Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Ian:

'IDF is a moral army fighting in an immoral neighborhood'
Israel Defense Forces Capt. (res.) Matan Katzman spoke Wednesday before the Human Rights Subcommittee of the European Parliament in an effort to counter recent testimony by Breaking the Silence, an organization dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoings by the Israeli army.
"The IDF is a moral army fighting in an immoral neighborhood," said Katzman, who serves in the Givati Brigade and was speaking on behalf of StandWithUs, an educational organization for Israel advocacy, and the My Truth initiative, which gathers IDF soldier testimonies.
Katzman co-founded My Truth with fellow soldier Avichai Shorshan in response to a damning report released by Breaking the Silence about IDF conduct during last summer's Gaza conflict. When the group sought to export their testimony to European audiences, the My Truth organizers felt something needed to be done about the unfair portrayal of the IDF.
"Behind every Israeli soldier there is a human being, a human being that has to go out and defend his country, although he faces the complexities of war," Katzman said to the EU subcommittee.

Describing Operation Protective Edge, Katzman said,"During last summer's war, the Israeli army aborted and cancelled multiple missions from air and from ground in cases where Palestinian civilians were present, or we even thought they were present.
"Our policy is so concrete and clear that Hamas is an expert on it and uses it to their advantage. They place snipers in schools and hospitals, they stock weapons in homes. U.N.-funded medical clinics are used to booby-trap and to harm soldiers."
Israeli Soldier Testifies to EU Human Rights Committee

Good Enough for the EU: Hungary to Build Anti-Migrant 'Wall'
In Israel, the security fence has done an effective job of keeping Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists outside of Israeli communities – and other countries are learning from Israel's success. The latest is Hungary which, although it does not have the problem of Serbian terrorists sneaking over the border to carry out terror attacks in Hungarian supermarkets and coffee shops, is building 16 foot (4 meter) high fence anyway – to keep job-seekers from Serbia out.
Hungary is part of the Eurozone, and is signed onto the visa-free Schengen program – and thus provides an excellent gateway for workers from Serbia, which is not a part of the Schengen zone, to enter Europe and look for work in the more affluent areas of central and western Europe.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers filter through the border with Serbia each year, and the EU – and Hungary – have had enough, according to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who at a press conference in Budapest Wednesday said that “immigration is one of the most serious problems facing the European Union today.” To prevent the migrants from coming in, he said, Hungary would build a fence with a four meter fence stretching for 175 kilometers (110 miles).
Hungary isn't the only EU country building an anti-immigration fence. Bulgaria has is building one along its border with Turkey to workers from the Arab world. In recent months, Turkey has taken in millions of refugees from Turkey and Iraq. Although most of them are restricted to border areas, reports say that thousands have managed to infiltrate the rest of the country, with many attempting to enter neighboring Bulgaria in order to find work in the EU.
New video exposes provocation leading up to IDF soldiers beating Palestinian man
A new video posted Tuesday exposed the full scope of events, including provocations, leading up to an incident on Friday in which four soldiers struck and verbally assaulted a Palestinian man during a violent disturbance in the village of Jalazun.
The unsettling video shows individuals, as well as those with press vests, repeatedly approaching the group of Kfir Brigade soldiers even after being repeatedly told to leave. Swarms of press photographers followed the soldiers constantly, waiting to catch the perfect moment, as firebombs are hurled at the soldiers.
The 10-minute-long video, posted by a group calling itself the International Solidarity Movement, shows this back-and-forth of provocations which culminated in a man being beaten. The much shorter video circulated by Palestinian media shortly after the incident, showed only the beating itself, without context.
An army investigation concluded on Sunday said that the situation occurred in the course of a lengthy violent disturbance that lasted for several hours, during which rioters hurled firebombs and large rocks at soldiers. A platoon commander was injured by a rock thrown at his face and suffered a suspected eye socket bone fracture.
The Palestinian man seen in the video approached the soldiers and attempted to create a provocation, the investigation found. “After ignoring calls by soldiers to stop, and grabbing the weapon of one of the commanders, commanders decided to utilize force to arrest him,” the army said.

