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These Syrian Townspeople Brilliantly Called Out Kerry and Power

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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The Obama administration frequently notes that it made Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons, a deal struck with the help of Assad ally Russia after the ghastly 2013 attack on Ghouta.

That attack crossed the red line established by President Obama to take action to help the Syrian people, and once he struck the weapons disposal deal he considered it a most welcome line through an unpleasant confrontation on his to-do list.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held the deal up during his speech to J Street today as a “political arrangement” where congressional approval is not needed, such as what they’re trying to achieve with Iran. “It’s how we—peacefully—removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons,” McDonough said.

Despite the ambiguity of “declared” in a country where the majority is a strict no-go zone for weapons inspectors, Assad has continued his chemical weapons attacks with chlorine gas.

Last week, the towns of Sarmin and Qmenas were hit with chlorine bombs by Assad forces, video reviewed and confirmed by human rights groups. The Syrian Coalition said six were killed, including three children, and about 70 were injured, 13 seriously.

“Once again the Assad regime has used the chlorine gas against civilians in flagrant violations of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 which bans use of chlorine gas in Syria,” Syrian Coalition Vice President Hisham Marwa said. “The UN Security Council must take all necessary measures that ensures the enforcement of the resolution No. 2209, which rules that chlorine gas is toxic and a chemical weapon, and that using it militarily represents a gross violation of international law and a flagrant violation of Resolution 2118.”

Secretary of State John Kerry put out a statement Thursday saying the administration was “deeply disturbed” that Assad used chlorine gas weapons “again.”

“What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism. As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation. The Assad regime must be held accountable for such atrocious behavior,” Kerry said.

“…The Assad regime’s horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Syrian people underscores the importance of investigating this allegation as quickly as possible, holding those who perpetrated such abhorrent acts in violation of international law accountable, and continuing to support the complete elimination chemical weapons in this volatile region.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have “any predictions” on what holding Assad accountable might entail.

“Reports and video out of #Syria utterly horrific. Civilians, including kids, victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” UN Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted that day. “This is why #UNSC passed res affirming the weaponization of chlorine as viol of CWC&UN res. Long past time for attribution&consequences. Asad regime is only power with helos. Reports again are that gas attack came from the air. If it flies like a duck…”

That was enough for Syrians who have been bearing the brunt of these attacks.

 

 

The northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel huddled together fairly early in the war and decided the best way to get their message to the outside world would be to pen signs in English, then spread them through the Internet and social media. Their signs have included see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler.

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Smart Diplomacy in Action: US Ambassador to Libya Abandons Twitter After Tweeting False Bombing Casualty Info

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah K. Jones retired from Twitter on Monday after tweeting out false information on civilian casualties of a bombing raid by military forces of the internationally recognized Libyan government:

Her tweet was picked up by Western media as the primary source for the information. See this Reuters article:

Eight civilians were killed in an air strike near Tripoli on Monday, the U.S. ambassador said, as Libya’s internationally recognized government pressed on with an assault to recapture the capital it abandoned to a rival faction last year …

“Terrible news today from Tarhouna where eight innocent displaced Tawergha killed in air strikes,” U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones said in a tweet, referring to members of a minority group, thousands of whom were displaced after Gaddafi fell.

“This violence serves no one’s interests,” said Jones, who is based outside Libya since most diplomats were evacuated from Tripoli last year.

It turned out that the information was based on rumors and conflicting information from both sides:

The eastern chief of army staff said in a statement its planes had hit a Libya Dawn barracks, not a Tawergha camp, demanding an apology from Jones.

But Mohamed al-Tarhouni, spokesman of the town’s municipality, said nobody had been killed in the strike which he said had hit an empty farm near a camp of displaced Tawergha.

Jones and Louai El-Ghawi, an eastern lawmaker, said there were reports that several family members of a colonel opposed to Libya Dawn had been killed in Tarhouna in an apparent revenge attack, but details were unclear. The eastern chief of staff said Dawn supporters had killed eight members of the family.

A freelance reporter on the scene found nothing describing the info that Jones had tweeted out:

The Libyan Army condemned Jones’ statement:

Libyan Twitter users then began attacking the ambassador for floating false information:

The back-tracking then began in earnest:

But the damage had been done, and she announced her departure from Twitter:

Thus, America is even getting run off of Twitter.

Smart diplomacy in action. I blame that YouTube video.

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White House Chief of Staff at J Street: ‘Occupation’ by Israelis ‘Must End’

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough today called for an end to Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians and vowed that the Obama administration won’t “pretend” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t make his campaign remarks about no two-state solution.

McDonough thanked the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” — as J Street bills itself — and pro-Palestinian lobbying group for the “important work you do around the country,” calling it “an organization that, in the best tradition of the American Jewish community, shares a set of values about the type of country that we are – a democracy where all of our people can access opportunity.”

“President Obama asked me to convey his deep appreciation to all of you for your partnership and your work on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially building support for our efforts to advance a two-state solution,” he said.

McDonough spent much of his speech, though, on issues other than the Mideast: solar energy, the auto industry, job growth, energy independence, and the fifth anniversary of Obamacare. He also spent significant time taking shots at the new Republican budget.

“Of course, our relationship with Israel isn’t defined by numbers in a budget. Ours is a deep and abiding partnership between two vibrant democracies. We saw that democracy in action when Israelis of all backgrounds—Jewish and Arab, religious and secular–cast their ballots last week. At the heart of any democracy is the right of all citizens to participate equally,” he said. J Street lobbied heavily against Netanyahu and the Likud party.

McDonough said in Thursday’s congratulatory call from Obama to Netanyahu the president “committed to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“No matter who leads Israel, America’s commitment to Israel’s security will never waver,” he said, noting money allocated by Congress and approved by the administration to spend on the Iron Dome missile defense system and next year’s delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“We continue to believe that the best way to safeguard Israel’s long-term security is to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in security and peace,” he said, adding that’s why Netanyahu’s “comments on the eve of the election—in which he first intimated and then made very clear in response to a follow up question that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister—were so troubling.”

“After the election, the prime minister said that he had not changed his position, but for many in Israel and in the international community, such contradictory comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution, as did his suggestion that the construction of settlements has a strategic purpose of dividing Palestinian communities and his claim that conditions in the larger Middle East must be more stable before a Palestinian state can be established. We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations.”

Netanyahu clarified his comments to note that the conditions for a two-state solution currently do not exist as Fatah remains allied with Hamas and they refuse to recognize Israel or stop incitement.

“In recent days, some have suggested our reaction to this issue is a matter of personal pique,” McDonough told the crowd. “Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s commitment to a two-state solution is fundamental to U.S. foreign policy. It’s been the goal of both Republican and Democratic presidents, and it remains our goal today. Because it is the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

That’s why, he said, Obama now wants to “re-evaluate our approach to the peace process and how we pursue the cause of peace – because, like all of you, we care deeply about Israel and its future.”

“In the end, we know what a peace agreement should look like. The borders of Israel and an independent Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. Each state needs secure and recognized borders, and there must be robust provisions that safeguard Israel’s security. An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.”

McDonough said the “truth” is “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely.”

He insisted that Israel accepting a two-state solution “would deal a knock-out blow to calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions” and “would undercut efforts to isolate Israel in the international community and roll back de-legitimization efforts.”

The White House chief of staff also delivered the standard administration line on Iran negotiations, saying they won’t accept a bad deal but stressing that they’re pursing a deal that’s “both realistic and achievable.”

“Congress should not seek to undermine negotiations before a deal is reached,” McDonough said. “…I’m sure you heard about the letter some Republican senators addressed directly to Iran’s leaders.  It was a blatant political move—as the president said, that is not how America does its business.”

He called the letter “critically flawed in its legal reasoning” as the administration is “pursuing a political arrangement with Iran that does not require congressional approval.”

“Some senators have also proposed legislation that would torpedo diplomacy by suggesting Congress must vote on any deal and by stripping the President of his existing authorities to waive sanctions. Let’s be very clear about what this would do. It would embolden hard-liners in Iran. It would separate the United States from our allies,” McDonough said, adding “it would set a damaging precedent by limiting the ability of future presidents to conduct essential diplomatic negotiations.”

“…If a deal is reached, we will share the details and technical documents with Congress, at which point we welcome a full debate—after all, only Congress could terminate U.S. statutory sanctions on Iran during the duration of the agreement.”

McDonough was the administration representative to the annual conference, facing a much more friendly crowd than National Security Advisor Susan Rice did weeks ago at the AIPAC mega-conference.

 

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N.J. Senator Menendez May Face Charges Any Day Now

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Cross Barry, pay the price via his buddy at Justice, Eric Holder:

Federal investigators could file criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Mendendez of New Jersey as early as this week, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the investigation. Mendendez, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been under investigation for possible corruption and has denied wrongdoing, the paper reported Sunday.

Specific charges weren’t immediately clear, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Mendendez for more than two years. Menendez is accused of using his political position to boost the business interests of a friend and Democratic Party donor, in exchange for gifts. Sources cited by the Wall Street Journal said Mendendez would be charged in his home state of New Jersey.

