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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

State Dept. Condemns Jerusalem Housing Construction Amid Hints of Obama ‘November Surprise’

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli diplomats are expecting President Barack Obama to force a diplomatic resolution for Israel and the Palestinians at the UN (Obama’s Israel Surprise?). “The White House has been unusually tight-lipped about what, if anything, it might have in mind,” the WSJ noted, “but our sources say the White House has asked the State Department to develop an options menu for the President’s final weeks.”

The Netanyahu cabinet has been extra careful not to provoke the ire of the retiring emperor on the eve of that portion of his term when he no longer needs to worry about the Jewish vote and will be free to follow his heart’s desire on the future of Jewish life in the Middle East. But it’s hard not to provoke Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry when their threshold for irritation seems to be so low. Such as the building permits for 181 new homes in Gilo, in the 1967 liberated territories, approved by the Jerusalem municipality back in 2012 (the permit was merely updated on Wednesday this week).

When asked during his daily briefing about the Israeli most recent 181 violations of mankind’s hope for peace, State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby said, “We’re deeply concerned by those reports that the local planning and construction committee in Jerusalem approved permits for … 181 housing units and five community center infrastructure projects in Gilo, which is in East Jerusalem. Our policy on settlements, as I said before, is very clear. We strongly oppose settlement activity, which we believe is corrosive to the cause of peace.”

See? On John Kirby’s planet, which he shares with Kerry and Obama, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage were already on their way to the Knesset in Jerusalem to sign a peace treaty recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State and maintain good neighborly relations with the Palestinian State next door, when suddenly a text message appeared on his smart phone telling him the Jews had decided to force a mass invasion of 181 Jewish families into Gilo — so the entourage turned back and returned to Ramallah.

“These decisions by Israeli authorities are just the latest examples of what appear to be a steady and systemic acceleration of Israeli settlement activity,” Kirby announced, lamenting that “in just the past few weeks, we have seen reports of an entirely new settlement near Shiloh, a potentially new settlement outpost in the North Jordan Valley, and over 80 Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

To provide much-needed context to the spokesperson’s wailing: the new homes in Shiloh will house the anticipated evacuees from Amona, uprooted by decree of a Supreme Court gone insane. And those illegal structures were an attempt by the Arabs to build without a permit in Area C, governed exclusively by Israel — a clear and intentional attempt by the EU, the US and local Arabs to violate the Oslo agreements.

When Kirby suggested that the above moves “raise serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” he was asked if the Administration might be planning to “draw a line in the sand where it comes to actions that you say or you believe hurt the environment for negotiations for a two-state solution.” He answered: “I think [it] shouldn’t surprise anybody that, as an administration … we routinely talk about the situation in the Middle East and in Israel, and that, obviously, is something I think you know Secretary Kerry’s very focused on, so of course we have discussions about this. But I don’t want to get ahead of those discussions.”

There you have it: the most an Administration official has allowed himself to say regarding his bosses’ post-election plans for Israel.

The WSJ suggested on Monday that the Obama Administration might “sponsor, or at least allow, a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, perhaps alongside new IRS regulations revoking the tax-exempt status of people or entities involved in settlement building.”

Back in 2011, the Administration vetoed precisely this kind of resolution.

A vindictive President Obama could initiate or at least not vote against the formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the Security Council. It would cause Congress to erupt in a storm of rage, especially if the president uses an executive order to do the wicked deed. Which means the next president could revoke such an order with the stroke of a pen.

Which must make one wonder if a President Hillary Clinton would dare to reverse an executive order recognizing the Palestinian State. What do you think?

JNi.Media

Leftwing J Street Going After Pro-Israel Regavim’s US Tax-Exempt Status

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of leftwing, anti-Netanyahu group J Street, sent an email to his group’s supporters announcing that he is pressuring the Obama Administration to revoke the US tax-exempt status of the Israeli (and pro-Israel) NGO Regavim in response to their supposed activity against the two-state solution.

