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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘state’

The Grassroots and Interfaith Effort Behind the GOP’s Pro-Israel, anti-2 State Platform

Monday, July 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

Amid the intrigue and speculation over the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, one item that the party has settled is its firm support for Israel and opposition to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Tuesday, the Republican Platform Committee unanimously approved a number of significant changes to its platform in an attempt to further set the party’s pro-Israel credentials apart from the Democrats, who are facing concerns over their party’s future support for the Jewish state. The GOP’s platform changes included removing language encouraging a two-state solution as well as reinstating a reference to an “undivided” Israel that was previously included in the party’s 2008 platform, but was removed in 2012.

“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” the approved amendment said. “We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so.”

Alan Clemmons, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and a Republican convention delegate, conveyed his disappointment over the 2012 GOP convention, when the platform committee chose not to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.

“I was a delegate at the last RNC, but was not on the platform committee. I observed the platform committee process and proposed language similar to the language that was passed today (July 12). Unfortunately, that language gained no traction and it went nowhere on the platform, and as a matter of fact the platform regressed in terms of support for Israel,” Clemmons told JNS.org.

The push to bolster the Republican Party’s language on Israel follows a four-year effort by Clemmons and Joseph Sabag, the former executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation. Both leaders sought to reach out to the party’s base—evangelical Christians—as well as to Jewish and other ethnic groups to reach a consensus on the GOP’s pro-Israel stance.

“Between Joseph and myself, we talked to pastors that represent literally millions of evangelical Americans,” said Clemmons.

Although evangelical support was a significant factor in crafting the 2016 RNC platform, Clemmons said the party “didn’t leave the Jewish population out of that mix.”

“We met with many of prominent movers and shakers in the Jewish community throughout the United States, and Israel as well,” he said.

According to Clemmons, two more recent alliances that made a significant impact on drafting and approving the platform’s Israel language were with David Friedman and Jason Dov Greenblatt, senior Israel advisers for presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.

“Those gentleman appreciated what we were doing. They appreciated the language that was being offered and presented it to Mr. Trump, who likewise was very interested in being of assistance in this process,” Clemmons said.

Clemmons, in his platform committee speech prior to this week’s vote, said that along with Trump’s advisers and leading policy experts, he “was able to present platform language that captures the true sentiment of pro-Israel supporters everywhere.”

The Trump campaign’s Friedman told JNS.org that getting the pro-Israel language on Jerusalem reinstated “was a collaborative effort with a lot of people whose hearts were in the right place with respect to Israel. I think the outcome speaks for itself.”

“It’s the most pro-Israel platform that either party has ever issued, so we’re obviously very proud of the accomplishment,” he said.

The Trump campaign’s involvement in reinstating the platform language may also signal a move by the candidate to bolster his pro-Israel credentials, amid questions over his past statements on remaining “neutral” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and accusations of anti-Semitism stemming from his recent Twitter post featuring what critics called a Jewish Star of David.

Friedman said that Trump has been working very hard to “lay that issue to rest over the last couple of months.”

“Mr. Trump himself has said, over and over again, that he is a highly pro-Israel candidate—not just in comparison to Hillary Clinton, where the differences are stark—but even in absolute terms, he’s a very pro-Israel candidate,” he said.

The GOP platform “should lay that issue to rest,” said Friedman, who argued that the Trump campaign’s work on the Israel language highlight the candidate’s ability to work with leaders across different faiths and ethnicities to achieve a common goal.

“When people criticize [Trump] for being polarizing, I think just the opposite is true. This was an effort which unified people of different faiths, all united behind a desire to support Israel,” Friedman said.

One of the groups that the Trump campaign worked with closely on the platform was the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC), a group that seeks to engage Latino Christians in support of Israel. HILC is a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of HILC, told JNS.org that Trump and his advisers “were very strong on the importance of this language [on Israel]. And through discussions, the language was finalized…[and] ultimately approved by a unanimous vote.”

“We are very encouraged by the resolve and support of Mr. Trump and his advisers on the issue,” said Bramnick, who is also a regional vice president for the NHCLC. “We had worked with the platform committee leadership regard the reinserting of the language as a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the nation of Israel, and the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem should the Republican candidate win the presidency.”

Clemmons, the South Carolina state lawmaker, affirmed the roles of Bramnick and HILC, calling them a “very big part” of the process to reinstate the platform language.