The Journal story is behind the pay wall, so this is from Fox News. But to put what’s happening in context, this story from the New York Times last month may be helpful:

When Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey said last week that he would give President Obama two months before defying a veto threat and voting for new sanctions on Iran, he made it clear that the delay was not out of loyalty to his fellow Democrat in the Oval Office.

“I don’t get calls from the White House,” Mr. Menendez said when asked whether the president or his team had lobbied him for the reprieve. It was a frank acknowledgment of the rifts that exist between Mr. Obama and Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The divisions have burst into public view in recent weeks as Mr. Menendez, a second-term senator, has taken on Mr. Obama over Cuba and Iran.

Mr. Obama’s advisers say they speak with Mr. Menendez regularly, and the senator described his relationship with the White House as excellent. But deep policy and political divisions remain between Mr. Obama and the senator, one of the Democrats best positioned to defend the administration’s foreign policy in Congress.

Adios, Bob. It was nice knowin’ ya.

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367 House Members Send Letter to Obama on Iran’s ‘Pathway to Bomb’

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama just got a letter from 367 members of the House stressing that Iran must have no pathway to a nuclear weapon.

On Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said there were 360 signatures on the letter. The next day, as it was sent to the White House, there were a few more.

Engel and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) began circulating the letter around Congress earlier this month.

The letter to Obama notes that “of the 12 sets of questions that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking, Tehran has answered just part of one. Just last week, the IAEA reported that it is still concerned about signs of Iran’s military related activities, including designing a nuclear payload for a missile.”

“The potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program should be treated as a fundamental test of Tehran’s intention to uphold the final agreement. Unless we have a full understanding of Iran’s past program it will be impossible for the international community to judge Iran’s future breakout time with certainty.”

The letter notes Iran’s “decades of deception” and said “any inspection and verification regime must allow for short notice access to suspect locations, and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program must last for decades.”

The hundreds of lawmakers also said the administration cannot split Iran’s “destabilizing role in the region and state sponsorship of terrorism from the nuclear deal.”

“Iran’s Supreme Leader has also called for an expansion of his country’s ballistic missile program, yet another dimension of the potential threat posed by Iran,” the letter continues. “Iran’s role in fomenting instability in the region — not to mention Iran’s horrendous repression at home — demonstrates the risks of negotiating with a partner we cannot trust.”

The lawmakers promise that only if “convinced” that a final deal’s terms “foreclose any pathway to a bomb” will Congress “consider permanent sanctions relief.”

“The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability.  Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the letter, which was notably sent to Obama as J Street opened its conference in Washington. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is scheduled to speak to the pro-Palestinian lobbying group tonight.

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Team Obama Violates Prime Directive: Attempt to Influence Israeli Election ‘Larger Than Reported’

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

This, of course, will come as a surprise to just about nobody:

President Obama’s role during the Israeli elections was larger than reported, according to a pollster for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“What was not well reported in the American media is that President Obama and his allies were playing in the election to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu,” John McLaughlin, a Republican strategist, said in an interview on John Catsimatidis’s “The Cats Roundtable” radio show broadcast Sunday on AM 970 in New York. ”There was money moving that included taxpayer U.S. dollars, through non-profit organizations. And there were various liberal groups in the United States that were raising millions to fund a campaign called V15 against Prime Minister Netanyahu,” McLaughlin said.

He noted an effort to oust Netanyahu was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird and that V15, or Victory 15, ads hurt Netanyahu in the polls. McLaughlin said the Israeli leader rebounded after delivering a speech to Congress early this month, prompting more critical ads. 15 was viewed as part of a broader campaign to oust Netanyahu. The group was linked to Washington-based nonprofit OneVoice Movement, which reportedly received $350,000 in State Department grants. Money to OneVoice stopped flowing in November, officials said, before the Israeli elections.

For Hillary Clinton, the personal was political; for Barry Hussein the political is always personal. It was said of Mrs. Clinton’s husband by George Will that Bubba may not have been the worst president in history, but was certainly the worst man ever to become president. Obama has retired both titles.

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Bedouin Arab Village Is Most Pro-Bibi Town in Israel

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Blogger Elder of Ziyon writes:

Deebo at Israellycool looks at some interesting statistics from the Israeli elections.

One of the facts reported is that the most pro-Likud town in Israel is the village of All Naim, where 77% voted Likud.

Al Naim is a Bedouin Arab town.

Why did they vote for Bibi? NRG went there and asked.

The NRG report is in Hebrew, but the basic story is that the village has been fighting for basic electric and sewage services for years. The Netanyahu government proved to be the one source that finally started making progress two years ago. As the secretary of the settlement explained, the overwhelming support for Bibi and Likud was due to the fact that “there is something in our heritage that we remember a person of good things.” Imagine, voting for a politician on the basis of what they’ve already accomplished instead of what they’re promising to do.

But, as EoZ explains, because this overwhelming Arab support for Netanyahu/Likud doesn’t fit the mainstream narrative, the chances of it hitting big press are slim to none. Illustrating his point, the story was covered by the Israel paper Haaretz, which sourced unnamed residents of the village who claimed the local council told the residents how to vote. Their article ended by quoting a disgruntled Arab from an adjacent unrecognized Bedouin village of 80 residents. How relevant the quote was to the story of Al Naim, versus the “Right is racist” narrative? You decide.

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VIDEO: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Speaks Out in New Book ‘Heretic’

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Watch as the infamous activist, blacklisted by Brandeis University for her anti-Islam views, discusses her new book Heretic and the concept of reforming Islam. Martha Raddatz has no problem outing herself as a turncoat feminist, accusing Hirsi Ali, herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, of unfairly attacking Islam now that she has left the religion.

Raddatz and the pro-Islam Manalo Omar are also quick to gang up on Hirsi Ali when she highlights one of the many Qu’ranic calls for death to infidels currently being used to justify Sharia law and jihad, citing both “the Torah” and “the Bible” as containing violent verses. When Hirsi Ali replies by questioning where the Christians are who take these verses as literally as their Islamic counterparts, Raddatz changes her line of questioning without changing her politically correct tone.

“Doesn’t [your book] incite people to hate Muslims?” is Raddatz’s conclusion, not her query, proving once again that the West’s multiculturalist elite are the greatest threat to Islamic reform.

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Obama Extands Hand to Iranians; Iranians Promptly Bite It

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
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Our president is either a fool or a knave:

Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.

Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.

“They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,” he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. “What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,” he said. “The politics of America is to create insecurity,” he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.

The Iranians have been cruising for a serious bruising since 1979, when “students” seized the American embassy in Tehran and held our diplomats hostage in defiance of international law for 444 days. They deserve to be treated with the utmost contempt. Payback is long over due. The first GOP candidate who promises to give it to them, good and hard, before they can get the bomb, will be the next president. Who’s it going to be?

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Here’s What Iran’s Supreme Leader is Saying About Those Nuke Talks

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sometimes it just takes a tweet — or in the case of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final, absolute say over his country’s nuclear negotiations, many tweets:

 

That’s a clear reference to Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and Iran continuing to hold four Americans. Congressional critics of the administration’s Iran deals have been insistent that how the Islamic Republic continues to wreak havoc across the globe and at home should be on the table in negotiations, but the Obama administration insists a nuclear deal must be forged first. “The day after a deal is reached if we get an agreement, our concerns about other Iranian activities in the region will be exactly the same as they are today,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said at the beginning of the month.

 

The clincher that nobody seems to be pressing the administration on — both officials in Iran’s regime and Iranian lawmakers have insisted over the past few weeks they will not agree to a nuclear deal unless all sanctions are repealed first. There’s the ayatollah’s rubber stamp.

Administration officials have regularly brushed off Khamenei’s opinions during the talks — and there have been lots of them, all anti-U.S., anti-Israel — as rhetoric ginned up for public consumption.

As the Obama administration declares progress is being made on a nuclear agreement, one has to wonder what concessions are on the table. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has accused the administration of moving the goalposts to get a nuke deal. So what has been going on at the negotiating table for Secretary of State John Kerry to declare today that “genuine progress” has been made in talks?

“We have not yet reached the finish line. But make no mistake, we have the opportunity to try to get this right,” Kerry told reporters in Switzerland. “It’s a matter of political will and tough decision making. It’s a matter of choices, and we must all choose wisely in the days ahead.”

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‘Jihad or Humiliation’: Inside an ISIS Campaign to Recruit Egyptians

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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Screen grab from the Al-Malhama video “Message to our people in Egypt”

A message posted online yesterday urges Egyptians to join the Islamic State, arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood hasn’t done enough to topple President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.

“We are sending you these messages because we indeed feel the wrong that’s done to you,” said the message posted by the “All Tweets Ansar Association” on a file-sharing site. “Muslims nowadays are done through with living in fear now it’s not the time to run but to be steady, to fight back.”

“Why do you want to respond in peace to a someone that wants to kill you? Islam gives your [sic] the right to defend your self,” the “campaign message to the people of Egypt” continues.

