Monday, September 12, 2016

From Ian:

Daniel Gordis: Getting to ‘why’
Yet those early Zionists cared about much more than mere safety. They believed that if a new Jewish state could come to be, a new Jew would also emerge.
Who would that Jew be? What would she stand for? How would she be educated? What values would she place at the center of society? About that, those Zionists disagreed passionately. On this, though, they agreed: As they imagined Jewish sovereignty restored, they also imagined the Jew recreated.
Do the Jews have a purpose in today’s world? Millennia ago, we taught the world about monotheism, Shabbat, the evils of slavery, the notion that the rich could not harm the poor with impunity, society’s responsibility to widows and orphans. Yet what ideas are the Jews contributing to the world today? What is our 21st-century prophetic message that – if only it were heard – might constitute the Jewish people’s raison d’être?
And what role does a Jewish state play in our shaping that message? Is the state our stage? Is it our laboratory? In what ways has the Jewish state already modeled ideas and behaviors from which the world could learn? In what ways must we continue to rethink what a sovereign Jewish state should be, if we are to justify the high cost that protecting it exacts from our people?
Perhaps we should set aside settlements and borders, checkpoints and refugees – not because they are unimportant, but because our inability to shape policy is part of what leads to the vituperativeness of our discourse. If we were to do so, would we locate both a subject that could animate large swathes of the Jewish people, engage us in a conversation about why the Jewish people matters and, in the process, foster a conversation much less toxic than the one we have created?
We have yet to try. Strangely, in the midst of all the Israel-teaching that we do, we hardly ever discuss why – and whether – the State of Israel really matters. Yet if we are to have any hope of a young generation of Jews wanting to have anything to do with the Jewish state, it is time to do what Jews have always done best. It is time to place front and center the question that matters most of all – the question of “why?

JPost Editorial: Unhelpful messages
Netanyahu’s basic argument – that the Palestinian demand to uproot Jewish settlements reveals bigotry and intolerance – has been made by this paper in the past. If the peace process is genuine, a future Palestinian state should be tolerant enough to accommodate and protect a Jewish minority in its midst. That the Palestinian political leadership is unable to contemplate such an arrangement is a worrying sign that any purported peace process would be empty of meaning. Only when settlements cease to be perceived as the key obstacle to peace, will there be hope of a true reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
However, Netanyahu’s choice of words was unfortunate. The US and other pro-Zionist supporters of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not advocates of ethnic cleansing. They view the dismantling of Jewish communities as a means of reducing tension between the sides. These settlements should be removed not because Jews’ unalterable ethnic affiliation disqualifies them to live in this geographic area, rather because the legacy of the conflict makes it impossible for the two peoples to live together right now. It is, therefore, better to separate the two peoples in the short term.
The US position – shared by a large swath of the international community – should not be confused with support for ethnic cleansing of Jews. The idea that Israelis and Palestinians cannot live with one another and therefore must be separated underlies the reasoning of the two-state solution. Zionist political parties that support such a solution – such as Labor and Meretz, and even Netanyahu according to his famous Bar-Ilan speech in 2009 – believe that peace is worth the heavy price of uprooting Jewish settlements. They also believe that maintaining control over Judea and Samaria with its large Palestinian population for the sake of the settlements undermines Israel’s standing as a democracy.
Indeed, it was Menachem Begin, Israel’s first prime minister from the Right, who set the precedent for uprooting settlements and transferring Jewish populations as a precondition for peace with our Arab neighbors. The 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was made possible after Begin agreed to dismantle Jewish settlements built in Sinai.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Bad News
for Israel-Haters

Sheikh Abdullah Tamimi and his colleagues do not believe in boycotts and divestment. They are convinced that real peace can be achieved through dialogue between Palestinians and all Israelis -- not just those who are affiliated with the left-wing. The Israeli left-wing, they contend, does not have a monopoly over peace-making.
For Tamimi, real peace begins between the people and through economic cooperation and improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. This, he explains, is more important than the talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he believes, under the current circumstances, is not a realistic option. This notion goes against the ideas of the advocates of "anti-normalization" and others in the West obviously acting against the true interests of the Palestinians by promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Venal leadership has always been the main tragedy of the Palestinians. But it has created a vacuum that provides an opportunity for Palestinians such as Tamimi to search for other alternatives. This, of course, comes as bad news for those who hate Israel and keep hoping to destroy it. Now the question is, who will triumph: Palestinians and their Jewish neighbors in the West Bank who wish to live in peace, or the anti-Palestinian, anti-Israel, "anti-normalization" activists who seek to derail a true peace at any cost?

