Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From Ian:

Stand With Us: Why the A-list shuns BDS
Yes, they may co-opt D-List celebs like Roger Waters to pressure others in the industry to join BDS. Thankfully, though, A-Listers and those around them are getting better acquainted with BDS, and when they see the antisemitism that surrounds the movement, including the giant pig with a Star of David on it hoisted at the concert of Roger Waters, they run a mile.
And so to Scarlett Johansson’s classy and appropriate response to BDS: boycotts won’t bring peace, but cooperation, such as in companies like Sodastream who employ Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis to work together side by side with equal pay and benefits, is the road to peace. With her proud representation of the fizzy drinks machine-maker, Scarlett Johansson becomes yet another A-Lister to shun BDS and back peaceful cooperation.
I’ll drink to that.
BANNED Superbowl Scarlett Johansson SodaStream Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.

Demonizing Israel; Demonizing ScarJo
In the meantime, Johansson deserves applause for being willing to take the heat for standing up for SodaStream. The attack on SodaStream shows the true face of the BDS movement. They don’t care how good the company is for the regional economy or even the Palestinians who work there. They don’t care that the “settlement” in which it exists would almost certainly remain within Israel if a peace treaty with the Palestinians were to be signed. All they care about is demonizing the very existence of the Jews who live there. As the abuse from Aslan and the rest of the BDS movement shows, that same demonization will apply to anyone, even an Obama-supporting politically correct liberal Democrat like Johansson. Though this may not have been a fight that she would have chosen to engage in, Johansson must now show that she and others prepared to stand with Israel won’t be intimidated.(h/t NormanF)

JPost Editorial: A Judenrein Palestine?
This week, sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sparked controversy when they announced that in any future Palestinian state, Israel would insist that Israelis living in Judea and Samaria be allowed to remain under Palestinian control if they should choose to.
Coalition partners, even members of Netanyahu’s own party, were quick to reject the idea.
Palestinians were no less adamant in their opposition to allowing Jewish settlements to remain in any future two-state solution.
“Anyone who says he wants to keep the settlers in a Palestinian state is really saying he does not want a Palestinian state,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declared. “No settler will be permitted to stay in a Palestinian state, not one, because the settlements are illegal and the presence of settlers on occupied lands is illegal.”
Peace Talks That Allow Racism Cannot Continue
Leaving aside the unfeasible nature of Jews living in an “Arab Palestine” – as Jews cannot live safely among Arabs, clearly this shows the very radical nature of the Palestinian Arabs. Arabs live freely – and very well in the Jewish State of Israel. But nowhere in the Arab world can Jews live freely. Where’s Peace Now and J Street now when it comes to “oppression” regarding the settlements? Why the double standard?
How can the American government oversee these peace talks when America will not accept racism anywhere in the world? The American government allows Jews to live anywhere they want. Why wouldn’t they insist for the same thing from Palestinian Arabs? How can President Obama allow Kerry to continue with these so-called peace talks when Jews will be forbidden from living in certain areas?
Livni’s Comments Show Talks Are Failing
For someone like Livni to have gone public on what are supposed to be closed-door negotiations, we can assume that her back must really be against the wall this time. With just three months to go before the current round of negotiations are due to expire, it seems that everyone, even the talks’ most enthusiastic supporters, are now preparing for the fallout from negotiations collapsing. And clearly Livni, too, is looking for a position from which to weather the storm.
Speaking over the weekend, Livni openly condemned what she referred to as Abbas’s “unacceptable positions” in the negotiations. We are told that Abbas is demanding all of east Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, including the Old City and its holy sites, that he has refused to recognize the Jewish state, and in contradiction to what many believed to be his position in the past, Abbas is insisting that the millions of descendants of the Palestinian refugees return, not to a future Palestinian state, but to the very Jewish state that he refuses to recognize. (h/t NormanF)
Ethnic cleansing and apartheid Palestine
Nearly 15 years ago, a tall, lanky legislator from Massachusetts arose in the US Senate and delivered a brief yet impassioned call to stop what was deemed to be ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
“The essential objective,” he said, according to the March 23, 1999, Congressional record, is to “minimize the capacity for ethnic cleansing. That is the overpowering strategic and, I think also, humanitarian interest here.”
