Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mysterious blast in Iran's Isfahan damaged key nuclear site

A mysterious blast which reportedly rocked Isfahan in western Iran on Monday damaged a key nuclear facility in the city, the Times of London reported on Wednesday.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

Iran claimed that the Tehran explosion occurred during testing on a new weapons system designed to strike at Israel. But several Israeli officials have confirmed that the blast was intentional and part of an effort to target Iran's nuclear weapons program.

On Monday, Isfahan residents reported a blast that shook tower blocks in the city at about 2.40pm and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over the nuclear facility on the edge of the city.

"This caused damage to the facilities in Isfahan, particularly to the elements we believe were involved in storage of raw materials," said one military intelligence source.

He would not confirm or deny Israel's involvement in the blast, instead saying that there were "many different parties looking to sabotage, stop or coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program".

Monday, November 28, 2011

Netanyahu: Israel slated to resume funds transfer to PA

(Ynet).Israel is considering resuming the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority that were halted following Palestinian unilateral steps in the international arena, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

"We have managed to prevent forecasts with international activity. We detect a calming effect on the Palestinian side. They have decided to halt the steps. We didn't even need a veto at the Security Council. It is in their interest to halt (activities). "

The prime minister also addressed the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recent meeting with Khaled Mashaal in Cairo. "We see that the talks have more of a tactical and ceremonial significance than concrete results."

When MK Amir Peretz (Labor) told Netanyahu the people need to see him pictured with Abbas "to cool the atmosphere" the prime minister replied in jest: "actually there is such a photo and it doesn't necessarily calm the spirits." He was referring to a Benetton ad showing himself and Abbas kissing.

On the issue of Turkey, Netanyahu said Israel is interested in resuming diplomatic ties with Ankara. "Let me stress this again, we did not bring about this situation with Turkey, we gave our support after the earthquake. There are all sorts of efforts on this issue."

Netanyahu also commented on the current state in the Arab world. "We are witnessing an Islamist wave washing over the Arab world after decades of stable military rule," he said.

"Some call it the 'Arab Spring', you can name it after any other season. We are facing uncertain times. One cannot estimate how long it will take until things stabilize. We must act responsibly and carefully. This is not the time for rash actions."

Netanyahu said the "Islamist wave" was "not good for us" adding "the stability we have known will change in the coming years – whether it be the US' withdrawal from Iraq or Libya's weapons cache. It’s going to be a bigger challenge for Israel. It reflects directly on our security needs."

Referring to elections in Egypt, Netanyahu said he hoped to stabilize the peace treaty and is working to that end with the US.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected Netanyahu's statement saying that Yisrael Beiteinu will do everything in its power to prevent the transfer of funds to the PA.

"I want our position to be very clear: I hear many infantile claims such as 'it’s their money, on what right do we hold the Palestinians' money'" Lieberman said at a faction meeting. "It's as if they are allowed to murder or preach to the murder of Jews with their money."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Sunday that the continued suspension of the tax transfers "has both an immediate impact on the lives of all employees and their dependents, some 1 million people ... (and) has a devastating indirect impact throughout the whole economy."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Palestinian poll: 56% oppose armed struggle against Israel

(Ynet).A new poll carried out by the Palestinian Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) reveals that support for Fatah among residents of the Palestinian Authority has not been hurt by the Shalit deal.

The Hamas-led Shalit deal receives wall to wall support – 86% of those questioned expressed their satisfaction with the results of the deal – the satisfaction rate is close to that of the Israeli satisfaction rate with the deal.

The poll revealed that when it comes to the political process, the majority of respondents (56.3%) opposed the resumption of violence against Israel, compared to 45.5% in April 2008. Furthermore, the percentage of supporters of terror operations dropped to 29.3% in this poll, compared with 49.5% in April 2008.

The same trend was found regarding rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, where there was an increase in the percentage of respondents who found them harmful (40.8%), the JMCC poll revealed.

The poll also examined the Palestinians' stance on the possibility of dissolving the Palestinian Authority due to the negotiation standoff: The majority of respondents (65.8%) said it was necessary to perpetuate and maintain the PA while 22.2% said it should be dissolved.

In response to the question about the role of the PA and who it serves more, the majority of respondents (62.7%) said it serves the interests of the Palestinian people while 24.6% said it serves the interests of Israel.

A plurality of respondents (41.6%) said the international community played a negative role in the peace process while (15.9%) said it played a positive role. Furthermore, (63.5%) of respondents said the Quartet was biased towards Israel while (5.7%) said it was biased towards the Palestinians.

Finally, according to the poll it would seem that relations between the Palestinian Authority and the US are at an all time low as 4.9% of respondents said President Barack Obama’s policy would increase the chances for achieving peace after it had been 9.9% in April 2010, 23.7% in October 2009 and 35.4% in June 2009.

Lebanon Druze leader Walid Jumblatt calls on ally Assad to be exiled to Russia or Iran

Lebanon Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, a longtime player who backed Hezbollah and is a long time friend of Syrian President Bashar-Al-Assad, told Aaron Klein host of investigative radio on WABC Radio in New York,   that he is against any military intervention against the Assad regime in Syria. But he called on his ally Assad to leave power and be exiled to Russia or Iran, and for the sake of the Syrian people open the door for a new Syria.

Listen to Audio here:

MK Yisrael Eichler: Charedi Jews support Land for Peace, and back the social justice movement

(Hamodia weekly edition - interview by Yosef Rapaport). Rabbi Israel Eichler, the UTJ faction chairman and Member of Knesset, came to America from Jerusalem on a special mission for the Belzer Rebbe shlita, to help in forging a new media channel intended to combat American Jewish assimilation.

In an interview to the English-Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia, MK Eichler spoke about the ongiong Media incitement against the Charedi-Ultra Orthodox Jewish community in Israel.

h/t to the  Hamodia editor for sharing with us the PDF file for our online readers.
Hamodia: Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy claims that “Chareidi radicalization poses a bigger risk than Ahmadinejad.” What is your response? 
Eichler: I was at the convention of Agudath Israel about 10 years ago, and I warned then that the fact that we are ignoring incitement against frum people in Israel by the media will cost us dearly. 
There is a known vort: There may be multiple reasons why we bury a dead person, but the primary reason is that he doesn’t resist; just try burying a live person — he will resist you. We have permitted ourselves to be buried in the media. 
Hamodia: Many secular people think that chareidim have a monolithic approach to questions facing Israel. You represent the Belzer Rebbe and the Belzer community. The Rebbe is known to have a more nuanced, moderate view on many issues. Can you articulate that approach for us? 
Eichler: "I tell the secular community who accuse us of being a monolithic herd that I don’t know of any other group that is more pluralistic than the chareidi community. There is no community that has so many different newspapers, with different points of view, than ours. It will be up to Moshiach to unite us all. 
Nobody asks us if Shalit should be brought home or not, or about our view on economic matters. They might think to ask us if a spoon fell into a pot, if it’s kosher, and not even that. Since the Arab upheavals I don’t think the issue of land for peace or security is something on which we might take a different approach. As long as there were strong leaders who could enforce agreements, such as there was in Egypt, you could have had a debate if it is appropriate. Baruch Hashem, it has held for 35 years, but that was because they had a strong leader to enforce it. I hope this will not change. 
Today we have nobody to talk to among the Arabs; no strong leader who could enforce a peace treaty, so the question of approach is not relevant. But in principle it is clear that for a chareidi Jew pikuach nefesh — saving lives — is paramount. 
Hamodia: Do you support the protesters in Tel Aviv and their economic demands? 
Eichler: "Our community is part of the poor sector in Israel. When the poor are assaulted, that means our community is assaulted. But isn’t it better for all sectors if the economy grows? 
[This was the story given by] Netanyahu when he served as Minister of Finance in 2003. He claimed that when a locomotive pulls ahead, it pulls the rest of the train. So the more fuel you give the locomotive, the stronger the pull. I always remind him that the locomotive left the station but the rest of the train was left at the station. 
I have a very good relationship with the revolution. We have very good communications with them. This could have easily been turned against frum people. There are many instigators seeking to blame the chareidim for all the economic ills that plague Israel.
I was in constant contact with the organizers; I told them that we represent the largest group of poor families. If you are going to politicize the struggle, then you will lose our support. They promised us that they will prevent this from turning into a fight against the Orthodox. In the meantime the revolution has not turned against us."

