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September 26, 2015: Sukkot

Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)


Sunday night begins the week-long holiday of Sukkot, the Season of Rejoicing.  My favorite holiday. 

We have rituals associated with the lulav and etrog, which are so rich in symbolism:

Credit: Levin JCC

We eat – and sleep – in the sukkah, which has been lovingly decorated.


Credit: karmihesed

The Sukkah is a frail hut.  Living in it for a week reminds us that in the end we must trust in the Almighty.

Now, especially, with the threats that arise daily and the instability of the world, this is a lesson we must internalize. 



Credit: Yaakov Kirschen

And so, I am going to leave off posting for some days – perhaps until the middle of the holiday, perhaps until it is over – in order to enjoy it with my family and fully take in its message.  There will be much to write about when I pick up again.

To one and all I wish Chag Sukkot Sameach.


© 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.


Posted on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 06:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 25, 2015: Over the Top

To say that the situation is outrageous would be to minimize it. And so I will not say it.
The game being played by the PA and its supporters, as well as by Jordan, is simple:  Muslim violence has been fomented on the Temple Mount, and then when Israeli security acts appropriately to put down that violence, fingers are pointed at Israel as being the “cause” of the problem.”
Beyond manipulation of the situation, and distortions, there are the accusations that have no basis in fact whatsoever.
All of this is possible because Muslims have no religious injunction to adhere to truth in all situations.  Built into Islam is a principle of lying, if it is to non-Muslims (infidels) and if it advances the honor or the cause of Islam.  This propensity – lying for the sake of Allah – is known as taqiyya.  Within Islam, it is considered acceptable under certain circumstances to bear false witness, and certainly to misrepresent to the media.  What is more, a common tactic, when under scrutiny or when faced with accusations, is to reverse the situation and claim victimhood.
The problem is that Westerners unfamiliar with the way in which Islam operates, are oblivious to what is going on.
A sample of what is taking place:
[] Official Fatah spokesman in Jerusalem Rafat Alayan said on PA TV that “Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli extreme right are acting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, not only to divide it by times and areas... They want to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple on the ruins of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
[] Mahmoud Abbas of the PA claimed that over Rosh Hashana the hours during which Jews were permitted to be on the Mount had been extended and this was the first step in taking over.  I checked on this with Rabbi Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation.  His response was succinct: “No way!”  It never happens that we get “extra hours,” he said.

Credit: United with Israel
The fact is that during the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Adha, which overlapped Yom Kippur, Jews were prevented from going up.
[] On Tuesday, after a meeting with President Hollande in France, Abbas warned Netanyahu to “stop the chaos.”  He described the situation as "a very dangerous one that is liable to lead to an eruption of an intifada, which we are not interested in."
So, if there is an intifada (some say it’s already in process, and I would not necessarily disagree), it will be Israel’s fault, not the fault of the Arab “victims.” Right?  Hollande seemed to buy this.
[] Yesterday, in Moscow for the dedication of a new mosque, Abbas spoke about “institutionalized aggression against Al-Aksa” and called on the international community to protect the holy Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem and to ensure freedom of worship as it had been until June 1967, especially with regard to prayer at the Al-Aksa Mosque. (Emphasis added)
Please note this carefully.  He is referring to the time period when the Temple Mount was in exclusively Jordanian hands (albeit illegally) and not a single Jew had access.  This is what they are aiming for. Real “freedom of worship.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s responded that bringing pipe bombs and explosives into the Al-Aksa Mosque is the true change in the status quo and one that will not be tolerated by Israel (emphasis added):
”We have no plans to change them, but we also have no intention of allowing anyone to cause the deterioration of the arrangements on the Temple Mount by resorting to explosive and widespread violence.

“We are not altering the status quo. Those who incite with baseless, wild provocations – as if Israel is trying to prevent Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount or wants to destroy the mosques, or other wild things that are being said – they are the ones who are inciting. This incitement comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Movement in Israel, Hamas, and – to our chagrin – also with the active participation of the Palestinian Authority.”

Those worried about the situation in Jerusalem, he said, would “do best to direct their criticism, not towards Jerusalem, but rather towards Ramallah, Gaza and agitators in the Galilee, and unfortunately, towards Turkey, from where incitement issues forth on a daily, even hourly, basis, not only to throw firebombs, but also something new – bringing explosives and pipe bombs onto the Temple Mount.”
At the beginning of the week, five members of the Knesset’s Joint Arab List went to visit King Abdullah in Jordan.  These are some of the Israeli parliamentarians who are better equipped in their inclinations to be PA parliamentarians.  The delegation was headed by Ahmed Tibi, former advisor to Arafat.
At any rate, Abdullah told them that the Mount is for Muslim prayer only.
”’King Abdullah’s words were sharp and determined, and they showed his anger about what is occurring at al-Aksa and in Jerusalem,’ Tibi said, adding that the king told the delegation he would take measures if the situation continued.

”According to the MKs, Abdullah wondered why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would pursue actions that could cause an explosive situation. The king also indicated that he was following events on the Temple Mount closely and it would be an important subject in meetings with world leaders at the UN next week.” (Emphasis added here and above)
Abdullah is a piece of work, craven and manipulative.  Note here, as above, how he puts responsibility for the violence on Netanyahu.  Classic taqiyya.  As to “taking measures,” he referred in several public contexts to the relationship between Jordan and Israel, implying that the peace treaty might be at risk. 
“Any more provocation in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel."  “Provocation.” 
The Israeli government was not intimidated by these veiled threats, however, and was instead quite forthright in response:
”According to a Channel 2 report on Monday, Israel communicated to Jordan that it should not be shirking its own responsibility at the Temple Mount and that it was in fact the Jordanian Wakf that has allowed the rioters who were armed with stones to sleep in al-Aksa Mosque.”  (Emphasis added)
A note of explanation here: The wakf is the Islamic trust, responsible for Muslim holy sites on the Mount.  There are, in reality, two wakfs, one Jordanian and one Palestinian, which are in some competition.  For a short period after Oslo, the Palestinian wakf had considerable authority, but has been overshadowed at present by the Jordanian wakf.  Actually, the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan accords Jordan a special status on the Mount.
What has always been disturbing to me (among the many things that are disturbing to me) is that the wakf behaves as if it is responsible for the entire Mount (over which Israel has sovereignty) and not just the specific Muslim holy sites – mosques and the Dome of the Rock.  There is considerable confusion on this issue, with the wakf usurping more and more power.
The Arabic for Temple Mount (Hebrew: Har Habayit) is Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), but frequently when Arabs refer to “Al Aksa,” they mean the entire compound on which it is located.
There are multiple reports that Abdullah refuses to take calls from Netanyahu or to meet with him secretly to dissipate the on-going tension.  These reports say that the king does not want to create a “business as usual” atmosphere under the current circumstances.
At least publicly, our prime minister appears unruffled by this.
Before I move away from the topic of the PA and Abbas, let me mention that rumors are flying fast and furious again with regard to what Abbas intends to do in the near future: resign from the presidency of the PA (which is not really his, as his term long ago expired), disband the PA, discontinue security cooperation with Israel, etc. etc.  Much of this is nonsense.  The PA, without IDF protection, for example, would be swallowed up by Hamas in no time. 
Since talk is cheap, we’ll wait to see what actually transpires. 
It made the news today that when (if?) there are PA elections, Marwan Barghouti – who is popular with the Palestinian Arab street  - will probably run.  This is according to MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List, who visited Barghouti in Israel prison yesterday. Barghouti is serving five life sentences plus 40 years for five murders and an attempted murder. And that’s just what they got him on.  He was a prime instigator and organizer of the second intifada.

