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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

Will Your Child be Born in ‘Israel’?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The US Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question as to whether or not an American citizen born in Jerusalem can have “Israel” listed on his (or her) passport as their country of birth.

The case is being brought on behalf of Jerusalem (Israel) born, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, a US citizen. Zivotofsky’s parents tried to have Israel listed as his place of birth, but the US State Department didn’t allow it.

The constitutional question is whether only the President can allow Israel to be listed, something no president has allowed to happen so far, or if Congress can pass a law that overrides the president on what is claimed to be a foreign policy issue.

Congress actually passed the law in 2002 as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, but it was never enforced.

As an aside, if an American child is born in Tel Aviv, the passport will say, “Israel” as the place of birth.

Strangely enough, it’s been reported that the Jerusalem Consulate did add the country name for a man born in Jerusalem before 1948, they wrote “Palestine”.

Of course that is very problematic, as there never was a state of Palestine.

At best, the correct location should have been, “British Mandate for Palestine” or even “League of Nations Occupied Turkey”.

US Palestine Passport

The State Department’s and White House’s official policy has been to not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Sounds very one-sided to me.

The case may be decided by June 2015.

State Dept Press Corps Angry ‘Israel is Pushing Pollard Release’

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

In Tuesday’s daily press briefing conducted by the State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, several members of the media insinuated that it was Israel that raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison, as a condition for continuing the U.S. mediated “peace process” negotiations currently underway.

In fact, in a briefing that lasted less than 35 minutes, more than a third of the time was spent on the issue of Jonathan Pollard, and every one of the questions asked by the State Department press corps appeared to be an effort to convince the State Department that what they all characterized as an Israeli effort to get Pollard released was an outrage.

It was the first set of questions that was raised, it was the penultimate set of questions, and the questions were raised by no fewer than five different journalists, representing media outlets from across the globe.

Throughout the questioning, Harf maintained a solid line of no comment. She refused to comment on whether Pollard’s release was a matter under discussion during the “peace talks.”

The one definitive statement made repeatedly by Harf was “the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard.”

But several extraordinary things happened during the press conference, that is, extraordinary in addition to what seemed to be a united front by the journalists who were cross-examining the State Department spokesperson as to why would the U.S. buckle under a demand from Israel to release a convicted spy.

First, a significant comment made by Harf was deleted from the official transcript. That deletion specifically appeared to confirm for the journalists that Israel was the party which had raised the release of Pollard, rather than, as was the general sense in the Israeli media, that it was the U.S. who raised the issue in a desperate attempt to keep the “peace talks” alive.

Reproduced below, is the first relevant section of the transcript of Tuesday’s briefing. Even before this question, it should be noted, the journalist asking this first series of questions claimed that it was Abbas who cancelled the meeting with Secretary of State Kerry, not the other way around, as it has been generally reported.

QUESTION: (at 2:55) Do you want to give us some kind of readout on how it was that the Pollard release was put back up on the table? I know there’s been a lot of conflicting information over the last week, when these reports first surfaced in the Israeli press. We’d like a little clarification on exactly when and why and how, and whether or not Pollard’s release is still on the table, given that Abbas looks like he – that is what’s making him negative on the process right now. (at 3:23)

MS. HARF: (at 3:24) Well, a few points on that. First, the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard. I want to be very clear about that. Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I don’t have any further update on his status to provide today. In terms of this being a topic, (at 3:38)

THIS IS WHERE THE AUDIOTAPE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND THE TRANSCRIPT DIFFER DRAMATICALLY.  WHAT HARF SAID AS REVEALED IN THE AUDIOTAPE, THOUGH IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE TRANSCRIPT AT ALL, IS:

it should be uh no surprise that the Israelis have frequently raised Jonathan Pollard in our discussions, uh, uh, throughout the peace process or at large, but I’m not going to get (at 3:50)

AND THEN THE TRANSCRIPT AND THE AUDIOTAPE RESUME TRACKING:

(at 3:51) into any of the details of the discussions that they’ve had with Secretary Kerry.

White House Denies Concrete Plan to Swap Pollard

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

The White House has denied an Israeli radio report broadcast Wednesday saying the U.S. proposed swapping convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard for 26 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners to keep the Israel-PA talks alive.