Egyptian Presidential Candidate Tawfiq Okasha: Only 60% of the Jews Are Evil

(Via MemriTV). Following are excerpts from a statement by Egyptian presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha, the owner of Al-Faraeen, which aired on Al-Faraeen TV on October 31, 2011:
"Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40% are not evil. They, however, are divided into three categories: One group consists of the non-evil, another group consists of the non-evil to a lesser degree, and the third group consists of the non-evil to an even lesser degree. 
Might there be anyone who stands out among them? It's very rare. Maybe one in a million. But what does this classification mean? It means that you can coexist normally with approximately 40% of the Jews – they do not betray, conspire, extort, or view others as Gentiles. They believe in the concept of Gentiles, but this belief does not affect their conduct".

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Wave Poll: 48.6% Israeli Jews believe sanctions by the West will not stop Ira

(via IMRA).A poll carried out by New Wave for Yisrael Hayom 22 November 2011 of a representative sample of 500 adult Hebrew speaking Israeli Jews and published on 25 November, 2011 show Israeli's are very much concerned that the recent tighter sanctions on imposed on Iran will not stop them from advancing its nuclear program.
Do you think that sanctions by the West will prevent Iran from making
nuclear weapons?
Yes 41.3%, No 48.6%, Don't know 10%.

Peres: 'Violence in Egypt is cause for concern, but Israel mustn't meddle'

Yori Yalon-IsraelHayom).In a special interview conducted during his historic visit to Vietnam – the first by an Israeli president to the southeast Asian country – Peres said that he was closely following the events in Cairo.
"Egypt is in the midst of a very difficult transitional stage, and I am extremely concerned, Egypt has never experienced this kind of thing, so the revolution is not as well organized as it could be. But I think that Egypt has enough reasons to maintain peace, and we are on good terms with [military ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein] Tantawi."

"The more organized groups will probably win the [upcoming Egyptian] election, but by definition these groups are the ones that can solve the real problems facing the Arab world. The best thing for us to do is shut up and stay out of Egypt's business."
The Palestinians have begun inching toward a Fatah-Hamas unity government. How should Israel respond?

"Israel should reach an agreement with the Palestinians, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, as soon as possible. It could work. Almost all the windows of opportunity have closed except for the window with the Palestinians, but I don't know how much longer it will remain open. There are fundamental differences between Hamas, a religious party, and Fatah, a political party. Hamas opposes negotiations with Israel while Fatah is in favor of talks. Hamas employs terror, while Fatah denounces it. Hamas doesn't want peace, and Fatah does. If Fatah should relinquish their basic principles it would be suicidal, and Hamas is not likely to compromise, so it would be best for us to focus on the light side of the moon."

Israel has suspended the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinians in protest against the acceptance of “Palestine” as a member of UNESCO. Do you support this move?

"I think Israel should transfer these funds, and I have reason to believe that the money will in fact be turned over. We should try to look at the bigger picture: What's happening in the Middle East is not some small detail that stopped working or a pipe that got clogged; it's a historic decision – what direction the Arab world will take. What we can contribute by ending the conflict between ourselves and the Palestinians."

You have vehemently urged the nations of the world to take action to prevent the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon. It appears that the international sanctions are extremely limited. Is Israel alone in this battle?

"Israel must take worldwide action to make everyone understand the gravity of this issue. We mustn't give up. The American media has called for harsher sanctions against Iran and [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy has also made comments on the issue. There are those who believe that Iran will back down at the last minute, but I don't believe that. If Iran does not give up its quest for nuclear weapons, world leaders will have no choice but to respond. They mustn't be let off the hook."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sarkozy: My remarks about Netanyahu 'taken out of context'

(JTA) – French president Nicolas Sarkozy met with leaders of the Jewish umbrella group CRIF to reassure them of his support for Israel.

The meeting comes following reports that Sarkozy called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "liar” during a conversation with President Obama at the G20 conference earlier this month.

Sarkozy “responded to a lot of our concerns,” said Francis Kalifat, CRIF treasurer, who attended the intimate lunch that also included CRIF President Richard Prasquier, and France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, among others.

Those concerns include Israel’s security, France’s recent vote in favor of Palestinian UNESCO membership, and also reports of a private conversation between Sarkozy and Barack Obama, in which journalists overheard Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a “liar.”

“The President reaffirmed his friendship and support for the state of Israel from the very beginning of our conversation. He wanted to remind us that throughout his political career, he has had a profound attachment to Israel,” said Kalifat. Sarkozy also spoke of his “strong, long relationship and friendship with Netanyahu and his family,” and “expressed his firm desire to move beyond the misunderstanding following an off-record conversation.”

Kalifat said Sarkozy gave the group “certain explanations,” for the recent conversation with Obama, in which both leaders didn't realize they were speaking into microphones that were turned on, allowing several journalists to hear three minutes of the conversation in an adjoining room. But Sarkozy asked that the group do not repeat that explanation. Sarkozy has said his words were taken out of context.

“We told him about our questions and preoccupations, notably concerning France’s UNESCO vote, and we talked about the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership,” said Kalifat, who explained that French Jews were especially worried about the status of Jewish cultural sites on Palestinian territory, which they hope will remain accessible, and “not transformed into mosques.”

The French president, “said in a firm manner, that there was no question France would accept that kind of thing,” said Kalifat. “They would do everything to block any downplaying of the Jewish presence and characteristic” of cultural sites, such as Rachel’s tomb.

Concerning a Palestinian bid for U.N. membership, Sarkozy said France would only support the idea of a "non-member observer state" status for the territories, but under strict conditions that included Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a return to bilateral negotiations without preconditions, recognition of Israel’s security requirements, and a promise not to submit lawsuits against Israel in international courts.

#Netanyahu: More powerful sanctions are due to have a real impact on Iran

(INN). Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed satisfaction Thursday with the latest sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States, Britain and Canada. He warned, however, that they were not enough
At his joint press conference with Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, Netanyahu said:
"The goal of Iran's nuclear program had been the subject of controversy but it is no longer such. Iran is vigorously working to achieve a nuclear weapon. This is the threat against Israel, against the region and against the entire world."

