Saturday, September 24, 2016

From Ian:

Muhammad Zoabi is coming to Berkeley.
Muhammad Zoabi, a self described “proud Israeli Arab Muslim Zionist” will be the keynote speaker in a fundraiser for the Israeli advocacy group, StandWithUs.
The Israeli-Arab teenager was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for Zionism and the State of Israel. He took refuge with terror-survivor Kay Wilson.
Outspoken bravery runs deep in the Zoabi family. His mother Sarah Zoabi was a contestant on the television broadcast of Master Chef Israel and declared “I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, which is the state of Israel, the holy land....I’m sure that the people who hear me will say: ‘what, have you lost your mind? How can you say you are a Zionist?’ I want to say to all the Arab [citizens] of Israel to wake up. We live in paradise. Compared to other countries, to Arab countries – we live in paradise.”
Muhammad will be joining the IDF next year, and has declared "I am proud to be part of Israel, its people and for sure in the future, our DEFENSE forces."
Save the date.
Nov 13. Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley

Caroline Glick: Obama's Denouement
Since he entered office nearly eight years ago, Obama’s foreign policy has always sought to kill two birds with one stone.
The Memorandum of Understanding that President Barack Obama concluded last week with Israel regarding US military aid to Israel for the next decade is classic Obama.
Since he entered office nearly eight years ago, Obama’s foreign policy has always sought to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, his policies are geared toward fundamentally transforming the US’s global posture. On the other, they work to weaken if not entirely neutralize his congressional opponents at home.
The second goal is no mean task. After all, the US Constitution empowers Congress with the foreign policy powers aimed at checking and balancing the president’s.
For instance, to ensure that no president could adopt foreign policies that harm US national interests or undercut the will of the people, the Constitution required that all treaties be approved by two-thirds of the Senate before they can take effect.
Were it not for Obama’s double tracked foreign policy, that constitutional provision should have blocked Obama’s radical and dangerous nuclear deal with Iran. Understanding that he lacked not merely the support of two-thirds of the Senate but of even a bare majority of senators for his deal, Obama decided to sideline the Senate.
The Real Middle East Story
The marginalization of Abbas at the UN doesn’t just reflect the world’s preoccupation with bigger crises in the neighborhood. It reflects a global perception that a) the Sunni Arab states overall are less powerful than they used to be and that b) partly as a result of their deteriorating situation, the Sunni Arab states care less about the Palestinian issue than they used to. This is why African countries that used to shun Israel as a result of Arab pressure are now happy to engage with Israel on a variety of economic and defense issues. India used to avoid Israel in part out of fear that its own Kashmir problem would be ‘Palestinianized’ into a major problem with its Arab neighbors and the third world. Even Japan and China were cautious about embracing Israel too publicly given the power of the Arab world and its importance both in the world of energy markets and in the nonaligned movement. No longer.
Inevitably, all these developments undercut the salience of the Palestinian issue for world politics and even for Arab politics and they strengthen Israel’s position in the region and beyond. Obama has never really grasped this; Netanyahu has based his strategy on it. Ironically, much of the decline in Arab power is due to developments in the United States. Fracking has changed OPEC’s dynamics, and Obama’s tilt toward Iran has accelerated the crisis of Sunni Arab power. Netanyahu understands the impact of Obama’s country and Obama’s policy on the Middle East better than Obama does. Bibi, like a number of other leaders around the world, has been able to make significant international gains by exploiting the gaps in President Obama’s understanding of the world and in analyzing ways to profit from the unintended consequences and side effects of Obama policies that didn’t work out as Obama hoped.
Bibi’s successes will not and cannot make Israel’s problems and challenges go away. And finding a workable solution to the Palestinian question remains something that Israel cannot ignore on both practical and moral grounds. But Israel is in a stronger global position today than it was when Bibi took office; nobody can say that with a straight face about the nation that President Obama leads. When and if American liberals understand the causes both of Bibi’s successes and of Obama’s setbacks, then perhaps a new and smarter era of American foreign policy debate can begin.

