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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.’

Israel, US to Exchange Tax Information, Banking Secrecy Disregarded

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Globes cites sources claiming that the Ministry of Finance is working to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury on the transfer of information regarding bank accounts belonging to foreign nationals in both countries.

According to Globes, Israel Tax Authority director general Doron Arbeli last week met Internal Revenue Service (IRS) acting commissioner Steven Miller to advance this effort. Should an agreement be signed, Israel will establish an organization to monitor and enable the transfer of the necessary information to the U.S., and the IRS will send to Israel details of bank accounts belonging to Israeli residents in the U.S.

The initiative was born by an effort of the Ministry of Finance to help Israeli banks deal with draconian U.S. regulations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which applies to US citizens residing overseas.

Under FATCA, banks in foreign countries—including Israeli banks—must provide the IRS with lists and details of accounts belonging to U.S. citizens, including declarations from said citizens that they have paid the required taxes back in America.

The IRS has been known to impose sanctions against a bank which knowingly permitted customers to violate FACTA rules.

According to Globes, banks around the world have sharply criticized FACTA’s hard nosed policies, but one way of dealing with the law’s requirements is signing an agreement of cooperation between the foreign country and the U.S. the agreement allows local banks to send bank account details to their own government, which then passes them on to U.S. authorities.

Banking secrecy? We don’t need no stinking banking secrecy…

Globes cited a U.S. Department of the Treasury document published in November, which states that the U.S. administration was in talks with Israel’s Ministry of Finance to draw up an agreement, under which the US authorities would also provide the Israeli authorities with information about the bank accounts of Israeli citizens residing in the U.S.

Uncle Sam is in similar talks with Argentina, Hungary, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The agreement will not be symmetrical. The U.S. will be required to transfer less information than the Israelis will be doing, but Globes suggests that even partial information could help the Israeli government fight tax evasion by Israelis in the U.S.

Former Senior US Official: ‘Killing Palestinians Popular in Israel around Elections Time’ (Video)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President George H. W. Bush, former assistant to former Secretary of Defense William Perry, a member of the State Department for the last thirty years and a renowned critic of Israel, told Russia Today TV in an interview that Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense was a preemptive attack against civilians, which was baseless and uncalled for.

“The fact that one side commits occasional acts of terrorism does not justify state terrorism,” Freeman said about Israel’s strikes against Hamas in Gaza.

“In this case, there was not rocket fire of any consequence from the Gaza Strip prior to Israel’s inauguration of the military raid that killed the military leader of Hamas… You can’t bomb people into peaceful coexistence.”

Freeman suggested the timing of the operation was not a coincidence: “It’s popular in Israel to kill many Palestinians in Gaza…a war against Hamas wins votes.”

According to Freeman, the rabbis and settlers are to blame for Israel’s belligerent military actions. Explaining the significance of the name Pillar of Cloud by its biblical meaning, Freeman expounded: “The religious element in the Israeli armed forces, largely settler driven … religion is very much bounded up with its operations. The language of some of the rabbis during [operation] Cast Lead was simply hair-raising in terms of evoking Old Testament images of genocide against non-Jews…evoking memories of Old Testament violence raises questions… This is a typical example of what the Israelis call Hasbara, which is the control of the narrative and propaganda (it actually means simply PR – JP), and they do it very well.”

It should be noted that the names of IDF operations are generated by computer, chosen from a bank of random words, and not picked by rabbis for their religious implications. Freeman would have to explain the biblical significance of Operation Summer Rains (28 June – 26 November 2006), Operation Autumn Clouds (31 October–7 November 2006), Operation Orchard (6 September 2007), and Operation Sea Breeze (31 May 2010).

Freeman had much to say about the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. He claimed that Israel can influence staffing in the American security establishment, as a means of extending its own defense. He denied there was a similar Arab lobby, suggesting it’s a fiction of the Israel lobby’s imagination.

“The Arabs have plenty of money, but they also have no understanding of importance of institutions,” Freeman said, adding: “They don’t have a habit of sustained effort on anything…probably many of them consider it improper to buy votes, and I happen to agree with them. They are behind the times, unfortunately, every one else is doing it.”

We consulted Wikipedia on Freeman’s previous remarks regarding the Jewish state:

In a 2005 speech to a conference of the The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Freeman stated, “As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent.”

In a 2006 speech to the annual U.S.-Arab Policymakers Conference, Freeman said that Americans allowing Israel to “call the shots in the Middle East” had “revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors” and that the results of the “experiment” were that “left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not.”

