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McKeon: White House Request That Congress Repeal Iraq Force Authorization ‘Past Absurd,’ ‘Dangerous’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee ripped into the White House for trying to lobby House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on a vote today regarding the authorization of military force in Iraq, noting “if the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

The resolution from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Walt Jones (R-N.C.) directed President Obama “pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq.”

It passed 370-40, with 37 Republicans and three Democrats voting against the resolution.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent Boehner a letter before the vote stressing that Obama has “made clear that if American interests are threatened, ‘we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.’ The President has made exceedingly clear that he will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.”

“While we understand the House of Representatives will consider this resolution that supports the President’s position, we believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq (P.L. 107-243),” Rice continued. “With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and the Administration fully supports its repeal. Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”

Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said when Boehner told him about the Rice letter, “I thought he was joking.”

“Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is ‘worse than al-Qaeda’ and an extreme threat to the American people. The American people aren’t worried that the president will send the military back to Iraq. They’re worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street. They’re worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe,” McKeon said.

“Why on earth is the president’s national security advisor pleading with Congress to help build Americans’ confidence that the president will not confront a clear and present danger to the United States? He needs no help there. Where is her plan to stop this looming threat? Where is her request for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to monitor the situation? Why isn’t she over here, building support to stop a common enemy? Why is she fighting Congress instead of ISIS? Why on earth is she refighting the 2003 Iraq War in 2014?”

McKeon said Rice’s move “isn’t just absurd.”

“We’re past absurd. This is dangerous. This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them,” he said.

“If the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It is my sincere hope that someone comes to their senses on Pennsylvania Avenue, before something worse happens.”

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Gallup: If You Oppose Israel, You’re Probably an Uneducated Democrat

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Gallup has released a new poll on Americans’ opinions of the conflict in Gaza. It’s no surprise that Republicans tend to side with Israel, and Democrats tend to believe that Israel’s military actions against Hamas are unjustified. Fully 47% of Democrats take that view, compared with just 31% who back Israel. That, plus independent voters’ ambivalence toward Israel, helps explain why the Obama administration is not backing Israel more strongly than calling for a (now rejected) cease-fire. Their base does not back Israel.

The educational differences on the issue are found in this chart.

gallup-israel-education

 

The more educated one is, the more likely one is to believe that Israel is taking justified action against Hamas terrorists.

Younger Americans tend to go left on everything from socialism to redefining marriage, and lack of support for democratic Israel against Hamas terrorists is no exception. This is despite Israel’s long history of supporting women’s and minority rights, while the Palestinians side with extremism that denies women and non-Muslims their rights.

This poll is a warning: If the rising millennial generation doesn’t change its attitudes in a hurry, Israel cannot count on American support for more than few more years.

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Terrorist Tycoons: Meet Hamas’ Richest Men

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Palestinians project an image of poverty and powerlessness to the world. While most Palestinians do live in poverty, especially when compared to their Israeli neighbors, Globes profiles several Hamas leaders who have used their positions to amass incredible wealth while their own people suffer.

Hamas’ terrorist tycoons include Dr. Musa Abu Marzook. He was a US-based Hamas fundraiser who was arrested for supporting terrorism in 1995. After serving two years in prison, he was freed and allowed to leave. Marzook kept the money he raised for Hamas, left the US and resides in Gaza. He is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion now and maintains numerous ties to terrorists including al Qaeda, according to the Globes report.

Marzook is followed closely in wealth by Khaled Mashaal, who is estimated to be worth about $2.6 billion.

Following them is one of Hamas’ most public faces, Ismail Haniyeh. He is said to be worth about $4 million, which he has registered in the names of various family members to conceal the true size of his fortune.

According to Globes:

The question of where these officials got their money exposes the corrupt system used by Hamas through its control of the money pipelines in the Gaza Strip. They treated the money as their own personal possession. “Most of the money that went into the pockets of people in the Gaza Strip was obtained through tunnel deals and the creation of a flourishing smuggling market, which it is believed has created several hundred millionaires in the Gaza Strip, although most of the people there don’t live like that. The man pulling the strings from Egypt with the tunnels is none other than the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater. His connection with Hamas was ostensibly for Islamic religious purposes, but they actually built a prosperous business, which earned phenomenal profits,” Elad says.

The Arshaq Al-Awsad (Middle East) newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least 600 millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip – the same people sitting on the money pipelines there.

Elad describes how the system worked and to how much money (huge amounts) Hamas leaders were exposed: “Senior Hamas leaders charged a 25% ‘tax’ and $2,000 on every disassembled vehicle coming through the tunnels. There are hundreds of smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza, and these are the types of tunnel Israel has been less busy in destroying, because Egypt has destroyed many of them. From June 2007 until 2010, $800 million in cash was transferred in tunnel deals (according to information from Hamas money traders). Hamas also taxes Gaza merchants on everything traded, from boxes of vegetables to luxury cars, and the leaders scoop the money into their pockets.”

