Current Postings

February 8, 2015: Hypocrisy Writ Large

Hypocrisy is all around us, but I will focus today on the very significant information that the Israeli NGO Regavim has uncovered regarding the EU:
 
The Europeans protest long and loud about “illegal Israeli building” in Judea and Samaria. But what it turns out is that they have been supporting illegal Arab building in Area C.  The Oslo Accords assigned full control (civil and military) of Area C to Israel.  This is apparently irrelevant to the EU, in spite of the fact that the EU was a witness to (and according to international lawyer Alan Baker) a guarantor of the Oslo Accords.
 
The building is being done in Ma’aleh Adumim and near E1 (a region that stretches between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem).  Clearly, this is intended to establish facts on the ground, by way of supporting a Palestinian state.  
 
As the JPost reported last week (emphasis added):
 
“According to Regavim, European Union support for the Palestinians has in recent years moved from ‘passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2000, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.’ 
 
”This week, prior to the release of its latest report, Regavim took journalists to look at a number of Beduin encampments straddling E1 as well as the Jerusalem-Jericho road. They are not temporary tent encampments as they were in years past, but rather clusters that – in addition to tents and tin shacks – also include modular structures with cement floors bearing the EU logo.

”According to Ari Briggs, Regavim’s international relations director, the EU logo is placed on the structures in the belief that this will prevent Israel from demolishing them. Israel is not likely to take down a building with an EU logo, due to concerns over both public relations damage and the harm it could cause to relations with the EU, he said...
 
“The EU-funded structures, according to Meir Deutsch, the director of Regavim’s policy and government relations department, are being placed illegally on state land, and in some cases in restricted nature reserves.
 
“When Regavim appealed to the High Court in 2008 to compel the state to demolish illegal buildings in the area, it ruled that this could not be done until an alternative living arrangement was found for the Bedouin living there. Israel then began planning a city – called Ramat Nueima – north of Jericho for some 12,000 people, a plan now adamantly opposed by the Palestinians and the EU.
 
“In November, a meeting of EU foreign ministers issued a statement that, in addition to their usual condemnations of land expropriation and settlement construction, also slammed plans to ‘displace Bedouin in the West Bank and the continued demolitions, including of EU and member states funded projects.’”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-EU-building-hundreds-of-illegal-structures-for-Palestinians-in-Area-C-of-West-Bank-390184
 
Charges Briggs:
 
“This is great hypocrisy.  Any time a building goes up for Jews, they raise an outcry, call it illegal and say it endangers peace. They are building illegal houses for Arabs.”
 
According to Deutsch, from 2012 to 2014, the EU spent millions of euros in putting up more than 499 structures.
 
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An excellent story on the Regavim report, complete with a large collection of Regavim photos and maps, has also been put out by the Daily Mail (emphasis added).
 
Official EU documentation reveals that the building project is intended to ‘pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C’... “Locally, the villages are known as the ‘EU Settlements’, and can be found in 17 locations around the West Bank.”
 
Because the Daily Mail is in the UK, it has an emphasis that is different from that of the JPost: Concern is expressed about European tax money being spent on this illegal venture.
 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2874883/EU-funding-illegal-building-West-Bank-says-report.html
 
Notable among the pictures is one of a man in an EU uniform threatening Israeli soldiers with a rock.
 
A structure in Area C bearing an EU flag:
 
A still shot from footage taken by Israeli NGO Regavim showing a school in Area C bearing an EU flag. (Photo credit: Regavim)

Credit: Regavim
 
And the full Regavim Report here:
 
http://regavim.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Position-Paper-European-Building-in-Area-C-US.pdf
 
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The staff of Regavim has worked hard to produce this scrupulously researched material.  Now, as always, it falls to us to spread this information as broadly as possibly. Truth must be exposed.
 
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Already we have seen one positive outcome to this report. 
 
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to move forward with a plan to demolish some 400 Palestinian structures built in the West Bank with European funding, Israeli media reported Friday. “