The veteran senators’ words, and his emphasis on the need to stop ethnic cleansing, helped to carry the day, with the Senate voting to pass the non-binding resolution by a margin of 58-41. The following day, NATO , with American participation, launched a ruthless and bloody bombing campaign against Belgrade.
Ironically, the senator who spoke out so firmly against ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in 1999 – John Kerry – is now leading the charge as US secretary of state to implement it in the Middle East of 2014.
Poll: Majority of Americans Want Stronger Sanctions on Iran, Believe Palestinian State Would be Terror Hotbed
The poll found that 59% of Americans believe that the U.S. should impose stronger sanctions on Iran to pressure it to stop its nuclear program, while only 17% believe the U.S. should weaken sanctions on Iran to convince it to stop nuclear development — almost a 3.5-to-1 ratio.
On Israel, the poll found that 47% of Americans believe that Israeli Jews should have the right to live in the West Bank, whereas only 14% of Americans believe only Palestinian Arabs should have the right to live there, a 3-to-1 ratio.
The poll found that 63% of Americans believe that the PA should recognize Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people, whereas only 11% believe it should not, almost a 6-to-1 ratio.
Does Jordan Really Want an Independent Palestinian State?
“The Jordanians want a solution that doesn’t undermine the domestic stability of the Hashemite kingdom. [One that] creates a relatively secure border and protects their interests in Jerusalem. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations touch upon their national security,” Aaron David Miller—a former U.S. Mideast advisor and negotiator, and now a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center think tank—told JNS.org.
One of the major issues to arise in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has been the status of the Jordan Valley, a narrow rift valley between the Judean Mountains and the Jordan River that forms the border with Jordan. Both Israel and Jordan are deeply concerned that the West Bank could turn into a haven for terrorists, like the Gaza Strip did after an Israeli withdrawal in 2005.
Anti-Zionist haredi who attempted to spy for Iran to serve 4.5 years in plea deal
A man from the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Natorei Karta sect who was charged with attempting to pass sensitive information about Israel to Iran in August will serve four-and-a-half years in prison, according to the terms of a plea bargain approved by the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday.
Yitzhak Bergil, 47, who was arrested by the Shin Bet and Israel Police in July, reached the plea deal with the State Attorney's Office after confessing to the charges against him.
Palestinians Pin Hopes on Gas Project to Counter Donor Fatigue
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied Israel is holding back the Palestinian economy. “This is nothing but a pretext for the PA to cast away responsibility and evade accountability for its own misconduct and incompetence.”
By 2016, growth will slow to 3 percent because of an aid falloff and political uncertainty, the IMF forecast in its report.
Donor aid has dropped to $1 billion or less last year from about $1.8 billion annually, in part because governments are reluctant to pledge more money without breakthroughs on peacemaking, Mustafa said.
Jihadists Produce Gaza's First Domestic Missile Launcher
The "Mujahideen Brigades" in Gaza announced this week the launch of a new domestically-developed ATM (Anti-Tank Missile) launcher. Video released by the terror group shows a terrorist holding the new weapon and firing a missile.
The launcher, which is over a meter (3.3 feet) in length, sports basic sights for aiming. (h/t Bob Knot)
Palestinian PM's car stopped by Israeli forces for third time in two weeks
His convoy was stopped twice on January 14 by Israeli police in the village of Turmusayya near Ramallah.
At the time of the first incident, Israeli police said Hamdallah's convoy was stopped because it was driving "recklessly and endangering other road users."
UNRWA campaign suppresses Yarmouk victims’ Palestinian identity
The UN agency on Palestinian refugees has launched a major campaign for Palestinians being starved by the Assad regime in the Damsacus-area Yarmouk refugee camp. Curiously and without precedent, however, the campaign suppresses any mention that the victims are Palestinians.
It would seem that because Israel cannot be painted as the villain, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was unable to voice its usual narrative, and instead settled on this bizarre formulation.
Haunting before and after pictures show how Syria's 5,000-year heritage is being buried under the rubble of war
They are the rubble-strewn relics of a forgotten age of bustling prosperity: a mosque, a minaret, a hospital and a marketplace.
Now in ruins, they have been destroyed by a war that is not only killing generations of Syrians but also history itself.
And as these before and after pictures show, a heritage built over more than 5,000 years is being slowly buried under rubble.