Othering Zionism: theoretical affinities between Islamists and the Anti-Zionist Left
The anti-Zionist Left’s valorisation of the violent ‘resistance’ of Islamist and antisemitic forces – captured in the US academic Judith Butler’s insistence that Hamas and Hezbollah be considered ‘progressive’ and ‘part of the Global Left’ – arguably stems from a couple of sources. First, the Foucauldian notion that the struggle for freedom from a structure of domination has to be all-encompassing, with discourse itself becoming a vector of resistance to the Zionist hegemon. Therefore, ‘counter-discourse’, even if it is antisemitic, contributes to the process of mentally ‘decolonising’ the Palestinian subject. Re-shaping discourses is key because as Foucault himself wrote, ‘there is no power without resistance’ (Foucault, 1978). Or, as David Hirsh quips, antisemitism is understood as the authentic ‘voice of the oppressed’ against the oppressor (Hirsh, 2007). Second, this belief in the moral quality of unrelenting struggle can trace its origins to revolutionary philosopher Frantz Fanon who argued that violence against the oppressor was a ‘cleansing’ mechanism which liberated the consciousness of the colonised. He further opined ‘The Manichaeism of the colonist produces the Manichaeism of the colonised.’ (Fanon, 1963) In other words, for the hierarchical foundation of the colonial world to be overturned, the colonised must commit to a binary view of its existence.
These attitudes are further demonstrated in post-colonial analyses of how the the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) became a native-élite collaborator with the Israeli ‘oppressor’ in reaching the Oslo Accords. Hamas, by contrast, in rejecting the Oslo paradigm derives legitimacy as the vanguard of authentic resistance. In his 2015 editorial for New Left Review, Perry Anderson – à la Said – presents the Palestinian Authority not as a severely compromised proto-state battling the local expression of a regional Islamist insurgency, but as a crude subcontractor of Israeli colonial violence – operating as a ‘parasitic miniature’ rentier state (Anderson, 2015). The moral authority of Hamas in left-wing anti-Zionist circles stems, therefore, not only from its ‘principled opposition to Israel’ (Ibid., 2015), but also from its ‘native’ and ‘neo-traditional’ ideological extraction (Eickelman and Piscatori, 2004). On this point of cultural and political authenticity, we see a reproduction of the post-1967 tussle between secular nationalism and political Islam. Applying the Fanonian perspective, moreover, the Islamist commitment to ‘radical rebellion’ – as Anderson terms the Second Intifada – against both Israel and its repressive Fatah ‘surrogate’ is tacitly recognised as the only reliable mechanism available, in the short to medium term, for restoring the ‘homeland’.
Following the establishment of a Palestinian Liberation Organisation embassy in Tehran in 1979, the founder of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash, said: ‘Many have been surprised that we, as Marxists, should be on the side of a religious movement like Khomeini’s. But beyond ideology, we have in common anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli elements.’ (Wistrich, 2010: 713) It has been the contention of this essay that the convergence between the anti-Zionist Left and political Islam is not merely a coincidental syncretism born of a shared commitment to anti-imperial struggle (of which anti-Zionism is considered the forward engine). Rather it is a function of a shared paradigm, in which Jewish national identity is rejected on the grounds that it constitutes an alien, racist and uniquely aggressive exclusivism, not only incompatible with its political environment, but also intrinsically corrupt, and therefore meriting destruction by the ‘indigenous’, and so progressive, resistance to Zionism.
New Labour Friends of Israel Poster Girl Opposed Creation of Israel
Labour Friends of Israel have signed up some interesting characters as it rebrands ahead of conference, none more so than Rupa Huq. The Labour MP has hardly been a friend in the past – earlier this year she was caught telling an extreme pro-Palestine group that Britain should apologise for helping create the State of Israel:
“1948, that happened under a British government. To my mind, an apology – yes. You could do one. A Labour Government could probably get that through.”