In a 2007 speech to the Pacific Council on International Policy Freeman said that “Al Qaeda has played us with the finesse of a matador exhausting a great bull by guiding it into unproductive lunges.” He cited the 2003 invasion of Iraq which “transformed an intervention in Afghanistan most Muslims had supported into what looks to them like a wider war against Islam.” He held that the U.S. had “embraced Israel’s enemies as our own” and that Arabs had “responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies.” He chared that the U.S. now backed Israel’s “efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations” and to “seize ever more Arab land for its colonists.”

Revolutionary Islamism Is Not America’s Friend

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

–Do you have anything remotely hopeful to say about the trajectory of the Arab Spring today?

Laugh. Aha! Fishing for optimism. Okay. First, the anti-Islamist opposition in Egypt and Tunisia has coalesced. There’s hope for autonomy for a moderate Kurdish area in Syria. And more people in the West have woken up to the situation and the danger. That’s about it for optimism about the region. I am far more optimistic about Israel’s strategic situation but that’s another issue.

Seriously, though, in Egypt and Tunisia there is a battle and the Islamists face serious opposition. The issue is not to get bound up in the details of the demonstrations but to ask what actual impact this will have. The Islamist timetable for fundamentally transforming their countries is going to be slower though there’s no reason to believe the effort will stop, much less be reversed. Nor will the West rally to the opposition’s support. The moderate democratic forces are very much alone, just as they are in Iran and to a very real extent in Syria, too.

As for Syria, 2013 is probably going to be the year of a rebel victory, even though they might not control the entire country until 2014. So what kind of government is going to rule Syria? It’s an open question but the Muslim Brotherhood is the best bet.

And the Obama Administration, which is still in office, has not changed any of its basic positions on these issues.

–Should the U.S. have some bottom lines to try to influence the upcoming constitutional referendum in Egypt?

Shrug. The Constitution will pass. The U.S. government won’t say a word of criticism or do anything. Thus, the United States has no influence on the referendum. What will happen as the Brotherhood will continue to intimidate the courts and the Egyptian president rules by decree? Will the White House seriously condition aid on the treatment of women and Christians? .Obama is doing the absolute minimum to criticize the new regime which is, let’s face it, now a U.S. client.

–Is there anything we or anyone else the United States can do to help influence things in Egypt?

There’s a lot but nothing will be done. It’s a matter of the Obama Administration’s ideology and policies.

–Is Syria going to use chemical weapons? The U.S. says we’ll take action if they do. What could that look like?

I think that the rebels will capture Aleppo within 3-4 months and Damascus some time in 2013. Then the regime will retreat to the northwest, the world will recognize a rebel regime as ruling the country, and there will be a bloodbath. Expect the Obama Administration to take little or no action. Whether or not the regime uses chemical weapons on a few occasions won’t help it and would probably hasten its fall.

–What happens when Assad goes, one way or another?

It’s very complex because there are so many players: Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, and Druze; Kurds; Brotherhood people, Salafists of many different groups, professional soldiers, warlords, and liberals. A lot of the powerbrokers are local.

Experience generally shows us that the winner is the side that is the best-armed, most organized, knows what it thinks and wants, and perhaps has the most international backing. That’s the Brotherhood.

–It was a brutal November between Israel and Palestinians – how long is the ceasefire likely to hold?

Hamas will escalate at some point in the future and Israel will wait as long as possible to respond. The fact that Egypt doesn’t want another confrontation will postpone that day from, say, six months to three years. We’re probably talking about two to three years for anything big but of course Hamas will attack on a lower level. It’s main incentive, of course, is that it knows ultimately the world will protect it from total defeat by Israel. We’ve actually reached the point, as shown by the last five years, when a repressive terrorist group is kept in power by Western democratic states backing that status quo. Are the Palestinians emboldened by its change in U.N. status? What long term effect does that vote have?

It’s the end of any hope for a peace process. Why should the Palestinians negotiate when they believe they can get whatever they want from the international community? Why should Israel make agreements or concessions when it knows it will get nothing and the world will abrogate the other side’s obligations?

Heeb Magazine Gets Serious

Friday, December 7th, 2012

In a departure from their usual irreverence and not so kosher antics,  Heeb Magazine, the infamous humor magazine for unaffiliated Jews,  has appealed to the wider Jewish community to support former Heeb publisher Joshua Neuman’s short indie film, Johnny Physical Lives. The film is about his younger brother Jonathan, and his fight with leukemia.

Neuman explains the goal of his film as follows:

 ”In the U.S. alone, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year. While overall survival rates have improved during the past 25 years, for those between the ages of 15 and 29, survival rates have worsened. In addition, young adults with cancer face their own distinct set of emotional challenges, finding themselves utterly dependent at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be asserting their independence. I want to shine a light on this demographic (young adults with cancer) while creating a tribute to my late brother’s courage and creativity.”

This project is in the running for a consultation with the Tribeca Film Institute, and if they win, it will add weight to Neuman’s goals for the project.