The 9/11 generation
While 9/11 had a huge impact on the US and its foreign policy, changing George W. Bush’s isolationist tendencies into a War on Terror, its deeper impact has been on Europe.
Before the attacks on America, Europe was slumbering and inwardly focused on knitting together the Schengen Area’s open borders. Perhaps some had read Samuel Huntington’s 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, or Benjamin Barber’s Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy, but 9/11 sharpened the question of whether Europe is in a “civilizational” conflict with Islam, made more real due to large numbers of Muslim immigrants, refugees and local minorities.
In 2001 Oriana Fallaci published The Rage and the Pride, and in 2002 Jean-Marie Le Pen came in second in the French presidential election.
Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who said he was in favor of a “cold war with Islam... a hostile religion,” became a brief sensation, before his assassination in 2002. In 2003 Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali was elected a member of the Dutch parliament from the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy.
Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker critical of Islam, was murdered in 2004 in Amsterdam.
Madrid and London suffered mass terrorist attacks in 2004 and 2005, and in 2005 France was rocked by massive riots in mostly immigrant banlieues or suburbs. 5,000 EU citizens are estimated to have joined Islamic State.
Those post-9/11 troubles in Europe created a narrative, a new type of media coverage, where almost every day the coverage in Europe is primarily about migration and Islam: burkini bans, minaret bans, burka bans.
But the real long-term issue is immigration – not merely the rise of anti-immigrant parties from Finland to Sweden and beyond, but the recent crisis caused by the Syrian conflict that has landed on Germany’s doorstep. The collapse of borders, the total chaos in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, as more than 1.5 million migrants made their way north in the last year may destroy the Schengen Agreement and 20 years of open borders and the “new Europe.”
In Israel, 9/11 marked with shared grief, vow to fight terror together
Shapiro praised the Jewish approach to remembrance, and said the US could learn from a “people that knows how to honor and grieve its losses, but also unites in common purpose to build, to serve, to protect, and to live out its most sacred values.”
“Where Israelis have excelled, and where we continue to learn from them, is in conveying the power of memory and history forward, so that each successive generation understands the meaning and the obligations that flow from events which they cannot personally recall,” the ambassador said.
The Sunday memorial service was also attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jeremy Issacharoff, and other officials.
The memorial was dedicated in 2009 by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund. It’s often cited as the only memorial outside the US with all 2,996 victims’ names.
“Jews had been the targets of terror since before this county was founded in 1948. This is why the sadness of 9/11 was so overwhelming in this country 15 years ago. This is why Israelis grieve for their friends in America. And that is why there is a memorial to the victims of that hateful crime here in Jerusalem,” said philanthropist Ron Lauder, who heads the JNF board.
Michael Oren: 9/11 brought Israel, US closer

IsraellyCool: WATCH: Powerful Words From Today’s 9-11 Memorial In Jerusalem
More Videos at the link from:
Daniel Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel
Michael Oren, MK and former Israeli ambassador to the United States
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Ronald Lauder, Chair. JNF-USA
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat @ 9-11 Memorial in Jerusalem

IsraellyCool: Ali Abunimah Exploits 911 To Try Drum Up Anti-Israel Sentiment
Electronic Intifada founder and terror supporter Ali “Abumination” Abunimah has tried to exploit today to create bad feelings against Israel. Because although it is 9/11, it is also a day that ends with a “y.”
This is what he wrote.
“It’s very good”: Recalling Benjamin Netanyahu’s words on the day of the 9/11 attacks
But notice, Bibi was asked a specific question about what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel. Here he answered honestly, if not tactlessly. He was not characterizing the attacks as a good thing, G-d forbid. He was just answering the question he was asked.
Besides this bit of dishonestly, Abunimah has also deliberately chosen only part of the New York Times report. Let’s look at what he chose not to include – for very obvious reasons.
JERUSALEM, Sept. 11— Israeli officials and most Palestinian leaders condemned the attack on the United States today. But Israelis also took cold comfort in concluding that Americans would now share more of their fears, while some Palestinians rejoiced at the same thought.
There were declarations of sympathy for the victims from both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as anxious telephone calls to friends and relatives in the United States. But politics is never far behind any human reaction here. And each side in this conflict saw in today’s attack confirmation of its view of the bond of the United States and Israel — that the two nations fought, and now suffered, together.