In summary, Elad says, “This is corruption at the highest level… What has united the Palestinian leaders all throughout the years is the saying, ‘We have to get rich quick.’ This is how the regime sees it. Their leaders have no shame.

The PLO’s Yasser Arafat was reportedly worth $1 billion when he died.

In addition to its graft, oppression and corruption, Palestinian leaders also live on money provided to them by the United States and Europe. The US and Europe pay hundreds of millions in aid to the Palestinians every year, mostly through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Some of that aid ends up in the hands of the Palestinian government, including Hamas, despite US law against supporting terrorism and despite the fact that Hamas is still a designated terrorist organization. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel this week pledging $47 million more aid to the Palestinians, while calling for a cease-fire as Israel pounds Hamas forces, tunnels and weapons caches.

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Deli Food for Thought

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

Israel hasn’t been feeling the love lately. Not only are they in the midst of a literal war with Hamas, but also a PR war. I already wrote about how long it took President Obama to even make a phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu, but his failure to lead has gotten worse, and has dictated another response from me.

This FAA debacle is indicative of an Administration that is throwing around its political leverage to bully Israel into succumbing to their harmful cease-fire demands. They prohibited all US flights from landing at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. They haven’t even prohibited flights to Moscow, Kiev, or anywhere near Ukraine—and we just witnessed a plane shot out of the sky there! But Israel gets flights canceled?!?

John Kerry’s lobbying hard for a cease-fire arrangement, which would be more restrictive and harmful to Israel than the Egyptian one…which Israel accepted. Think about that: Egypt, a country that has traditionally not gotten along with Israel, is promoting a less-harsh cease-fire than the US Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, a coincidence—Israel gets flights banned. I think it’s more than a coincidence.

Israel relies heavily on tourism. In 2013, Israel had 3.5 million visitors, which propelled the market to a $12 billion industry. The situation in Israel has already slammed its tourism profits. According to a Yahoo Travel article: “’It is devastating us economically,’ said Leon Avigad, the developer of Brown Hotels, a small collection of boutique hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. ‘We are losing tons of money by the minute. The entire profit from the summer is wiped out.’” And Avigad said these things in the days leading up to the flight ban.

So the FAA, under Obama, really hit Israel where it hurts. An already suffering tourism trade, and they ban flights… Doesn’t seem like how we should be treating one of our top allies.

Obama is flexing his muscles, likely because he can’t seem to get away with it against Putin. Israel, he thinks, is one situation he can dominate. His egotistical and radical nature leads him to assert himself into this problem, not on Israel’s side, but by condemning them with bad cease-fire proposals and by essentially threatening them economically.

It’s no wonder why Marc Schulman, of Newsweek, reports, “On a number of different levels, there is a growing sense of frustration with the Obama administration among average Israelis.”

So, rather than stay in Washington and deal with these problems, Obama went on another fundraising trip these past couple days. This time, he came to my neck of the woods—Los Angeles. Probably to get some of that big-time Hollywood money for the Democrats.

As an aside, his motorcade has been mucking up the traffic here pretty badly, even getting the nickname “Obamajam.” They even closed down a street, keeping a woman from crossing while in labor. He wasn’t even at the scene while this was going on.

But back on topic, the Jewish community here, in LA, is very close to the events in Israel, with pro-Israel rallies going on often and with much fervor. I, personally, attended New Community Jewish High School in the San Fernando Valley area of the city, and just found out that a fellow alumnus has been hospitalized after a bomb went off near him in Gaza. Max Levin was serving as a part of the Israeli Defense Forces, when the incident occurred. He is in stable condition, but wounded. I don’t know him, as he graduated several years after I did, but it touches the community. Out of my small private high school alone, 26 alumni currently serve in the IDF.

So with Obama being seen as a hindrance to Israeli needs, or maybe even a counterforce, what did he do while here?

Our photo-op-in-chief went to the famous Canter’s Deli, a Jewish deli that’s been in the predominantly Jewish Fairfax district for almost 85 years. The patronizing President figured he would show his support for the Jewish community by eating a rye bread sandwich and schmoozing.

I cannot believe the condescension he is exposing here, especially just after telling Governor Perry that he doesn’t participate in photo-ops.

We need a leader, not a schmoozer, and we need a President who will stand up for our allies.

Oy gevalt!

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Caliphate Adds Tourism Sector with Passport-Free Travel

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

isistour

The Islamic State has added a tourism sector to lure the ummah to the large swath of territory ISIS seized in Syria and Iraq:

Running twice-weekly tours from Syria’s Raqa to Iraq’s Anbar, ISIS buses fly the group’s black flag and play militant songs throughout the journey.

One of the first clients was Chechen militant Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shishani, aged 26, who took his new Syrian wife on honeymoon, according to activist Hadi Salameh.

