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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Russia Announcing Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Syria in Wake of Collapsed Talks with US

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Monday’s suspension of nuclear disarmament talks with the US over the latter’s challenge of Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that it had delivered one battery of the air defense system S-300 to Syria.

“It is true that one battery of the S-300 air defense systems has been delivered to Syria. It is to provide protection for the naval logistics facility in Tartus and the Russian Navy’s task force,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow.

Last year, Russia moved to Syria its newest air defense system S-400, and last March Putin announced that the S-400 systems and the short-range systems Pantsir-S1, a combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system, would remain on permanent combat duty in Syria.

As the website Liberty Unyielding noted Wednesday, “nothing about the fight against the rebels in Syria requires an S-300V4-enabled, full-scale land war according to Russian doctrine. Nothing about it requires the level of air defense represented by the S-400, for that matter. The rebels don’t have anything at all that requires bringing either system to the fight.” Instead, the same website contends, “the system is being put there to mark and hold Russian territory against the US, our most advanced allies, and (potentially, someday) China.”

The White House has been watching helplessly as Putin suspended the treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium. Over the past three decades, Russia and the US have signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals. All that good work is being threatened now with Putin’s decree that suspended a 2000 agreement binding the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium intended for use in nuclear weapons.

Asked by a reporter on Monday, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest admitted the Administration was “disappointed” by Putin’s move.

“The decision by the Russians to unilaterally withdraw from this commitment is disappointing, and the reason for that is that this agreement that went into force in 2011 pledged the disposal of thousands of nuclear weapons’ worth of plutonium,” Earnest stated, adding, “And this was an agreement that was reached by the United States and Russia because we’re the two countries that have the largest amount of this material and both leaders in Russia and the United States have made nonproliferation a priority. And certainly the United States is interested in limiting proliferation and trying to reduce the risk associated with potential nuclear terrorism. And again, we know that Russia’s leadership has recognized this risk. The United States has been steadfast since 2011 in implementing our side of the bargain, and we would like to see the Russians continue to do the same thing.”

Konashenkov responded to Earnest’s statement by saying the US “is to blame for the disruption of all September 9 ceasefire agreements on Syria and for letting the militants build up reserves again.” He continued: “It is the United States that has fallen through with a crash regarding the implementation of the September 9 ceasefire agreements. It failed to separate a single group of the so-called opposition from  [Al Qaeda offshoot] Jabhat al-Nusra, thus letting the terrorists regroup themselves and replenish reserves.”

“Isn’t it the right moment for our US counterparts to recognize in public that the whole opposition in Syria they have reared all along and still keep under control are part and parcel of the same ‘umbrella brands’ Al-Qaeda and Jabhat Al-Nusra?” Konashenkov asked, and invited Earnest “to come down to earth from the sky.”

The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post-Cold War US-Russia disarmament, according to Reuters, which suggests that the practical implications from the suspension of the deal will be limited. It comes down, instead, to “powerful symbolism.”

This also comes down to a growing realization in the West that President Obama, in his zeal to foment the “Arab Spring,” has enlarged the political vacuum created by President GW Bush in the Middle East, and with the current White House’s policy of avoiding at all cost a “boots on the ground” military intervention in Syria or Iraq, Putin’s Russia is never going to leave, regardless of who gets elected President come November. Putin is grabbing this opportunity offered by a reluctant Obama to flank the West and guarantee naval access in the Eastern Mediterranean.

So far, Putin has planted Russian troops in Syria, forged long term relations with Iran, flirted with Egypt and with Israel — which receive about $6 billion annually in US aid, and patched up his relations with Turkey, a NATO member.

And, as Sen. Pence mentioned in Tuesday night’s debate (although he was off by a couple trillions), Putin’s Russia managed these sound regional gains with a mere $1.3 trillion GDP, compared with the US’ $17.9 trillion GDP (which is 13.7 times stronger).

It could be time for extensive language courses for Washington officials, except this time it’s the optimists who will study Mandarin, while the pessimists will take up Russian.


