Current Postings

April 23, 2015: See the Miracle!

 

Credit: Jpupdates

Today is Yom Ha’azma’ut – Israel Independence Day.  It is 67 years since Ben Gurion announced the establishment of the State of Israel, on the Hebrew date of Iyyar 5, which that first year corresponded to May 14.  (Today is only the 4th of Iyyar – celebrations were moved up to avoid Shabbat desecration).

See here the full reading by David Ben Gurion of the Declaration of Independence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy_LlKE9OMQ:

Its words are of enormous significance – in terms of the recognition of our historical and legal rights to the Land, our readiness to include Arabs in peace, and a great deal more.  Many of the illustrations that accompany the reading are enlightening as well (Ban Ki Moon towards the end notwithstanding).

 

Credit: takegreatpictures

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When Ben Gurion announced independence, the people were already at war, for the Arab nations were determined to destroy the Jewish State at its very inception.  The population of Israel at that time was 806,000 - many were bone-weary refugees from the Shoah; they had to conduct their war of self-defense with meager weaponry. 

It didn’t look good.  But we prevailed, just as we have prevailed in every war since, sometimes astoundingly so.

Not only have we prevailed against every enemy intent on destroying us, we have managed to grow and flourish at the same time.  Today our population is 8,345,000.  The Jewish population is 6,250,000 (74.9% of the total population), making Israel now the largest Jewish community in the world.  The Arab population is 1,730,000 ((20.7%), and the remainder are non-Arab Christians and members of other groups.  Some 176,000 babies have been born in the last year, and 32,000 have come to Israel.

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I site here commentators who have, over the last couple of days, celebrated Israel’s successes. 

Isi Liebler, in “We have reason to rejoice,” writes (emphasis added):

“Israel has become a veritable economic powerhouse, emerging as the second-largest country (after the US) in high tech and start-up facilities. We overcame our water problems via an extraordinary desalination program.  And now we are effectively energy self-sufficient, and will even be exporting surplus gas resources.

“...our social welfare structure and in particular the medical system provides outstanding services for all Israeli citizens without discrimination.

“Culturally, we are a pulsating country in which our ancient and sacred language has been renewed as the lingua franca for Jews coming from totally different cultures....

“Despite external threats and terror, we remain a democratic oasis in a region of barbarism, providing the right to vote to all citizens...

“But the most incredible transformation is that after 2,000 years as a subjugated and persecuted people, we have become a regional military superpower.  The empowerment of the Jewish nation, the success of our people’s army, and its ability to deter the combined force of all its enemies is mind-boggling...”

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Candidly-speaking-Independence-Day-We-have-reason-to-rejoice-398845

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Michael Freund, in “Kvell, don’t kvetch, on Independence Day,” says (emphasis added):

“...In the blink of an eye, we went from bloodstained Jewish history to blossoming Jewish destiny...

“...In the spiritual realm, we have also reached new heights.  Israel is now home to more yeshivot than have ever existed at any time in all of Jewish history.  On any given day, more Torah is being studied than ever before, more pages of Talmud are being scrutinized, and more Jews are visiting sites such as the Western Wall and the Cave of the Patriarchs.

“Indeed, in just about every field imaginable, be it literature or music, theater or the arts, Jewish creativity is at an unprecedented level...”

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Fundamentally-Freund-Kvell-dont-kvetch-on-Independence-Day-398837

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To this I want to add Israel’s incredible propensity for lending assistance to other nations in times of hardship and crisis.  There are Israeli teams working with drought-plagued Africans to improve irrigation techniques for better agricultural yield, Israeli doctors seeking to ameliorate disease in struggling corners of the world, Israeli rescue efforts in times of earthquake and tsunami.

That propensity for lending assistance applies at home, as well. Wrote Abigail Klein Leichman, in Israel 21C, “Intermittent terrorism and wars since before the founding of the state of Israel have bred a culture of caring second to none.”

In this sense, too, we are very much family – people reach out even to strangers with advice and assistance. 

Israeli society is exceedingly child-friendly, as well.  I was astonished, and delighted, to see, when I first came here, that parents bring babies and toddlers to weddings, which is fine for all concerned.  Jews in Israel have a considerably higher birthrate than Jews of other lands – babies are an intrinsic part of all that goes on.

And what better indicator of hope for the future than making babies?

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How has all of this happened?  There is a reason why Yom Ha’atzma’ut begins with a special prayer service that includes Hallel – psalms of praise to the Almighty.  Without the Hand of Heaven, we could not be where we are. 

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Above I wrote about the increase in the Jewish population here over the years.  I believe this is a step in the Ingathering of the Exiles – kibbutz galluyot, spoken of by prophets and rabbinic sages alike.  Jeremiah (29:14): "I will...gather you from all the nations and from all the places whither I have driven you… and I will bring you back." The Talmud states that "the day of the Ingathering of the Exiles is as great as the day on which heaven and earth were created."

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And so, my friends, open your eyes and SEE THE MIRACLE.  Embrace it and broadcast it.

My Beautiful Israel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2jSi9VxJxg

Israel – Small but Outstanding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoizSL-TEJQ

Hatikva and more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4pjKopHoHg

Note: I provide links to specific videos. What sometimes happens is that they are followed automatically by others that may or may not be of interest to you, but which I have neither endorsed nor recommended.

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/23/april-23-2015-see-the-miracle.html

 

 

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at 12:06PM by Registered CommenterArlene in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 19, 2015: The Bottom Line

...on the unanimous vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to advance the bill, sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), which would give Congress the right to review the deal currently being worked out with Iran.
 
Yes, as I wrote last week, it is a step in the right direction, as Senators are beginning to insist upon their right to be involved in this critical deal.  But it falls short in a very critical respect. 
 
Jonathan Tobin, editor of Commentary, effectively explains this in “The Reverse Iran Deal Ratification Process” (emphasis added):

“...By treating it as a normal act of legislation, the president will be able to veto the measure. That sets up a veto override effort that will force Iran deal critics to get to 67 votes, a veto-proof majority. If that sounds reasonable to you, remember that in doing so the bill creates what is, in effect, a reverse treaty ratification mechanism. Instead of the president needing a two-thirds majority to enact the most significant foreign treaty the United States has signed in more than a generation, he will need only one-third of the Senate plus one to get his way.

“By allowing pro-Israel Democrats a free pass to vote for Corker-Menendez the president is giving them a way to say they voted to restrain the president before also granting them a path to back him by either voting for the deal or failing to vote to override the president’s veto. That gives plenty of room for inveterate schemers such as Democratic Senate leader-in-waiting Chuck Schumer to make sure the president gets his 34 votes while giving some Democrats, including perhaps himself, impunity to vote against him.

What has happened here is that despite furious effort and hard legislative work all critics of Obama’s pursuit of détente with Iran have accomplished is to allow him the opportunity to legally make a historic and disgraceful act of betrayal of Western security with the least possible support. They may have had no better options and I’ll concede an ineffectual vote on an Iran deal might be better than no deal at all, but please spare me the praise for Corker’s bipartisanship or the chortles about how the White House was beaten. What happened yesterday actually advanced the chances for Iran appeasement. And that’s nothing to celebrate.”
 
https://www.commentarymagazine.com/2015/04/15/the-reverse-iran-deal-ratification-process-obama-corker-menendez/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Keith Koffler, in his article, “The Corker Cave-in,” agrees with this analysis and takes it one step further (emphasis added):

’The Unified States Senate just capitulated to Obama,’ radio host and Constitutional scholar Mark Levin said Tuesday night. ‘The Unified States Senate just rewrote the Treaty Provision of the Constitution.’

“...It’s true, international agreements have increasingly, over the decades, been done by executive action. But an agreement such as this – negotiated over the course of years and involving nuclear weapons for our most pernicious adversary and therefore the possible destruction of the United States – must by its nature qualify as a treaty under the Constitution, or there is no Constitution at all.

The Founders are very clear on the need for a co-equal role in such critical matters for the Senate, which was originally entrusted not just with approving treaties, but helping negotiate them too...

”With the Corker bill, he [Obama] now has Congress in his pocket as he joins Iran in shredding the Constitution over a Swiss negotiating table. And in ten to 15 years, when Iran conducts its first nuclear test, Congress will have had a ‘role’ in the tragedy.”

http://www.whitehousedossier.com/2015/04/15/corker-cavein/

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Let’s look briefly at some other commentary about the Iran deal, and some of the latest news updates:

“Iran could collect up to $50 billion in oil revenue if sanctions are lifted, according to congressional officials briefed by the Obama administration.

“If negotiators are successful in brokering a deal with Iran this summer to suspend its nuclear program, officials say the country could receive between $30 billion and $50 billion after signing an agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported....”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/lifting-u.s.-sanctions-would-give-iran-infusion-of-up-to-50-billion/article/2563272
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Foreign Policy editor David Rothkopf argued last week that:

“Unfreezing billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets...will have the effect of exacerbating Iran’s ‘systematic, 35-year campaign of regional meddling, destabilization, and extension of … influence’ that threatens the Middle East.”
 
http://www.thetower.org/1899-foreign-policy-editor-nuke-deal-that-doesnt-halt-irans-regional-threat-is-serious-error/
 
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“As UN nuclear inspectors arrived in Tehran [last] Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic will not accept a comprehensive nuclear deal with major powers if all sanctions imposed on Tehran are not lifted.

“’If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,’ Rouhani said in a televised speech in the northern Iranian city of Rasht.

"’The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran.’"

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4647387,00.html

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And – as you grapple with this horrendous situation - factor this in, as well (emphasis added):

“Even if Congress rejects his final Iranian nuclear deal, President Barack Obama could use his executive pen to offer Tehran a hefty portion of sanctions relief on his own. ...
 
The president could suspend some existing US sanctions with his waiver authority. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned under current law. And he could simply take certain Iranian entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, off US target lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to sanctions.