The urgent need to harm Regavim’s US donations resulted from the effective work the group has done in forcing the Israeli authorities to apply Supreme Court rulings on demolishing illegal Arab construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria. One of the recent focal points of the Regavim efforts has been the squatter camp outside the Jewish community of Susiya, which the US and the EU insist must stay put despite the fact that its existence violates every signed agreement between Israel and the PA.

Ben-Ami wrote his followers that he was shocked to discover that the “settler movements” aiming to destroy Susiya are partially funded by donations from the US — including Regavim which has systematically mapped out the Susiya shacks and lean-tos, pointing Israeli police at the precise location of structures that violate the law. Ben-Ami sees this well-organized campaign to enforce the law as a threat to a future Palestinian State, which, he believes, must some day be handed the entire area.

Ben-Ami attributes to his organization’s work behind the scenes with the US State Dept. the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Liberman have responded to international pressure and postponed the evacuation of the illegal Arab squatters until November 15.

The president of J Street shared in his email how enraged he is by the fact that groups that work against “the future of the State of Israel” and in direct defiance of US foreign policy and “perhaps” even US law, enjoy a tax-exempt status in the US, which is why J Street will continue to pressure the US government to revoke Regavim’s special status.

Should Ben-Ami be interested in learning what happened the last time the IRS has taken on a pro-Israel group, he should Google “Z Street,” a feisty organization headed by Jewish Press Online reporter Lori Lowenthal Marcus. As Lowenthal Marcus and others have reported over the past seven or so years, the IRS was “slow-rolling” discovery in lawsuits about how it slow-rolled applications by conservative non-profits in general and Z Street in particular.

In 2009, Z Street filed for 501(c)(3) status and was caught in the net of IRS targeting for groups that opposed Administration policy.

An IRS agent confirmed on the phone that Z Street’s application had been sent for special screening for groups connected with Israel. Z Street sued the IRS in 2010 for political discrimination that violated the First Amendment, and IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations Group manager Jon Waddell actually said in a December 2010 sworn declaration in federal court that the IRS flagged Z Street because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”

“That’s hilarious,” wrote the Wall Street Journal last August, “since Z Street supports a country targeted by terrorism. But it also is untrue, which the Administration apparently knew before Mr. Waddell gave his statement to the court. In an October 25, 2010 internal IRS memo on the Z Street case produced in discovery, the IRS acknowledged that when Z Street’s application was being scrutinized Israel wasn’t on the list of terrorist countries, and that an agent may have been using an outdated list.”

If Jeremy Ben-Ami believes the Obama Administration is prepared to go after the tax-exempt status of yet another Zionist group — he should probably check with someone in the State Dept. Perhaps President Hillary Clinton would be inclined to alienate her Jewish voters and Israel by using the IRS for political purposes. It’s quite clear President Donald Trump won’t.

As to the self-congratulations of Ben-Ami on how he and J Street got the US and the EU to condemn Israel’s legal activities in Susiya — it stands to reason they knew all about it on their own. Why, the EU has been building illegal structures in Area C (which Regavim has successfully gotten demolished) without any help from J Street.

JNi.Media

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Hanged for Spying for US

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Iran has executed a nuclear scientist convicted of selling top secrets to the US, a judicial spokesman said on Sunday.

“Shahram Amiri was hanged for revealing the country’s top secrets to the enemy,” Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie announced according to Mizan news website.

Amiri, 39, an Iranian Kurdish nuclear scientist, disappeared in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 during a pilgrimage to Mecca, and in July 2010 reappeared at the Iran interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC, seeking help to return to Tehran. A short while later he appeared at a press conference in Tehran, where he told journalists he had been kidnapped, tortured and offered $5 million to cooperate with the CIA, which he refused.

In 2009, the Iranian government accused the US government of kidnapping Amiri, because, as Iranian government media reported, he was working for Iranian intelligence. After his return to Iran, American sources confirmed he had come to the US with the help of the CIA, but insisted he had not been kidnapped, but, instead, was seeking asylum. According to a 2011 NPR News report, Amiri was recruited by the CIA, but once he was in the US he “got cold feet” and “made his way back to Iran.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Iranian authorities had threatened to hurt Amiri’s family if he did not return to Iran.