"I have to say that I’m pleased that more powerful sanctions have been taken, but I believe that more powerful sanctions are due, especially those that would focus on the oil sector and most especially on the banking sector. If anything has a chance of taking a real bite into Iran’s economy and having a real impact on this regime, it is these more powerful sanctions. I hope they’ll be taken."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Netanyahu slams the US administration for supporting the Egyptian revolution

(Barak Ravid -Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday blasted Israeli and world politicians who support the Arab Spring revolutions and accused the Arab world of "moving not forward, but backward."

In his sharpest Knesset comment since the wave of uprisings swept out of Tunisia and across the Arab states in January, Netanyahu expressed his complete contempt for the Arab people's ability to sustain democratic regimes, and his nostalgia for Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt. He said he feared the collapse of Jordan's Hashemite monarchy and also reiterated his absolute refusal to make any concessions to the Palestinians.
"In February, when millions of Egyptians thronged to the streets in Cairo, commentators and quite a few Israeli members of the opposition said that we're facing a new era of liberalism and progress...They said I was trying to scare the public and was on the wrong side of history and don't see where things are heading."

"Our forecast that the Arab Spring would turn into an 'Islamic, anti-Western, anti-liberal, anti-Israeli and anti-democratic wave' turned out to be true."
Netanyahu also slammed Western leaders, and especially U.S. President Barack Obama, who had pushed Mubarak to resign from power. At the time this was happening Netanyahu said in closed talks that the American administration and many European leaders don't understand reality. On Wednesday, he called them "naive."
"I ask today, who here didn't understand reality? Who here didn't understand history? Israel is facing a period of instability and uncertainty in the region. This is certainly not the time to listen to those who say follow your heart."

"I remember many of you urged me to take the opportunity to make hasty concessions, to rush to an agreement, But I will not establish Israel's policy on illusions. There's a huge upheaval here...whoever doesn't see it is burying his head in the sand."

"That didn't stop people from coming to me and suggesting we make all kinds of concessions. I said we insist on foundations of stability and security...all the more so now."

"I will not ignore reality, I will not ignore the dangers, I will not ignore history, I will not ignore the present or give up on any of our security requirements that have increased because of the recent crises and not diminished. This is not the time to yield them, it is not the time to rush into things, it is the time to be cautious in our connections with the Palestinians. Today it is clear that the careful approach I chose was the right approach, the smart approach, the responsible approach.

"Israel is facing a period of regional instability and uncertainty. This is certainly not the time to listen to those who said then and now, time and time again, to act according to our wishes and desires. There were those who promised at the time of the disengagement that the residents of the South would get peace and quiet, but we got terrorism and rockets, just like my friends and I warned. In this difficult and sensitive time, our policy is clear. We want to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians that will withstand the test of time and will not buckle as soon as it is signed; that we will not get, like we did in Gaza, Iranian presence, and now we have the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as Hamas."

EXCLUSIVE: Congressman Bob Turner: “Time to Increase our Commitment to the Security of Israel".

(A Jewish Voice Exclusive Interview- by Jacob Kornbluh). Known in the political arena as the most senior freshman in the U.S. congress, and in the entire country as the man who delivered a shellacking to the President by winning a stunning victory in New York’s 9th Congressional district special election on September 13, Congressman Bob Turner (R-NY) is still driven by the resounding message sent through the District’s voters— which includes one of the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish populations—rejecting the president’s positions and treatment of Israel, as a political outsider and a strong advocate for Israel.

The President seemed shaken and well-behaved immediately following the election (photo by AP)

In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Voice, Congressman Turner, who serves on the House Committees on Homeland Security, Veterans and Foreign Affairs, says he feels the President got the message, but has slipped since.

“Do you feel you delivered that message effectively to Washington? Does the President still know your name?” I asked. 

“Well I think so,” he responded, laughing. “I think the message was delivered. But in politics it kind of wears off, I think this President seemed shaken and well-behaved immediately following the election, and now he’s been slipping a little bit.

Commenting on the recent IAEA report that leaves no doubt about Iran’s goal of obtaining nuclear weapons, Congressman Turner believes that all necessary measures must be applied in stopping Iran from reaching that goal, and that all options must be on the table.

“We have to open up all the spigots to work towards a regime change, part of the effort has to be to impose the toughest sanctions ever, to destabilize their economy,” he said, adding that “cyber attacks” were to be used “not only against their cyber infrastructure,” but that we should be using the web to “inform the Iranian people and encourage them to continue the level of discontent and opposition to that regime.”

“And while we are at it,” he added. “It’s a good time to let the world know - Iran and everyone else, that Israel is a protected ally, a strategic partner and a strategic military ally, and we would counter no attack without retaliation.”

Addressing the deficit crisis and the failure of a bi-partisan Congress to come together on an agreed balanced budget amendment, Turner blamed the Democrats for playing partisan politics by rejecting the Republicans’ effort to address the deficit crisis.

“The Republicans on this side of the aisle spent a lot of time fighting among themselves to get a flexible and modest deal amendment proposal passed, we presented that to the full house, it was the same words that (the minority whip) Steny Hoyer approved of in 1995, and it was rejected, we only got about half the needed numbers of Democrats on board. Their leadership held firm; they would not vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Well… Whom did they hurt? They have hurt the American people, but why? For partisan politics, I find their position here unconscionable.

“We have a looming crisis on the deficit, and a deficit of confidence, and the only way for it to be restored is a Balanced Budget Amendment, and for them not to accept this,” he said, “is appalling.” “They even applauded it when it failed to get 2/3 of the vote,” said Turner, referring to this gesture also as “unconscionable.”

Asked about the super committee’s failure and the President’s proposal for automatic even spending and defense cuts, Turner warns of the consequences that any suggestion to cut the military budget would have on U.S. national security. “We are in to the long war with militant Islam, we have the Iranian situation, we have an unknown situation with the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, in Libya and whatever may happen in Syria, we have Turkey pulling out of the western camp, we have a looming threat of China, we have a very unfriendly Russia,” adding that “This is the time for a strong America, not a weakened state with a weakened defense.”

On the subject of foreign aid, and the recent controversial issue that irked many in the pro-Israel Jewish community, set forward by the Republican presidential candidates, and echoed by Texas Governor Rick Perry at the last GOP debate, proposing that all foreign aid be reduced “to zero,” including Israel, Turner empathized that while there is a need in discussion of the way how we approach and handle foreign aid, Israel as a strategic ally of the United States must be excluded from that discussion. “Now is not the time to even discuss cutting aid,” he said.

“We need a strong Israel, we need to be there in Israel’s defense, this is no time to even discuss cutting aid, this is a time to increase our commitment and let the rest of the world know how strong our commitment is; this would be a good time to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and take other dramatic steps so the world would see this.”

"What kind of other dramatic steps?" I asked.

“Well it might be a more active role in the Iron Dome defense technically, and to increase the level of our military assistance and coordination.”

Looking ahead to the general elections, and his reelection bid in 2012, (he jokes that he is running every year for office since 2010), we asked Congressman Turner what his plans are to retain the trust of his heavily Democratic district. After spending a year in Washington politics, Turner said he has no doubt that with the help of the Jewish community and the voters that connected to his practical, no-nonsense message in 2011, he
will prevail again.