Pollard is entering his 29th year in a U.S. prison, held on a single charge of passing classified information to a friendly ally (Israel) after his arrest in 1985. The crime normally carries a maximum jail term of two to four years.

Israel was set to release the 26 PA terrorists this week in a final tranche of four groups to complete an agreement made as a “good will gesture” on condition the PA would participate in “serious” talks. Since July 2013, 78 PA terrorists have been freed. A number of roadblocks at entrances to Arab cities and towns along major arteries in Judea and Samaria, where terrorists are known to take refuge, have also been opened and new roads paved with funding and assistance from the U.S. government.

But there has no been significant participation in negotiations by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas since November 2013, according to Jerusalem officials. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has notified the U.S. that many senior ministers in his coalition government are opposed to releasing the final group of terrorists, not having seen any real progress in the talks and no movement in any of the PA’s positions.

“There are no plans to release Jonathan Pollard at the moment,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki announced at a briefing. “Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage against the United States – a very serious crime. He was sentenced to life and is currently serving his sentence,” she said. The spokesperson sidestepped the issue of whether or not a deal offering a prisoner swap had been offered.

The PA leader announced at an Arab League summit yesterday that he intends to move ahead with unilateral attempts to gain membership for the PA as an independent sovereign nation in international organizations, ignoring his own commitment. Both Abbas and the Arab League are insisting on preconditions by Israel to continue “negotiations” that require the Jewish State to pull back to the 1949 Armistice Line, withdrawing from all “occupied territories” won in 1967. They also demand Israel accept the “right of return” by Arab refugees who fled Israel in 1948 and 1967 and their millions of descendants, and refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.

State Dept. Israel Report Focuses on Bedouin

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

A focus of this year’s U.S. State Department human rights report on Israel was Bedouin rights.

The report issued Thursday noted the Bedouin in its introduction, which it did not previously, and examined at length the demolition of Bedouin dwellings in 2013, a result of Israel’s relocation policies.

“While Arab communities in the country generally faced economic difficulties, the Bedouin segment of the Arab population continued to be the most disadvantaged,” the report said.

The report noted that the government demolished 413 buildings in Bedouin villages in the Negev and that another 449 homes were demolished by Bedouin seeking to avoid demolition costs levied by the government.

“Many Bedouins complained that moving to government-planned towns would require them to give up claims to land they had occupied for several generations and would separate them from their livelihood, while the government claimed it was difficult and inefficient to provide services to clusters of buildings throughout the Negev that ignored planning procedures,” the report said.

The report, as in previous years, ranked the “most significant” human rights issues facing Israel as: terrorist attacks against civilians; institutional and societal discrimination against Arabs; discrimination against women; and the treatment of asylum seekers.

The report noted an overall decline in terrorist attacks against Israelis said that Israel met international standards in areas such as prisons, arrest and detention and also that it maintained an independent judiciary and a free press.

It noted that “price tag” attacks by Jewish extremists against Arabs expanded beyond Judea and Samaria into pre-1967 Israel.

In its report on Palestinian-controlled areas, the State Department included reports of unlawful security service killings and torture and said detention conditions were “extremely bad.”

It also noted the discrepancy within Israel between prisons for Israelis and for Judea and Samaria Palestinians.

“IDF detention centers for security detainees were less likely than Israeli civilian prisons to meet international standards,” it said, and included reports of crowding and in some cases “extreme violence” against detainees.

The report included a section on anti-Semitism in Palestinian-controlled areas, citing expressions of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial by officials and outlets of both the Judea and Samaria-based Palestinian Authority and Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip.

Elsewhere in the annual human rights report, the State Department reported a decline in anti-Semitism in Ukraine in 2013, a period before the eruption of unrest in recent weeks.

In the introduction to its report on France, the State Department said, “The most significant human rights problems during the year included an increasing number of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents.”

Kerry, in Memory Lapse, Backs New Egyptian Elections

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday urged that the Egyptian military regime, which it blessed for getting rid of Mohammed Morsi, hold elections like those of last year, when Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi won and was blessed by the Obama administration.

The elections followed the revolution against Hosni Mubarak, whom Washington had blessed for years as its closest ally in the Middle East except for Israel.

