Wednesday, September 23, 2015

From Ian:

Time for presidential introspection
U.S. President Barack Obama entered office in 2009 with no foreign policy experience, and now, in retrospect, his Nobel Peace Prize seems undeserved • Above all, Obama's conduct scares us because it appears that his dreams contradict Israel's reality.
Introspection is important, even for those who don't observe Yom Kippur. Take Geir Lundestad for example, a former director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, who recently acknowledged that in hindsight, U.S. President Barack Obama "failed to live up to the panel's expectations" after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize six years ago.
The argument that led to Obama's prize was that it would lend the new president a helping hand, Lundestad claims in his new memoir, "Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize." But that would be like awarding the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team the UEFA Champions League cup before their fateful game against Chelsea. Remember Maccabi's humiliating defeat to Chelsea? That's approximately what happened to Obama in the foreign policy arena. And it is not over yet -- not for Obama nor for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Introspection sometimes involves some math. How much is $500 million divided by five? That is the sum that the Obama administration spent on training "four or five" local rebel fighters on Syrian soil. Upon closer investigation, we have confirmed that despite the massive investment, these four or five soldiers are not bionic -- they are regular flesh and blood fighters. Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Centcom, which oversees the war effort, revealed this astonishing turn of events to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. So much money and so much time were invested into training rebels to fight the Islamic State group, and in the end, all there is to show for it is five fighters.
"Today, despite some slow movement at the tactical level," the general tried to reassure the committee, "we continue to make progress across the battlespace in Iraq and Syria in support of the broader USG strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL." You see? Remember the late Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinovitz, who declared that "we are on the brink of an abyss, but next year we will make great strides forward"? It's like that.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State group is continuing to achieve more and more victories, murdering men, women and children, destroying archeological treasures and ruling over an area the size of England. How was anyone surprised that Russia and Iran have been dramatically stepping up their support for Syrian President Bashar Assad? But Washington was surprised. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
10 Facts You Need to Know About 10 Years in Gaza
In 2006, the Quartet (the U.N, EU, Russia and the U.S) offered Hamas recognition, provided it accept three conditions: recognition of Israel, the renunciation of violence and existing agreements signed by Israel and the PLO. Hamas has consistently refused these conditions and remains resolute in its intention to destroy Israel, as declared in the Hamas Covenant.
In 2007, Gaza fell under the control of Hamas. Following the violent takeover of Gaza, Hamas proceeded to launch missiles and mortars into Israel. This forced Israel and Egypt to impose an arms blockade on Gaza to prevent Hamas’ efforts to import advanced weaponry.
At the same time, working with the United Nations, Israel has continued to provide steady shipments of goods to residents of the Gaza Strip. The UN has confirmed (in the Palmer Report) that Israel’s naval blockade is a legitimate tool to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza. In much of the world, including Canada, the United States, and the European Union, Hamas is a designated terrorist entity.
Since Israel’s disengagement, under Hamas rule Gaza has failed to thrive socially or economically.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Egypt's War on Terrorism Bears Fruit
Egyptian President Sisi's war against the smuggling tunnels will undoubtedly weaken Hamas and other radical groups in the Gaza Strip. Sisi should be commended, rather than criticized, for his courageous actions against Islamist terrorists, both in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai.
Sisi's actions will benefit not only Egyptians, but also many Palestinians who are opposed to Hamas and radical Islamist groups.
When the Egyptians destroy a Hamas tunnel, that is called "war on terrorism." But when Israel destroys a tunnel, that is condemned as an "act of aggression." This moral slithering is why it is important for the international community to stand behind Sisi's relentless war on radical Islam.
Without such backing, Islamists will continue to pose a major threat not only to Israel, but to many Arabs and Muslims who oppose Hamas, Islamic State and Islamic Jihad.
The environment of the Gaza Strip is the last thing that Hamas cares about. Hamas did not think about damage to the environment or to agricultural fields when it used those fields, as well as populated areas, as launching pads for attacking Israel.

Opposition leaders unite behind PM’s choice for envoy to Brazil
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog of Zionist Union and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid on Monday called the Brazilian ambassador in Israel, Henrique Sardinha Pinto, to express support for Dani Dayan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee for the post of Israeli ambassador to Brasilia.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of Likud also informed the ambassador of his support for Dayan, and all three expressed the hope that Brazil would accept the appointment.