Marwan Barghouti was arrested by Israeli troops in 2002 [AP]

Credit: AP
That someone who should never see the light of day again should be the most popular candidate in PA polls says a great deal about the Palestinian Arabs. They are not seeking a man of peace.  That he should be able to run would be an outrage.  My fear is that he might win and then, supported by a compliant international community, demand release from prison – something that absolutely should never happen.
Abbas has declared he will have a “bombshell” at the end of his talk at the UN, coming next week.  OK.  Abbas’s inclination to go the international route is no longer a new situation. 
When the UN opens its fall 2015 session in a matter of days, the PA – as an observer state – will have its flag flying along with the flags of member states at its headquarters in NY.  This is because the General Assembly approved a petition on this.

UN committee calls on Ireland to hold abortion referendum

Credit: John Isaac/UN
The only “victory” here for Abbas is the PR value of having achieved this.  There is no legal import, although the PA is claiming this is a step towards UN membership.
The resolution applied to observer status entities.  Thus, the Vatican, which also has observer status, was similarly accorded the right to fly its flag.  In fact, the PA had listed the Vatican as co-sponsor of the effort.  The Vatican, however, requested that its name be removed from the resolution.
New, tougher rules, approved by the Security Cabinet, are being put into place with regard to violence in Jerusalem.  This has not been a simple situation to report upon, because certain proposals were advanced, and then withdrawn.  There is a desire to be tougher, coupled with an unease that there will be incidents that inflame the mob (or, perhaps that increase international hostility to Israel).  There was also tension between law enforcement authorities/the government and the attorney-general regarding what should be permitted.  Unfortunate.  My own inclination is definitely towards the tougher stance.
As I understand it, snipers can now shoot live rounds from Ruger rifles – a weapon less lethal, lower power, than some others - at anyone throwing firebombs or rocks in a manner that places lives at risk.  The key is to fire only when life is threatened.
Additionally, there will be additional checkpoints put up in Arab areas of the city.  There will be complaints from NGOs posing as human rights organizations, regarding the inconvenience to Arabs, Arab right to freedom of movement, etc.  Too bad. 
Part of the problem we must contend with as we seek to control Arab violence in and around Jerusalem, is that many of the perpetrators are underage.  “Children,” we are told. “How tough can you be on children?”  These “children” are taught violence however, have violence modeled for them, and can also kill.
Sometimes they are arrested. But another approach is also being put into place now as well – with regard to making parents responsible.  The idea is to levy monetary penalties against the parents, something that might make them pay closer attention to what their kids are doing.
All decisions on this are not yet in place.
On Tuesday, a young Arab woman attempted to stab an IDF soldier at a checkpoint in Hevron.  She was warned, and then shot in the leg.  Later in the day she succumbed to her wounds.  Naturally, there are charges that she was “unarmed” and simply shot in cold blood by the IDF.
In another incident in the Hevron area, a young Arab man apparently accidentally blew himself when the explosive he was handling went off prematurely.  We are accused of killing him for no reason as well.
Remember taqiyya.
Russia – an ally of Syria’s president Assad - is moving into Syria. Of this there is no doubt.
“Satellite photos taken in mid-September and obtained by IHS Jane's show Russian forces developing two additional military facilities near Syria's Mediterranean coast, Rob Munks, editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, said on Tuesday...
“Russia has been dramatically increasing its forces at an air base south of Latakiya, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar Assad, including positioning combat planes and helicopters as well as tanks and accommodation blocks.”,7340,L-4703382,00.html
Unquestionably the result of US weakness in this region, the situation is greatly unsettling.  Thus I think it was with considerable wisdom that Prime Minister Binyamin  Netanyahu took himself to Russia for quick consultations with President Vladimir Putin on the outskirts of Moscow on Monday.  To underscore the seriousness of the meeting, Netanyahu was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen.Herzl Halevi.
General Eisenkot is shown in the photo below, on the left, in a meeting with his counterpart, Russian Army General Valery Vasilevich Gerasimov – apparently an historic first.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (left) with Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Army

Credit: IDF
Following the meeting, which was reported to have been held in a cordial atmosphere, Netanyahu told diplomatic journalists that:
“I made clear our policy to try to prevent through various means the transfer of lethal weapons from Syria to Hezbollah, which is actually done at the direction of Iran.”
The goal of the meeting, he said, was to avoid “misunderstandings” between the IDF and Russian forces.  “We established a mechanism to prevent those misunderstandings. This is something very important for Israel’s security.”
Subsequently it was announced that:
“The IDF and Russian military will set up a joint working group to coordinate their Syria-related activities in the aerial, naval, and electromagnetic arenas.”
Russia is in Syria to bolster Assad and assist in the fighting against ISIS.  Apparently there will be no problem for Russia as Israel continues to move against all attempts by Syria to arm Hezbollah.
My time has run out...
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.


Posted on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 04:18PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 20, 2015: A Howl of Fury

Nothing less will do...
Five days since the end of Rosh Hashana – which had been for me a time of spiritual high, offering a sense of my place in the world.  How badly I had wanted to hold on to that high.
I knew, of course, that there was violence on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) over Rosh Hashana, violence that had actually begun before Rosh Hashana and then quickly spread to Muslim areas of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The violence was sparked when a decision was made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to block entry to the Mount by the Murabitun and Murabatat: male and female Islamist, which gathered on the Mount daily to intimidate and shout at Jewish visitors.  They have been paid by Hamas to do this.
Here is a video from last year that provides a particularly painful illustration of what has been going on.  Jewish fathers peacefully guiding their children, set upon by screeching Arabs and needing the protection of Israeli police at every step:
Know!  Please, that this obscenity, this outrage, had been occurring – not only regularly, but with increasing frequency and growing intensity.

The statement from Ya’alon’s office stated that he was convinced that barring these troublemakers was necessary to protect national security and public order. The Islamist groups’ activities “create a central component in the creation of tension and violence on the Temple Mount in particular, and Jerusalem in general.”

Ya’alon described the radicals as engaging in “dangerous incitement” against tourists, visitors and worshipers on the Temple Mount, which leads to violence and could put lives at risk.

The Murabitun and Murabatat’s goal is to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, change the reality and the existing arrangements, and harm freedom of worship. They are linked to hostile Islamist organizations and are directed by them.”  (Emphasis added)
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when this announcement was made, for the harassment had gone on all too long. 
I want to emphasize the importance of what is playing out here.  You do not have to be a fervently religious Jew who believes there will be a Third Temple on the Mount one day in order to grasp the deep significance of what it taking place: The challenge to Jews on the Temple Mount is meant to delegitimize Israel’s presence, to deny Jewish historical rights to their most sacred place. Drive Jews off of the Mount, and you have weakened Israel’s position.
Radical groups have long used invented threats to the al Aksa mosque on the Mount as a way of inciting Arabs against Jews.  It is a flash point.
And so, when these particular radical groups were banned, equally radical masked Muslim young men began to stockpile rocks, fireworks and pipe bombs in their precious al Aksa mosque, intent on making trouble on the Jewish holiday.  Their goal was to prevent Jews from coming up to the Mount over Rosh Hashana.

Temple Mount 

Credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters
They made trouble, indeed.  Even border police were attacked. But it was contained: police used non-lethal methods and drove the rioters back into the mosque, where they were blocked in.  And so, Jews were permitted up over the holiday.  I was glad to learn this, when the holiday was over and I was again accessing the news (no radio, no TV, no computer over the holiday).
I think it’s particularly important to make sure that everyone understands that while the Muslims proclaim their religious devotion to the site, they are ready to use it for purposes of violence. Said Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud), the rioters have turned the compound into a “warehouse of terror.”