“Peaceful demonstrations that you are proud of resulted in another regime that is far more worst [sic] than before. Muslim Brotherhood has no answer in their hands, they are existed in more than 80 years what they have achieved. More than 80 years in the political wing and the result is now that most of their leaders are waiting for death sentence. Peaceful demonstration leads you to prison while Jihad in the path of Allah leads you to glory.”

El-Sisi, who has angered extremists by attending a Coptic Mass and warned of terrorists’ desire to “kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants,” called last month for a “unified Arab force” to fight ISIS. He launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the brutal beheading of 21 Coptic Christians who had gone to work there. He also quickly put in place plans to evacuate remaining Egyptians from Libya.

The call to Egyptians to join ISIS was supplemented with a 13-minute video released by the pro-ISIS Al-Malhama Brigade featuring footage of Egyptian protests and former President Mohamed Morsi along with news footage of el-Sisi in regard to strikes on ISIS targets.

The print message posted online charged that military and secularists “created an alliance to fight Islam” and “add to them the Christians who we all know want to rule again after Islam erased ignorance …in Egypt.”

“They have long and unfinished business with Muslims and they are good at hiding it with another banner. Their fight is clear indeed. Muslims are so deep in sleep that they are ready to believe in what ever they have been told.”

They repeat a persistent charge of the Muslim Brotherhood — that Coptic women who convert to Islam are disappeared by the Christian church. The statistics tell a different story of abduction, rape, slavery, beatings, forced conversion and forced marriages of Coptic women by Islamists. Mary Sameh George, 25, was dragged from her car and savagely stabbed and beaten to death by a protest mob a year ago for reportedly having a cross hanging from her rearview mirror in a suburb considered a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold.

The message trying to rally membership for ISIS, though, said Muslims must think of “hundreds others who are being raped, tortured in the Apostate jails and detention centers.”

The choice for Egyptians is “jihad or humiliation,” the message states, underscoring this with a video showing el-Sisi with the Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Christmas Eve in Cairo.

“Compare between what Jihad achieves and what peace achieves. Through Jihad we ruled the world and through peace we got killed in the street. Rest of us got arrested our women are being raped Apostate regime ruled,” the plea continues. “In the day of Judgement you will be asked! Why do you leave Jihad, while it’s your only choice. Are you scared of death? Can’t you see it’s also coming to you with your peaceful demonstrations?”

Protesters are urged to “leave peace, take gun.”

“O’ Egyptians Islamic State is waiting for you,” it continues, urging battle against “pharaoh” and his soldiers, “coconuts” (moderate Muslims), and apostates. “Come and join. Come and raise the flag of Islam.”

Muslims, it says, have the caliphate as their “only choice” against “apostate” el-Sisi.

“What will be your excuse of not fighting the Enemy of Islam? Now that the caliphate is in your lands!!!”

There’s already a branch of ISIS in the Sinai peninsula, one that warned on the same file-sharing site as the Egyptian recruitment posting last week that they have a contingent of suicide bombers and a weapons stockpile to go after “the Egyptian army collaborator with the Zionists in the Sinai.”

That statement said they’re under “huge pressure” to accept new recruits but building “strong organizational structure” is their first priority.

Israeli Defense Forces Col. Arik Chen told reporters last week that ISIS activity in the Sinai “is of great concern to the army and influences our preparedness for any incident that might occur.”

A March 12 report by the Institute for the Study of War noted “a number of large utility vehicles have been stolen in North Sinai recently, suggesting that ISIS affiliate group ‘Wilayat Sinai,’ formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, may be planning large-scale vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks.” Those vehicles include a garbage truck, an ambulance and water tankers.

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From an online statement by the “All Tweets Ansar Association” urging Egyptian Muslims to join ISIS and oust President El-Sisi

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You Knew They Would Go There: Left Compares Israel to Jim Crow South

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Lisa Goldman at Foreign Policy:

Israel has occupied the West Bank for nearly 50 years now. It has maintained its military closure on Gaza for nearly a decade, with no indication that it is even considering a change in policy. This is not a sustainable situation. Almost 13 million people are living on territory controlled by Israel, but only 8 million have the right to vote. At some point, Americans who talk about shared values are going to have to ask whether Jim Crow is one of those values.

A lot of people on Twitter apparently agreed.

 

But one person was quick to point out what should be obvious — that many Palestinians are forced to live segregated from others in Israel because their terrorist leaders continue to call for the destruction of Israel and they pose an ongoing security threat to the democratic nation — which Hamas refuses to recognize.

 

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(VIDEO) Josh Earnest Confirms that Obama was a Petulant Scold to Netanyahu

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Has there ever been a more thin-skinned, toddler-like man occupying the White House? Obama makes Nixon look self-assured and emotionally balanced.

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Graham Promises ‘Violent Reaction’ Against UN in Congress if Iran Deal Skips Lawmakers

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared a week ago that “we’ve got 66 now” to override President Obama’s promised veto of legislation to require congressional review of any deal with Iran.

Now, after a week of heavy White House lobbying of lawmakers, Graham stands by that assessment.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act on the eve of the AIPAC conference and Netanyahu visit along with Graham and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill mandates that the president submit the text of any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.

Critics of the recent GOP open letter to ayatollahs in Iran have said the outcry over the move would dial back Democratic support for the bill, but even Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged that wouldn’t be the case.

Politico reported that the White House wants Democrats who are planning to defect to contact them first, and even President Obama has been personally trying to whip key Dems. But when Reid was asked Tuesday whether he’s lobbying his caucus to oppose Corker-Menendez, he quickly replied, “No.”

Said Graham on Thursday night: “We are going to override his veto.”

“I think we’ll have enough democrats that will say the following: Mr. President, you negotiate the deal, you are the commander and chief, and you are the president. When it comes to lifting congressional sanctions that we have created with 100 to nothing vote we are going to have a say before you lift those congressional sanctions,” Graham told Fox.

“It may slip a little bit because they are asking until the end of the month to finish the framework agreement,” he said, noting “the Iranians are dragging this out.”

“Democrats are saying the following: We are going to allow them to the end of the month to negotiate a framework agreement, then all bets are off… Here is what the president needs to understand. If you go to the UN Security Council and try to bypass the congress to get this deal approved by the UN Security Council but not come to your own Congress, then you are going to risk Congress cutting off money to the United Nations.”

Graham stressed that Congress would be “marginalized” if they’re bypassed on sanctions.

“Here’s the question, if we think it’s a bad deal, one, not even guaranteeing we can look at it, you can imagine a deal of this consequence and they don’t want to share it with their own Congress,” he said. “Here is the deal, if they try to go to the UN Security council and bypass us and leave us as the last guy standing, then they there will be a violent reaction against the United Nations, 22 percent of the funding for the United Nations comes from the American taxpayer and I’m in charge of that account. I’m not going to allow the United Nations to be used as a way to get around the United States Congress for a deal that affects the very existence of Israel and our own national security. The worst possible outcome is for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.”

Graham is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

“If the UN Did something that provocative, lift the sanctions before we ever got a chance to look at it in Congress, if they go to the UN Security Council and the UN Security Council lifts all sanctions before we ever get a chance to look at this deal, absolutely I would suspend funding the United Nations, because I don’t think your money should go to an organization that irresponsible,” the senator continued.

“…If this is a good deal I will vote for it. But I’m not going to be dealt out. They are about to make a mistake for the ages. In my view when he drew the red line in Syria and did nothing about it the Iranians are not taking him serious and we started with dismantling their program as the goal. Now we are locking in a program that can be broken out in a year. We have changed the goal. And Arabs and Israelis have one thing in common. They are not going to let the Iranians have a nuclear advantage over them. The president is about to start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if he doesn’t watch it.”

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Netanyahu: Pushes to Take Any Two-State Solution ‘Could End Up with No-State Solution’

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

As administration officials say they’ll “re-evaluate” their strategy toward getting Israel to accept a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hopes that doesn’t include “terms that would endanger the very survival of the State of Israel.”

“And I look forward to working with President Obama to see how he could advance our interest, our common interest in the most difficult circumstances in the world, in the most dangerous region in the world,” Netanyahu told Fox last night. “And what I said before, six years ago, about the conditions necessary for achieving peace is ten times more relevant today when the entire Middle East is being swept by these radical Islamic terrorist forces backed by Iran. We need to talk together and see how we can work together to advance security and peace.”

Obama reportedly broached both a Palestinian state and an Iran nuclear deal in his call with Netanyahu yesterday, two days after the Likud party’s victory.

The administration is claiming he reneged on his policy of accepting a two-state solution.

“I didn’t retract any of the things that I said in my speech six years ago calling for a solution in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes a Jewish state,” Netanayhu asserted. “I said that the conditions for that today are not achievable for simple reason, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinians, rejects consistently the acceptance of a Jewish State. He’s made a pact with the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas that calls for our destruction. And the conditions in the Middle East has changed to the point where any territory you withdraw from is immediately taken out by Iranian backed terrorists or by ISIS. It’s only a dozen miles away from us. Thousands of miles away from you.”