Lapid tweeted: “I spoke to the Brazilian ambassador. I disagree with Dani Dayan, but he will be a fine ambassador. It is unacceptable that Israelis are trying to influence from abroad the decisions of an elected government.”
Edelstein also instructed his diplomatic adviser, Oded Ben Hur, to speak with the Brazilian ambassador. The Knesset speaker wanted Ben Hur to pass on the message that Dayan’s appointment is a solid one and attempts to stymie it should be rejected.
Herzog, Lapid and Edelstein all contacted the Brazilian ambassador separately, the Walla news website reported.
The effort came after a group of left-wing activists asked the Brazilian government to reject the appointment of Dayan, who in the past served as head of the Yesha Council, a committee representing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Ten Years Later, European Leaders Have Undergone Dramatic Shift on Iran
A comparison of two op-eds by European political leaders, one written ten years ago today and one written earlier this month, show a marked shift in attitudes towards Iran and its nuclear program. Ten years ago, the EU and constituent countries were willing to confront Iran over its deceptions and demand that it reverse its nuclear program. But now Europe’s leaders have accepted Iran’s cheating and are seeking merely to contain its nuclear program.
The first op-ed, written for The Wall Street Journal by the foreign policy chief of the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany, observed that “there are serious grounds for concern that Iran’s nuclear ambitions may not be exclusively peaceful.” The authors cited the International Atomic Energy Agency, which charged that “Iran’s policy of concealment … resulted in many breaches of its obligations” under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
The diplomats rejected Iran’s claim that it needed a domestic nuclear enrichment program, noting that, at the time, it had no reactor that required enriched uranium, and that 31 other nations found it satisfactory to merely own civilian reactors and purchase their enriched uranium from other nations. Furthermore, the op-ed charged that Iran was “found to have worked with the same secret network that helped Libya and North Korea develop clandestine nuclear weapons programs.”
In addition to citing these reasons for skepticism about Iran’s nuclear program, the foreign ministers faulted Iran for breaking an agreement with the EU that called for closer cooperation in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear program. This agreement was made in November 2004, but Iran broke it in August 2005 when it restarted its uranium conversion plant.
Iran Promises to Violate Nuke Deal
Multiple senior Iranian officials have vowed in recent weeks to violate the recently inked nuclear accord that aims to constrain the Islamic Republic’s contested nuclear enrichment program, according to multiple comments by top Iranian leaders.
Iranian leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, have said that the country has “no intention” of abiding by a United Nations Security Council Resolution that encompasses the deal and other restrictions on Tehran’s rogue activities, according to these comments.
These officials said that Iran views the recent Iranian nuclear deal secured in Vienna as separate from the resolution endorsing the deal and further prohibiting Iran from developing advanced ballistic missiles and purchasing other types of arms, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which issued a report compiling recent statements by Iran.
The agreement, which was made earlier this year, is a non-binding set of resolutions focused on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal was transferred to the United Nations and officially endorsed as UNSRC 2231.
The accord itself “is not a contract between Iran and the P5+1 countries as a group or any single one of them, and hence no document was signed,” MEMRI noted.
Senior Iranian leaders have expressed opposition to the formal resolution adopted by the U.N. and say the country will not abide by any further restrictions on its ballistic missile development.
In Hajj message, Iran’s leader castigates Israel and the US
Khamenei called Israeli activities at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem an “insult” to the holy site and among the “foremost” problems for Muslims.
There have been a series of violent clashes at the mount — the holiest site in Judaism, and the third holiest in Islam — in recent days. Israeli forces found pipe bombs and other weaponry in the site last Sunday, where they said their intervention prevented a planned attack. Palestinian officials claim Israel is allowing more Jewish visitors and plans to permit Jewish prayer at the site, which Israel denies.
Khamenei accused Israel of “trampling the lives and properties of the oppressed Palestinians.”