“Only Congress can terminate its legislative sanctions. And those are some of the toughest penalties against Iran because they target its energy sector, central bank and key segments of its economy. But experts say Obama can neutralize the effect of some of those sanctions, too, and work with the Europeans to neutralize others....

“Says Tyler Cullis, legal fellow at the National Iranian American Council, which favors an agreement: ‘Some have expressed doubt whether the president can provide Iran significant sanctions relief solely on the basis of his own authority. Such doubt should be put to rest.’

He said the president ‘could almost gut’ an entire segment of sanctions...”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-could-ease-many-iranian-sanctions-without-congress/

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“North Korea supplied several shipments of missile components to Iran during recent nuclear talks and the transfers appear to violate United Nations sanctions on both countries, according to U.S. intelligence officials.” (Emphasis added)

 http://freebeacon.com/national-security/north-korea-transfers-missile-goods-to-iran-during-nuclear-talks/

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“A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Sunday that inspectors would be barred from military sites under any nuclear agreement with world powers.

“Gen. Hossein Salami, the Guard's deputy leader, said on state TV that allowing the foreign inspection of military sites is tantamount to ‘selling out.’

"’We will respond with hot lead [bullets] to those who speak of it,’ Salami said. ‘Iran will not become a paradise for spies. We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy.’"

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Apr-19/294948-iran-guard-rejects-inspection-of-military-sites.ashx

Just how much will Obama tolerate?  Is this a deal at any cost, so that he can claim a deal?

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This is heavy information, as I am well aware, my friends.  But we dare not ignore it.

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And now for the good news, which we so badly need. Today I include a couple of sites – the first and last items - that may be of interest to tourists.

Israel’s Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park has earned its certification as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Located in lowland south of Beit Shemesh and east of Kiryat Gat, the Park – which is five sq. kilometers - is within a larger area referred to as the “land of the caves.” 

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israels-Beit-Guvrin-celebrated-as-UNESCO-World-Heritage-site-398074

The park contains thousands of ancient underground man-made caves, and also encompasses the ruins of Maresha, an important town of Judah of 2,000 years ago.  Here you see the “Bell Cave” and below it, a cave with dovecotes.   

  

The ‘Bell Caves’ at Beit Guvrin

Credit: Shmuel Bar-Am

Credit: S. Aronson

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In the face of its lowest levels of available water ever, Brazil has hosted a delegation of 13 Israeli water companies who came to help the Brazilians address their water crisis.

http://israelnewtech.com/2015/03/israeli-water-delegation-on-mission-to-help-brazil-solve-water-crisis/

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Professor Zvi Bentwich, 78, a member of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s department of microbiology, immunology and genetics, heads the university’s Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS.  In the 1990s, he did groundbreaking research that uncovered a link between intestinal worms and immune system deficiencies – deficiencies that contribute to Africa’s AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics.

Now the professor has been named the recipient of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for his project in Ethiopia to wipe out parasitic worm infections.

http://www.israel21c.org/news/gates-grant-for-public-health-hero/

Credit: BBC

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“Can you name 15 varieties of cherry tomatoes? What about four types of carrots? Have you ever tasted an Uri Kaduri orange? And do you know the difference between the seven varieties of mint leaves?

“A three-hour visit to the Salad Trail, a unique touch-and-taste farm in the Hevel Habesor region of the northern Negev, will turn you into an expert grower for the day.

“Pick-your-own produce farms are commonplace. But agronomist Uri Alon (pictured below) has upped the ante with his complete senses-and-learning experience at his farm in the northern Negev.

“’If you want to see how the real vegetables grow, and taste the best vegetables in the world, that’s reason enough to come visit,‘ Alon, the brains behind this blossoming oasis in the middle of the sandy desert, tells ISRAEL21c.

“’If you want to see the real Israel and see how you can take a desert and change it and make it bloom, it’s enough reason to drive 1.5 hours from Tel Aviv.’”

http://www.israel21c.org/headlines/the-tastiest-tourist-attraction-in-israel/

 

Uri Alon’s veggies are his tourist attraction.

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/19/april-19-2015-the-bottom-line.html

 

Posted on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 04:02PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 17, 2015: A Heartfelt Lament

 

 


Courtesy Family
 
His name was Shalom Yohai Sherki, and he was 25.  On Wednesday night, he was standing at a bus stop in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, and a car rammed into him and the woman standing next to him.   

 
Scene of the car attack


Credit: MDA
 
Both were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
 
On Thursday morning, he succumbed to his head wounds; his brother later expressed gratitude that he held on until the family was able to say goodbye.

Again? We cried at this news.  Is there no end?
 
Shalom worked as a counselor to teenage students.  I did not know him personally, but am close to people who did.  I am told that he was much loved by his students and that he was a wonderful person.  Always with a smile on his face. Somehow it is the special ones who die.
 
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The driver of the car that ran into these young people? An Arab – from a village near Jerusalem.  Police are indicating that they believe this was a terror attack (an attack with “nationalist” motives, is how they say it).  We knew, as soon as we heard what had happened.  The Arab will be interrogated by the Shin Bet.
 
The funeral, attended by thousands, was held in Jerusalem late yesterday..

 

Credit: Hillel Maeir, Tazpit News Agency 

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This happened on Yom Hashoah.  Likely not a coincidence, as this would have played into the timing of the Arab who drove the car. 

More painful, to lose someone else as we are mourning the six million lost.
 
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I am frequently in absolute awe of the strength of the families losing loved ones to terrorists, and so was it the case yesterday. This sort of strength is a reflection of religious faith.  Shalom’s father is Rabbi Uri Sherki. At the funeral, Rabbi Sherki, noting that his son saved the woman standing next to him by moving quickly to push her aside, said:
 
Go dear son, it is not difficult because your noble soul is ascending straight to the King of Peace.
 
“...It's not by chance that you were separated from us on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
 
"Our family didn't wander for two thousand years and return to Israel to be murdered but to be planted… We need to be strong, both in our private work and in the work of the government, which will know how to appropriately plant the people of Israel in its land."
 
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The woman who was next to Shalom is Shira Klein, 20, currently in serious but stable condition in the hospital.
 
I learned this morning that Shira and Shalom were due to become engaged.  Brings tears to the eyes.  Again, again.
 
Her family is asking for prayers for her complete recovery:  Shira bat Adel Ada.
 
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I could not go into Shabbat without posting this.  Dear God, may there be no more Jews who die ONLY because they are Jews.  As you pray for Shira’s recovery, pray for this, as well, please.
 
We say Baruch Dayan HaEmet: Blessed is the Righteous Judge. 
 
With wishes for a Shabbat Shalom to all.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/17/april-17-2015-a-heartfelt-lament.html

Posted on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 06:36AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 16, 2015: Then and Now

Today was Yom HaShoah VeHaGevurah – Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism.   (For there were not only Jewish victims, there were also Jewish heroes.)
 
Here in Jerusalem, in the wee small hours last night, there was the most incredible prolonged, downpour – the likes of which I have never before experienced.  I would like to think that perhaps the Heavens were crying for us.

 


Credit: Mrsbongle

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I cannot permit this day to end without a posting, but will touch upon various subjects only briefly:
 
Last night at the Holocaust Memorial, Yad VaShem, the official annual ceremony marking the day was held. Every year, there are six survivors selected to light six torches.

 


Credit: TouristIsrael
 
Each of the six tells his or her story.  Each story tears the heart.  I want to share the video of one such story here - the story of Shela Altaraz.  Watch the enormous emotion with which she relates her experiences, which are over 70 years old.  The pain never goes away:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/194122#.VS_XpJuJjIV

We may not turn away from this.  It is our task to hear her story, absorbing its import and its power.
 
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President Ruby Rivlin spoke at the official ceremony last night.

.

 

Credit: ShalomLife
 
The core – the ikar – of his message merits attention (emphasis added):
 
“We cannot let the pogroms, the bellowing smoke of the crematoria blind us or blur our abilities to recognize our past, our identity, our heritage – which is stronger than those who wish to destroy us.”
 
While the Holocaust is “our lowest point,” we Jews must remember that our journey did not begin in the concentration camps, but in the Land of Israel, and “it is here that [we] have always strived to return.
 
“The State of Israel is not compensation for the Holocaust.”  It was established “out of a love and longing for our ancient homeland by virtue of a dream that came true, a dream that became a reality.  Not out of fear of extinction or hatred for the other....
 
”The horrors of the past and the threats of the present will not dictate our lives nor shape the lives of our children.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Rivlin-Israel-is-not-compensation-for-the-Holocaust-398254

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Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke during the ceremonies.

 
 

Credit: KosherPages 
 
As we would expect, he addressed the threat of Iran and other evil regimes.
 
The lesson of the Holocaust, he said, was that there is “no room to be weak when faced with tyrannical regimes.”  (Emphasis added)  The world is “comatose” and delusional” where Iran is concerned. “Appeasement towards these regimes increases their aggressiveness.”
 
Earlier in the day, he related, he had been told by a survivor that it was his job “to prevent another Holocaust.”
 
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Let it be so!  For the world has learned nothing. Truly nothing. And so evil abounds.  Not just in Iran, but with Isis, and Hamas, and in Muslim enclaves in certain parts of Europe.  Yet the world turns away from the stark realities, and does business with evil. 
 
We reserve the right to defend ourselves against a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu said:  “Even if we are forced to stand alone against Iran, we will not fear. In every circumstance we will preserve our right and ability to defend ourselves.”
 
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Yes! preserve our right and ability to defend ourselves.  But it becomes time, I think, to USE that ability.
 
Three days ago, Russian president, Vladimir Putin announced that he would approve delivery to Iran of the long-range surface-to-air S-300 missile defense system.  A contract signed in 2007 to deliver the missiles was frozen in 2010 by Dmitry Medvedev, then president of Russia, in response to pressure brought to bear on him.
 