“So, the conditions are that we would vacate territory — instead of getting the two-state solution, we could end up with a no-state solution. That is a solution that would threaten the very survival in the state of Israel,” he added. “I said we have to change the terms. Because right now we have to get the Palestinians to go back to the negotiating table, break their pact with Hamas and accept the idea of a Jewish state. And I think that’s what the international community should be focused on.”

On P5+1 negotiations, Netanyahu warned that “right now succumbing to this deal would get Iran an easy path to the bomb.”

“Not by violating the deal, but by keeping the deal in a few years. That would endanger the entire Middle East. You’d have a nuclear arms race that would be sparked here by other countries. And I think you’d have a great danger for the United States and the world when the world’s foremost practitioner of terrorism has atomic weapons. It’s not a good deal,” he said.

The prime minister also pushed back on accusations that he was being racist by telling his supporters to go to the polls because “the Arabs are voting in droves.”

“I warned of foreign money coming in to selectively put out just try to bring out supporters of a list that includes Islamists and other factions that oppose the state of Israel. Supported actually, this list was support by Hamas. I’m very proud of the fact that Israel’s policy and my policy is to be the prime minister of all Israelis, Arabs and Jews alike,” Netanyahu said. “I’ve been funding billions into the Arab communities to upgrade their infrastructure and to better integrate them into the Israeli economy, technology, every walk of life. And the right of every citizen in Israel, Jew and non-Jew alike to vote is sacrosanct. I wasn’t trying to suppress a vote.”

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Marco Rubio Shreds Obama’s Treatment of Israel (VIDEO)

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Whatever misgivings some have about him, Rubio’s foreign policy chops are strong and getting stronger.

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Obama Calls Bibi, Promotes ‘Sovereign and Viable Palestine’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Just in from the White House:

President Obama spoke today by telephone with Prime Minister Netanyahu to congratulate the Prime Minister on his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats.  The President emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries.  The President and the Prime Minister agreed to continue consultations on a range of regional issues, including the difficult path forward to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The President reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine.  On Iran, the President reiterated that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

Just before the administration sent out this readout, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was on the Senate floor noting that Obama made calls to Putin, Morsi, Xi, Rouhani, Erdogan, etc., to quickly congratulate those rulers on their victories.”Time and again the president has made a pattern of quickly calling these leaders when they win,” Rubio said.

Netanyahu was quickly congratulated by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Modi even sent a special tweet in Hebrew to his “friend” Bibi recalling their “cozy” New York meeting in September.

 

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Blinken Says No Revenge on Israel at UN, But Earnest Says They’ll ‘Re-evaluate Strategy’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Even as reports circulated that the Obama administration is looking at other ways to push a two-state solution before the president leaves office, one administration official went on the record today as saying they won’t be trying to undermine Israel at the United Nations.

“And Palestinian statehood, there have been reports last night that in order for President Obama to continue his temper tantrum toward Prime Minister Netanyahu, what we will be doing in the United Nations is push in the shadows for a vote on Palestinian statehood in order to pressure Israel to be at the negotiation table with the Palestinians,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) asked Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken at this morning’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. “Is that true?”

“No,” Blinken replied. “There are — the administration’s support for Israel is absolutely unshakable. We have done more –”

“Oh, that support is very clear,” Ros-Lehtinen interjected sarcastically.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that the policy adjustments of the administration would be contingent on “what sort of policy and priorities the prime minister chooses.”

Netanyahu made news in the final days of his campaign by saying there would not be a two-state solution — but has since clarified to what his position has always been, that he cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas or make any concessions that will jeopardize Israel’s security. Netanyahu has also consistently said that Jerusalem will not be divided, and Palestinians want half or all of Jerusalem in a two-state solution.

“Retweet in support of an undivided Jerusalem!” Netanyahu tweeted after his Tuesday victory, garnering 8,000 retweets and 4,000 favorites.

“I haven’t changed my policy. I never changed my speech in Bar Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” Netanyahu told NBC today. “What has changed is the reality. Abu Mazen, the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, has made a pact with Hamas that calls for destruction of Jewish state. And every territory that is vacated in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces.”

“We want that to change, so we can realize a vision of real, sustained real peace. And I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change.”

Earnest said the administration is “certainly… in a position to evaluate our approach to these issues, given that the prime minister essentially backed away from commitments that Israel had previously made to this effort.”

“In terms of making decisions at the United Nations and other multilateral fora, the United States has repeatedly intervened in some of those debates at the U.N. and in other places by saying we should — the best way for us to solve this problem is to get the two parties to sit down at the negotiating table, resolve their differences so that this two-state solution can be realized,” he said.

“…But now the prime minister of Israel says earlier this week days before an election that this is a principle that he no longer subscribes to and that his nation no longer subscribes to. That means the United States needs to rethink our approach, that this — that steps that — that this principle has been the foundation of a number of policy decisions that have been made here and now that that foundation has been eroded, it means that our policy decisions need to be reconsidered. And that’s what we will do.”

Earnest then denied he was suggesting that Israel could no longer expect U.S. backing at the UN on controversial anti-Israel measures, such as the Palestinian Authority’s demand for statehood recognition.

“What I’ve tried to say is that it understandably has prompted us to re-evaluate the strategy that we will put in place to make those decisions. And that will be something that we will do moving forward,” he said. “Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome. Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution.”

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Jihadi Media Company Praises Tunisia Attack, Calls For More Attacks On Western Tourists

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by The Tatler

Posted with permission from MEMRI.

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

Following the deadly March 18, 2015 attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia, in which 17 tourists and two Tunisians were killed, the Ifriqiyya media company, which is associated with jihad organizations in North Africa, released an article titled “Just Another Day – Commentary on the Blessed Attack on Bardo Museum.” The article states that the gunmen who carried out the attack, Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, focused on killing infidels and “apostate” policemen and soldiers, and urges Muslims to carry out similar attacks, especially against tourists, with emphasis on French, British, American and Israeli nationals. It also suggests ways to kill tourists, suggesting to “drown them in the ocean, poison their food, bash their skulls with a rock, or suffocate them with pillows in their [hotel] rooms.” It lists what is calls the great achievements of the attack, including the harm to Tunisia’s tourism industry and economy, and threatens that additional attacks will be carried out soon, on unexpected targets throughout the country.

The following are excerpts from the article, which was posted on the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam:[1]

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“The article begins with a storybook-like description of the shooters on their way to the target site: “One ordinary sunny day with nice, clear weather, the two left their homes, boarded the metro, got off at a station where they changed to another [line], and then exited the metro. They passed the Bardo police station and the headquarters of the tyrannical military intelligence [apparatus]. Leaving the bags containing their guns at a bus stop, they entered [the museum] to check it out. They went back for their bags and [again] infiltrated [the area of] the apostate parliament and the museum. One of them took out the weapons and the grenades, while the other did a short preparatory tour… The policemen and presidential guards noticed that they were armed but were so amazed they froze on the spot. ‘How did you enter so easily,’ they asked in astonishment, and the two answered: ‘We come in the name of Allah.’ Then they began throwing grenades, crying ‘Allah Akbar, and shooting at infidels and at the policemen that guarded them, and the massacre began.”

The article adds that the shooters originally intended to continue from the museum to the nearby parliament building, but changed their minds when they encountered heavy gunfire, because they did not want to be killed before killing as many infidels as possible. So instead they shot some infidels who had gathered at the bus stop, and then went back into the museum and took some more infidels hostage. According to the article, they released some children and Muslim museum employees, not wanting to shed innocent blood.

After a long while, says the article, when the “counter-Islam” (i.e., counterterrorism) unit arrived and stormed the site, the gunmen shot the hostages and then fought back. Eventually they achieved their goal of attaining martyrdom, having delivered a harsh blow to the apostates [the Tunisian government] and their masters [the West], and having fulfilled what is said in the Koran (9:14): “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people.”

The article lists what it regards as the achievements of the operation, as follows:

1. The killing and wounding of dozens of infidels and Tunisian security personnel.

2. The operation exposed the ease of infiltrating sensitive sites.

3. The operation proved that using simple means and minimal planning, it is possible to deliver harsh blows to the regime and carry out deadly attacks even in secured and fortified locations. According to the article, the perpetrators only carried two AK-47 rifles and four grenades, and did not use explosive belts.

4. The regime’s lies were exposed, such as its claim that the perpetrators had killed a Muslim woman who worked at the museum.

5. The operation exposed the true face of “hypocrite” clerics who presume to be Salafis, and of politicians, journalists, and even Muslim Brotherhood members who were quick to condemn the attack.

6. The Tunisian stock market crashed following the attack: “The stock market collapsed as the result of the actions of only two individuals. What would have happened if it were a coordinated and simultaneous attack on several sensitive military and tourist locations?”

7. Tourism, which is an import source of revenue for the Tunisian economy, was badly damaged.

8. Many Tunisians were exposed as apostates when they sent condolences to the Western countries for their citizens who were killed.

9. The attack caused the countries of “Tunisia’s masters” (i.e. Western countries) to issue travel warnings for Tunisia. Additionally, it revealed “that Tunisia’s new rulers are agents of the French, and that Tunisia is still a French colony. Less than an hour after the operation commenced, the French prime minister issued a warning, a threat, and a condemnation, even before speaking to his tyrant Tunisian agents – the president and prime minister.”