[in unedited version: “Well…first and foremost is to get people like Jacob Kornbluh behind me (I was a volunteer and a social media outreach surrogate for the Turner campaign),  to continue his great work,” he said.]

“I think the message is going to be the same: you have a fiscally conservative and responsible businessman taking a practical approach to Washington.”

“The message will be simple,” he added. “It’s not going to be crafted by a PR firm. And we are going to continue to hammer away on these things, the job that has to be done, restoring prosperity; and we have the formulas for that – lower taxes, less regulations and more confidence... And in order to get all those things done, we are going to need fewer liberal Democrats,” he concluded.

Netanyahu calls for stronger sanctions on Iran than those imposed by U.S.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that he expects stronger sanctions on Iran than those imposed this week by the United States, Britain and Canada to try to curb its nuclear ambitions.
"Iran is developing nuclear weapons. If anyone had any doubts, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report certainly dispelled them."

"It is important to impose sanctions, tough sanctions, on this regime - even tougher than those that have been imposed over the past few days."

Netanyahu: Media has the right to broadcast, report and write – but no right to slander

(Ynet). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found himself on the defensive Wednesday, as he was forced to fend off scathing criticism for the recent string of legislative acts promoted by the Coalition, most notably the controversial libel bill, which the Opposition claims will deal a virtual deathblow to democracy in Israel.

Netanyahu faced the plenum after the Opposition called a special session titled: "The political, social and economical failures of the Netanyahu government."

"No one has the right to slander," Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum. "This bill is meant to back the publication of the truth."
"The bill is intended to deal with anyone who makes statements that are untrue. Everyone has the right to broadcast, report and write – but no one has the right to slander.

"A person who has been wronged deserved to be compensated. This is not just a random decree by the Knesset – this is a ruling of the courts. The majority of the public supports this bill, because they know that such protection is nearly nonexistent.

"And I say – this amendment is necessary but there is no need to get carried away – all must be done in good measure."

"I hear your talk about the erosion of democracy, about silencing people. I come in here and see the Opposition MKs sit in silence – no one dares speak against the prime minister. They address him with all due respect."

"I turn on the radio and the TV and the newspapers and lo and behold – everyone agrees with the prime minister… We all know that nothing of a sort is happening here. No one really thinks we'll end up with a 'thought police.' No harm will come to our democracy – after all – this is what democracy is all about!

"We have been missing it for years. Israel's citizens are in great distress. This is why what we need is a moderate amendment, and when we go through with it we'll have a healthier, stronger and more just democracy,"

Mitt Romney: "there is no price that is worthy of an Iranian nuclear weapon."

Republican Presidential hopefuls on Tuesday evening supported putting more pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program, but tread cautiously on whether to help if Israel decides to bomb Iran.

Out of the eight GOP candidates debating Tuesday night in Washington D.C. on national security, only businessman Hermain Cain said he would help Israel should he find its plan poised to succeed, if he is President of the United States.

Romney did say that he favors "crippling sanctions" and indicting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations for inciting genocide.
"The right course in America is to stand up to Iran with crippling sanctions, indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Geneva - or the genocide convention, put in place the kind of crippling sanctions that stop their economy.” 
“I know it's going to make gasoline more expensive,There's no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon. And the right course is to show that we care about Israel, that they are our friend; we'll stick with them".
Mitt Romney also promised that his first trip, if he is president, will be to Israel:
“My first foreign trip will be to Israel, to show the world we care about that country and that region,”
Newt Gingrich was asked if he would take military action against Iran, and said he would with one caveat: it would have to lead to regime change.
“no bombing campaign in Iran that leaves the regime in place would be useful.”
“Replacing the regime before they get a nuclear weapon without a war beats replacing the regime with war, which beats allowing them to have a nuclear weapon."
"If my choice was to collaborate with the Israelis on a conventional campaign or force them to use their nuclear weapons, it would be an extraordinarily dangerous world if out of a sense of being abandoned they went nuclear and used multiple nuclear weapons in Iran. That would be a future none of us would want to live through."
On the question of the Arab Spring, Mr Huntsman said the US "did itself a dis-service" by acting too soon in Libya.
"We've got Syria now on the horizon, where we do have [an] American interest. It's called Israel. We're a friend and ally. They're a friend and ally. We need to remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States". 
“And we have nuclearization in Iran, centrifuges spinning. At some point they're going to have enough in the way of fissile material out of which to make a weapon. That's a certainty. Sanctions aren't going to work, because the Chinese aren't going to play ball. And the Russians aren't going to play ball, and I believe the mullahs have already decided they want to go nuclear."
"Our interests in the Middle East is Israel and preventing from Iran from going nuclear," he said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry said:
“If we're going to be serious about saving Israel, we better get serious about Syria and Iran, and we better get serious right now."
Perry said that the U.S. needs to sanction the Iranian central bank. “What we need to do before we ever start having any conversations about a military strike, is to use every sanction that we have. And if you sanction the Iranian central bank, it will shut down that economy."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Opinion/ David Makovsky: Israel losing patience with the World taking baby steps, to stop Iran

(David Makovsky-Washington institute).In a revealing interview with CNN last weekend, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak hinted that Israel and the world may reach the limit of their capacity to effectively strike Iran's nuclear facilities within as little as six months. His comments suggest that unless additional international sanctions deter Tehran's nuclear efforts, Israel is increasingly likely to opt for a military option while it still can.

Barak's statements mark the first time an Israeli official has made clear that the ability to target the program may be limited by technical capacity, firmly indicating that the window for a military option may be closing.

If Barak is to be believed, little time remains for sanctions to have the necessary effect. Indeed, the potency and timing of new sanctions are inversely related to the probability of an Israeli military strike. Israel will presumably try to determine whether the latest sanctions are likely to succeed before it loses its ability to attack.

Although there is wide agreement in Israeli decision-making circles that sanctions are preferable to a military strike, and that they are better led by the United States in its capacity as a superpower, many Israelis also fear that their allies will eventually abandon them on this issue. And their fears are reinforced when U.S. officials such as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta comment on the inadvisability of a strike. These comments may therefore have the opposite effect than intended, convincing Israel that no one will come to its aid and that it has no other choice but to attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak likely sparked the latest policy debate in Israel to see whether the assassination plot and the expectedly dramatic IAEA report would provide the political leverage needed to tighten sanctions. Both men believe a strike may be necessary -- although they agree with the rest of the cabinet that sanctions are preferable, they are more skeptical that the international community will muster the political will to pass sufficiently robust sanctions before an attack becomes technically impossible.

This belief is not unfounded. Despite the strong evidence in the latest report, the IAEA deferred action for now, perhaps burying its prospects to do so in the foreseeable future. And European officials have stated that the quantum leap taken in the new report does not augur other such leaps in the near term -- as in the past, the IAEA report slated for next spring is likely to be more incremental, in part because Iran's concealment of the bulk of its nuclear program greatly impedes the agency's efforts to regularly document its progress. Furthermore, the Qods Force will probably not be clumsy enough to allow future assassination efforts to be exposed, so the unique pressure generated by that development may have been a one-time affair.