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-orders-demolition-of-eu-funded-palestinian-settlements-in-west-bank/
 
~~~~~~~~~~.
 
© 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/2015/2/8/february-8-2015-hypocrisy-writ-large.html

 

Posted on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 03:00PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 5, 2015: Response and Defense

My mother used to say, “Enough is enough, and too much is plenty.”  Well...we passed the “plenty” mark a long time ago where terrorism and threats by terrorist entities are concerned. But what I see is that the excesses of terrorists are beginning to stiffen backs a bit.  In the face of acts that are increasingly obscene, there is a growing recognition that tough stances are necessary.  Not nearly enough yet, mind you, but growing.
 
The most obvious example at the moment of a nation being pushed to a new stance by terrorist excesses is Jordan.  As most of my readers undoubtedly know, ISIS has executed a Jordanian pilot by locking him in a cage and burning him alive; this was captured on videotape.  Jordan is part of the US-led alliance against ISIS, and their pilot, Lt. Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, was captured when his plane went down over Syria.  There are no words for the inhumanity of what was done to him, and the Jordanians are beyond furious.  Thus have critics of action against ISIS now joined the chorus of rage.
 
The first thing Jordan did was to execute (apparently by hanging) two al-Qaeda connected Iraqi prisoners – already convicted and, as I understand it, sentenced to death, but being held long term in prison.  Now King Abdullah is quoted as saying:
 
“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground."   
 
And a Jordanian government spokesman has spoken about intensifying “efforts to stop extremism and terrorism to undermine, degrade and eventually finish Daesh [the Islamic State]."  (Emphasis added)       
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4623133,00.html
 
Rhetoric in part, perhaps, because honor is involved. But a welcome perspective, none the less. And Jordan is already increasing bombing.
 
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Here at home, I’ve noted a number of ways in which the responses of our government seem to me to be increasingly tough.  These responses have nothing to do with declarations of war, and may seem relatively minor, but are not.  They send an important message regarding our strength, our rights, and our readiness to take action to protect ourselves.  Constant vigilance is required on a number of fronts:
 
Israeli-Arabs who leave Israel - apparently getting into Syria via Turkey - to join ISIS are being tracked and arrested on their return. In ISIS camps they are trained in torture and weapons use. After being interrogated, they are indicted, and, if found guilty sentenced.  Although it appears from news reports that sentences remain too lenient, European nations might take a lesson from this practice.
 
See here, for example:
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4595249,00.html
 
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And speaking of ISIS, seven Arab Israelis were arrested recently for attempting to set up an Islamic State cell in the Nazareth area. 
 
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Last month, the Shin Bet and a special police unit, working together, identified and then closed down three Israeli NGOs that were funneling money to activities
intended to “inflame tensions on the Temple Mount.” 
 
These groups were established last October by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel “with the purpose of funding activities meant to disrupt the security of visitors to the Temple Mount and in order to inflame tensions and cause disturbances, while harming the sovereignty of the State of Israel at the site.” 

 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-police-Shin-Bet-close-three-Islamic-charities-for-causing-unrest-on-Temple-Mount-387507


There are groups of Arabs – often women – who have been paid to come up on the Mount and harass Jews both verbally and physically.
 
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Last Saturday night, an IDF unit in the Shomron came upon Palestinian Arabs throwing firebombs at on-coming cars.  The army opened fire on them, and one of the Palestinian Arabs was killed.
 
It is critical to consider the attacks upon cars – whether by firebombs or rocks and bricks, all of which can maim and kill – with utmost seriousness.
 
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This is a very modest response (TOO modest a response, in my opinion). But, as it is a first, it is a step in our asserting ourselves: The Israel Electric Company is now cutting back on service to the PA areas because of the enormous unpaid electric bill.  Service will be cut in half for two hours every day.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4620683,00.html
 
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The organization Im Tirtzu – “if we will it,” from Herzl – is staunchly Zionist, and prepared to expose those who are not.  B’Tselem, on the other hand, is an Israeli NGO that poses as a human rights group, but is in fact enormously politicized, and anti-Israel.  B’Tselem just released a report, allegedly documenting “war crimes” committed by Israel during our recent war with Hamas, Operation Protective Shield.  Their findings will be used by what was at least until this week referred to as the Schabas Commission, which has a UNHRC mandate to “investigate” Israel’s behavior during the war (more on Schabas below).
 
Now Im Tirtzu has exposed the fact that B’Tselem received funding for this report from Ramallah, from “a Palestinian foundation that, among other things, finances organizations related to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
 
Says Im Tirtzu: “Israeli citizens and the international community who will read B’Tselem’s report have a right to know that this report does not represent an objective investigation of truth with justice as its guiding principle. Rather, this is the result of a political agenda and the negative attitude toward Israel.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190804#.VM9kvpv9nIV
 
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On Monday, William Schabas – the Canadian legal academic who had been appointed to head the UN Human Rights Council investigation on Israel’s “war crimes” in Gaza this past summer – resigned. He had been exposed:
 
Turns out that in 2012, he wrote a legal opinion for the PLO and was paid for doing so. 
 
He apparently did not see this as a conflict of interest that would disqualify him.  In fact, he declared, all innocence, that “this work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.” He assumed the position, he maintained, with full commitment to “act with independence and impartiality. I have fully respected that undertaking.”

As Anne Bayefsky, who directs the Touro College Institute on Human Rights, wrote, “"Yea, right.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Analysis-The-indelible-stain-on-the-UN-committee-once-chaired-by-William-Schabas-389928
 
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The UNHRC might have scrapped the work of the investigatory commission, but that would have been expecting too much.  One day later, Schabas’s successor – former NY judge Mary McGowan Davis – was appointed.  Davis, already a member of this commission, had served as well on the Goldstone Commission, the findings of which were subsequently repudiated by Goldstone himself.
 
As Bayefsky points out (emphasis added):
 
“Israel’s achievement in this whole affair...is not that it brought to light damning information about Schabas that compelled him to step down.

”Rather, the achievement is that, now that he has stepped down because of incontrovertible evidence of bias, it will be easier for Israel to dismiss the report as completely one-sided and useless when it does come out.

”This incident also provides real-time evidence to those tired of hearing Jerusalem argue that it does not get a fair shake in international organizations, that – indeed – it does not get a fair shake in international organizations.

”...Schabas has lost his credibility, and as a result so has the commission that he chaired, even before the paper it is working on even sees the light of day.”
 
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This is unreal, but not unexpected:
 
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, is in Europe to discuss better relations with the EU.  He was scheduled to meet with European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, which is responsible for “maintaining and developing Parliament’s contacts and relations with the Knesset.”
 
The invitation to Parliament members said that his visit presented an “excellent opportunity to carry an open dialogue, as well as raise issues of mutual interest.”  But that visit never happened.  In the face of objections by left wing members, it was cancelled.
 
”Portuguese parliamentarian Marisa Matias, from the European United Left–Nordic Green Left grouping, was quoted as saying that ‘giving him [Mordechai] a platform to host a lecture would legitimize his violations of international law and human rights. Rather than giving a warm welcome to those who stand for repression and apartheid, the EU institutions should pressure the Israeli government to abide by the rules of international law and UN resolutions. We must bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.’”

 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Leftists-in-European-Parliament-torpedo-meeting-with-visiting-IDF-Major-General-390032
 
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Sigh...
 
What this tells me is that the Legal Grounds Campaign has quite a task to do, to set the record straight. There is no such thing as “the occupied Palestinian territories.”  Nor is Israel remotely apartheid. These are terms bandied about for political purposes with less than no respect for truth.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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/2015/2/5/february-5-2015-response-and-defense.html

 

Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 03:10PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 4, 2915: Horrendous Truths Unfold

What I write about here will not in its essence be a surprise to many of my readers.  And yet, there is no way to confront what is going on without a sense of horror.  The reality is being exposed, one ugly report followed by another:
 
We start with this, which broke yesterday:
 
According to Israeli officials, European diplomats are saying that the US, which has made significant concessions, is close to striking a deal with Iran that would permit them to keep up to 6,500 centrifuges in return for “guaranteeing regional stability” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/03/eu-concerned-over-report-of-major-us-concessions-to-iranians-in-nuclear-negotiations/
 
This is insane.  How can the source of the greatest terrorist unrest in the world “guarantee stability”? 
 
This deal would put Iran about three months from creating a bomb.  What is more, apparently the US is also considering a “time limit,”so that the “restrictions” would last only for 10 to 15 years, after which Iran could do what it wished.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-us-deal-will-leave-iran-with-6500-centrifuges-spinning-months-from-a-bomb/
 
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Now, it might be, as some say, that Obama is doing this because he covets the “historical legacy” of having “brought Iran into the family of nations” (a la Nixon and China).  And I suppose it’s possible that he hopes Iran will cool its instigation of terrorism briefly, in order to allow him to say has accomplished positive things without having to commit the US military in a significant way.  But when you tally the implications of this report with others, below, it appears that he is on the other side, content to see the destruction of his own nation, as well as others that he should be eager to protect.  This is a surreal conclusion, but a very distinct possibility. 
 
Word is that the Saudis, whom Iran seeks to control, are thoroughly enraged with what Obama is doing.  In the end, whatever his motivations, his behavior is exceedingly destructive.  (Please, do not write to me to tell me what Obama’s reasons are.  I am tracking his behavior.)
 
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I do have a question for which there seems to be no satisfactory answer.  In theory, it is P5 + 1 – the permanent members of the Security Council, US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany - negotiating with Iran.  So, if the Europeans are deeply dissatisfied with the US position, why can they not block it  or override it?  The best answer I’ve been able to secure is that the US, while cutting Iran significant slack, wields significant power with regard to fellow negotiating partners.  Apparently, what Obama says, goes.
 