10. The attack damaged the morale of Tunisian government and security personnel.

The article calls on Muslims to express their joy quietly, while promising them that in the future they will rejoice openly in streets and city squares. The article also addresses all Muslims, asking them to take an example from the operation and kill non-Muslim infidels as well as apostates who have abandoned Islam. Citing the Koran and Islamic law on the permissibility of killing infidels, it urges Muslims to kill tourists in Tunisia: “If you are afraid to kill an apostate soldier or policeman or tyrant ruler despite Allah’s orders, then you must kill infidels, who are called tourists. The blood and money of an infidel is permitted… Hunt them down everywhere, especially the French, American, British, and Israeli ones. Run them over with cars after changing your license plates and hiding your faces. Lure them on the roads, in dance clubs, and in bars. Then slaughter them on the beach or drown them in the ocean, poison their food, bash their skulls with a rock, or suffocate them with pillows in their rooms.” The article advises the attackers to change their appearance before carrying out the attack, avoid using cameras or phones or leaving fingerprints, and steal the tourists’ money and possessions before making their escape. It also advises them to later discard the clothes they wore during the act.

The article threatens Tunisian authorities and promises more attacks in the future: “You can promise, threaten, and do whatever you want. Muslims have grown used to prisons, torture and arrests. These have become enjoyable for them, since they brings them closer to their creator. But you do not know of the active fighting cells and do not recognize them. Expect further [attacks] in unexpected places.”

Addressing the fact that no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, the article adds: “Regarding the claim of responsibility for the operation and the affiliation of the two dead [attackers], we say that, for the meantime, we want to listen to your funny analyses, hear your crying and moaning on the TV and radio, and laugh at the helplessness of your apostate masters [the Tunisian security apparatuses]. We informed them of every operation several hours in advance, and despite this, their helplessness is clear to all. We hinted at the type of target, and despite this, their helplessness is clear to all. What more do they want? The GPS coordinates??”

The article concludes by addressing “the hypocrite journalists and politicians” and advising them to flee Tunisia. It also warns the regime’s spies and agents and threatens that jihadis will kill them if they continue their activities.

 

Endnotes:

[1] Shamikh1.info, March 18, 2015.

 

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Rep. Connolly Questions ‘Loyalties’ of GOP, Slams ‘Shameless’ Netanyahu for ‘Insult’ to Obama

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this morning and unleashed on his colleagues for criticizing the Obama administration’s relationship with Israel.

During her remarks, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said President Obama was having a “temper tantrum” toward Netanyahu.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) noted that Obama “clearly has disdain for the winner of the Israeli elections this week.”

“The only group I can think of he might have more disdain for is the elected representatives of the American people, this Congress,” Chabot said. “Since Israel will be the most directly affected by a bad deal with Iran, how’s the administration gonna repair relations with our key ally in the region?”

Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken countered that “no administration has done more for Israel’s security than this administration.”

“That is the least credible answer I’ve heard all morning, that no president has done more for the American-Israeli relations than this president,” Chabot replied.

Blinken clarified that he said “for Israel’s security,” not general relations.

“Security, relations, whatever, this president — there has been no president that has damaged relations between the United States and Israel more than this president,” Chabot fired back.

When it was time for Connolly’s five minutes, the congressman began by lashing out at Ros-Lehtinen and Chabot.

“I cannot let that go by. A foreign leader has insulted the head of state of the United States government. It’s not a temper tantrum, and it didn’t start with President Obama; it started with Bibi Netanyahu,” Connolly said.

“You can decide for yourself whether it was appropriate for him to speak to a joint session, but the process is beyond dispute. It was an insult to this government. Friends don’t act that way.”

Connolly noted that former President Shimon Peres gave Obama an award for his support of Israel.

“At some point, does the partisan rhetoric ever stop? Where are your loyalties with respect to the prerogatives of this government and our country? And the shameless way Mr. Netanyahu has conducted himself deserves reproach. And I think the president has shown restraint,” the Virginia Dem continued.

“And I say this as somebody who has a 35-year record of unwavering support for Israel. I’m not a critic of the Israeli government, but I am a critic of how this prime minister has treated my president, everyone’s president. And I cannot sit here and listen to the waving away of bad behavior that is an insult to my country. We have one president. Whether you like him or not, whether you want to take political issue with him or not, fair enough. That’s fair game,” he said.

“But when a foreign leader insults him, that should not be fair game, and that should never be apologized away, because it damages relationships long-term. It puts a divide where there was never a divide in public opinion and my country, and I worry about that long- term. I hope you do too.”

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Palestinian Intellectual Praises Israeli Democracy

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by The Tatler

Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.

Following the recent Israeli elections, ‘Imad Al-Falouji, head of the Gaza-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue, wrote an article titled “Israel’s Democracy and Our Anarchy.” Falouji is a former Hamas member who left the movement in 1996 and later served as information minister and as an advisor under Yasser Arafat. In his article he praised Israel’s way of handling controversy, and also praised the Israeli political parties for concerning themselves with the citizens’ wellbeing and with domains such as economy, education and security; this, in contrast to Palestinian parties which, he said, are concerned mostly with political grandstanding and do not seek solutions to the people’s everyday problems. He called upon the Palestinians to emulate the Israeli Arabs who united their ranks in order to bring about change.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

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‘Imad Al-Falouji (Image: Youtube.com)

“There is no shame in seeing reality as it is, and no wisdom in becoming experts [only] at cursing and disparaging our enemy. I know how difficult it is to compare the internal Palestinian situation – our shaping of our policy, the internal relations among us and our ways of resolving our differences – with the domestic situation of the enemy that is occupying our lands, usurping our holy sites, and denying our most minimal rights. But this enemy is proving to us and to the international community that, despite its tyranny and aggression, it surpasses us in many ways that are no longer hidden from any observer possessing a minimal degree of objectivity…

“Anyone examining the Israeli entity is amazed by the extent of internal disagreement on every issue between the religious and secular [sectors], and [also] by the disagreements within the sectors. They have a [political] right, center and left… and every perception has proponents and opponents and every senior has an [entire] dossier of charges against him. But, despite all this, they have passed laws that govern [the handling of] these disagreements and set out a common goal: that of serving the State of Israel and the people of Israel. They manage to use the internal disagreements as a source of strength…

“But we, ‘the possessors of truth’ – look at what is happening to us. We strike out in every direction without an agreed-upon plan or purpose. Each party or group has its own plan and goal. We do not believe in a unifying means. We renounce all the laws and charters, and have destroyed everything that united us. Each group claims to possess the absolute truth and [presents] the others’ [beliefs] as absolute lies. We do not possess the ability to listen to the other. Anarchy rules the day: political, economic, social and even conceptual anarchy.

“Let’s look at the campaign platforms of the Israeli parties, and what they focused on. All of them agreed on the need to serve the people on the socio-economic level, promote employment, cultivate the family and solve its problems, eradicate unemployment, promote education and achieve security for all citizens. They do not focus so much on political sparring and on empty grandstanding.

“But in our [political arena], everyone talks about politics and general foreign-[policy] affairs, and only rarely does a party concern itself with improving the lives of the people and resolving the internal crises from which they suffer. Moreover, nobody proposes solutions to anything.

“I know this comparison is difficult and may anger those who refuse to face the bleak reality. But there is no alternative but to say these things. Perhaps some of us will wake up and take the opportunity to improve our situation. Our brothers the Palestinians inside [i.e., the Israeli Arabs] have set up a model of unity [by uniting all their political parties in the Knesset], and have thereby proved that we [Palestinians] are capable of change when we realize the danger, and that there is yet hope.”

Endnotes:

[1] Amad.ps, March 18, 2015.

 

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What About That Time Obama, Kerry, Clinton Insisted Congress Have Say in International Agreements?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

A California Democrat charged at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this morning that administration officials are “using foreign ropes to tie the hands of the United States Congress” on Iran negotiations.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) also pointed out an instance when Senate Democrats — including the current secretary of State and president — challenged the Bush administration on its ability to enact foreign agreements without the consent of Congress.

Sherman stressed it “is not the executive branch, but Congress, that has had it right for the last 15 years” on Iran sanctions, “which is why I take such offense when I hear the administration say, Congress, if we have a view, we’re interfering and undermining.”

“When you read the United States Constitution, you will see that when it comes to economic sanctions and international economics, all the power is vested in Congress except to the extent that the president negotiates a treaty that is ratified by the Senate,” he said. “Yet I fear that what the administration is doing is using foreign ropes to tie the hands of the United States Congress because the foreign minister of Iran was able to cite Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties, saying, well, the United States will be in violation of international law if Congress doesn’t do whatever the president promises Congress will do.”

Sherman said the Obama administration “feeds into that when a high administration official declares foreign policy runs through the executive branch and the president and does not go through other channels.”

“I fear that we will have a situation where the executive branch comes to us and says you have to take this action, you’re prohibited from taking that action because you’re going to hold the United States up to ridicule for being in violation of international law,” the congressman added.