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan

Credit: Flash 90
What is more, charged Erdan, “I deeply regret the incitement and lies that the PA [headed by Mahmoud Abbas] and Arab MKs have spread about the Temple Mount.”  
Note this: Arab members of our own Knesset participate in the lies.  No surprise to those in the know about the political situation – but it must be pointed out.
The violent mayhem resulted in one Jewish death late Sunday night.  Alexander Levlovitz, returning from a Rosh Hashana dinner, was bombarded by rocks thrown at his car in the East Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.  He lost control of his vehicle, which ran into a ditch and hit a pole.  He died of his injuries in the hospital early Monday morning.

The scene of the car crash September 13, 2015 resulting from a rock-throwing attack in East Talpiot, Jerusalem in which Alexander Levlovitz, 64 [inset] was killed. (Arik Abulof/ Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Services/Courtesy)

Credit: Arik Abulof/ Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Services/Courtesy
On Tuesday night, after the close of Rosh Hashana, Prime Minister Netanyahu called a security meeting in his office.  On Wednesday, speaking of a new level of deterrence, he announced:
“We are changing policy. The existing situation is unacceptable and we intend to give the tools – to both soldiers and policemen – to take very severe action against the rock throwers and fire bomb throwers.

That process has begun, but is not yet fully in place, particularly with respect to when live fire may be used against those throwing rocks and firebombs.  The greatest concern is with regard to firebombs or rocks deliberately thrown at moving cars.  It must be considered that when this is done, the perpetrator had an intent to kill.

The violence continued through the end of last week, with  “day of rage” in Jerusalem called by Arab radicals on Friday.

A number of steps were taken by Israeli security in anticipation of this – including the calling up of 800 Border Police reservists.  And still there was violence, with three police officers wounded.  I believe an expanded contingent of Border Police will be retained in Jerusalem.
Today, according to Twitter, a rock (more like a boulder) was thrown through the window of a car, barely missing the baby within:

Embedded image permalink

Credit: @aviMayer
I have no additional information.
There is a great deal being said about the “status quo” on the Temple Mount, with the Arabs claiming that Israel wants to change it and permit Jewish prayer, while Netanyahu insists that he will retain it.
This requires clarification.
The “status quo,” my friends, is grossly unfair to Jews (and other non-Muslims):  Muslims have entry to the Mount all of the time (unless that entry is curtailed because of a security threat).  Non-Muslims (Jews, Christians and others) have very limited access – Mon. through Thursday, three hours in the morning, one in the afternoon.   Muslims have 10 gates by which to enter, non-Muslims have only the Mughrabi gate.  Besides stockpiling stones, and playing soccer (I am not joking), Muslims can freely pray on the Mount. Jews and Christians cannot.  They come only as “tourists.”
Talk about a howl of fury!
Now the Arabs are afraid Jews might start praying on the Mount. In point of fact, the High Court of Israel said Jews do have the right to pray there, but with a proviso.  If the police determine that their praying might cause a security risk, they have the right to forbid it.
And so, the police forbid it routinely, because it is guaranteed that there will be “unrest” if the Arabs see Jews praying.  Easier to deprive Jews of the right to pray at their holiest site, than to cope with a riot.
I have long wished that once the High Court had delivered its ruling it would have been put into practice: Jews should have been permitted to pray, and whatever was needed to control the riot that would have ensued should have been done.  They would have gotten the message.   
But that’s not what we have now, and our prime minister says he will retain that current policy – he insists that Jews, while not praying, be allowed to go up.
This week, Mahmoud Abbas said that Muslim blood shed for the Temple Mount is “pure”:
”...we are all here for the sake of Jerusalem, and I tell you frankly, a Palestinian state without Jerusalem will never be. The Palestinian state must have holy East Jerusalem as its capital, its capital which was occupied in 1967. All their steps, all these divisions - we will not allow them. Al-Aqsa is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, it is all ours. They [Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet, and we will not allow them.”
Dore Gold, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded thus:
”Today the world is divided between those trying to undermine religious coexistence and those trying to protect it. By saying that the 'filthy feet' of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount desecrate it, Mahmoud Abbas has now clarified on which side he stands."
His point is of major significance:  There are those, frightened by the violence, who claim we have to give the Muslims who are rioting “hope,” via negotiations for a “two state solution.” 
Mark it well: They do not want to share with us, they want us gone.
There have been multiple suggestions regarding building of a synagogue on one corner of the Mount, which is very large. Or alternating hours, with Jews up some times and Muslims others. There is a model for this at the Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron).  But they will have none of it because they want us gone.
It is to be expected, of course, but it is an unacceptable state of affairs none-the-less: Agents and governments in many quarters take that familiar ‘even-handed’ approach, advising both parties to “avoid escalating tensions.”  As if actions to quell violence are on a par with the violence itself.  As if there is no reason to call out the raging Muslims on their behavior, or to defend the rights of Jews.
In some cases fingers are pointed at the Israelis. The king of Jordan is especially good at this along with the PA.
Such is the world.  A world in which we are required to stand very very strong.
Yom Kippur, our day of greatest sanctity, begins at sundown on Tuesday.  I do not know if I will post again before that.  The days between Rosh Hashana are meant for contemplation and meditation and prayer.
Tomorrow I will be attending classes in preparation for Yom Kippur with two of my favorite teachers. 
I took the time to write this because it is necessary to set the record straight.  Please, share the information in this posting broadly.
To all, I wish a tzom kal – an easy fast.  May we and all of Israel be sealed for a good year. 


© 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.


Posted on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 02:59PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 10, 2015: You Cannot Wash Your Hands of That Blood

These are the words of Senator Ted Cruz, who spoke superbly at the rally against the Iran deal at the Capitol yesterday, a rally of some 10,000 energetic people who came out in brutal heat.


Credit: Getty

You can hear his entire speech here:

Some highlights of his 12 minute talk (emphasis added):

“...Right now, today, 42 Senate democrats have come out in support of this deal. It is my hope and prayer that every one of those Senate Democrats reconsiders -- that they go home, and they fall to their knees, and they pray tonight. I agree with former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman that this vote is quite likely the most important vote that any member of Congress, any member of the Senate, will cast in their entire career. 

“There was a time when there was a tradition of Scoop Jackson Democrats, of JFK Democrats, of Joe Lieberman Democrats, of Democrats who were willing to defend national security.  Sadly, that is becoming rarer and rarer in today's Congress. So to every Democratic senator, they are facing a choice: do you value the safety and security of the United States of America; do you value standing with our friend and ally, the nation of Israel; do you value the lives of millions of Americans; or do you value more party loyalty to the Obama White House. To every Democratic senator who's said he or she will support this deal, I ask you to consider: how will you look in the eyes of the mothers and fathers of our soldiers, the hundreds of soldiers, American soldiers, who were murdered in Iraq with Iranian IEDs that came from General Soleimani. This deal lifts sanctions on General Soleimani. Tell me, if you're a Democratic senator, how you look a mom in the eye and say, "I voted to lift sanctions on the man who murdered your son when he was defending this nation."

“...I want to ask every Senate Democrat - how will you look in the eyes of every mother, or father, or sons or daughters, of those who are murdered by jihadists, those Americans who are blown up, those Americans who are shot, those Americans who are killed, those Israelis who are murdered? And let me be clear - if you vote to send billions of dollars to jihadists who have pledged to murder Americans, then you bear direct responsibility for the murders carried out with the dollars you have given them. You cannot wash your hands of that blood.