As for the United States, he said its “evil policies” in the region “have resulted in war, bloodshed, destruction and displacement as well as poverty, backwardness and sectarian and religious rifts,” according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iranian military chiefs deride US passivity, scoff at Republicans
In a new stream of belligerent rhetoric, Iran’s chief of staff on Tuesday derided US Republican opposition to the recent US-backed nuclear agreement, and accused the US and Israel of sponsoring terrorism, while another Iranian military chief scoffed that Tehran had intimidated the US into abandoning the idea of using military force in the region.
The anti-US statements came as Iran held a military parade outside Tehran to showcase weapons including surface-to-surface missiles such as the solid-fuel Sejjil and the liquid-fuel Ghadr, both with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles). Also on display at the annual parade were Russian-made S-200 and Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems designed primarily to track, target, and destroy aircraft and cruise missiles.
Speaking to reporters at the event, Iranian army chief Hassan Firouzabadi castigated US Republicans for their opposition to the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers, and dismissed putative Republican threats of a military option.
“They are reactionary people and want to return to the era of the presidency of crazy (president George W.) Bush,” Firouzabadi said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency. “Bush made his utmost efforts to attack Iran but he couldn’t,” Firouzabadi said. “War will also fail to produce any result for them because Republicans are only chanting empty words and slogans.”
Satellite Photos Reveal Russia Building Two Additional Bases in Syria
Russia is in the process of building two additional military bases in Syria, new satellite imagery has revealed.
According to satellite photographs provided by IHS Jane’s, a defense intelligence group, to the Wall Street Journal, Russia is developing a weapons depot and military facility north of Latakia, along the Syrian coast.
Until recently, reports indicated that Russia had been focused on the buildup of a Syrian air base near Latakia.
Meanwhile, as Russia increases its support for the Syrian government, a report in Lebanon’s Daily Star says that Hezbollah will shift towards a more defensive role in the Syrian civil war. The Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group says that it will pull back after capturing the town of Zabadani, the last rebel-held village in the mountainous border region west of Damascus. Hezbollah has played a key role in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Yet More Lies from Presbyterian Peacemakers
Last year, Heath Rada, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a liberal Protestant church in the United States, did the right thing and prevailed upon the denomination's staffers in Louisville, Kentucky to stop selling a hateful and dishonest booklet called “Zionism Unsettled.”
The booklet was produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a group of obsessive anti-Zionists who have been given license to promote hate by the denomination's staffers in Louisville. It was sold through the church's website despite ongoing complaints from Jewish organizations in the United States. Denominational officials stated they wanted good relations with Jews and supported Israel, but they just couldn't bring themselves to stop selling a book that defamed both American Jews and their homeland and got consequently, got an endorsement from inveterate Jew-hater, David Duke.
The text broadcast a number of lies about Israel and American Jews. For example, it stated that American Jews were able to stifle debate about Israeli policies in mainline churches in America when in fact, mainline Protestants have been arguing about Zionism and Israel for decades, even before Israel was founded in 1948. The text also stated that debate had been stifled in the Jewish community—even as it cited Jews who criticized Israel.
The booklet also broadcast a fairy-tale about Muslim-Jewish relations in the Middle East, going so far as to assert that Jews are treated pretty well in Iran. The State Department reports otherwise: “The [Iranian] government's anti-Semitic rhetoric, as well as the perception among radical Muslims that all Jewish citizens of the country supported Zionism and the state of Israel, continued to create a hostile atmosphere for Jews.”
It took ongoing complaints and finally an embarrassing interview on CNN during which Rada was grilled about the church's decision to sell the text for the PC(USA) to stop selling the booklet.
BDS #PharrellProtest a monumental flop
In the days leading up to Pharrell Williams’ concert in Cape Town, BDS threatened that their protest against the event was going to be, “the largest protest any artist has faced in South Africa since the dawn of democracy”. Quite a bold statement and one to have us all quivering. Unfortunately for them, neither the 50 000 people they initially boasted they would attract, nor the 40 000 they ‘compromised on in their court application’ and not even the 16 000 protesters that the courts permitted turned up on the day. Instead, under a thousand arrived to express their outrage. Various estimates by different media between 250 and 1000, all this despite the free trains and buses that BDS arranged to transport the promised `tens of thousands of protesters’.