Iranian officials initially celebrated his return to Iran in 2010 but then he dropped from public view until he was arrested in 20111 and reportedly tried for treason. News of his execution surfaced on Saturday, after his mother said she had received his body with rope marks around his neck.

David Israel

US not Only Spying on Israel, but on U.S. Pro-Israel Legislators and Groups

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The publication of several news stories in the Wall Street Journal late Tuesday, Dec. 29, produced a subterranean tremor in the crowd that closely monitors U.S.-Israel relations. The articles, on the surface, revealed information that was not all that astonishing: The Israelis spied to obtain information on the U.S. and the U.S. spied on Israel regarding the recent Nuclear Iran Deal negotiations. Big news for naifs, but not so for close and constant observers.

But just below the words looms a much bigger story, one not quite completely spelled out by the Journal reporters, Adam Entous and Danny Yadron. But that story may well, or at least should, lead to a whole new political firestorm harkening back to the furor that led to the Church Committee hearings in the 1970’s.

Because, really, who did not already know that U.S. President Barack Obama and his team were furious with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the Nuclear Iran Deal? And wasn’t it already known that the Israelis received information about the presumably “secret” back-door negotiations between U.S. intermediaries and Iran about a nuclear deal? And why would anyone be surprised that such tensions between two traditionally rock-solid allies would create or further encourage less than desirable activity to reveal what the other was doing?

But the interesting revelation was that the sharing of information between the NSA and the White House included, apparently, not only communications by senior level Israeli officials, but also communications between those officials and members of Congress, as well as between members of Congress and U.S. pro-Israel organizations.

A clue that this matters, is that the Journal published an entirely separate article laying out the law and practice regulating eavesdropping by the executive branch on federal legislators.

That article, Cold War-Era Rules Designed to Protect U.S. Lawmakers’ Communications, one of the three articles date-lined Tuesday on the topic, is probably the one over which most readers’ eyes glazed, but it was placed there for a reason.

This article explains the evolution of various safeguards on the identities of sitting members of Congress in the course of American eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. That practice, formalized during the Cold War, required the identity of lawmakers, and even of mere U.S. private citizens, be obscured, when acquired by the NSA while the security agency fishes for information to protect the homeland from, for example, terrorism.

In the 1990’s, the Journal article explains intelligence agencies were “required to notify congressional leaders of intelligence committees whenever a lawmaker’s identity was revealed to an executive branch official.” But the article reveals that this “requirement” has not been scrupulously followed in recent years.

A declassified 2011 NSA directive required analysts to destroy intercepted communications between foreign targets and U.S. officers or employees, such as legislators, unless the NSA director issued a waiver on the grounds of “significant foreign intelligence.”

The expanding network of intelligence gathering gained substantial steam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but were reportedly dramatically curtailed after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly revealed the vast width and breadth of surveillance gathering engaged in by the U.S.

In the wake of the Snowden disclosure, President Obama promised the country to curtail spying on U.S. allies. Except that a loophole remained – and a sensible sounding loophole it is –  that permitted snooping when “there was a compelling national security purpose” motivating the eavesdropping.

And here the picture comes together.

You see, the Obama administration was dead-set on reaching a nuclear weapons deal with Iran. And the Israeli people and government, and many U.S. legislators, and many American citizens, were dead-set against it. That created, apparently, what the Obama administration considered a “national security” reason for continuing to eavesdrop on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and anyone the government of Israel was talking to, and anyone who agreed with them who was speaking with American legislators.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Courts Open Window on the IRS’s Political Litmus Tests

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Interest in the Internal Revenue Service’s outrageous practice of subjecting politically conservative groups to discriminatory treatment has died down a bit since the revelations about this scandal first hit the news a year ago. But a court decision that was handed down earlier this week about a similar instance of potential government misconduct may shed more light on the way the Tea Party and other right-wing organizations were given the business by Lois Lerner and the rest of what appears to be a highly politicized bureaucracy at the heart of our tax collection system.