David Horovitz: Interview: Michael Oren sees a US alliance in tatters, and Israel ‘on our own’
The US-born former diplomat, who is now a Knesset member for the Kulanu party, notes in his foreword that the Hebrew term for “ally” is ben brit — literally “the son of the covenant.” And what he documents is actually the breaching of a covenant, the collapse of an alliance — an accumulated arc of abandonment by the Obama administration, and most especially the president himself, of Israel.
It’s a charge, unsurprisingly, that the administration has rushed to deny, and, rather more surprisingly, that Oren’s own party chief Moshe Kahlon has hurried to dissociate Kulanu from.
Oren’s style is not excitable or melodramatic. In fact, he writes in generally understated tone, with the measured sense of perspective you’d expect from a best-selling historian. So when he notes, as he does near the very end of the book, that last summer’s Israel-Hamas war left “aspects of the US-Israeli alliance in tatters,” you take him seriously, and you worry.
And when you read that Washington worked relentlessly to quash any military option for Israel, most especially in 2012 — arguably the last moment at which Israel could have intervened effectively to thwart Iran’s drive to the bomb (though Oren does not confirm this) — you sense that he has exposed the emptiness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s endless assertions that Israel will stand alone if necessary to stop a nuclear Iran. And you register, with all its grim repercussions, the realpolitik of a broken relationship with our key defender — the rupture that now leaves Israel vulnerable to an increasingly bold Islamist regime that avowedly seeks our annihilation.
Washington calls Oren criticism of Obama ‘absolutely false'
Spokesman John Kirby shot down Oren’s claims against the president and stated that the Israeli lawmaker’s account does not reflect the true relationship between the Obama administration and the Israeli leadership.
“It’s the Secretary’s view that his account, particularly the account of President Obama’s leadership in the US-Israeli relationship, is absolutely inaccurate and false, and doesn’t reflect what actually happened in the past,” Kirby said.
The statement from Foggy Bottom was the latest blowback over Oren’s account, which has preceded a book release detailing his time as ambassador during Obama’s first term in office.
Obama Admin ‘Cheered’ Private Scolding of Israeli Ambassador
Obama administration staffers listened in on and “cheered” the private scolding of a former Israeli ambassador by senior a State Department official, according to new disclosures by that ambassador, Michael Oren.
The incident took place in 2010, when the Obama administration stoked tensions with Israel over its decision to continue building homes in Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to Oren, who recounts the episode in his new memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide.
At the time, the Obama administration was upset Israel had announced the construction of 1,600 new homes for Jewish people in neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The announcement coincided with a trip to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden.
The episode sparked a public spat between Israel and the Obama administration, which condemned the housing construction and privately scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Ambassador Oren.
Oren recounted that when he landed back in Washington, D.C., following the trip, he landed “to learn that [then] Secretary of State Clinton has excoriated Netanyahu for 45 minutes over the phone, rebuking him for humiliating the president and undermining America’s ability to deal with pressing Middle East issues.”
Kahlon sends letter of apology to US officials for party mate Oren's Obama comments
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the head of the Kulanu Party, sent a letter of apology to US Ambassador Dan Shapiro Wednesday for an op-ed piece written by former ambassador to the US Michael Oren, now a Kulanu MK, harshly criticizing President Barack Obama’s policies on Israel.
In the letter, the Kulanu head asked Shapiro to relay his appreciation to the president for his support of Israel’s economy and security.
Kahlon said the letter represented his position and that of his party, and that the position articulated by Oren represented his personal opinion, alone.
The letter came after Shapiro took on his former counterpart Oren in an Army Radio interview on Wednesday, saying his description of US-Israel ties under Obama “does not reflect the truth.”
Netanyahu said to deny US request to disavow Oren op-ed
The op-ed has drawn unhappy reactions from the US, including an angry phone call from US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to Netanyahu, asking the prime minister to renounce Oren’s ideas in a public statement, according to a report in Haaretz Thursday.
Netanyahu refused Shapiro’s request and said he had no intention of publicly addressing the piece, an anonymous source told the newspaper.
The prime minister said Oren was no longer a public official but a politician belonging to another party and therefore he saw no reason he should intervene, Israel’s Army Radio reported, citing a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
The Prime Minister’s Office refused to share Netanyahu’s views on the issue.