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How can anyone with an ounce of sense in his head object to Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to the Congress?  What he has to say may be immeasurably important.  Yet now I hear that some prominent democrats, Vice President Biden among them, are thinking that they might not attend.  Who knows what arm-twisting has ensued from the White House, but it would be most unfortunate if they were not present.  They might disagree in the end,  but they have a responsibility to be open to hearing the information Prime Minister Netanyahu will seek to impart. That responsibility, in the face of huge dangers to the world, trumps political considerations.
 
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As if the above were not enough, just under a month ago, the German weekly Der Spiegel broke with news (emphasis added):
 
”New intelligence suggests that Bashar al-Assad is still trying to built the bomb. And he may be getting help from North Korea and Iran...
 
”...secret information obtained by SPIEGEL indicates that the world is once again being misled by Assad. Syria's dictator has not given up his dream of an atomic weapon and has apparently built a new nuclear facility at a secret location. It is an extremely unsettling piece of news...
 
Analysts say that the Syrian atomic weapon program has continued in a secret, underground location..Furthermore, a new reactor or an enrichment facility has very likely been built at the site -- a development of incalculable geopolitical consequences.

 
Intelligence agency findings indicate that the material [uranium, etc.] was moved to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.

“...the clearest proof that it is a nuclear facility comes from radio traffic recently intercepted by a network of spies. A voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary can be heard referring to the ‘atomic factory’ and mentions Qusayr...
 
Work performed at the site by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard is also mentioned in the intercepted conversations...”
 
http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=66224
 
What was that, again, about Obama seeking Iran to “guarantee regional stability” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria?
 
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And how about this, by Khalid Abu Toameh, who wrote, "U.S. Seen in Middle East as Ally of Terrorists” (emphasis added)":

“While the Egyptian government has been waging war on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radical groups, the U.S. Administration and some Europeans are continuing to hamper efforts to combat terrorism.

Many Egyptians and moderate Arabs and Muslims were shocked to hear that the U.S. State Department recently hosted a Muslim Brotherhood delegation...

The State Department's hosting of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders has outraged Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Sisi, who has been waging a relentless war against the organization over the past year...

’If the White House is out to offend some of its closest Arab allies and is intent on heightening their suspicions, it's succeeded,’ wrote Middle East expert Linda S. Heard. ‘If there's a plot, then it's unfolding,’ she added. ‘Just two days after the controversial visit, the Brotherhood called for a war against their fellow Egyptians.’

"’The U.S. Administration is continuing to jeopardize its relations with Egypt by appeasing Muslim Brotherhood,’ remarked columnist Ezzat Ibrahim. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to return to the political arena through the American door and terrorist attacks. The U.S. policy appears to be devious and unreliable.’

“Another Egyptian columnist, Mohamed Salmawi, launched a scathing attack on the U.S. Administration; he accused it of deception and double standards. He said that the meeting between U.S. officials and Muslim Brotherhood leaders exposes the U.S. Administration's deceptive policy toward Islamic terror groups.

"’The U.S. Administration says it is combating these groups at home while it is supporting them abroad," Salmawi wrote. ‘This meeting has grave indications because it shows that Washington has not abandoned its policy of double standards toward Islamic terrorism.’

“Said Lindawi, a prominent Egyptian international affairs expert, said that the meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders with State Department officials means that the Obama Administration has given the organization a green light to carry out terrorist attacks against Egypt.

’The U.S. Administration has refused to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group,’ he said. ‘The Americans continue to insist that the Muslim Brotherhood is not responsible for the terrorist attacks in Egypt.’

By embracing the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. Administration has sent the wrong message to moderate Arabs and Muslims. This is a message that says that Washington believes that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists.”

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5179/us-terrorists-ally

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My job is to broadcast this information as broadly as possible. And so, to that end I look to each of you, as I always do, to share this posting, put the information on your FB pages, write talkbacks and letters to the editor, etc.  Word on the current state of affairs must get out. 

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J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami has written: “Momentum is on our side — and it’s growing. Make it clear that Netanyahu’s speech shouldn’t go forward as planned.”  Well, folks, if you are represented in Congress by Democrats, contact them and urge that they attend.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4622997,00.html

Martin Indyk, director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, and a former Obama envoy to the “peace negotiations,” is on record as having made some negative comments about Netanyahu’s up-coming speech. But please remember that the Brookings Institute has taken large sums of money from Qatar.

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In spite of all of the horrendous truths I speak about above, there are also signs that are encouraging.  Next posting, I hope to share a number of these.  Here I close with a link to an incredible MEMRI video of an imam in Brooklyn who speaks out passionately for Muslim moderation. 

http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4748.htm

There is hope.  (With thanks to Leon K. for calling my attention to this.)

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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/2015/2/4/february-4-2915-horrendous-truths-unfold.html 

Posted on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 02:03PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 1, 2015:  "Intolerable"

Sometimes the obtuseness of the world – the failure of decision-makers and commentators to grasp what’s really important about a situation - seems unbearable.  There is a shallowness – and where the decision-makers are concerned, a political self-centeredness – that is reprehensible. 
 
But of course, in some instances, this shallowness is calculated – which makes it more intolerable still. 
 
There continues to be an enormous amount of media focus on what Netanyahu “did” to Obama because he responded in the affirmative to an invitation to come speak to the Congress without seeking a nod from the president.  Thus, goes the narrative, he showed “disrespect” for the chief executive of the US, causing a further deterioration in an already tenuous relationship.  Israel will pay for this down the road, we are being warned.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
All those who babble on this way are either truly obtuse, or, more likely, know better but prefer not to confront the painful reality that is at the heart of the matter, and so resort to a hullabaloo about a lesser issue as distraction.
 
The heart of the matter is so crystal clear:  Iran is making headway in its development of nuclear capacity, and there is a strong possibility that a deal will be struck between P5 + 1 and Iran in coming weeks that would give this radical jihadist nation leeway to become nuclear at a time of its choosing.
 
What is more, Iran is the chief supporter of terrorism in the world, and has schemes for a hegemony in the Gulf region and the Middle East that would be disastrous, notably for Israel but also for the Gulf Arab states.  There will be every attempt by Iran to advance this hegemony, even if it is prevented from achieving nuclear capacity. That is, Iran’s danger to the world does not end with the issue of nuclear development.
 
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And, it happens, Binyamin Netanyahu - who has been speaking for years to a world that has chosen not to listen about the dangers of Iran - is undoubtedly the world leader with the greatest expertise on issues regarding Iran, and the only world leader prepared to be forthright on those issues.
 
Thus he embraces his coming talk to Congress as a last chance opportunity to make a difference that could affect Israel, first, and much of the rest of the world as well.
 
On Friday, the prime minister, who reportedly has placed calls to some key Democrats in Congress, said:
 
”We can resolve procedural issues with regard to my appearance in the US, but if Iran arms itself with nuclear weapons, it will be a lot harder to fix.”
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-easier-to-mend-us-ties-than-bad-iran-nuclear-deal/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And Obama?  There was no need to make such a furor about the invitation to Netanyahu, of course.  He is simply doing his own masking.  I rather like what commentator Dan Friedman had to say about this today:
 
“Imagine...Obama’s fury when he found that a Jew is the only leader on earth unafraid to confront him with the truth.”
 
Whether it’s because Netanyahu is a Jew or not (and it is very likely the case), Obama is clearly beside himself because there is indeed one leader “unafraid to confront him with the truth.” The president does not like to be crossed – and on something as major to him as this?  Oy v’voy, as we say.
 
But Bibi is not intimidated.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Please see this (emphasis added):
 
”Israeli officials told Channel 10 on Friday that they are convinced the Obama administration has already agreed to most of Iran’s demands in the P5+1 negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

”According to unnamed officials, Washington ‘has given the Iranians 80 percent of what they want’ out of the negotiations, Channel 10 is reporting.

Jerusalem officials appear alarmed at the prospect that the United States will soon strike a deal with the Iranian regime that will leave it with a ‘breakout capacity’ of months during which it can gallop toward a nuclear bomb.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Obama-has-agreed-to-80-percent-of-Irans-demands-in-nuclear-talks-Israeli-officials-tell-Ch-10-389533
 
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Here in Israel, we are witnessing a similar craziness with regard to shallowness: We are in the middle of an electoral campaign, and the left is making a charge that is nothing short of ludicrous:
 
Sarah Netanyahu, they are reporting, collected bottles used in the president’s residence (and paid for by the people), returned them to the supermarket, and pocketed the deposits.
 
What? With everything going on in the world THIS is what deserves attention?  How pathetically bankrupt is the position of the left, if this is the worst they can say about Netanyahu.  (Or, actually, about his wife, which makes it even worse.)
 
As it happens, a former employee of the Netanyahus, who had no great fondness for them when he was their employee, has come forward to tell the truth: It was Sarah who decided, after years of seeing bottles simply being thrown away, that they had to be recycled.  “and the petty cash was used for the purposes of the Prime Minister's Residence and its employees."
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190759#.VM6R8Zv9nIV
 
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Having put this charge to rest is not the end of this, however.  What is it the left was saying?  Vote for Herzog and Livni and be sure they’ll never pocket bottle deposits? 
What else does this pathetic crew have to say for themselves?
 
As was pointed out above, we are living in extraordinarily perilous times. What can they say about ways in which their leadership would bring us greater strength and security?  Not much, if anything, apparently. Their position is bankrupt.
 
Tzipi Livni, in a recent interview, indicated that she is still for negotiating “two states”:
 
”I’m not trying to sell to the Israeli public that we have peace around the corner, that when we enter the negotiations room we will sign an agreement and live happily ever after; this is not the situation. I support using the Israeli military [to fight terrorism], but my ideology is not about keeping Greater Israel without any hope for peace.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Jpost-Election-Arena-Livnis-consistent-vision-388659
 