He advised Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken to “look at the memo issued by the Carter Department of Justice that stated, ‘Congress may enact legislation modifying or abrogating executive agreements.’”

“And that it — if that was formally turned over to the Iranian delegation, that would get us support under Article 46 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties,” Sherman said. “I should point out for the record that, in 2007, Senator Clinton introduced, with the cosponsorships of Senator Obama and Senator Kerry, the Oversight of Iraq Agreements Act, which stated that any status of forces agreement to the United States and Iraq that was not a treaty approved by two-thirds of the Senate or authorized by legislation would not have the force of law and prohibited funding to implement that.”

“For the record, because I just don’t have time to give you at this moment, I’d like you to explain whether under the standards of the Obama administration the introduction of that act by those three senators constituted an interference with policy undermining President Bush’s policy, et cetera.”

Sherman pointedly told Blinken, “I fear that you have misled this committee in telling us that, once Iran has the rights of a non-nuclear state, subject to the additional protocol, that you’ll be able to stop sneakout, because you’ve said first that, well, they can’t develop a nuclear weapon because that would be illegal.”

“That’s a preposterous argument,” the congressman said. “Obviously, they’re willing to break the law.”

Blinken argued that “if Iran makes an agreement, it will make it with the full knowledge that if it violates the agreement, there will be severe consequences.”

Measures being negotiated, the deputy secretary of State said, “give us the confidence that the inspectors will have the ability to detect, in a timely fashion, any efforts by Iran to break out.”

“So you need an intrusive inspection regime, you will have it for a few years, and then, for reasons you can’t explain, the blindfolds will go on and we’ll hope that we can prevent sneakout thereafter,” Sherman retorted.

“The blindfolds won’t be on,” Blinken insisted. “They’ll be off.”

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Dem Vow on Iran: ‘Any Attempts to Sidestep Congress Will Be Resisted on Both Sides of the Aisle’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The leading Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken this morning that “there really can’t be any marginalization of Congress” on Iran nuclear negotiations.

“Any attempts to sidestep Congress will be resisted on both sides of the aisle,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Engel also announced that lawmakers have crafted another Iran letter and are ready to send it to the president — signed by 360 members. It began circulating around Congress earlier this month.

He and chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) are hoping to get “a prompt response from the White House.”

The letter to Obama notes that “of the 12 sets of questions that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking, Tehran has answered just part of one. Just last week, the IAEA reported that it is still concerned about signs of Iran’s military related activities, including designing a nuclear payload for a missile.”

“The potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program should be treated as a fundamental test of Tehran’s intention to uphold the final agreement. Unless we have a full understanding of Iran’s past program it will be impossible for the international community to judge Iran’s future breakout time with certainty.”

The letter notes Iran’s “decades of deception” and said “any inspection and verification regime must allow for short notice access to suspect locations, and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program must last for decades.”

The hundreds of lawmakers also said the administration cannot split Iran’s “destabilizing role in the region and state sponsorship of terrorism from the nuclear deal.”

“Iran’s Supreme Leader has also called for an expansion of his country’s ballistic missile program, yet another dimension of the potential threat posed by Iran,” the letter continues. “Iran’s role in fomenting instability in the region — not to mention Iran’s horrendous repression at home — demonstrates the risks of negotiating with a partner we cannot trust.”

The lawmakers promise that only if “convinced” that a final deal’s terms “foreclose any pathway to a bomb” will Congress “consider permanent sanctions relief.”

Blinken warned Congress to “avoid any actions” that could make people blame the U.S. if talks fail, including “any attempts” to undermine President Obama.

“The United States, not Iran, could be isolated and the sanctions regime collapse,” he said.

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Why Did the Israeli Left Take a Huge Hit? Here Are 3 Reasons…

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by P. David Hornik

In the Israeli elections on Tuesday, an Arab party whose voters were primarily Arab Israelis won 13 parliamentary seats out of 120. The other 107 seats were divided among primarily Jewish Israeli voters.

Of those 107 seats, 24 went to Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni’s left-wing Zionist Camp, five to the far-left Meretz, and 11 to Future (Yesh Atid), a center-left party—for a total of 40 votes for the left-wing camp.

The other 67 votes all went to right-wing and center-right parties, with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud far ahead of the pack at 30 seats.

In other words, among the predominantly Jewish voters, the right beat the left 67-40. This is known as a landslide.

It’s a particularly dramatic landslide for a couple of reasons. One is that Netanyahu had already served two consecutive terms, as well as a term in the late 1990s. The conventional wisdom was that Israelis were “tired of him” and looking for a change.

The other reason is that Netanyahu was subjected to a massive, unprecedented, both domestic and foreign campaign to oust him. Largely ad hominem, the campaign portrayed him as a demon who had wrecked Israel’s economy, security, and foreign relations, and, moreover—along with his wife Sarah, also a major target of the vilification—had recklessly squandered public money at his official residences.

Within Israel, most of the media, disgruntled former security officials, a disgruntled former groundskeeper, the NGO community, and of course the political opposition waged the campaign against Netanyahu. Abroad, European governments channeled funds to Israel’s anti-Netanyahu camp, and the Obama administration is under Senate investigation for doing the same.

All that, combined with certain real problems for Israelis like sky-high housing prices and obviously strained, difficult relations with Washington, along with polls consistently showing the left-wing Zionist Camp taking a lead over Likud, led to reports that “Netanyahu is in trouble” and speculations about a unity government or even a left-wing win.

Why, then, did the results differ so diametrically from the conventional wisdom?

Three factors, in ascending order of importance.

1. In the last days before the elections, Netanyahu himself waged an unprecedented blitz of media interviews along with mass emails, text messages, and phone calls to get Israelis to vote for his Likud Party, warning that otherwise the left could actually win.

The main effect, however, was to pull votes away from the smaller right-wing parties to Netanyahu’s Likud. Netanyahu may also have influenced some undecided voters, but his brief blitz hardly accounts for such a lopsided outcome.

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White House Slams Netanyahu for ‘Divisive Rhetoric’ to ‘Marginalize’ Israeli Arabs

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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A day after his decisive victory at the polls, the White House today slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign video noting that Arabs were coming to the polls in “droves” as divisive rhetoric.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest wasn’t asked about the video on board Air Force One with reporters, but said he wanted to address “one other thing that I anticipated might come up that I just did want to mention as it relates to the Israeli elections.”

“Specifically, there has been a lot of coverage in the media about some of the rhetoric that emerged yesterday that was propagated by the Likud Party to encourage turnout of their supporters that sought to, frankly, marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens. The United States and this administration is deeply concerned by divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens,” Earnest said.

“It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together,” he continued. “We’ve talked a lot about how our shared values are an important part of what binds our two countries together, and rhetoric that seeks to marginalize one segment of their population is deeply concerning and it is divisive.”

“And I can tell you that these are views that the administration intends to communicate directly to the Israelis.”

Going into the election, Netanyahu decried foreign money pouring into the campaign to support candidates on the Arab Joint List, which emerged from Tuesday with 14 seats in the Knesset. “This foreign money is distorting the true will of the Israeli citizens toward the left and giving excessive power to the extreme Arab list,” he said. “The rule of the right is in danger.”

In a video posted on his Facebook page encouraging voters to get out to the polls, Netanyahu said left-wing organizations were busing in Arab voters. “Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud,” he said.

President Obama has not called Netanyahu, though he did find time during his Cleveland trip today to call German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I do anticipate that the President will call Prime Minister Netanyahu in the coming days,” Earnest said.

“…At this point I don’t want to preview any details about the call. But I can tell you that these are — that there is deep concern about this divisive rhetoric and we will share those deep concerns directly with the Israelis.”

But Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, defended Bibi.

“It’s hard, again, to get into somebody’s head and see why they said it. I think he assumes that the Arab parties, which have unified for the election, were running on one slate and that the Arabs of Israel were not going to vote for him,” Engel said. “So I assume he was saying to his supporters that the others who are not going to be voting, you better come out to vote to counterbalance that. Perhaps it wasn’t the right choice of words. Perhaps it wasn’t, but I think it was, again, campaign rhetoric, and I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

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State Department Won’t ‘Prejudge’ Siding with Palestinians After Netanyahu Win

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with victorious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in “a brief phone call,” according to the State Department.

“Secretary Kerry called the prime minister this morning to congratulate him,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “Given there is an ongoing government formation process, they did not discuss substantive issues. So, the purpose of the call was to congratulate him on the election.”

White House press secretary told reporters aboard Air Force One today that President Obama could call Netanyahu “in the coming days.” Earnest added that in two previous Israeli elections Obama did not telephone Netanyahu until the Likud leader was directed by the Israeli president to form a government.

Psaki was asked if the call between Kerry and Netanyahu was “warm.”

“I’m not going to characterize the tone of the call,” she replied. “I was not on the call with them.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s response? “I am sure you can ask that question of the Israeli government,” Psaki said.

She cautioned reporters to not “read into it.”

“It’s just a simple congratulatory call. Those are typically meant and happen after elections. It was not more extensive than that,” she added.