And why was Putin now removing the ban on delivery?  Because Iran “has shown a great degree of flexibility and a desire to reach compromise.”
 
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/16/putin-long-range-air-defence-missile-iran-russia-sanctions

Heaven help us. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Exact dates for delivery are still under discussion, according to Reuters. 
 
The missiles would not render an Israeli attack on Iran impossible, but would make it more difficult.
 
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There was a certain amount of hoopla about the unanimous vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee calling for advancement of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). The bill would grant Congress the ability to review the deal currently being crafted by the Obama administration and Iran. 
 
A step in the right direction, certainly, but there still is room for considerable unease. At the last minute, seeing the prospect of a vote large enough to over-ride a veto, Obama declared that he would cooperate and not veto.  This is encouraging, of course – as it suggests a shift in the dynamic.  (And yes, I do believe Netanyahu’s Congressional talk had an influence on the situation.)  But in order to secure Democratic support, there were compromises made.  WSJ reviewed the situation with a somewhat jaundiced eye, and, as Arnold Ahlert wrote in FrontPage, “It remains to be seen whether lawmakers, including those in Obama’s own party, will hold the president accountable for his reckless deal-making...”
 
I will be returning soon to consider this and related Iran issues in a great deal more detail.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
According to a report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, anti-Semitism rose almost 40% in 2014, over the level of incidents in the previous year.


Said Center president, Dr. Moshe Kantor, “Many streets in our European cities have become hunting grounds for Jews, and some Jews are now forced to avoid community institutions and synagogues as a result. Some are choosing to leave the continent, many are afraid to walk the streets, and even more are retreating behind high walls and barbed wire. This has become the new reality of Jewish life in Europe.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Violent-anti-Semitism-surged-forty-percent-in-2014-study-finds-398165

This is very sobering indeed.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
After a review appropriate for Yom HaShoah, I would like to end on a more upbeat note:
 
Elbit Systems, an Israel defense company, has announced that it has developed a new system based on sensors that will accurately detect tunnel building.  It is to be installed along the entire border with Gaza, and what a relief this will be for the Israeli residents near that border.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4647664,00.html

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“Scientists working in the Technion laboratory of Israeli Nobel Prize winner Professor Aaron Ciechanover have discovered that high concentrations of the chemical KPC1 and protein p50 suppress malignant growth and protect healthy cells.”


http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/breakthrough-in-cancer-research-300064078.html

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“Israeli scientists have come up with a new method to grow grapes all year round, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently announced. The agronomists successfully grew an existing variety of seedless grape known as Early Sweet during winter months.”
 
http://www.israel21c.org/news/israeli-scientists-develop-all-season-grapes/

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Five years after the horrendous earthquake in Haiti, there is still an Israeli presence there:
 
“IsraAID runs a medical facility, an agriculture program, a youth empowerment center and a gender violence prevention program for Haitian women.”
 
http://www.israel21c.org/headlines/five-years-post-quake-israel-is-still-helping-haiti-heal/
 
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You see?  There is so much good stuff.  We must remain resolute and strong, so that we can continue to utilize our skills and expertise in a thousand ways.  To be a blessing to the world (if the world knows it or not).
 
~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/16/april-16-2015-then-and-now.html

 

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 03:35PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 14, 2015: Illegal EU Assistance to Bedouin in Area C

Some months ago, I shared with my readers news about a scrupulously researched report, done by Regavim, on the issue of EU facilitation of building of illegal Bedouin settlements in Area C of Judea and Samaria.
 
(Area C is the region of Judea and Samaria designated by the Oslo Accords as being fully under Israeli control, with regard to both civil and security administration.  All Jewish communities beyond the Green Line are in Area C. Area A is fully under PA control, and Area B is under PA civil control and  Israeli security control.)
 
That full report can be found here: 

http://regavim.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Position-Paper-European-Building-in-Area-C-US.pdf
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Last Wednesday, Regavim ran a tour – in which I participated - to the Mt. Scopus area of eastern Jerusalem and from there into Area C beyond so that participants might see the situation for themselves. 
 
This posting is devoted to the critical situation explored in that tour.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In 2009, Salam Fayyad, who was then prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, conceived a plan for establishing a Palestinian state without having to negotiate with Israel. 
 
Part of this plan involves establishing facts on the ground in Area C, and into the eastern perimeter of the Jerusalem municipality, without Israel’s permission. 
 
If this this PA effort – which has been ongoing - were to continue unabated, the result would be to:
 
[] create Arab contiguity with existing Arab neighborhoods such as Beit Hanina and Issawiya;
 
[] establish a wide corridor running from Bethlehem and the Hevron Hills, south of Jerusalem, to Ramallah, north of Jerusalem;  

 

 

Credit: cuttingedge
 
[] generate a disconnect between the Center of Israel and the Jordan Valley (along the Jordan River between the Kinneret and the Dead Sea); the Valley provides an effective security barrier against threats from the east;
 
[] interfere with the traffic on Route 1, a key transverse artery vital for the transport of equipment in an emergency.
 
The goal is to co-opt areas that belong to Israel a little at a time, via de facto annexation of parts of Area C.  In the process, contiguous Israeli areas would be isolated; most notably, Jerusalem would be cut off from areas to her east.
 
Area E1 is a region between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, to the east.

 

 

Credit: JewishVirtualLibrary
 
For years, plans have been in place for Jewish construction in E1.  The building hasn’t happened, however, because of international pressure; the only thing there is a police station.  Today the entire Adumim region has become a major focus of the campaign originally initiated by Fayyad.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What the PA decided to do for this major undertaking was utilize (literally, make use of) Bedouin - moving them into Area C from Area A. 
 
I was going to say the PA was doing this surreptitiously, but that is not the case.  Perhaps in the beginning it was surreptitious, but now it is very “in your face.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Traditionally, the Bedouin are nomadic herders, living in temporarily constructed tents and moving about to search for water and grazing for their animals. 
 
 

 
 
Credit:  Maannews
 

 
Credit: Neverendingvoyage
 
But the Bedouin who were moved into Area C were provided first with water tanks, and then subsequently with permanent housing, solar panels and more.  The water tanks represented the first step in eliminating the necessity of moving about.  Once there was permanent housing, the situation of the Bedouin became just that: permanent.
 
The picture below, from Regavim, shows permanent structures for the Bedouin in Area C, including a water tank and an outhouse.  (Apparently, outhouses were among the first structures to go up). 
   
 
 

 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Two years ago, the European Union (the EU) became directly involved in this illegal process.  It is hardly a secret that the EU and its constituent nation-members lean politically towards the Palestinian Arabs, and establish policies favorable to them.  But the jump from calling Israel an occupier and claiming that “settlements” are illegal to actually supporting this building is qualitative, and significant.
 
In September 2012, the EU announced a decision to allocate 100 million Euros (roughly equivalent to the same amount in dollars) to the advancement of projects for Arabs in Area C.  Seven million Euros were earmarked for “development of land and basic infrastructures in Area C.”  Some of the remainder of the money is used for advocacy – defense in the courts, etc.
 
Similar sums have been forthcoming in the years since.  And, it should be noted, NGOs that receive funds from the EU are also involved, as are some individual European nations who are members of the EU – primarily Britain and Germany.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This is very clearly not about helping poor Bedouins.  The EU is not similarly assisting Bedouin in Area A.  Or in the Negev, or Jordan.  This is blatantly political. According to an EU document cited by Regavim:
 
“The European Union and Palestinian Authority are actively promoting planning and construction in Area C, which, if successful, will pave the way for development and expansion of the Palestinian Authority’s control over Area C.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
There is a great deal that is wrong with this alarming situation. 
 
First, it contravenes the Oslo Accords – Oslo II, the Interim Agreement, that established the areas of Judea and Samaria – to which the EU had formally served as witness. 
 
That would be enough, but it goes beyond this.
 
The EU, as noted above, identifies Israel as the “occupier” of Judea and Samaria.  In point of fact, Israel is NOT an occupier (a subject I visit often and will come back to again soon).  Regavim notes in its report that the Levy Report determined that according to international law Israel cannot be an occupier.
 
But even if the EU position is accepted, there is a problem.  As Regavim explains (emphasis added):
 
“International law clearly states that the occupying power has lawful administrative authority within the occupied areas, while preserving, as far as possible, the laws in force in those areas.
 
“...all entities in the area are obligated to obey the laws in force there. Violation of that law is clearly a violation of international law. Thus, violation of the planning and construction laws in Judea and Samaria by the European Union is a gross violation of international law.”
 
The hypocrisy of the EU in this regard is breathtaking.  It is quick to point a finger at Israel, to charge her with violating international law, at the same time that it is in flagrant violation.
 
Area C is administered by the Civil Administration, which is an arm of the Ministry of Defense.  A number of regulations regarding building in Area C are in place, involving permits and more.  It is certainly not acceptable to simply come along and put up a building without official sanction.  
 
And there is still more, for a good many of the structures that the EU has paid for have been erected on nature reserve land, which means even if permits had been applied for, they would never have been granted.  Water that was intended for the wildlife in these areas is being co-opted by the Bedouin.
 
Add to this environmental abuse, as raw sewage flows from structures the EU has built.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
One of the things the EU has done when paying for Bedouin structures, is to have stickers placed on them announcing the EU involvement.  The sticker is a blue field with a circle of stars. 

The fact that the EU is doing this – publicly announcing their participation in an illegal action – seems counter-intuitive at first.  But the EU assumption has been that identifying the structures this way provides diplomatic immunity – rendering Israel more reluctant to take them down.  After all, Israel wants trade agreements and more with the EU. Why tangle with it on this issue?
 