“Just after they got married, he took her to Anbar. These militants are very romantic,” Salameh joked.

But the two weren’t able to sit together, because “women sit in the back, and men at the front. The bus driver plays militant songs all through the ride, and the ISIS black flag flies over the bus.”

ISIS proclaimed a “caliphate” last month straddling Iraq and Syria. According to a rebel from eastern Syria, the tours started operating immediately afterwards.

…Salameh said the group’s tour buses “start their journey in Tal Abyad (on Syria’s Turkish border) and end in Iraq’s Anbar. You can get off wherever you want, and you don’t need a passport to cross the border.”

The activist, who lives in Raqa and uses a pseudonym to avoid retribution from IS, told AFP via the Internet the company is for profit.

“Of course it’s not free. The price varies, depending on how far you go on the bus,” Salameh said.

Clientele has primarily been foreign fighters who speak English; a translator on board points out the sights. Tours run on Wednesdays and Sundays.

No word on whether this is one of the caliphate’s tour guides:

 

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Is Tech Site Mashable.com Siding with Hamas Terrorists?

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Mashable.com, one of the largest tech and culture websites on the planet, appears to be taking a side in the ongoing war in Gaza.

The site best known for posts about things buried in software user agreements and happy photo ops with the president who claims that he isn’t interested in photo ops is taking a decidedly pro-Hamas editorial point of view as it and Israel fight in Gaza.

That war started when terrorists linked to Hamas, which is itself categorized as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department and the European Union, kidnapped three Israeli teenagers and later executed them. One of those teenagers, 16-year-old Naftali Frankel, also had American citizenship.

On June 14, when Mashable reported on the boys’ kidnapping, in describing Hamas it put “terrorist group” in scare quotes.

Even after the boys’ bodies were discovered, Mashable made sure to distance Hamas from the murders.

Hamas soon began to launch some of its estimated 10,000 to 20,000 rockets at Israeli population centers. Israel has responded with an air, land and sea campaign to destroy Hamas’ tunnels and its rocket arsenal.

Israel is going out of its way to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas places civilian casualties at the center of its strategy. Hamas targets Israel’s civilians, and it places its weapons close to Palestinian schools and hospitals to force Israel to choose between risking killing Palestinian civilians to destroy those weapons, or leave its own civilians at risk if it does not destroy those weapons. If Palestinian civilians die in Israeli attacks, they become part of the group’s propaganda. If Israel decides not to strike Hamas weapons caches near civilian targets, then some Israelis will be attacked with those very weapons.

Mashable’s coverage of the conflict has tilted away from Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy and one in which Arabs can become full citizens, and toward Hamas terrorists. Where Hamas rules, as in much of the Islamic world, Christians and Jews are at best second-class, are systematically persecuted and are often subjected to pogroms.

In an Associated Press story on the “disappearance” of rockets that Hamas hid in UN schools to which Mashable contributed reporting, the AP and Mashable hide the lead down in the sixth paragraph, and even then avoid calling Hamas what it is.

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday said he was “alarmed” to hear that rockets were placed in a U.N.-run school in Gaza, and now “have gone missing.” He also demanded a full review of such incidents.

A spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon expressed the U.N. chief’s “outrage and regret” at the placement of weapons at a site run by the global organization. This has happened at least twice so far in the current conflict, according to the U.N.

“Those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children,” U.N. staff and anyone seeking shelter, the statement said.

The rockets had been placed at one of the schools run by the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza (UNRWA).

Once they were found, “in accordance with standard practice, UNRWA handed them over to the local authorities. Since then, they have gone missing,” Ban’s deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said in an email Wednesday evening.

The Islamic militant group Hamas controls Gaza. The U.S., Israel and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist organization, but the U.N. does not.

The entire story is written to hide what Hamas was doing — hiding its rockets in UN-run schools, rockets it uses against Israel’s civilian population. Both of those acts are war crimes.

In the most biased story Mashable has run on the conflict to date, the site takes cues from Pallywood and puts a dying Palestinian child front and center. This is the kind of propaganda story Hamas hopes comes from Israel exercising its duty to defend its people.

In “‘Am I Going to Die, Daddy?’ The Child in Gaza Asked,” reporter Jon Snow states that “If the Israelis have proved anything, it is that there is no such thing as a forensic strike.” Snow never allows for the fact while Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas feeds on them.

After chronicling several heart-breaking cases of kids caught up in the crossfire, Snow rhetorically asks “Can they really be the acceptable collateral damage of targeting militants?”

The tone of the entire piece puts the moral responsibility for all casualties in Gaza not on Hamas, the terrorist group that is still dedicated to destroying Israel and which started the current conflict, but on Israel.

Snow ends his piece with this:

I was amazed to find a small sachet of shampoo as I went to a cold shower tonight — salty again. Obviously, you cannot make bombs out of shampoo and so there is no embargo on it. But clearly you can make bombs from paint because there isn’t any. This is the most wretchedly unpainted urban place I have ever been.