If you’re interested, you can vote for Johnny Physical Lives on the IndieWire site. Voting ends on Friday, December 8th.

US: Syrian Chem Weapons ‘Locked and Loaded’ on Rockets

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

According to several American television networks, U.S. officials have revealed that the Syrian military is just waiting for the “go” order from the embattled President Bashar Al-Assad.  When Assad’s order comes, aerial warheads which some say have already been locked and loaded with deadly sarin gas will be dropped on the Syrian opposition from dozens of fighter bombers.

Sarin, a colorless and odorless gas, is one of the most lethal chemical weapons.  It is capable of killing thousands of people across a wide swath of land. The gas paralyzes the central nervous system; victims suffocate because their lungs are paralyzed.  Just one drop of sarin can kill a person within minutes.

Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, December 5, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said,”Ultimately, what we should be thinking about is a political transition in Syria and one that should start as soon as possible.”  She added, “we believe their fall is inevitable. It is just a question of how many people have to die before that occurs.”

Nearly 40,000 have died in the civil war in the 18 month-long Syrian civil war, and 400,000 have fled as refugees.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

PA Wants To Sue Israel For War Crimes

Fresh from securing non-member observer state status at the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority is now consulting European lawyers about how to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court, this column has learned.

According to informed Middle Eastern security sources, the threat of action at the ICC could be used as a bargaining chip against Israel during any future negotiations.

In 2009, a UN fact finding team led by South African judge Richard Goldstone accused both the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. The report warned that if both sides did not investigate their conduct the allegations could be brought to the ICC.

In April 2011, Goldstone retracted his report’s claim that it was Israeli government policy to deliberately target citizens.

The IDF routinely drops warning leaflets and even leaves voicemail messages in areas where it may carry out operations. The Israeli army is notorious for the care it takes to ensure against civilian casualties.

Hamas, on the other hand, has been widely condemned for its use of civilians as human shields. The terror group has fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza into Jewish cities and operates from densely populated zones in Gaza.

Hamas Coordinating With Al Qaeda Groups

Hamas has formed a common committee with al Qaeda-linked groups in the Gaza Strip to strategize the coordination of infiltrating weapons into Gaza, according to informed Israeli security sources.

The sources noted that after Israel’s campaign in Gaza two weeks ago – which ended with a U.S. and Egypt-brokered cease fire – Hamas immediately freed from its jails scores of members of al Qaeda and the related Jihadiya Salafiya terrorist groups.

Previously, Hamas had been fighting those same groups in Gaza, seeing them as a challenge to their own rule. The groups had accused Hamas of selling out by talking to the West and by engaging in elections. Hamas had even engaged several times in heavy fire clashes with the Islamist organizations in Gaza and put many of their leaders in prison.

Still, Hamas and the al Qaeda organizations have at times worked together, including during the most recent round of fighting in Gaza where both fired rockets into Israel. Now, Hamas and the al Qaeda groups are working together again, this time to smuggle more weapons into Gaza, said the security sources.

This column reported that even before Israel’s operation in Gaza ended two weeks ago, Iran and Hizbullah were trying to resupply Hamas with more long-range missiles to fire into Israel, according to Israeli defense sources.

Benghazi Served As Headquarters For Aiding Syrian Rebels

New information provided to this reporter by knowledgeable Middle Eastern security sources indicates the U.S. mission and CIA annex in Benghazi were the central headquarters for the coordination of aid to the al Qaeda-saturated rebels fighting in Libya and Syria.

KleinOnline was the first to report that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East. In September, KleinOnline further reported that assassinated Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials.

Now, Middle Eastern security sources are describing both the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as the main intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to rebels that was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda.

The new information comes as defense author Tom Ricks made headlines for claiming on Fox News that the cable news network was hyping the events in Benghazi as a partisan attack on President Obama. “I think that Benghazi generally was hyped, by this network especially, and that now that the campaign is over, I think he’s backing off a little bit,” said Ricks.

The author was referring to Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the possible promotion of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to secretary of state.

Ricks went on claim Fox News was “operating as a wing of Republican Party.”

Popular Radio Host Calls Obama Bashing ‘Boring’

Radio host Michael Savage warned that many conservatives on air are “committing suicide” by incessantly criticizing Barack Obama.

“Many people on the conservative side of the dial are making the same mistakes now that the liberals made when Bush was in power,” Savage told “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on WABC Radio in New York.

“[Radio America] went bankrupt, why? Because all they did was…Bush bashing, and they were just crazy in the Bush bashing. Boring, boring. How much could you listen to [it]? It wasn’t even clever Bush bashing.

“This is what’s going on now with the conservatives,” Savage continued. “They’re committing suicide. Just attacking Obama – although he deserves it – is not good radio.”