In the last two years, 700 EU structures have been built in Area C; 500 have stickers.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Any one of us – Israeli or tourist – who has traveled in the Judean desert over the years, has seen small enclaves of Bedouin tents.  They seemed rather harmless and pathetic.  But what is astounding is how these enclaves – now comprised of permanent buildings - have multiplied recently.  There are now 200 such enclaves in Area C, most constructed since the EU became involved.  At one point in the tour, we sat on the bus and passed by one after the other. There’s one, and then maybe 600 meters away, around a curve in the road, appears another. And then another, and another. 
 
 The video below, shot by Regavim via a drone, offers a glimpse of this situation:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xEOjBOoGH0&feature=youtu.be
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
How did this complex and horrendous situation evolve? And how can it be remedied?
 
As Meir Deutsch, a Regavim official, said on the tour, The system is broken.
 
When it comes to demolition of buildings in Judea and Samaria, or eviction of its residents, Begatz, the High Court, must hand down an order. However, the Court relies upon the government to provide information on the situation and make recommendations.  In this respect, the government has been remiss.
 
In 2012, the Court, with government consent, said that the Bedouin cannot be evicted from their homes until alternative homes are provided.  And indeed there are plans in place for the establishment of a new Bedouin town north of Jericho - Ramat Nueimah.  But those plans are not yet actualized. What is more, the Bedouin – provided with whatever inducements or facing whatever threats - are declaring they do not want to move. The longer they remain where they are, the more they become “facts on the ground.”
 
This situation must be publicized, and pressure must be brought to bear upon the government, so that it begins to establish tougher policies, and make stringent recommendations to the Court.  If that alternative housing is provided, and the Ministry of Defense acts, on orders from the government, then the illegal housing can and should be demolished.
 
Regavim - an NGO advocacy organization comprised primarily of lawyers – plans to be involved in petitions to the Court.  There are two potential factors here: Regavim can petition the Court to demand that the government be pushed to act appropriately, and it can make the case against the illegal housing in order to strengthen the government position. It will do PR to promote this matter, as well.
 
Ari Briggs, a spokesman for Regavim and Director of its International Department, is hopeful that the situation can ultimately be turned around. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I do not defend the government in this regard. Not at all. For it has not acted properly on behalf of Israel. 
 
However, I want to note what I see as generating some of the reluctance to act.  It is not just the matter of taking a stand against the EU.  It is, also, I believe, a fear of negative publicity against Israel, at a time when Israel is so often delegitimized: “Look at these poor Bedouin,” the left wing will inevitably cry. “All they want are pathetically simple homes.  But Israel will not even permit this.”  Then we’ll hear that we are doing “ethnic cleansing.”  This is the pattern.
 
It is time to move beyond what is said about us, and to be strong enough to do what we need to do.  Lest we lose our land.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The act of preventing the construction of new homes is easier to achieve, especially now that Regavim is on the scene monitoring the situation.  If illegal building materials are seen being brought in, or construction is sighted, the Civil Administration can and often does act, if notified.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Regavim believes that many citizens of Europe – totally unaware of what is going on in Area C – might be exceedingly unhappy to learn how their tax money is being used. This is especially the case as what the EU is doing contravenes its own charter.
 
And so Regavim hopes to do publicity in Europe, as well as in Israel.  Additionally Regavim wants to see the Foreign Ministry file complaints against the EU. 
 
Lastly, this summer Regavim will attend a meeting with the EU in Brussels, and hopes to bring the foreign minister along, as this will provide greater impact.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It is encouraging that Ari Briggs is communicating an optimistic perspective. 
 
Regavim, however, does not operate in a vacuum: Please, do your part by sharing this posting and publicizing this information broadly wherever you can!
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/15/april-14-2015-illegal-eu-assistance-to-bedouin-in-area-c.html

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 03:19AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 12, 2015: The PA and More

Pesach is over and it’s back to “normal,” such as that may be.  Posting after posting, I have focused on Iran, and Obama.  With good reason: It is a most critical issue.  But I would like to at least begin with a look at the PA today. I feel I have been “neglecting” Abbas.

 
abbas

Credit: Reuters
 
Actually, Mahmoud Abbas has been playing the game every which way that he thinks might work.  If you recall, about two weeks ago, the Israeli government announced that it would be releasing collected PA tax funds that had been withheld because of Abbas’s declared intentions of joining the ICC and bringing charges against Israel. This looked like a regrettable Israeli concession.  But then, Abbas announced that because of the taxes that were to be released, no action against Israel would be pursued in the ICC.  And, more than a concession, this began to look like an action against the PA that actually netted results.
 
What Israel said was that funds withheld through February would be released, and determination regarding release of taxes collected in March would depend the PA.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/In-exchange-for-freed-tax-funds-PA-wont-pursue-Israel-over-settlements-at-ICC-395505
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Ah, but this state of affairs did not last very long.  For Abbas quickly learned that Israel was going to retain a percentage of the tax money to cover some part of funds owed to Israel by the PA for services provided to the Palestinian Arab population. 
 
This is what Abbas said last week:
 
”The Israelis have begun punishing us by withholding the money they collect on our behalf.

“They told us they would release our funds and they did, but after deducting one-third of the sum. Why? Are these debts? Who decides? We told them this is our money and you are not doing us a favor. This is not a donation. We insist on receiving all that belongs to us.” (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-issues-warning-to-Israel-to-turn-over-funds-or-face-charges-at-the-ICC-396240
 
What we have here is a sterling example of Abbas’s total disregard for facts.  As it happens, Israel turned over to the PA 1.37 billion shekels in withheld tax money.  Only 160,000 shekels was held back against the gargantuan PA electric bill of over 2 billion shekels.  Had we kept the entire sum of withheld tax funds it still would not have covered the outstanding PA debt to Israel.  And he complains?
 
It is Israel that should be saying, “Our electrical services are not a donation – we insist on full payment that belongs to us.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Abbas threated to return the sum that was given to the PA, but I have no information that he has done so.  The PA needs that money, and it is likely no more another threat.
 
But let us take a moment to examine WHY the PA so badly needs that money, according to the Palestinian Media Watch, as of October 2014 (emphasis added):
 
“The number [of public employees] currently registered in the [PA] General Workers’ Office comes to approximately 175,000. Yet the total number of recipients of government salaries exceeds 200,000 – if one includes the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and wounded, as well as the prisoners’ and released [prisoners’] pensions – [whose total stipends] constitute approximately 65% of the Palestinian government’s monthly expenditure.

The tax money [the PA] gets back from Israel, which represents two thirds of the Palestinian monthly income...constitutes the basis for the government’s ability to continue paying the salaries…”
 
http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=1005
 
Do the math: families of “martyrs,” prisoners, etc. receive stipends that are far more generous than what is paid to ordinary workers. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At the beginning of April, Othman Abu Gharbieh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, declared that Oslo was dead and that there would be no more peace negotiations. The PA, he declared, would be seeking Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Senior-Palestinian-official-Oslo-accords-are-dead-395735
 
Yes, that again...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
However, last Thursday, according to AFP, announcement was made by Russian officials of a visit to Russia by Abbas that is expected to take place this week.  He will be meeting with Putin, and on the agenda will be "ideas on the process of Israeli-Palestinian talks."
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-to-meet-Putin-in-Moscow-on-Monday-396689
 
Israeli-Palestinian talks?  These are the same talks that Abu Gharbieh recently said were dead, but never mind.
 
Abbas refers to the Russians as friends, and all together this is bad news.  The Soviets had a long-standing relationship with the PLO, and Russia today would be glad for a more significant foothold in the Middle East.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Hamas-Fatah relations are growing increasingly tense (after a recent bid to try again to re-establish a unity government).  Just two days ago, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar charged that Abbas has no legitimacy as president of the PA.  I will skip over matters such as PA security cooperation with Israel, which Hamas considers “treachery,” and go to the heart of the matter.
 
Al-Zahar says that Abbas’s term expired years ago. And he is absolutely correct.  Abbas’s term as president expired in January 2009.  It is a mark of international hypocrisy that Abbas is treated as an official who represents the PA. Everyone just ignores the fact that new elections have not been held.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And now, before closing, just a brief overview of the latest with regard to the Iran nuclear issue.  The situation has deteriorated into one of absolute farce, with the two major issues being the matter of sanctions relief and inspections/verification. 
 
Last Thursday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei gave a speech.  
  
The entire translation can be found here: http://defenddemocracy.org/iran-press-review-9-april Significant highlights shared by Omri Ceren of The Israel Project:
 
Politically, the most damage will probably come from Khamenei's declaration that nothing was agreed to at Lausanne, and that White House claims otherwise are ‘incorrect and contrary to the substance of the negotiations.’
 
Substantively, Khamenei's new red lines - if US negotiators ultimately accept them - would detonate the possibility of a verifiable, enforceable deal...
 
“On verification, he blasted inspections of military sites and ruled out any ‘unconventional inspection or monitoring’ in general. The military sites demand would gut the IAEA's ability to ensure the Iranians aren't enriching at military bases like Fordow (which they've done) or developing nuclear warheads at military bases like Parchin (which they've also done). Administration officials have been talking about ‘managed access’ to such sites, which is less than what former IAEA officials say the agency needs and less than the ‘snap inspections’ lawmakers were told negotiators would bring home - but still more than Khamenei is willing to give. The ‘unconventional’ demand would prohibit the unprecedented inspection regime President Obama has emphasized is necessary to prevent the Iranians from cheating.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Eli Lake has written an article for Bloomberg that Ceren quotes:

Now [Senator] Kirk feels that there isn't much of an agreement at all. As he told me Thursday, ‘Because Iran refuses to agree to the same framework for a final deal as the United States, and because Iran still strongly disputes basic issues like how a final deal will address comprehensive sanctions relief, uranium enrichment, and coming clean on Iran's military nuclear activities, I believe the full Senate should vote, sooner rather than later, on the bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.’" 