And beyond it all, why won’t they talk? This cannot go on. It is the children, tomorrow’s Palestinians, who are paying the price.

Today’s and tomorrow’s Israelis are paying a price too, are they not? You wouldn’t know it from reading Jon Snow, or indeed anything published at Mashable.

Snow’s piece fits well within Hamas’ anti-Israel propaganda. Why is a tech site like Mashable publishing it?

The closest that the site gets to fair reporting is probably this piece on Jews and Arabs who are making friends and more despite the conflict. Even this piece, though, plays up Arabs’ peaceful intent and ignores the anti-Semitism that pervades Arab culture and communications around the world.

The fact is, whether Mashable is aware of it or not, Palestinian voters elected Hamas to power knowing full well that that would mean war with Israel. And polls find that Palestinians continue to want to destroy Israel.

In the current war, Hamas and the Palestinians who still support Hamas are getting what they want.

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Bipartisan Bill Moving Forward to Condemn Obama for Taliban 5 Release

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The House Armed Services Committee will next week bring up a bipartisan resolution condemning President Obama’s release of five Taliban leaders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Obama didn’t notify Congress before the early June swap, which brought to an end five years of captivity for Bergdahl. The administration claims they had to make an emergency decision because of concerns about Bergdahl’s health.

Bergdahl has completed his reintegration process and is now back on active duty in Texas while the Pentagon investigates the circumstances surrounding his capture.

On Tuesday, the committee will consider a bill from Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), along with Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), John Barrow (D-Ga.), and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), to condemn the commander in chief.

The bill has a total of 82 co-sponsors. It:

(1) condemns and disapproves of the failure of the Obama administration to comply with the lawful 30-day statutory reporting requirement in executing the release of five senior members of the Taliban from detention at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;

(2) expresses grave concern over national security implications that may arise due to the release of Taliban officials, including the national security threat to the people and Armed Forces of the United States and complications of the current efforts of the United States to combat terrorism worldwide;

(3) expresses grave concern over the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists, and the risk that such negotiations with terrorists may further encourage hostilities and the abduction of Americans as a means of further prisoner exchanges;

(4) stipulates that further violations of the law set forth in section 1035 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66; 10 U.S.C. 801 note) and section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76) are unacceptable;

(5) declares grave misgivings about the prospect of any other similar transfers from United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even if undertaken pursuant to statutory requirements; and

(6) expresses that the Obama administration’s release of the five detainees has burdened unnecessarily the trust and confidence in the administration’s commitment and ability to constructively engage and work with the legislative branch, and therefore works against what is in the best interest of the people of the United States.

Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who noted after the transfer that administration officials were giving contradictory information to lawmakers, stressed that “when the president takes his oath of office, he is duty bound to  follow the laws set by the American people.”

“Here, his office broke a law that was originally adopted by his own party in the Senate, passed by a large bipartisan majority in Congress and signed by the president himself.  Just as the president must do his duty, so must Congress,” McKeon said. “Congressman Rigell’s legislation sends the clear message that following the law isn’t optional.”

“President Obama’s actions in regard to the prisoner exchange ignore the law and put our national security at risk. America is not a monarchy and no president is king,” said Rigell, who has previously noted the president’s imperialist tendencies in an amendment last summer chiding Obama to abide the War Powers Resolution. “The House is prepared to remind the president of this. This bipartisan resolution is an official repudiation of President Obama’s actions, and I appreciate the chairman’s leadership in bringing this important resolution to the committee for a markup.”

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Obstructionist Lawmaker Wants More Info From White House Before OKing Arms To Iraq

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Stupid Repub…oh wait.

An influential Democratic senator threatened Thursday to block U.S. arms sales to Iraq if Congress doesn’t get an assessment of Iraqi forces and assurances the weapons won’t fall into the hands of extremist militants.

In a testy exchange, Sen. Bob Menendez lashed out at senior State Department and Defense Department officials appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he chairs.

The New Jersey senator, who has previously held up the transfer of Apache helicopters to Iraq, said lawmakers haven’t been informed about potential military assistance to Iraq or about its troops’ capability to push back the growing insurgency by rebels calling themselves the Islamic State.

“You know, this committee has jurisdiction over arms sales,” Menendez said. “And my reticence to arms sales to Iraq has in some respects been proven true when in fact we had much of our equipment abandoned and now in the hands of (Sunni extremists).

“So unless you are going to give us a sense of where the security forces are at, moving forward, this chair is not going to be willing to approve more arms sales so they can be abandoned to go to the hands of those who we are seriously concerned about in terms of our own national security.

It seems Menendez is frustrated by the lack of information and clarity coming from the Most Transparent Administration ever. When chastised by a member of Team Lightbringer about believing leaks, the party boy from New Jersey replied:

“Well, the absence of having information leads me to only publicly reported resources,”

Barack Obama may yet become the uniting force that all the hopeychangeys dreamed about: we could very well all end up disliking him.