“The United States strongly supports the Egyptian people’s hope for a prompt and sustainable transition to an inclusive, tolerant, civilian-led democracy,” Kerry told reporters in Washington.

The State Dept. has a short memory, which apparently is part of its curriculum for learning the Middle East.

Every American administration for years had known that Mubarak was a ruthless autocrat. But as he long as maintained stability, profited from U.S. arms sales and limited his anti-Israel positions to speeches for the masses, everyone was happy – except the Egyptians.

After Mubarak’s goon squads murdered nearly 1,000 people opposing his regime, President Barack Obama turned his back on Mubarak and hastened his departure, as would any country that favors human rights.

Then the United States misread the Arab street for a change. Just as the State Dept. under the Bush administration failed to realize that the Hamas terrorist organization would win the Palestinian Authority’s first and last democratic elections eight years ago, the Obama administration did not realize that after Mubarak comes the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

Instead of standing up for human rights and condemning the fiercely anti-Israeli and anti-Christian group, Washington embraced it, figuring it’s best to make friends with those in power in order to tell them what to do. But it seems that the world does not always act as the United States wants.

Those warm embraces and blessings lasted for less than year. While the State Dept. spent months of pretending that Morsi was instituting reforms while it ignored his actions in the opposite direction, the Egyptians had enough and launched  the country’s second Arab Spring rebellion in two years.

The State Dept. backed the ouster of Morsi, despite his having been democratically elected, and gave its blessings to the army, which it was sure would serve only as an interim government.

Here is a statement that could have been made during the rebellion against the Mubarak regime: “We and others have urged the government to respect the rights of free assembly and of free expression, and we have also urged all parties to resolve this impasse peacefully and underscored that demonstrators should avoid violence and incitement.”

That actually was said on Wednesday by Kerry, who condemned the same army he backed a month ago.

“The United States strongly condemns today’s violence and bloodshed across Egypt,” he said. “It’s a serious blow to reconciliation and the Egyptian’s people’s hopes for a transition towards democracy and inclusion.”

More accurately, it is a blow to the United States, which just can’t get it right in the Middle East, let alone Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Violence is simply not a solution in Egypt or anywhere else,” he said, ignoring the fact the violence is a way of life in most Arab countries, where “might is right.” The  Arab Spring revolutions have shown that there is a choice.

One option is a ruthless autocratic regime that suppress freedom, beats up anyone who says “boo” and also maintains stability, especially for the rich ruling class.

The other option is mass violence and instability.

According to Kerry, “Violence only impedes the transition to an inclusive civilian government, a government chosen in free and fair elections that governs democratically, consistent with the goals of the Egyptian revolution.”

That brings him to the logical conclusion that elections are needed. The sooner they come, the more violent they will be.

Kerry concluded his remarks with what should be viewed as a worrisome statement: “The United States remains at the ready to work with all of the parties and with our partners and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful, democratic way forward.”

The video below  shows some of Wednesday’s violence. It is more or less a replay of Mubarak’s violence in 2011. In between, there were elections, which were both the outcome and precursor of violence.

AP Reporter: Is Construction Deal Killer Despite Murderers’ Release

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

For days the discussion throughout Israel and most of the pro-Israel world has been focused on the Jewish State’s decision to release more than 100 Arab Palestinian terrorists from prison, nearly all of whom are murderers who had been given life sentences.

Even those who approved of the release of more than 1000 Arab prisoners from jail in exchange for the freedom of Gilad Shalit several years ago had difficulty understanding this round of convicted murderer releases.

Why would the Israeli government agree to release prisoners guilty of heinous murders in exchange for…the privilege of sitting down with the Palestinian Arab negotiators? Particularly when it is clear to everyone who has been watching this peace process parade for years that the talks will only be about what else Israel will have to give up.

Israel is not going to obtain any reliable guarantees that terrorism will cease or decrease. What is a more likely guarantee is that terrorism may well increase, with potential terrorists emboldened by the realization that no matter what crimes they commit, no matter how young or how old their Israeli victims, no matter if they use bomb belts or firebombs or axes or pitchforks to murder Israelis, they will eventually be released from prison.