Most West Bank towns were quiet today. But in Nablus, big crowds of Palestinians marched in celebration, chanting ”Beloved bin Laden, strike Tel Aviv!” Some waved the flag of the terrorist organization Hamas. ”Let the Americans know the meaning of death,” one marcher said.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinian Candy Vendors Remember Good Times Of 9/11 (satire)
Purveyors of sweets in the Palestinian territories are recalling with fondness the booming sales they enjoyed following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon fifteen years ago.
A group of current and retired sweets sellers from the de facto Palestinian capital gathered today to reminisce about the heady days of jubilant revelry in their society, marked by spiking retail sales of candy and other treats that were then distributed freely on the streets of the cities and villages across the Palestinian territories in response to the news that nineteen jihadists had hijacked four American airliners and piloted them in suicide terrorist attacks that claimed nearly three thousand lives.
The vendors discussed both the economic and psychological elation of those days, with each of them remembering different elements of the experience, but all sensing that the arrogant Americans, so consistently allied with the hated Israelis, were finally getting what they deserved after decades of high-handed interference in Arab-Muslim affairs.
“We were like dreamers,” recalled Shad-Din Froideh, 77. “My sons and I had a little stall in the souk, and we made a decent living, but the moment we heard the towers had collapsed, a mad rush ensued, and we just couldn’t keep the shelves stocked for the next week. Package after package of sweets came out of the back room, but we couldn’t bring them out fast enough. I knew it wouldn’t last, but by Allah, that was the most profitable period in the store’s history.”
Yarden Frankl: How the World Sees Jerusalem
The Israeli claim to the city is not simply based on military force. True, it’s annexation from Jordan has not been internationally recognized. But many Times readers may be unaware that the Jordanian occupation was also not recognized by the vast majority of the international community.
Only the United Kingdom, Iraq, and Pakistan recognized the Jordanian annexation of the city, and even the Arab League called the move “illegal and void.”
Yet who would know when the Times’ reports “its (Israel’s) annexation from Jordan in 1967 has not been internationally recognized.”
With just a few words, better, more accurate context could be given.
Here are a few suggestions:
  1. “…which was first established as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Israel thousands of years ago but the Palestinians claim for their own”, or
  2. “…Which was divided by the Jordanian Legion until its reunification by the Israeli Defense Forces in 1967”, or
  3. “…which has served as the political capital of the State of Israel since 1967”, or
  4. “…which is Israel’s largest city with over 800,000 people”, or
  5. Which Israel regained in a defensive war after being attacked by Jordan”, or
  6. “…which includes holy sites of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity protected by Israeli law*
PreOccupiedTerritory: Wrong, Simba – You CAN Change The Past. We Palestinians Do It All The Time by Saeb Erekat (satire)
It’s not just ancestry you can change, though that is a favorite subject. In addition to latching onto the discredited notion that Jews are not genealogically connected to this land, we simply erase our own previous pronouncements as it suits our current purposes. Once upon a time it was advantageous to shore up Islamic legitimacy by identifying the site of the Dome of the Rock as the very same location as Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples. But eventually we realized that doing so necessarily acknowledged a Jewish connection, so we’ve taken to denying there ever were such Temples, and that they were a Jewish fabrication. Whatever works.
Integrity? That’s such a treacherous notion. You think the Waqf cared about integrity when it bulldozed countless priceless archaeological finds to excavate a new underground mosque beneath Al Aqsa? Please. The whole point was to erase evidence of the Jewish Temples. It’s essentially the same phenomenon as when ISIS destroyed much of what remains of ancient Palmyra, or when the Taliban demolished the historic Buddha icons. The past is what you say it is, not some unchanging fact. Get that into your furry head.
Listen, if you want to claim Pride Rock from a rival, spread some story about that rival’s illegitimacy, then seize it for yourself. Invite in some less-than-scrupulous allies – such as hyenas – if it’s necessary to get some dirty work done that you shouldn’t be seen handling yourself. Try to expel any rival claimants from the territory and hope they stay away or die out before they can come back. Whatever happens, blame any misfortune on others and play the victim.
You hear what I’m saying, Scar? I mean Simba?
 Dennis Ross: If Elected, Clinton Should Seek More Israeli Concessions
If Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential elections, her administration ought to launch a backdoor initiative to force changes in Israeli policy, said former Clinton adviser Dennis Ross on Thursday.
During a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Ross said the public disputes between Israel and the Obama administration were counter-productive, which is why he thinks future involvement in the region by a President Hillary Clinton would ideally not be undertaken as a “big public initiative,” but as “efforts behind the scenes.”