She later retracted her comment.
Her record on anti-Semitism isn’t great either. Huq defended Naz Shah, arguing she “did not write any anti-Semitic tracts”. (Shah had written about “Jews rallying”.) Huq also bizarrely claimed that tweeting a graphic of Israelis being transported out of the Middle East was the same as tweeting a funny photo of Boris Johnson on a zip-wire. She never apologised. A curious choice to be LFI’s new star supporter…
Jez Looking For Jews to Appear in Labour Video
Are you a Jew who loves Jez? Then the Corbynistas want you! Corbyn-supporting Labour NEC member Rhea Wolfson has asked members of the Young Jewish Left Facebook group if they’re “willing to be filmed talking positively about the Labour Party” for a new PPB. Appropriately, Rhea says “you don’t have to be a member”.
A “Jews For Jez” video. Perhaps not the subtlest message…
“Jew” Rant at LibDem Conference
“I want to make a bold pitch to progressive voters in the Jewish community and say, we are for you,” Tim Farron told the Jewish Chronicle as conference began in Brighton this week. How serious is he? Taking pride of place in the middle of the conference exhibition centre is disgraced former MP David “The Jews” Ward, manning the LibDem Friends of Palestine stall. This is what they’ve been posting on Facebook during conference:
Then there’s this charming post:

Why don’t they just join the Labour Party?
Ex-Knesset Member: For Peace, Palestinians Must Recognize Jewish Right to Self-Determination
Before peace can be achieved, Palestinians must recognize that Jews, like Arabs, have a right to exercise self-determination in their homeland, and drop demands for a “right of return” that would undermine a two-state solution, former Knesset member Einat Wilf wrote in an op-ed published in Haaretz on Thursday.
Wilf, who identifies herself as a member of the Zionist Left in Israel, argued that the Palestinian perspective regards Jews as an “invented” people who “have some unclear entitlement to self-determination in Arab Palestine, and it does not matter if it’s over 17% of the area west of the Jordan River (the Peel plan), 55% (the partition plan), 78% (the 1967 boundaries) or 100%.”
“The Palestinian national movement remains committed to the idea of liberating all of Palestine, from the sea to the Jordan River. There is no sign that it and its leaders are prepared to recognize that the Jewish people, as a people, have an equal right to self-determination in this land, which is its birthplace too,” she observed.
Wilf explained that the continued Palestinian demand for an illusory “right of return” to Israel, which purportedly applies even to “fourth-generation offspring of refugees living in Ramallah,” is a product of the Palestinian refusal to accept that Jews have a right of self-determination in their homeland — the very reason why Arab leaders rejected the idea of a two state-solution before Israel’s founding and instead sent their armies to invade the Jewish state the day after it declared independence.
Netanyahu: I hope Obama won't help Palestinians unilaterally establish a state
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday spoke on a wide range of issues facing the Jewish state and his administration, touching on his relationship with the Obama White House, legal challenges facing his own administration in Israel, and the future of the two-state solution.
Speaking with Channel 2 Saturday evening following the end of the Sabbath in New York City, Netanyahu was asked arguably the most pressing question facing his rule as prime minister.
Asked if US President Barack Obama had promised Netanyahu not to help establish a Palestinian state unilaterally without Israel's cooperation during his last months in office, the prime minister answered "no."
"If your asking did he speak to me about this, the answer is no," the premier told Channel 2's Udi Segal during the interview, adding "if I'm hoping that he won't do this, the answer is yes."
Netanyahu continued, saying "the only time that President Obama utilized a veto at the United Nation's Security Council was in 2011 following an anti-Israel decision, therefore I can only hope that the US follows the same policy until the end of his term."