The issue is not even one of who is telling the truth in the dispute between the US and Iranian version of the agreement.  It is, rather, that if Iran has not signed on to the US version, and is determined to get its way, there is no agreement.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Let’s close with some good news:
 
“British Christian groups are circulating a declaration expressing appreciation for Israel as a safe haven for Middle East Christians, support for bolstering ties with the Jewish state, and a call to combat anti-Semitism.
 
“Called the ‘Shalom Declaration,; the document states, ‘We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing.’”
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/10/uk-groups-circulate-declaration-of-appreciation-for-israel-as-safe-haven-for-christians/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/13/april-12-2015-the-pa-and-more.html

 

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2015 at 03:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 8, 2015: Mid-Pesach

Here in Israel, the world sort of floats in limbo over the Pesach week; and so I thought that perhaps I would not post until the holiday was over. But life does go on, and I’ve decided to write. 
 
But before I move to the serious matters calling for attention, let me share this lighthearted video for Pesach, done by the students of the Technion (a top notch university – Israel Institute of Technology) in Haifa, specifically for Pesach:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baQfqoZrEvI
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Then, moving on, and hoping your spirits have been lifted...
 
I’m seeing a huge number of commentaries regarding the Iran situation, and obviously cannot share any significant portion of them.  
 
Actually, what I am finding most interesting is the way in which Obama is walking back several of his positions of last week.  This is, of course, in response to severe criticism that has been directed at the framework agreement with Iran and at his hard-nosed attitude.  I will come back to this.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Whatever my other disagreements and disappointments with Bibi Netanyahu, I continue to salute him for speaking out on the Iran issue.  There are those (writing in some of those commentaries) who think he’s wasting his breath because no one is listening.  I disagree.  He has affected the dialogue on Iran and modeled a forthright approach.
 
Yesterday, Bibi asked some particularly pertinent questions (the deal is so full of holes there are always more questions):
 
Why doesn't the framework address Iran's intercontinental ballistic missile program whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear payloads?" (Emphasis added)
 
And...”What is to stop Iran from using the over one hundred billion dollars that will be unfrozen as part of this agreement to fund aggression and terror in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere?”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193787#.VSVc4ZuJjIV
 
Hmm...That first question is particularly pertinent, as Iran aims to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that reach the US.
 
Joining Bibi in his forthright approach have been members of his government, such as Yuval Steinitz.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And I am pleased that Israel is is not alone in criticizing the agreement. 
 
There are Arab nations highly critical of Obama, although their criticisms are less direct than Israel’s.  See Khaled Abu Toameh’s piece on this:
 
“Arab leaders and heads of state were polite enough not to voice public criticism of the agreement when President Barack Obama phoned them to inform them about it. But this has not stopped Arab politicians, political analysts and columnists reflecting government thinking in the Arab world from lashing out at what they describe as ‘Obama's bad and dangerous deal with Iran.’"
 
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5493/arabs-blast-obama-deal-with-iran
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Most significantly, there are key members of Congress speaking out.
 
Right after the framework deal was announced, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) blasted it in no uncertain terms (emphasis added):
 
”Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman [State Department negotiator] got out of Iran,” he declared.
 
There’s nothing for Iranians to do but go at breakneck speed to a nuclear weapon.  We’re moving straight to forcing Israel to clean up this mess … when the West does nothing, Israel over and over has done something....we shouldn’t force our best ally in the region to clean up the mess.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/mark-kirk-iran-deal-react-nazi-116632.html 

A man who pulls no punches.

 

 

Credit: Politico


~~~~~~~~~~

On April 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be voting on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would require the Obama administration to submit the final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review and approval.
 
Committee Chair, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Sunday that ”it’s very important that Congress is in the middle of this, understanding, teasing out, asking those important questions.”
 
Then on Monday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stated that:
 
“We cannot forget that Iran is pursuing a full-spectrum campaign to expand its sphere of influence in the greater Middle East.
 
“The administration needs to explain to the Congress and the American people why an interim agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/07/senate-foreign-relations-committee-to-vote-on-iran-nuclear-agreement-review-act/

~~~~~~~~~~

It is a matter of certainty that Obama will veto this bill, and so 67 votes supporting it are needed to override that veto.  Senator Corker has indicated that there are already 65 who will be voting in favor. Two more votes are necessary. 

And so, please! contact your Senator without delay.  If you are certain that he or she will be voting for this bill, offer thanks and express your understanding of how important this is.  If you are in doubt as to whether your Senator will be supporting the bill, urge that he or she do so. Say it is a matter of critical importance, and that you will be watching.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Now, as to the Obama walkback: nothing is more astonishing (and disingenuous!) than his new, improved stance on Israel.  In an interview with Tom Friedman on Sunday, he declared that: 

“It’s been a hard period. It has been personally difficult for me to hear” accusations that “this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest...if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.” 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-05/obama-says-iran-accord-doesn-t-forgo-defense-or-abandon-israel 

This is best read on an empty stomach.  What would be personally difficult for most of us would be to swallow this self-serving drivel.  But I imagine that, unfortunately, there are some who will buy it. 

Obama now feels so kindly disposed to Bibi that he is planning on inviting him to the White House after the coalition is formed. 

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-to-invite-bibi-after-coalition-formed/2015/04/06/ 

Yes, this is the same Obama who refused to see Bibi when he came to address the Congress.  

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Elliot Abrams, Former US Deputy National Security Adviser, has penned a potent response to Obama’s hot air assurances to Israel (emphasis added): 

“Several times in this interview the President went out of his way to suggest that he fully understands Israel’s security problems, but the full text suggests that he does not–because he believes that his statements that ‘if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there’ and would ‘stand by them’ actually solve any of those problems...

What does ‘messes with Israel’ mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years.  Is that ‘messing with Israel?...Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that ‘messing with Israel?’ And what does the President mean by ‘America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?” 

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/07/leading-former-official-says-israelis-wont-be-reassured-by-obamas-security-pledges-following-iran-agreement/ 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

At some level, Bibi has little choice but to accept this new approach at face value – i.e., he will have to go to the White House.  It falls to him to spin it so that it is of maximum utility to Israel – perhaps extracting certain military guarantees.  Unfortunately, the “two state” solution is likely to be at the top of Obama’s agenda when they meet.  (And in coming days I’ll have much to say about that issue, which never dies.) 

~~~~~~~~~~  

One of the most convoluted statements that has been offered by Obama on the benefits of the deal is this, from an NPR interview: 

It is, he said “a relevant fear” that “in year 13, 14, 15, [the Iranians] would have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

“Keep in mind, though, currently, the breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.  So essentially we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year...that if they decide to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond.  And we have those assurances for at least well over a decade.

“And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter, but at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves. We have much more insight into their capabilities. And the option of a future president to take action if in fact they try to obtain a nuclear weapon is undiminished.” 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193763#.VSVjQZuJjIV 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Immediate and vociferous criticism followed this statement: The president, went the charge, has now admitted that the deal would not stop Iran from every getting a nuclear weapon, as promised.  It would simply make it perhaps a bit more difficult for some 15 years, after which breakout would be close to zero. 

Spokespersons for the White House argued that the “zero breakout time” the president referred to was only if there was no deal. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Our prime minister certainly isn’t buying this.  Iran’s post-deal breakout time will be zero, he says. And with good reason: 

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has now announced that once a deal is signed at the end of June, and sanctions are lifted, Iran will move over to using its most advanced centrifuges. 

These are the IR8 centrifuges, which enrich uranium 20 times faster than the current IR-1 models, meaning they would radically reduce the breakout time needed for Iran to obtain a nuclear arsenal. (Emphasis added) 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193800#.VSVpo5uJjIX 

Dear friends, digest this information carefully. Be very afraid of where this is leading, and very furious at the president of the US, who has the gall to promote his deal. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

The good news here – if there is any good news on this - is that there really is no deal.  Not yet. And so there’s time to stop what Obama would like to achieve. 

Bret Stephens, writing in the WSJ, tells us that: 

”what the president calls ‘this verifiable deal’ fails the first test of verification—mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it....
 
“The deal cannot be verified,” he says, as “there are significant discrepancies between the U.S. and the Iranian versions of the deal.”
 
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-obama-and-the-inevitable-critics-1428361609
 
According to Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, the French have still another version.
 
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4817/report-internal-french-document-shows-troubling

~~~~~~~~~~

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz writes, in “The unfolding farce of Obama’s deal with Iran” that:

”Time and again, President Barack Obama and his indefatigable secretary of state promised that they and their P5+1 negotiating partners would not sign a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear weapons program.

“And, lo, they were as good as their word. They didn’t sign a bad framework deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week. They just agreed on one in principle, and left it unsigned, allowing for multiple conflicting interpretations.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-unfolding-farce-of-obamas-deal-with-iran/

~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, it is Obama’s deepest hope that this unsigned agreement will go through in one version or another (likely the version most satisfactory to Iran – regardless of what the president has told his people and the world), and become a signed deal by the end of June.

But it is the responsibility of every individual who can see past the president’s hype to the dangers looming large, to do everything possible to make sure it does not become a signed deal. 

In the US, the most important vehicle for blocking Obama is Congress – a Congress that must be informed by its constituency of its urgent concern.