“And let me say to Republican leadership...There are two men in Washington, D.C. who can defeat this deal: their names are Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner. Under the terms of the Corker-Cardin review legislation, the clock does not begin ticking until the President hands over the entire deal, and he has not handed over the side agreements. What that means is that all that has to happen is for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to say, ‘The Congressional review period has not started, under federal law it is illegal for Obama to lift sanctions.’

“Now, this is a lawless President. So the odds are significant even if Congress did that, this President would ignore the law and try to lift sanctions. But I want in particular to speak to the CEO and the Board of Director and General Counsel of every financial institution, every bank that is holding frozen Iranian money. If this President behaves illegally and decrees you can hand that money over to Iran, that does not exempt you from the legal obligation to follow the law. And any bank that listens to this President and releases billions to an international terrorist like the Ayatollah Khamenei will face billions of dollars in civil liability and litigation. And there will come a President who is not named Barack Obama.

“...if Senate Democrats decide that party loyalty matters more than national security, and if Republican leadership decides that a show-vote is more important than stopping this deal, then the single most important issue in 2016 will be stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“...Let's rise up and tell every elected official in Washington, no more talk, no more show votes, get it done: stop this deal.”


That is it, my friends.  This charge is for all of us.  Even if you have contacted all your elected representatives in Congress before, do it again, today.

If you are dealing with Democrats who declared they would support the deal, or who have not declared yet – tell them “You cannot wash your hands of that blood!”  This should go especially to the likes of Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who pretend deep caring and vote for their careers.  Let Senator Jerrold Nadler hear from you. As well as all those other phonies.  Tell them this is their chance to redeem themselves, and that Heaven is watching.

If you are dealing with Republicans who are tepid in their responses, who have not spoken out strongly against the deal, tell them it is in their hands – they can stop the deal. Tell them that according to Federal law the clock for Congressional review has not begun ticking because the president has not handed over to Congress all the details of the deal, as required by the Corker Bill.  Demand that they stand strong.

If you have elected representatives who have spoken out with courage, thank them and urge them to stay strong.


As it happens, there is hope on the horizon.  A procedural vote on the deal was scheduled for yesterday but was blocked by Republicans who say the president has to turn over the entire deal before there can be any vote. 

That is why your phone calls – absolutely without delay – are so important. 

If there is enough courage in the Congress, enough integrity, enough concern for country over party and career, this can be stopped.  Important for those who are not courageous to be called on their stances.


© 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.


Posted on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 08:09AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 9, 2015: Sound of the Shofar

Rosh Hashana begins Sunday night. I hope to post one more time after this, before I go into Shabbat and then the holiday, but I cannot be sure time will allow. And so I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers a Shana Tova. May this be a year of blessing for all of us. A year of peace, health, wellbeing and spiritual growth.


Credit: inspirulina

There is a tradition that tells us that the sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashana is the wail of Sarah, on hearing that her only son, Yitzhak, was going to be sacrificed.

Last week I was taught a perspective that carries this even further.  The tradition says that Sarah subsequently died in response to the news of what was about to happen to Yitzhak. And so, according to the teachings of one rabbi, her cry – mimicked by the shofar sound – was not just a wail of anguish.  It was a call to the Almighty, telling him that there is a limit to human suffering.  It was because she had endured beyond the limit that she died.

The wail of the shofar then, is a wake-up call to us, certainly. But it is also our message to Heaven: We are at our limit, please, no more.

Pray with special devotion this Rosh Hashana.  Send this message Above: no more, please, no more.  Seal Am Yisrael for peace, and well being, and strength.

In the spirit of the shofar, and mindful of prayers for the strength of Am Yisrael, I share this moving historical video. “Echoes of a Shofar” (with thanks to Simone):

We are in the midst of a record breaking sand storm, with yellow dust floating in the air and blanketing everything. This is coupled with intense heat. Jerusalem is getting hit the hardest.  Yesterday (pictured) was worse than today, but it is not supposed to break for a while yet. 

I read that this weather pattern is the result of a storm in Syria. Wouldn’t you know it.  But there is a plus side to this.  Israelis in the Golan, near the border of Syria, who are accustomed to hearing the shooting of the war, report that all is quiet: they cannot see each other.  (Thanks, Deena)

Credit: EPA


Very often when I write about something, I subsequently discover additional information on the same subject – either because of articles that catch my attention or material sent to me by readers.  This has been especially true with regard to my focus on the refugee migrant problem, yesterday.  I knew yesterday that I would have to return to this subject.  And so, do so today with thanks to those who sent me material.

Yesterday I wrote about the picture of the body of the little Syrian Kurdish boy washed up on a beach in Turkey.  The picture that had gone viral, sparking intense feelings and greater interest in the plight of fleeing refugees.


The picture was real enough.  But the story behind it was a bit different from what had been broadly understood.  This boy, his brother, and their parents – originally from Syria - had been living safely in Turkey for three years.  They were not in the boat that capsized because they were escaping persecution: It was apparently because the father badly needed dental work and decided to bring his whole family with him to Europe when he went for this purpose.  The article below says the boat was headed for Greece, another article I was sent said his aim was to get to Germany.  For teeth, not for respite from persecution. 

Sad, most certainly, that this child is dead; but there is a lesson here in terms of what appears in the media and how people interpret information and respond.


The news is awash in information about the tide of humanity flooding into Europe. The EU has an open border policy, and so once refugees enter, they can move from one locale to another. 

This has alarmed London, which is trying to control the situation.  England is considering withdrawing from the EU for this reason, so that it might retain the right to control its own borders.

Whether this actually occurs or not, what is happening is that British authorities are going into the Middle East in an effort to select the refugees currently in camps that it will take in.  Not sure how well this will work, but there is an exceedingly significant point here, with regard to controlling immigration.


Right now, large groups of people, literally, walk into one EU country or another with a coastline along the Mediterranean. Italy, Greece, Spain, are common entry points. There are no check points that control their entry, they have no documents.  And that is a huge danger.  Because  - which point I have already made - it is crystal clear that undesirables are coming along with the genuinely needy. (See more on this below)

The most sought-after locale is Germany, because it is the most generous with assistance (which would be why the father needing dental work would have been headed there).  People start elsewhere in Europe and make their way into Germany.  Sweden is considered second most desirable.

This situation has begun to alarm German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, yesterday, she spoke about the need for the asylum system in the EU to be managed jointly – it is not a German responsibility, she said, but the responsibility of all 28 nations of the EU.  

OK, but if Germany offers a more desirable level of assistance, the immigrants are going to flock there.  Is she talking about physically moving out some who have come to Germany, and bringing them to other EU nations that haven’t done their share?  Not a simple situation.


And when Merkel refers to the need to register the refugees, it seems that the systems in place are inadequate to this task.  We are not talking about people who apply for asylum while elsewhere, presenting documents and awaiting approval before entering the country in an orderly fashion.  We are talking about large groups that just descend.  Some ultimately apply for asylum with the legal certainty and assistance it provides; others – perhaps carry money or having contacts – simply disappear inside the country.

Laszlo Kiss-Rigo, Bishop of Szeged-Csanad in southern Hungary calls what is happening an “invasion.”

Many of them “have money,” the bishop said.  “Most of them behave in a way that is very arrogant and cynical.”

“It’s not 150,000 migrants coming that some want to divide according to quotas, it’s not 500,000, a figure that I heard in Brussels, it’s millions, then tens of millions, because the supply of immigrants is endless,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. (Emphasis added)

Hungary is trying to establish a closed border policy, rushing now to complete a fence along its border with Serbia.

