Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ross: Obama Prepared to Take Military Action Against Iran

(INN). Dennis Ross, President Barack Obama’s former Middle East advisor, said on Wednesday that the Obama administration is determined to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon and would certainly consider military action against the Islamic Republic.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 News, Ross said that the recent public statements by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, reflect the fact that that the President and the administration “take this issue with the greatest degree of seriousness.”
“This is not something that we’re prepared to accept, The administration continues to believe that there is time and space available to achieve the objective that Iran will not be a nuclear-armed country through non-military means.”

"However, They’re also saying – if you look at the words of the Defense Secretary – that all options remain on the table. Obviously, it’s better to use diplomatic means to achieve the objective, but the fact is the United States is not prepared to adopt a position of containment towards Iran.”

When asked whether he believes President Obama would give an order to take military action against Iran, Ross said:
“This is a president who has prided himself on doing what he says, so I think if he draws the conclusion that what is required is to take a certain kind of step, he’s prepared to take those steps.”

“It means that when all options are on the table and if you’ve exhausted all other means, you do what is necessary".
Ross also dismissed the idea that there is a lack of chemistry between President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and that this lack of chemistry could have an effect on the way the Iranian issue is dealt with.
“They have spent more time in one-on-one conversations than maybe any other two leaders today, They have discussed the most sensitive issues. They discussed the most important issues, and I think that when it comes to an issue like this, which is obviously of such profound importance, you can count on the fact that they will have a serious exchange. I think they already have.”

Israel MFA says EU 'losing credibility' by investing their efforts in inappropriate bickering with Israel

(ynet). On Tuesday European Union members of the 15-nation body demanded strong action by the Israeli government to halt the attacks and said the settlements "send a devastating message" about Israel's intentions.

In response the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday "if instead of contributing to stability in the Middle East (European Union members of the UN Security Council) are investing their efforts in inappropriate bickering with with the one country in which the independent law justice system knows how to deal with lawbreakers, then they are losing their credibility and making themselves irrelevant".

The Israeli Foreign Ministry urged the EU members of the UNSC to concentrate on "peacemaking in bloodshed hotspots such as Syria, on instilling democracy and moderation in Arab countries aspiring to freedom, and on defusing the global danger embodied in the Iranian nuclear race.

"The European UNSC members have chosen to do what is easy and unnecessary, rather than muster their courage and do that which is difficult and necessary,” the ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry also called on the EU members to support the "resumption of the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians according to the Quartet's outline, which Israel had adopted despite the Palestinians' objection."

Israel further urged the European states to "adhere to the wording of the Quartet plan and refrain from giving it interpretations that contradict both the letter and the spirit of the original text.

"This misreading only adds obstacles on the path towards resuming peace talks. Interfering with Israel's domestic affairs, including on issues which are to be solved within the framework of direct negotiations, does not enhance the status they wish to be granted," the Foreign Ministry's statement added.

"Currently there is no confidence in the prime minister, and the situation could compromise the way our allies view Israel."

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor published a statement in which he slammed the Security Council. He said that while innocent people are being slathered in Syria, terrorists roam freely in Gaza, UN personnel are attacked in Lebanon and Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, the Security Council keeps silent.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Standing Strong: Jewish Voice Exclusive Interview with one of the Rising Stars of Israel’s Knesset

(Jacob Kornbluh for The Jewish Voice NY). For Tzipi Hotovely, one of many women serving in the Knesset, the first term as a Likud MK from the bench is not the start of a political career. Apparently quite happy with her position as a lawmaker and a voice among many others, Hotovely is proud of fighting for what she believes in, as she calls it, on "the high political stage."

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with the Jewish Voice while visiting New York to speak to the Jewish community, the 33-year-old Hotovely – who is fully committed to Orthodox Judaism and calls herself a “religious rightwinger” - acknowledged the fact that she might not be popular on the international stage, yet she says what motivated her to enter politics was her desire to bring "a moral sound to Israel’s political life, a Jewish voice to the political world on behalf of Israel, and a desire to bring back the Israeli pride that has gone missing over the years, in which we became more apologetic rather than more self-confident in who we are as a people and a country."

"Israel was not established to become another successful western country, but to bring a different voice to the world, and not always play by the regular western rules," the rising Likud star affirms.

In Hotovely’s view, the Israeli government has been trying for the past twenty years to act in accordance with the world’s expectations, to the point where the Jewish state has now convinced itself to take actions that are against its own national interests, even acquiescing to give up land to terrorist organizations, “only to wake up in the morning with rockets landing over our heads," she says ruefully.

"Academics was my real goal in life," admits Hotovely, who holds a Masters in Law at Bar Ilan University and a PhD from Tel Aviv University. But after scaling the heights of academia, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu approached her to join the Likud, after watching her on Israel's channel 10 TV passionately criticizing the disengagement from Gaza, or in her words, “the collapse of democracy, integrity and values.” When Netanyahu called her up, she recalls, he expressed his wish to include politicians who care about values in the leading party.

Tzipi Hotovely’s “honeymoon” with Netanyahu lasted only a very short while, however, with the first sense of disenchantment occurring when the Prime Minister shocked the world and his own party by adopting - in the famous Bar Ilan speech in June of 2009 - the two-state solution that he himself had always been opposed to. Hotovely’s dismay intensified when Netanyahu implemented a 10 month moratorium on building in the West Bank, and with the resumption of the peace talks, at which time she harshly criticized the Prime Minister and the moves the government took, holding him accountable to the values the Likud platform represents.

Despite her differences with him, Hotovely’s dispute with the Prime Minister does not diminish her admiration of Netanyahu as a leader, and she says she has no other thoughts but to support him in the upcoming Likud chairmanship primaries. "When I look at all the leaders around, he is definitely the most qualified leader,” Hotovely claims. “The Prime Minister has deep appreciation for the values I represent in politics. Throughout all of the times I was criticizing him for certain moves, there was never a time that I got the message from him that what I am doing is wrong - I actually got the sense that he feels I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.” According to Hotovely, Netanyahu did not recruit her for the Likud to “play the yes-man game,” but rather to stand resolute on certain values and to represent a certain principled ideology. “I would have been worried if I would have lied to myself and to my electorate,” she says, “and done what is convenient and not what is right.”

Hotovely concedes to having one major dispute with the Prime Minister, which would be regarding the appropriate tactics to utilize when dealing with other countries. “Netanyahu adopted the tactic of ‘let's play the blame game,’ let's put the entire burden of proof on the other side, while Israel is doing everything to please the international community."

"This game is over,” she says, “it's an old-fashioned game that has proven to be a total fraud.”

In Hotovely’s view, the primary effort and energy has to be invested in facing reality, and understanding who Israel’s friends and foes are at this point. "The Palestinians are playing the politics of denial,” she asserts, “a denial of the right of Israel to exist, denial of our basic right of self-determination. They are making peace with our worst enemy, Hamas, and Abbas is telling Netanyahu outright that under no circumstances is he willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state."