Anyone who thought that it was worth it for Israel to take such a painful step because it will convince those countries/journalists/diplomats who are not simply inveterate Israel haters that Israel really is committed to peace, need only watch the videos of the State Department’s Daily briefings from the last two days to understand that it simply does not matter what Israel does, it will be vilified and treated as if it – the party making concessions – is the wrongful actor, and the Arab Palestinians are the ones who are forced to suffer the grievous harm inflicted on them by Israel’s actions.

For example, the state department briefing on Tuesday, August 13, started out with outrage from Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, who repeatedly sought to provoke Marie Harf, the state department spokesperson, into condemning Israel’s approval of housing construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem. And Matt Lee is one of the more even-handed of the White House press corps reporters.

To her credit, Harf repeatedly refused to be baited and would not take a specific position on the housing approvals, other than to say – repeatedly – that the U.S. government has “serious concerns” which they have “made known” to the Israeli government.

What seemed to particularly irk Lee and some of his colleagues is that while the U.S. keeps referring to the two parties being “at the table in good faith,” they saw Israel as being totally in the wrong for daring to build housing for its citizens in areas that many people and many countries – but not Israel – think is not rightfully theirs.

Here’s an example of what went on:

The Palestinians meanwhile don’t seem to have done anything except kind of sucked it up on this, and I’m just wondering if you view – is this evidence of Israel’s good faith – what you talked about yesterday when you said both sides were at the table in good faith?

and then, Lee said: “does it bother you that the Israelis are doing exactly the opposite of what you would like them to do?

Another topic that came up several times – and has been the topic of many news stories over the past several days – has been the secretary of state Kerry’s description of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Line as “illegitimate.”

Harf  was pressed on this point several times, and was asked to find out from her boss whether it is the view of the U.S. government that only “continued settlement activity is illegitimate,” or is prior “settlement activity” also illegitimate?

Again, it was Lee who articulated this.  Here are his questions, with the single word interruptions by Harf deleted:

And I just want to make sure that my question is clear. I want to know if the U.S. regards any existing settlement –or housing construction in the West Bank — I mean, in East Jerusalem — to be illegitimate or if it’s –all in the future.

Of course, this is the “facts on the ground” argument against Jewish homes being built anywhere over the Green Line.  Watch this be the new buzz phrase adopted by people like Jodi Rudoren from the New York Times.  Somehow the idea that no Jews would ever be permitted to live in any potential Palestinian state is never one that troubles reporters.

Not nearly so trepidatious as the Americans, the European Union took little time in denouncing Israel for the housing construction approvals, describing Israel’s decision “to approve the building of nearly 1,200 new settlement apartments in occupied territories” to be “illegal under international law and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

No word from the EU on the impact of continued terrorism, or whether the description by the Palestinian Authority of the Arab murderers who will be released from prison as “freedom fighters” is an obstacle to peace or might threaten the “two state” concept.

AP reporter Lee asked the state department spokesperson whether the U.S. has a position on the Arab Palestinians referring to the prisoners as “freedom fighters”:

most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people, and the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners, and I – and they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world, to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position –

About the only thing less pleasant than having to be state department spokesperson with people like Matt Lee in the press corps would be having root canal surgery if the dentist was using a buzzsaw.

The next round of talks between the negotiators for the Israelis and the negotiators for the Arab Palestinians is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14.

State Dept. Now Fighting ‘Enemies Of Islam’

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

This is one step beyond The Twilight Zone …. it’s the O’Zone, just as poisonous and deadly. (Thanks to Armaros)

Obama’s state department is now calling devout Muslims “enemies of Islam.” This is madness. Are counter jihadists considered enemies of Islam?

State Dept Offers $10 Million Reward For Kill or Capture Of ‘Enemies Of Islam’ IJ Review, August 12, 2013

As with most things his administration does, I’m sure Obama will be shocked when he reads in the newspapers about the State Dept. declaring a $10 million bounty on the head of what it calls an “enemy of Islam.”

From a State Department Press release:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks today in Baghdad. These attacks were aimed at families celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The terrorists who committed these acts are enemies of Islam and a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community.

Obama’s representatives tell us we don’t take sides in religious wars, but somehow it’s okay to issue a State Department “fatwa” against the enemies of Islam?

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