Media Could Use Some Assistance on U.S.-Israel Aid Deal
While some U.S. news media outlets left out important context about the MOU, others managed to do one worse.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof objected to the MOU with a tweet saying, “At a time when 6 million kids die annually around the world, should the U.S. really be announcing its largest aid package…to wealthy Israel?” Lee Smith, a foreign policy analyst and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, expressed his astonishment:
“What's weird here is that the Times foreign affairs columnist seems not to understand the basic difference between economic assistance and military credits. In fact, ‘wealthy Israel' doesn't receive a dime of economic assistance from the United States, and hasn't since 2007 (“Saint Nick's Math Problem,” Tablet, Sept. 20, 2016).”
Smith added an additional point that Kristof—like Mitnick and Wilkinson—glossed over. “What Israel gets from America are what is known as military credits, which is money that has to be spent in the United States on American-made weaponry. That is, Israel is the address for an American domestic subsidy that helps float the American defense industry, which helps keep Americans safe at home.” Previously, it was mandated that 76 percent of the aid was to be spent by Israel in the U.S. However, under the terms of the new MOU, Israel will have to spend 100 percent in the U.S. by the year 2024.
Indeed, the mutual benefits to both countries provided by U.S. aid to Israel was another underreported aspect of the MOU.
As CAMERA recently noted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (“Israel has proven a good ally,” Sept. 17, 2016), then-U.S. Secretary of State Al Haig, remarking on intelligence, defense and economic benefits that the U.S. receives from Israel, once said, “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not carry even one American soldier and is located in a critical region for American national security.”
U.S. security assistance to a key ally, Israel, is newsworthy. It's unfortunate, however, that some prominent media outlets and commentators failed to provide the detailed coverage which the story—and their readers—deserved.
For First Time, Kuwaiti Delegation Stays to Listen to Israeli PM Speak at UN
In a potential sign that Israel’s ties with the Sunni Arab axis in the Middle East are indeed getting stronger, the Kuwaiti United Nations delegation — for the first time in history – did not walk out of the hall on Thursday during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the General Assembly on Thursday, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.
Speaking with nrg, an Israeli diplomatic official said, “This was without a doubt a symbolic act that has not been seen before.”
In his UN speech, Netanyahu said that in addition to Egypt and Jordan, which already have signed peace treaties with Israel, “many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are ISIS and Iran. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals.”
There is still a long way to go, however, before Israel’s relations with former regional foes like Kuwait are fully normalized. Just last year, as reported by The Algemeiner, Kuwait Airways — the country’s flag carrier — shut down its New York-London route following a US Transportation Department demand that the airline stop illegally discriminating against Israelis through its policy of refusing to sell them tickets.
WATCH: Netanyahu Meets with 15 African Heads of State, Ambassadors
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with more than 15 African heads of state and representatives at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
Netanyahu told the leaders that he thought Israel could be an “amazing” partner for their nations. He specifically pointed to Israeli technology, which he said could improve their countries’ medical, communications, agricultural, and education systems.
In all his years in public service, “I never had a foreign trip as stirring, as moving as the one I had to Africa” in July, Netanyahu said. “It was a personal odyssey as my brother died at the rescue at Entebbe. That was a very moving ceremony organized by the president of Uganda. But I also had the opportunity there, beyond the personal, to meet with the leaders from seven African countries, I visited four of them. One of them, President Kagame [of Rwanda], gave us, as did the others, a tremendous reception.”
He noted that he will visit West Africa later this year, having gone to the eastern end of the continent a few months ago. “But I don’t intent to limit myself to East Africa or West Africa, Israel is looking at all of Africa,” he added. “And I hope that all of Africa looks at Israel.”
Middle East Quartet Equates Palestinian Terror and Israeli Self-Defense
On September 23, 2016, representatives of the the Middle East Quartet (consisting of the UN, the United States, the European Union, and Russia), issued a statement expressing "grave concern" over Israeli settlements, not Palestinian terror attacks. Instead, the statement erased the distinction between terror perpetrators and their intended victims, calling on "all sides" to exercise restraint.
