those who wanted violent revolution and faster action left to form separate Salafist groups. The Egyptian Brotherhood today sometimes cooperates with these groups–whose party finished second in the parliamentary elections–but they are also rivals.In Syria, however, the underground Brotherhood had no incentive to hold back. Consequently, while there are certainly a lot of non-Brotherhood Salafists, there are also a large proportion of really violent, impatient, open extremists in the Syrian Brotherhood. To do a simple analogy, the Syrian Brotherhood is more like Hamas than those slick Brotherhood leaders in Cairo who care to fool the West with their honeyed words. A Brotherhood-run Syria, with Salafists egging on the regime, would be an instant nightmare.
And so Western and especially American policy is doing tremendous harm: not by helping the “rebels” but by working with Turkey and Qatar to help the most anti-Western, anti-American, antisemitic, extremist rebels, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jihadists from smaller groups all the way up to al-Qaida. If you are interested in the details read this remarkable report by Ammar Abuhamid, the best-informed and very honest Syrian analyst on what’s going on.
In brief, there is a massive battle on the opposition side to see who emerges as the greater power–the Islamists or the anti-Islamists ( defected army officers who are nationalists; moderate Sunni Muslims from the urban middle class; conservative, traditionalist Sunni Muslims who hate the Brotherhood; Kurdish nationalists; and even local, non-ideological warlords. And the West is supporting the wrong side.
By the way, the Saudis have a slightly different perspective. On one hand, they want a Sunni-dominated regime in Syria that will be anti-Iran and friendly to Saudi Arabia. They wouldn’t mind if it was heavily Islamic and since the main priority is destroying Iran’s number-one Arab ally, the Saudis will help the Muslim Brotherhood and various smaller Jihadist groups. But they prefer a regime that isn’t going to subvert them and create regional instability. In Iraq the Saudis supported Sunni groups that were affiliated with al-Qaida to beat the hated Shia. In Lebanon, the Saudis support moderate Sunni forces against pro-Iran Hizballah.
If there was U.S. leadership, a U.S.-Saudi partnership could promote a combination of Syrian moderate Sunnis and defected officers plus some sleazy–but non-Islamist–warlords.  The American president would tell the Saudis–as well as Qatar and Turkey–that it regarded arming small Jihadist groups and the Brotherhood as an unfriendly act. That is not happening.What is happening is that the Turkish regime and Qatar want a radical Islamist Syria and are getting the Obama Administration’s help in bringing it about, an outcome supplemented by Saudi aid to America’s enemies.
Yet now there are clearly different groups in the opposition, as Abuhamid explains in detail. To give one example, the powerful Syria Martyrs’ Brigade is traditionalist but not Islamist, while the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria tells you its goal in its name. To compile a list of groups that will and will not get arms would be an easy task for the U.S. government.

Another issue that is being mishandled is that of Syria’s Kurds. The easiest thing the West could do would be to help Syria’s Kurds who just want autonomy, not to be subject to the current directorship, radical Arab nationalists, or Islamists. This would make the Kurds of Iraq, American allies, very happy. But Obama won’t do that because it would make Islamist-ruled Turkey, an enemy of America that President Barack Obama loves more than any other country in the region, very unhappy and so probably won’t happen.

I’m very sorry to write this article for two reasons:
–The Syrians have suffered so much it is understandable that one should help end this civil war as soon as possible and get rid of the current anti-American and pro-Iran dictatorship.
–It would be easy to have a good policy toward Syria: funneling help to the non- or anti-Islamist rebel forces. Yet the United States has not made this distinction under Obama and neither the mass media nor the politicians even seem to be aware of this issue. Its help often goes to radical anti-American who want to impose another dictatorship on Syria. The Turks want a Muslim Brotherhood government; the Qataris do, too. The Saudis want to get rid of the current regime and replace it with a Sunni, anti-Iran one. With proper U.S. leadership and coordination the Saudis might play a constructive role but given Obama’s policy they will mainly just support Sunni Islamists as they did in Iraq.As if to outdo America, the French government is actually supporting for Syria’s leader a loudmouth former regime insider of no proven talent who is a radical Arab nationalist and someone who the rebels loathe.

Barry Rubin

Rav Ovadia Yosef’s Daughter Meets with PA President Abbas

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A rare meeting took place Monday in Ramallah, between Rabbi Menachem Chai Shalom Fruman, Nachum Pachnik, chairman of the Eretz Shalom movement, the movement’s director Rabbi Tzuriel Krispel, Rabbi Michael Melchior, and Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Kikar HaShabbat reported.

The rabbis came to the meeting in order to encourage a series of meetings between rabbis and clergymen and senior Palestinian officials.

Abbas addressed the Iranian threat against Israel, and, surprisingly, expressed his objection to permitting Iran to possess a nuclear bomb, thus dragging the entire region into great danger. “I hope there won’t be a war, because any bloodshed is forbidden (Haram).”

Further astounding his guests, Abu Mazen added, “The State of Israel was established in order to remain in existence and not, like some extremists claim, that it’s necessary to annul its existence.”

But he added that alongside Israel “there is a country that’s missing – Palestine.”

Rabbi Krispel requested from Abbas’s blessing “for more meetings between rabbis and sheiks, to form a connection. We believe that we can broaden these circles and create an environment of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

As reported, Mrs. Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadia Yosef’s daughter, also participated in this meeting. Rabbi Fruman introduced her to the Palestinian officials and even called her “Rabbanit.”

“We did not bring the Rabbanit because of her opinions,” said Rabbi Fruman. “Even though she is a ‘rabbi’ in her own right and I do address her as Rabbi Bar Shalom. She is here because she is the closest person to her father, closer than the reporters whom you rely on.”

“Rav Ovadia Yosef is not what the newspapers make him out to be. Rav Ovadia uses his influence on the Israeli public and also on the Israeli government,” Rabbi Fruman told the Palestinian officials.

At the end of the meeting, Abu Mazen requested to convey his greetings to Rav Ovadia Yosef and even expressed hope of a future meeting with him.

Tibbi Singer

At Least 260 Dead, More than 2,100 injured, in Iran Earthquake (Updated)

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Iran on Saturday, killing 250 people and injuring more than 2,000, with many buildings being reduced to rubble, and completely destroying 6 villages according to Iranian officials.

Thousands are fleeing their homes and staying outdoors, fearing more damage from aftershocks – at least 20 of which have hit the region.

Casualty figures will probably continue to rise, say Iranian officials, since many of the injured are in critical condition, and many civilians are still trapped under the rubble.

Iran is situated between two major fault lines and has endured a few devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which demolished the southeastern historic city of Bam and killed at least 25,000 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday’s first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.

Tabriz is a major city and trading hub far from Iran’s oil producing areas. Though buildings in the city are substantially built, homes and businesses in Iranian villages are often made of concrete blocks or mud brick that can crumble and collapse in a strong quake.

A second quake struck near the town of Varzaghan. “The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear,” the Fars news agency reported.

About 210 people in Varzaghan and Ahar have been rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the official IRNA news agency said, quoting a local official.

“So far 73 bodies from Varzaghan and Ahar have been handed over to the coroner’s office,” IRNA quoted Bahram Samadirad, a provincial official from the office, as saying.

He added, “Since some people are in a critical condition and rescue workers are still trying to rescue people from under the rubble, unfortunately it is possible for the number of casualties to rise.”

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/at-least-153-dead-more-than-1300-injured-in-iran-earthquake/2012/08/11/

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