So, she’s committed to the ideology of “two states” – “dividing this tiny place into two” she said – even though it doesn’t mean peace.  Why she imagines this would bring “hope” for peace is beyond me.  Probably beyond her, as well. For, rather than debate this issue with Netanyahu – something she should want to do if she were truly committed to this path as wise and correct - she prefers to simply see his wife charged with pocketing bottled deposit money. 
 
Another oy v’voy.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Thankfully, Likud is now leading the left in the polls.  Herzog-Livni had moved ahead when they re-named their joint effort “The Zionist Camp.”  A clever move if something of a misnomer. 
 
There are commentators saying that the Likud advance is the result of the violence in the north last week: people see Netanyahu as the stronger leader.  It may be a correct assessment – I cannot say. But if it is, it is a very sad commentary on the thinking of those polled. Do they have to see an incident of violence that might lead to war to know that war is always a possibility here, especially in the north?  They should know, all of Israel should know, that because we live in precarious times, it is essential to vote for someone who knows how to stand strong, and who will not give our country way, weakening us disastrously.
 
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Having said this, I want to share Netanyahu’s latest election video, which was just released today.  The videos, which have been quite clever, have been the only enjoyable part of this campaign (about which I will say more soon).  In this one, Bibi – the “Bibi-sitter” – addresses the issue of who can keep the nation – and our children – safe, precisely the point of this posting. 
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23211
 
Scroll down for the video (which has English subtitles).
 
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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.

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Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015 at 06:36AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 30, 2015: The Good News That Is

Along with the bad news, we can see those who do get it and respond appropriately.  I will describe what I have learned briefly – briefly being my practice, of necessity, before Shabbat.
 
The first issue is the matter of Obama’s State of the Union threat to veto any legislation regarding sanctions against Iran.  The issue was misrepresented, as, in fact, the sanctions under the proposed Kirk-Menendez legislation would not kick in until and unless negotiations failed. The current negotiating deadline is June 30.  There have been two extensions already and it becomes ridiculous – the Iranians are being provided with the opportunity to advance their agenda.  Obama’s argument that this legislation would inhibit negotiations is nonsense – on the contrary, it would “motivate” Iran to negotiate.
 
On Tuesday, a letter was sent to the president, signed by 10 Senate Democrats, telling him that by March 24, but not before, they would vote for legislation to impose sanctions on Iran if the Iranians refuse to commit to a "political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement." Menendez was among those who signed the letter.
 
There was a widespread reaction when this news broke interpreting this as a setback for those who want to see the Kirk-Menendez legislation pass.  I didn’t understand that, because Obama was simply being given a bit of leeway before action on the bill would kick in.  And what was significant was that 10 Democrats were now prepared to support this legislation –  (with the considerable exception of Menendez, and then Charles Schumer) it had been labeled a partisan “Republican” effort.  Now this was clearly no longer the case.
 
The ten who signed the letter were: Menendez, Schumer, Blumenthal, Peters, Casey, Cardin, Coons, Manchin, Donnelly, and Stabenow.  If you are a constituent of one of these, you might want to write and thank him/her for readiness to support the bill.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Fast forward to the Banking Committee, which had to pass on the Kirk-Menendez legislation.  The 10 Democrats had pledged not to vote on this legislation until March 24 – but that was on the floor of the Senate. There was no commitment regarding a holding pattern in the Banking Committee.
 
The very good news here is that yesterday it passed through the Committee 18-4, with three additional Democrats who had not signed the letter - Tester, Heitkamp, Warner - voting for it.
 
There are then three Democratic Senators - Booker, Bennett, Gillibrand - who had voted for an earlier version of the Kirk-Menendez bill, and are expected to support this version, although they didn’t sign the letter.
 
And so, the bottom line – according to Omri Ceren of The Israel Project – is that the way seems clear for it to be brought to the floor, and it looks as if the vote, come March 24, should be veto-proof.
 
And this is before Netanyahu speaks to the Congress.  His words might bring along additional votes.
 
Obama, who does not take defeat lightly, is clearly not a very happy man right now (see second story below).
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The story broke three days ago in the Free Beacon (emphasis added):
 
A U.S. State Department funded group is financing an Israeli campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has hired formed Obama aides to help with its grassroots organizing efforts.

U.S.-based activist group OneVoice International has partnered with V15, an ‘independent grassroots movement’ in Israel that is actively opposing Netanyahu’s party in the upcoming elections, Ha’aretz reported on Monday. Former national field director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign Jeremy Bird is also reportedly involved in the effort.

“OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler said the group would be working with V15 on voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts but would not engage in overtly partisan activities. She said OneVoice and V15 are still formalizing the partnership.

While V15 has not endorsed any particular candidates, it is working to oppose Netanyahu in the March elections.

“’We’ve formed a partnership with [V15], but it’s important to know we’re absolutely nonpartisan,’ Taler told the Washington Free Beacon. ‘Our biggest emphasis and focus right now is just getting people out to vote.’

“OneVoice said in a press release on Tuesday that it is teaming up with V15 because Israel ‘need[s] a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”’

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/state-department-funded-group-bankrolling-anti-bibi-campaign/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Clearly, this is not the “good news.”  This is an outrage above and beyond.  I have difficulty here giving voice to how I responded to this, because I try to write very professional pieces, and what I have to say would not be quite “professional.”
 
The direct meddling in our election, not for positive reasons, but in an effort to oust Netanyahu because Obama despises him, cannot be tolerated.  And this is the same Obama who has refused to meet with Netanyahu when he comes to speak to Congress, “because it’s wrong to influence the election.”
 
My own hope would be that Israelis, on learning of this, would be so enraged by the meddling that they would make a point of – dafka! – voting for Netanyahu, because the State Department cannot tell us which candidate we should support.  (Dafka? Just so. In spite of. To the contrary.  Spoken a bit ironically.)  It is said that we Israelis are a “dafka” people, and that is how we survive.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This news has been picked up and put out by a variety of sources.
 
Head of NGO Monitor, Gerald Steinberg, has blasted the State Department over this action.
 
“Steinberg pointed out that American taxpayer funds have been used for similarly politically-charged projects in the recent past. In 2012, USAID, the US’s largest provider of foreign assistance, donated millions of dollars to Israeli NGOs through the ‘Peace and Reconciliation Program,’ which included support for the so-called “Geneva Initiative” – another grassroots project pressuring the Israeli government to make concessions to the Palestinians.

’After public exposure, the funding was discontinued,’ Steinberg said.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/28/ngo-monitor-head-slams-use-of-american-taxpayer-funds-to-finance-anti-netanyahu-campaign/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
So that’s the first order of business, folks.  Scream long and loud about this.  Protest to your elected representatives.  Put this information out wherever you can – in letters to the editor, Internet talkbacks, on your FB pages, etc. etc. In the US make the point that taxpayer money is being used improperly.  This CAN make a difference, and it falls to each of you to do your part.  Don’t sit still for this. Be enraged in a pro-active manner.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And the good news? “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Congressman Lee Zeldin, R-NY-1, today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for information regarding media reports that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund efforts to influence upcoming elections in Israel.”
 
Said Senator Cruz: “This administration’s relentless harassment of Israel is utterly incomprehensible. The Islamic Republic of Iran is pursuing the deadliest weapons on the planet, and there can be no doubt that their first target will be Israel, followed by the United States. This administration should be focusing its animosity on the very real enemies we face, not on our staunch allies.” (Emphasis added)
 
The letter requests answer to eight questions.
 
You can see the full letter here:
 
http://www.cruz.senate.gov/files/documents/Letters/20150129_Letter_to_Secretary_Kerry.pdf
 
We’ve got good people working for what is right.
 
Shabbat Shalom
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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 Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 06:47AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 29, 2015: A Brief Respite?

All is quiet in the north now. There are those who think it’s just a matter of time until we are attacked again, and that we are certainly closer to major hostilities than we were before this most recent attack.  That something major is coming down the road, at some point, is clear.  But I would not rush to assume that we are now closer to it.
 
Hezbollah sent a message via Gen. Luciano Portolano, commander of UN forces in Lebanon (UNIFL), overnight, indicating that they are not seeking an escalation of tensions. 
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/hezbollah-conveys-to-israel-it-does-not-want-escalation/
 
As was expected, Hezbollah declared that it considered this an “eye for an eye” regarding our hit on their people in the convoy in the Golan.  Their honor, dignity, whatever, has ostensibly been salvaged with the death of two of our soldiers, and for now they are content.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Among political analysts there are two schools of thought regarding Hezbollah’s current situation.  One says that this radical terror group, in fighting for Assad in Syria, has been depleted (hundreds of their fighters killed) and drained – and thus is in no mood to take on Israel now.  The other says that whatever the stresses of fighting have been for Hezbollah, the experience has honed their battle skills so that they are better equipped to confront Israel than they were before.
 
I am not certain that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive.  They might decide to wait before advancing a major confrontation, but might ultimately be more dangerous opponents than they would have been if not for the Syrian battles.
 
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor, says that the last thing Hezbollah needs now is to open a second front: “The chances (of an escalation) are very slim, almost none,”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190676#.VMpJKJv9nIU
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Other matters, as well, must be factored into predictions regarding Hezbollah actions in the coming days and months:
 
There is, as I have mentioned, great dissatisfaction inside of Lebanon with what Hezbollah is doing.  See more about the mounting criticism here:
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4620415,00.html
 
And there are also apparently financial difficulties for Hezbollah.  It “may be on the cusp of a financial crisis”:
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/19/hezbollah-gripped-by-major-financial-crisis/
 