Ross also proposed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be taking steps toward peace, “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) won’t work now.” Ross claimed that Netanyahu “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.”
Ross took particular issue with the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements in Judea-Samaria and the Jordan Valley, saying “[Netanyahu] should, at a minimum, announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier.”
Senator holding up Israel defense deal, insisting on role for Congress
Senator Lindsey Graham is holding up the conclusion of a critical, decade-long defense deal between the US and Israel with legislation that would increase US aid to the Jewish state next year by over $300 million what the White House has agreed to.
Graham's effort is an intentional finger in the eye to the Obama administration, which has spent over a year negotiating a complex memorandum of understanding with Israel that will ultimately increase US defense aid to the state from $3.1 billion to $3.3 billion a year in 2018.
Congress has played no role in the effort– and Graham (R-South Carolina) sees no reason why the legislature should simply abide by what the administration has negotiated without its consent.
"I'm offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process," Graham, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on the foreign affairs budget, told The Washington Post over the weekend. "We can't have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to."
Graham's spokesman, Kevin Bishop, noted to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday night that his markup passed through committee back in June.
"The negotiations were between the Obama administration and the Israeli government. Senator Graham was not part of the negotiations," Bishop said, stating that his boss sees no need to be bound by the administration's position
Minister backs PM: The PA itself talks about ethnic cleansing
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that the Palestinian Authority is demanding "ethnic cleansing" and a state free of Jews continues to make waves. In Sunday's cabinet meeting, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) voiced his support for Netanyahu.
"It's not the prime minister who is talking about ethnic cleansing. The prime minister's remarks reflect what the Palestinians themselves are saying," Steinitz said. "[The Palestinians] talk about ethnic cleansing in their own school system and speeches. Netanyahu told the truth."
Steinitz continued that "when the Palestinians talk about being 'cleansed' of Jews, they don't mean just [in] Judea and Samaria, but rather the entire country."
Israel is carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing,’ Abbas shoots back at PM
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that Israel was the one committing “ethnic cleansing,” and was under international isolation for its refusal to pursue peace with the Palestinians.
In a speech marking the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha on Sunday evening, Abbas slammed the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, days after Netanyahu released a video in which he accused the PA of advocating ethnic cleansing.
“Israel is isolated internationally because it is not willing to take even one step toward peace. It continues [building] settlements, desecrating holy sites and ethnic cleansing,” said Abbas, according to Channel 10. He also reportedly accused Israel of carrying out premeditated killings of Palestinians.
Abbas Agrees to Talks with Netanyahu in Russia, Dr. Phil to Moderate (satire)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, with television personality Dr. Phil McGraw to serve as U.S. Special Envoy for the negotiations.
“Let’s get real. The Middle East is one giant clusterf#$k. Well, the doctor is in the house and I will lock eyeballs with Netanyahu and Abbas and won’t let them leave my sight until each one understands what their personal truth is,” Dr. Phil said whilst on his flight to Russia.
Asked whether he believes that a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is possible, he asserted that “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it’s got two sides! For too long, the Mideast has been led by folks who would rather hate than create. So, my plan is to teach Abbas that no dog has ever peed on a moving car and tell Netanyahu that you just can’t put feathers on a dog and call it a chicken. We should have a peace treaty signed by lunch.”
UNIFIL’s Unfulfilled Mandate
Over the last three decades, Hezbollah has entrenched itself in south Lebanon, stockpiling arms and turning it into a staging point for attacks against Israel. UNIFIL’s failure to prevent that entrenchment culminated in the month-long 2006 war, in which 145 Israelis were killed and at least 1,700 Lebanese. After the war, the Security Council upgraded UNIFIL’s mandate to include preventing arms smuggling and assisting the Lebanese Army to assert itself as the sole armed force in the 40-kilometer area between the Litani River and Israeli border. However, UNIFIL is still not authorized to use force or patrol Lebanon’s border with Syria through which Hezbollah gets most of its arms.
As a result, UNIFIL has failed to fulfill its mandate. By the Security Council’s own admission, Hezbollah has flagrantly violated the post-war resolution, rearming and enlarging its arsenal to include an estimated 150,000 rockets. Meanwhile, it is openly operating south of the Litani and along the border.
The relative quiet that has ensued has nothing to do with UNIFIL’s actions. For the last five years, Hezbollah has been too bogged down in Syria fighting alongside Iran and Assad regime forces to challenge Israel. Undeterred by UNIFIL’s presence, Hezbollah’s preparations for the next conflict with Israel continue.