Bypassing sanctions and with help from Iran, Syria steps up missile production
Syria is accelerating its production of missiles and rockets, effectively circumventing international sanctions imposed on it, according to the authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly.
The magazine, which deals with military and security matters, presented evidence that the regime has upgraded its weapons capacity with the assistance of countries including Iran, North Korea and Belarus.
US ship departs to destroy Syrian chemical agents
Syria has missed the Dec. 31 deadline for transporting the most toxic substances to a port and has so far loaded only about 5 percent of the chemicals onto the Danish cargo ship, a senior western diplomat said last week.
But the OPCW, overseeing the operation, said it remained confident that a final deadline of 30 June 2014 for the destruction of Syria's entire arsenal of chemical weapons would be met.
Jeffrey Goldberg: More Bad Omens for the Iran Nuclear Talks
The velocity of bad sign-spotting is increasing as we get closer to the main negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
Bad Sign No. 1: I think it’s important to note that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has just stated that under no circumstances would Iran agree to destroy any of its centrifuges. I would also like to note that this unequivocal statement, if sincere, means that there is no possibility of a nuclear deal between Iran and the six powers set to resume negotiating with it next month.
In order to keep Iran perpetually 6 to 12 months away from developing a nuclear weapon -- an unacceptable period in the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but a time-frame that U.S. President Barack Obama could conceivably accept -- Iran would have to agree to dismantle 15,000 centrifuges; close an important uranium enrichment site; and accept 20 years of nuclear inspections, according to the Institute for Science and International Security, a well-respected (and centrist) think tank headed by the former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright. (h/t Serious Black)
WH Stance on Iran Statements Met by Journalists With Sarcasm, Pushback
Obama administration officials continued to scramble last week to contain the fallout from recent statements by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in which the officials respectively denied that Iran had made key nuclear concessions under a recent interim agreement and foreclosed what are widely believed to be minimal rollbacks necessary to secure a comprehensive nuclear accord. CNN last Wednesday aired an interview with Zarif in which he explicitly accused the White House of misleading Americans into believing that Iran had committed to dismantling some of its centrifuges under the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), and last Thursday the cable news network aired parts of a separate interview with Rouhani in which he flatly ruled out ever dismantling any centrifuges.
Obama Admin Snubs Egypt on Summit Invites, Risking Further Bilateral Deterioration
In a rare interview that came even before the White House announced it was freezing some assistance, Egyptian General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi – the head of the country’s army and by most reckonings its next president - was already responding to threats of U.S. action by declaring “you turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that” and asking “now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians” (the Washington Post, which was conducting the interview, dryly assessed that Sisi’s comments were “a measure of just how thoroughly the Obama administration has alienated both sides in… Egypt”). Last week the White House issued an invitation to 47 African leaders to attend an American-African economic summit to be held in Washington later this year. Egypt was excluded from the invitation list. Pressed for details, State Department Deputy Press Secretary Marie Harf told reporters that the decision was a function of Egypt having been suspended from the African Union (AU). Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelbati expressed himself surprised at State’s rationale, if for no other reason than the AU is unconnected to the summit.
Morsi prison break trial begins in Cairo
Egypt’s toppled President Mohammed Morsi stood inside a glass-encased metal cage Tuesday, separated from other defendants for the start of a new trial Tuesday over charges from prison breaks during the country’s 2011 revolution, state television reported.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported that Morsi flew by helicopter from Borg al-Arab prison in Alexandria. Only 19 other of the 129 defendants in the case, including the leader of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group and other leading figures, are held by authorities. The rest, including members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, are on the run.
Gunmen kill Egyptian police general in Cairo
Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead Tuesday an Egyptian police general in Cairo, who was also an aide to the interior minister, security officials and medics said.
The brazen morning attack comes a day after Egypt’s military backed its chief Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, to run for the presidency.
UN demands countries stop paying terrorist ransoms
The UN Security Council on Monday demanded that countries not pay terrorist ransoms which the British backers of the move said have reaped al-Qaeda and its allies more than $100 million.
A resolution passed unanimously by the 15 member council calls on UN members “to prevent terrorists from benefiting directly or indirectly from ransom payments or from political concessions and to secure the safe release of hostages.”

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