They are being criticized for this, but I think there is a strong case to be made for this position. European nations have a responsibility to help those suffering in Syria and elsewhere, but that responsibility does not necessarily have to encompass an open-border policy.  More attention must be paid to assistance in the Middle East.


Representatives of some 60 nations, including Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, met in Paris yesterday for a conference to address the refugee situation. Their position is more nuanced than simply saying all of the refugees must be taken in, and they are looking at ways to facilitate returning of refugees, and to providing assistance to those in refugee camps or displaced in neighboring countries (such as Jordan).  They are talking about reconstruction of infrastructure, restoring services, and training local police.

This makes vast sense.  

“There is a humanitarian crisis,” said French president Francois Hollande. If we do not offer more help...then not only will there be more tragedies..but there will be this exodus.” (Emphasis added here and following.)

“It’s very difficult,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, “but if all these refugees come to Europe or elsewhere, then Daesh [ISIS] has won the game.”

Uh huh.


“An operative working for Islamic State has revealed the terror group has successfully smuggled thousands of covert jihadists into Europe.

“The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen had been smuggled into western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees.  The ISIS smuggler, who is I his thirties and is described as having a trimmed jet-black beard revealed the ongoing clandestine operation is a complete success.

“’Just wait,’ he smiled...

“They are going like refugees...” 


“In Bulgaria, a search of five Albanian men trying to cross the border revealed that they were carrying Islamic State propaganda, including videos of decapitations.”


Migrants “come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They want to take over,” protested Bishop Kiss-Rigo, cited above. (Emphasis added)


“’We are deliberately ignoring the issue as a strategic maneuver. If these refugees go and settle in the West then they will take with them the beacon of light that is Islam,’ an official from the Saudi government said.” (Emphasis added)

This last quote is from an op-ed by Jack Englehard:

“Lucky for these Syrians that they are indeed Muslims. If they were Jews they wouldn’t stand a chance. For the Jews in the same spot only a generation ago, no tears, no hugs, no welcoming arms, no open border, no cry to help these people – nothing.  Nothing but silence, the silence of complicity.

“Every door was closed. The refugee ship St. Louis tried to find an open door but was sent back.

The New York Times could not be bothered. The paper that covered the Holocaust on page 36 as part of ‘in other news,’ today lobbies and campaigns to bring Syrians into the United States – FRONT PAGE.

“That Syrian infant washed up on shore. The world weeps. One and a half million babies never even got that far (emphasis in original)...

So Dear World, spare me your tainted pieties.  I can’t remember your sweet mercies when the Jews were the storm-tossed refugees.

“I can’t remember your hugs, your smiles, your warm embrace when the few of us, the remnants, made it to shore...

“Our bad timing, it must have been, that we failed to arrive as Arabs. Yes, lucky them, doubly so because these Syrian men who left their women behind and pushed their children forward, only yesterday weren’t they stomping the American flag and shouting death to Christians and Jews?

“...For you, Dear Europe, there is no stopping ‘the beacon of light that is Islam.’  That’s called justice.”  (Thank you, Esther!)


The rally at the capitol is still going on as I complete this.  I watched the first speeches on streaming video, here in Jerusalem.

I will only say here that Senator Ted Cruz was magnificent.


© 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.


Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 05:31PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 8, 2015: Shifting Focus

Sort of.  The Iran deal is of primary concern, and so, the major attention I’ve paid to it has been critically important.  In fact, I fully intend to return to this subject very soon.  It could not be otherwise, with Congress now re-convening and about to begin debate on the issue.
REMEMBER: Major rally at the Capitol in Washington DC tomorrow at 1 PM.  Please!  If it is physically possible for you to get there, do so. 


However, it reaches the point at which other issues must also be addressed.  And thus will I begin to do so today.
Reham, yet another member of the Dawabsha family, has died of injuries incurred in the arson attack on the family home in Duma, in late July. She is the mother of the child who succumbed during the attack.


Credit: Tumbir
Once again, Arab cries go out for “revenge” against the Jews who allegedly committed this terrorist attack.
And so once again I must raise my voice in protest against this assumption of Jewish guilt, which I am convinced is severely misplaced. . That Hamas should use this incident to foment violence against Jews in Israel is hardly surprising. 
What is far more distressing and damaging is the continuing conviction on the part of some Jews (both in Israel and elsewhere) that Jewish “terrorists” are to blame.  These are Jews of a galut mentality, who run to beat their chests in assumption of guilt. There is no evidence that Jews did it other than some Hebrew that had been written on the wall. And you know what?  Arabs can write Hebrew.
The facts: the arson in Duma was carried out on a home in the center of the village, not at the periphery, where a terrorist from outside would logically attack so that escape would be easy. And, in fact, this particular home could not be approached readily, as there was a fence, and grating on windows.  It would seem then that this was not an attack on a random, easily accessible Arab home (which would be the case if a Jew perpetrated the attack), but on a particular Arab home.  This impression is reinforced by the fact that two other homes of Dawabsha cousins have been attacked, and by the reports of a clan feud within the village in which the Dawabsha family was involved.
There have been no arrests of Jews against whom there is the slightest evidence. What is deeply to be regretted is that Israeli authorities are reluctant to pursue a vigorous investigation inside the village regarding the stories that a clan feud is at the core of what has happened.  It is – what? – safer, more politically correct, not to go in this direction.  And so, this matter will continue to float in the air, with accusations flying.  As long as no Arabs have been apprehended, and no solid evidence regarding the feud brought forth, it will be easy for those who point their fingers at Jews to claim that Jews haven’t been arrested because authorities let them go.
The situation of immigrants fleeing Africa and the Middle East has been a major issue for some time, although not everyone has been paying attention.  Now, the problem has grown considerably in severity.
The attention of the world was captured when heart-wrenching photographs were published of the body of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian Kurdish boy, which had washed up on a Turkish beach at Bodrum. Put out on twitter, the pictures went viral.


Credit: dailysabah
Aylan perished along with his mother and brother when the boat they were in capsized. But this was, of course, only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and Aylan’s boat is hardly the only one that has capsized.  I had read only days earlier of migrant children hidden in the back of a sealed truck who were discovered mere hours before dying of dehydration.
Unbearable images, and a totally unacceptable situation.  But the question is what to do about it.
Refugee migrants come from Nigeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. But in growing numbers they are fleeing the civil war in Syria.  We are speaking about Muslims, in almost all instances, and that point must be made, whether it is politically incorrect to do so or not.
When we take a look at what has happened to the EU countries in recent years, we see that they are inundated by a Muslim population that does not wish to assimilate and become European.  And we see that whatever the suffering, and the needs of children, there are also large numbers of radicals present in this population whose goal it is to take over the European continent in due course. They are already on the way. They affect the political climate of Europe, and generate terrorism.
Greece is overwhelmed, as is Hungary. Spain is in big trouble.  Germany, whose government is still saying it can cope, anticipates having 800,000 asylum seekers to deal with before the end of 2015 – over 100,000 came in August alone. The German government is now beginning to more stringently differentiate between those who are economic migrants and those seeking political asylum.
What is more, the influx of migrants is expected to continue for years.  It’s not just a very temporary flood of humanity,  And, I must point out, the Muslims have a high birthrate, while the Europeans are not even reproducing themselves.
How much longer then, will there be a Europe as we have known it?  Has Europe already gone beyond the tipping point?
The Western world has a great deal to answer for, with regard to this dislocation of population and human misery.  There is no question about it.
But the solution does not lie in moving vast numbers of people. Instead there must be serious efforts expended towards ameliorating what are now intolerable situations – with enclaves in or near the areas from which the migrants are coming.  A tolerable and safe situation must be created for those who are suffering.
For years the world did nothing as Assad, president of Syria, waged war against rebels, killing well over 200,000 people in the process.  An Israeli Jew looks cross-eyed at a Palestinian Arab and it makes headlines. But in Syria? The world shrugged at Muslim murdering Muslim.  Iran supports Assad, and now, just as he seems weakened, Iran is likely to have considerable more largesse as the result of the deal, with which to bolster Assad. 