Hotovely believes that Israel is experiencing one of the most serious periods of extremism in the Middle East, thus requiring it to be very clear about its goals and – given Israel’s limited power - not waste time, money and international efforts in the wrong places. She feels that the leader of Israel should put all of his foreign affairs efforts in diplomacy that will fortify America as an ally in this crucial war against extremism, and be candid about not wanting to negotiate a peace settlement with people who don't want to accept the idea of a Jewish state.

When asked whether she agrees with Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's comment that the Palestinians are an invented people, Hotovely responds that she finds it very courageous to say something that is historically true, but gets people confused with the facts. “Gingrich didn't say something that hasn't been said before in Israeli politics,” she notes. “Golda Meir used to make the same point, in order to place Israel in the position of not being willing to compromise on a problem that didn't exist."

"From his perspective as an historian, I think he made a correct comment,” she goes on. “They are not a nation and thus don't deserve national identity – that’s o.k. for me as a statement, as a way to start the discussion. But as a politician, as a political leader, this statement is not good enough, because one can deny their national identity, but you cannot deny their human identity."

In Hotovely’s view, Gingrich’s statement does not offer a solution to the problem, because she sees the Palestinians as people who have to be paid attention to, and the Israeli government has for too many years not thought of an appropriate solution. "The solution," she says, “is for us to state forthrightly that Judea and Samaria are part of Israel, that Israel will never be divided again. At the same time, we will not ignore the Palestinian people living in the West Bank, rather we will give them the opportunity to develop a national identity."

As Hotovely sees it, the Palestinians could choose either to become part of Jordan; consider themselves an ethnic minority in a Jewish state, as opposed to a Palestinian state; or be a state of all citizens, but in a Jewish state. In order for them to have a full citizenship, she elaborates, they would need to follow certain rules to get equal rights, such as equal duty (national service), pledging not to be affiliated with any terror organization, and recognizing that as a minority, they cannot overhaul the majority.

Hotovely points to American Jewry as an example of that approach. "Just like American Jews don't think they should build the Temple in Washington, D.C.,” she explains, “they know they have Israel as their homeland, and if they want to fulfill their national goal, they can do it in Israel, not in the United States."

While not a lone voice in advancing this idea - Knesset speaker Ruvi Rivlin, Minister Uzi Landau and former Defense Minister Moshe Arens are strong advocates of this concept - it hasn't gotten
further traction because, in Hotovely’s opinion, the Israeli government is locked in the old paradigm of the two state solution, and as a result it moves a little to the left, then to the right and then back to the center.

"The Prime Minister arrived at a certain juncture,” she says, “where he had a very strong resistance from an American administration that didn't leave him a lot of wiggle room to maneuver. It’s a failure of many years of not establishing the deep roots in the American diplomatic court to rethink the strategy."

According to Hotovely, the concept of a two state solution has been effectively dead since right after The Camp David summit in 2000, when she believes Israel should have sat down with the American officials in Washington and presented them with a new strategy. “We should have told them, ‘We all want peace – we too suffer from the fact that for years we have sacrificed ourselves in defense of our country in ongoing wars, but we ought to come up with an alternative solution'.”

Hotovely strongly feels that – rather than advancing useless negotiations over the last decade – Israel should have brought together its allies and peace broker to newly strategize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and thus could have prevented the Obama administration from pushing the parties to resume peace talks, with the inevitable pressures on Israel to make serious concessions.

With regard to the U.S.-Israel relationship, and President Obama's recent claim, while defending his record, that his administration has done more for Israel's security than any previous administration, Hotovely does not dismiss that claim but places the ball back in Obama's court. "His biggest challenge is still ahead,” she insists, “and that is whether he is willing to take the responsibility to stop Iran's rush towards developing a nuclear weapon. As the leader of the free world, he has to deal with the most important issue at the moment, one that could change the world's balance."

While Hotovely acknowledges that the Jewish state has its military capabilities, she is advocating for the Americans – as Israel’s only reliable ally - to take on the mission of solving the Iranian problem. At the same time, although she respects the United States for its contribution to Israel’s security, she states unequivocally that the Obama administration has been one of the most interfering American administrations ever, trying – in her view – to dictate to Israel, question its sovereignty and the government's actions, more than any previous U.S. President.

Hotovely is not hesitant to address the latest incidents in Israel, and in general, regarding the issue of public segregation between men and women, from a standpoint of serving as chairwoman of the Knesset's committee on the status of women in Israel. "Israel has gone through a major process when it comes to women’s rights,” she reveals. “We have more women in leadership positions; in fact, five women are going to be appointed as Israel Air Force pilots at the end of this month. So many glass ceilings are now open to women, and I think Israel is going through a very good period in this regard, despite the fact that there are some irrational people who are staking out positions that have no connection to Judaism. The separation of men and women in buses and public places has nothing to do with Judaism - I call it darkness or fear of women. It is unacceptable."

Hotovely is also not shy about responding to Hillary Clinton's critical comments on the status of women in Israel, in which the Secretary of State expressed shock over the growing discrimination against Israeli women, and cited by example the cases of IDF soldiers leaving during performances of female singers and the requirement in certain neighborhoods that females sit in the back of buses. Noting Clinton’s remark that some of these phenomena reminded her of Iran’s treatment of women, MK Hotovely took the Secretary of State to task for altering the truth. "Every leader should first stick to the truth and the facts,” she declares, “and I cannot believe that Mrs. Clinton is not aware of the facts."

Hotovely terms Clinton’s statement “the height of hypocrisy,' stressing that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that gives women full rights and full opportunities. Hotovely notes that while every society contains some elements of sexism, Israel had a woman serve as prime minister, and might have another one in the near future. As far as she is concerned, Hillary Clinton should recognize that Israel is “a lighthouse in the horrible darkness” of the Middle East in the realm of women’s rights.

Responding to Israel’s recent spate of right-wing Jewish violence and so-called “price tag” acts in the West Bank, Hotovely expresses her utmost level of condemnation. "They are the worst type of criminals,” she says matter-of-factly. “They may see themselves as ideological criminals, but in truth they are behaving as the most anti-moral, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist gangsters. Those who take part in these acts of vandalism should be put in jail and punished in the most severe manner. There is absolutely no place for explanation and justification of these acts in Israeli society."

In conclusion, Knesset Member Tzipi Hotovely says that American Jewry could be most effective at this time by addressing the "open wound that has yet to heal in the Jewish community," referring to the plight of the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who has been incarcerated by the United States for more than a quarter-century.

"Pollard is the modern Yosef of our time,” she states. “He was sold by Israel, the U.S. government and the American Jewish community. That community – especially now that we are in an election year - should employ of all its power and influence to urge the President to approve his clemency. This is especially critical now, given that Pollard’s health is failing, and who knows if he can even survive until the end of his sentence."

Calling it an act of cruelty to let him die in jail, Hotovely insists that it is our responsibility to raise the issue on the highest level possible. “We must do everything possible to bring Jonathan Pollard home to his wife, his family and his people," she concludes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Romney: I'm undecided on Pollard & moving U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

(by Adam Kredo-WJweek). Mitt Romney wouldn't commit to moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and said that he hasn't yet decided if the Israeli spymaster Jonathan Pollard should be released from prison, according to a source who attended an off-the-record sit down yesterday with the Republican candidate that was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

"He answered [questions] very frankly," said one attendee.