In the words of the statement:
"The Quartet recalled its findings from the Quartet Report and expressed concern about recent actions on the ground that run counter to its recommendations. In particular:
• The Quartet emphasized its strong opposition to ongoing settlement activity, which is an obstacle to peace, and expressed its grave concern that the acceleration of settlement construction and expansion in Area C and East Jerusalem, including the retroactive 'legalization' of existing units, and the continued high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures, are steadily eroding the viability of the two state solution.
• The Quartet condemned the recent resurgence of violence and called on all sides to take all necessary steps to de-escalate tensions by exercising restraint, preventing incitement, refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric, and protecting the lives and property of all civilians..."
Anti-Israel Hysteria at the UN as Malaysia Claims Israel Violates All Human Rights & Freedoms
Speaking on September 23, 2016, at the UN Human Rights Council session dedicated to the demonization of Israel, agenda item 7, Malaysia accused the democratic state of Israel of violating every single human right. In its words:
"The world continues to witness the repressive policies as well as brutal and systematic attempts by Israel to break the spirit of the Palestinians and to make their life in the OPT [occupied Palestinian territories] unbearable... It begs a serious question for this Council and all human rights champions: which particular human rights and fundamental freedom that the international community strives to promote and protect worldwide, that is not yet violated by Israel in the OPT?"
UN Human Rights "Expert" Equates US Aid to Israel with Russian Military Support of Genocidal Assad
On September 22, 2016, the UN "Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order," Alfred de Zayas, issued a statement which condemned the provision of military aid to Israel and equated it with arming the Assad regime in Syria. In the words of the statement:
"The UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, today called on States to stop exporting weapons to countries when there is a risk these will be used to commit gross human rights violations... 'Military aid cannot be granted to countries that engage in activities that the international community, the International Court of Justice or the Human Rights Council have found to contravene international law and human rights treaties.'...
'In this context, as in every other where foreign military assistance and bilateral military aid amounting to billions of dollars are provided to occupying States such as Israel, to States where there is an ongoing conflict, from Syria to South Sudan and Yemen, the respect of human rights treaty obligations is at great risk,' he added."
Indonesia To UN "Human Rights" Council: Israel to Blame for All Problems in Middle East
The rise of ISIS, the Assad regime's genocide of the Syrian people, and the Sunni-Shiite divide are all caused by Israel - at least according to Indonesia. Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council session dedicated to demonizing Israel, agenda item 7, on September 23, 2016, Indonesia said the following:
"We believe that the root of all problems in the Middle East stems from the situation in Palestine and therefore, the Human Rights Council should be the most vocal, the most intense and to always be at the forefront of the attempts to eliminate human rights violations and abuses in Palestine."
Syria says Israeli ‘terrorism’ threatens entire region
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Saturday condemned Israel’s strikes in southern Syria, saying the IDF’s “aggressive policies do not only threaten Syria but the whole region.”
Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Muallem said the Syrian state was dealing not only with “mercenary terrorists on its territory” in its five-year civil war, but also “has long confronted a different kind of terrorism; the terrorism of Israel that has occupied a precious part of our land in the Syrian Golan since 4 June 1967.”
Israel’s “oppressive and aggressive practices,” he said, “are no longer confined to the Occupied Golan, and are currently affecting the security and life of Syrians in the southern part of the country.”
City of Munich cancels BDS event due to antisemitism
Munich’s cultural affairs department pulled the plug on an ­anti-Israel lecture slated for Friday in a city-subsidized building, because the talk would have crossed the line into antisemitism.
Stefan Hauf, a spokesman for the mayor, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the city’s cultural commissioner intervened to stop the lecture on “Antisemitism Today” organized by the Salam Shalom Working Circle Palestine-Israel association.
Munich’s cultural commissioner, Hans-Georg Küppers, said in a letter to Eine-Welt-Haus – where the lecture was to be held – that it was probable that “during the event the line between criticism of Israel and antisemitism will be crossed,” the Merkur news outlet reported.
