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July 26, 2016 / 20 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

JNi.Media

‘Woman in Gold’ Helen Mirren Testifies for Holocaust Art Restitution Bill

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

British actress Helen Mirren testified in Congress Tuesday in support of a bill to make restitution easier for American heirs of Holocaust era victims, The Art Newspaper reported. Mirren starred in the 2015 British drama “Woman in Gold,” about Austrian-born Jewish American Maria Altmann’s court fight to recover her family’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” by Gustav Klimt (her late aunt modeled for the picture), which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Mirren told two Senate judiciary subcommittees in a joint hearing on the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act that “the very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane.” She added, “Greed, cruelty, self-interest and domination will always be with us, it’s an easy option. Justice is so much more difficult, so much more complex. But we all dream of justice. We are incapable of changing the past, but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”

“Restitution is so much more, much more than … reclaiming a material good,” Mirren said. “It gives Jewish people and other victims of the Nazi terror the opportunity to reclaim their history, their culture, their memories and, most importantly, their families.”

The legislation is sponsored by Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Other supporters of the bipartisan bill included president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder, and senators Al Franken (D, Minnesota), Chuck Grassley, (R, Iowa) and Orrin Hatch, (R, Utah).

Lauder, who purchased the Klimt painting after Altmann had sued the Austrian government to give it back, and won, told the Senators, “What makes this particular crime even more despicable is that this art theft, probably the greatest in history, was continued by governments, museums and many knowing collectors in the decades following the war.”

Today the Klimt painting is part of the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art Lauder co-founded in New York.

David Israel

Beware the Echo Chamber, Fear the Media Savvy Left, Stick to the Truth

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

I’m not sure which is more worrisome: the ease with which the media, politicians and public opinion were manipulated by the White House and by Ben Rhodes and his associates, or the fact that Ben Rhodes and his associates not only do not care care that their methods have been exposed, they are openly proud of how they did it and are apparently just waiting for the next opportunity and client, so they can do it again.

The Ploughshares Fund was one of the most egregious abusers of the public’s right to receive good, unbiased information, when, during the critical period leading up to the Senate vote on the Iran nuclear deal, suddenly new organizations and experts began popping up out of nowhere, filling up the internet and social media with their distorted information.

Ploughshares used their money to network and amplify the voices of 86 organizations and 200 individuals during the Iran Debate, creating, what Ben Rhodes described as an “echo chamber” effect, where it looked and sounded like the voices on their side of the public debate were the overwhelming majority, always making a point to be there to oppose any conflicting opinion.

But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this technique being used.

Remember V15 in Israel? A previously unknown group which popped out of nowhere during the 2015 elections and tried to oust PM Netanyahu, claiming to be a “grassroots” organization, yet flush with suspiciously copious funds, enough to make a lot of noise. Now we know V15 was connected to OneVoice, which had received a $233,500 grant from the US State Department in 2013, according to NGO-Monitor, and, by their own admission, other money from overseas Jews, including S. Daniel Abraham (Founder of Center for Middle East Peace) and Daniel Lubetzky (Founder of PeaceWorks, which created OneVoice Movement). They also hired Jeremy Bird, President Obama’s 2012 campaign director, to help in their anti-Bibi campaign.

Then there’s that multi-headed hydra, The New Israel Fund, with the multiple NGOs they fund.

The Left’s war for the public’s votes and opinions isn’t being fought based on issues or values. Its operation is based on confusing the message and tricking the public, overwhelming them with variations of the same message over and over, simultaneously hitting them from different sources from every direction, having them think that support for one side of the debate is overwhelming larger than it is, trying to give credibility to radical ideas simply through constant repetition — when in fact those who support it may be minuscule in numbers and in some cases dangerously on the fringe.

I expect that the reporters who thought they were actually in tight with President Obama and then discovered they were being proactively manipulated will let it happen to them again, despite whatever anger and embarrassment they feel right now. And who in the public is going to remember Ploughshares, V15 and NIF’s manipulations come the next event or policy they want to manipulate?

The question is, how do we fight it?

Do we immitate them and duplicate their media manipulations — fighting fire with fire, to the point where no one has credibility any more, and it comes down to who can slam you harder and more often with his message?

Or do we stick to the truth and hope that by pointing out how easily they were fooled last time, this time they won’t let it happen — praying that even that message doesn’t get overwhelmed by the next Ben Rhodes’ “hammer and ploughshare” campaign?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t believe that those on our side of the political spectrum even comprehend the scale and deviousness of the media and public opinion manipulations of the Left.

But if we don’t learn, if we don’t try and if the financial backers on our side ignore these lessons, whatever the solution, then our message, our truth, our way of life will simply be drowned in the Left-generated echo chambers of social media and lies.

JoeSettler

Bill Letting 9/11 Victims Sue Saudi Arabia Passes Senate

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

The Senate on Tuesday approved by a voice vote the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act allowing families of Sept. 11 victims to sue the Saudi government—disregarding a veto threat by the White House. In his recent visit to the Kingdom, President Obama suffered unprecedented humiliation from Saudi officials, presumably hinting at what would come next should he expose them to a torrent of 9/11 litigation. The Saudis have also threatened to move billions of dollars out of the US economy, so there won’t be any assets to freeze when they lose in court.

Sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the bill recognizes the right of victims’ families to sue in US court for the role that Saudi government personnel played in the 2001 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Cornyn said that the United States “will combat terrorism with every tool we have available, and that the victims of terrorist attacks in our country should have every means at their disposal to seek justice.”

The Obama administration is yet to declassify and release US intelligence on Saudi involvement in the attacks, despite repeated pleas from victims’ families.