But it is also important to inform those Americans who may be buying what they are told.  Write letters to the editor and Internet talkbacks on this issue.  Speak to people.

~~~~~~~~~~

In Israel, we must pray that our government will have the strength to do whatever must be done.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tomorrow night is holiday again – the seventh and in Israel the last day of Pesach.  (Outside of Israel, there is an eighth day.)

I want to end here with one of my very favorite songs, which I have shared before: Yehi Sheamda.

This video features Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Razel, who wrote the vocal arrangement, at the piano.

The words. The words are straight out of the Pesach Haggadah:

And so it has stood for our fathers and for us, that it wasn't just one nation alone that rose up against us to destroy us, and The Holy One, Blessed is He, saves us from their hand.

A song of faith and of hope.  Appropriate for this Pesach season, and for this time of threats to the Jewish people.  Our history is a story of miracles.  Let it be so now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo6WMef3SP0

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

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Posted on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 04:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 2, 2015: The Only Clarity

Tomorrow night begins Pesach. 
 
A quintessential moment in the Jewish year, providing a powerful perspective: The Almighty heard the cry of the Children of Israel, who were suffering bitter slavery in Egypt. And He brought us out.  Not an agent, but the Almighty.  “Us” because we are commanded to consider ourselves as having been rescued then. 

 

Credit: jfjfp
 
In that rescue, that Exodus from Egypt, we became a nation – ultimately brought to Mt. Sinai to receive the law, which instructs us to this day.  And then brought to the land.  It is of one piece.
 
Let us not forget the lessons of seder night.  And may those lessons transcend what is going on in the world today. 
 
To all who celebrate, Chag Pesach Kasher V’Sameach.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
After days of tortuous dragging out of negotiations with Iran, a  “sort-of” conclusion has been announced.  The advent of the holiday makes it impossible for me to comment at length on what is currently going on.  Details will be forthcoming in my postings next week, after time spent with family and when I have returned to a “normal” writing schedule.  Here I wish to simply review fairly quickly. 
 
There is no signed agreement. There is only a “framework”  - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  - that will require much working out of specifics by the end of June. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama tonight called the agreement “historic” – if finalized it “would cut off every path” to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, and would include the toughest inspections “ever negotiated...If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/world-powers-iran-announce-framework-for-nuke-deal/
 
Give us a break!  Only those eager to be taken in, only those who are so hungry for this issue to be put to rest, would believe this.  Unfortunately, this describes a good number of people.  Remember that Iran has a history of cheating, of moving ahead in secrecy on nuclear development.
 
The US speaks about re-imposing sanctions immediately if Iran were found cheating. But this is a dubious proposition, as Russia and China are likely to balk, so that Iran would be able to cheat AND have sanctions relief.
 
According to Jeffry Lewis, nuclear proliferation expert, “These treaties never really have an enforcement mechanism, which is, from a legal perspective, kind of weird and kind of a bummer, but totally understandable in a world of states that jealously guard their sovereignty."  (Emphasis added)
 
https://www.vox.com/2015/4/2/8336723/iran-nuclear-deal-transcript
 
No enforcement mechanism? This means Iran must be trusted to keep the deal?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama has the unmitigated gall to say there is no daylight between Israel and the US with regard to the security of Israel. This deal, he claims, is the best way to protect Israel.  He’s slick – attempting to sideline Netanyahu as an aggressive individual who prefers tough sanctions or even a military attack to this splendid deal that solves everything.
 
Israeli officials say they will continue to fight this agreement until its date for being finalized in June.
 
They referred to the framework as “a capitulation to Iranian dictates.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, they called it “a bad framework that will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement.” If finalized, it would make the world “far more dangerous.”

The agreement, they maintained, constitutes “international legitimization of Iran’s nuclear program” whose “only purpose is to build nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/world-powers-iran-announce-framework-for-nuke-deal/
 
We have yet to hear from members of Congress – but we will.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I note, as well, that all Western negotiating partners are not on board with the same enthusiasm that Obama exudes.
 
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President Francois Hollande welcomed the "framework" but expressed the opinion that there was much work to do to before there could be an acceptable deal.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I share this, from Omri Ceren of The Israel Project (emphasis added):

“[Iranian Foreign Minister] Zarif just finished his speech...some of what Zarif revealed has already generated controversy. There was a lot of braggadocio in the speech: no closing of facilities, R&D will continue on Iran's scientific schedule, enrichment will continue, the heavy water at Arak will be modernized, etc.

“Perhaps most relevant to people who have been following the day-to-day in Lausanne, is that Zarif confirmed the U.S. has completely caved on the Fordow concession that the AP blew open on Thursday. Recall that Fordow is the underground bunker, built into the side of a mountain, which the Iranians emptied and made into an illicit enrichment facility. The assumption had always been that the Iranians would have to close it under any reasonable deal.

“President Obama was saying as late as 2012: ‘We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program’...

“The Iranians simply said no...So the Americans caved and said that they could keep it open as a research facility, but they had to remove all the centrifuges for storage...there was a lot of talk of Iranian flexibility when they accepted it...Then this week, it emerged that in fact the Iranians would be allowed to keep centrifuges spinning inside the mountain.

“But instead of spinning uranium, the centrifuges would be spinning germanium or similar non-nuclear elements. Centrifuges spin isotopes into lighter and heavier elements, thereby enriching’ the material. That's what they do. In fact that's all they do. The administration has gone all-in on a talking point can be defeated by a Google search for 'centrifuges enrich germanium'...

This isn't a minor point. The concession has the potential to gut the whole deal.”

“[It] allows...centrifuge R&D beyond the reach of the West- since the process is the exact same process, Iran will have a hardened facility where it will be able to research and develop N-generation centrifuges. Zarif bragged from the stage in Lausanne that Iranian R&D on centrifuges will continue...the development of advanced centrifuges would give the Iranians a leg up if they decide to break out, and will put them instantly within a screw's turn of a nuke when the deal expires.

“[It] leaves Iranian nuclear infrastructure running beyond the reach of the West - if the Iranians kick out inspectors and dare the world to respond, the West will have zero way to intervene...”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/02/critics-say-just-announced-framework-deal-between-p51-and-iran-raises-many-concerns/

~~~~~~~~~~

A bit of clarification here, regarding the Fordow site and the enrichment of germanium:

“...the centrifuges could only be used to enrich germanium, zinc, and other non-fissile materials. But the centrifuges are identical in design to those used for uranium enrichment, and can quickly be retooled for uranium enrichment.

Critics are concerned that Fordow could be used to perfect advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges using uranium stand-ins and in a location secure from outside attack.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/iran-nuclear-deal-chances-2015-3
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And in closing, this additional information just in from Omri Ceren:

“The issue of sequencing sanctions relief - how, when, and to what extent sanctions will be lifted in exchange for Iranian compliance - was one of the key sticking points over the last week...

“Achieving an understanding on sanctions would have to be counted as a major achievement, and it's already being claimed as such. But there's something wrong here. I haven't figured out what it is yet, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it...

“The EU/Iran joint statement says sanctions will be terminated ‘simultaneously’ with Iran implementing its obligations...

“The White House factsheet says sanctions will be suspended ‘after’ Iran has taken ‘all’ of its nuclear-related steps...

Zarif is already saying the White House is lying about how sanctions will be lifted... (emphasis added)

“The last time Zarif accused the Obama administration of lying on a factsheet was after the JPOA was announced, in the context of granting a ‘right to enrich.’ He was 100% right and the Americans were 100% wrong.

“It's not clear what the actual sanctions deal is, but it's worrying that there are already differences...If the Iranians are right, then the White House is again misleading journalists and lawmakers about the actual scope of their concessions.”

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/3/april-2-2015-the-only-clarity.html 

Posted on Friday, April 3, 2015 at 04:48AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 29, 2015: Bone Weary

Anyone who is tracking the news these days, and genuinely cares for the security of Israel and the future of the US – not to mention Europe and the Mideast - has got to have an extremely heavy heart.  We are facing some very dark times. 
 
With regard to Israel, serious thinkers are pondering the best way to survive the 22 months until Obama is out of office.  But the problem is actually a great deal bigger than the issue of how Obama is behaving towards Israel – as much as this remains huge for us here.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama.  In addition to his irrational and venomous attacks on Israel, there is his courting of Iran.  One is the flip side of the other: Alienate Israel, buddy up to Iran.
 
We are now a mere two days away from the presumed deadline on a signed framework deal between Iran and P5 + 1.  (In reality this is a negotiation between Iran and the US, as the other negotiating partners, with the exception of France, have largely pulled back.)  How likely it is that a deal really will take place depends on whom you ask.  What is clear is that Obama – and Kerry, operating in his stead - are doing all they can to achieve this “diplomatic success.”
 
Because of Obama’s eagerness, what we are seeing is the stuff of nightmares.  Definitely nightmares, as it’s hard to believe this could be happening in the light of day.  The Iranians – recognizing very well with whom they are dealing – have consistently stonewalled on US demands.  Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal broke with a story on yet another US pullback, each in turn design to conciliate the Iranians (emphasis added):

Talks over Iran’s nuclear program have hit a stumbling block a week before a key deadline because Tehran has failed to cooperate with a United Nations probe into whether it tried to build atomic weapons in the past, say people close to the negotiations.

“In response, these people say, the U.S. and its diplomatic partners are revising their demands on Iran to address these concerns before they agree to finalize a nuclear deal, which would repeal U.N. sanctions against the country.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-stalls-u-n-probe-into-its-1427327943

The issue is “possible military dimensions” (PMD).  As Omri Ceren of The Israel Project has explained (emphasis added):

“PMD disclosure is about base-lining all of Iran's nuclear activities - not just its known civilian parts - as a prerequisite for verifying that those activities have been halted under a nuclear deal. Iran has uranium mines; some are civilian and some are military. It has centrifuges; some are operated by civilians and some by IRGC personnel. It has uranium stockpiles; some are maintained by civilians and some by the military. There's no way for future inspectors to verify that Iran has shuttered its mines, stopped its centrifuges, and shipped off its stockpile - for instance - unless the IAEA knows where all the mines and stockpiles are.