~~~~~~~~~~~
 
And, most significantly, there is Iran.  If Hezbollah were to take on Israel in a major confrontation, it would be at the bidding of Iran; Many analysts believe that Iran would be reluctant to “waste” Hezbollah on this now, when it is not yet time.  Hezbollah is being “saved” for the moment when Israel might decide to attack Iran.  (More about Iran below.)
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Then, of course, on the other side, there is the reluctance of Israel’s leaders to engage in a major confrontation with Hezbollah now (the proclamations of Foreign Minister Lieberman regarding the need to do more notwithstanding). We are in an election campaign, and a war now would not serve Netanyahu’s electoral aspirations.  The death and damage that would ensue would cause many to turn against him – whether fairly or not.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But let me add, lest the above be read improperly: while our leaders may not wish to go the route of war now, our military is prepared and on the alert, and would respond if necessary. The IDF is actually on high alert in the north, and has begun searching for tunnels Hezbollah may have been excavated a la Hamas.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-drilling-in-northern-Israel-amid-fears-of-Hezbollah-attack-tunnels-389236 
 
~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
What I must say is that I wish never, ever again to see pictures such as these below here in Israel, or to have to share them.  These were taken at the funeral of Maj. Yochai Kalangel, 25, who was killed by Hezbollah.  He was buried in the military cemetery at Har Herzl earlier today.  Perhaps some can look at these photos without a wrenching of the heart or a tear in the eye, but I cannot.  Nor can many others here.  The pain is palpable.  
 
The woman is Kalangel’s widow, who has a one year old child.  I am assuming the man is his father, who said at the funeral that "Where you should have buried me, I bury you."

 

Credit: IsraelNationalNews
 

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
St.-Sgt. Dor Haim Nini, 20, from Shtulim, was buried in his home village later in the day today.  Yesterday, his girlfriend, Sahar, posted a picture of the two of them on Facebook, and wrote "good morning my love." Nini saw it, “liked” the photo and wrote, "you are my life. I love you." Hours later, he had been killed.
 
Good people, good soldiers cut down in their young lives.  I never want to have to share such photos or stories again.  But as surely as I am sitting at my keyboard now, I know I will have to. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It is worth mentioning that the US stance on this was supportive.  Jan Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said: “We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.” She added that Washington condemned the attack.         
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-israel-has-right-to-self-defense-against-hezbollah/
 
This statement lacked the absolute “evenhandedness” that so often mars comments from State; apparently it’s politically correct to criticize  Hezbollah.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Netanyahu, in the last couple of days, has pointed a finger at Iran, as being ultimately responsible for the Hezbollah attack.
 
"Iran is the one which is responsible for arming, organizing, funding and deploying terrorists on Israel's northern and southern borders." (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/politics-and-military/politics/netanyahu-iran-behind-hezbollah-attack-11327
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In another statement yesterday, the prime minister said, “For some time, Iran – via Hezbollah – has been trying to establish an additional terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights.” (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Netanyahu-blames-Iran-for-northern-border-attack-389343
 
And I think with this we come full circle.  We attacked the convoy in the Golan because intelligence suggested a good possibility that high level military personnel were present in order to advance plans for establishing a base there that might even include rocket launching equipment. 
 
Now there is talk in some quarters about the need for stronger Israeli action against the killing of our soldiers in the attack launched from Lebanon – the claim is that this is necessary for deterrence.  But as I see it, our deterrence was advanced most powerfully via the attack on the convoy in the Golan.  Hezbollah seeks that base in order to be able to attack Israel without involving Lebanon.   But Hezbollah and Iran have been warned that we are on to their intentions and will not permit this.
 
~~~~~~~~~~    
 
On the subject of Iran, I share here two articles.
 
The first, by Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director, Jewish Policy Center: “Iran Doesn’t Need Nuclear Weapons” (emphasis added):
 
“In his State of the Union address, President Obama forcefully announced he would not accept ‘a nuclear-armed Iran.’ This reflects his view that the only objectionable element of Iran’s behavior would be acquisition and possible use of such weapons. This is conveniently narrow.
 
“While the ability to produce nuclear weapons quickly and in secret – if it hasn’t already done so – is important, Iran pursues a wide variety of long-term Shiite religious and Persian imperial goals in the Middle East and Africa, and in the Western Hemisphere...
 
“...With his focus solely on nuclear weapons, President Obama has missed perhaps the last, best opportunity to stymie the mullahs.

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/01/iran_doesnt_need_nuclear_weapons_.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then, Khaled Abu Toameh, “How Iran is Circling the Gulf and Israel” (emphasis added):

“...Relations between Iran and Hamas had become strained after Hamas's refusal to support the regime of Iran's client, Syria's Bashar Assad, in his fight against the Syrian opposition forces.

“Iran and Hamas need each other badly. Iran wants Hamas because it does not have many Sunni allies left in the region. An alliance with Hamas would enable Iran to rid itself of charges that it is leading a Shiite camp fighting against the Sunnis.

“Hamas, for its part, is desperate for any outside support, especially in wake of its increased isolation in the Palestinian and international arenas...

Hamas leaders say they have taken a ‘strategic’ decision to restore their ties with Iran. Ismail Haniyeh, the former prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, announced recently that his movement is working toward establishing "open relations" with Iran...

The Hamas-Iran rapprochement is yet another sign of Tehran's effort to use its allies in the Middle East to destroy Israel. Hamas leaders are now hoping that Iran will resume not only its financial aid to their movement, but the supply of weapons as well.

“Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip or providing shelter to thousands of Palestinian families who lost their homes during the last war. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel. This is all happening at a time when the Obama Administration is busy preparing for another round of talks with Iran over its nuclear program. It is obvious by now that Tehran is using these negotiations to divert attention from its efforts to deepen its involvement in the Middle East, with the hope of taking over the oil fields and eliminating Israel.”

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5149/iran-encircling-gulf-israel

~~~~~~~~~~

This is stuff to make the blood run cold.  And it is with this that I stop my political reporting tonight.  Who knows what’s coming down? Who cares? 