Salam Shalom – a hardcore anti-Israel group – promotes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign on its website targeting the Jewish state. ”Salam Shalom has no right to be in city rooms. Salam Shalom would be better located in the NPD headquarters,” Green Party city councilman Dominik Krause told the Merkur.
The NPD is the main neo-Nazi party in Germany.
The obscure anti-Israel activist who was slated to deliver the lecture in Munich lost a court case to prominent German Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder in 2007. Broder termed the speaker an “expert[s] in applied Jew-phobia.”
Norwegian theater boycott call prompts Nazi comparisons from Israel
A video published online, purportedly on the behalf of the Norwegian National Theater, issued an apology for the theater's cultural cooperation with Habima, Israel's National Theater, on a project called 'Terrorisms' between 2013-2015. The Palestinian theater Shiber Hur Company also participated in the project.
The nearly seven minute video went on to publicly endorse the BDS movement on behalf of Norway's National Theater and declare Israel a "colonialist" entity "based on occupation, ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid."
The video, as well as its full transcript, was published in the Norwegian weekly newspaper Morgenbladet Friday.
In contacting the Norwegian National Theater for comment about the video, an employee told The Jerusalem Post that the clip was part of an "art installation," produced independently without the "theater's knowledge."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the video was produced "under the guise of freedom of speech and was officially funded."
Another Legal Insurrection victory: Ct orders video released of anti-Israel 3rd Grade event
Ithaca (NY) School District has fought for almost a year to prevent release of video and other documents

On Friday morning, September 18, 2015, the third grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY, heard a presentation on “human rights” by Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi and local anti-Israel activists, including Ariel Gold of the local chapter of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (she also is a full time employee of Code Pink), and Mary Grady Flores. The event was arranged through third grade teacher Brooke Burnett, a friend of Gold and Flores.
On Sunday night, September 20, Legal Insurrection broke the story, Anti-Israel activism hits elementary school in Ithaca, NY. Because of Tamimi’s notoriety for exploiting children in videotaped confrontations with Israeli soldiers, Tamimi’s mere appearance in a third grade class raised suspicions about the event.
Docs Confirmed Third Grade Event Was Anti-Israel Propaganda
After our September 20 report, a firestorm of controversy erupted, with the Superintendent of the Ithaca City School District (ICSD), Dr. Luvelle Brown, conducting an investigation, after which he issued a statement that the event was “politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.”
The controversy received widespread news coverage, particularly over the activists’ request to the students to become “freedom fighters for Palestine”:
I filed a NY Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking documents about the event. While numerous documents, including a video of the event, were withheld by ICSD, what was produced was enough to declare without doubt that the event was an anti-Israel presentation in which both the activists and the teacher leading the discussion skewed the conversation against Israel to the extent that one or more students were incited to express hatred of Israel.
I described my findings and the evidence obtained in a post on November 8, 2015, New docs reveal Third Grade Anti-Israel event much worse than thought.
HR Prompts Removal of Washington Post Racial Profiling Smear
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column took a look at Donald Trump’s recent comments on profiling of potential terrorists. It included the following:
While the Washington Post can be commended for adding an update concerning Israeli profiling, a glaring error stood out.
We tweeted and contacted the journalist responsible and Washington Post editors to ask why would Israeli security profile Ethiopian Jews?
Clearly the Ethiopian Jewish community in no way represents a security threat to Israelis or anyone else.
There is only one implication for claiming that Israel profiles people of color, even if they are Jewish – that Israel is somehow racist. This is not only absolutely incorrect but is inflammatory.
The Washington Post agreed with us and removed the offending reference
Fatah Rips Off Disgraced Sydney Morning Herald Cartoon
This is what Palestinian incitement has come to: Fatah, the PA’s ruling party and Israel’s nominal peace partner posted another incendiary cartoon (hat tip Palestinian Media Watch). It features plenty of classic anti-Semitic tropes: A large-nosed Jew wearing a skullcap, holding a remote control switch watches a massive explosion ripping through Gaza from the comfort of a cozy chair emblazoned with a Jewish star.