Shapiro’s office also refused to comment on the content of his call with Netanyahu.
Isi Leibler: Are American Jews in ‘galut’?
The exceptional response to my recent column, “American Jewish leaders fail to respond to Obama’s threats,” combined with further developments on the American scene, has brought me to the sad conclusion that when the chips are down and when faced with adversity, American Jewish leaders in the greatest democracy in the world cannot shake off their “Galut” (Exile) mentality.
The multitude of communications I received from Jews at the grass-roots level is evidence of the fact that committed Jews are confused, distressed and angered at the failure of their leaders to respond to the outrageous statements expressed by US President Barack Obama within the framework of his “charm offensive.” (That in no way detracts from the counterproductive, boorish behavior of the Jews attending The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York who jeered US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.)
The failure of the Jewish leadership to cautiously condemn the flow of distorted and biased anti-Israeli statements by the president was heightened last week with the interviews and articles relating to former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s forthcoming book, Ally: My Journey Across the American Israeli Divide. They provide a chilling insight into the bullying and aggressive role Obama adopted against Israel, and his championing of the Palestinian cause. Even the most hardened Obama supporters who retain any pro-Israel sentiments will be stunned to read of his calculated abandonment of the Jewish state on the political level, “Which would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader,” as Oren writes.
Oren wrote that from his first inauguration, “Obama put daylight between Israel and America,” publicly disagreeing with and condemning the Jewish state, and “by endorsing the Palestinian position on the 1967 lines, the White House overnight altered more than 40 years of American policy.” Repeatedly, the administration accused Israel of lack of progress on the peace process “while making no substantive demands of the Palestinians.”
In Palestine, Islamic State will replace both Fatah and Hamas
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, now serving the eleventh year of his four-year term, should pause and consider that Israel is no longer his biggest problem. Even Hamas is no longer his biggest problem.
Abbas’ Fatah organization grew out of secular ideologies. Its largest threat now comes from the growing fundamentalist revivalism sweeping the Islamic world.
A people that fail to achieve their political destiny, the fulfillment of their political eschatology, ultimately shift to the extremes. The Palestinians are no exception. It is the nature of political movements.
The PA represents failure. After decades of being on the receiving end of international largesse, it has failed to build a viable political infrastructure or a meaningful economic base.
J.E. Dyer: What a workable Middle East strategy would look like if America had one
Strategy should always proceed from what we think is right, and what we think is most important. If it doesn’t, it’s mere cynical maneuver, and will quickly be exposed as brittle and uncompelling.
What happens to Iraq and Syria will be a turning point for mankind, one way or the other – and as such, this juncture represents as much of a singular opportunity for the Western moral ideal of state-based consensualism as it does for Islamic apocalypticism.
It’s no accident that this opportunity is centered, in practical terms, on what nation-states can accomplish. The nation-state is the West’s sub-imperial defense for peoples against the indifferent brutality of empires and collectivist ideologies. Tribes can’t protect people’s rights, and empires don’t want to. It’s only where the nation-state has become ascendant, as the chief unit for political organization, that rights like those expressed in the American Declaration of Independence and the UN Charter have been protected. Indeed, the very ideas of limited government and accountable sovereignty demand the existence of the nation-state: tribes can’t be sovereign, and empires can’t be held accountable.
If the nation-state and the construct of Westphalian consensualism don’t have an answer for Iraq and Syria, the cost of trying to reconstruct an order that gives people hope and future, after Middle East chaos and the ISIS model of guerrilla lightning-war have metastasized, will be colossal. America, along with every other member state of the UN, has an indivisible interest in seeing these Western constructs used, and seeing them succeed.
Unfortunately, most Westerners under the age of 40 are ill-equipped today to realize that we have the nation-state, and have prized a Westphalian order, for good reasons. These measures are better than armed tribalism, ideological militarism, and hegemonic imperialism. The West tried all those forms too, and found them unsatisfactory.
UN investigators fighting wars on paper
The wittiest comment I can think of right now is also the most overused and worn comment, but it's so true in this case: Sometimes even a paranoid is right, and he really is being persecuted.
