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
Posts Tagged ‘washington’
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.JNi.Media
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.”JNi.Media
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.”JNi.Media
To answer your first question: No, NORPAC is not affiliated with AIPAC, but you can certainly be forgiven for the confusion. Both organizations are passionate about their advocacy for the State of Israel and both feature the letters P-A-C in their organization’s name. However, despite the similarities, only NORPAC is a political action committee which means that only NORPAC is allowed to fundraise and donate money to U.S. senators and members of congress that share the organization’s belief in a strong and enduring relationship between the USA and Israel (AIPAC is a registered lobbying group, which cannot donate money, and the P-A-C stands for public affairs committee). This distinction is important, explains Dr. Ben Chouake, the president of NORPAC. “The advocacy we do and that AIPAC does is extremely important, but it is also important to help people get elected who are strong on your issues and fundraising is one way to help make that happen.”
NORPAC’s strategy to maintain the historically vital connection between Israel and America is therefore two-pronged. The organization’s flagship program is their annual mission to Washington, a one-day whirlwind of on-the-hill advocacy, but NORPAC also proudly hosts an increasing number of fundraising events for politicians from around the country throughout the course of the year.
Chouake assumed the position of national president in 2000, and over the course of his tenure, the organization has grown from a small New Jersey-centric program that sent 20-30 people to Washington D.C. on its annual mission and hosted one or two fundraisers a year, to a prominent voice for Israel which sends over 1,000 people from all over the tri-state area on the annual mission and hosts 40 or more fundraisers every year. Of course, Chouake doesn’t do it all on his own, and he’s the first to let you know.
“I’m a good cheerleader,” Chouake says, “but the key is to have a great team to cheerlead for.” With only one full-time employee, the indefatigable Avi Schranz, working for the organization, NORPAC relies on the tireless efforts of a small army of volunteers to meet their increasingly ambitious annual goals.
As NORPAC has grown, new thriving chapters have sprung up further and further away from the original chapter in Englewood, NJ. David Steinberg, a highly respected member of the Kew Gardens Hills community, is the president of the Brooklyn-Queens chapter of NORPAC. Steinberg also serves as a mission chair along with Richie Schlussel and Dr. Laurie Baumel. Together the mission chairs organize every aspect of the mission to Washington. The logistics are incredibly complex but important to get right, as consistency in message is vital to a successful mission to Washington.
“You don’t get a thousand Jews walking into Capitol Hill at one time who are all accidentally saying the same thing,” says Steinberg, “everything that happens on the mission requires an incredible degree of planning and discipline.”
Over the course of their one-day mission this year on May 18, the NORPAC volunteers met with 98 senators and over 340 members of the House of Representatives. In some cases, the meetings were hosted by senior members of the congressmember’s staff, but often the congressman or congresswoman themselves sat down with the NORPAC volunteers.
Jeff Schreiber, the logistics chair of the NORPAC mission to Washington, explains how NORPAC’s size provides exactly the type of flexibility that allows for such a successful and unique day of advocacy. “When AIPAC sends 15,000 people to Washington,” says Schreiber, “there is only so much they can do with a group that large. With our 1,000 to 1,300 volunteers we are able to send small groups all around the Hill and we are able to hold all of these incredible face-to-face meetings in the span of one day.”Yehuda Raskin
The U.S. State Department is questioning whether Israel really wants to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, and whether the Netanyahu government really supports the “two-state solution.”
State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a briefing Tuesday that Washington is “deeply concerned” over Israel’s decision to approve a tender for 42 housing units in Kiryat Arba and construction of 800 new housing units in Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.
“If it’s true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be the systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalization of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” Kirby told reporters.
“This action risks entrenching a one-state reality and raises serious questions about Israel’s intentions.”
The approvals came in response to two deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israelis within a 24-hour period last week. A 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death by a Palestinian Authority Arab who climbed in her bedroom window last Thursday morning. The killer stabbed young Halle Yaffa Ariel, hy’d dozens of times, her blood spraying all over her room, after he scaled the security fence around Kiryat Arba.
The next day Arab terrorists opened fire at Rabbi Miki Mark, the administrator of the Otniel yeshiva as he drove near the community on Route 60 with his wife and children just a few hours before the Sabbath. The rabbi died instantly as he lost control of the vehicle and the car flipped over; his wife Chava was critically injured. Two of his ten children were also wounded.
Hallel Ariel, hy’d, was an American citizen. So is Chava Mark. But although the State Department issued the standard condemnation of violence perpetrated against U.S. citizens, there was complete silence from the White House.
Israel’s security cabinet met Saturday night to determine a response to the escalation in deadly attacks. By Sunday morning the government ministers were presented with a list of measures that were gauged to signal Israel’s determination not to buckle under the violence, including more boots on the ground in the Hebron area.
The Quartet for Mideast Peace issued a report on Friday (July 1) blaming Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria — even routine building connected with the natural growth in any community, within the municipal boundaries of existing towns — for the violence.
On Tuesday, it seemed the U.S. was joining that bandwagon and adding more fuel to the fire, blaming the approval of badly-needed housing units in existing communities for the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to join direct final status talks — and the unprovoked bloodbaths by Arab terrorists against innocent Israeli civilians.
Kirby added the U.S. would continue to “look for leaders in the region to do what they need to do … to demonstrate leadership to take down the violence, reduce tensions.”Hana Levi Julian
(JNi.media) Israel’s ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer sent senior Washington officials a series of Christmas gifts with a message which the media described as “provocative.” In a letter that came with the gift packages, Dermer wrote: “This holiday season, I decided to send a gift that would also help combat the latest effort by Israel’s enemies to destroy the one and only Jewish state. That effort is called the BDS movement — the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. The main forces behind this movement are fanatics who actively seek to eliminate Israel. Unfortunately, they are occasionally joined by fools who believe that in promoting BDS, they are advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The ambassador continues in this vein for several paragraphs, finally concluding: “In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. I hope you will enjoy them.
“May you and your family enjoy a New Year of faith and happiness.”
In response to a New York Times inquiry, the White House refused to say whether President Barack Obama also received one of the gift packages. The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to provide information on the identity of the recipients.
“The U.S. government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them,” Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in an email.
He probably didn’t get one of those settlements gifts.JNi.Media