On the topic of Pollard, Romney said that he "was open to examining" the issue, but stopped short of saying that he would free the spy from federal prison, the source said.

When asked if he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- a promise that Republican presidential candidates make with ease (but ultimately break once in office) -- Romney said that he would "consult with the government of Israel" before he makes a final decision.

"It's easy for me to promise, but it's something I would consult with the government [of Israel] on," Romney said, according to my source.

"He wouldn't say, 'I'm going to move it tomorrow,' " added the source.

Most attendees, I'm told, reacted "very positively," to Romney's remarks. "He spoke about Israel in a convincing way... [and] didn't just play to the audience," the source said.

Panetta: "we will take whatever steps necessary" to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons

(IsraelHayom).Despite efforts to thwart Tehran's nuclear program, the Iranians are likely to possess atomic weapons in a year or less, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CBS News on Monday.

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Panetta for a segment on the news magazine 60 minutes, during which he asked if Iran could have a nuclear weapon in 2012. "It would probably be about a year before they can do it," Panetta responded. "Perhaps a little less. But one proviso is if they have a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel."

Panetta, who has cautioned against a military strike against Iran, said the U.S. does not want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, saying that would constitute "a red line for us and that's a red line, obviously, for the Israelis."
"If [Iran] proceeds and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it, There are no options off the table,a nuclear Iran is unacceptable".

Sunday, December 18, 2011

MK Tzipi Hotovely: Clinton's criticism of Israel's Women Rights is the 'Height of Hypocrisy'

In one-on one interview i had this afternoon with Likud Knesset Member Tzipi Hotovely, she addressed the latest incident, and in general the issue of segregation between men and women in the ultra Orthodox community, from a stand point serving as chairwoman of the Knesset's committee on status of women:

"The problems in Israel, are so minor, when you compare it to the living standard of most women in Israel. in very few societies you see a true discrimination." 

"Israel has gone through a major process when it comes to woman rights, you see more women in leadership positions, 5 women are going to be appointed as IAF pilots in the end of this month. so many glass seals are now open to woman, and i think Israel is going through a very good period in parallel to the fact that there are some irrational people that are picking positions that have no connection to Judaism .The separation of men and women in buses has nothing to do with Judaism , I call it darkness or fear of women. its unacceptable."
Responding to Hillary Clinton's critical comments on the status of women in Israel, in which she expressed shock over the growing discrimination against Israeli women. She mentioned cases of IDF soldiers leaving during performances of female singers and the fact that females sit in the back of buses in certain places in Israel. Clinton said that some of these phenomena reminded her of Iran. MK Hotovely took Sec. Clinton to task on the truth.
"Every leader should first stick to the truth and the facts, and I cant believe that Sec. Clinton is not aware of the facts." 

"This statement coming from the secretary of state, is the 'Height of Hypocrisy', Israel is the only state in the Middle East that gives women full rights and full opportunities". 

"For her knowledge, she couldn't make it to become the President of the Unites States, because the U.S. society is still not ready for a woman's candidacy for president. 

"Every society has today inside sexism, but in Israel a woman did indeed serve as prime minister, and we might have another one, in fact Israel is a light house in this horrible darkness. So for her coming from a tradition that never promoted women for presidency it's just simple hypocrisy, instead she should of given full back up to Israel's right process."
The Full interview will be published on Wednesday.

Women segregation sparks political debate - PM Netanyahu: Exclusion of women in public spaces threatens fabric of Israeli society

A ongoing public debate over the Ultra-Orthodox segregation between men and women and the separation on buses passing by Jewish neighborhoods, exploded over the weekend following an incident in which a young woman was told to sit in the back of a bus driving from Ashdod to Jerusalem due to haredi protest.

The incident happened on Friday when Tanya Rosenblit, 28, was on Egged bus 451. "I dressed modestly and tried to keep a low profile, but I could tell something strange was going on," she told Yedioth Ahronoth.

"I could tell that the other passengers were looking at me with disdain. One of them yelled 'Shiksa' at me and demanded I move to the back of the bus, because Jewish men can't sit behind a woman."

Rosenblit refused. "I wasn't causing any provocation. It's a normal bus and anyone can ride it. I bought my ticket, just like they did and they have no right to tell me where to sit."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that fringe groups should not take apart "our common denominator." Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting he said, "We must maintain the public sphere as an open and safe place for all Israeli citizens."
"Israeli society is a mosaic composed of Jews and Arabs, secular and ultra-orthodox, and until today we have agreed on peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among all sectors. Recently, we have witnessed numerous attempts to unravel this coexistence. For example, today I heard about a case of moving a woman on a bus. I strongly oppose this. I think that marginal groups cannot be allowed to dismantle our common denominator and we must maintain the public space as an open and safe for all Israelis. We need to look for what unites and bridges, not what divides and separates, and this is how we will act."
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz echoed the sentiment: "Women's exclusion is unforgivable. It will not happen in the State of Israel and I'm sure the haredim will learn to live with that," he said.

Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Sunday responded harshly to the ultra-Orthodox demand to operate "kosher" bus lines in haredi neighborhoods, saying that the haredi public had not right to impose its opinion on the rest of the population.

"We can't be the world's landlords. This isn't the haredi public's country," the chief rabbi said in an interview to Kol Barama Radio. "We have no authority to impose our opinion on others. This is a public place."
"if we want separation, setting up a special bus company for certain lines is legitimate, and then we'll be the landlords.

"But as long as they pay like we do, and it’s a public company which doesn't only serve the haredi public – what can we do?

Barak: President Obama is determined to stop Iran from going nuclear

President Barack Obama held a private meeting with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday at a Jewish community conference.

The meeting was held without any advisors and delayed Obama's speech. After their meeting, Obama spoke before the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism, reassuring that "the cooperation between our militaries has never been stronger," as he thanked Barak "for his leadership and his lifelong commitment to Israel’s security and the quest for a just and lasting peace."

Barak refused to say whether Obama requested full cooperation on the Iranian issue in order to prevent an independent Israeli military strike. The defense minister only responded that both countries agree that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable."

The defense minister assured that "we are all determined to stop Iran from going nuclear, including world leaders and the president of the United States. No option can be taken off the table."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Obama: Our administration has done most for Israel, more than anyone before

(via AP). President Obama told the General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism today that his commitment to Israel's safety is "unshakeable," and that no presidential administration has done more to protect Israel from its enemies.
"Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise, It is a fact."
In his speech, Obama said he remains committed to the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians, but not at the expense of Israel's security.
"My administration has worked hard to prevent international forums to "de-legitimize" Israel".

"My commitment to Israel and Israel's security is unshakable."
  "It's hard to remember a time when the [U.S.] administration gave more support to the security of Israel, don't let anyone to tell you otherwise, it's a fact,"
"That's what friends and allies do for each other,So don't let anybody else tell you a different story ... We have been there and we will continue to be there."
Obama, under criticism from Republicans over Israel policy, re-assured the friendly audience that "we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon." He also told the Jewish group, "rest assured, we will take no options off the table."