But on the flip side, so do the Gulf states have a great deal to answer for, likely even more.  Noah Beck says that the funding of radical Islamists in Syria by the Gulf states has exacerbated the situation.  He suggests that with the defeat of ISIS, ISIS-liberated territories should be converted into mini states that are safe havens.

Robert Spencer, who is a writer and commentator on Islam, has written an article in which he speaks about hijirah, which is jihad by immigration. “’And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance,’ says the Qur’an.”
Spencer tells us that:

“Evidence that this [the current flood of emigration] is a hijrah, not simply a humanitarian crisis, came last February, but was little noted at the time and almost immediately forgotten. The Islamic State published a document entitled, “Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State.” Gateway into Europe, that is: the document exhorted Muslims to go to Libya and cross from there as refugees into Europe. This document tells would-be jihadis that weapons from Gaddafi’s arsenal are plentiful and easy to obtain in Libya – and that the country ‘has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.’

“The Islamic State did not have in mind just a few jihadis crossing from Libya: it also emerged last February that the jihadis planned to flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees. Now the number is shooting well beyond that in Germany alone. Of course, not all of these refugees are Islamic jihadis. Not all are even Muslims, although most are. However, no effort whatsoever is being made to determine the refugees’ adherence to Sharia and desire to bring it to their new land.”

Even as there must be humanitarian concern for suffering, Europeans ignore what Spencer writes at their own peril.


It should be noted that the Gulf states have done next to nothing with regard to taking in these refugees.  Multiple reasons are advanced, but one that I am seeing is a concern about jihadis entering their countries.  A black joke when you consider that they fund jihadis.

A very complex situation, and one I will undoubtedly return to.


© 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.


Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 02:28PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 7, 2015: Unraveling Complications

I hope to share just a few thoughts here regarding the Congressional vote on the Iran deal.
In trying to unravel for myself some of the precise wording of the Corker Bill, I consulted with an international lawyer (US born and educated).  His response to me, in part, was that the Corker Bill is “a real drafting disaster.”  He went on to explain some of the ways in which this is so, but I am going to pass on sharing details. 
I think the fact that it is a disaster – not clearly and coherently drafted – tells us a good deal about those who did the drafting.  They functioned in a political climate that was itself awash in ambiguities and evasiveness and game-playing.  It is important to recognize that this is the case.
It could well be that the bill, as charged, conveys the sort of confusion that makes adhering to it a near impossibility.  If this is so, it is part of the larger story.
In any event, there are certainly those saying that there are stumbling blocks inherent in the document.  But what remains to be seen is whether there is the courage within the Republican faction of the Congress to confront these problems, rather than looking away and pretending all is in order.  For me, that’s the ikar, the heart of the story.  (See below, my last item, on this, with regard to viewing the deal as a treaty.)
I’m receiving comments from some readers who say that Cardin does not deserve accolades for coming out against the Iran deal.
First, because he was part of the leadership that drafted the disastrous Corker Bill.  True, for what is commonly referred to as the “Corker Bill” is the “Corker-Cardin Bill.” But for that I see Bob Corker, who is the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, as having primary responsibility.  Had he not caved, but rather insisted on the deal being voted upon as a treaty, there would not be the current mess.
And then, because Cardin waited until Obama knew he had garnered a veto-proof number of votes before declaring – a valid point. What he did in this respect is typical of the game-playing that has adhered to this whole process.  Compare the time at which he declared with the much earlier declaration of Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel.
And yet...I’m glad he did come out against it, because he has stature and his position carries some weight. If the report I cited yesterday – regarding the legislation he intends to advance that would control the damage done by the deal – is true, then it mitigates a good deal.  Yes, I know. Had he come out sooner, he might have influenced other Democrats to stand against it as well – which is better than legislation to mitigate it. 
But still I would be pleased to see that legislation come to be.  It would address, among other things, the issue of terrorism considered below.  This, by calling for an accounting of how Iran will be spending the money garnered via sanctions relief.
I share here a few articles.
Leon Panetta, who has served both as secretary of defense and head of the CIA (both under Obama, please note), has written an op-ed in the LA Times, in which he declares the Iran deal to be a bad one (emphasis added).
“In itself, the Iran deal would appear to reward Tehran for defying the world, make funds available for its extremist activities and generally make it stronger militarily and economically...Let’s face it, given the situation in the Middle East, empowering Iran in any way seems like a dangerous gamble.”
Says Panetta, part of the purpose of the deal should be to build a strong coalition to confront terrorism in the future.
To that end, he recommends, among other things, harsh enforcement of the deal, a strong military presence in the region maintained by the US, expanded US intelligence capabilities, and a clear US declaration that military force is an option.
The problem, of course, is that none of these are options Obama would consider. And it is here that we come to a very basic part of the problem with the deal.  It is not just about Iranian nuclear capability – it is about empowering Iranian hegemony and terrorism by Iranian proxies.  This is the most immediate danger.


Credit: Politico
More on the same subject of terrorism:
After Senator Marc Kirk (R–IL) requested that the Obama administration disclose estimates of “Iranian military spending, as well as Iranian assistance to Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militias in Iraq, the Assad government, Hezbollah, and Hamas,” the Congressional Research Service issued a report.  According to that report, Iran’s defense budget ranges between $15 and 30 billion a year, with a solid percent of this going to pay for proxy terror groups and rebel fighters.
A “low ball” estimate is that Hezbollah alone gets $100 to $200 million per year while the Assad regime gets somewhere between $3 and $15 billion per year.
“’Some regional experts claim that Iran’s defense budget excludes much of its spending on intelligence activities and support of foreign non-state actors,’ the report states, estimating that actual military spending could far exceed the $30 billion Iran discloses annually.”
And this is before the full impact of sanctions relief is felt by Iran, which will then be able to expend far more on terrorists.
How, it must be asked, could the US Congress entertain a deal that permits this?  The question should be asked in calls to elected representatives in Congress, in letters to the editor, and talkbacks on the Internet. Even now.  Especially now.
And here I present something once again that is out of the box, a most fantastic video satire on Iranian-funded terrorism. From Shurat Ha-Din, the Israel Law Center.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee and great friend of Obama, speaking of love for Israel with tears in her eyes, has declared herself for the Iran deal. Following her announcement, constituents have been demanding her resignation because she ignored the will of the voters.

It’s never been possible to take Schultz very seriously. Hopefully, she will lose her seat in 2016 (for she surely will not resign). But this should be spoken about broadly, as an object lesson to Democratic members of Congress as to what can happen if they flaunt the will of their voters. in order to adhere to Obama’s party line.  Little good Obama’s promises will be with regard to their political futures, if they find themselves out of office.
I keep on expressing my intent to switch to other subjects, but somehow don’t get there.  Tomorrow I truly hope I will.
But here I would like to close on a good note, with a focus on Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX 1st). Have picked up a good deal about him and it seems that his voice is the strongest in Congress against the Iran deal.  He pulls no punches, and while I have charged several times that the Republicans are weak, he is certainly an exception.  In fact, when guest hosting Sean Hannity's radio program recently, he said that Republican leaders who approved the Corker bill have "became willing accomplices" in "the hell it will unleash on so many innocent people."