Israelis may therefore interpret the latest signs of hesitation -- namely, the U.S. and IAEA failure to fully sanction the Central Bank of Iran -- to mean that the clock has virtually run out. If so, this would break the deadlock among the Israeli political and military elite over whether sanctions obviate the need for military action.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.

CNN poll: 64% of Americans say US military aid to Israel should be kept the same/increased

(CNN) - Hours before a CNN GOP presidential debate that focuses heavily on national security and foreign affairs, a new national survey indicates there are wide partisan divides between Democrats and Republicans over some top global flashpoints.

Overall, Republicans are ready and willing to use U.S. military force in other countries; Independents and Democrats tend to be very reluctant to do so. From President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq, to the conflict in Afghanistan, aid to Israel, the practice of "waterboarding" and the political battle over immigration reform and border security, a CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates a Democrats and Republicans don't see eye to eye.


Americans have grown increasingly reluctant to use U.S. military force around the world, but - unlike Democrats and independents - Republicans feel that the U.S. should be ready and willing to take military action. Overall, 53% of all Americans say the U.S. should be very reluctant to use military force, up from 38% in 2002, about a year after the 9/11 attacks. But there is a big partisan divide on that question, with a majority of Democrats and independents expressing reluctance but only four in ten Republicans feeling that way.


President Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of the year is wildly popular among Democrats and independents, but most Republicans believe that Obama should keep some combat troops in Iraq beyond that deadline. One reason may be that a bare majority of Republicans continue to favor the war in Iraq; Democrats and independents are opposed to the war in large numbers. Overall, six in ten Americans say that they favor Obama's plan to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq - not surprising when only 8% of the public believes that there are goals that the U.S. has not achieved in that country but would be able to do so if troops remained. But 54% of Republicans want to see a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq; only 42% agree with Obama's plan. There is a similar partisan divide on Afghanistan, which remains just about the only Obama policy that Republicans support.


A large number of Americans don't think the U.S. should take immediate military action to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program, and on this topic Democrats, independents, and Republicans agree. Overall, only 16% of all Americans support military action now; two-thirds want to see the U.S. use economic and diplomatic efforts against Iran rather than military action. Republicans are slightly more likely to support military action, but even among that group support rises to only 22%.


Aid to Israel has been in the news recently as the result of some comments made at the last GOP debate, held earlier this month in South Carolina, but there is little debate among Republicans nationwide on that issue. Nearly seven in ten Republicans believe that economic aid to Israel should be increased or kept the same; more than eight in ten say the same about military aid to Israel. Democrats and independents are more likely to oppose either form of aid to Israel, although all groups favor military aid to that country.

Republican Rick Santorum: 'There is no Palestinian'... West bank is Israeli land

(via Thinkprogress).Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum denied the existence of Palestinians, claiming them as citizens of Israel during a campaign stop on Friday.

"All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they're not Palestinians," the former Pennsylvania Senator told a participant at an Iowa campaign event.

During an exchange with the participant over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Santorum offered New Mexico and Texas as comparison points for the West Bank, noting that they were all won in wars.

QUESTIONER: Do you think Israel should dismantle its settlements?
SANTORUM: No. The West Bank, is this part of Israel?
QUESTIONER: [inaudible] According to 48? [inaudible]
SANTORUM: How did we get New Mexico and Texas?
QUESTIONER: Through war.
SANTORUM: How did they get the West Bank? [inaudible] Through a war. Should we give Texas back to Mexico?
QUESTIONER: Well I don’t think you should recognize recent annexations.
SANTORUM: Oh, so it depends whether it’s recent or not? So we should have given New Mexico and Texas back 150 years go?
The bottom line is that that is legitimately Israeli country. And they have a right to do within their country just like we have a right to do within our country. If they want to negotiate with Israelis, and all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians. This is Israeli land.

Glenn Beck receives first ZOA 'Defender of Israel Award' - "I speak the Truth".

(Israelhayom).Glenn Beck, American journalistic figure and die-hard conservative, received the first Zionist Organization of America's "Defender of Israel Award" on Sunday. At the event, Beck was asked if the award signified a future political move, to which Beck responded, "On Dec, 8, I will announce where I am heading."

The award is sponsored by American philanthropists and business magnates Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. Presenting the award, Sheldon Adelson said of Beck, "He is a man of courage and determination, who is devoting his life to battle evil. I have never met a Christian-Zionist like Beck. There is no greater supporter of Israel in the media."

Beck, in his acceptance speech, said:
"I am a proud Zionist and an obvious defender of Israel. I speak the truth and have been awarded the Defender of Israel Award, which only reveals the kind of trouble we are in." 
"The current U.S. government is not a friend of Israel."
Beck strongly hinted of political aspirations as he wrapped up his speech.
"There is a vacuum [in American politics] that I intend to fill. I am not asking you to join me. I would rather join you."
Watch Netanyahu praising Beck's outstanding support for Israel

Towards anarchy? Egypt's Military Council to give up its ruling power

(ynet).Is Egypt sliding towards anarchy? Egypt's ruling Military Council is set to announce that it will relinquish power in favor of Cairo's Supreme Court.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has ruled Egypt since a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign on February 11, will reportedly make an official announcement to that effect later on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered at Tahrir Square for a mass demonstration Tuesday while fresh clashes broke out elsewhere in Cairo as protests demanding the country's military rulers step down entered a fourth day.

Egyptian media reported that Farouk Sultan, chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, had cut short his visit to Turkey and is making his way back to Cairo.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharif said: "The Ministry responded to the people's demands, and submitted its resignation.

"Today, I ask everyone to take this country into account; to leave, calm the situation down because we are willing to do anything for the sake of this country, and you must be willing to as well because who will benefit from these events? All I ask of people is that they leave, calm down, we have already responded to what they wanted and it will be implemented, God willing.

"We were so close to our main goal which is the elections; this is what is important, this political shift. So again I ask that people protect Egypt in this stage," he said.

Security forces stayed away from Tahrir Square since Monday to avoid confrontations after several failed efforts to clear the area in downtown Cairo turned violent; but clashes broke out in streets connecting Tahrir Square to police headquarters, with black-clad security forces backed by military troops firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to block groups of angry young men, who responded by hurling stones and fire bombs.

Hundreds of protesters arrived early Tuesday to join several thousand who have been camping in the square. The crowds hoisted a giant Egyptian flag and chanted slogans demanding the generals immediately step down in favor of a presidential civilian council.

In many ways, the protests bear a striking resemblance to the 18-day uprising beginning Jan. 25 that toppled Mubarak. The chants are identical, except that military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's name has replaced Mubarak's.

"The goal is to get rid of the government. They're still stealing and people can't eat," said protester Raed Said, 23, as he walked with an arm around his friend who was choking from the tear gas. "The field marshal has to leave because he's trying to protect Mubarak and doesn't want to try him, so he has to go."

Amnesty International harshly criticized the military rulers in a new report, saying they have "completely failed to live up their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights."

The London-based group documented steps by the military that have fallen short of increasing human rights and in some cases have made matters worse than under Mubarak.

"The euphoria of the uprising has been replaced by fears that one repressive rule has simply been replaced with another," according to the report, issued early Tuesday.

Britain and the U.S. impose harsher sanctions to keep pressure on Iran

Britain ordered its financial institutions on Monday to halt all business with Iranian counterparts, including the central bank.