Barak: U.S.-Israel defense bonds under President Obama “Stronger and Deeper than Ever”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial convention last night and lauded the closeness of the U.S.-Israel relationship under President Barack Obama. Barak said:
"The unshakable bonds between Israel and America and their respective defense establishments under the guiding hand of President Barack Obama are stronger and deeper than ever and we are very thankful and appreciative of that."
Speaking about the creation of a Palestinian state, Barak said:
"Israel would not agree to the creation of a Palestinian State, if the raison d'être of that Palestinian State is to continue the conflict, and to deny our basic national rights."

"I believe that an agreement – based on [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] Bar Ilan and Knesset speeches, President Obama’s two speeches from May of this year and the Clinton parameters - can still be achieved – and thus, saving us the alternatives which are much much worse, Israel would not accept unilateralism."

"Israel's own final borders which require major painful concessions will include the large settlement blocs creating a solid Jewish majority within that line and an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state on the other."
Barak also briefly addressed the Iranian issue:
"As President Obama and other world leaders repeatedly state - ‘Iran must be prevented from gaining nuclear weapons.’ Your President understood and insisted on this issue from day one. America, Israel and world leaders have to stand determined and united in order to face this threat, and not to remove any option off the table."

PM Netanyahu shows middle finger to the NYTimes - "We wouldn't want to be seen as 'Bibiwashing' the NY Times"

Herb Keinon reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to pen an op-ed piece for The New York Times, signaling the degree to which he is fed up with the influential newspaper’s editorial policy on Israel.

In a letter to the Times obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer – in response to the paper’s request that Netanyahu write an op-ed – wrote that the prime minister would “respectfully decline.”

Dermer made clear that this had much to do with the fact that 19 of the paper’s 20 op-ed pieces on Israel since September were negative.

Below is the full context of the PM's letter:

"Dear Sasha,
I received your email requesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu submit an op-ed to the New York Times. Unfortunately, we must respectfully decline.
On matters relating to Israel, the op-ed page of the “paper of record” has failed to heed the late Senator Moynihan's admonition that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that no one is entitled to their own facts.
A case in point was your decision last May to publish the following bit of historical revision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:
It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.
This paragraph effectively turns on its head an event within living memory in which the Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan accepted by the Jews and then joined five Arab states in launching a war to annihilate the embryonic Jewish state. It should not have made it past the most rudimentary fact-checking.
The opinions of some of your regular columnists regarding Israel are well known. They consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace. They cavalierly defame our country by suggesting that marginal phenomena condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and virtually every Israeli official somehow reflects government policy or Israeli society as a whole. Worse, one columnist even stooped to suggesting that the strong expressions of support for Prime Minister Netanyahu during his speech this year to Congress was "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" rather than a reflection of the broad support for Israel among the American people.
Yet instead of trying to balance these views with a different opinion, it would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in the New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel. Even so, the recent piece on “Pinkwashing,” in which Israel is vilified for having the temerity to champion its record on gay-rights, set a new bar that will be hard for you to lower in the future.
Not to be accused of cherry-picking to prove a point, I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, “positive” and “negative,” with “negative” meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were “negative.”
The only "positive" piece was penned by Richard Goldstone (of the infamous Goldstone Report), in which he defended Israel against the slanderous charge of Apartheid.
Yet your decision to publish that op-ed came a few months after your paper reportedly rejected Goldstone's previous submission. In that earlier piece, which was ultimately published in the Washington Post, the man who was quoted the world over for alleging that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, fundamentally changed his position. According to the New York Times op-ed page, that was apparently news unfit to print.
Your refusal to publish “positive” pieces about Israel apparently does not stem from a shortage of supply. It was brought to my attention that the Majority Leader and Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives jointly submitted an op-ed to your paper in September opposing the Palestinian action at the United Nations and supporting the call of both Israel and the Obama administration for direct negotiations without preconditions. In an age of intense partisanship, one would have thought that strong bipartisan support for Israel on such a timely issue would have made your cut.
So with all due respect to your prestigious paper, you will forgive us for declining your offer. We wouldn't want to be seen as "Bibiwashing" the op-ed page of the New York Times.


Ron Dermer
Senior advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ambassador Rice: America's permanent commitment to Israel's peace and security is not negotiable

"The Arab world is undergoing unprecedented political change, and the calls for freedom across the region have only heightened legitimate security concerns. But let there be no doubt: we are doing all we can to ensure that Israel remains secure even as the region becomes more free," U.N. Representative Rice told the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations during their annual National Service Award dedicated this year to her.

Here are some excerpts of Rice's speech:
"America remains deeply and permanently committed to Israel's peace and security. It is a commitment for this president and this Administration. It spans generations. It spans political parties. It is not negotiable. And it never will be".

"From the moment he took office, President Obama's guidance has been clear: to strengthen and deepen that commitment. He has been clear all along that our special relationship with Israel is deeply rooted in our common interests and our common values."

"That's why we've increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. That's why, even in these tough fiscal times, we've increased foreign military financing to record levels. That's why we've also included additional support for the lifesaving Iron Dome anti-rocket system -- which saw action just days ago in defense of innocent Israelis who live near the Gaza frontier."

"That's why we're working jointly to toughen up Israel's security through the Arrow system; and through David's Sling; and through joint military exercises that have never been more robust."
On Iran : Our message and our policy has been clear, from the President on down: we remain determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That’s why we led the charge to pass the toughest Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran that it has ever faced. Resolution 1929 laid the groundwork for us and other partners around the world to impose ever tighter bilateral sanctions. Moreover, as the President has said repeatedly, all options remain on the table.

Now, we also continue to believe that lasting security means lasting peace. So our efforts toward Arab-Israeli peace continue. It is precisely our commitment to Israel’s security that spurs us to advance peacemaking.

But make no mistake: President Obama, Secretary Clinton, I, and our entire Administration understand there are no short-cuts. And we have demonstrated that unflinchingly at the UN these past months.

There is no substitute for direct, face-to-face negotiations. The goal remains a lasting peace: two states for two peoples, Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. That is the only path to Israel’s decades-long quest for security and the only path to fulfilling the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations.

And that is why we have stood firm on principle as the Palestinians sought UN membership prematurely—and we will continue to fight against any obstacle placed on the path to peace.

But that is not our only fight at the UN. The Obama Administration has been tireless in its campaign to guarantee that Israel gets fair and equal treatment at the UN.

Now, all countries come in for knocks every now and again, including, if not especially, our own. But what Israel faces daily at the UN is something entirely different. As Ambassador Prosor can attest, it’s relentless. It’s obsessive. It’s ugly. It’s bad for the UN. It’s bad for peace. And it must stop..

I hope we never let our justified frustration over the treatment of Israel blind us to the ways in which the UN is vital to our security and our values. It’s not in America’s interest to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Whether it’s bringing the world together to isolate Iran or North Korea; keeping the peace in conflict zones at a fraction of the cost of sending U.S. troops; saving the lives of refugees and starving children; or fostering democracy in places like South Sudan and Liberia — the work of the UN is fundamentally in our interest. We will continue to lead, to pursue our interests and our values, and to stick up for fair treatment for Israel."