The question right now is not if the State of Israel is being rightfully or unrightfully persecuted – the fact is that it is being persecuted. The report of the United Nations' commission of inquiry into the events of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year is just one symptom of a serious persecution disease, and not one of the gravest symptoms. We overcame Pharaoh, and we'll overcome this report too. The Defense Ministry archive may be overflowing, but there is still room in its drawers for another one of these reports.
Yet those who say "good riddance" and ignore what the report says, and especially the global atmosphere around us, are wrong: The world has changed, so have we, but we are still failing to understand what is happening here.
This report, like many before it and other similar reports, was authored by people who have never been in a battlefield. It was likely written in an air-conditioned room, under relaxed and good lighting, in an atmosphere which is completely different from the atmosphere in the middle of an exchange of fire. It does not contain the fear, the surprise, the bitter and tough enemy on the other side, the innocent civilians activating large explosive devices from surveillance by a window.
Schabas’ Fantasy Standards for Laws of War & Human Rights
William Schabas is “the world expert on the law of genocide and international law” (that’s what his Wiki says –I am very impressed but please read on). Schabas does not get the basics of conflicts-of-interest, for example, that any street lawyer understands and it gets to the heart of his sense of entitlement and being the “smartest person in the room.”
That a conflict of interest is not based on the size of the retainer which you accept, in this case from one party – the Palestinian Authority (PA), and which you are required to disclose on a UN form requesting this. It is based on the “appearance” of conflict. And being asked to head a major commission assigned to assess war crimes during the last conflict with Hamas – this is the poster-child for inappropriate “appearances”. It is why attorneys have a duty to disclose. Schabas had that duty to disclose, however, he did not think this “minor” issue somehow applied to him. So much for his character.
Since the UN Human Rights Counsel is about to release their Gaza report of last summer’s war we should keep what I am about to write in mind since Schabas headed this commission for a period of time.
So let’s take a closer look at what this world renowned expert thinks and how sloppy his thinking really is. That is because, my friends, there is no single truth when it comes to the laws of war and human rights – the word “laws” is quite misleading. These laws are guidelines since there is a lack of classic legal precedent or court decision making in this area of international law. Comments by UN agencies and NGO’s that Israel violates laws of war or engages in war crimes are not based upon any objective standard but rather it’s their opinion – for the most part an opinion that is filtered by ideological bias which avoids contextualizing the facts and the complex challenges Israel faces in their asymmetric warfare against state sponsored terror organizations.
Are Israel, Egypt and the Americans Seeking to Replace Abbas?
Israel, Egypt and the United States, these unnamed sources told Quds Press, believe that Abbas is not fit to deal with future challenges, and they want to find a replacement who can manage the relationship with Israel and simultaneously curb the Hamas movement.
Those same sources said that several candidates were outright rejected, including former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub, and Marwan Barghouti, a senior member of Fatah who is serving several life sentences in Israel after being convicted on terrorism charges.
Two names that were brought up in this context are those of Mohammed Dahlan, a former security chief in Gaza and Abbas’s arch-rival, as well as Majed Faraj, head of the General Intelligence Service in the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria. Dahlan was cited for his good relations with Egypt and the Gulf States and Faraj was cited for his close ties to Israel due to the security coordination.
It should be noted, however, that Quds Press is identified with the political line of Hamas, and therefore it cannot be ruled out that the report is part of a propaganda war carried out by Hamas against the PA, in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy and present it as collaborating with Israel and being operated by foreign entities.
President Obama Has Abandoned Israel, Despite Financial Aid
The sneaking suspicion that Obama believes that a good Israel is a perpetually vulnerable Israel was confirmed in 2014, when his administration placed an arms embargo against the Jewish State.
What caused Israel’s enduring ally to respond in such a grotesque manner? It was Israel’s retaliatory military action against an incessant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza that provoked Obama’s ire.
Apparently, the American President missed the briefing about impending massive Hamas terror attacks against southern Israel via tunnels from Gaza, which would have resulted in the murder and kidnapping of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
If President Obama views Israeli retaliation as disproportionate and unacceptable, then Israeli preemption cannot even be whispered about.