"We believe that the Iranian regime's actions pose a significant threat to the UK's national security and the international community. Today's announcement is a further step to preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons," said British finance minister George Osborne.

U.S. President Barack Obama authorized on Monday to impose new sanctions targeting the Islamic republic's energy sector for the first time, saying the nation has chosen the path of "international isolation."

Obama signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on individuals who knowingly help Iran in its development of petroleum resources and the production of petrochemical products.

"New sanctions target for the first time Iran's petrochemical sector, prohibiting the provision of goods, services and technology to this sector and authorizing penalties against any person or entity that engages in such activity," he said in a statement, noting the moves "expand energy sanctions, making it more difficult for Iran to operate, maintain and modernize its oil and gas sector."
"As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime,"
In addition, the United States warned of the threats to governments or financial institutions that do business with Iranian banks, but stopped short of imposing sanctions on the banking sector in the Islamic republic.

Obama said it is the first time that the U.S. has ever identified the entire Iranian banking sector as a threat.

VP Biden met with American Jewish leaders to discuss Pollard clemency

(Jpost, Ynet).Officials in US Vice President Joe Biden's office confirmed late Monday that, in accordance with his promise, Biden had met with met American Jewish leaders. He was expected to discuss a request that US President Barack Obama commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard on the 26th anniversary of his arrest, but this could not be confirmed by his office.

Biden, who is believed to be vehemently opposed to releasing Pollard, mainly listened as the Jewish leaders told him that both Republican and Democratic leaders are in favor of pardoning the convicted spy due to his ailing health, among other reasons.

The leaders added that Pollard is the only person in the history of the US to serve 26 years in jail for spying for a friendly nation and presented data according to which the average sentence for similar crimes of espionage is only two to four years.

The leaders also mentioned several cases in which people who were convicted for spying on behalf of enemy states or entities received much lighter sentences. For example, they said, a man who spied for al-Qaeda and disclosed information which could have led to the death of American soldiers was sentenced to only 10 years in prison.

One of the Jewish leaders described the meeting as "important," but refused to give any further details.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Important but not enough - UK to cut ties with Iranian banks, US to increase sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry

(VOA).British Treasury chief George Osborne announced Monday Britain will stop business transactions with all banks in Iran, including Iran's Central Bank. He said it is the first time Britain has cut ties with the entire banking sector of a country.

The announcement comes as the Obama administration is set to announce new sanctions against Iran later Monday.

Media reports say the U.S. will impose sanctions on goods and services used by Iran's petrochemical industry to discourage foreign companies from investing in it. Iranian petrochemical companies have become increasingly involved in refining gasoline as other Iranian energy firms face international sanctions.

U.S. officials say the Treasury Department also will designate Iran as a territory of "primary money laundering concern." They say the designation will serve as a warning to foreign governments and businesses to scale back their relations with Iranian financial institutions. U.S. companies and individuals already are barred from doing business with Iran.

U.S. officials also say the State and Treasury Departments will expand the number of Iranian companies and organizations facing sanctions for suspected involvement in the Iranian nuclear program.

Republican Bachmann: "When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend."

(ABCnews).Speaking before the Zionist Organization of America, the oldest pro-Israel group in the United States, Republican contender Michele Bachmann said her first foreign policy directive on Day 1 of her presidency would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Bachmann said Israel should not cede any land — “not one acre, not one square foot, not one inch” — to the Palestinians in order to make peace.

An Iran in possession of a nuclear weapon, she said, posed an existential threat not only to Israel but to the United States.
“The Pentagon should prepare a war plan, as a last resort, should all else fail in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons."
She chastised President Obama for failing to stand with Israel.
“President Obama stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend."
The United States “must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker buster bombs, refueling tankers, and other materials they need to defend themselves,” she said. She also said the United States should continue its “comprehensive missile system” in the Middle East.

The Palestinians “must recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence” if they expect to become a serious partner for peace.

PM Netanyahu praises Glenn Beck for defending Israel

(The Blaze).On Sunday, Glenn Beck was honored in New York City at the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award Dinner for his ardent defense of Israel. But the ZOA wasn‘t the only one singing Beck’s praises. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also recognized Beck’s efforts.
“I also want to congratulate Glenn Beck for winning the … defender of Israel Award, Glenn … you stand for a lot. You too have been fearless in defending Israel against the slanders that are hurled against [it]. You’ve done that with considerable personal cost, but you’ve never backed off, you’ve never flinched, you’ve never walked away. And I want to tell you how deeply we appreciate this stand of courage and integrity.”

Steinitz: Arab Countries 'Too Disorganized, Too Broke' to Start a War

(INN).There is no need to increase the country's defense budget, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Monday - because Israel's Arab enemies are too disorganized and too broke to start a war.

Steinitz was speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, which was discussing a request by the Defense Ministry for a further increase in its budget for the coming year.
“The Middle East is currently facing a major crisis, On the one hand there is more instability in the region, and a higher likelihood of terror because of the loss of control by governments. And we face the threats of missiles – nuclear and conventional – from Iran and Syria.

“On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Arab states around us are weaker, militarily and certainly economically, to the extent that their ability to enter into an arms race with us will be very limited over at least the next 5 to 10 years. Some of these countries are near bankruptcy."

Netanyahu: As long as I'm PM, Israel will remain exemplary democracy

(Ynet).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, for the first time addressed the criticism heaped on his government over the controversial bills introduced in the Knesset recently. He said:
"I was also raised on the teachings of Jabotinsky and Begin. So long as I'm prime minister, Israel will continue to be an exemplary democracy."

"No one will tell anyone what to think, what to write, what to investigate and what to broadcast... This is not the way of the Likud, or mine.. Yet freedom of expression needs to give a voice to all sectors in our nation. I know there is a will to fix the distortions of lack of expression and I am responsible for it being in a liberal spirit and responsibly, out of mutual respect. When I though there were bills that could hurt democracy I set them aside though they had a majority..."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

U.S. Ambassador Shapiro:"All options on the table" on Iran

In an interview on Channel 2 program "Meet the Press," U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro refused to comment on whether his country has set an ultimatum to Tehran, but says that "all options are on the table." Shapiro also said that the United States goal is to prevent the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons and that they intend to intensify the sanctions against them.

"Our effort are very coordinated, and the goal is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, We worked with Israel and many other countries in the international community to consolidate the full range of the harshest formulated sanctions ever against Iran. The totality of thees sanctions had a real impact, and it was accompanied by other sanctions by the United States and other countries, and has affected the Iran's economy, its energy sector, its transport industry and its banking industry ".

The IAEA report is very determined and demonstrates that Iran was not obvious to its commitment given to the international community, and there are serious concerns that its nuclear program and that its possible military implications. It lays the groundwork for additional sanctions and other pressures, we will formulate with more partners in Israel and other states. Now we focus on the sanctions option. "Asked whether Israel will notify the U.S. of an attack on Iran, the ambassador said that" we are working in full coordination with Israel and this strategy ".

