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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

Senate Approves ‘ISIS Bill’ – US Military Hopes for More

Friday, September 19th, 2014

The U.S. Senate approved the “ISIS bill” 78-22 in a ‘last gasp’ vote Thursday, approving a measure to train and arm 5,000 Syrian rebels one day after members of Congress had done the same.

After the vote, both senators and congress members then fled Capitol Hill, heading for a grueling fall campaign prior to midterm elections.

The bill itself went straight to the desk of President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

But even as the president prepared to approve the measure intended to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, U.S. military leaders are growing more concerned. So is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who was quoted by the Washington Post as saying Obama should listen to his commanders.

“I think it’s very important that he does follow the advice and counsel that he receives, the professional advice of the military. They are the ones best suited to do that,” McKeon said.

But as to Obama’s ban on ‘boots on the ground,’ the lawmaker added, “I realize he’s commander in chief, he has the final say and the final obligation and responsibility. I would also request that he not take options off the table.”

Retired Marine General James Mattis told the House Intelligence Committee in testimony on Thursday that Obama’s ban on combat troops in the Middle East would cripple the military.

“Half-hearted or tentative efforts – or air strikes alone – can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” Mattis told American lawmakers. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”

The testimony followed a public suggestion two days earlier by the chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, not to rule out the possibility. According to the Post, Dempsey pointed out that Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander for the Middle East, had already made the recommendation at least once in connection with a case in Iraq – but was overruled.

The U.S. military has carried out 176 air strikes against ISIS in Iraq since August 8. Obama has hinted the U.S. will also carry out air strikes against the terror group in Syria as well.

But given the clear opposition expressed by Iran and Russia, let alone Syria — and to some extent, the threatening posture maintained by Iran over the issue – it is not at all clear when or even if Obama will actually send American warplanes into Syrian skies.

‘Last Minute’ Iron Dome Infusion from US

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

The Congress voted Friday morning to transfer an additional $225 million to Israel for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

The move came less than 24 hours after Hamas terrorists kidnapped an Israeli soldier during a cease fire demanded by the United States and the United Nations.

President Barack Obama immediately signed the measure into law, and the funds were transferred overnight, according to a report posted by ABC News.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee two weeks ago approved the transfer of $351 million, bringing the total appropriations for Israel to $621 million.

The funds transferred last night followed a unanimous vote of approval by the Senate just before the start of a long Congressional recess.

“This is a good example of us being able to put aside partisan considerations and work together to help our good friend, Israel,” Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Politico.

“I will stand by Israel for a lot of personal reasons but certainly for political reasons,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “And I have no hesitation in declaring to the world that’s how I feel.”

Senatora Tom Coburn (R-OK) tried but failed to convince his colleagues to pass an amendment to offset the costs of helping Israel by “reducing unnecessary contributions to the UN.”

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, meanwhile, earlier had slammed the United States for funding the entirely defensive Iron Dome anti-missile system.

“Americans not only equipped the Israelis with weapons used in the Gaza Strip but also helped Israel in the amount of almost a billion dollars to develop the Iron Dome system that protects the residents from rocket fire,” Pillay said. “Gaza residents were not given similar protection from Israeli bombing.”

Pillay has called for an international investigation of Israel’s counter terror operation in Gaza, claiming the IDF is guilty of war crimes. She has not, however, used the same criteria in addressing the actions of Hamas, who started this war, and freely uses civilians as human shields in combat and in placement of weaponry for use against Israel.

Rubio on Gaza War

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Senator Marco Rubio had something very important to say about Israel’s battle with Gaza.

Israeli Shoe on America’s Foot, Swapping Taliban Terrorists for a Soldier

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama is finding himself in the same position as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – having to explain a controversial decision to outraged lawmakers and a questioning public.

Obama faced the nation on Saturday night to defend his directive to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Taliban terrorist organization in order to free the lone American soldier held hostage by the group in Afghanistan for the past five years.

Like that of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the background behind the capture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was less than heroic. Shalit was not in combat when he was kidnapped by Arab terrorists in a cross-border raid in southern Israel in 2006. According to a blog post by prominent U.S. civil rights attorney Jonathan Turley, Bergdahl was taken prisoner after leaving his base in east Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

On Saturday, the 28-year-old army soldier was released by his Taliban captors in exchange for five Taliban members who were freed from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The deal was reached after a week of intense negotiations mediated by Qatar, which allegedly will maintain custody of the Taliban detainees for one year.

U.S. officials said efforts to negotiate the soldier’s release began in November 2010 and that his return became a top priority in May 2011. The opportunity to resume talks over the issue emerged several weeks ago, Turley wrote.

The U.S. president called the deal part of America’s “iron-clad commitment to bringing our prisoners home.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in making the announcement that he informed Congress on Saturday of the decision, adding that the U.S. had “coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.” He thanked the Emir of Qatar for that and for his “instrumental role in facilitating the return” of the soldier.

But the United States has also had a legal “iron-clad commitment” not to negotiate with terrorists, as it happens.

Turley quoted a joint statement expressing outrage and concern over the swap by top U.S. Congress member Howard P. McKeon, (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant Bergdahl from terrorist captivity,” the two lawmakers said. “However – we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom.