Invalidating Israel’s pre-preemptive military doctrine and strangling Israeli retaliatory capabilities have emboldened Hamas, Hezbollah, and Tehran to expand their local and wider conflicts.
To distract the more than 70 percent of Americans who are openly pro-Israel, Obama will continue to provide just enough military aid for Israel to defend itself, but not nearly enough to enable the country’s defense forces to win in absolute terms.
However, let’s give President Obama credit for sincerely and diligently working on behalf of peace in the Middle East. Disdainful of American foreign adventures and comfortable with Islamist absolutism, Obama is operating based on a disturbingly rosy assessment that a juiced up Iran will allow the United States to shrink its presence in the Middle East.
Which Palestinian State Wants Peace?
Israel’s willingness to engage in back channel talks with Hamas about ensuring the stability of the cease-fire will be cited by some as a reason for the U.S. to recognize or at least talk to the Islamist group. There is a certain superficial logic to the charge that supporters of Israel are being hypocritical when they call for Hamas’s isolation while the Israelis deal with them at least on some level. But the argument holds no water since Israel isn’t recognizing Hamas’s right to rule Gaza any more than the Islamists are prepared to accept Israel as a legitimate state even inside the 1967 lines. All that is happening in these indirect talks is that both parties are hoping to ensure that there is no rerun of the war Hamas launched last summer.
Israel’s government understands that it has no good options with respect to Gaza. The price of taking out Hamas would be too high both in terms of international condemnation and Israeli casualties. So the next best option is to maintain the relative quiet that has existed since the counter-offensive stopped Hamas’s firing of thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and cities as well as the use of tunnels to conduct terror attacks on border communities.
One might think the PA would applaud the continuation of the cease-fire since another round of fighting would lead to more casualties and devastation among the Palestinians in Gaza. Abbas still pretends to be the president of Gaza even though Fatah was thrown out of the strip in a 2007 coup. But his main worry is that his tyrannical grip on the West Bank is threatened by Hamas’s popularity. Abbas’s concerns about the cease-fire are to some extent counter-intuitive since the cheers for Hamas have always been the result of its willingness to spill Jewish blood while Fatah talks with Israel. But Abbas is clearly worried that a long-term cease-fire would strengthen a bankrupt Hamas regime. If such an agreement were to be made it might also improve the situation inside Gaza and lead to more rebuilding of homes in addition to the resources being expended on reconstruction of Hamas’s arsenal and fortifications. That in turn might lower the pressure on Israel to make concessions to Abbas in peace talks even though the PA has shown no interest in returning to the table since it blew up the last round of negotiations by signing a unity pact with Hamas.
While this seems confusing, the explanation for these maneuvers is easy to understand. Fatah and Hamas not only have different short-term goals. Hamas wants to hold onto Gaza. Fatah wants the West to recognize the PA as an independent state without first forcing it to make peace with Israel. Neither Hamas nor Fatah is interested or even capable of making a permanent peace with Israel, but each want the Jewish state to tolerate their continued rule even if both groups are corrupt, oppressive, and uninterested in improving the lives of the Palestinian people.
Saeb Erekat: PLO should consider retracting recognition of Israel
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat released a lengthy report on Thursday, detailing the current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations, and proposing a "comprehensive review" of the status quo.
The 56-page report – dubbed, "Determining Palestinian-Israeli relations: Changing, not merely improving, the situation" – lays out a set of recommendations for the Palestinian leadership, including the possibility of retracting official recognition of Israel.
The top Palestinian official suggests that recognizing a Jewish state – as the PLO did circa 1988 – should be conditioned on a "reciprocal recognition" of a Palestinian state by Jerusalem.
Ramallah should not adhere to pressure from the international community to acknowledge the Jewish state, Erekat admonishes in the report, a step he says could undermine the well-being of the Palestinian population.
Palestinian 'Pragmatist' Asserts Extremist Goals
A history of Zaki’s statements reveal not just conspiratorial, but also violent and antisemitic thinking. According to MEMRI, Zaki has asserted “those Israelis have no religion and no principles. They are nothing but advanced tools for evil. They talk about the Holocaust and so on. So why are they doing this to us? Therefore, in my view, Allah will gather them so that we can kill them. Every killer is bound to be killed. There is no other option. …”
Dispossession if not genocide of the Jews of Israel—though the former without the latter is virtually impossible to imagine—which he has referred to as “the inspiring idea,” long has been part of Zaki’s thinking, as CAMERA has noted. In 2008, Zaki advocated Yasser Arafat’s 1974 “phased plan” to destroy the Jewish state: “Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them [the Jews] out of all of Palestine.”