Later in the interview, Shapiro was asked about the hot mic incident and the overheard comments President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had about Netanyahu: "I was not there and I do not intend to take the discussion in private," he stressed. "I can tell you that President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a good working relationship. I think that happens there are disagreements between friends. Along with this we have many common interests, we do not agree on everything that's natural. "

As for the repeated requests Israel to free Jonathan Pollard, Shapiro said that he could not say much. "Pollard is serving the prison sentence imposed on him for the crime of felony committed", Proceedings of the ambassador.

Barak: Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable

(Reuters) - Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable in its goal of producing a nuclear weapon, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with CNN released on Saturday.

In an advance transcript of an interview to air on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" program on Sunday, Barak said Israel was focussed on the prospect of a nuclear Iran and what "should and could be done about it on time."
"It's true that it won't take three years, probably three quarters before no one can do anything practically about it because the Iranians are gradually, deliberately entering into what I call a zone of immunity, by widening the redundancy of their plan, making it spread over many more sites with many more hidden elements." 

Fareed Zakaria: I have to ask you the question on everyone’s mind: is Israel going to attack Iran? 

Ehud Barak: I don’t think that that is a subject for public discussion. But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the publics, and people understand that the time has come. Amano told straightly what he found, unlike Baradei, and it became a major issue that I think duly so, becomes a major issue for sanctions, for intensive diplomacy, with urgency. People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons. No other possible or conceivable explanation for what they have been actually doing. And that should be stopped. 

“The countdown toward nuclear materials in the hands of terrorists will start, even if it takes half a generation. But more than this, they will use the nuclear umbrella to kind of intimidate neighbors all around the Gulf to sponsor terror.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bi-Partisan House leadership to Obama: Sanction Iran's Central Bank

(Ron Kampeas-JTA).The U.S. House of Representatives leadership urged President Obama to take the next steps toward sanctioning Iran's Central Bank.
"If a review of the facts confirms that CBI is involved in illicit activities linked to Iran’s nuclear program and terrorist activities, we urge you to quickly designate CBI as a facilitator of Iran’s weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorist activities for the purpose of imposing sanctions on persons that do business with CBI.." 
"We also urge you to make the Central Bank of Iran’s involvement in proliferation and terrorist activities the target of coordinated multilateral sanctions."
The rare bi-partisan letter sent Thursday night was signed by Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader, Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the committee's top Democrat.

The Obama administration has until now resisted extending sanctions to the Central Bank, although it has the tools to do so through sanctions passed in Congress and the U.N. Security Council.

The United States has sanctioned smaller banks, but sanctioning the Central Bank would effectively cut off Iran from dollar-transacted exchanges -- in other words, much of the developed world's economy.

Vice Premier Ya'alon: Military option must be believable for Iran

A military strike on Iran must be a believable option, Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon said in a seminar at the Institute for National Security Studies on Thursday.

"A non-conventional regime like that should not be allowed to have this non-conventional ability. By one way or another, we must prevent Iran from achieving military nuclear capabilities."

He added that the strategy needs to be "diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, strengthening the Iranian opposition and a credible military option....a military option is the last one and only comes after all other options have been used."

Jon Huntsman: Military action might be the only way to stop Iran

(via ThinkProgres).in an interview with CNN’s Pierce Morgan last night, Republican candidate Huntsman argued that sanctions “aren’t going to have much of an impact” and suggested that military action might be the only way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

MORGAN: What is the right way to deal with Iran if they are going to flagrantly ignore any form of international community opinion on this? 
HUNTSMAN: Well I think that’s exactly what’s going on. You can layer sanction upon sanction and I think in the end the sanctions aren’t going to have much of an impact. Sanctions have already been taken to the U.N. Security Council. You can go for another round of sanctions and that probably should be tried. You can go after their state bank. You can sanction the elite. You can sanction those travelling in and out. You can tighten the noose in ways that will make life a lot more difficult from an economic standpoint. But my sense is that their ultimate aspiration is to become a nuclear power, in which case sanctions probably aren’t going to get you there. And that means [it's] likely we’re going to have a conversation with Israel at some point. As we approach that point it’s important for the United States to remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States. [...]

Rick Perry characterized as a "Ohev Yisrael" makes his case to the Orthodox Jewish community

Orthodox activist Jeff Ballabon is working to boost the Jewish outreach efforts of the evangelical  Governor of Texas Rick Perry as he fights for the GOP presidential nomination. Ballabon, who has worked as a lobbyist and in public relations, iss rounding up Jewish donors and supporters for Perry, as well as defending Rick Perry from the latest criticism among Pro Israel Jews over his comments at the last Republican debate with regard to foreign aid and Israel's yearly military aid.

In a blog post on Rick Perry's website, Ballabon makes the case to those Yiddish speaking Jews that shocked the political world two month ago in the New york 9th congressional district - special election, in electing Republican Bob Turner in particular as a message to President Obama on his policies and his treatment of Israel.
"It seems to me that, in these difficult times, Governor Perry's peerless and truly extraordinary record as chief executive of the great state of Texas is sufficient reason for him to be our candidate in 2012.

But there is more to recommend Rick Perry as our next president and I'd like to share it with least how I see it.

I've had the great privilege of spending some time with Governor Perry during this campaign. I've seen him now in public and in private with all sorts of crowds, talking about his vision and responding to questions on a very wide range of policy issues. I'm impressed with the substance of his positions, his character of impeccable decency and his charismatic combination of toughness and warmth simultaneously.

He isn't a slick schmoozer; but he is keenly perceptive on substance. He's not a wonk; but he's tremendously engaged and knowledgeable. Most important - he is unafraid to say exactly what he believes and is unapologetic about it. He's not triangulating to figure out what you want to hear - he stakes out his position and explains can come along with him, or not - but his vision is an integrated whole and so there is no point in pretending are invited to buy into a man and into an approach to the governance of a free society. He will explain it all to you clearly and patiently, with passion and with humor and is completely comfortable leaving it to you to make the right decision. It is the difference between pandering and recruiting. He won't stoop to lying or distorting in order to bring you or your money on board; because - it seems to me - he truly is a man of honor.

To his very core, he is an אוהב ישראל for the very best of reasons - and if you haven't seen his remarks at the press conference about Israel and against the UN vote - and his responses to the  q&a afterwards - I recommend that you do....

Yes, the Democrats will try to portray Perry as extreme and hateful - because that is their perennial shtick. And, yes, the media will denigrate him and cast him as stupid - highlighting every misspoken word and distorting many well-spoken words - but when all is said and done, with Rick Perry as our standard-bearer, the depressed base of 2008 is going to come roaring back, just as they did in 2010. And then 2012 will be a fascinating contest - with political gladiators from the true Right and Left, not the squishy middle.

Perry v Obama 2012 will be a battle of ideas and not increments - and that is good, because America is nearing economic and cultural collapse (just look at the barbaric filth and violence of liberal darlings "Occupy") and Israel is being demonized and pressured (consider the global sympathy for terrorist-collaborating "flotillas") and nothing incremental is going to save us now.

And here is the thing about Rick Perry - he's already proven that he knows how to run a government for the people's benefit. He's proven that he knows how to create an environment for dramatic economic growth. At a time of great hopelessness, he doesn't make empty promises of hope and change through centralized social tinkering. Instead, he reminds you of the great promise of ordinary Americans set free from the shackles of distant, inhumane, bloated and corrupt bureaucrats. Rick Perry doesn't want to reengineer Americans; he plans to overhaul Washington.