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Islamic State Orders All Women in Mosul to Undergo Genital Mutilation

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There is no “war on women” in the United States. Those who claim that there is are either cynical are woefully misinformed.

There is a very real war on women in Iraq.

The Irish Times says that the Islamofascists are behaving like Islamofascists in the lands they now hold in Iraq.

Militant group Islamic State has ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq’s northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the United Nationssaid today.

The “fatwa” issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcocktold reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil.

“This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” she said.

Obviously the caliphate’s thugs are most directly to blame for this. Maliki bears some blame as well.

But President Obama deserves a share of the blame for abandoning Iraq. This real and brutal Islamist war on women has his fingerprints on it.

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Images of Syrian Victims Poached for Hamas Propaganda

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria as the world has largely ignored the slaughter. So, Hamas figured it could poach some of those victims for its own use without the world noticing:

 

 

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Cruz: Is the FAA Ban on Flights to Israel Really an Obama Economic Boycott?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The US FAA has extended the ban on flights into Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, citing increased risk after a Hamas rocket landed within a mile of the airport. Hamas is calling the ban a “great victory,” while several European countries are following up with flight bans of their own.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is now asking, is the FAA’s decision really based on risk, or is it a stealth economic boycott of Israel?

In a press release, Cruz notes that the FAA still allows flights into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, all of which are under constant terrorist threat.

Sen. Cruz also notes that so far in the current battle with Hamas, the terrorist group has launched over 2,000 rockets. Only one has landed anywhere near Ben Gurion.

Mindful of the shootdown of MH17 last week, Cruz also notes that that shootdown was accomplished by a sophisticated BUK anti-aircraft missile made by Russia. Yet the FAA still allows flights into Ukraine.

According to Sen. Cruz’s statement, tourism is an $11 billion industry in Israel. Thanks to the FAA’s ban, though, tourist charters are canceling trips at a 30% rate, costing the Israeli economy enormously. At the same time, Secretary of State John Kerry arrive in Israel — at Ben Gurion, incidentally — pledging $47 million in aid for the Palestinians, which really means more money for Hamas.

Taking the impact of these decisions together with Kerry’s previous statements, in which he has accused Israel of being an “apartheid state,” Cruz wonders what is behind the FAA’s decisions — true risk or politics?

Read Sen. Cruz’s full statement on the next page.

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Hamas Threat to Israel’s Airport Demands a New Strategy: Let Israel Win

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Hamas launched a powerful rocket that landed within a mile of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. Israel has opened an alternative airport in Negev.

The US Federal Aviation Administration overreacted to the Hamas rocket, by banning American carriers from landing at Ben Gurion, temporarily. Secretary of State John Kerry has flown to the Middle East to try and arrange a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Michael Bloomberg, of all people, showed stronger leadership by flying into Ben Gurion and publicizing his flight, to show that it is still safe.

Hamas is believed to possess from 10,000 to 20,000 rockets. The terrorist group has used that arsenal to start the current round of fighting by firing those rockets at Israeli civilian population centers.

Israel has responded by going after Hamas in as precise a manner as possible, to avoid civilian casualties. That is no easy feat when Hamas deliberately hides its weapons in schools and when its fighters do not wear uniforms and who themselves hide among civilians, using them as human shields. When those civilians are inevitably killed, Hamas then uses them for propaganda against Israel.

At this point, what would a cease-fire achieve?

For Israel, a temporary and untenable “peace.” For Hamas, it would achieve quite a lot. A cease-fire would leave its rocket arsenal intact. It would also leave the threat that Hamas could shut down Israel’s main international airport, at any moment, intact.

For Israel, that is an intolerable threat. Hamas could cut Israel off from the rest of the world, or at least from its strongest ally, any time it wants, just by firing one of its thousands and thousands of rockets near the airport.

Kerry should not have gone to Israel to mindlessly try to broker another cease-fire.

He should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas unambiguously that the United State supports Israel’s right to self-defense, and that if Hamas does not turn over all of its rockets immediately, that the United States supports Israel’s right to destroy the entire arsenal by means and methods of its choosing.

In other words, Kerry should have gone to Israel to tell Hamas and the world that the United States supports Israel and its right to defeat Hamas once and for all.

Negotiating with Hamas has proven to be futile. It’s time to let Israel win.

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Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Reason Foundation just released a survey proving the failure of the American public education system. But, according to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, we might as well just laugh at it:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I predict that any readers over the age of 30 will absolutely love this fact about voters under the age of 29. Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos that young people can define in an Internet survey.

A number of my PJMedia colleagues jumped on the survey with the usual complaint that “kids these days” want everything handed to them on a silver platter. Conservatives in general fail to address the far more creepy comedic love affair with socialism because we fail to understand the media that informs the Millennial generation.