Whatever quiet exists along the border is therefore deceptive. Both sides acknowledge that another war is inevitable. As the Security Council’s latest resolution concedes, Israel and Hezbollah are merely one ill-advised cross-border attack away from a new round of fighting. The two sides have come close in recent years, particularly after Israel’s January 2015 assassination of a high-level Hezbollah operative and Iran Revolutionary Guard general, and Hezbollah’s subsequent retaliation that killed two Israeli soldiers.
The two adversaries were not interested in going to war and, of their own volition, decided to step back from the brink. UNIFIL’s role during that exchange was effectively superfluous.
UNIFIL remains unable to avert a third Lebanon war, and thus deserves little credit for the past decade of relative calm. Unless steps are taken to significantly improve its capabilities and bolster its mandate, it will remain a mere observer as both sides march to battle.
IDF seizes bomb-making material in overnight raids
More than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of bomb-making materials were seized early Monday during an Israel Defense Forces raid in the village of Wadi al-Far'a near Nablus, the IDF spokesperson said on Monday.
Israeli media reported that the soldiers also found about 2 litres (half a gallon) of improvised explosive material at the site.
In a separate raid near Hebron, "four home-made bombs were also found," the military said on Twitter. The bombs were subsequently handed over to experts at the Defense Ministry for further examination.
Meanwhile, the IDF said four Palestinians were arrested in Judea and Samaria overnight. They are believed to be involved in terrorist activity and riots.
Israel eyeing Gaza-bound 'women's flotilla' setting sail from Barcelona
Despite the recent reconciliation of ties between Israel and Turkey, it appears that the controversial Gaza-bound flotilla movement has yet to subside.
An activist flotilla sailing under the banner "Mujeres Rumbo a Gaza" (Women's Boat to Gaza) was set to anchor off from Barcelona on Wednesday evening toward the Gaza Strip.
The small fleet of two vessels was slated to carry dozens of women from various nations, including Israel, with the aim of breaching and boycotting Israel's naval blockade of the coastal Palestinian enclave.
Meanwhile, Israel was prepared to thwart the flotilla from illegally infringing on the maritime blockade of Gaza, which was established in 2007 following the terrorist group Hamas's takeover of the Strip.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Israeli Democracy Dead For 456,798,746th Time (satire)
Experts pronounced the demise of Israeli democracy this week for the 456,798,746th time, a development they directly attribute to the antidemocratic policies of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his coalition of right-wing parties.
Israeli democracy was pronounced dead yesterday once again at the Knesset, the same site as many of the other instances of the ideal’s passing. Pundits and Opposition lawmakers made the pronouncement after the legislature, in which Netanyahu’s coalition holds a majority, defeated a measure by Opposition MKs that would have removed certain transparency requirements for funding of election-related activities. The bill, which was voted down 55-39 with three abstentions, was touted as a way for minority parties such as the four composing the Joint List to facilitate the transportation of their constituents to polling places without having to disclose that funding for the transportation came from the Palestinian Authority.
“Democracy is dead,” declared Dr. Ahmad Tibi of the Raam-Taal Party, a member of the Joint List. “The dictatorial regime of Netanyahu and his cronies has squashed the life out of it, and we no longer have any hope of ensuring that each citizen has a voice.” His declaration deviated only slightly from the same death notice for Israeli democracy that he delivered on the previous three hundred million occasions.
Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On delivered an impassioned eulogy, accusing Netanyahu and company of murder, and asserted that the corpse of Israeli democracy had hardly grown cold since the last time Bibi ordered its killing by adhering to Coalition agreements that favored the interests of Coalition members over those of Opposition members.
Can the deal to end Syria's Civil War succeed and is it good for Israel?
In short, the deal that was reached, or at least what was made public, is not guaranteed to bring calm to the chaos. However, despite the reservations, the agreement does provide hope for at least some lessening of the bloodshed and lowering of the flames.
If the agreement, or part of it, comes to fruition, it should please Israel as well. Two jihadist organizations are sitting on Israel's Golan border. One of them is Shuhada al-Yarmouk, which is a sort of local arm of ISIS in the South, in the tri-border area of Syria, Israel and Jordan. The second is the Nusra Front. Along with them, there are also other rebels operating in the northern Golan Heights. They are mainly village militias that either oppose or support the Assad regime.