With Netanyahu firmly defying his critics, many are wondering if some diplomatic revenge is in store. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeed Erekat vowed that the Palestinian Authority will press forward with anti-Israel efforts at the International Criminal Court and United Nations, and the U.S. could decide to veto or not a resolution seeking international recognition for a Palestinian state.

“Well, we are not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with potential action at the United — U.N. Security Council. I will reiterate that it has long been the position of the United States under Republican and Democratic presidents and it has been the position of successive Israeli governments that only a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and independent Palestine can bring lasting peace and stability to both peoples,” Psaki said.

“A two-state solution is the only way for the next Israeli government to secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We believe that is in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the region,” she continued. “The prime minister, as we all know, in his comments earlier this week indicated that he is no longer committed to pursuing this approach. Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward, where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution.”

“Obviously, I’m not going to prejudge at this point what that means.”

Pressed on the issue, Psaki said that the “preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly; but certainly, while that’s been our position, obviously the prime minister’s position has changed.”

Psaki also said she doesn’t think Netanyahu’s win “has impacted the Iran negotiations, or will.”

“Certainly, his recent comments on opposition to the Palestinians having a state have — have caused us to evaluate our approach moving forward,” she said. “But beyond that, there are issues we work together on that we will continue to.”

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Watch This To Discover How We’ll Win the War on Radical Islam

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is one of the men I admire most. When he recently appeared on Glenn Beck’s show he showed, once again, why that’s so:

Courageous Islamic reformers like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser are the reason why I’m convinced that the war on Radical Islam will be won… eventually. Yes, we can bomb ISIS and similar radical organizations back to the Stone Age, but that won’t actually make the problem go away permanently because Islamism has become part of Islamic cultures. It’s an ideological and cultural battle;  you can only win such a war with opposing ideas, not just with bombs.

Jasser has an alternative vision for what Islam can and should be, and understands how to sell his ideas to fellow Muslims. The best part? His interpretation of Islam is loving, caring, compassionate, thoroughly modern and inspiring. His enemies only have hate and death to work with. As history has shown, in the end, liberty, freedom and love always win, especially when the forces for good use media and education to reach as many people as possible. The only bad news is that it may take several decades before Radical Islam is finally destroyed.

Do you agree that Islam can be reformed or have you given up hope for the world’s second largest religion?

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Where Are the White House Congratulations for Netanyahu? Other World Leaders Say It

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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There still has been no public reaction from the White House on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turnaround victory yesterday as other world leaders are sending their congratulations.

Netanyahu’s Likud party finished with 30 seats in the Knesset, with the main challenging Zionist Union party winning 24 seats.

“Congratulations my friend Bibi @netanyahu! Recall our New York meeting last September warmly,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

European Union High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini sent out a statement: “I congratulate Benyamin Netanyahu for his victory. I look forward to the formation of a new government.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted his congratulations as well. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tellingly noted “Israel has no greater friend” than Canada.

The White House sent David Simas, an aide not often seen on the networks and director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, on CNN this morning to congratulate Israel for voting.

“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election,” Simas said. “As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward.”

The administration focused today on unveiling a new manufacturing initiative, with Obama delivering remarks in Cleveland.

 

 

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VIDEO: Sore Losers at CNN Dub Bibi ‘Racist’

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

What the Netanyahu election-day robo call actually said:

Voter turnout in the Arab sector is three times higher! The threat is real: Abu Mazen’s calls and American money are getting the Arab vote out. Go and vote.

Why it was a reiteration of the truth, not race-mongering:

After the V15 story broke, the Free Beacon reported on a “confidential strategy memo” sent out last December by Ameinu, the American wing of Israel’s Labor movement, soliciting funds for a “massive, non-partisan Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign” in Israel. Touting their American contacts “…with experience in similar recent operations, including the Obama presidential campaign,” the memo details a direct link between Ameinu and the organization tagged to operate the GOTV campaign, Givat Haviva, a recipient of State Department funding.

Ameinu claims it broke from the alliance with what eventually became V15 before the V15 campaign was formed, instead choosing to direct its non-partisan fundraising efforts specifically towards Israel’s Arab community who, while traditionally Left-leaning, were not necessarily registered with any particular party.

The post-election reality? The Joint List, a coalition of three Arab and one Arab-Jewish party “will be the third largest faction in the Knesset bringing with it formidable political power.” Something that does not reassure anonymous Israeli Christian Arabs who refused to vote for an Islamic party, along with more anonymous Israeli Arabs who “…feel uncomfortable voting for a party that has members who will do nothing to advance the rights of women and homosexuals.”

How the Leftist-funded and fueled “Anybody but Bibi” crowd is playing it:

Like Taylor Swift, no matter what tune they hum their lyrics remain the same.

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‘Good News’: GOP Senators Quickly Sound Off on Israeli Election

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

With early returns showing the Likud party hanging on and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming victory, Republican senators who were chastised by the White House for signing an open letter to Tehran on Iran’s nuclear program began to swiftly weigh in.

The Times of Israel noted that voter turnout in Israel was 71.8 percent — the highest since 1999. Zioinst Union leader Isaac Herzog had not conceded defeat, but with Likud and ZU neck-and-neck Netanyahu’s party is in a strong position to form a unity government. Netanyahu said after voting that, should he win, the third person he calls would be President Obama.

“Against all odds:a great victory for the Likud. A major victory for the people of Israel!” Netanyahu triumphantly tweeted. “This is a great victory for our nation. I’m proud of people of Israel who in the moment of truth knew what was important. Every family, soldier, citizen, Jewish or not are important to me! We will form a strong government to work for them.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), co-author of Iran sanctions, tweeted: “Good news tonight from #Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East. Congrats @Netanyahu.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was one of the fastest out of the gate with a response to the Israeli elections.

“Today’s parliamentary elections in Israel remind us of what unites our two countries and what distinguishes Israel, as the only true democracy in the Middle East, from its neighbors. Millions of Israelis took to the polls to choose their representatives, and ultimately shape the government that will guide their country in the coming years,” Rubio said.

“Now that the Israeli people have made their decisions, it is time for the Israeli political process to work. Whatever the outcome of that process, the United States will continue to stand firmly with our ally, Israel. We will stand by the Israeli people and their duly elected political leadership.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), another potential 2016 hopeful, said Netanyahu “has been an extraordinary leader for Israel, and I congratulate him on what appears to be a victory today.”

“His electoral success is all the more impressive given the powerful forces that tried to undermine him, including, sadly, the full weight of the Obama political team,” Cruz continued. “American officials should not be undermining the elected leaders of our closest allies, especially when Prime Minister Netanyahu’s heroic – even Churchillian – opposition to a nuclear Iran has done such tremendous service to U.S. national security. The American people are proud to stand steadfastly with our Israeli brothers and sisters. May our friendship grow and prosper, and may the Nation of Israel stay forever strong.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the Israeli people, “by their casting of ballots and voting for their leaders, showed the power of democracy in action.”

“I eagerly await the final results and the organization of a new government in Israel,” Graham said. “Israel and the United States have a long and valued friendship and alliance. We also have common values and share common enemies. I look forward to continuing to build on a strong US-Israel relationship as we both seek to address the rise of radical Islam and the threat posed to both our nations by the Iranian nuclear program.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest, when pressed earlier on whether Obama thinks he can repair his relationship with Netanyahu should he remain prime minister, said “the president has no doubt that the strong ties between the United States and Israel will endure … far beyond this election.”

“And that has been true for generations now. That the U.S.-Israel relationship is not one that has been subject, historically, to — to partisanship, and not one that has been subject to intense partisan political debate,” Earnest said. “But rather, because of our deep cultural ties, because of the deep ties between our people, because of our shared interest when it comes to national security in the Middle East, that the — that the strong relationship between the United States and Israel will endure far beyond this upcoming election, or the election that’s being held today.”

 

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Politico: Bibi Wins But Obama Doesn’t Like Him, So There

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

This evening’s entertainment…

At a minimum, the result disappointed many Democrats long exasperated with an Israeli leader they consider tantamount to a partisan rival, particularly after Netanyahu’s controversial March 3 speech to Congress arranged by Speaker John Boehner behind the Obama White House’s back. Pre-election polling had shown Netanyahu’s Likud trailing the center-left Zionist Union party led by his chief rival, Isaac Herzog.

Zionist Union party supporters react at the first exit polls at the party’s election headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel | AP Photo

Obama officials consider Herzog a far more promising partner on issues like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran’s nuclear program.

Now, if Netanyahu does outmaneuver Herzog to form and lead a majority coalition in the Israeli Knesset, his long-troubled relations with President Obama may reopen at their lowest point yet.

Expect the spinning to resemble the cartoon Tasmanian Devil by the morning. The last few days were absolutely polluted with stories about Netanyahu’s imminent political demise, with the most popular version of the tale being that he ruined his chances by angering great and powerful thin-skinned consumer of canines currently occupying the Oval Office.

One does not hurt Barack Obama’s feelings without some backlash.

Now that Obama has once again been revealed impotent in helping candidates not named Barack Obama to victory, his media petting zoo is out of sorts. They will be expending a lot of effort to explain exactly why this victory wasn’t really a victory.