“[Bramnick] certainly has a large congregation and a prominent following, and a good feel for the respect that evangelical Christians have for Israel. He was certainly a partner in all of this. That’s not unlike the other pastors around the country who were a part of it as well,” Clemmons said.

The push for the revised platform language was also backed by Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) non-profit through its separate 501(c)(4) lobbying affiliate, the CUFI Action Fund.

In a letter (first reported by JNS.org) that was sent to Republican convention delegates on July 6, former Ronald Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, director of the CUFI Action Fund, called for the Republican platform to “strengthen its language in support for Israel with Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided, enteral’ capital.”

Bramnick praised CUFI’s role in the process, saying the group “worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that a very strong supportive platform language came forth from the Republican Party, especially as it pertains to a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.”

For evangelical Christians, support for Israel is not only a political stance, but a theological one. As such, working to strengthen the Republican Party’s ties with the Jewish state is a highly prioritized process for that faith community moving forward.

“There was a Pew [Research Center] report back in 2013 that said that 82 percent of the evangelical community believes that God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and we read that literally,” Bramnick said. “We believe that is a biblical covenant and mandate that really no person has the right to revoke….For the evangelical community, this is very important.”

{By Shalle’ McDonald/JNS.org}

JNS News Service

State Dept. Funded Netanyahu Overthrow, Destroyed Evidence

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Rob Portman (R-OH), reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration had funded the OneVoice Movement, a leftwing group that waged a smear campaign to oust Netanyahu during the 2015 elections.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Free Beacon, a State Department senior official admitted to the committee that he deleted several emails with information about the campaign, or as the report put it, “The State Department was unable to produce all documents responsive to the Subcommittee’s requests due to its failure to retain complete email records of Michael Ratney, who served as US Consul General in Jerusalem during the award and oversight of the OneVoice grants.”

As to the campaign itself, the report said: “On December 2, 2014, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Knesset voted to schedule new national parliamentary elections for March 2015. Within weeks, an international organization known as the OneVoice Movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory15 or ‘V15’ and launched a multimillion-dollar grassroots campaign in Israel. The campaign’s goal was to elect ‘anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]’ by mobilizing center-left voters. The Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice, OneVoice Israel (OVI), and OneVoice Palestine (OVP), received more than $300,000 in grants from the U.S. State Department to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14- month grant period ending in November 2014.

“OneVoice used the campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds to support V15. In service of V15, OneVoice deployed its social media platform, which more than doubled during the State Department grant period; used its database of voter contact information, including email addresses, which OVI expanded during the grant period; and enlisted its network of trained activists, many of whom were recruited or trained under the grant, to support and recruit for V15. This pivot to electoral politics was consistent with a strategic plan developed by OneVoice leadership and emailed to State Department officials during the grant period. The State Department diplomat who received the plan told the Subcommittee that he never reviewed it.

“OneVoice’s use of government-funded resources for political purposes was not prohibited by the grant agreement because the State Department placed no limitations on the post-grant use of those resources. Despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said in a statement that the State Dept. funding of the V15 campaign constitutes a blunt intervention on the part of the US in Israel’s internal affairs, which proves once again how timely and vital the new NGO transparency legislation has been. “The people of Israel have elected a government to take care of the national and security interests of Israeli citizens and not to execute the dangerous plans foreign countries are trying to arrange for us.”

JNi.Media

Anti-Semitic Obama Cartoon in Leftwing Spanish Poster on Eve of State Visit

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

A cartoon showing a generalized form of President Obama hugging a generalized cartoon of a religious Jewish man with dollar bills as explosions erupt in front of them was posted on Twitter by the far-left United Left party, inviting its followers to come to a protest rally in front of the American Embassy in Madrid on Sunday.

Obama was scheduled to arrive in Seville on Saturday night and on Sunday visit an American military base in southern Spain. On Monday he is having lunch in Madrid with King Felipe VI and leading Spanish politicians. However, because of the Dallas shooting, the president will arrive in Spain only on Monday, directly for that lunch with the king.

The Israeli Embassy on Friday condemned the poster, stating, “Nothing can justify the usage of anti-Jewish caricatures, and silence shouldn’t be maintained in the face of this flagrant expression of anti-Semitism.”