“No PMDs mean no verification.”

~~~~~~~~~~

And there’s more.  On Thursday, AP reported (emphasis added):

The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites...”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/ap-exclusive-iran-run-centrifuges-fortified-site-29925489

As Ceri explains here (emphasis added):

“Allowing the Iranians to enrich at Fordow means they could kick out inspectors at any time and have a fully-functioning enrichment facility hardened against military intervention. Since sanctions will be unraveled by design at the beginning of a deal, that means the West would have literally zero options to stop a breakout...

“The White House started out promising that Fordow would be shuttered, then that it would be converted into an R&D plant where no enrichment would take place, and now they've collapsed.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Add to the above the fact that the US is ignoring the violent hegemonic encroachment of Iranian proxies across various areas of the Middle East – as if it were only the issue of nuclear capacity that must be dealt with. 

There are, of course, Syrian president Assad, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon (and Syria).  But most recently what we’ve seen is the takeover of Yemen by the Shiite Houthis, also supported by Iran.  Houthi control of Yemen has enormous importance because of its strategic location, adjacent to Saudi Arabia.  From the Yemenite port city of Aden, the straits of Bab el-Mandeb, which are only about 20 miles wide, can be controlled.  The straits constitute a major chokepoint – so the party that controls the area has the capacity to block marine traffic from the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.8 million barrels of oil and refined petroleum products pass through the straits daily on their way to destinations in Asia, Europe and the US. 

This is before we mention that increased Iranian backed presence in the Middle East is worrisome to Israel.

But the US is not paying a whole lot of attention. US special forces fled Yemen a while ago, and US negotiators are not raising this issue.  There are commentators who believe that the US should have walked out on negotiations until Iran withdrew support for the Houthis.  But that might have jeopardized the deal, which has first priority for Obama – the rest of the world be damned.

~~~~~~~~~~

You want to know how crazy it is?  While Obama is promoting diplomatic ties with Iran and “reaching out” to the Iranians, we can see in a MEMRI video that Iranian leader Khamenei cries “Death to America.”

http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4838.htm

~~~~~~~~~~

Amir Hossein Motaghi is an Iranian journalist who was supposed to be covering the negotiations, but has defected because he could not longer tolerate Iranian demands that he write his reports according to their specifications. 

In a TV interview, he has now said:

The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/28/iranian-defector-us-negotiating-team-mainly-there-to-speak-on-iran%e2%80%99s-behalf/

If this does not blow your mind, you are not getting it.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I really cannot grasp – even beyond the question of how a man such as Obama secured two terms in the White House – is why the other negotiating nations are being so passive, when Iran is a threat to them, or why the American people are not truly up in arms (meant figuratively here).

~~~~~~~~~~

There are just a small number of possible recourses with regard to this situation:

The first is the US Congress, many of whose members – Republicans, but a handful of Democrats as well - indeed are grievously distressed by what is going on.  What is required is a sufficient number of votes in the Senate to over-ride a veto by Obama, so that sanctions to weaken Iran can be put in place appropriately. We are seeing signs that this may be possible.

“The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Thursday for a non-binding amendment to a budget bill intended to make it easier to re-impose sanctions if Iran violates a nuclear deal.

“The vote was 100-0 for the amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk, which would establish a fund to cover the cost of imposing sanctions if Tehran violated terms of an interim nuclear agreement now in effect, or the final agreement negotiators hope to reach before July.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/26/iran-nuclear-congress-idUSL2N0WS30W20150326

~~~~~~~~~~

And then there is Israel. 

According to Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) there is time between the signing of a framework agreement now and the final agreement in June – at which point details would be factored in - when diplomatic maneuvering can still be done.  This would involve, it seems to me, key communication with France first – as France has the greatest unease about what is taking place.

Beyond this, there is the military option, with the moment of truth advancing rapidly.  We are now probably past the 11th hour, perhaps at about 15 minutes to midnight. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, again and again, that he will never permit Iran to become a nuclear power. He has also made it clear that Israel is not bound by the terms of a very bad P5 + 1 deal with Iran. 

Just today, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a close Netanyahu associate, declared on public radio that Israel "will not be bound by an accord concluded by others and will know how to defend itself." (Emphasis added)

https://news.yahoo.com/dangerous-accord-iran-worse-israel-feared-pm-094154014.html

What our government will do in the end, and what our military is capable of doing, remains to be seen.  Israel cannot take out Iran’s capacity for nuclear development entirely – but can, as I understand it, do considerable damage.   

The scuttlebutt is that Netanyahu wants to attack, although I know people who are convinced he never will. (Please, do not write to share opinions on this.)  Some months ago, information was revealed indicating that at one point Defense Minister Ya’alon was opposed to an attack but has now changed his mind.

A key factor here is the readiness of Saudi Arabia, which is absolutely enraged with Obama’s inaction on Iran, to lend passive assistance, at a minimum, should Israel decide to attack. The Saudis would be delighted – make no mistake about this.  This assistance might make a difference in the end.  Because the other piece of the story is that Obama is trying his best to track Israeli intentions and to block us.

~~~~~~~~~~

Leon Panetta – former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense under Obama, gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC three days ago that merits mention here. Put simply, what he said was that he learned at the CIA and Defense that “The Iranians can’t be trusted.”

This is the bottom line.  Said Panetta (emphasis added):

“...the real test is going to be, and the whole world will be looking at it — the test will be have we truly made sure that Iran can be stopped from developing a nuclear weapon. And to do that in my book demands transparency and it demands accessibility so that we have a firm inspection regime that will guarantee they cannot do this.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/26/former-obama-defense-secretary-the-iranians-cant-be-trusted-video/

Precisely! And that is never, ever going to happen.

~~~~~~~~~~

I recently encountered an article that asked, in its lead: Which side is Obama on?  That, my friends, is a rhetorical question.  It is clear that he is on Iran’s side. 

That being the case, it is inevitable that the president would come down on Netanyahu in every way possible.  He wants to discredit him, and weaken him, and delegitimize his position, for Netanyahu is the key stumbling block to what he is trying to achieve.  There is no way for Bibi to make it “right” with Obama. It’s not really about the negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs or other related issues.

And facing the truth straight on also helps explain why Obama worked so hard behind the scenes to defeat Netanyahu in the elections, and why he is so frustrated now.

~~~~~~~~~~

Just a moment here, then, to look at what is happening at home.  I wrote last week about the apparent halting of building scheduled for Har Homa in Jerusalem (and indeed I’ve received no information that it was anything else such as a bureaucratic mix-up).  That did not sit well.  Since I wrote about that, information has surfaced about Israel agreeing to release to the Palestinian Authority tax monies that had been collected – with some held back against money owed to Israel for electricity and other services.  On top of this, there is apparently a deal for Israel to sell gas to Gaza, with Qatar paying the bill.

This did not sound good.  Really not good. Certainly at first blush it looks like a caving to Obama under pressure, because there is so much talk about Israel’s “readiness’ for a “two state” deal.

But that’s at first blush, and I’ve been struggling with this long and hard over the last couple of days. Because there is another way to look at this.  If Netanyahu is making concessions to please Obama it is the height of foolishness, a terrible weakness, as nothing will please Obama where we are concerned.  The only way to respond to him is with strength.  Anything that smacks of weakness will simply invite more pressure.

But suppose Netanyahu is doing this to remove some of the poison spewed by Obama (Netanyahu is a racist, he does not want peace, etc.), in order to deal more placidly with others? Suppose he wants to approach Democrats in Congress conveying the image of someone who is willing to compromise for peace, so that they will hear him on Iran?  Suppose he wants to speak with French leaders - who are eager for “two states” - from a position that will make them more amenable to his message? Or with other European countries?  Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz suggests several nations are uneasy about the deal.

In light of the enormous weight of what our prime minister has to deal with, I prefer to cut him some slack here, for the moment, and see how the situation evolves. Today he told the Cabinet:

“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that."

http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Netanyahu-says-expected-Iranian-nuclear-deal-even-worse-than-Israel-feared-395468

~~~~~~~~~~

I had hoped to discuss some matters related to the formation of the coalition here, but will table this.  Before closing, I want simply to look at a couple of relative bright spots in an otherwise grim picture.

Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the Houthi take-over in Yemen, and absolutely furious at Obama for opting out of involvement, decided to act, in concert with other Sunni allies.  This was promising, as the Iranian takeover by proxy in Yemen is being pushed back as a result of Saudi airstrikes that are being hailed a success. There is further talk of ground forces in Yemen, although my information is that it will not be necessary, as there are tribal groups in Yemen that are ready to act on the ground against the Houthis.

Even further, the Arab League, at the closure of a meeting in Egypt, has announced in principle the creation of a joint Arab rapid response force. Egypt, which would be a prime mover in the establishment of such a force, declared that it would consist of some 40,000 elite troops, backed by jets, warships and light armor.  What this means is that even though the US has totally abdicated its role of confronting Iranian regional aggression, there are Sunni Arab states presumably ready to step up, lest the feared and detested Iran take over the region. 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/03/29/yemen-rebels-air-bases/70625166/

~~~~~~~~~~

Then see this report that says Hezbollah – operating at the behest of Iran - has been stopped by paramilitary rebel forces from establishing a major presence on the Golan directly adjacent to the Israeli border.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/on-the-syrian-golan-unlike-in-yemen-an-iranian-offensive-fails/

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/29/march-29-2015-bone-weary.html

 

Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 02:22PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 25, 2015: Exposed

Before we take a look at the broader situation, I share two announcements:

This Friday, March 27th, at noon, there will be a press conference and a “Keep Iran Nuclear Free” rally, at 780 Third Avenue (between 48th & 49th Streets) in Manhattan. This is in front of the offices of the Manhattan offices of New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to urge these Senators to commit to overriding President Obama's expected veto of two important pending bills on the issue of Iran.
 
The Bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Kirk and Menendez, imposes new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach a deal by June 30 on Tehran's nuclear program.  Fourteen Senators, including Senator Schumer co-sponsored the bill. 

The Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Corker, Menendez, Graham and Kaine, mandates that the president must submit the text of any agreement with Iran to Congress; prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days, during which Congress would hold hearings and review the agreement; provides for Congressional oversight; and requires assessments and certifications of Iranian compliance. 