Savage explained, “At the end of the day, Aaron, it’s like a good teacher. Who were your best professors? They were the ones who could get up and tell you a story and make you smile and in the midst of it teach you something.

“Remember one thing,” Savage stated, “radio is primarily an entertainment medium. It was not created to be the voice of the Republican Party or the Democrat Party.”

Savage, who is also a bestselling author, appeared on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” to celebrate joining the WABC lineup and tout his new book, Train Tracks: Family Stories for the Holidays.

Nita Lowey Gets Appropriations Top Dem Spot

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives elevated Rep. Nita Lowey of New York’s 18th congressional district (Westchester and Rockland counties), to their ranking member on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Lowey, a leading pro-Israel lawmaker who is Jewish, had been the top Democrat on the committee’s foreign operations subcommittee. She announced her bid for the party’s top slot on the Approriations Committee last April after Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced he was retiring.

“It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead either party on this powerful committee,” Lowey said in a statement Tuesday after her election by the House Democrats’ steering committee.

Lowey defeated Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) for the top spot. Kaptur had seniority but was seen as problematic because of her sometimes frosty relations with the House Demcoratic leadership and her relatively conservative views on abortion.

Lowey won by a vote of 36-10, sources told The Hill newspaper.

“Throughout her service on the Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Lowey has acted as a fierce advocate for the best interests of the American people, at home and around the world,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader. “As the first woman to hold her new post, she will continue to fight for investments that strengthen the middle class and spur our prosperity.”

Pelosi emphasized that Lowey and a top Democrat on another committee, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), of the Financial Services, were women — an implied jab at House Republicans, who elected only white men to committee chairmanships.

Rice’s Work At UN Wins Plaudits From Jewish Communal Leaders

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is widely seen as a leading candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has garnered plaudits from Jewish communal leaders for her work at the world body.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Rice routinely meets with Jewish groups. “We had a meeting right before the General Assembly, and we covered the wide range of prospects,” Hoenlein said. “I can’t say there were big areas of disagreement – and where there might have been, she’s always been forthright and honest.”

“She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum,” said Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. “And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.”

Jewish groups see Rice’s trajectory at the United Nations – from tussles over Israel’s settlements and membership on the Human Rights Council at the outset of her term four years ago to close cooperation more recently – as reflective of the Obama administration’s evolving approach to Israel.

“One thing important to point out is that the votes have reflected administration policy,” said Daniel Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International’s executive vice president. By contrast, he said, a secretary of state is more a shaper of policy than just its messenger.

Still, Mariaschin said, Rice as UN ambassador has demonstrated an understanding of Israel’s difficulties in the international arena.

“There are ways of explaining your vote and ways of explaining your vote,” he said. Mariaschin noted that Rice’s explanation of the U.S. “no” vote last week when the UN General Assembly elevated Palestine to non-member state status incorporated many of the talking points conveyed to her by pro-Israel groups.

“She made kind of a good end to an otherwise disappointing day,” Mariaschin said. Rice in her post-vote explanation was dismissive of whatever hopes that the lopsided vote – 138 for, 9 against and 41 abstentions – might have engendered for the Palestinians.

“Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade,” she said, “and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”

Some Jewish conservatives, however, have warned against Rice being elevated to secretary of state, citing disagreements related to Israel from the first part of Obama’s first term.

They have criticized Rice over the U.S. decision to join the UN Human Rights Council, a body that has disproportionately targeted Israel for criticism, and over her criticism of Israel’s settlements in explanatory remarks after the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution in February 2011 that would have condemned Israel for its settlement policy.

A Nov. 29 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Anne Bayefsky, who directs Touro College’s Institute of Human Rights and the Holocaust, and Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, noted two issues, among others, in questioning her “moral fitness” for the job of secretary of state.

“Though the president, not the UN ambassador, makes foreign policy, one is entitled to ask how a Secretary Rice would view the acts and omissions of Ambassador Rice,” they wrote.

Foxman was furious with the Bayefsky-Mukasey article, saying it was an unseemly attempt to drag the Jewish community into a political fight.

“People may differ about the effectiveness of certain tactics or, as we have often done, even seriously question whether bodies like the UN Human Rights Council will ever give Israel a fair hearing,” he wrote in a letter to the Journal that it has not published.

“But no one should use the UN’s anti-Israel record to cast aspersions on Ambassador Rice. She has earned her reputation as a fighter for Israel’s equality in a hostile forum where an automatic majority reflexively expresses its bias against Israel.” David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, said he had come around to the idea that joining the Human Rights Council was a reasonable decision after having earlier opposed the move.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/un/rices-work-at-un-wins-plaudits-from-jewish-communal-leaders/2012/12/05/

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