“American has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”

Hm. Sound familiar? Perhaps an echo of the fears expressed by the Israeli public over endless “good will gestures” forced on its government by the U.S. State Department to free convicted Arab terrorists in order to keep the Palestinian Authority at the negotiating table? Or the outrage expressed by families of victims of terror when more than 1,000 bloodthirsty jailed terrorists were freed in exchange for the lone Israeli soldier held hostage for more than five years by the Iranian-backed Hamas rulers of Gaza?

Yes – the same Hamas terror organization with which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas now intends to unite his Fatah faction in a Palestinian Authority “unity” government. Mind you, most of those freed terrorist murderers are still at large, armed and dangerous, working on their next “projects.”

Gee.

America’s lawmakers also pointed out that President Obama “clearly violated laws” requiring him to notify Congress 30 days prior to the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay. Those laws require him to explain exactly how the threat posed by those terrorists was substantially mitigated.

Senate Considers Plight of Impoverished Holocaust Survivors

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

The U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on the plight of Holocaust survivors in the United States.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee said at the Wednesday hearing that survivors are better off aging at home.

“The emphasis on caring for aging survivors must be on creating a safe space surrounded by a trusting caretaker, familiar environment, and a basic sense of control over daily life,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the committee chair.

“For many of these seniors, this means staying in their homes to receive medical care in their twilight years, a model of care not supported by the traditional Medicaid model, for instance,” Nelson said, referring to the federal medical funding program for the impoverished.

According to the Senate committee, one fourth of the roughly 140,000 survivors in America live at or below the poverty line, the Washington Jewish Week reported.

Many face significant health and mental illnesses beyond normal aging due to nutritional deprivation and the lack of medical care during World War II.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the committee’s top Republican, said institutional living presents added challenges for survivors.

“The emotional triggers that can be set off by institutional care can be devastating for them,” she said. “Things that other residents would likely ignore can take aging Holocaust survivors psychologically and emotionally back to their traumatic youth or childhood. Confinement is an institutional setting with certain rules, schedules and uniformed staff can literally bring back nightmares. Everyday experiences — showers, doctors, hunger, a lack of privacy — can trigger flashbacks and nightmares.”

Vice President Joe Biden last month laid out a program to assist impoverished Holocaust survivors, including appointing a Health Department envoy to the community and creating additional capacity for volunteers to help the survivors.

Jack Rubin, a constituent of Nelson’s and a survivor of several Nazi concentration and death camps, said many Holocaust survivors are living below the poverty line and can’t afford two hearing aids let alone someone to come into their house daily to help out. He suggested that the German government should contribute.

“U.S. taxpayers are already burdened enough,” he said, adding, “We are not schnorrers. We are not beggars. What we are asking for is what we deserve.”

Besides Rubin and Anat Bar-Cohen, a daughter of survivors, several organizational leaders testified for the need for increased funding, including the Jewish Federations of North America and Selfhelp, a community services organization that helps survivors living in New York.

“Living in poverty, plagued by immeasurable loss, they are at risk of falling into isolation and despair,” Lee Sherman, the president of the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, said in his testimony.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany provided written testimony.

Senators Introduce Sanctions Bill to Break Iran Deal

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties introduced a bill on Thursday that would toughen sanctions on Iran and effectively squash the interim deal between the major Western powers and Iran. The deal has been ridiculed by many as appeasement in return for a nuclear bomb.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois said the bill’s proposals for a worldwide boycott on Iranian oil exports and blacklisting the country’s mining industries are “an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception.”

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said, “Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table.”

In the unlikely event that the Senate defies President Barack Obama and passes the bill, and the House of Representatives goes along for the ride, it would render the deal null and void because of the negotiators’ promise that no new sanctions would be introduced before the end of talks for a final deal in six months.

The bill also states, “If the government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States government should stand with Israel” with diplomatic, military and economic support.”

The 26 senators who introduced the deal basically made a stand against President Obama, and when the time comes that it is clear that the President and the leaders of the major powers were duped, the bill’s sponsors can say, “We told you so.”

But that won’t be of much help to Israel.

Congress Considers Congressional Gold Medal for Shimon Peres

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Members of the U.S. Congress have introduced legislation to award Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal.

Spearheading the push to award Peres the medal are Ezra Friedlander, a New York-based lobbyist, and Rabbi David Baron of the Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills.

Should the legislation pass, Peres, who turns 90 on Friday, would be one of just nine individuals to win both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama accorded Peres last year. The two medals are the highest U.S. civilian honors.

Dual recipients include Nelson Mandela, who led the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa; Martin Luther King, the U.S. civil rights giant; Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist; and Aung San Suu Kyii, the Burmese democracy activist. Of the eight dual medalists, five — like Peres — are also Nobel peace laureates.

“Shimon Peres has honorably served Israel for over 70 years, during which he has significantly contributed to United States interests and has played a pivotal role in forging the strong and unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel,” said the legislation introduced Thursday in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

Almost identical legislation was introduced Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/congress-considers-congressional-gold-medal-for-shimon-peres/2013/08/01/

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