United Left said the rally on Sunday will protest both American and Israeli policies, and that it opposes the president’s visit because the US promotes “neocolonialist international relations” of war, destabilization and interference.

This is Obama’s very first visit to Spain as president, at a time when this country is facing political instability following an election last month that didn’t give any party a conclusive victory.

Guerras No

 

David Israel

Missing Soldier’s Mother Blocking Gaza Crossing: If the State Won’t Bring him Back, We Will

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

The mother and family of one of the missing soldiers whose bodies are being kept by Hamas as bargaining chips for a future prisoners-release deal with Israel, took up a position in front of the trucks hauling supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, declaring, “Now, after the deal with Turkey, we think everything is humanitarian. But if this is the case, how come so many trucks are being let into Gaza and they don’t return my son?”

“We’re trying to stop the trucks with our bodies and we won’t let this go on,” Zehava Shaul stated, adding, “The Israeli government sent my son [to battle] and it is its obligation to bring him back to us. If it won’t do it, we will. What are they expecting, that we’ll sit quietly?”

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant (Kulanu) told the press that the Netanyahu government is committed to bringing back the bodies, “but the Turkish channel did not fit” the mission.

Last week, the Shaul family erected a protest tent in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, declaring that the deal with Turkey was a “mark of shame for the government,” which cares more for the Hamas than it does for her missing son and the other missing soldier, Hadar Goldin.

“I’m going to get my strength together and block [the deal],” Shaul vowed. “I won’t let you move. It will not happen. I promise you, my word is a word.”

Only two months before he was appointed defense minister, MK Avigdor Liberman vowed that his first task in office would be to issue a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, to return the two missing soldiers’ bodies to Israel or start preparing to die.

A website measuring how dedicated now Defense Minister Liberman is to carrying out his promise, titled Is Ismail Haniyeh Dead Yet? Has added a clock measuring how much time has elapsed since Liberman has taken office in relation to the corporeal well-being of the Hamas leader. As of the writing of this article, Haniye’s 48 hours have been extended to one month, three days and counting.

David Israel

Five MKs Reveal How the State Stole their Families’ Children

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

During Tuesday’s debate at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee, five MKs shared their families’ stories about the disappearance or the kidnapping of their relatives, presumably at the hands of public officials. MKs Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), Nava Boker (Likud), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), and Nurit Koren (Likud) and their families have been living with the pain of that cruel separation for more than half a century.

The committee on Tuesday debated public demands to reveal the sealed protocols of the state investigating commission on the kidnapping of Yemenite, Mid-Eastern and Balkan children by government officials in the early years of the State of Israel. The commission’s findings have been sealed until the year 2071 in keeping with the State Archives Law.

The investigation dealt with the disappearance of thousands of babies and children who arrived in Israel from Yemen and other third-world countries in the 1950s, whose families were told that they died even though their bodies or their graves were never presented. Family members of the disappeared and several NGOs have called in the past for the public exposure of the findings of the investigation, but the state has remained firm in its refusal. Now, in response to increased public pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu assigned Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) to look into the matter and submit his recommendations.

Hanegbi, son of illustrious underground radio broadcaster and former MK Geula Cohen, is from Yemenite extraction himself.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee / Courtesy the Knesset

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee / Courtesy the Knesset

Committee chair MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate, saying, “The question is where have we been until now? It’s crazy — everybody knows there are protocols and it’s all locked up. As if these are the nuclear secretes of the State of Israel. It looks completely hallucinatory to me.”

State Archives official Dr. Jacob Lazovic told the committee that the archives possess more than one million pages of the investigating commission’s proceedings. “I personally, and we as an organization would be only to happy to reveal everything, but we are operating within the law, which imposes two limits on exposure: one based on the State Archives Law and the other on the Privacy Law,” he explained.

Dr. Lazovic added that while the government has the authority to order the exposure of said material, it is not authorized to permit the publication of content which relates to private persons. In his expert view, this problem could be resolved in short order by the archives’ staff who could go over the documents and redact the private information with black ink. “There are 3,500 cases,” he said. “My estimate is we’ll need one thousand work days.”

MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) who initiated the debate, called the disappearance of the Yemenite children “a stain, a mark of Cain, a gross tumor on Israeli society. I’m trying to think what would have happened nowadays if a mother would have given birth and the next day was informed that her child had died. This phenomenon is rife with racism.”