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Ketanje Brown Jackson issued the first substantive ruling in any suit that challenged the IRS’s pose of political neutrality under the Obama administration. The case concerns Z Street, a Philadelphia area-based pro-Israel organization that filed for tax-exempt status in December 2009 because of its role in educating the public about Israel and the Middle East conflict. The group’s founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote in the Jewish Press this week about what followed:

On July 19, 2010, when counsel for Z STREET spoke with the IRS agent to whom the organization’s application had been assigned, that agent said that a determination on Z STREET’s application may be further delayed because the IRS gave “special scrutiny” to organizations connected to Israel and especially to those whose views “contradict those of the administration’s.”

Z Street subsequently sued the government and rightly argued that its constitutional rights had been violated because of the “viewpoint discrimination” that the IRS agent had openly displayed. Now after years of delays, Judge Jackson has ruled that by asserting that Z Street had no right to sue, the government had tried to “transform a lawsuit that clearly challenges the constitutionality of the process … into a dispute over tax liability.” She similarly dismissed the government’s claims of sovereign immunity.

What has this got to do with the Tea Party and its complaints? Plenty.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial page noted yesterday:

This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street’s tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.

In other words, this case may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of the IRS’s politically prejudicial policies. If an IRS agent can reject or stall a pro-Israel group’s application on the grounds that “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies,” then no group, no matter what its political orientation or cause is safe from being subjected to a political litmus test designed by any administration of either political party.

Z Street’s Marcus deserves praise for having the guts to persist in her challenge to the government for years even though the media had little interest in publicizing what appeared to be an outrageous example of how the IRS had become politicized under the Obama presidency. Last year Marcus learned she wasn’t alone when the news about the Tea Party broke. Now, as her legal process unfolds, Americans may get a better idea about how broken the system has become.

Using the IRS to punish political foes is blatantly illegal. If, as we suspect, the Z Street case reveals the sort of internal email traffic that will reveal how widespread this practice has become in the last five years, perhaps even a liberal mainstream press that still thinks the problems at the IRS are a “phony scandal” will start to pay attention.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Sen. Leahy: Obama Secretly Suspended Egypt Military Aid

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast that military aid to Egypt has been temporarily cut off.

“[Senator Leahy’s] understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law,” said David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy.

If it’s done as required by law, why is the U.S. government keeping it a secret that it believes the regime change in Egypt was a military coup? If it is, indeed, temporarily suspending most of the military aid to Egypt, where is the public announcement that we don’t send money to governments that were installed by a coup?

After skewering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hard—through the good services of the NY Times—for his attempts to preserve stability in Egypt and the integrity of the peace treaty, now the administration is attempting to punish the naughty Egyptian generals, but without making a big deal out of it.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked on Monday about the suspended aid, and told reporters the aid is not officially suspended.

I suppose the Egyptians can use the officially unsuspended aid money the same way Israelis can live in the officially unfrozen homes in East Jerusalem…

“After sequestration withholding, approximately $585 million remains unobligated. So, that is the amount that is unobligated,” Psaki said.

I looked up “unobligated” and means funds that have been appropriated but remain uncommitted by contract at the end of a fiscal period. In other words, an I keep, you don’t get kind of relationship.

“But it would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding,” Psaki clarified.

In other words, I keep, you don’t get, but it’s not forever.

The Daily Beast quotes two Administration officials who explain it was the government lawyers who decided it would be more prudent to observe the law restricting military aid in case of a coup, while not making a public statement that a coup had taken place.

Bret Stephens, a deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, wrote on Monday (A Policy on Egypt—Support Al Sisi):

“What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.”

By taking the opposite approach, making it harder for the new Egyptian government to bring the internal conflict to a conclusion, the Obama Administration is promoting and prolonging chaos in yet another country. Which is why, I suspect, Senator Leahy has spoken to the Daily Beast in the first place, to stop this blind march over the cliff.

Middle East analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress, told the Beast he thought the Administration was “trying to maintain maximum flexibility,” but he suggested that this horse is long out of the barn. “Egypt’s struggle has become so intense, polarized, and violent, and I worry that no matter what move the United States makes now, the competing power centers in Egypt might continue down the dangerous course they’ve headed.”