You can even see a slight smirk on the man’s face.
What makes this cartoon especially interesting is that the cartoon was originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald during the 2014 Gaza war, to illustrate an equally vicious column by Mike Carlton. (The SMH eventually fired Carlton because of the abusive comments he made to responding readers.)
Cartoonist Glen LeLievre tried to explain away his illustration’s anti-Semitism:
Obama Vetoes Bill Allowing Families of 9/11 Victims to Sue Saudi Arabia in US Courts
President Obama on Friday vetoed legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S courts, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Congress.
“I recognize that there is nothing that could ever erase the grief the 9/11 families have endured," Obama wrote in his veto message. "Enacting JASTA into law, however would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks."
Obama’s move opens up the possibility that lawmakers could override his veto for the first time with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
Republican and Democratic leaders have said they are committed to holding an override vote, and the bill’s drafters say they have the support to force the bill to become law.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) unanimously passed through both chambers by voice vote.
But the timing of the president’s veto is designed to erode congressional support for the bill and put off a politically damaging override vote until after the November elections.
Obama waited until the very end of the 10-day period he had to issue a veto, hoping to buy time to lobby members of Congress against the measure.
Mauritania’s mufti says Iran’s influence ‘worse than Zionism’
Mauritania’s top Muslim cleric called for the African nation to cut all ties with Iran because its Shiite ideology is “as bad and as evil” as Zionism.
“I turned to his excellency the president during the Eid el-Adha sermon last Monday and as you all heard I complained to him,” Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Ould Habib al-Rahman said during a sermon last week.
“Thus, the Safavid Persian Shiitization activities in our country were exposed through the so-called social media YouTube and Facebook.
The propagation of this ideology in our country has been exposed, Allah be praised,” said Rahman.
“These people were exposed both in video and audio as they were describing Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisha [three of the founding figures of Sunni Islam] as ‘hypocrites,’ and publicly cursing them,” he said.
“As I told you, you can see it yourself on YouTube and Facebook. See it for yourselves! Maybe some of you have seen it already,” he continued. Rahman’s comments, made on September 16, were translated on Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an NGO monitoring news outlets in the region.
In first, Israel selects all-Arabic film as its foreign language Oscars entry
For the first time, Israel has selected a film entirely in Arabic to represent the country at the Academy Awards.
“Sand Storm” won six Ophir Awards — Israel’s equivalent of the Oscars given out by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television — on Thursday, including for best film. The winner of the best film award is entered as Israel’s submission for the foreign film award at the next year’s Oscars.
A family drama set in the Bedouin community — a largely poor and often marginalized subset of the Israeli population — “Sand Storm” is the feature debut for Elite Zexer, a Jewish Israeli. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic section.
Miri Regev, Israel’s minister of culture and sport, caused a stir at the Ophir Awards show in Ashdod, walking out in protest while Arab-Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar performed a poem by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Regev returned to present the best film award and was loudly booed.
“I have a lot of tolerance for the ‘other,’ but I have no tolerance for Darwish and anyone who wants to eliminate Israel,” Regev said.
“Sand Storm” will be released in the United States on Wednesday, starting at New York City’s Film Forum.
Max Mannheimer, Holocaust survivor who fought anti-Semitism, dies at 96
Holocaust survivor Max Mannheimer, who dedicated his life in post-war Germany to fighting anti-Semitism, has died. He was 96.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored Mannheimer Saturday for his efforts to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.
Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said on Twitter that Merkel is mourning his death and that “we owe him gratitude.”
Mannheimer spent two years being held in different death camps, including Auschwitz. Most of his family was murdered during the Holocaust.
After the end of the Third Reich, Mannheimer dedicated his life to talking about the horrors he experienced. He also became the head of the community of former prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp.

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