GOP Leader Cantor: Palestinian culture ‘infused with resentment and hatred’

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered a severe rebuke to Palestinians on Thursday, linking their culture to terrorism and questioning their worthiness to have an independent state.

“If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state,” Canto said in his address Thursday to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial taking place in suburban Washington.

Cantor said the Obama administration must clearly signal to emerging Arab governments that vilifying Israel and Jews is unacceptable.
"Now is the time for Washington to send a clear signal to the emerging governments of the Middle East and the international community that it is not OK to vilify Israel and it is not OK to demonize Jews,"

“I say to you, any justification of any form of anti-Semitism must not be tolerated or condoned, History is replete with examples that when it comes to the Jewish people, the world can turn a deaf ear.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Emergency Committee for Israel group accusing Obama of using Israel as a "punching bag".

(via MAGGIE HABERMAN-Politico).The Emergency Committee for Israel, a group helmed by conservatives William Kristol and Gary Bauer, is running a full-page ad in the New York Times tomorrow accusing President Obama of using the Jewish as a "punching bag."

The spot leads with a line asking in bold type, "Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?"

Kristol said to POLITICO of the ad, "The Obama Administration has been using Israel as a punching bag. The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back.”

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who is the president's most outspoken Jewish surrogate, slammed the ECI as a GOP front group and praised the president's positions.

"This is just one more example of the absolute fact that ECI is nothing more than a Republican front organization, They have been discredited by major national Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Committee. They have been so offensive and so outrageous in their efforts to use Israel as a wedge issue."

She accused the group's leaders of using Israel and foreign policy "because the Republicans are wrong on every domestic issue that matters to the Jewish community...the president's record on Jewish issues is stellar. This is a president through word and deed has been a stalwart supporter of Israel."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dennis Ross: A Nuclear Iran increases danger of a Middle East Nuclear war

(JTA).The greatest danger posed by a nuclear Iran would be the increased likelihood of a Middle East nuclear war, Dennis Ross said.

"If Iran has nuclear weapons, the potential for nuclear war in the Middle East goes up dramatically," Ross, whojust retired as the White House's top Iran policy official, said during his first post-Obama administration address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"You are not going to have a stable situation where anyone can feel that they are going to wait, If there is the slightest indication that Iran is changing its readiness, can Israel wait? ... The potential for miscalculation would be enormous."
Ross said President Obama was committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
"The administration prides itself on a certain reality that it does what it says...when Obama says 'all options remain on the table,' it doesn't mean that force is his first choice, but it means that that's an option that he intends to exercise."

HuffPost: Newt Gingrich advised Arafat how to create a Palestinian State

(HuffingtonPost).Newt Gingrich's questioning of the "authenticity" of the Palestinian people and even whether they should be classified as a group has sparked a sharp debate within the Republican Party.

On Monday, a political operative who has been working on Palestine-Israel policy for the past 20 years sent The Huffington Post a picture of Gingrich, then the House minority whip, grasped the hand of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat immediately following the September 1993 Oslo peace accords.

The embrace, the source said, came after Arafat met with 20 to 25 House leaders over coffee. Jotting notes down in a yellow pad, Gingrich used the meeting to pitch Arafat on how best to actually construct a Palestinian state. "He said, 'Look, here is what I think you need -- an economic plan – and here is how it will work,'" the operative recalled. "It was a very positive contribution at the time and as they stood up, there were pictures."

In the background of the picture is Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), a long-serving Arab-American congressman, whose office confirmed that the meeting did take place.

"I think if the elected head of the Israeli government and the leader of the PLO can find a way to get together and if they are joined by, as it seems possible, Jordan and maybe even some concessions by Syria, I think it would be pretty ridiculous for us to then back off and not at least try to help them make it happen," Gingrich told CNN ten days before that photo was taken. "I don't think we should pressure Israel. But if Israel decides -- the Israeli government decides it's going to try to do something, I don't think we ought to be in the position to block it."

But the situation was fragile. By March 1994, Gingrich and others were urging President Clinton to veto a UN resolution that referred to Jerusalem as occupied territory.

With Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the peace process only became more fraught. In April 1997, Gingrich was accusing Arafat of manipulating U.S. media organizations into "serving as [his[ witting or unwitting ally." Addressing the conservative, pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, he concluded that Arafat was "Israel's so-called partner in the peace process ... More than three years after Oslo, he still has not fulfilled his promise to amend the PLO charter and remove its call for the destruction of Israel."

By 1998, Gingrich was accusing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright of behaving as "an agent for the Palestinians" in renewed peace negotiations. U.S. diplomats complained that the Speaker was causing serious headaches even as he met, once more, with Arafat.

Nahum Barnea: In the WH - 'Netanyahu is now the 'N word', one would rather not mention'

Yediot Achronot senior columnist Nahum Barnea, returning from DC, where he and other Israeli officials participated in the intimate closed door strategic discussions at the Saban forum in Washington DC, reports home whats seems today hard to hide.
"There is one word, just one word, that no decent American would dare speak out loud unless he happens to be a black stand-up comedian. That forbidden word is "nigger" – a racial slur for African-Americans. The interdiction is so grave that all one needs to say is "The N word" and everyone immediately knows what it's all about. 
"For top officials in the Obama Administration," a participant of the Saban Forum in Washington told me last week, "Netanyahu is now the 'N word' – the name best not mentions." 
I was surprised. The White House is full of people who have politics running in their blood. They know how to read polls, how to decipher newspaper columns and the chatter at the Knesset cafeteria. They know Netanyahu is at the height of his political power. He is the man calling the shots in the Israeli government. As far as the American administration is concerned, Netanyahu is Israel and Israel is Netanyahu. You can be angry with him – but you cannot ignore his existence. 
The administration disagrees with Netanyahu on two very sensitive issues – Iran and the settlements. These are legitimate disagreements, more or less. The emotional baggage seems to stem from something else: When Obama's people look at Netanyahu, they recognize in him something of their arch-nemesis – the Republican Party's right wing. 
The gap between the two American parties today is greater than ever. Instead of two parties, with a Left, a Right and a great center, there is a right-wing national-religious party vis-à-vis a liberal left-wing party. Instead of cooperation and flexibility, which was the secret of the American system's success in the past, there is polarization and paralysis.  
The Obama Administration is not fighting Israel – it's distancing itself from it. For better or for worse – and mostly for worse – it has given up on the chances of a successful resolution in the region. ... 
We have become accustomed to a White House and a State Department that have Jews serving in key positions, including in positions that have a direct impact on Israel. That too is over: The Jews who accompanied Obama on his journey to the White House have left, each for his own reasons. This is the first time in years that a Washington administration has been so poor in Jewish representation. 
This, of course, will not stop President Obama from lighting up Hanukkah candles at a festive ceremony in the White House. Hanukkah candles – that's all that's left...."

Monday, December 12, 2011

PM Netanyahu helps restore Facebook page for 5 year old Aviel Beckman

(via Jpost). five-year-old Chaim Aviel Beckman of Karmiel,Chaim Aviel found out earlier this year that he suffers from a rare blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, for which he urgently needs a bone marrow transplant, as his own fails to produce blood cells. To find a match – as none was found among his two little sisters or in the Israeli donor system – approximately 20,000 blood tests needed to be conducted, at a cost of NIS 170 each, or about NIS 3.5 million in total.

Chaim Aviel has about a year of life left if he simply continues with his pill regimen.

His mother’s friend Yochi decided that this urgent problem could only be solved with something as powerful as the world’s most ubiquitous social networking tool – Facebook.

Yochi launched a Facebook page on the boy’s behalf – a Facebook page that became Beckman’s “hope,” her lifeblood, and has accumulated over 25,000 “likes” and more than NIS 350,000 in contributions.

But all that mysteriously vanished on Thursday, as the Facebook page suddenly disappeared from the Internet, and carried Beckman’s hopes away with it.

But on Thursday evening, Channel 2 aired a report on Chaim Aviel’s case and the disappearance of the Facebook page, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was watching.

“The prime minister was very much moved by what happened and he instructed me to contact Facebook in the United States, and ask them to do what they can to restore the page,” the Prime Minister’s Office director of new media, Eitan Eliram, told the Post.

A national government has a much greater ability to get in contact with the powers-thatbe at Facebook than an individual, he explained. With the help of the Israeli Embassy new media team in Washington, the government was able to accomplish just that about six hours later.

“The team there understood how important it was to restore the page, because it was the boy’s life,” Eliram said.

“Psychologically, [Beckman’s] entire hope to save her son was connected to the Facebook,” he continued. “Once this page was removed or vanished, her hope was gone – because she thought in some way it might be a sign that she would lose her son.”

The page had presumably disappeared due to a technical glitch, according to Eliram, and he was uncertain whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was directly involved with the fix. But Beckman was shocked when the page returned and expressed her gratitude that the prime minister became personally involved. She likened the return of her son’s page to the day in October when Netanyahu returned Gilad Schalit to his family – in this way, he was also taking a step to bring her own son back.

“He’s like a magician,” Beckman said.

Yochi added, “The return of the page brought her happiness.

She is really a new person.”

Since the return of the page, the cause has gained an additional 1,200 “likes.”

Watch PM Netanyahu's Meeting with Aviel

Netanyahu: Equality between women and men in Israel must remain absolute

(Haaretz,Ynet). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out Monday against the recent attempts at excluding women from the public sphere on the part of the ultra-Orthodox, saying that “equality between men and women is absolute – that is how it has always been, and that is how it will continue.”

Netanyahu, who along with President Shimon Peres spoke at an award ceremony commemorating the fight against human trafficking, added that the exclusion of women is a “minor phenomenon” that contradicts Jewish traditions, yet exists among the ultra-Orthodox community
"There is no room for the exclusion of any person in the State of Israel – especially not of half of the population. The place of women in our society must be ensured". 
"The exclusion of women is a marginal phenomenon that does not reflect the practice of the majority of the population, or the majority of the haredi population – but it does exist".
"I say this unequivocally: I staunchly object to the exclusion of women," Netanyahu asserted.

Peres also spoke adamantly against the phenomenon, saying: "Any type of discrimination is a grave mistake that must be amended as soon as possible. The issue of shunning women or prohibiting them from singing in public has gained attention recently. We must not turn our public domains into places that conflict with our core values," he said.

The president added that "no man has the right to force a woman to sit where he wants. As a Jew and as the president of the State of Israel I cannot disregard such a phenomenon."

Netanyahu says Eichmann capture shaped Jewish history

(JTA).At the official unveiling of a Knesset display of memorabilia from the 1961 secret mission in Argentina, On the 50th anniversary of Adolf Eichmann's capture for trial in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the event shaped Jewish history.
"We carried out justice, partial, reduced, even minuscule compared to the crime, but of tremendous symbolism and the symbolism is that those who murder millions and those who plan the murder of millions will pay the price.." 
"Eichmann's capture and bringing to trial were a turning point at which the State of Israel and the Jewish people began to exact justice on their persecutors".

Netanyahu: We must make the pie bigger - Growth is mostly achieved by the private sector

"It is impossible to talk about economics and social justice without someone creating added value in the economy - and it is the private sector that creates it," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the "Globes" Israel Business Conference today in a comment about the social protest.
"People think that economics runs itself, Growth is mostly achieved by the private sector. Those who forget this will find themselves in East Germany or North Korea, or with five-year plans that make just distribution and end up with terrible poverty. In the 20th century, there was an experiment between the free and the unfree economies, and we learned a lesson - free economies meet society's needs."
Netanyahu attacked his critics and the people calling for social justice, saying that they "only talk about how to distribute the pie, but not how to make it bigger. If you're only engaged in distribution, you'll very quickly be left only with crumbs. I tell you that I am dealing with the question how to make the pie bigger. By the way, when the pie gets bigger and the distribution gets better."
"Our pie grows when the world grows. We're an export-oriented economy and our key markets are not about to grow in the near future. Our ability to continue to grow is in doubt, unless we do some new things. What are these new things? First of all, to reach new markets. The finance minister is leaving for India today with my blessing. President Peres recently visited Vietnam with my blessing. We're talking about trips to China with my consent and at my initiative. I tell any minister who wants to go to China, 'Go'. I tell you too, 'Go to China'. Why? Because it's a huge market and if we get a small piece of it we'll achieve the growth that is so critical to our needs."

Israel 'disappointed'that the Palestinians turned down offer to renew peace talks

(Reuters) - Israel blamed the Palestinians Sunday for rejecting a call to hold face-to-face peace talks when representatives of Middle East power brokers visit the region later this week.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel had renewed an offer to hold direct talks with the Palestinians ahead of Wednesday's visit by envoys of the so-called Quartet of the European Union, United States, Russia and the United Nations.

Regev said Israel had urged that the coming Quartet visit be accompanied by a direct meeting of Israelis and Palestinians. But he said Israel has learned that senior Palestinian official and veteran negotiator Saeb Erekat "has refused."

"We are disappointed," Regev said in remarks by telephone, calling it "frustrating that the Palestinian side repeatedly refuses to engage in peace talks directly with Israel."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shalit thanks activists for 'determined struggle'

In a pre-recorded message to activists who worked 1,941 days for his release, Gilad Shalit said, "I will be grateful for the rest of my life."

"I know without a doubt that your ongoing determined struggle for my release, each one according to his or her abilities, along with the support for my family throughout the long journey, was one of the deciding factors in the decision to bring me home," he said.

Some 300 activists gathered in Kibbutz Shefayim Saturday evening to listen to the message from Shalit, who was released in October in the framework of a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.

"I am certain that I will hear much more about this long and exhausting campaign you launched in the summer of 2006 and continued without getting discouraged or backing down despite the difficulties, the ups and downs, the hope and disappointments, until it ended on October 18," Shalit told the activists.

Noam Shalit, the former captive's father, told the activists "tonight we've reached the end of this long journey. Gilad still has a long way to go, but you – the dedicated activists – can say ('job well done').

"Gilad still does not know about all the rigorous work that was done for him, about all the good people who worked tirelessly for so many years. Naturally, he is finding it difficult to process so much information, but I suppose that in time he will be exposed to everything that was done and all the people and organizations who acted and accompanied us loyally and tenaciously until the struggle was over," he said.

Republican frontrunners heart Bibi - debate Israel/Palestinian peace process

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said on Saturday night that he will not step back from his assertion that Palestinians are an "invented" people.

"How would he know the difference?" Gingrich said when askes about his comments at the GOP presidential debate in Iowa, adding what he said was "historic" and correct. "Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists ... we pay for those text books through our aid money."

Mitt Romney replied, "I happen to agree with most of what the speaker said (except the specific "invented" remark). That I think was a mistake on the Speaker's part. I think the Speaker would suggest that as well. "

Gingrich shook his head and mouthed "No."

Romney said it was throwing "incendiary words into a place that is a boiling pot, You don't speak for Israel. If Bibi Netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it."

“I've also known Bibi Netanyahu for a long time; we worked together at Boston Consulting Group. The last thing Netanyahu needs to have not just a person who's an historian but somebody who is also running for president of the United States stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in his neighborhood. If I'm President of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability and make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with rockets going in, with people dying, I don't do anything that would harm that process. And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let's work together because we're partners. I'm not a bomb thrower. Rhetorically or literally".

Even Prime Minister Netanyahu in his speech before the US congress acknowledged this fact: " There is another truth: Palestinians share this small land with us.."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich promises Netanyahu-style US foreign policy

(story by Ben Smith-Politico).Former Speaker Newt Gingrich dismissed the Palestinian bid for statehood as as the effort of an "invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community."

Gingrich also said the Palestinian Authority, which has typically represented the moderate wing of Palestinian leadership and formally accepts Israel's right to exist, is motivated by "an enormous desire to destroy Israel."
"I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believe that the commitments that were made at a time," Gingrich said in an interview with Steven I. Weiss. "Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940's, and I think it’s tragic." 
"I mean, we have an armed truce with a Palestinian Authority that’s relatively weak. And on its flank is a Hamas authority which may become relatively weak, because it can’t deliver anything. But both of which represent an enormous desire to destroy Israel, Frankly, given their school system and the hatred they teach in their schools, often with money that comes from us through the United Nations, I mean I think there's a lot to think about in terms of how fundamentally you want to change the terms of debate in the region."

Gingrich also identified his foreign policy approach with that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I see myself as in many ways being pretty close to Bibi Netanyahu in thinking about the dangers of the world. I believe in a tough-minded realism. I believe that if somebody is firing rockets at you, they are probably not engaged in the peace process. I believe if somebody goes around and says you don’t have a right to exist, they’re probably not prepared to negotiate for peace, I think if someone says they wanna wipe you out, you should believe them. So I see a much more tougher-minded, and much more honest approach to the Middle East in a Gingrich administration."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Obama Fires Back at GOP Appeasement Charge: ‘Ask Osama Bin Laden’

(ABC). President Obama rarely comments on criticisms from the Republican presidential candidates, but today at a news conference at the WH, he offered a feisty, blunt response to charges that he is engaged in a foreign policy of “appeasement.”

“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement, Or whoever’s left out there,” he added. “Ask them about that.”

Romney will travel to Israel, Gingrich move embassy to Jerusalem, Bachmann address the Knesset and Perry will increase aid

The leading Republican candidates drew from warm to enthusiastic applause and standing ovations from Republican Jewish leaders and activists in DC on Wednesday after accusing President Obama of falling short in his support of Israel.

The Presidential hopefuls addressed the audience one by one at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington on Wednesday, criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East policy, particularly his record on Israel and Iran. outlining their foreign policy positions and pledging to up support for Israel.

Read full transcript of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann' remarks here.

Mitt Romney criticized President Obama's Middle east policies, claiming that "Over the last three years President Obama has chastened Israel".

"In his inaugural address to the United Nations, the president chastised Israel but had almost nothing to say about Hamas launching thousands of rockets into Israel's skies. He's publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He's insulted Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. And he's been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran. These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners, and they're now poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas. And they feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table," he said.

"President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East".

His policy, Romney declared "could not be more different. I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm, as a vital national interest, Israel's existence as a Jewish state. And I want the world to know that the bonds that exist between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them very dearly."

Referring to Iran, Romney said, "I would not meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. In fact, he should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the genocide convention. And on my watch, Iran's ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel; it's a threat to the entire world. Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need, and our enemies should never doubt our resolve."

"The Should treat the Iranian diplomats, business people, and leaders like the pariah they are as long as they're pursuing nuclear weaponry."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a unscripted speech, spoke about the recent controversial remarks given by US Ammbassador Be to Belgium Howard Gutman,and Defense secratary Leon Panneta

"This is an administration which, frankly, should be firing the ambassador to Belgium, who gave a stunningly anti-Semitic speech, This is an administration which, frankly, should be reprimanding the Secretary of Defense for an insulting performance the other day."

"Panetta is a fine domestic politician, but his speech was outrageous. How about saying to Hamas, give up violence and come to the table? How about saying to the PLO, recognize Israel and come to the table? This one-sided continuing pressure that says it's always Israel's fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop. The fact that Secretary Clinton would talk about discrimination against women in Israel, and then meet with Saudis? " he said.

Gingrich also promised that "in a Gingrich administration, on the opening day, there will be an executive order about two hours after the inaugural address. We will send the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as of that day."

Texas Governor Rick Perry accused the Obama Administration of a "torrent of hostility" toward Israel.

"Israel does not need our President demanding gratitude for being the best friend Israel has ever had while his Secretary of Defense rails that Israel has to “get back to the damn table” with the Palestinians, and his Secretary of State questions the viability of Israel’s democracy, even as his Ambassador to Belgium blames anti-Semitism among Muslims on Israel’s failure to accommodate the Palestinians all of which happened in the last week alone."

"This torrent of hostility towards Israel does not seem to have been coordinated, but rather is the natural expression of this administration’s attitude towards Israel".

Perry also clarified his position over "zeroing out" foreign aid to every foreign country,
let me be clear. Israel is our strategic ally. America long ago ended traditional foreign aid to Israel. Strategic defense aid to Israel will increase under a Perry administration," he said.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann used her speech to paint President Barack Obama as actively weakening the American alliance with Israel. She slamed Obama’s pronouncement that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians should be based around the 1967 borders in the region. That caused tension between the U.S. and Israel, Bachmann said, and it “emboldened the Palestinians to seek statehood at the U.N.”

ffollowing Romney's announcement, Bachmann also pledged that her first maiden trip would be to Israel to meet with its prime minister and to speak to the Knesset.

“A Bachmann administration" she promised, "will recognize that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a vibrant democracy and America’s staunch ally. My administration will fully recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and will be the first administration to finally implement the laws passed by Congress requiring the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My administration will also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights and any settlements, which Israel, as a sovereign state, chooses to annex. Simply put, my administration will accord Israel the respect to which sovereign, democratic nations are entitled."

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said, "We have to make it very clear to Iran that the United States - the United States, I didn't say Israel, because it's in our security interest - will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, period. We cannot sit and hope to contain Iran. We need to say very clearly that we will be conducting covert activity to do everything we can to stop their nuclear program."

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said that, for him, "All options are on the table. And it means that when Israel strikes up that conversation, as I believe they will, you better be prepared to remember and put in place what that relationship and what that alliance actually means."

Rick Perry tells Jewish Republicans:"Aid to Israel will increase".

Speaking at a candidates forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, Rick Perry clarified his controversial position that U.S. assistance for Israel would increase under his administration, as he sought to ease Jewish concerns that he'd cut off foreign aid.
"I am adamant that any discussion of foreign aid should start at zero, But let me be clear. Israel is our strategic ally...America long ago ended the traditional foreign aid to Israel, Strategic defensive aid is what we will continue to be focused on. And strategic aid in all forms under a Perry administration will increase to Israel."
In a interview with Adam Kredo, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks dismissed the controversy surrounding aid to Israel by the Democrats as nonsense.
"The only one who had a perception problem on foreign aid was Perry as a result of his comments at the debate, He laid that to rest unequivocally as predicted."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Romney: Obama "immeasurably" damaged ME peace prospects and has been "Timid and weak" on Iran

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama's approach to Israel, charging he has "immeasurably" damaged Middle East peace prospects and failed to confront Iran.

In excerpts of a speech to be delivered on Wednesday to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Romney will also declare that Iranian President  Ahmadinejad "should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide."

Romney accuses President Obama of having called on Israel to "adopt indefensible borders," having "insulted" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and having been "timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran."
"These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table". 
"Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East". 
"As President, my policies will be very different. 
"I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel's existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand their quest is futile and that continuing it will cost them dearly. 
"The ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only an Israel problem, it is problem for the United States and all the decent countries of the world. Our friends should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve."

Act for Israel/Bibi Report Action Alert: Ask The State Department To Censure Ambassador Gutman

The U.S. envoy to Belgium, Ambassador Howard Gutman, tacitly defended Muslim anti-Semitism on Friday when he said “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”

According to Amb. Gutman’s words anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is legitimate so long as Israel and the Palestinians have not made peace. This is wrong and it ignores the true reasons for anti-Semitism.

This statement legitimizes racism against Jews and blames Israel for at least one of the ills prevalent in Muslim societies.
Anti-Semitism, like any form of racism, is an indication of what is wrong with those who are discriminating, not the people who are being discriminated against.
The truth is, many countries that have extreme anti-Semitism are ruled by brutal regimes who fail to provide opportunity for their people and blame their failure on Israel, Jews and the West.
Anti-Semitism is racism and no form of racism should be acceptable under any circumstances. Legitimizing racism in any way is simply wrong. It goes against our national interests and the values the State Department is supposed to represent abroad. Rationalizing racism is completely unbefitting of a U.S. ambassador.

Ambassador Gutman was apologizing and excusing rank Muslim anti-Semitism, by saying it was a result of Israeli self-defense campaigns, and insisting that “old” European anti-Semitism didn’t exist any more, which is contrary to any and all recent research which indicates that anti-Semitism in Europe is growing both on the left and the right isles of the political spectrum. Worst of all, ambassador Gutman stated these dangerous opinions in a European forum as the face of the American administration.

Contact the State Department today to tell Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that legitimizing and minimizing anti-Semitism is unacceptable behavior for US Ambassador.

Tweet, post to Facebook or send an email to the State Department.

Sample Letter:

(You may highlight/select and copy… paste into your message to Secretary Clinton)
Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am writing to you today to express my dismay at Ambassador Gutman’s recent remarks legitimizing Muslim anti-Semitism and minimizing all other forms of anti-Semitism. It is wholly unbefitting of a representative of the US government to express such ill-conceived and erroneous views in an official setting.
Racism, including anti-Semitism, is never the fault of the person being discriminated against and always an indication of the immorality of those who are discriminating. It is troubling that Amb. Gutman, as an official representative of the US Government and your prestigious and good intentioned State Department, fails to understand this basic truth and uses his position to promote his misguided views.
In order to maintain the prestige of the State Department which you have successfully lead and to maintain American principles of tolerance and goodwill it is essential that you work to ensure that Amb. Gutman’s can no longer make use of the State Department’s good name to espouse hurtful messages. It is not in America’s interests to have an ambassador with such premature notions of racism and demand that you immediately remove Amb. Gutman from his post.

Your support and participation is deeply appreciated. Let’s all act together to end the scapegoating of Israel.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bi Partisan call to the Obama administration: "Ambassador Gutman should be recalled"

In an email to me this afternoon over Ambassador Gutman's comments , Democrat Assemblyman Rory Lancman from Queens who recently wrote a Op-Ed in the Jerusalem post over this matter, called on the administration to recall the Ambassador:
"Ambassador Gutman should be recalled, and made to take a basic course not only on anti-Semitism but the Arab-Israeli conflict. His comments are an embarassment to the United States."
Jennifer Rubin has more:

Sen Joe Lieberman’s communications director e-mailed this response:
“Senator Lieberman believes that Ambassador Gutman’s remarks about anti-Semitism were unjustifiable and ahistorical. His view is that it is inexcusable to offer rationalizations for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry or hatred.”
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) told Right Turn:
“There is no difference between the anti-Semites who hate Jews because they hate Jews and those who feel a need to cite a reason for their hateful anti-Semitism. Anyone who thinks they are different is simply anti-Semitic.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent out a statement late Monday calling the Obama administration to relieve Gutman from his post:
“The long and ugly history of anti-Semitism has seen all too many episodes of apologists justifying hatred of the Jews. Given the gathering threat posed by the brutal regime in Iran, now is the time to strengthen ties with Israel to achieve our mutual security interests. President Obama must send a clear signal to the world by relieving Ambassador Gutman of his post, stopping his administration's Israel bashing and recognizing that a two-state solution requires good-faith discussion and negotiation from the Palestinians as well as Israelis,".

Read the untwist-able transcript of Ambassador Gutman: "Hatred against Jews..too often lumped under a general banner of anti-Semitism."

Read the entire transcript here
"....and indeed throughout Europe, there is significant anger and resentment and, yes, perhaps sometimes hatred and indeed sometimes and all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.
This is a complex problem indeed. It requires its own analysis and solutions. And the analysis I submit is not served simply by lumping the problem with past instances of anti-Jewish beliefs and actions or those that exist today among minority haters under a uniform banner of “anti-Semitism.” 
.........I said that it is both fortunate and unfortunate that the largest part of the solution for this second type of problem – too often lumped under a general banner of anti-Semitism – is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East. It is fortunate because it means that, unlike traditional hatred of minorities, a path towards improving and resolving it does at least exist. It is crucial for the Middle East – but it is crucial for the Jewish and Arab communities in Europe and for countries around the globe – that Mid-East peace negotiations continue, that settlements abate, and that progress towards a lasting peace be made and then such a peace reached in the Middle East. Were a lasting peace in the Middle East to be reached, were joint and cooperative Israeli-Arab attentions turned to focus instead on such serious, common threats such as Iran, this second type of ethnic tension and bigotry here in Europe – which is clearly growing today – would clearly abate...."