Unless, of course, the U.S. is making clear, with loud noises and a light show, that it supports stability in Egypt, and in order to hasten new elections, it will not suspend military aid to Egypt. In fact, with its financial and military might, the U.S. will do everything it can to restore stability and democracy in Egypt.

But that would require President Obama to get over the insult of the Egyptian nation ignoring his wishes and dethroning his favorite Muslim Brother president.

Yori Yanover

NYT Gets US Position on Israel Wrong, Reveals Additional Animus

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The New York Times recognized that its correspondent in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, had gone too far this time in blithely vilifying Jews who live and breathe beyond the so-called Green Line.

Rudoren ascribed a position to the United States government about Israeli policy which was flat out wrong. That was the only part of the otherwise slanted and deceptive article which merited a slap on the wrist.  Rudoren wrote that the position of the U.S. is that Israeli towns and cities beyond the Green Line are illegal, when in fact this government has taken no position on the legality of Israeli Jewish towns in that region.  The actual correction appears at the end of this article.

Before we get to the begrudging but still humiliating factual correction, take a stroll through the rest of her article.

In this article headlined, “Israeli Decree on West Bank Settlements Will Harm Peace Talks, Palestinians Say,” Rudoren not only originally falsely stated that the United States believes the “settlements” are illegal.  Her language throughout the piece makes clear her hostility to Jews daring to live beyond what the esteemed Israeli statesman Abba Eban had termed the “Auschwitz borders,” the lines drawn in 1949 at the end of the war against the newly-reborn Israel, when surrounding Arab states attacked it rather than permit a Jewish State in their midst.

For one thing, she described the early stage approval of subsidies to homeowners in various places including in “Jewish settlements in the West Bank territory that Israel seized in the 1967 war.”  You’d never know that in 1967 Israel (again) fought a defensive war and gained the land in a battle for its existence.  The verb Rudoren chose, “seized,” suggests an aggressive action by the belligerent in military hostilities.

Given that the New York Times is treated like Torah from Sinai by most American Jews, no wonder they and the organizations those Jews tend to support believe that Israel should give away that territory to people who never possessed it,  and never – until Israel legally acquired the land – expressed any interest in owning or governing it themselves.

And it was not until the sixth paragraph of a 10 paragraph story that Israel is even permitted a voice to counter what Rudoren already set up as a move by the Israeli government to expand “settlements” which upset the Arab Palestinians and may now torpedo the “fragile peace talks.”

In the sixth paragraph the reader – if he is still reading – learns that all that happened is the Israeli government has made a completely routine and preliminary decision to provide assistance to homeowners in authorized towns and villages for things like “education, housing, infrastructure projects, cultural programs and sports, along with better mortgage rates and loans for new homeowners.”  Isn’t that what governments are supposed to do?  Take care of their citizens?

Rudoren distances her readers from identifying with Israelis who might otherwise be considered normal homeowners. She points out that, “Among the newcomers to the list are three formerly illegal outposts — Bruchin, Rachelim and Sansana — that obtained government recognition last year.”  Rudoren chose not to more concisely and correctly refer to those three towns as “legal and legitimate villages.”

But before Israel was permitted to offer a different point of view, Rudoren first ran condemnations of the move by the infamous Hanan Ashrawi, whose latest evidence of Jew and Israel hatred was the promotion on the website of an NGO she founded which claimed that Jews drink Christian blood on Passover.

In the space of three sentences, Rudoren paints a clear picture with Ashrawi’s words.  Ashrawi describes Israel’s move as a “confidence-destruction measure,” “attempts to grab more Palestinian land,” “provide settlers with preferential treatment” and the announcement that “the decision would have ‘a destructive impact'” on the current Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks.

Of course, Mark Regev was given a cameo appearance in the sixth paragraph.  But not to worry, because in the concluding three paragraphs of the article there is plenty to ensure that the lasting impression is one of an intransigent Israeli government filled with “many right-wing settlement supporters” which “refused to formally freeze settlement construction” in order to induce the oh-so-compliant, peace-supporting Arab Palestinians to even sit at the table with the Israelis.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/nyt-gets-us-position-on-israel-wrong-reveals-additional-animus/2013/08/08/

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