Israel has learned how to keep relative quiet on the border through various measures: the building of a fence, threatening messages and military attacks. This quiet is violated from time to time, as happened on Saturday when a mortar shell fell on the Israeli side of the border (for the third time in a week), but every incident like this could potentially cause an escalation.
If the deal is carried out and the jihadists are removed from Israel's Golan Heights border - Assad's army will increase its influence and control alongside groups that are "comfortable" for Israel. The chances to preserve the quiet will be increased even more.
However, at this stage, we must be skeptical that the agreement will indeed succeed.
No, we didn’t ‘owe’ Iran that $1.7 billion ransom payment
Amid all the fuss over President Obama’s “ransom” payment to Iran to free US hostages, less scrutinized is the president’s justification for airlifting cash to Tehran: that we owed them the money. It deserves more attention, because the administration has failed to make its case.
To review: On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration not only paid $400 million in cash to Iran on Jan. 17, but $1.3 billion more in cash in two subsequent shipments — all in Swiss francs, euros and other currencies. The administration claims the payments were returning money Iran paid in 1979 under the Foreign Military Sales program for military equipment it ordered but did not receive, plus interest.
It’s a misdirection. And as Congress returns from its recess, it’s time to focus on two key questions the administration has been refusing to answer ever since the beginning of the year: How was the payment calculated, and was it really due?
In his Jan. 17 announcement, Obama cast the payment as a favorable settlement of Iran’s claim for its 1979 payment. He said he had potentially saved “billions of dollars” Iran could have pursued at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal at The Hague. But the administration has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the merits of the claim or the amount of the payment.
Not for lack of trying on the part of Congress.
Report: Iran’s president to visit Germany this month
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will visit the German capital late this month, the Islamic Republic’s transportation minister, Abbas Akhoundi, said in the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The slated visit, which has been shrouded in silence by the Merkel administration, may strain the so-called “special relationship” between Israel and Germany. Berlin has said repeatedly that it will not normalize diplomatic relations with Iran until Tehran recognizes the existence of Israel. From Jerusalem’s point of view, a visit by Rouhani would be tantamount to a normalization of relations.
The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi met with German intelligence officials on Tuesday in Berlin, which is believed to be the curtain raiser for Rouhani’s first visit to the Federal Republic.
“It worries me that the public has not learned about the event,” Martin Patzelt, a Bundestag deputy from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Taggespiegel. “The federal government has to be questioned on why the visit has been kept secret while Iran’s government reports about it.”
Patzelt also questioned who Alavi met with and what goal “the intelligence head of one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships had for conducting talks.”
Iran begins construction on 2nd nuclear power plant
Iran began building its second nuclear power plant with Russian help on Saturday, the first such project since last year’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers, state TV reported.
The project will eventually include two power plants expected to go online in 10 years. Construction on the second plant is set to begin in 2018. The project will cost more than $8.5 billion and produce 1,057 megawatts of electricity.
Russia, along the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China, reached a deal with Iran last year in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran rejects Western allegations that it is seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic program is for entirely peaceful purposes.
“Construction of the power plant is a symbol of Iran enjoying the results of the nuclear deal,” Senior Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri said at a ceremony marking the start of the project.
“We will continue working with Russia as a strategic partner and friend,” he added.
PreOccupiedTerritory: World Reaction To N Korea Prompts Iran To Plan Nuke Test Over Tel Aviv (satire)
The international community’s inability to stymie North Korea in its quest for atomic weapons, despite steep economic sanctions and persistent political isolation, has Iran’s leaders considering its first nuclear test once it develops the necessary materials and technology – but instead of testing the device on its own soil, the impotence of the Western powers and the sanctions regime has emboldened the Ayatollahs to plan for detonating the first such device over Israel.
North Korea conducted a test last week of a nuclear weapon almost as powerful as the bomb that destroyed large parts of Hiroshima in 1945, in violation of commitments to, and demands by, international disarmament efforts. Despite decades of severe international isolation and crippling economic restrictions on trade with Kim Jong-un’s regime, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has successfully produced an atomic weapon that threatens regional stability and various American allies such as Japan and South Korea. Kim’s regime has also cultivated extensive ties with Iran, and shared technology that will enable Tehran to cement its regional hegemony and secure itself against attack even as it foments conflict and pursues its imperialist ambitions in the Middle East and beyond. Given the anemic results of continued pressure on North Korea, say Iranian leaders, it makes little sense to move in small increments toward a nuclear arsenal when the strides can include the attainment of the long-sought goal of eliminating the “Zionist Entity” from the map.

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