Credit: CNN
Just today, he announced that he will introduce a resolution declaring the Iran deal a treaty.  If it passes, he says, the Senate should deliberate on its ratification within 30 days.
Don’t see enormous likelihood of this passing – but this, again, would be the responsibility of the Republicans.  And it’s good to see someone fighting the status quo.
He will be at the rally at the Capitol at 1:00 on Wednesday.
© 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.


Posted on Monday, September 7, 2015 at 03:50PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 6, 2015: Carrying on with Vigor

The end of last week was tough: With the declaration of Senator Mikulski (D-MD) that she would support the Iran deal, Obama had the number of votes he needed to block the Senate from overriding his veto of the Congressional rejection of his Iran program.  At least on paper.
My message was that we keep going, because it might still be possible to overturn the situation.
See my comments here:.

and here:


But then, no sooner was my last message out when further news was announced. Three more Democratic senators declared for the deal: Cory Booker (NJ) – in a pathetic announcement, Mark Warner (VA), and Heidi Heitkamp (ND). 
Not a happy moment. 
But in the end my message does not change: Those of us with the clarity of vision to understand what a horrendous and dangerous deal this is must persist in speaking out against it. If anything, the perversity of those who are coming out for the deal must prod us to ever more vigorous protest.
Overturning the situation in Congress is now more problematic, as Obama has more than sufficient votes to block the veto override.  But there are multiple reasons for continuing on our path:
As unlikely as it is, some who have declared for the deal might still change their minds. 
What is more, a strong case against the deal provides impetus to those in Congress working on fighting it via a variety of legal approaches.  (See more on this below.)
Caroline Glick last week called our apparent inability to garner sufficient Congressional opposition to the bill “A glorious defeat.”  Glorious because it strengthened American and American Jewish opposition to the deal.
Because the deal will be a failure, says Glick, it will end up being a political liability for those Democrats who have stood with Obama, and provide an opportunity for Democratic challengers to clean house. 
It will pave the way for Obama’s successor in the White House to abrogate the deal.
And, significantly, “by fighting against this deal, Netanyahu removed the main obstacle that kept Israel from taking action that will prevent Iran from going nuclear. He reduced Obama’s power to harm Israel.” (emphasis added)  Israel, she says, is using the battle on the issue “to expand its capacity to act without the US to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
What we see, then, is that what appears to be an Obama victory on the Iran deal is not the last word on the situation by any means. 
It is a victory of note for opponents of the deal that Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has now announced his opposition.

Credit: AP
The influential Senator Cardin is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN).  On the House side, Congressman Eliot Engel (NY), ranking Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Republican Congressman Edward Royce (CA), also came out against the deal. This is considered a blow to the president’s prestige.
What is more, Senator Cardin has announced his intention to introduce legislation “that would make clear the steps the United States will take against Iran if it violates the nuclear deal. The bill will include provisions such as regular reports from the administration on how Iran is spending resources it obtains thanks to sanctions relief as well as a new security package for Israel.”
It seems to me of considerable importance that, according to Politico, Cardin has the backing of lawmakers “on both sides of the issue.”  This means that even some in Congress who have come out in support, have reservations about the degree of latitude provided to Iran. and it greatly increases its chances of passing.
If this item in the Politico report is accurate, it has, I think the greatest significance: There is an allusion above to a “new security package for Israel.”  That package is then explained in more detail (emphasis added):
“Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a group that supports the deal, said the draft he'd seen of Cardin's proposed legislation was deeply problematic. He said the bill would allow the U.S. to transfer the bunker-busting ‘massive ordnance penetrator,’ a weapon that could in theory destroy Iran's best-protected nuclear facilities, to Israel. The only aircraft known to be able to carry MOPs are B-2 or B-52 bombers...

“The bill ‘seeks to reinterpret the terms of the nuclear deal itself, and thus it needs to be recognized as an effort by someone who’s voting no to undermine the implementation of the deal,’ Kimball said.”

Don’t know if this is true, don’t know if it would pass in Congress. Don’t know if we would get those B-2 or B-52 bombers. But this suggests a whole different line of thinking.  Kimball’s “deeply problematic” is music to the ears of a great number of us here in Israel. 
Maybe if not this minute, a bit down the road.  Stay tuned.
And so, my friends, the case against this fiasco must continue to be made. The fight must go on with full vigor.
Along with the proposed legislation of Senator Cardin are a number of other tacks being considered for blocking the Iran deal.  They involve, for example, the questionable legality (per the Constitution ) of the deal in its current formulation, rather than as a treaty, and the fact that there are parts of the agreement to which Congress has not been made privy, thereby rendering a decision on the matter – as outlined by the Corker bill - impossible. 
Remember that there are major rallies this Wednesday, September 9:  At 1 PM on the West Lawn of the Capitol, a rally featuring Senator Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and a whole lot more.  I urge you to attend if you possibly can. Make your way to Washington!  Numbers matter and this will be a significant event.  Among the sponsors is ZOA and Center for Security Policy.
At noon, at the same locale, there will be a Rabbi’s March of 400, sponsored by OU.  The participants of this event are being encouraged to stay for what follows.  Rabbis will also be meeting with members of Congress.
In Toronto on the same date, 4:30 to 6:30 PM, on University Avenue, across from the US Consulate.  This is in support of the Rabbi’s March on Washington, and is additionally sponsored on behalf of the Yezidi people facing genocide.
There is so much more I am eager to write about – including Palestinian Arab issues, Temple Mount issues, illegal immigration issues, and more.  I will do my best, but will continue to focus on the Iran issue in the short term, as well.  Our eye must stay on the ball.
I’m going to do something very “out of the box” here, because I think it’s called for.  I share a video that delivers – in a very different, and moving context - the lesson we all need to internalize.  We do not give up.  As long as we believe we can have an effect of matters, we will.  This conviction must not be surrendered.
© 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.


Posted on Sunday, September 6, 2015 at 03:25PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 3, 2015: One Messy Affair