Judea, Samaria, Golan Communities Bypassing BDS, Taking Products Directly to US Consumers

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

This week, Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria this week joined forces with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to promote their products as well as products from the Golan Heights at the annual IAC National Conference in Washington. Representatives of the council and ministry handed out five thousands Medjoul dates from the Jordan Valley, two hundred bottles of wine, and hundreds of samples of Ahava cosmetics and other products to conference participants.

The imitative was part of a broader plan to educate and encourage Israel supporters worldwide to buy blue and white and support businesses most threatened by the BDS campaign. Three months ago, a similar program was held in Moscow, and many more such events are anticipated worldwide in the coming months.

Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of Yesha Council said in statement: “Israeli industrial zones in Judea and Samaria are islands of peace and coexistence where Israelis and Palestinians work together for a better future. With no political solution on the horizon, it’s time to tell the world that Israelis and Palestinians can live and work together in peace without being pushed into an agreement that neither side wants. Boycotting Israeli companies in Judea and Samaria actually harms Palestinian workers far more than the Israeli economy and is therefore and act against peace.”

While in Washington, Revivi met with more than a dozen Senators, Congressmen and staffers on Capitol Hill from both the Republican and Democrat parties, where he stressed that Yesha Council would welcome continued dialogue and cooperation with both sides of the aisle.

Yesha Council reps having lunch with Sheldon Adelson. / Courtesy

Yesha Council reps having lunch with Sheldon Adelson. / Courtesy

The Yesha Council delegation met privately with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and requested his assistance with new initiatives to strengthen the connection between the Jewish people and their ancestral homeland. They reported that Adelson was extremely excited to hear about a new Amazon-like Boycott website that the Council is in the process of launching. He also agreed to come on a VIP tour of the thriving Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Revivi told Adelson that “businesses in Judea and Samaria are on the frontline of the battle against BDS, [which is] currently targeting Ariel and Efrat but their ultimate goal is the destruction of the entire Jewish State. The Yesha Council is now going on the offensive launching a new Boycott website to promote Israeli goods directly to consumers.”


Ground Zero for the Iran Deal: Rosenthal Versus Nadler

Friday, September 16th, 2016

More Jews live in New York’s tenth congressional district than in any other district in the United States. Philip J. Rosenthal – the kind of guy who could easily be a character on television’s The Big Bang Theory – wants its citizens to elect him as their representative.

Jerry Nadler, however, has been representing that area of New York, first in Albany beginning in 1977, and for the past 14 years in Washington, D.C.

So, why not vote for Nadler? Nadler voted for the Iran Deal, that’s why.

And if you don’t recall, the Iran Deal was the one issue behind which nearly all of the organizational Jewish world united against. The Iran Nuclear Deal which many Americans, especially Jews, and most especially Jewish New Yorkers, realized at the time was a deal only for Iran but a disaster for the safety of the United States, Israel and much of the West.

And yet, thumbing his nose at his constituents, Cong. Jerrold Nadler came out in support of the disastrous Iran Deal. Many folks in his district felt badly betrayed by Nadler. Some saw him as bowing to the wishes of the Democratic administration while ignoring their wishes and their safety. Nadler was the only Jewish member of the New York delegation who came out in favor of the deal.

Into the breach now steps Philip J. Rosenthal, a shiny example of a Bronx boy made and does good.

Rosenthal grew up facing a train yard and across the street from Bronx High School of Science, from which he graduated (“salutatorian, my father would want me to tell you,” he says.) Rosenthal went on to graduate from Yale University with a degree in Physics, “summa cum laude, phi beta kappa,” he says, sheepishly, again hearing his father’s voice echoing in his head).

Where next? The California Institute of Technology, where Rosenthal studied string theory and cosmology, garnering both a master’s degree and a PhD. Ouch.

When queried about whether he actually understood those topics, Rosenthal’s retort is pure Big Bang-ish: “Physics is beautiful, elegant, it’s the essence of everything; it’s politics that’s messy!” But back to that later.

As if Rosenthal’s resume wasn’t already impossibly impressive, after Cal Tech he went to work on a program dealing with Pluto. And this is when he began to realize that the American dream was no longer as assured as it had seemed.