Irish investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan were contacted by an unnamed counter-terrorism official in 2011 and told there are 80,000 9/11-related documents being kept secret by the FBI, which may not all concern the Saudi family, but many suspect that reclassifying them would expose the truth about the conspiracy, namely that it was driven by elements in the Saudi royal family.

Senate Democrats went against the wishes of the Obama administration, which warned the bill could expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

Schumer had no doubt the Senate had the 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. “We don’t think their arguments stand up,” he told reporters at a news conference after the vote.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warned that the legislation, if passed, would alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine the US’ longstanding relationship with a critical ally in the Middle East. Of course, once said ally starts attacking your civilian population, you may need to re-think the relationship.

New Jersey resident Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom, died in the attacks, was in Washington with her daughter Caitlin to await the vote’s results. She told CNN, “We’ve waited long enough. We’ve waited 15 years. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer. It’s good policy to hold accountable any nation that aids in a terror attack on U.S. soil and that aids in the death of US citizens.”

David Israel

Speaker of the US House to Israel: “We Stand Shoulder to Shoulder With You”

Monday, April 4th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan stressed that the US relationship with Israel is more important than ever at a meeting this morning, April 4, at the Knesset with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“We will work shoulder to shoulder with you against threats,“ Speaker Ryan said. “That’s why I came here and this is the point I wanted to stress.”

“Our friendship with Israel is more important to us than it was in the past,” Ryan added at the meeting with his Israeli counterpart.

Following Congressional legislation last June requiring European trade partners to reject BDS, members of Congress introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016 this past February, which gave federal approval to US states to divest from or prohibit investment in entities associated with BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel].

“I and members of Congress are working and fighting vigorously with every discovery of BDS and boycott of Israel,” Ryan emphasized.

Paul Ryan has been Speaker of the House for about half a year after having been elected to the position last October following the resignation of his predecessor John Boehner. Ryan elaborated upon his display of friendship with Israel during his current tenure as Speaker of the House.

“I entered the position not too long ago and my first work meeting was with President Reuven Rivlin,” noted Ryan. “Also, this trip of mine to Israel is my first [as Speaker of the House].”

“This was not done by accident,” continued Ryan. “I wanted to come to Israel first to emphasize the level of US commitment to Israel and the valiant friendship with Israel is important to us.”

Speaker Edelstein also expressed his appreciation for the friendship between the United States and Israel.

“We know we have true friends in the US, in Congress, and in the White House,” Edelstein said to Ryan. “I very much appreciate your presence here along with an entourage of other members of Congress.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Biden Tells Atlanta Jews ‘Honest to God, I Don’t Know If I Will Run’ [video]

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden told a packed Conservative synagogue in Atlanta Thursday night that the biggest factor that will determine if runs for the White House is whether his family can handle it.

His speech was part an Obama-Biden blitz to convince Jews to back the nuclear deal with Iran, which now has enough backing in the Senate to defeat an opposition attempt to override a presidential veto if Congress rejects the deal.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind was not what Biden had to say about “ObamaDeal” but rather if he will run. He answered questions from the audience, including one about putting his hat in the ring, and said:

Honest to God answer is I just don’t know

The most relevant factor in my decision is whether I and my family have the emotional energy to run.

Some people might think that is not appropriate. But unless I can go to my party and the American people and say that I am able to devote my whole heart and my whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate.

And everybody talks about the other factors — the other people in the race, whether I can raise the money and whether I can put together an organization. That’s not the factor. The factor is, ‘Can I do it? Can my family undertake an arduous commitment that I would be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances?’

His circumstances are far from ordinary. His son Beau Biden, who was considering running for governor of Delaware, died of brain cancer last May.

The Vice President mentioned a previous tragedy, the death of his first wife and daughter in an auto accident in 1972, in his speech at the Ahavat Achim synagogue. Biden said:

I know from previous experience after my wife and daughter … there’s no way to put a timetable to it.

“If I can reach that conclusion that we can do it in a fashion that would still make it viable, I would not hesitate to do it. But I have to be honest with you and everyone who’s come to me, I can’t look you straight in the eye and tell you I can do it. That’s as honest as I can be.

Considering unfavorable polls of Hillary Clinton when it comes to honesty, Biden is an appealing alternative to the former Secretary of State and to Bernie Sanders, whose popularity has soared in the polls.

Sanders’ success reflects a large sector of the population that is fed up with “establishment political,” but as the Democratic nominee for president. he would leave the Democratic party more vulnerable to a loss to the Republican candidate, assuming the GOP nominee will be someone other than Donald Trump.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

31st Democratic Senator Backs Iran Deal

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

President Barack Obama on Sunday won the support of the 31st Democratic senator out of the 34 he needs to prevent a veto-proof majority against the nuclear agreement,

The latest to fall in line is Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley, who announced:

Because of these shortcomings [in the deal], many have argued that the United States, instead of implementing the agreement, should withdraw from it, persuade our partners to set the agreement aside and work together to negotiate a better deal.

However, the prospects for this are slim. All of our partners … believe that the current deal — in regard to its central goal of blocking Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb — is sound. They have committed the good faith of their governments behind the agreement and intend to honor the deal as long as Iran does likewise, with or without the United States.

The momentum in President Obama’s favor may make the numbers game even worse for the opponents of the agreement. Key undecided senators, such as Maryland’s Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, will have a harder time opposing the agreement, which would mean paying a heavy political price, if they know that there is no chance of defeating it.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/31st-democratic-senator-backs-iran-deal/2015/08/30/

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