The Fatah leader’s conception of pragmatism was on full display in a Sept. 23, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast in which he admonished, “If one says that one wants to wipe Israel out…C’mon, it’s too difficult. It’s not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.”
Zaki the rejectionist here lives up to The New York Times’ definition of a “pragmatic” Palestinian leader: Highly immoderate, he advises expedient discretion in pursuit of extremist goals.
US Will 'Push Back Against Efforts to Delegitimize Israel'
Samantha Power, the United States’ ambassador to the UN, on Tuesday said that the Obama administration continues to fight efforts to delegitimize Israel at the UN, reports The Associated Press (AP).
Power made the comments in a speech before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in response to comments from committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce.
Royce expressed concern over what he called the "UN's continuing anti-Israel bias," especially in the organization's human rights council, but he also expressed concern over recent comments by Obama regarding a re-evaluation of Washington’s policy towards Israel at the UN.
"More disturbing is that the Obama administration seems on the brink of discarding decades of bipartisan support of Israel against the UN onslaught," said Royce, a Republican, according to AP.
John Bolton: Don’t Believe the UN’s Promises on Iran Deal
The Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, discussing Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, have reportedly agreed on a mechanism intended to reactivate United Nations economic sanctions if Tehran breaches the deal currently under negotiation. Iran now is apparently reviewing the proposal.
If what is publicly known about this so-called “snapback” formula is even vaguely accurate, it is an act of consummate folly. Allegations of Iranian violations would be referred to a committee of the Perm Five, Germany and (surprise!) Iran. This committee (which might also include other nations) would, through an as-yet-undisclosed process, decide whether Iran had breached the final agreement, and, therefore, whether the sanctions would come back into effect.
Unfortunately, intent on thwarting Russia or China from vetoing Security Council resolutions re-imposing sanctions, President Obama’s diplomats have instead devised an utterly toothless alternative. Their approach does not defuse the threat of sanctions vetoes by Moscow or Beijing (a threat which alone underlines the deal’s fundamental fragility) but simply defaults to predicate question whether Iran is in violation in the first place.
That doesn’t make any ultimate agreement more enforceable; it simply hides the fatal defect under a different walnut shell.
Kerry raises eyebrows with remarks on Iran's past military work
In remarks to the State Department press corps via teleconference on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the world already knows the nature of Iran's past military nuclear work— and that negotiators were not "fixated" on forcing Tehran to reveal its activities from a particular moment in time.
The comment was widely interpreted as a departure from past statements made by key administration officials over several years. Both he and US President Barack Obama have said that Iran must "come clean" in any final agreement on all of its past experimentation with nuclear weaponry, referred to formally as Possible Military Dimensions (PMD).
At the top of his first briefing as State Department spokesman, John Kirby said the US is not looking for a "confession" from Iran. But the US never has, he continued, and is making no concession on the PMD issue.
"The [International Atomic Energy Agency]'s concerns about possible military dimensions, past and present, have to be resolved before there is a deal," Kirby told the press, charging that it is "absolutely, completely false" that the US had shifted on the matter.
Kerry’s absolute idiocy
This is new. I don’t think the administration has ever tried to spin up reporters on the claim that the US “has absolute knowledge” of Iran’s military nuclear work. Certainly it’s never been a top message. But administration officials have no choice: the Associated Press confirmed last week that the P5+1 has collapsed on the demand that Iran come clean about its past atomic work, which would gut the verification regime that the White House has made the key criterion of any deal. Without knowing what the Iranians did in the past there’s no way confirming they’ve stopped doing those things, which means there’s no way that Kerry’s other line about confirming that prohibited “activities have stopped” could ever be true. So the new argument is – as it sort of has to be – that Washington doesn’t need the Iranians to reveal anything because American officials already know everything.