I think part of what enrages me so much is the on-going hullabaloo about Netanyahu’s plans to speak to Congress when Obama doesn’t want him to.  Here in Israel, the left is carrying on because this may give him an electoral advantage.

The bottom line is that where Iran is concerned, people should eagerly embrace an opportunity to hear what Netanyahu has to say.  And we Israelis should hold our heads high, for we have a leader who gets it right – and has something to say to the Congress.

Dear friends, I urge you to share Khaled Abu Toameh’s article broadly – and most specifically with your senators and congresspersons.  This is a matter that must be brought to the attention of those who can make a difference.

For your Congresspersons: 

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ 

For your Senators: 

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

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Let’s close with something upbeat.  Because we must hold on to what can sustain us: 

Yesterday, I saw for the first time that the almond trees (the very first to blossom) are in bloom. This means that – while winter weather, hopefully, will return to bring us more rain – spring is around the corner.  Something to lift the spirits.  (Yes, I know, parts of N. America are buried in snow – but allow your spirits to be lifted, at least in this regard, vicariously.)

 

 

Credit: Israel-tourguide

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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 Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 06:28AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 28, 2015: Violence from the North

Yesterday, four rockets were launched from a Syrian-held position roughly seven kilometers inside of Syria; two of the rockets landed in the Israeli Golan Heights.  They landed in open areas and there were no casualties.  Military sources identified this as a joint effort of Hezbollah and Syrian forces; the IDF said that Syria would be held responsible for whatever happened inside of its territory.  Within hours, Israel responded with an artillery attack that yielded a direct hit on the source of the rockets.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
That was yesterday.  Today was much worse. This time the attack was from Lebanon, not Syria, and it claimed casualties.  Some five or six Kornet anti-tank missiles were launched in an ambush attack against military vehicles traveling on a road about two kilometers inside of Israel, in the village of Ghajar.  The launching site is estimated to have been four or five kilometers from the IDF vehicles.
 
A burnt vehicle is seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon
Credit: Reuters
 
Two IDF soldiers were killed: Staff Sergeant Dor Nini, 20, and Major Yochai Kalangel, 25 (on the left below).  
 
 

Credit: YNet

 
Reports are not consistent, but some additional seven soldiers were injured.
 
At the same time, there were mortar shells aimed at IDF bases in the area.
 
Israel responded with return fire into Lebanon, and declared the Lebanese responsible for what happens on their soil.  As was to be expected, the Lebanese are furious with Hezbollah for operating against Israel from their territory.
 
Hezbollah declared the attack to be retribution for the death of the “martyrs” in the convoy that Israel had hit.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At this point in time, additional information is scarce.  I post now simply to get the word out (not sure how widely this will be covered); more will follow in a day or two.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I cannot sign off, however, without noting that yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp of Auschwitz.  Survivors – fewer in number every year -assembled there for a major ceremony.  
 

Credit: Daily Mail
 
The message is that we dare not forget.  And that message carries enormous urgency today, as anti-Semitism in all its virulence is on the rise.
 
The difference for Jews now as versus 70 years ago is the existence of the State of Israel.  Our leaders here have a solemn obligation to defend Israel with great strength and determination.  Whether the world likes this or not is irrelevant.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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, January 28, 2015 at 03:30PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 26, 2015: A Corollary

Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, with regard to his speaking to Congress:
 
“In coming weeks, the powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.

"As prime minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is global and I will go anywhere I am invited to make the State of Israel's case and defend its future and existence." (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/amid-row-over-invite-pm-says-hell-go-anywhere-to-speak-against-iran/

~~~~~~~~~~

Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, spoke yesterday as well, and he said (emphasis added):

The prime minister’s visit is “intended for one purpose: To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.”

Thus, it is Netanyahu’s “most sacred duty to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.

“For Israel, a nuclear armed Iran would be a clear and present danger. Iran’s regime is both committed to Israel’s destruction and working toward Israel’s destruction.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-us-envoy-pms-planned-congress-speech-a-sacred-duty/
 

Ron Dermer (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Couldn’t be much clearer and unambiguous than this.

~~~~~~~~~~

And then we have Boehner’s response to the flap that has ensued following his invitation to the prime minister:

There’s nobody in the world who can [better] talk about the threat of radical terrorism — nobody can [better] talk about the threat the Iranians pose, not just to the Middle East and to Israel… but to the entire world — than Bibi (Benjamin) Netanyahu.”

Boehner went on to say he did not believe Obama was giving that threat the attention it deserved.

“The president didn’t spend but a few seconds (in his State of the Union address last week) talking about the threat, the terrorist threat that we as Americans face.

This problem is growing all over the world…the president is trying to act as though it’s not there, but it is there and it’s going to be a threat to our homeland if we don’t address it in a bigger way.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/boehner-we-gave-white-house-heads-up-on-netanyahu/

Boehner has further said, by the way, that he did not “blindside” the White House, as he has been accused of doing.  He gave Obama “heads up” before news about the invitation to Netanyahu hit the press.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But so insane is the election fever here, that everything is subject to attack.  The following column by Uri Avnery written just two days ago is so shockingly perverse that I simply had to call attention to it:

“...Two Israeli drones have bombed (or missiled) a small Hezbollah convoy, a few miles beyond the border with Syria on the Golan heights. 12 people were killed. One was an Iranian general. One was a very young Hezbollah officer, the son of Imad Mughniyeh...

“The killing of the Iranian general was perhaps unintended....

“The intended victim of the attack was the 25-year old Jihad Mughniyeh, a junior Hezbollah officer whose only claim to fame was his family name.

“IMMEDIATELY AFTER the killing, the question arose: Why? Why now? Why at all?

“The Israeli-Syrian border (or, rather, cease-fire line) has been for decades the quietest border of Israel. No shooting. No incidents. Nothing.

“SO WHY did Israeli drones hit a small convoy of Assad's allies – Hezbollah and Iran? It is very unlikely that they had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels.

“The Israeli government and the army did not explain. How could they, when they did not officially admit to the action? Even unofficially, there was no hint.

“But there is an elephant in the room: the Israeli elections.

“We are now in the middle of the election campaign. Was there, could there be, any connection between the election campaign and the attack?

“You bet!”