But that is nothing new. In March this year, BDS threatened to “Shut down Sandton” and ensure that “no Zionist conference will be held on our soil” if the SA Zionist Federation didn’t abide by their edict to cancel their conference. Again the tens of thousands of angry protesters they threatened would arrive never materialized, and eventually, only a meagre crowd of 150, some of whom were bused in from Orange Farm, arrived. (One of the latter told The Star, “I don’t know why we are here, who we are supporting and against who.”).
While the crowds may be small, the hostility is real. BDS campaigns constantly result in hatred and aggression; at the protest outside the SAZF conference protesters made it clear to arriving guests, “We must do everything we can to ensure that we do not allow proud Zionist racists onto our land. Voetsak. You think that this is Israel we will kill you.” At Wits University BDS protesters sang Dubula I’Juda – `Shoot the Jew’, which their coordinator Muhammed Desai justified and condoned. BDS campaigns have resulted in calls for Jewish students to be expelled from universities and in the depositing of pigs’ heads in supermarkets with the explicit purpose of offending and intimidating the Jewish community. BDS activists have forced their way into concerts to prevent artists from performing and likewise invaded lecture halls to prevent people they disapprove of from speaking.
It’s my BDS party, and I’ll cry if I want to
It’s mortifying. That feeling you get when you invite your all your friends to your party and hardly anyone shows up. It’s so embarrassing when you tell, like everyone, that 40,000 people are going to be at your event and that records are going to be smashed and then like no ones arrives? That was the story of the BDS protest outside the Pharrel Williams concert.
All that work! The invites, the court orders allowing 40,000 of your nearest and dearest to attend, the media and press the statements. And then it turns out to be a pretty slow afternoon in Cape Town with estimates of protesters ranging from 500 -800 people, many of whom were hungry journalists and many of whom were bussed in (free T-shirts and all) and would have had no idea why they were there. If any records were broken it was that this little event was the biggest fizzle flop of 2015.
To put it in perspective, I am pretty sure we had more people for dinner second night Rosh-Hashana than attended the rally. Only no one live tweeted as our guests arrive and no one wore scarves. One actually feels a bit bad.
Jewish-Christian Group Sways Colgate Divinity School to Nix Anti-Israel Speaker
Roc4Israel, a Rochester, N.Y.-based Jewish-Christian pro-Israel organization, has successfully swayed Colgate Divinity School to cancel an event featuring Rev. Graylan Hagler, who has made a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements over the years.
Hagler was scheduled to speak at the four-year-old “Witness Palestine” Film Festival until the school canceled the event.
“This was a wake-up call. Dozens of progressive churches in our city promote BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel),” said Tim Altier, co-founder of Roc4Israel. “Even more alarming is the Greater Rochester Council of Churches sign-on as a patron of the Witness Palestine Film Festival. The organizers of that film series co-sponsored the Hagler talk at Colgate.”
Hagler, who serves as senior minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC, earlier this year at a Jewish Voice for Peace rally condemned “pimply-faced white boys in Israeli uniforms.” In 2010, he met with then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and in 2012 stated at a panel discussion that he is working to “disengage” Christians from Hebrew Scripture.
“Progressive Christianity is spear-heading BDS and promoting the Ferguson to Palestine meme. This has to stop,” said Patti Munter, another co-founder of Roc4Israel. “Colgate Divinity School has a rich and storied history in this city. It should be commended for doing the right thing.”
Israeli delegation booted from ceremony in Russia’s Derbent
An Israeli delegation headed by Hadera Mayor Tzvika Gendelman was kicked out of a hotel in Derbent, Russia because the president of the Muslim-majority Russian federal republic reportedly didn’t want Jews or Israelis near him.
The delegation was invited to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of Derbent, Hadera’s sister city. Ninety percent of Derbent’s Jews, some 15,000 people, immigrated to Israel and live in Hadera.
The delegation included six Israelis, among them Hadera Deputy Mayor Roman Gisher, former Or Akiva mayor Simha Yossifov and head of the Caucasian community in Hadera Nathan Leviev.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, during the first few days of the visit members of the delegation were warmly received, but on Monday, when the main event marking 2,000 years to Derbent’s establishment was set to take place, Gendelman was told that entry permits for all members of the delegation but him were canceled and that he should attend the ceremony on his own.