Couple things to note about the claim:
(1) It’s false – Here is IAEA Director General Amano 3 months ago: “what we don’t know [is] whether they have undeclared activities or something else. We don’t know what they did in the past. So, we know a part of their activities, but we cannot tell we know all their activities. And that is why we cannot say that all the activities in Iran is in peaceful purposes”. And here he is again a few weeks ago: “the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”.
AIPAC calls Kerry's Iran remarks 'disturbing'
AIPAC's statement was one of concern that, after sealing a framework to a nuclear deal with Iran, the US was "backtracking" on a fundamental negotiating position.
"The secretary’s statement indicates the US may be backtracking from previous demands that Iran respond fully to the IAEA’s questions– raising the disturbing prospect that the anticipated agreement will be fundamentally flawed," AIPAC's statement reads.
The lobbying group argues that a clear outline of Iran's past military nuclear work is necessary in establishing "a baseline of Tehran’s nuclear program– including breakout time– against which to measure future actions."
"The US and the IAEA do not know the extent of Iran’s nuclear capabilities," they state. "When asked in April if Iran must disclose past military-related nuclear activities as part of an agreement, Secretary Kerry said 'They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done.'"
WSJ Editorial: Growing Commercial Ties To Iran Will Hurt Efforts to Snap Back Sanctions
While President Barack Obama promised in April “that we are preserving the capacity to snap back sanctions in the event that they are breaking any deal,” the editorial suggests that the increased activity to foster commercial relations with Tehran shows that “[t]he business community is clearly betting otherwise.”
The effort to build business ties to Iran would complicate any effort to snap back sanctions, which was described by the Associated Press in April as “poorly defined” and could prove “unworkable.” Russia, one of the P5+1 nations involved in the nuclear talks with Iran, has said that it would reject any automatic “snap back” of sanctions. An agreement reached to restore sanctions would make Iran a partner in deciding whether or not Iran itself had violated an agreement.
Power: This Time We Mean It
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told Congress that the Obama administration is committed to enforcing a red line on Iran’s nuclear ambition.
Power covered a number of foreign policy issues in the hearing, including American Israeli relations, and the nuclear deal with Iran.
“President Obama will not accept a deal in which we do not get the access that we need in order to verify the process … our red lines are red,” she said.
President Obama previously articulated a “red line,” with regards to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons. “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said.
He later denied setting a red line when it was revealed that Assad attacked civilian populations with chemical weapons.
Fake bomb found near Israeli embassy in Uruguay
Military spokesman Yamandu Lessa told the local Carve radio station that the device discovered Wednesday at Montevideo’s World Trade Center did not contain any explosive material. But the item, which was found inside a sardine can, was equipped with cables, a battery and an ignition switch.
A similar non-explosive device was found in the same place in January.
The Israeli Haaretz daily reported in February that an Iranian diplomat had been linked to the false bomb, but Uruguay denied the report and said its investigators had found no evidence of Iranian involvement.
After the first bomb, officials speculated it may have been used to test the response of security officials.
Uruguay is home to nearly 20,000 Jews.
Netanyahu calls for swift probe into ‘Jesus church’ arson attack
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed officials from the Shin Bet security service to open a probe Thursday into the torching of a church in northern Israel, as politicians from across the spectrum and church figures spoke out against the crime.
Police briefly arrested 16 people earlier Thursday after arson was discovered at the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee. The group was released a few hours later.
Anti-Christian graffiti in Hebrew was also discovered at the site.
Netanyahu told Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen to conduct an accelerated investigation into the attack, which was suspected to be the latest in a series of so-called “price tag” attacks by Jewish extremists.
“The shocking arson of the church is an attack on all of us,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Israel’s freedom of religion is a cornerstone of our values and it is anchored in the law. We will mete out justice to those responsible for this atrocious act. We have no room for hatred and intolerance in our society.”
Rabbi Lau: Church Arson 'Completely At Odds' with Jewish Values
Police arrested this afternoon 16 individuals in connection with the arson at a Galilee church Thursday morning. Police released no details about the arrests, other than to say that they were residents of communities in the Samaria region.
According to police sources, the youths were on a hike in the region, and were arrested several kilometers away from the church.