I am supporting Rick Perry for President because I love America and I have faith in his leadership, vision, experience and integrity.

And I am supporting Rick Perry for President because I believe it is an עת צרה ליעקב and I have faith in his deep and abiding and principled commitment to the safety, security and survival of my people.

Barak to Charlie Rose: A nuclear Iran is a greater risk than any tough action to be taken

Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells PBS broadcaster Charlie Rose; "Iran is exactly where the IAEA report says, and they (have been there) for quite a long time. For some reason (former IAEA chief Mohamed) ElBaradei got a Nobel Peace Prize, but he never told the truth," .
"It is clear that (Iran) is determined to achieve (military nuclear) capability,"
"Probably…I don't delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel. They have their history of 4,000 years. They look around, they see the Indians are nuclear, the Chinese are nuclear, Pakistan is nuclear…Israel allegedly has it (military nuclear capability)."
The defense minister told Rose that should Iran turn nuclear there would be no way of preventing Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Egypt from following suit:
"The Middle East with a nuclear Iran is a totally different place,That will open a new round (of the) nuclear arms race under much less responsible hands…It's too risky."

"Allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons may eventually lead to the conquering of Qatar or Bahrain by the Islamic Republic....Who in the world will come to liberate them? It's (Persian Gulf region) is the source of 40 percent of the energy of the world."

"Whatever kind of risks people can raise (regarding) tougher action (against Iran), try always to think what would happen if they already turn nuclear."
Barak stated that if the nations of the world were to unite on tough enough sanctions against Tehran, the Islamic Republic would be forced to abandon its nuclear program. However, he added that he harbors "no illusions" that such a step is imminent.
"While world leaders are declaring that 'all options are on the table,' they lack the political will to do it through the UN Security Council or outside the UN Security Council."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Herman Cain: It’s not ‘Practical’ to attack Iran because it has mountains

(Via Think Progress).In the same interview that he made the Libya flub, Herman Cain made this statement that attacking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons wouldn’t be “practical” — but not for the reasons you might think:
JOURNAL SENTINEL: Would you favor a military strike against Iran to stop that country from developing a nuclear capability?

CAIN: That is not a practical, top-tier alternative and here’s why. If you look at the topography of Iran. Where are you going to strike? It’s very mountainous. That’s what makes it very difficult. Secondly, that would be a decision that would need to be coordinated and discussed with our friends in that part of the world like Israel. But for the United States to unilaterally go in and attack Iran to try and stop them, I would want to consult with the intelligence community, the commanders on the ground in that part of the world, which I have stated before. But we should — I don’t have all the information necessary to make that decision...."

Netanyahu: "all options are on the table" on Iran

In a special statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu read by Likud MK Minister Michael Eitan, to a special Knesset session dedicated to "the dilemma of whether to attack Iran" on Wednesday, Netanyahu says that "all options are on the table" when it comes to Iran's nuclear program.

"The prime minister and the authorized bodies are acting to stop the nuclear armament of Iran," Eitan told the plenum.

"The efforts are ongoing and we will do everything possible to enlist states in the international community, because the Iranian threat is a danger not only to the State of Israel but to world peace."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

IDF Chief Benny Gantz says Israel is close launching a military operation in Gaza

(Huffpost).Israel's military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, told a closed Knesset committee meeting that the current situation, in which Israel carries out limited reprisals in response to rocket fire, cannot be sustained.
"Eventually we will have to go toward a broader offensive action in Gaza to stop the rockets. We cannot keep on going round after round of violence in Gaza."
Gantz told the committee Tuesday that the Islamic Jihad is stockpiling weapons and in Gaza, and even Hamas is worried about the buildup.

A senior military official told The Associated Press this week that Hamas, along with smaller militant groups, now possess sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. He said they also have rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Gaza, meaning that Israel's main population center would be in range.

The official said many arms have flooded into Gaza in the wake of the Libyan revolution, with looted weapons making their way through Egypt's Sinai peninsula and into Gaza through smuggling tunnels under the border. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro on public diplomacy and Obama's foreign policy approach

On the sidelines of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly last week in Denver, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke to JTA and explained why he makes a point of addressing Israelis via Twitter and Fasebook in Hebrew.
“Nowadays the public diplomacy part of an ambassador’s role is almost as or as important as the conventional diplomatic function, and there’s no better way to reach people than in their own language.... "
Ambassador Shapiro also touched on some burning issues.

On the state of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship:
“It’s as strong as it’s ever been, and that is something that the military leaderships on both sides have said publicly but also told us internally that they are overwhelmed by the depth and the quality of the interchange and coordination. It takes the form, obviously, of military assistance. It takes the form of the joint technological work on missile defense, especially Arrow and Iron Dome and David’s Sling. [The Arrow is a long-range missile defense system, and the other two are short-range missile defense systems.] It takes the form of Israeli technologies that we are deploying in the U.S. military, like armor for our Bradley fighting vehicles. It takes the form of joint exercises, and we now have announced the largest-ever joint exercises to be scheduled for early 2012, breaking the record of the previous largest ever, from the fall of 2010, Juniper Cobra. It reflects a real convergence of strategic interests and recognition that we both benefit from coordinating efforts to deal with the significant strategic challenges we both face in the Middle East.”
On Iran:
“The president said many times that nothing's off the table when it comes to how to address the threat posed by Iran and ... it’s a determination we absolutely share with Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That's why we have together with Israel and a lot of other partners built the strongest-ever sanctions regime against Iran that's had real bite ... and why we're going to be looking to increase that pressure in days to come."
Obama administration's position on settlements:
"Our position on settlements and construction in East Jerusalem hasn’t changed. We believe those kind of announcements are counterproductive to our goals of trying to get negotiations under way and trying to move toward a two-state solution that resolves the conflict on the basis of two states for two peoples. Our focus is on returning the parties to negotiations."
On relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff:
“Excellent. I’ve worked very closely with the prime minister and his senior advisers since 2009; they’re great professional advisers, they’re close personal friends. We speak daily, often multiple times daily, and it’s collaborative, it’s friendly, it’s a very productive working relationship. Even when there’s something that we don’t fully agree on, we talk it through and we work it out.”

President Peres: Israel expects the world leaders to furfill their promise on Iran

Speaking to CNN's Pierce Morgan on Monday, Peres said that he felt a military option was not the first option at hand to thwart Iran's race for a nuclear bomb, saying he "wouldn't suggest to start immediately with a military operation."
"I would rather prefer to see tighter economic sanctions, closer political pressure and what is lacking very much is an attack in the moral sense."

"Iran is a spoiled country. It is morally corrupt."

"They are the only country threatening to destroy another country, openly. They arrest the opposition, they shoot around, they spread arms, they encourage every center of terror all over the world."
Peres also rejected the notion that Israel would act alone against Iran's nuclear program, saying that "Israel will first of all see what the world is doing."
"We don't want to jump alone, we are part of the civilization of the family of internationally responsible countries and we expect that leaders that make a promise will fulfill it."

"It's a danger. And today terror is a global matter, very much like the economy. They can arrive, [like in] 9/11, to New York, they can arrive to Chechnya, they can arrive to Moscow. It's mobile and it's dangerous, So I don’t think we have to feel alone in that respect."