MK Yonah told the committee, “I carry with me the story of the family of my uncles who passed away three years ago. They had a child named Tzipora who became sick with jaundice, which is why she was being treated in hospital, and was in progressive recovery. One day before she disappeared or kidnapped her mother still nursed her. When they called her to come get her daughter from the hospital, my aunt arrived, but was told, ‘Your child died.’ She asked, ‘How can it be? Only yesterday they told me about her quick recovery.’ My aunt described in chilling details how she ran through the different rooms looking for her girl. The child was gone.”

Yonah continued, “My uncle arrived at the hospital and was also told his daughter had died. He asked to see the death certificate and then, in complete reversal of the message of the state wishing to be modern, they told him, ‘You think you’re living in Iraq? At this age we don’t issue death certificates.'”

Tragically, according to Yonah, “when Tzipora turned 18, her enlistment order arrived in her family’s home, but she was not there, obviously. She is somewhere out there in the world and her brothers want to know where she is.”

Responding to the archives official’s comment regarding the limits posed by the privacy law, MK Yonah said, “My family members are those private people whose privacy is being damaged. Now, clearly, there is no demand on the part of families of the disappeared children for justice or revenge. But a society that wishes to advance to its future must heal its wounds and we need this for the sake of our own future. To face the inequities, not in order to sink but to face and overcome them.”

MK Boker, who co-sponsored the committee debate with MK Cohen, on Monday shared her own family’s story on her Facebook page, speculating that her older brothers and sisters had been among the kidnapped children. “I wasn’t fortunate enough to know my older brothers and sisters … According to what my mother told me when she was still alive, my older brother died at age one year and a half, but now we know he has two graves, rather than one. As to my sister, as soon as she was born, the doctors told my mother she was dead. My mother never saw the body, didn’t receive a death certificate, and that sister was never buried. The doctors and the medical staff probably took advantage of my mother’s naiveté and took away her daughter.”

“It’s time to expose the truth behind this shocking episode, an episode that is a black stain on the history of the State of Israel,” MK Boker said.

The committee meeting ended with a call on the government to open up the protocols; representatives of NGOs working to expose this episode called on the government to accept responsibility and recognize that this is a case of the mass kidnapping of children.

JNi.Media

State Department Q&A on Israeli Supplemental Aid to Communities Suffering from Arab Terrorism [video]

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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Yvonne Diamond

@JewishPress Don’t know about that, but they’ve been bombing at MCAGCTC for two solid days now . . .

The following is the transcript and video from the State Department Press briefing on June 20th, 2016, regarding the supplemental aid package that Israel approved yesterday to aid Israelis whose businesses have suffered due to the Palestinian Authority Arab terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, and to help improve security for the communities in Judea and Samaria.

Time: 29:55 on the video.

QUESTION (Matt Lee): Did you guys have any reaction to this additional – the supplementary funding that was approved for the West Bank settlements for – over the weekend, yesterday?

MR KIRBY: Yeah. I actually put a statement out.

QUESTION: You did?

MR KIRBY: I did —

QUESTION: I missed it.

MR KIRBY: — yesterday. I can’t believe you’re not sitting around —

QUESTION: Yeah, Sunday —

MR KIRBY: — waiting for my statements.

QUESTION: Sunday afternoon, Kirby, I’m just sitting there looking – staring at my phone —

MR KIRBY: Well, if you had been —

QUESTION: — waiting for your emails.

MR KIRBY: — then you wouldn’t have had to ask that question.

QUESTION: If you’ve already put something out, then —

MR KIRBY: Okay. I’ll let the statement stand. Seems like everybody else got a chance to read it.

QUESTION: We like to hear it directly from you, though.

MR KIRBY: But you did hear it directly from me. I signed it.

QUESTION: You know what I mean, with your own voice. It sort of gives it an added —

MR KIRBY: We’re aware of the funding package. We’re looking into further details. Our position on settlement activity remains clear and consistent: We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution, and actions such as these we believe does exactly the opposite.

QUESTION: Well, wait, wait, but this isn’t for settlement activity, per se. This was not to expand or build new homes.

MR KIRBY: It’s approving more than like $18 million for settlements. It’s approving funding for —

QUESTION: But not for building them. This is for, like, helping businesses and security.