The Honenu legal rights organization is defending them, and a spokesperson for the group said that the youths had no connection to the incident, and that police had not presented any evidence of such a connection.
Condemnations poured in Thursday after police said that a fire and defacement at the Tabgha Church was most likely a hate crime.
Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Davi Lau denounced the attack, stating that “the aggressive ideologies that arrogate to themselves the right to act with violence like this have in recent years become a black mark for the entire world."
"The actions taken this morning, apparently by ignorant and violent cowards, are completely at odds with the values of Judaism and humanity.
Netanyahu aims to shut new ‘Palestine 48′ TV station
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday instructed the head of the Communication Ministry to work on shutting a new Palestinian Authority-funded TV channel based in Israel, which is set to go on air on Thursday, Ynet reported.
Netanyahu – in his capacity as communications minister – ordered Director General Shlomo Filber to make the move hours after a news conference inaugurated the Arabic-language Palestine 48’s launch in Nazareth.
During the press conference, Palestinian Authority Communications Minister Riad Hassan said Netanyahu and “his extremist right-wing government” couldn’t shut Palestine 48 down, and that the channel would “also give a stage to the other side, to right wing people and ministers from the government.”
The channel receives funding from the PA.
Netanyahu instructed Filber and ministry staffers to investigate the station’s legality, particularly its funding from the Palestinian Authority while operating out of Israel.
Homophobic op-ed by Islamic leader raises Arab Israeli ire
A homophobic article by an Israeli Islamic leader has sparked a flurry of condemnations by Arab civil society, shining a light on a usually suppressed debate on gay rights.
Commenting on the May 15 same-sex wedding of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, launched a scathing attack on homosexuality in an op-ed titled “You make me sick,” published in a website associated with the group,
“Western societies have reached the lowest of lows,” wrote Khatib. “Try as they may to call this marriage, or a natural phenomenon, or [to call for] respect of personal choices, these societies have been succumbing not to hostile armies but to moral degradation and the renouncement of human nature.”
“It is noteworthy,” he continued, “that suspicious local organizations, tabloids and biased writers have been advocating this perversion. To all those, I say not ‘may you be well and have boys’ but rather ‘may you be miserable and suffer plagues and AIDS, you perverts!'”
Palestinian Authority Arabs Hurl Firebomb at Jews at Yosef’s Tomb
Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists hurled a firebomb at Yosef’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) Wednesday night as 1,500 Jews were arriving from all over the country for prayers marking the beginning of the month of Tammuz.
The Molotov cocktail hit one of dozens of parked buses that had brought worshippers to the holy site.
No one was injured and no steroids damage was reported.
Like Kassam rockets that land in “open areas” and rock throwing at Jewish motorists who are not hit, the firebombing attack was reported only on the Hareidi Kikar Shabbat website.
Kever Yosef is one of the holy places specifically designated in the Oslo Accords – remember them? – that guarantees Jewish access. That ended almost 15 years ago when the Israeli government allowed the Palestinian Authority to take over the holy site, which was desecrated dozens of times before someone in the IDF finally listened to Jewish leaders in Samaria and decided that perhaps they have a right to pray there.
Palestinian cleric pounds ‘penis ads’
A Palestinian cleric told television viewers that Israel has spread a “sex craze” around the world and that Jews, being interested only in material worth, place offensive advertisements for penis enlargement products in the media that “crush” the spirits of Arabs and Muslims.
Sheikh Imad Yaaqub Hamatu made the comments in a June 12 broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV. An English translation of parts of his televised sermon was provided by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, a non-government media watchdog.
“The global media of Israel has expanded and it has launched its war against the Arab and Muslims by spreading the sex craze throughout the world,” Hamatu declared. “As I have said in a previous lesson, Israel has resorted to this sex craze in order to crush all types of spirit among the Arabs and the Muslims.
“Everything is dead among the Muslims except for their urges,” he lamented, and then expanded on the subject. “That is why we have begun to see all sorts of abominations and shamelessness on many TV channels. We see ads for penis enlargement and for all sorts of things, which are shameful and offensive to one’s modesty. Why is this? Because as said in the Quran, the Jews are the people of matter, not of spirit.”

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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