I am referring, of course, to the whole business of the votes in Congress on the Iran deal.
Netanyahu has come out with a statement, echoing what I and others said yesterday, that things can still change, and we must keep fighting.
Those who oppose the deal have already achieved a major goal in publicizing its various faults and weaknesses – its dangers.  At this point, the majority of the American people understands those dangers and is opposed to the deal.
As there seems some confusion, I want to clarify once again: there are two votes anticipated. The first on whether to accept the deal.  In that case, a simple majority of members of Congress suffices., as it will be couched in the negative: we do not accept.  And if that vote is taken, those opposed to the deal should hold sway – it should be rejected.
It is with regard to this vote that I wrote yesterday about the “moral majority” – the more reject the deal, the greater the moral and political impact.  Whatever happens subsequently, a majority of Congress will be on record as having declared against the deal.
Remember this, and use it: If Obama wins, it will not be because a majority of the Congress was with him.  It will be because of the games that have been played,  games that make it possible for Obama to win with a minority of the Congress voting with him.
For a better understanding of this, see Andrew McCarthy on the Corker Bill, which set the current process in place:
There is talk that the acceptance of the deal might never come to a vote – because a filibuster might be instituted: The rules of the Senate permit members to speak for indefinite lengths of time, thus preventing a vote from being called.  I say there is “talk” about this, but it is not at all clear that it will happen.  Senate rules require at least 2/3 of its members – or 60 Senators – to vote for cloture, to close debate.  Reversing the numbers, that means Obama would need 41 Senators to vote against cloture, so the filibuster could continue.  He does not have nearly that number now.  
If the deal is rejected by a vote of Congress, the president will veto it.  And this is where Mikulski’s declaration in support comes in: it means that – right now - the opposition does not have the necessary number to override the veto. 
We will continue to work, in hopes of a change in this situation.
It was my dear friend Sharmaine who advanced the most important suggestion in this regard, one I am remiss for not having mentioned sooner:
“...the timing for the vote is perfect after Rosh Hashana...We need to pray ..... For heavenly intervention on the vote!”
Amen on this.  Please!
There have been a good many other suggestions as well that have been sent to me, broadly in line with the McCarthy piece from July, cited above. There are multiple suggestions that this deal is really a treaty, and illegal or unconstitutional as currently structured.  There is the suggestion (advanced in American Thinker by Skloroff and Bender) that the Senate must sue the executive, “triggering a confrontation between the judicial [Supreme Court] and the executive branches.”
I do not intend to consider these various thoughts – which have merit – in any detail, however.  This is because it is my perception that there are a good many wimps among the Republican in the Senate. They failed the nation in the first place, when they agreed to the current configuration for voting, which puts the onus on those who are opposed to the deal, rather than the other way around.  And I simply do not believe that they are about to take on Obama in any seriously confrontational fashion.
In the exceedingly unlikely event that they would do so, it has to be because some Republicans of courage in the Senate have considered various legal ramifications and have decided to move forward.  It must come from within the Republican ranks of the Senate.  It SHOULD come from their ranks, but...
What I do see as a possibility is that a scheme may be devised by the Republicans that is less confrontational. but has the effect of at least partially blocking what Obama intends to advance.  For example, there may be a push for reinstatement of sanctions.
I speak of Republican wimps, and I would like to use this opportunity to enlarge on this comment.  Many of us celebrated when Republicans gained control of the Congress. Today, many of us mourn the way in which that Republican majority has failed the nation.  I am not saying that there are no Republicans in Congress who have courage and integrity; I am saying the Republican majority bloc has not moved with determination and strength – in pursuit of a clear-eyed vision for the nation.
Just as there was unconscionable game-playing with regard to how the vote on the Iran deal would be structured, so have there been multiple other instances in which Obama has secured the upper hand when he should not have been permitted to.  Now I hear that the deal should have been a treaty, and that what Obama has done is not legal. But the Republicans agreed to it!  Just as they acquiesced in a dozen other instances in which the president has played fast and loose with the rules.
Is it that the president has the nation in his thrall?  Or that he plays such hardball that there is hesitation to move against him?  One matter is very clear: he plays the race card, which makes opponents uneasy about taking him on, lest they be charged with racism.
What we see again and again is that the president has no compunction about dancing around the truth, and evading direct promises that have been made.  All politicians do this to some extent, but he is an all time master.  We’ve seen this with “absolute” assurances he offered on the Iran deal, which have turned out to be no assurances at all.  Yet somehow, he has managed to get away with it, when Congress should have called a halt.
Add to this the telling of bold-faced lies.  I mention this here because only days ago, he did a webcast for the American Jewish community.  “We’re all pro-Israel,” he declared.  “We’re all family.”
Can anyone really believe this, after seeing that he agreed to a situation for Iran that will increase terrorism against Israel by Iran’s proxies? 
“Nothing in this agreement prevents us from continuing to push back forcefully against terrorist activity,” he offered reassuringly.
Right... give Iran access to increased numbers of conventional weapons and huge sums of money, all of which will serve to bolster Iran’s terror proxies such as Hezbollah, and then provide assurance that there will be action against terrorism.
I am not sure how he says all of this with a straight face.  But he does, and manages without eliciting wholesale outrage.  I have not read of anyone who asked him, “What do you take me for, a fool?” 
This tells me that America is in a very bad place.
© 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.


Posted on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 11:26AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 2, 2015: WE KEEP GOING

Obama has now secured the support of 34 Senate Democrats for the nuclear deal with Iran. This means that as matters stand he has sufficient backing to sustain his veto of  legislation aimed at blocking the agreement. That is because today Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the 34th Senator to announce support for the deal.
It hurts. It enrages.  It elicits cries of “Heaven help us.”
But what I come to say in this short posting today is that we should, we absolutely must, keep going. We should redouble our efforts.
It feels like a “victory” for Obama and other Democrats who support the horrendous deal with Iran.  But keep in mind that this contingent is totally devoid of moral authority. The win, such as it is at this point, is largely a function of cronyism and narrow self-serving perspective, as well as incredible pressure by the president - who utilizes a fierce carrot and stick approach.  It represents party before nation, and putting what is safe before what is good.
Ours is the moral high ground.  And so, we hold up our heads, and we keep going.
I must point out, first of all, that the fat lady has not sung yet. That is, it is not over.  There is a process still to be walked through: the debate on the issue in Congress, starting in a week. And then the vote, on the 17th. That is, if there is no filibuster – which would further complicate the dynamics.  And then, if Congress votes against the deal, there is the formality of Obama’s veto, and then yet another vote.
Milkulski’s declaration today was very bad news, without a doubt. But it did not carve the end result into stone
There is much that may yet happen in the course of the process between now and then.  It may not be likely, but it is possible that something will be said in the course of the debate that will have an impact on a Democrat senator who had declared for the deal and suddenly has second thoughts.  With everything horrendous that has already been revealed about the deal, perhaps just one more fact will surface that will be the proverbial straw – the ultimate fact that cannot be tolerated or ignored for expediency.   Suppose there is exposure of a very major terror attack against the US, being planned and underwritten by Iran, and it makes many senators start to worry.  Really worry.  Suppose deeply compromising information about a Senator surfaces, which causes him to reverse his position.  Suppose many, many things...
All this “supposing” provides a certain perspective.
And so what do we do? We continue to make the case against the deal in every possible venue. We write against it in letters to the editor and Internet talkbacks. and on our Facebook pages.  We let our elected Representatives in Congress and our Senators know that how we vote will be affected by how they vote, and that we are watching.  We let them know how vile we believe the current situation is.
And we attend rallies, so that it is very very clear to those in Congress how furious we are.  To this end, the rally in Washington DC on the 9th is critical. What would happen if the members of Congress realized that there were one million very angry voters on the lawn outside their chambers?  Would it give them pause?
But there is yet another reason for continuing in our effort.  Not everyone in Congress has declared one way or the other. There are those whose intentions are still unknown, and those still undecided.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for a “moral majority” against the deal.  He knew, coming into this situation, that it might not be possible in the end to override the veto. But he expressed the need for the greatest possible number that could be achieved voting against it in Congress.
The greater the number, the clearer is the message of disapproval. This is a statement, and there is weight to it, both moral and political. 
Remember - because of the pathetic way this situation has been constructed – for Obama to win, he does not need a majority of the votes in the Congress.  He simply needs 1/3 plus one vote, to prevent overriding of the veto (as 2/3 of the Senate is required for that).   
The vote of a moral majority provides support for members of Congress who are considering other ways of dealing with the situation.  It is clear that our friends in the Senate, such as Ted Cruz (TX) and Tom Cotton (AR), are already giving thought to procedures that might be put in place to block or lessen the implications of the deal, if it passes. 
And it makes it easier for Obama’s successor to turn around what Obama has done.
Thus, it remains our responsibility to carry on.
See this statement by Senator Cotton, made during a visit here that echoes what I’ve written above:
Until there are 34 votes — I don’t refer to 34 declared voters but to 34 votes, because a lot of things can happen even in the next two weeks — I for one will not stop fighting, because of the dangerous consequences of this deal for the United States, Israel and world peace.” (Emphasis added)

Credit: msnbc

© 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.


Posted on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 11:22AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint