The U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf gave an initial heads up at the State Department press conference on Thursday afternoon, August 1, that “certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4.”
It was later disclosed that all U.S. embassies and consulates across the Middle East and in parts of Asia will be closed on Sunday.
The reason for the unprecedented closure is a possible al-Qaeda-related threat to diplomatic posts.
As NBSNews.com noted, Sunday is President Barack Obama’s 52nd birthday, and it’s also the day Iran inaugurates Hassan Rowhani as its new president. But U.S. officials told NBC News they had heard nothing to indicate that the date was chosen for either of those reasons.
ABC news had even more specific information. Reporters there claimed that a U.S. official had said the closings were due to a credible and serious security threat of the targeting of an “embassy or consulate in a Muslim country.”
“We just don’t know which one,” the official told ABC News.
According to CBSNews.com, as of 7:35 PM ET Thursday, at least 14 embassies had announced that they will close on Sunday in accordance with the State Department’s guidance. These include the U.S. embassies in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“There could be other targets, not just embassies,” another U.S. official said. The threat is considered to be throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
U.S. Ambassadors, and not the State Department, usually determine when an embassy will close. This is an unusual step.
It is possible the diplomatic posts will remain closed past Sunday.
Winning the war on terrorism? Defeated al-Qaeda? Doesn’t sound like it.
The Jewish Press will continue to update this story as details become available.
Only 600 lashes? The libs will say that is progress. The question is, how many lashes can any human being withstand? I think beheadng is more …. humane.
“We believe that when public speech is deemed offensive, be it via social media or any other means, the issue is best addressed through open-dialogue and honest debate,” said US State Department spokeswoman
“Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Faces Jail and 600 Lashes For Insulting Islam” IBTimes, July 31, 2013
An international outcry was triggered by a Saudi Arabian court that handed a seven-year jail and 600 lashes sentence to the editor of a liberal website for violating Islamic values.
Raif Badawi has been in detention since 2012, after being arrested on cyber-crime charges related to Free Saudi, the website he founded which hosted discussions on religion in the ultraconservative Islamic kingdom.
The US and France expressed deep concerns at the punishment also slammed by human rights groups.
“We believe that when public speech is deemed offensive, be it via social media or any other means, the issue is best addressed through open-dialogue and honest debate,” said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.logger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia’s claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison.”
Judges at Jeddah criminal court reportedly dropped the heaviest charge of apostasy - which carries an automatic death sentence – after Badawi, gave assurances he was a Muslim.
“The judge asked Raif, ‘Are you a Muslim?’ and he said ‘Yes, and I don’t accept anyone to cast doubt on (my belief)’,” Badawi’s wife, who moved abroad in 2012 with her children, tweeted.
However, the court found Badawi guilty of insulting Islam and ordered the closure of the website, Al-Watan newspaper reported.
Judges also gave Badawi an additional three months in jail for disobeying his father, a crime in Saudi Arabia. The two allegedly had numerous public confrontations over the years.
Part of prosecutors’ evidence consisted in postings by Badawi and anonymous members of his site critical of senior Saudi religious figures, HRW reported.
Badawi’s troubles with the authorities started shortly after he started Free Saudi in 2008.
He was forced to leave the country in May that year, after authorities charged him with “setting up an electronic site that insults Islam”.
As the charges were dropped he returned to his homeland but continued his online activity, HRW said.
In March 2012 he was designated as an “unbeliever and apostate” by a well-known cleric Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Barrak.
Al-Barrak reportedly claimed Badawi was guilty of saying “that Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists are all equal”.
If you are an American, there is nothing illegal about contributing money, as a donation to a charitable cause, to a project abroad.
But in the eyes of an American administration, funding educational, social welfare, recreational sports or other such projects in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is a pain, a political pain and not an illegal pain.
Why the special scrutiny for pro-Israel groups? A New York Times article in July 2010 provided a clue: Tax-exempt groups were donating to West Bank settlers, and State Department officials wanted the settlers out. “As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank,” the Times wrote, “the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.”
Did the T-men take their political cues from such stories, or did Administration officials give them orders? Either explanation would be a violation of public trust.
This would also suggest a pattern: Washington officials sent a message for tougher scrutiny of certain 501(c) groups, and the IRS coincidentally adjusted its enforcement regime…There’s still much we don’t know about the scandal of politicized tax enforcement.
New York Times bureau chiefs in Jerusalem are expected to set new standards for malicious bias and during his time there, Ethan Bronner was no exception.
A bureau chief anywhere else in the world may be expected to explore the life and color of the city. But in Jerusalem, a New York Times scribe fills the same spot as the bitter goth kid working on the high school paper who is forced to review musicals put on by cheerleaders. What comes out the other end may have a distant resemblance to journalism, but is mostly just gallons of congealed bile.
Ethan Bronner, who has moved up the New York Times totem pole from attacking Israel to attacking America, still visits the old country on occasion and still pens spiteful little pieces about how dumb and shallow the cheerleaders are. The latest Bronner missive sees him attending a wedding and grumbling at how happy everyone seems to be.
At a “raucous wedding”, Bronner finds that few people are interested in discussing “the Palestinians or the Arab world on their borders.” Instead, “everyone was celebrating.” And why wouldn’t they be celebrating? It is a wedding. And people at weddings generally don’t talk about the people trying to kill them. Average weddings in the United States don’t involve detailed discussions of terrorism, even when New York Times reporters are in attendance.
But Bronner’s thesis is the same as the one put forward by John Kerry. “People in Israel aren’t waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity,” Kerry complained. Israelis are having too many weddings and not suffering enough. The limited autonomy achieved in daily life what the peace process was supposed to.
It’s not just about the physical suffering of terrorism. What bothers Bronner is that Israelis aren’t conscious of the grievances of their enemies. They don’t carry the burden of guilt that comes from knowing that their border controls prevent Hamas from getting the weapons with which they could inflict more death and suffering on Israelis.
The peace process is a myth because its end result was never meant to be peace. Instead it was meant to achieve exactly what it did achieve in the 90s. A state of terror. A way of life that would make every Israeli conscious of the terrorists and their demands all the time. That’s not just their plan for Israel. It’s their dream for the entire free world. A world liberated from its freedoms.
The left does not set out to solve social problems, but to induce a state of permanent crisis in order to impose a permanent state of insecurity and guilt on the populace. Its solutions always make problems worse because the left views violence as not the problem, but a symptom of the true problem, which is the oppression of the violent by their victims.
The negotiations and concessions were not supposed to bring peace. They were supposed to make Israelis suffer. And through this ritualistic suffering, the descendants of Holocaust survivors would finally understand their burden of guilt to the descendants of the conquerors who had repressed them and ruled over their land for centuries.
Terrorism is meant to destroy morale. To break down the sense of stability and order on which every system depends and replace it with uncertainty. And that uncertainty makes people doubt their own rights and more easily accept the arguments of their enemies. Like violent interrogations, the process of terror breaks down the morale of the prisoner and makes him more willing to concede the premises of his captor until he finally learns to love Big Brother. Until the victim of terrorism becomes a supporter of terrorism recognizing that he is the one who is guilty, not the terrorists.
The peace process was working when Israelis were dying. And the bar was being moved further down. It stopped working when Israelis stopped dying.
Supporters of the terrorist cause, whether at the New York Times or the State Department, don’t want to see happy Israelis. They want to see frightened Israelis, sobbing Israelis, confused Israelis and hysterical Israelis. They will even settle for angry Israelis. But the last thing they want to see is Israelis who seem indifferent to the torture being inflicted on them.
The U.S. State Dept. has filed a motion to dismiss the claims of a group of Americans who allege American aid money to the Palestinian Authority funds terrorism.
The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act requires the State Department to certify that none of the money is used for terror.
“It is estimated that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the State Department, via USAID, has given over $4 billion to Palestinians, according to the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin). The sum includes U.S. funding to UNRWA, the United Nations body that operates in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The lawsuit, filed by 24 Americans living in Israel last November in the U.S. District Court for Washington, contends that the State Department has ignored Congressional safeguards and transparency requirements which govern financial assistance to the PA.
The Jewish Press and other media have frequently reported that the Palestinian Authority pays fat salaries to its suicide bomb masterminds serving time in Israeli jails, spends money to build monuments to glorify suicide bombers and funds its media to disseminate incitement to terror against Jews. Millions of dollars also are transferred to Hamas, which the State Dept. itself classifies as an illegal terrorist organization.
The attorneys for the U.S. government, who have asked the court not to allow the case to continue, claim that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring this civil action and that the case raises “political questions.”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs and director of the Israel Law Center explained in a statement Tuesday that the issue is the lack of transparency on the part the officials at Foggy Bottom in Washington.
“Rather than defend the government’s foreign aid policy on its merits and provide proof that it truly knows where taxpayer money to the PA is going, the government’s lawyers are trying to dismiss the lawsuit on legal technicalities,” she said. ”They are saying that it is pure speculation that Americans can be injured by terrorism in Israel and that the issue of funding is a foreign policy power reserved to the U.S. President and cannot be reviewed by the courts.”
Darshan-Leitner added emphasized that the lawsuit does not challenge the Executive Branch’s right to conduct foreign policy but simply want transparency.
“U.S. funds are being utilized by the Palestinians for terrorism which threatens Americans, and the plaintiffs will be responding to this motion and asking that the case be allowed to go forward,” Darshan-Leitner stressed.
The Department of Justice has declined to comment on the case when asked to do buy the Washington Free Beacon.
Syrian rebel fighters have refused to accept a Syrian-born and naturalized American citizen as their show prime minister, destroying an American effort to put into place an organizational structure to help channeling aid to rebels in the war against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Texas resident and IT executive Ghassan Hitto narrowly won last week’s election as “prime minister” amid warnings by rebels that they do not hold enough territory in Syria to warrant an interim government.
Hitto was backed not only by Western governments but also by organizations outside of Syria, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, making him even more suspicious to opponents.
Syrian National Coalition president Mouaz al-Khatib wrote on his Facebook page Sunday, “I am keeping my promise today and announcing my resignation from the National Coalition so that I can work with freedom that is not available inside the official institutions.”
He blamed Western powers for failing to give enough material support to the rebels while trying to punish them into dialogue with Assad, whose army and secret service have murdered tens of thousands of men, women and children in the two-year-old rebellion.
Secretary of State John Kerry steadfastly continued U.S. foreign policy of living in its own world and insisted that the resignation only proves that there is in Syria “an opposition that is bigger than one person and that opposition will continue.”
Kerry, in case anyone forgets, visited Damascus often when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and struck up a dialogue with Assad, who in turn was termed a “reformer” by Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton two weeks after the beginning of the revolt against him.
CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed former first lady Laura Bush about the Women’s Initiative program Bush heads with her husband, former president George W. Bush, on Monday, March 11. During the interview, Burnett threw a question out to Bush that was so shocking, had Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck asked an analogous question, there might actually have been rioting in the streets.
Burnett seemed to be strongly implying to Bush that Americans should reward and honor someone who bravely protested their own mistreatment even if that person (repeatedly) cheered the brutal murders of Americans and Israelis. To withhold an Arab’s reward on the basis of terrorism-glorification is merely American chauvinism, was Burnett’s suggestion.
The CNN host appeared to be trying to get Bush to see that if the U.S. wants to see Egypt and other countries in the Middle East prosper, we cannot hold their heroes to western ethical standards.
Bush was a guest on “OutFront,” Burnett’s CNN show. “Designed to showcase Erin’s unique style – casual, smart, and confident,” is how CNN describes the show. Two out of three ain’t bad.
The Women’s Initiative Fellowship Project is a part of the George W. Bush Institute. The WIF project helps women in the Middle East develop the necessary skills to become effective leaders and build a stronger civil society. The Fellows study leadership skills, exchange expertise, and learn to advocate for social stability. On Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day, Bush celebrated the graduation of WIFP’s first class of 14 Egyptian Fellows, and welcomed the incoming 19 Fellows of the 2013 class.
It was ostensibly to talk about this initiative that Burnett invited Bush to appear on “OutFront.”
Just prior to the terrorism glorification exchange, Burnett asked Bush why her husband, George W. Bush, is a partner in the initiative.
Mrs. Bush explained that he, like “all Americans, if we want peace in the world, and to have peace in our own country, we have to help other countries,” and she said that, “we look at countries where women are marginalized and we nearly always see a failing country.”
“It’s important, when you look around the world, to make sure that men and women can help their countries prosper in every way,” is how Bush expressed her own view. Without skipping a beat, Burnett grabbed the ball with a point she apparently thought would be supported by what Mrs. Bush had just said. Burnett said,
There’s an Egyptian woman, Samira Ibrahim, and she’s done a lot of things, some courageous things, she’s also been criticized for sending tweets that are anti-Semitic, anti-American, does the U.S. need to accept that? When you want to make change, you have to support people who do that, financially, in terms of awards, in terms of all these things – because it pays off in the end? Is that a trade-off we have to make?
Laura Bush, gave a startled “No, I don’t think so,” and went on to discuss how important it is for Americans to support women in every way they can, and how easy it is for WIFP to recruit American women who are eager to be mentors to the Egyptian Fellows because American women are interested in women from all over the world and want to support them.
Samira Ibrahim was criticized – legitimately – as reported here at The Jewish Press, for sending a series of terrorism-glorification tweets within the last year, including ones expressing: joy that 5 Israelis were murdered by Hezbollah terrorists in Bulgaria; hope that more Americans will burn every year on 9/11; and support for an observation that Adolf Hitler accurately noted that at the root of all evil you can find the hand of a Jew.
When enough people made noise about the hatred Ibrahim had expressed, the State Department ultimately called off – temporarily it wrote – having First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry honor her at an event, also on International Women’s Day, to receive the Secretary of State’s Women of Courage Award.
The award presentation was withheld so that the state department could investigate Ibrahim’s claims that her twitter account had been hacked and she was not responsible for any of the hate-filled tweets. The state department cautiously but publicly supported that version of events.
Ibrahim later tweeted that she refused to back down to the “Zionist lobby” and apologize for her tweets, even though the state department was trying to get her to do so. Presumably that will end the expenditure of additional American taxpayers funds to exonerate Ibrahim. And despite the best efforts of CNN’s Burnett to recruit Laura Bash to the “Save Samira” campaign, it is unlikely Ibrahim will ever receive any courage awards from the U.S. government.