Naturally, they will be directed by the White House.

Maybe with an assist from Tehran.

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Senators: Administration Should Have to Document Syrian War Crimes

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry raised eyebrows over the weekend with his comments about negotiating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — and now key senators wants Kerry’s department to properly document Assad’s war crimes.

“We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome. Why? Because everybody agrees there is no military solution. There is only a political solution,” Kerry told CBS in an interview aired Sunday.

“We’re going to have to make it clear to him that there is a determination by everybody to seek that political outcome and change his calculation about negotiating,” Kerry told CBS. “That’s underway right now. And — and I am convinced that with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad.”

Asked if he’d be willing to negotiate with Assad, Kerry replied, “Well, we have to negotiate in the end.”

The administration scrambled to say its “Assad must go” position hadn’t changed, and Syrian activists wryly noted the administration’s past change of heart on the chemical weapons “red line” it drew for Assad.

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Kerry was just “shorthanding” the regime by referring to Assad. “And that would be by mutual consent, which is both sides would need to agree who would be at the table. Unfortunately, there is no process happening right now. That’s the biggest concern to us. But, no, that’s consistently been our position,” Psaki told CNN. “The opposition could talk to themselves and that certainly wouldn’t produce an outcome that would bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) just introduced the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2015 to require the administration to document every dirty detail of the dictator’s crimes.

The senators note that the actions of Assad and violent extremist groups in the country require both special documenting and reaction from the administration on what it plans to do to hold human-rights violators accountable.

“For four years the Assad regime and violent extremists in Syria have committed horrific human rights violations at the expense of millions of innocent Syrians,” Rubio said in a statement. “These brutal crimes against civilians are appalling. The perpetrators deserve to be brought to justice, and this bill is a first step towards ensuring those responsible for human rights abuses are held accountable.”

Congress has been presented with some of the grisly evidence of Assad’s crimes. Last summer, a defector wearing a disguise and going by the pseudonym Caesar showed the House Foreign Affairs Committee some of the cache of 55,000 photos he gathered of the regime’s torture and murder of Syrians young and old, men and women — the 11,000 documented deaths just a fraction of 150,000 in Assad’s prisons.

Cardin said “tactics employed in Syria by both government and opposition forces fly in the face of the rules of war.”

“Ignoring these violations sends a message to the global community that war crimes and crimes against humanity are tolerable,” the Maryland senator said. “The Syrian people deserve much more. The United States cannot stand idly by and allow the gross violation of human rights in Syria to go unchallenged. We remain firmly committed to bringing all perpetrators of international crimes in Syria to justice.”

Menendez, known for reminding the leader of his party about human-rights violations in Iran and Cuba, stressed we have “a moral obligation to the Syrian people to do everything possible to ensure that the heinous crimes committed by the Assad regime and terrorist organizations over the past four years are documented and do not go unpunished.”

“As the Assad regime continues to use deadly force and indiscriminate weapons, like barrel bombs, killing and maiming thousands of men, women and children, ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria have perpetrated massive human rights violation against innocent people,” Menendez said. “These brutal and horrific crimes are appalling.”

Some quarter of a million Syrians have been killed in the past four years, with 2014 the deadliest year. More than 3.8 million Syrians have fled Syria, while 12.2 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

On Aug. 21, 2013, Assad used chemical weapons on the Damascus suburbs, killing 1,400 civilians. That crossed the White House’s “red line,” but they negotiated a chemical weapons disposal deal with the help of Assad ally Russia that has been impossible to verify in the war-torn country.

Assad continues to use chlorine gas on the population, as recently as yesterday.

“The United States is aware of these reports and the videos that are circulating on social media. We are seeking additional information and cannot at this point confirm the details, but if these allegations are confirmed, this would tragically be only the latest example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today.

“The regime continues to inflict daily terror through airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, starvation and the use of chemical weapons. We continue to take all allegations of chemical weapons use, and in particular, these recent allegations regarding the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon very seriously and we have long held that any credible allegations of chemical weapons use must be investigated and we support the OPCW fact-finding mission in this pursuit.”

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Human-Rights Violator Iran Vows to Expose U.S., Britain Human-Rights Violations

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The Islamic Republic of Iran — which imprisons innocent Americans and political dissidents, hangs gays, executes children, arrests or beats women for not covering up enough, censors information, kills converts, and much more — will be holding an exhibit to document what it says are human rights violations by the West.

“We are trying to inform the world nations of the western government’s real face with regard to human rights through the documents which have been released by themselves,” Head of the International Human Rights Center in Iran Ahmad Esfandiari told Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency on Monday, adding his agency “plans to hold exhibitions on violation of human rights in the European countries as well as specialized academic meetings on issues related to human rights violations in the West.”

“The center also plans to compile reports on the violation of human rights in the US, Britain and other western countries annually,” he added.

Iran has released two annual reports on “human rights violations” in Britain and the United States.

The latest Britain report, released in January, called births to unwed mothers a human rights violation. “Nearly 50% of those born in 2014 have been illegitimate children …the human rights violations in Britain increased 68% in 2014 compared with 2013,” Esfandiari said.

The U.S. report in 2014 faulted America for having capital punishment “in a blatant violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” along with capital punishment that’s too painful, racial discrimination and prison conditions including solitary confinement.

It also cites the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and killing of Eric Garner in New York, and faulted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for “violation of human rights in the fight against Ebola.” The report champions convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning.

 

 

 

 

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‘Deep Investigation’ Coming from Congress on U.S. Funding for Anti-Netanyahu Efforts

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) said the State Department funding granted to a group lobbying against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “a big, huge deal and warrants some deep investigation.”

OneVoice, a 501(c)3 organization, partnered with anti-Bibi campaign committee V15, which in turn partnered with 270 Strategies — a political consulting firm with more than a dozen staffers who were in leadership roles in President Obama’s re-election campaign. One of those is Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director for Obama’s 2012 campaign and was reportedly working in Israel to defeat Netanyahu.

Kinzinger told Fox “this is a huge, huge issue.”

“I mean, I don’t know at least of overtly before the U.S. government has ever funded an organization that funded a subsidiary whose sole purpose was to overthrow an elected government of an ally, of a friend. I mean, Benjamin Netanyahu is not a major opponent of the United States. He’s a friend of the United States,” the congressman said. “The Israel people are friends. If, in fact, this is true that the State Department — I mean, money is fungible. So money was given to this group, OneVoice, and they gave money to the subsidiary Victory 15, whose sole purpose stated is to overthrow or dis-elect the current government.”

The State Department has denied that OneVoice was involved in the Israeli election, and said the group got its funding before the election was called.

Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday that the department has “historically” cooperated with investigations of the variety it will likely now face.

“I mean, in this case, we’ve only seen the reports. We don’t have any more details… I don’t think we’ve had any official notification of this inquiry or this investigation,” Psaki said.

Called out on the assertion that the department “historically” cooperates in congressional probes, one reporter dropped a Benghazi reference: “There’s a certain select committee that I think would disagree.”

“Well, we would disagree that we haven’t cooperated, and so would 40,000 pages and dozens of hearings’ worth of evidence suggest,” Psaki fired back.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen earlier this month asking for information on OneVoice’s tax-exempt status. They sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in January asking about any U.S. funding of anti-Netanyahu campaigns.

Zeldin called it “abundantly clear that OneVoice, a U.S. taxpayer funded 501(c)(3), is fully engaged in political activities to oust the Israeli prime minister.”

“It is important for IRS Commissioner Koskinen to assist with our efforts to hold OneVoice responsible for any possible violation of its tax exempt status,” the freshman congressman added. “U.S. law must always be consistently enforced, and the IRS Commissioner must not make any special exception for OneVoice.”

Cruz said the Obama administration “seems much more interested in regime change in Jerusalem than in Tehran.”

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State Department Brushes Off Saudi Prince’s Warning on Iran Deal

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department brushed off a warning from the former Saudi ambassador to Washington that the P5+1 deal being negotiated with Iran will lead to rash of uranium enrichment in the Middle East.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was also head of Saudi intelligence services before the 9/11 attacks, told BBC that “whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.”

“So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that,” the prince said. “The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 process.”

On CNN last night, State Department press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the remarks.

“Well, one, I don’t believe Prince Turki has a role in the Saudi government right now,” she said of the Saudi royal.

“But, two, this is a process that is ongoing. Every component of the deal will be vitally important, we will be briefing our partners on,” Psaki continued. “I think the third piece here is that we’re not opposed to peaceful nuclear power, a peaceful program. That’s something many countries aspire to. If they’re abiding by the NPT, which Iran would be a part of, then certainly, they would be meeting requirements. It’s about preventing them from taking this into a detrimental direction.”

Prince Turki also noted that “it seems that Iran is expanding its occupation of Iraq and that is unacceptable.”

“Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain,” he said.

“So ending fear of developing weapons of mass destruction is not going to be the end of the troubles we’re having with Iran.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly stressed that it wants a nuclear deal with Iran first and then will worry about its terrorist and hegemonic activities.

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