“It used to be that America led the world in everything – today if you want to work in space, you need to hitch a ride with the Russians,” Rosenthal said.

“As a child I was inspired by the American space program, but now the greatest fundamental physics labs, the particle accelerators, they’re in Europe, at CERN labs, on the French/Swiss border.”  Rosenthal explained that is where the best research, the most exciting laboratories in the world are. That’s a huge economic and national security disaster for our country, he says.

Rosenthal wants America to again be the global leader. And the key to economic leadership and national security is for America to be second to none, Rosenthal insists. We need to focus on science, space and technology,” and, he says, we’re not doing that anymore.

Rosenthal’s sites began shifting away from science. In 1996 he graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to the venerable Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, where he practiced, amongst other things, nuclear law.

Without access to legal research technology, Rosenthal recognized that individuals and even solo and small firm practitioners are unable to compete with the big guys. But legal research software is very expensive.

So Rosenthal, with a friend, created a new kind of legal research software that is far more affordable, faster and easier than the standard software packages. In addition, his company, FastCase, utilizes different kinds of tools which the old guard systems do not.

“There is a great lack of access to legal justice. We founded FastCase in order to democratize the law.” FastCase is being used by nearly a million lawyers today, and the FastCase legal app is both the first of its kind and absolutely free.

So what does Rosenthal want to do in Congress?

Though he’s been many places since his Bronx boyhood, Rosenthal still has the concern for the little guy that has long animated New York politics.  His focus on making the law more accessible to everyone also shows up in his platform — he’s a strong advocate of making sure poor Americans have access to the legal services they need to help them protect their rights, their homes, their jobs and their families.  And he’s strongly committed to helping the homeless in real ways — not just by feeding them today, but also by investing in them and their skills so they can become productive men and women tomorrow.

Last summer, when signing the anti-BDS legislation passed by Congress, President Obama announced that on his watch the U.S. would not be enforcing the provision of the law which prohibits boycotts of Israeli products in the disputed territories.

Rosenthal practically explodes: “Really? The President proudly tells everyone that boycotting certain Jews is acceptable? Where was our representative?” Incensed that Nadler didn’t make a peep about this, Rosenthal goes on to list the other ways in which this administration – without sufficient or any pushback from Nadler and others – has disrespected and mistreated Israel.

And he once again draws the conversation back to the Iran Deal. “This district is literally Ground Zero and our representative supported the Iran Deal? Is no one paying attention?”

Unlike many members of Congress, Phil Rosenthal has actually read every page made public of the Iran Deal. With his science and legal background, Rosenthal is confident we could have done much better, just as he knows America could and should be doing much better in the global economic arena.

“This is a wonderful year to run as an outsider. I haven’t been on Capitol Hill for the past dozen years, but,” he ticks off, “I have a background in physics, in law, I’m an entrepreneur, my dad was in manufacturing. I have experience in the real world.”

Most importantly, Rosenthal says he knows that the people in New York’s tenth congressional district deserve better representation than they have. And, he says, he’s ready to provide that.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US, Israel, Conclude New MOU on 2019 – 2028 Security Package

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Israel and the United States have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on security assistance for the years 2019 – 2028, the Prime Minister’s office announced Tuesday night. The MOU constitutes the single largest pledge of assistance in US history.‎ The new MOU will be signed in a ceremony at the Department of State in Washington on Wednesday, at 2 PM local time.

David Israel

Turkish PM Denies Russia Demanding to Use NATO Nuke Base

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Russia is not demanding to land its planes in the İncirlik air base in southern Turkey, as several Russian news services have claimed. “Russia had no demands to use İncirlik air base, those reports are not true,” Yildirim told foreign correspondents in Istanbul on Saturday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. However, the prime minister did agree that should Russia wish to use the base for its operations against ISIS, it would be welcome to do so. Still, Yildirim added, “Russia doesn’t need to use the base. They have bases in Syria.”

Yildirim’s statement concluded an anxiety-filled few days in which Russian news sources were announcing that Russia has been demanding that Turkey give its air force access to the NATO air base in İncirlik, which is where US and coalition air forces take off on their strikes in Syria. Located some 65 miles from the Syrian border, Incirlik is also where an estimated 50 US B-61 nuclear warheads (think 100 Hiroshimas times 50) are kept.