MR KIRBY: But it still runs counter to our view about settlement activity, period.

QUESTION: So securing – adding security to settlements is the same as settlement activity?

MR KIRBY: As I said, we’re still – we are still – we’re aware of this funding package and we’re still looking into it for details. But settlement activity, as we’ve said – there’s nothing – nothing has changed about our concerns about that.

QUESTION: So any money that goes into anything in a West Bank settlement is bad according to you guys?

MR KIRBY: I didn’t say that. I said we are aware of this funding package and we’re looking into the details.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Okay.

QUESTION (New Reporter): Well, the worry here by the Palestinians is that these kind of steps make annexation of the West Bank all but a foregone conclusion, and they say that some of this money is basically geared to encourage, let’s say, tourism and to expand tourist projects and so on in the occupied West Bank, in the settlements and so on. What do you say to that?

MR KIRBY: As I said in my statement and just a few minutes ago, we’re looking into what this funding package really means. And I think I’m going to leave it at there to – for right now.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

UNSC Unanimously Condemn Tel Aviv Terror Shooting, State Dept. ‘Happy to Once Again Condemn’

Friday, June 10th, 2016

The credit for this one belongs entirely to Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, who, in less than one year at a job to which he was appointed to get him out of PM Netanyahu’s and DM Ya’alon’s hair, appears to be making a difference in effectively representing Israel’s case in the most hostile international arena outside Khartum, Sudan. In a manner reminiscent of another UN envoy, Benjamin Netanyahu, Danon is not a complainer, he is an attacker, and he makes demands. Such as the demands he has made of the UN to at last treat the murder of innocent Jews by Arab terrorists in Tel Aviv as seriously as the did, say, the murdrer of innocent Frenchmen in Paris by Arab Terrorists. Well, last night they did.

For the first time since the wave of Arab terrorism began, on September 2015, on Thursday at 11:30 PM, the UN Security Council condemned the deadly shooting in the strongest terms, calling for the individuals behind “these reprehensible acts of terrorism” to be brought to justice. The council statement was approved by all 15 members. It expressed sympathy for the families of the four civilians killed and those who were injured, and “reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable.”

Also on Thursday, in the daily press briefing by Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Dept., reporter Arshad Mohammed asked Toner if he had anything more to say about the terror attack. Toner answered: “I’m happy to once again condemn yesterday’s terrible terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv.” Oh, for sure, this is gotcha’ journalism on our part, because, of course, Toner didn’t mean to say he was happy there was a terror attack — but the officious, businesslike manner in which the spokesperson treated the story and the statement conveyed how much empathy he really felt, which was probably somewhere between zero and one on the eleven-notch Spinal Tap volume scale.

The original State Dept. response, on Wednesday, sounded real, though: “The United States condemns today’s horrific terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in the strongest possible terms. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick recovery for those wounded. These cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified. We are in touch with Israeli authorities to express our support and concern.”

So we probably shouldn’t begrudge Toner his unfortunate expression of happiness.

The same reporter on Thursday continued, saying “the defense minister over there, Avigdor Liberman, has said that in the future Palestinians that are killed while carrying out attacks– their bodies will not be returned to their families. They’re going to be interred somewhere. Israel has a cemetery for enemies, I think.”

The Internet is rife with Arab media stories about Israel’s “cemetery for enemies.” It’s a real place, in the Jordan valley. Back in 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu approved the transfer of 84 bodies from the Jordan Valley cemetery of enemy combatants to the Palestinian Authority. The Liberman new decision to stop returning terrorists’ bodies is a blessed step in the right direction, and a clear change in the IDF soft arm policy of Liberman’s predecessor. Turns out Israel now has a rightwing defense minister. Liberman also revoked thousands of entry permits issued to Judea, Samaria and Gaza Arabs for the month of Ramadan, added two IDF battalions to Judea and Samaria, and sent security forces to Yatta Village, home of the cousin terrorists who murdered four Israelis in Tel Aviv. If Liberman also gets those two the death penalty he could probably be Israel’s next prime minister.

About which Toner had to say: “We understand the Israeli Government’s desire to protect its citizens, after this kind of terrorist attack, and we strongly support that right. But we would hope that any measures it takes would also take into consideration the impact on Palestinian civilians, who are just trying to go about their daily lives.”

We’ll see what we can do.

David Israel

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