At the same time, members of the delegation found that their belongings were taken out of their rooms in a local hotel and they were not allowed to return to the rooms.
Former Auschwitz Radio Operator Charged With Accessory to Murder
German authorities have charged a 91-year-old woman for her role in the murder of 260,000 Jews in the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.
The woman, who has not been identified, served in the Nazi SS and worked as a radio operator for the camp’s commandant in 1944. Prosecutors plan to charge her as an accessory to murder because she aided the operation of the death camp.
The woman’s trial will come on the heals of the trial of Oskar Gröning, the so-called “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year for serving as an SS guard at Auschwitz.
PreOccupied Territory: Austrians Running Out Of Ways To Fake Contrition Over Nazi Past (satire)
Austrians now worry that as the last remaining Nazi war criminals die off after living in the country unmolested for nearly seven decades, they will lose one of the few remaining vehicles though which to feign horror and remorse: each time the quiet life of a former Nazi official or death camp guard would come to light, Austria would erupt in a predictable chorus of mea culpas; they were shocked, just shocked, that such a monster could be allowed to dwell in their midst.
While Germany – first only West Germany, and then, after reunification in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the eastern part – has never ceased demonstrating recognition of the moral and historical burden it bears, Austria has largely lacked the impetus to engage in any such internal reckoning, and shows no sign of considering any. Austrian claims that Nazism and the Holocaust were essentially German enterprises fell on willing ears as the West sought ways to stem the tide of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe. The postwar generation of Austrians eagerly promoted the Sound of Music version of history, in which Austria struggled mightily to assert its cultural independence from the yawning maw of Nazi Germany.
The Austrian Ministry of Education is considering a program that would train students in the proper methods of paying lip service to Holocaust commemoration and expiation. Currently, only licensed tour guides – such as those taking foreigners on trips to such locales as the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex – are formally trained to feign remorse that such atrocities could take place on Austrian soil.
Investor confidence in Israel highest outside Silicon Valley, poll shows
The anemic performance of the Israeli economy in the first half of 2015 has not deterred investors – just the opposite, it appears. A survey released by US management firm Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) shows that investors have a great deal of faith in Israel’s tech economy – rating it the second best place to invest in the world, outside Silicon Valley.
The 2015 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey is an annual survey of venture capital, private equity and growth equity investors around the world, seeking to gauge how confident they are in the performance of economies in various technology areas, including mobile, cloud, enterprise software, robotics, energy technology, and more.
Thirty-seven percent of the 200+ investors (representing the largest venture capital and private equity investment funds in each country) were from the US, with firms managing funds ranging from $1 million to nearly $50 billion. This is the eleventh year Deloitte conducted the survey.
A Valley of Tears where Israel stopped Syria in 1973
On October 6, 1973 massive Syrian and Egyptian forces launched a surprise attack on the State of Israel. It was the holiest day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement, and Jews all over the country had been fasting and praying since dawn. No one in Israel on that fateful day will ever forget the piercing shriek of sirens which shattered the Yom Kippur silence and called men and women out of their homes and synagogues into uniform.
Syrian tanks penetrated Israel’s front lines on the first day of the Yom Kippur War and raced across the Golan Heights. Syria’s task force comprised of 700 tanks, against Israel’s 175; their infantry carried state-of-the-art anti-tank missiles which Israel hadn’t known were part of the Arab arsenal. Syria’s superior weaponry had a devastating effect on Israel’s tanks and, following a rapid advance into Israel, the Arabs stopped near Mitzpe Gadot, only five minutes from the Jordan river.
Israeli reservists who had been rushed into battle succeeded in blocking the Syrian advance on the second and third days of the war. Syria then intensified its efforts to break through Israeli lines.
On the fourth day of battle the Syrians launched a new and formidable attack from a valley north of Kuneitra. In a major assault hundreds of modern Arab tanks began moving up from the bottom of the valley hoping to take higher ground. Had they gained access to the plateau — located along today’s Route 98 — they would have been able to spread out their forces and control the central Golan Heights. From here it would have been easy to penetrate even deeper into Israel.
Amb. Prosor's Speech at the Tashlich Ceremony

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