According to Izvestia, a Russian lawmaker named Igor Morozov said it was only a matter of time before Turkish president Erdogan hands over the NATO base at Incirlik to the Russians, to intensify the war against ISIS. “You’ll see, the next base will be İncirlik,” Morozov told Izvestia, shortly after the Kremlin had revealed that Russian bombers have been using an Iranian airbase for their attack on Syria. He predicted İncirlik would be “one more victory for Putin.”

Those statements came against the background of a report by EurActiv, a Belgian foundation focusing on European Union policies, that the US has begun to transfer its nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, for fear of the worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.

EurActiv cites a Stimson issue paper from August 2016, suggesting that during the July failed coup in Turkey, the Incirlik base power was cut, and US planes were not allowed to fly in or out of the base. As the coup was being suppressed, the base commander was arrested. Another source told EurActiv that US-Turkey relations have so deteriorated after the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara with the nuclear weapons, and so the warheads are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania.

Foreign Policy on Friday debunked the story, quoting a tweet from nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, the director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, that said Romania does not have the special WS3 vaults needed to store the weapons safely. Also, the Romanian Defense Ministry released a statement saying “so far there have not been any plans or discussions on this topic.”

Of course, this entire brouhaha is borne by Erdogan’s obsession with his former ally and current enemy Fetullah Gulen, whose extradition from the US the Turks have been demanding since the failing of the coup (which Gulen’s supporters may or may not been responsible for). As long as the US insists on following the rule of law on the Gulen extradition, the Turks will persist in these shenanigans, until someone gets seriously hurt.

So far, as that Moscow parliamentarian has put it so aptly, one more victory for Putin.


Trump Key Advisor Accused of Anti-Semitism, Ridiculing Holocaust

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Joseph Schmitz, one of five Trump senior advisers, is accused of boasting that when he was inspector general at the US Department of Defense under President GW Bush, he got Jewish employees fired, McClatchy reported. Schmitz, a Washington attorney, said the allegations are lies, and, according to McClatchy, the three people who made the accusations—one testifying under oath—are involved in employment grievances with the federal government, probably because they were fired.

Daniel Meyer, whose work for the Defense Department involved making decisions on department whistleblowers, noted in his complaint filed against the DOD, according to McClatchy, that Schmitz had described his achievement in the Pentagon inspector general’s office as “I fired the Jews.”

Meyer cited in his complaint a former senior Pentagon official named John Crane, who worked with Schmitz between April 2002 and September 2005, as having witnessed that statement by Schmitz, and also wrote that “in his final days, he allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.”

Schmitz said Crane made several false accusations against him, and told McClatchy that his wife, although not a practicing Jew, was “ethnically Jewish,” seeing as her maternal grandmother was a Jew (which would make her mother Jewish, of course).

Crane himself refused to comment saying he reserves his comments to the coming hearing of Meyer’s case before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), but his attorney denied Schmitz’s allegation that Crane was the source of all the bad press about him.

Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, this week a Jewish Army engineer named David Tenenbaum cited the Meyer allegations in a letter to Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine as more evidence of an anti-Semitic culture in the military. “The anti-Semitic environment began under a prior Inspector General, Mr. Joseph Schmitz,” Tenenbaum’s lawyer wrote.

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has been irate at Trump’s hiring of Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as his presidential campaign’s chief executive officer, because back in May Breitbart ran a story under the catchy headline: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.

The story used the anti-Semitic holler because Krystol had announced he would not support Trump for president.

Andrew Breitbart, who founded the news website in 2007, died in 2012 and was replaced at the helm by Bannon.

“I knew Breitbart well, and he was a troublemaker but he was a good-hearted person,” Kristol told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, adding, “I hate the fact that it’s called Breitbart News. If they changed the name and called it Right Wing Intolerant Mean-Spirited News, that would be fine.”


Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/moscow-calming-israeli-american-fears-of-russia-turkey-iran-coalition/2016/08/11/

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