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1422014990/

~~~~~~~~~~ 

WHAT?!! We have here a prime example of the morally corrupt and totally perverse position of the far left.  How shameful this is. 

In terms of information, it is full of holes.  Jihad Mughniyeh’s claim to fame was NOT just his family name: he headed a terrorist cell directly funded by Iran that had already launched attacks. 

And to say that it was “very unlikely that they[the convoy] had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels”?  Does he truly imagine that even though a general from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was present, there was no ill intent towards Israel?  That Iran sends out a general to scout for rebels?

Nor is it true that the border with Syria has been consistently quiet. That was once the case, but no longer is.

Gush Shalom – which ran Avnery’s article – promotes “peace” based on all of the Palestinian Arab demands, including “right of return,” which means this is a group that supports the destruction of Israel.  It is beyond the pale. Uri Avnery is a founding member.

And this is what our prime minister must contend with, on his far left flank, as he works to defend the State and keep her safe. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Now I turn to an article – “Israeli strike in Syria: A move in an unfinished game” - regarding that convoy in the Golan, written by the highly informed Jonathan Spyer (emphasis added):

”Firstly, the killings were a response to a clear attempt by the Iranians/Hezbollah to violate the very fragile status quo that pertains between these elements and Israel in Lebanon and Syria...

Some analysis of the strike has suggested that the mission of the men killed in the attack involved preparation for placing sophisticated Iranian missile systems on the Syrian part of the Golan. Other accounts suggested that the mission was part of readying this area for the launch of ground attacks across the border against Israeli targets, perhaps using proxies.

In either case, the mission was a clear attempt to change the arrangement of forces in the north, in such a way that could be expected to ensure an Israeli response...

The Iran/Hezbollah/Assad side has long threatened to develop the Golan as a front for possible ‘jihad duties’ against Israel. Both Syrian President Bashar Assad and Nasrallah, in the course of 2014, made unambiguous public statements threatening the opening of military activity against Israel in this area. Israel in turn has been very keen to make clear that such a move would constitute a violation of the status quo.

The strike on Sunday constituted a very kinetic further Israeli message intended to drive home this point.

What this means is that despite the death of a senior IRGC commander in the Israeli strike, the action by Israel should not be seen as a general casting aside of the rules of engagement by Jerusalem on the northern border – but rather an insistence on maintaining these rules, and a warning of the consequences to the other side of continued violation of them...”
 
http://www.jpost.com/landedpages/printarticle.aspx?id=388658
 
~~~~~~~~~~

In the above article, Spyer refers to the great unease the Lebanese have about what Hezbollah is doing:
 
”Responses by Lebanese political leaders and media to the event have been characterized by a sort of nervous, veiled request to Hezbollah not to bring down Israel’s wrath on Lebanon...”

The Israeli government, mindful of this situation, has speculated that the “retribution” from Hezbollah may come not via a frontal attack across the border from Lebanon into Israel, but rather via terrorism unleashed on Israelis abroad.
 
Thus, according to Al-Hayat, Israel has relayed a message to Hezbollah, delivered via indirect channels, that warns against such action: “Israel would hold Hezbollah responsible for any attack against its institutions and nationals [abroad], including areas known to be frequented by Israelis in far-off places around the globe.”

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Israel-sends-stern-warning-to-Hezbollah-Dont-dare-attack-our-targets-abroad-388948

~~~~~~~~~~

Coming full circle here...

We see that the Lebanese, who have not forgotten the damage they endured during Israel’s last war against Hezbollah, are not willing to support an attack on Israel by Hezbollah initiated from Lebanese soil.  And so the significance to Hezbollah (and to Iran, its sponsor) of establishing a base on the Golan for launching attacks on Israel from there becomes readily apparent. 

Thus the necessity for Israel to forcefully “discourage” any such plans.

In other words, we did good.  Do not allow yourself to be disabused of this understanding.

~~~~~~~~~~

We will end with a good news piece:

“A breakthrough discovery by researchers at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem will allow early detection and possible prevention of colon and uterine cancers. According to the study, a genetic mutation related to Lynch syndrome has been shown to increase the risk of these types of cancers. The discovery of the mutation among members of certain population groups allows for a quick identification of at-risk patients.”

This discovery is being referred to as “of immense importance in the prevention and early treatment of cancer.”

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=22167

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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/2015/1/26/january-26-2015-a-corollary.html

 

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 03:43PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 25, 2015: Priorities

There is a colossal danger to the world coming down the road:  A nuclear Iran.  It’s scary as hell because of the radical jihadist intentions of the Iranian mullahs. 
 
Right now the president of the United States and the Congress of the United States are at odds regarding how to respond to Iran.  Currently there is a “Joint Plan of Action” (JPOA) in place – an agreement between Iran and P5 + 1 (US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – those nations in negotiations with Iran). This is a temporary agreement, scheduled to end on June 30, 2015 (having been extended from its prior expiration date of November 24, 2014). 
 
JPOA outlines restrictions placed on Iran, and sanctions relief provided to Iran, for the course of negotiations regarding final understandings on Iran’s nuclear status.  It is theoretically the case that all negotiations are to be completed by that June deadline. 
 
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Obama, in his State of the Union address, pledged to veto any legislation that imposes sanctions on Iran – a statement which is a direct challenge to the Congress. The president claims that such sanctions would be destructive to negotiations.  What he has done is to misrepresent the position of Congress – for the legislation that is being advanced calls for additional sanctions ONLY IF and ONLY AFTER negotiations had failed.
 
The bill -  sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) - has bi-partisan support.  In fact, it was Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has voiced the most vociferous criticism of the administration position.  Addressing administration officials in the course of a hearing on Iran, he said:
 
“I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration...The more it sounds like talking points coming out of Tehran. And it heeds to the Iranian narrative of victimhood, when they are the ones with original sin: an illicit nuclear weapons program over the course of twenty years that they are unwilling to come clean on. I don't know why we feel compelled to make their case...They get to cheat in a series of ways, and we get to worry about their ‘perceptions.’”
 
You can see him making this statement in a video here:
 
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/01/21/dem_sen_menendez_obama_statements_on_iran_sound_like_talking_points_straight_out_of_tehran.html
 
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Against the background of this Congressional frustration with Obama, Speaker of the House Boehner invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.
 
Why Netanyahu?  It’s obvious.  He is the world leader, bar none, when it comes to speaking out on the dangers of a nuclear Iran and the importance of sanctions.  What an honor, that the Congress wants to hear what he has to say on the matter.  Israel is not a minor league player here.  How significant, that he should speak out.
 
But do commentators notice any of this? Nahh...
 
In the US, the charge is that Boehner is “using” Netanyahu to “get back at” Obama.  Here, the criticism is that Bibi is “using” Boehner to help him get re-elected (as he will get a boost in the elections from this talk before Congress).  What a furor has ensued.
 
In the course of all of these charges and counter-charges, forgotten is the possibility that Netanyahu might help keep Congress strong – perhaps even strong enough to over-ride a veto.  Overlooked is the fact that stopping Iran is the ikar – the heart of the matter. 
 
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The left here in Israel is accusing Bibi of “destroying” our relationship with Washington.  However, “Washington” also includes the Congress.
 
What is more, I have noticed that already the Obama administration is backtracking on this matter: The US has an “unshakable” alliance with Israel, the White House has declared. And on Meet the Press today, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said that:
 
”Our relationship with Israel is many-faceted, deep and abiding.  It’s focused on a shared series of threats, but also on a shared series of values that one particular instance is not going to overwhelm.”
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-downplays-impact-of-netanyahu-speech-on-ties/
 
Well now... Can we please go back to talking about Iran and sanctions?
 
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From Omri Ceren of The Israel Project, I offer the following information:
 
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano spoke on Friday at the University of Indonesia.  His talk included this statement (emphasis in the original):
 
“As far as Iran is concerned, the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared to us by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. But we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
 
https://www.iaea.org/node/10995


The Obama administration has made two basic arguments about the success of the JPOA interim agreement.

The first is that Iran's program has been "halted" and its nuclear stockpile "reduced."  But this simply is not the case. The JPOA allows Iran to enrich to 3.5% purity, which is about 60% of the effort needed to get to weapons-grade levels, provided the new material is stored as oxide. They've used the last year to create at least one bomb's worth of enriched uranium and will use the rest of the extension to enrich enough for another one.

The second claim is that the JPOA provides "unprecedented" access/insight/monitoring/inspections into Iran's nuclear facilities.  But the statement above from the IAEA Director General makes it clear that this is not the case.
 
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On January 15, 2015, Iranian president Rouhani announced that Iran was building two new reactors.  The State Department clarified that this is not prohibited by any Security Council resolutions, and is not in violation of the JPOA agreement.
 
http://freebeacon.com/national-security/state-dept-iran-allowed-to-build-new-nuclear-reactors/
 
Clarified Omri Ceren:
 
The JPOA was supposed to freeze the Iranian program to prevent them from improving their position as talks proceeded. It failed. Instead the Iranians spent the last year building up their nuclear program - and their leverage - across all areas.
 