Case in point: The “Jon Stewart takes on Gaza” debacle. Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did an excellent job ripping the comedian to shreds for his stereotypical, biased account of the meanie Israelis versus the poor Palestinians. Conservative media proceeded to join in the dissection 15 years too late. From the day he took the anchor’s chair on the set of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has attempted to be the court jester of the hipster elite. An admitted leftist, he was a psych major turned stand-up comedian who makes no bones about being a professional satirist – nothing more. Yet, the bulk of the millennial news audience share goes to Stewart and his former Daily Show co-star, Colbert Report comic actor Stephen Colbert. Knowing this, why should we be the least bit surprised that Millennials are laughing about the real issues facing the world and our country today, including socialism?

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Dem Chairmen to Obama: Don’t Wait for Europe to Get Tough on Russia as National Security is at Stake

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A trio of Senate Democratic chairmen channeled their “outrage over the wanton destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17″ today to directly ask President Obama to consider designating the Donetsk People’s Republic a foreign terrorist organization.

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Obama to impose broad sanctions on Russia’s defense sector as well as energy and finance industries.

“Evidence compiled since the crash, along with efforts to hide evidence and block international investigators, indicates the culpability of Russia and the separatist militants it supports in Ukraine. The attack on the Malaysia Airlines jet follows the downing of a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane three days earlier, as well as the shooting down of a Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet and the downing of several Ukrainian government helicopters –  the Donetsk People’s Republic has claimed responsibility for each of these acts,” the senators wrote.

They noted how the separatists have controlled the crash site with many bodies uncollected after six days, tampered with evidence and scooped up the flight recorders before OSCE investigators could get their hands on them.

“President Putin may have publicly stated that all sides should allow an investigation into the downed airliner, but Russia’s actions belie his words,” the chairmen wrote. “These contemptible actions cannot go unanswered.  We strongly urge you to aggressively exercise your authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other relevant statutes to impose immediate broad sanctions against Russia’s defense sector, including state-owned Rosboronexport, in order to prevent Russia from providing weaponry, equipment, or assistance and training to separatists in Ukraine.”

The Russian arms giant that has been the target of so much consternation in Congress since President Obama lifted its sanctions in 2010 recently marketed to Malaysia the Buk missile system believed to have taken down the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Lawmakers have been trying to block U.S. funds from lining the pockets of Rosoboronexport — Russia’s state-owned arms behemoth that has raked in more than $1 billion in Defense Department contracts since 2011. President George W. Bush had placed a ban on doing business with the firm in 2008.

“We further urge you to explore the possibility of designating the Donetsk People’s Republic as a foreign terrorist organization. Increasing evidence of their human rights violations in Eastern Ukraine – including abductions and torture – demonstrates that their actions have threatened the lives of innocent Ukrainians, not to mention those unfortunate innocents merely traveling in civilian airspace over Ukraine,” the senators wrote.

“We understand and strongly support your efforts to coordinate the imposition of sanctions with our key European allies in order to ensure their maximum intended effect, and we encourage further cooperation in pursuit of this goal. However, the United States must not limit its own national security strategy when swift action will help fulfill our strategic objectives, support an independent Ukraine, and counter malignant Russian interference.”

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FAA Empowers Hamas, Sets Stage for Israel’s Long Term Win

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A loser in the PR battle, Hamas decided to move their international offense to a new front today. Taking advantage of the Malaysian airliner downed by pro-Russian rebels, Hamas is now targeting air traffic entering Israel. Israel National News reports:

A rocket hit a home in the city of Yehud, near the airport, on Tuesday morning. Having failed to cause significant casualties due to Israel’s extensive defense systems, Gaza terrorists have focused rocket fire on the area in hopes of disrupting Israeli air travel.

Delta Air Lines was the first to suspend service, rerouting an Israel-bound flight with 273 passengers and 17 crew members to Paris, as if France is really a safer place for Israel lovers right now. Not long after, the Federal Aviation Administration barred flights to Israel for 24 hours. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Turkish Air followed suit. The State Department (whose official tweeted #UnitedforGaza this past weekend) rushed to clarify that the FAA’s move was “in no way politically motivated”.

Israel’s Transportation Minister released the following statement in response to the flight cancellations, rightly observing:

“Ben Gurion Airport is safe — takeoffs and landings — and there is absolutely no need to be concerned about the security of planes and passengers. There’s absolutely no reason why American airlines in particular should stop their flights and thus hand a prize to terrorism.”

The brash action of Hamas may have larger ramifications than even they realize. Analysts are already commenting on the long term impact of the airline safety concerns:

The implications are enormous. Whether intended or not, Hamas has made the case as to why its rocket arsenal and infrastructure must be dismantled no matter the cost. It also has justified why Israel cannot give up security control of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). Hamas has to fire a long way to scare away air traffic, but from the West Bank it’s practically a stone’s throw.