Every vote is needed. 
 
It is best if you can attend, but in any event, if you live in NY state, you are encouraged to reach Senator Schumer via: http://www.schumer.senate.gov/ and Senator Gillibrand via: http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then, for Israelis and those planning to be in Israel over the Pesach week:
 
I have written about the illegal building for Arabs that the EU is sponsoring, and the excellent report about this that the organization Regavim has released.  Now Regavim is sponsoring a bus tour to allow you to actually see this massive illegal building in Area C and Jerusalem. In the end, there is nothing like seeing it for yourself.
 
Date and time: Wednesday, April 8th, Hol Hamoed Pesach, from 1:30 to 4:30 PM.
 
Location: Buses will depart from and return to the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem.
 
Cost: 100 NIS or $25. 
 
An expert will accompany each bus; detailed maps will be provided, as will water.  Bring your own food.
 
For information: Dr. Jan Sokolovsky, drjan43@gmail.com
 
To Register: by April 3, www.regavim.org.il/en/events/Pesach
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to what has been exposed (if you haven’t already guessed), it is Obama’s hatred for our prime minister and his paranoid vindictiveness.
 
However supporters of Obama (particularly Jewish supporters) have, over the past years, tried to convince themselves that Obama was a friend of Israel, it has never been the case.
 
If you doubt this, please take the time to see this video (with thanks to Michael Widlanski for calling it to my attention):
 
“Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wbH5KVPrPo&feature=youtu.be
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What has happened now is that Obama’s antipathy for Israel has grown enormously.  The president does not like to lose and is not fond of compromise.  If he does not achieve what he wants, he goes after those whom he sees as stumbling blocks. 

 

Credit:  Telegraph (UK)

It was bad enough for him that, in spite of his efforts to block Bibi, our prime minister came to the Congress – to a resounding welcome that must have been galling for the president – to speak against the deal with Iran that is close to completion.
 
Clearly, he resolved to “fix” Bibi after this, by making sure that he was not re-elected.  We know that there were American funds invested in the effort to defeat Bibi at the polls, as well as assistance provided to the Buji campaign by former Obama advisor Jeremy Bird and the team he brought with him.
 
An official here in Jerusalem has charged that the White House was directly involved in the attempt to unseat the prime minister:
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/officials-white-house-was-part-of-bid-to-oust-netanyahu/

~~~~~~~~~~

But there is even worse: There are reports from a Likud strategist of an effort “’to organize the [Israeli] Arabs into one party and teach them about voter turnout.
 
“’The State Department people in the end of January, early February, expedited visas for [Israeli] Arab leaders to come to the United States to learn how to vote,’ McLaughlin exposed.
 
“He added, ‘there were people in the United States that were organizing them to vote in one party so they would help the left-of-center candidate Herzog, that the Obama administration favored.’” (emphasis added)
 
This, my friends, was the source of Bibi’s concern during the election that the Arabs were coming “in droves.”  He knew it was a set up, but Obama then turned this into a “racist” statement, which it was not.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In the end, all of the dirty tricks didn’t work, and Netanyahu secured a victory.  Oh, how galling this must have been for Obama. 

I’ve already written about his overheated response, with the decision to “re-evaluate” the US relationship with Israel.
 
But since I last wrote, it has gotten worse still.  The latest accusation is that Israel “spied” on negotiations with Iran and then leaked information to members of Congress.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4640317,00.html

Spied?  What does this mean?  There is no evidence offered, simply an empty (silly) charge.  Does Obama imagine that Israel designed little robots that look like flies and were able to sit on the wall of the negotiating room, recording information? What?
 
The information I do have is that Israeli officials are in touch with some of those who are in the negotiating process – primarily from France – and have been thus kept informed. This is not “spying.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then there is the whole issue of Netanyahu “sharing” information with members of Congress.  
 
Please understand what sort of siege mentality the president has, that he considers it inappropriate for members of Congress to know what’s going on. This is at the core of Congress’s battle with him:  Its members believe they must be informed and involved, and he’s fighting them every step of the way.
 
What is more, there is no evidence, either, of Bibi having shared information with members of Congress.  Speaker of the House John Boehner said he was “shocked” by this accusation, for he has never received any information about the Iranian negotiations from Israel, and he was unaware of other members of Congress having received such information.
 
 http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/24/boehner-%e2%80%98shocked%e2%80%99-by-reported-israeli-spying-on-iran-talks-denies-receiving-information/

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon have all categorically denied the accusation of spying.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What we have here, then, is a very sick situation.  Exceedingly nasty.  Dangerous, certainly. But it seems to me beyond the bounds of what is rational. This is Obama becoming unhinged.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And you know what?  In some respects, I see this as not a bad thing. For, many who supported Obama - who believed him when he said he had Israel’s back - have now had their eyes opened. There is a significant shift in how Obama is being seen in several quarters within the US.  Consider (with emphasis added):

’The fact that the outcome of a democratic election in Israel seems to be of great concern [to the Obama administration] is cause for deep anxiety and puzzlement,’ said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.’

“’Whatever the failings of the prime minister, the way this is unfolding runs completely contrary to the spirit of US-Israel relations,’ Harris said. ‘The US appears to have a reasoned interest in prolonging the crisis’...
 
”’As someone who was critical of several steps by [Netanyahu] during the campaign leading up to his reelection, I am even more troubled by statements now coming out of the White House,” said Abe Foxman, longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

What we are hearing from the Obama administration raises deeper questions about their intentions and perspectives,’ he said, adding that ‘from the beginning of the Obama years, there was a disturbing indifference to the mind-set of the Israeli public.’”


http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-establishment-sounds-alarm-as-White-House-rhetoric-intensifies-394978
 
OK, so now we have establishment Jewish leadership - which has pretty much toed the line for Obama - looking askance at him.  Good.  Hopefully there is a body of Jews within the American electorate that is now also revisiting the issue of Obama as friend of Israel.
 
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But there is also a troubling side to this situation: That is Netanyahu’s MO – his propensity for seeming to play the game rather than being confrontational.  We had reason to hope there had been a shift away from this tendency of his.  He demonstrated a strong conviction and was willing to buck the president when it came to his talk in Congress.  This was the Bibi to be admired and supported. He showed he could do it – as he has shown before.  I remember his lecture to Obama in the White House, as to why we cannot return to the ‘67 lines.
 
But now?  Now I have picked up news that – if accurate - is greatly unsettling:
 
According to YNet, Israel is freezing construction of 1,500 new housing units in Har Homa:
“The massive construction plan in Har Homa has been suspended ‘for neither planning nor professional reasons.’

“The Ministry for Construction and Housing and Jerusalem municipality confirmed that two critical planning discussions set for the coming week on advancing the construction have been canceled for unknown reasons.

“Planning officials familiar with the details of the plan told YNet that the program is not being advanced due to the political sensitivity and that there had been no approval from the Prime Minister's Office to hold the planning discussions.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4640852,00.html

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Har Homa (officially Homat Shmuel) is outside the Green Line and often referred to as a “settlement” in “east (sic) Jerusalem.”  In fact, it is in the south of Jerusalem, within the municipal lines of a united Jerusalem, and a strategically important neighborhood.  Founded in 1997, under the watch of Netanyahu, it is located only about a kilometer from Bethlehem.  Netanyahu has indicated that this neighborhood serves as protection for “the southern gateway of Jerusalem.”  The area is being constructed in stages – reportedly there is a master plan; the current population is 25,000. 
 
New housing units in Har Homa

Credit: European Press Photo Agency
 
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Just days ago, before the election, Netanyahu stood in Har Homa and pledged to continue building in Jerusalem.  He knows that it is possible to continue in spite of international uproar, for he faced an uproar when approving the construction of the first stage of Har Homa 18 years ago.
 
Yesterday, at a  press conference, Obama declared that Netanyahu’s words have made the possibility of a “two state” deal unlikely:

"Netanyahu, in the election run-up, stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister.  And I took him at his word that that's what he meant.

"Afterwards, he pointed out that he didn't say 'never,' but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created. But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet any time soon.”

Obama said that in light of Netanyahu's comments, the "possibility seems very dim" for the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach an agreement.

"’We can't continue to premise our public diplomacy on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years,’ the president said.”

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-denies-spying-us-134204766.html

It is hardly necessary for me to say much about how dishonest and low Obama’s approach is.  As if everything was in place, and peace was going to burst out any second – but Netanyahu destroyed it.  As if Netanyahu’s conditions were anything but reasonable.
 
This statement by Obama followed a speech by his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, in which he declared that “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
 
Bibi knows full well how correct he is about the impossibility of a “Palestinian state” now - because of the terrorism in the region, and because of Abbas’s total intransigence as well (never mind because of our legal rights).  But there remains great unease that Obama’s approach may put him on the defensive and motivate him to “prove” his intentions.
 
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As far as I can determine at present, the report about the stoppage for political reasons is coming only from YNet – which has a distinctly leftward tilt. The prime minister’s office, referring more to bureaucratic process, denies the stoppage was motivated by politics. 
 
This is a situation that must be watched closely. Within days we should have a more definitive picture.
 
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We might hope that Bibi Netanyahu would take the advice of Brett Stephens, writing on “The Orwellian Obama Presidency” (emphasis added):
 
”Here is my advice to the Israeli government, along with every other country being treated disdainfully by this crass administration: Repay contempt with contempt. Mr. Obama plays to classic bully type. He is abusive and surly only toward those he feels are either too weak, or too polite, to hit back...
 
The Israelis will need to chart their own path of resistance...Israel survived its first 19 years without meaningful U.S. patronage. For now, all it has to do is get through the next 22, admittedly long, months.”

 
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-the-orwellian-obama-presidency-1427153308?mod=hp_opinion
 
AMEN!
 
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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/25/march-25-2015-exposed.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 04:15PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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