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Fervently do I wish that those who claim to be serious thinkers on the issues would get as excised over the dangers of Iran and the damage that Obama is doing to his own nation, Israel, and the world, as they do over imagined political intrigues.
 
Much more to come.
 
 I close here with Caroline Glick’s latest piece on this issue, “Iran, Obama, Boehner, and Netanyahu.”
 
“The role of an Israeli leader is to adopt the policies that protect Israel, even when they are unpopular at the White House. Far from being ostracized for those policies, such an Israeli leader will be supported, respected, and relied upon by those who share with him a concern for what truly matters.”
 
http://carolineglick.com/iran-obama-boehner-and-netanyahu/
 
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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/2015/1/26/january-25-2015-priorities.html

 

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 03:35PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 22, 2015: Seeking Sparks of Light

I’m going to do something different today: Start with good news items.  We need to hear that good news, with all the clouds hanging over us. 
 
The first is the matter of Israeli-Japanese relations, which have blossomed astonishingly in the past year.  This is true in the areas of diplomatic relations, industrial and scientific technology and trade.  On Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived here for a three-day visit (which ultimately had to be cut short because of an ISIS hostage situation he had to contend with at home).  And it was on Sunday that Prime Minister Netanyahu, referring to the Islamization of Europe, spoke about the need to increase Asian markets. He spoke as well about the “historic opportunity” to join Israeli and Japanese capabilities for mutual benefit.
 
Abe brought with him 100 Japanese diplomatic and business leaders; he and Netanyahu attended a forum on science and business.
 
japan israel
Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Jpost
 
And so the essential lesson here is that we are not alone as a nation, and we should not imagine that the world begins and ends with Europe.
 
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And then we have the absolutely remarkable speech of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of just weeks ago.  It is possible that you have not heard about this, and I am, quite frankly, remiss for not having shared it sooner.  


C

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

 
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Egypt is an astonishment in any event.  When Mubarak was ousted in June 2012, and the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Morsi became president, it seemed the handwriting was on the wall for Egypt, as the grip of the Brotherhood waxed ever tighter.  But then, in July 2013, the military took over, and a Brotherhood-hating al-Sisi subsequently morphed from general to president, surprising many and turning the tide in a manner that has been significant for Israel.  He has, for example, acted decisively in many spheres against Hamas – a Brotherhood spinoff - in Gaza.
 
On December 28, 2014, an extraordinarily courageous al-Sisi spoke in Al-Azhar University, in Cairo, to key Islamic clerics and academics.  He differentiated between core Islamic beliefs and an overlay of ideology or “thinking” that has been destructive.  His tone was calm and reasoned, not frenzied.  In part, he said (emphasis added):
 
“It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (multinational community of Muslim believers) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

“That thinking – I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

“Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!…

“I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move…because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands."

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189700#.VMDybZv9nIU
 
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Here you have a MEMRI clip of his talk:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEhNarfrlec
 
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I also count as very good news the invitation that has now been extended to Prime Minister Netanyahu by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address the joint houses of Congress in February on the issues of Islamic extremism and Iran.  This is an expression of very solid support for Israel within Congress, and marks a readiness by America’s elected representatives to take seriously what our prime minister has to say about these issues.  
 
null

Credit: USA Today
 
Netanyahu promptly accepted. 
 
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Obama’s nose was seriously out of joint because of this invitation.  It was a breach of protocol, intoned White House press secretary Josh Earnst.  Protocol, he said, would require Israel to inform the president of potential plans to visit the country before proceeding with an acceptance. 
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-invite-to-netanyahu-a-breach-of-protocol/
 
But the key source of irritation, I would imagine, was the failure of Boehner to consult the president before proceeding with the invitation.  Obama was, quite simply, out of the loop.  It is, of course, very much to the point that this invitation followed on the heels of Obama’s State of the Union Address, which left many in Congress severely disgruntled.  And that Obama knows he will not be pleased with what Netanyahu will say.
 
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Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently promoted a position of strong sanctions against Iran, to use as leverage in negotiations.  This is a position that he will undoubtedly reiterate in Washington. 
 
It runs directly counter to Obama’s position – stated once again in his State of the Union address this week - that he would veto any sanctions bill advanced by Congress because of the splendid progress he is making in negotiations.
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/01/20/obama-pledges-to-veto-iran-sanctions-bill-in-state-of-the-union-address/
 
I hope to return to this deplorable situation for a closer examination.
 
But today, a report surfaced in Bloomberg News claiming that the Mossad disagrees with Netanyahu.  It indicated that Mossad officials advised US senators who were visiting Israel recently to hold off on further Iran sanctions, because they would hamper efforts to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program.
 
The appearance of this report – presumably authoritative – shortly before Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress had the immediate effect of undercutting him.
 
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Now the head of the Mossad has taken the unusual action of issuing a public denial of this report (emphasis added):
 
“Mossad Head Tamir Pardo met on January 19, 2015, with a delegation of US senators.  The meeting was held at the request of the senators and with the prime minister’s approval. At the meeting, the Head of the Mossad stressed the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions that have been placed on Iran for several years in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.
 
The Head of the Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, a policy of ‘carrots and sticks’ must be adopted, and there are not enough ‘sticks’ nowadsays.”
 
Additionally, according to the Mossad statement, Pardo “said specifically that the agreement that is being formed with Iran is bad and could lead to a regional arms race.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190349#.VMEZ5Zv9nIU

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And so what is going on here? The Obama administration – furious about the invitation to Netanyahu and concerned about his message – was playing dirty.  Out-and-out lying, actually.  Presumably not anticipating that the Mossad would come forward and directly counter what was “leaked.”
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More apparent disinformation on another matter:

After the attack on the convoy in the Golan, which took out high level Hezbollah and Iranian personnel, Reuters came out with a story that a security source in Israel said the military had no idea that an Iranian general was being targeted -  that it was simply thought that some guerrillas were in the convoy. 
 
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/20/us-mideast-crisis-israel-syria-idUSKBN0KT1HQ20150120
 
I, of course, do not know who the “source” was, but this seemed blatantly an attempt on someone’s part to partially defuse a volatile situation, or to downplay Israel’s accomplishment.  Whatever the case, this “report” was carried broadly. 
 
Now here I cite from Al-Arabiya, as reported in IMRA (emphasis added):
 
”[The attack] is also one of the biggest losses inflicted on Hezbollah by Israel in recent years... 

“Analysts, speaking to Al-Arabiya News, said the attack represented a major breach to Hezbollah’s security and a tactical misjudgment on the part of the Iranian-backed militant group.

’This was a colossal failure … because they [Hezbollah] put this number of senior figures in one spot and at the same observation point and at the same time,” Wehbe Katicha, a former Lebanese army general, told Al Arabiya News.

“’You rarely see armies committing such a mistake,’ he said.

“This is represents a weak point of Hezbollah because of this behavior,” he added.

“While not describing it as a failure, Dr. Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said the incident was a ‘major security breach’ to Hezbollah’s security apparatus.

’Hezbollah moves secretly and a number of ranking officials are even tighter. The fact is Israel had information from within,’ he said.”

 
http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=66152
 
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I started with the good news, and must end with bad:  There was a terror attack in Tel Aviv yesterday morning, when an Arab from Tulkarem, in Samaria, boarded a bus and attacked passengers and the driver with a knife, seriously injuring four.  We are grateful that no one was killed.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Three-stabbed-on-Tel-Aviv-bus-388417
 
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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/2015/1/22/january-22-2015-seeking-sparks-of-light.html

 

Posted on Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 04:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint