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Monday, May 04, 2015

Obama announces plan for lasting peace talks in the Middle East

President Obama has announced more happiness: A plan to achieve lasting peace talks in the Middle East (Hat Tip: Gershon D).
Expressing his belief that a new future for the troubled region was within reach, President Obama unveiled his strategy Monday for attaining lasting peace talks in the Middle East. “Under this framework, I’m confident we can usher in a new era of meetings and dialogue that will last for generations to come,” Obama told reporters, adding that the comprehensive plan would rely on a broad international coalition to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians adhered to the strict terms of attending occasional summits and sitting across tables from one another. “As long as all parties make firm commitments to the process, we believe that our efforts will lead to stable, ongoing discussions about this conflict that could continue indefinitely. Real, enduring peace talks in the region are closer than they’ve ever been.” Obama later admitted that the deal was largely contingent upon the willingness of leaders from both sides to shake hands in a heavily staged photo op on a regular basis over the next 100 years.
And yes, of course, it's The Onion. But it's so real.... 

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And again: Attempted stabbing attack on Jerusalem light rail

There's  been yet another attempted stabbing attack on the Jerusalem light rail, this time at the Givat HaMivtar station located at the French Hill intersection (one stop east of where a 'Palestinian' plowed into a station with his car a few months ago).

There are no injuries in today's attack, and the terrorist was taken into custody.

But if we don't talk about terror attacks, they don't exist, right?

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Palin: Obama's flirting with the devil on Iran

Sarah Palin said on Saturday that Congress must stop President Obama's Iran deal at all costs (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
“We must realize Iranian leadership refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, and, in fact is hell-bent on Israel’s, and ultimately our, annihilation,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page.
“The only thing standing between a president who’d jeopardize our country by ignoring our Constitution, and foes capitalizing on lopsided international treaties that weaken our allies, is Congress,” she said.
“Congress must not sit back and watch our own president flirting with the devil,” Palin, a GOP vice presidential candidate in 2008, added.
Palin also argued Obama’s tentative framework with Tehran had severely damaged U.S. relations with Israel. She called on Republican lawmakers to repair the frayed bonds between the two nations in Congress.
“Our president and his anti-peace foreign policy supporters have not acted in the interest of our ally, Israel, resulting in dangerously compromised American interests,” Palin said.
“The GOP majority must stop giving lip service to halting liberals’ fundamental transformation of our relationships with friendly nations and finally take a stand by exercising its constitutional right and responsibility to approve international treaties,” she wrote.
“Certainly they must with such grave consequences involved.”
Is anyone from the GOP listening?  I often wonder.

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Good luck with that: Congress calls on Obama to sanction Russia over S-300 sale to Iran

The Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have written to President Obama urging him to sanction Russia if it goes through with the sale of the S-300 anti-missile defense system to Iran.
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), committee chairman, and Eliot Engel (D.N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, sent a letter to Obama concerning the proposed delivery of the S-3000 surface to air missile system to Iran.
“If completed, the transfer of this sophisticated weapons system would significantly bolster Iran’s military capabilities and introduce new obstacles to our ability to eliminate the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon,” the legislators wrote.
While the United Nations Security Council does not prohibit the transfer of this weapons system to Iran, the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act and the Iran Sanctions Act do give Obama authority to sanction countries deemed to be aiding Iran’s efforts to acquire weapons, according to the congressmen.
“We are concerned that without such a determination, your recent comments could be interpreted as the United States acquiescing to this transfer,” they wrote.
Even if he weren't on Iran's side, Obama would be afraid to do that.


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Jimmy Carter's peacemaker

Yes, Jimmy Carter really said that (graphics from here).

The [former] president, who has been visiting Israel and the West Bank, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday but didn’t meet with Netanyahu or President Reuven Rivlin.
He told reporters that he didn’t ask to meet with Netanyahu or his government, and never has, because it would be a “waste of time.” He told Channel 2 in an interview broadcast Saturday that he requested to meet Rivlin, but the president’s office declined.
Israel officials said last week that Netanyahu and Rivlin had refused invitations to meet with Carter, who was described by an Israeli diplomatic source as “a disaster for Israel,” who holds “anti-Israel positions.”
“I don’t believe that he’s a terrorist. He’s strongly in favor of the peace process,” Carter said of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. He said Mashaal expressed interest in the Saudis hosting a “peace meeting” and that the Doha-based Hamas leader would recognize Israel’s right to exist based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, wasn’t “in favor of a two-state solution,” said the former president, who orchestrated the peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979.
“I don’t see that deep commitment on the part of Netanyahu to make concessions which [former prime minister] Menachem Begin did to find peace with his potential enemies,” Carter told Channel 2.
Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take for Barack Hussein Obama to make similar statements soon after January 20, 2017? #AskHillary!

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Baltimore comes to Tel Aviv

Received from the US consulate in Jerusalem:
We are sharing the following message from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv:

The Israel National Police advised the U.S. Embassy that a demonstration planned by members of the Ethiopian Israeli community is scheduled for today, Sunday, May 3, at 15:00 in the vicinity of haKirya, Kaplan Street, and Azrieli Towers in central Tel Aviv, near district government offices and the Israeli Defense Forces headquarters.  

This demonstration has the potential of drawing large crowds. A similar protest held in Jerusalem on Thursday lasted several hours and turned violent, resulting in injuries, arrests, and property damage. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid the area and to monitor local media for updates.  

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.
The demonstration in Jerusalem on Thursday was the result of the publication on the internet of a video in which police in Holon (a suburb of Tel Aviv) beat an Ethiopian soldier who attempted to enter an area that had been cordoned off due to the presence of a suspicious object.  Suspicions of racial motivations seem to be universal these days....

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Great news: Iranian influence in Latin America 'growing'

It's been nearly six years since the picture above was taken, and Adam Kredo reports that it's only gotten worse.
Iran’s growing influence in the region—and its effort to exert influence over governments there—has fostered pressing security concerns as the Iranians inch closer to the United States’ southern border, according to these U.S. officials and Latin American leaders, who met for several days this week at a summit organized by the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF).
“It is troubling in some of the briefings we get, particularly on the classified side, to see Iranian influence in Latin America,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “A lot of these [Latin American officials] share the concern.”
“It’s a security risk for all of us,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis was one of several members of Congress and 20 Latin American lawmakers from 14 different countries who met during the IAF summit, which began on Sunday and ran until Tuesday morning.
Iran is becoming increasingly open about its presence in Latin America and providing its officials with passports from Venezuela and other countries, giving them free rein to travel throughout South America.
Iran has forged close ties with countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, among others.
Luis Heber, a member of the Uruguayan senate, said that Iranian agents—who some suspect are members of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—have been spotted in his country holding Venezuelan passports.
Officials have determined that there is “a clear penetration of Iran in our country,” Heber said during remarks Sunday before U.S. lawmakers and other Latin American officials.
“We’ve also seen Venezuelan passports in the hands of Iranians,” he revealed. “The penetration of Venezuela by Iran is clear. There is overwhelming information on this.”
“The threat level has increased, it’s more open,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), vice-chair of the House’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
“The Iranian threat comes not from espionage as much, but from influencing the ideology of their host country,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “That’s what they’re aiming for and penetrating [these countries] so they have a presence in Latin America right at the foothold of the U.S.”
Iran establishes consulates in these countries and then uses them as a base to conduct espionage and other covert activities, Ros-Lehtinen said.
“How is it they have Iranian consulates in Latin America?” she asked. “It’s ridiculous to think all of sudden Latin Americans want to travel to Iran. They’re not using it to issue their visas. Something is happening that Iran is penetrating the Western Hemisphere and it’s not for cultural exchanges or approval of travel docs.”
“This makes no sense … other than espionage, subterfuge, and illicit activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
This activity has intensified of late, several officials said.
This is what happens when the World's only superpower decides it doesn't want to be a superpower anymore.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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Biden - 'Hey Israel! Sorry we screwed up!'

I've known David Makovsky for nearly 40 years, since he was a student at a Jerusalem yeshiva sending dispatches to Jewish media. I can't recall him ever getting something so wrong.

On Thursday night, US Vice President Joe Biden addressed the Washington Institute, where Makovsky is one of the scholars. In essence, Biden said, 'Sorry Israel, we screwed up. Iran is now a nuclear power and there's nothing you can do about it.'
"Let's get something straight so we don't kid each other," Biden said. "They already have paved a path to a bomb's worth of material. Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal."
Critics have noted that this is an apparent backing down from Obama's stated position that he would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, but Biden said that policy still stands.
"President Obama, decided for the first time — people forget this — to make it an explicit, declared policy of the United States of America, no such policy existed before President Obama uttered it — that all instruments of American power to prevent — not contain, not contain — to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran would be used to prevent that from happening," Biden said.
Let's face reality: Iran has become a borderline nuclear power on Obama's watch, and despite Obama's pronouncements, there is nothing Obama will do other than talk to stop them. I think it's going to take a bit more than that. 

What could go wrong?

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ankara (Turkey) Mayor calls Marie Harf a dumb blonde

This is what happens, dear West, when your mind is so multi-culti open that your brains fall out. This is the result of years of coddling Islam. Now, Islam is biting you back. The Mayor of Ankara, Turkey, who answers to Barack Hussein Obama's Best Friend Forever Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says that State Department spokescritter Marie Harf is a dumb blonde (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
The mayor of Turkey’s capital has challenged a U.S. State Department spokesperson by referring to a pro-government media report that slammed her as “stupid blonde.”

“Come on blonde, answer now,” Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek said in a tweet early April 29. The tweet also included an image from the recent riots in Baltimore, as well as the photo of Marie Harf and a caption that reads: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?”

Gökçek was referring to a report on Ensonhaber.com, a staunchly pro-government online news website. “U.S. police displayed a harsh attitude against the activists in Baltimore. But U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who had been repeatedly criticizing Turkey during the Gezi incidents, is now silent,” it said.

Many national and international organizations had criticized Turkish police officers for using disproportionate force during the massive Gezi Park protests in 2013.
I can't say I disagree with his assessment of Harf.  Still, any of Obama's predecessors (with the exception of Jimmy Carter) would have called in the Turkish ambassador over this.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

US must respond to Iranian ship hijacking?

In the aftermath of Tuesday's Iranian hijacking of a Danish (corrected) ship bearing the flag of the Marshall Islands in the Strait of Hormuz, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report the Marshall Islands has a defense treaty with the United States that bars it from taking action on its own.
When asked if his country would request that the U.S. rescue the cargo ship from Iran, Junior Aini, the charge d'affairs for the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, told us he was still awaiting guidance from his foreign ministry. But he also suggested that his country had no other recourse than to hope the U.S. responds.   
"The United States has the full security responsibility over the islands and for the defense of the islands, this is what our treaty says," he told us. Aini was referring to a 1986 accord between the U.S. and the island nation that set the terms for independence. The Marshall Islands has no standing army. News that Iran had boarded the Maersk Tigris surprised Aini. He said he initially learned about the incidentfrom watching Fox News.
Aini also said his nation is barred by the 1986 agreement from doing anything that would challenge America's role in this regard. "We cannot take any action that will impact the U.S. responsibility," he said.  Under a 1983 Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to a State Department fact sheet.
By taking a non-U.S. ship under questionable circumstances at a moment of high tension in the region, Iran has again put Washington in a tough spot. Given that the U.S. Senate is simultaneously debating its bill on oversight of Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, the repercussions are going to spread far beyond the Strait of Hormuz. 
The Israel Project's Omri Ceren reports by email that the Obama administration is already trying to avoid taking action. 
The first wave was about how the security arrangement between the U.S. and the Marshall Islands affects Washington: is the Obama administration now affirmatively bound to confront the Iranians over the capture? The short answer is that it's not clear. Some analysts have defended potential White House inaction by saying there’s a legal loophole, under which a vessel so flagged would not count as part of the Marshall Islands conducting its foreign affairs.
Ceren argues that trying to avoid taking action would be a disaster, further expanding on Lake's and Rogin's last paragraph above.
American inaction under this scenario would be a one-two punch to Washington's credibility: the Americans locked up the Marshall Islanders' freedom of action by promising to take care of defense for them, and then when the time came the Obama administration refused to act. It would be a nightmare scenario: the U.S. would be using security assurances not to shield allies from Iran but to shield Iran from allies.
Gulf leaders, who will be in Washington next month to discuss how the U.S. can protect them in the aftermath of a bad Iran deal, would not miss the signal. There’s already a healthy about of regional grumbling about the U.S. using its leverage over the Israelis and the Saudis – leverage that it has as a protector – to hold them back on Hezbollah and Yemen.
The State Department briefing this afternoon was inconclusive:
Reporter: What do you consider the Iranian act? Is it a -- an act of piracy, act of violence?
Rathke: Again, I'm -- this I think is underway. I'm not going to apply an adjective to it right now. We are following the situation very carefully, but I'm not going to...
Reporter: But do you condemn it?
Rathke: Well, again, we're gathering more information. I don't have further reaction at this point. Yes, Brad? (http://www.c-span.org/video/?325639-1/state-department-briefing at 13:57)
Keep in mind something else here: 40% of the World's oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Will the US allow Iran to choke that supply off? If it does, US credibility will be zero, but how exactly will other countries react?

What could go wrong? 

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Who's helping Nepal?

Who's helping Nepal? Israel, that's who (Hat Tip: Leah P).

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