Regardless of how Israel chooses to handle the West Bank, the actions taken by Hamas today have made two things very clear: Hamas has no problem holding America and the rest of the world hostage, and right now Israel is the free world’s last, best and only hope.

 

 

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Obama: Pro-Russia Rebels Demonstrating ‘Kind of Behavior That Has No Place in the Community of Nations’

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama added a brief statement to his schedule this morning to come to the podium and ask Russian separatists in Ukraine what they’re trying to hide at the MH17 crash site.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Saturday that OSCE monitors were only allowed 75 minutes at the crash site Friday and fewer than three hours on Saturday, all confined to a small area. “The site is not secure, and there are multiple reports of bodies being removed, parts of the plane and other debris being hauled away, and potential evidence tampered with. This is unacceptable and an affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve,” Psaki said.

The location of the black boxes was also uncertain, with rumors over the weekend saying that the rebels turned the flight recorders over to Moscow.

“Now, international investigators are on the ground. They have been organized. I’ve sent teams. Other countries have sent teams. They are prepared. They are organized to conduct what should be the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.

“And what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site. They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded, as well as transparent investigation. And recovery personnel have to do the solemn and sacred work of recovering the remains of those who were lost,” he added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site, but the separatists are still hampering the investigation.

“As investigators approached, they fired their weapons in to the air. The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. All of which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama said. “Moreover, these Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this. This is an insult to those who’ve lost loved ones. This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.”

The president said that given Russia’s “extraordinary influence” over the separatists, Russian President Vladimir Putin should have greater pull in getting them to behave.

“President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation, and I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions,” Obama said. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.”

“If Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks, not simply to the people inside of Ukraine but the broader international community, and Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community, and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase,” he added.

Putin made his own address earlier today, insisting “no one should and no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political goals.”

“I believe that if military operations had not resumed in eastern Ukraine on June 28, this tragedy probably could have been avoided,” Putin said. “…All those who are responsible for the situation in the region must take greater responsibility before their own peoples and before the peoples of the countries whose citizens were killed in this disaster.”

Poroshenko told CNN this morning that he doesn’t see “any differences from the tragedy of 9/11″ and the shooting down of the civilian airliner.

“We should demonstrate the same way of reaction,” said the Ukrainian leader.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight Spotted as Lone Transcontinental Traveler Over Syria

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

With all of the scrutiny surrounding the path of doomed MH17 over a war zone in eastern Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH4 took a questionable route from Kuala Lumpur to London yesterday:

 

Homs remains an area of heavy fighting despite a recently lifted siege, with ISIS taking over a gas field and executing many of the workers.

A look at FlightRadar24 this morning found that MH4 wasn’t flying over Syria anymore, but heading over the Islamic State and Mosul:

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Planes are having to find new diversions since last week’s takedown of the passenger airliner by a Russian-made missile, including this wide curve under the Crimean peninsula.

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How Israel is Winning the PR Battle Against Hamas

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Moral equivalence is dead. When Bill Clinton, the “international community”-blessed architect of Oslo, can blatantly declare

In the short and medium term Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage by forcing (Israel) to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas. But it’s a crass strategy that takes all of our eyes off the real objective which is a peace that gets Israel security and recognition and a peace that gets the Palestinians their state.

it is obvious that Hamas has finally shot themselves in the foot with the terrorists’ ideological weapon of choice. So, why do news agencies insist on reporting nothing more than body counts in evening news reports, as if the latest conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is nothing more than a sports game?

Clinton may be a pervert, but he isn’t stupid. He acknowledged the “public relations” battle because he knows that the press follows the cues given by Hamas, the terrorist organization that holds reporters in Gaza against their will. Unless they have the intellect of toddlers, these reporters cannot be blind to the brainwashing from birth that turns children into human shields. Nor can they be so totally blind to the rocket launchers hiding behind schools and mosques in residential neighborhoods. Yet, the best they can muster is a body count followed by sarcastic commentary like that of CNN’s Ben Wedeman: “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” Amazing. Toddler Ben gets a gold star for that stellar observation.

As my PJMedia colleague Ron Radosh so excellently pointed out, the intellectuals also have no problem fettering mainstream media with arguments of moral equivalence. All they need is the right costume and a little bathtub gin and they could easily chatter the night away as if they were on the porch of Gatsby’s mansion. That is how comfortable they are turning an international war against Islamic terrorism into the banal “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” claim. Like America’s “restless” President, these politicos prefer the comforts of today’s Weimar. No doubt they are taking fiddling lessons so they can be fully prepared when Rome begins to burn.

There is a reality on the ground that escapes the Hamas-controlled media: Israel loves life. Israel’s policy is to warn Palestinian civilians (or, as Hamas calls them, weapons in Operation Human Shield) to get out of the way before they drop bombs or conduct ground invasions. Israel sets up field hospitals to treat wounded Gazans. We know about these things because, much to the chagrin of the death-loving Hamas, they cannot control the Internet. Just as Israelis are winning the ground offensive, Israel-supporters are winning the ideological offensive through alternative news sources and, most importantly, social media.

This past Saturday, 200 anti-Israel protesters fell to the ground in Boston in a “die-in” meant to demonstrate the number of Palestinians who have been killed thus far in Operation Protective Edge. A number of Israel supporters attended the event and were cornered by the anti-Israel crowd. One Zionist, Chloe Valdary told the Times of Israel:

We really do manage to disrupt them and distract them when we show up. We show up and it’s in the media, so the public sees how hate-filled and incredibly deluded these Hamas supporters are.

We’ve caught onto the PR game and we play to win. Now it is our turn to Tweet with a smile and watch as the death-obsessed Hamas-brainwashed fools fall and take their wretched canard of moral equivalency down with them.

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The Libertarian Case for Supporting Israel

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

As the presidential prospects of Senator Rand Paul grow more viable, so does the intensity of the foreign policy debate within the Republican Party. At the center of that debate is the U.S. relationship with Israel. What obligation do we hold to the Jewish state?

PJM associate editor Bryan Preston responds to a report from the Washington Free Beacon regarding a list of books scrubbed from Senator Paul’s website after the Weekly Standard called out some of the books as “anti-Israel.” Preston concludes:

I’d like to like Rand Paul, for his small government, libertarian principles. I share those, and the fact is, we will go bankrupt as a country if we do not get spending under control. But Paul’s foreign policy instincts have too much of the far left, Dennis Kucinich, blame-America-and-Israel-first detritus to make him a serious commander in chief. This reading list is a symptom of that. It suggests that Paul sees Israel as the prime problem in the Middle East, and Jews the prime problem in the world.

Whether Paul holds such views or not, a broader question emerges from the association of non-interventionist foreign policy with antisemitism. Does one indicate the other? Must we “support Israel” in a particular way to prove that we do not hate Jews?

Lost in the loudest rhetoric dominating the Republican foreign policy debate is an application of non-interventionism which nonetheless acknowledges Islamic totalitarianism. As Ayn Rand Institute executive director Yaron Brook explains in the clip above, the U.S. and Israel share a common enemy, an ideology which expressly seeks to deprive individuals of their rights. Non-intervention does not mean sticking our head in the sand and ignoring real enemies. It means limiting our response to actions which defend us rather than police the world.

Certainly, influences within the Paul family orbit err on the side of pacifism, and those forces deserve rebuke. Even so, it would be a mistake to dismiss the principle underlying non-interventionism. We should “support Israel” to the extent it defends our citizens by defanging a common enemy, not for Israel’s sake, but for ours. What that looks like in practice remains open to debate.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 16:14 minutes long; 15.64 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Psaki: ISIS ‘Seeks to Distort Religion Solely to Obtain Power Through Violence’

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

State Department spokeswoman said the stoning of a woman by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) was the result of a movement that “seeks to distort religion solely to obtain power through violence.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that a woman in her 30s in Tabaqa became the first victim of the Islamic State’s judiciary system.

“The Islamic state carried out its first sentence of death by stoning against a woman in Tabaqa, accusing her of adultery,” said the human rights group.

“The situation is unbearable. Stoning is the worst punishment history has known. A quick death is more merciful,” Raqqa activist Salameh, using a pseudonym, told AFP via the Internet. “The woman’s family did not know the sentence was going to be carried out at this time.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s barbaric stoning of the woman yesterday in Tabaqa — Tabaqa, Syria,” Psaki told reporters at the start of the daily briefing.

“This is the latest example of ISIL’s infamous atrocities against the Syrian people. ISIL is a vicious terrorist organization with a proven agenda of grotesque violence and repression, which runs against the Syrian revolution’s goals of freedom and dignity,” Psaki continued.

“We’ve been clear that all those who commit crimes against the Syrian people must be held accountable. The United States regularly reports on violence against women and girls around the world and supports efforts to prevent and respond to such violence, including advancing accountability by working with law enforcement, supporting civil societies efforts, and engaging with critical stake holders such as men and boys,” she said.

“We raise these issues with world leaders and an international force such as the United Nations to spur collective action against such — these egregious crimes.”

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Putin Directly Blames Ukraine for MH17 Shootdown, Because It Crashed In Ukraine

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama has met his match for shameless blame-shifting.

Unbelievable.

By the logic of the first statement, then, the actions of Islamist terrorists against Russians in Moscow are Putin’s fault.

h/t The Interpreter

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Obama: Malaysia Airlines Downing ‘Looks Like It May Be a Terrible Tragedy’

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama briefly addressed the downed Malaysia Airlines flight before comments this afternoon about infrastructure executive actions in Delaware, saying that the loss of the plane carrying 295 passengers and crew “looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.”

“Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority and I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government,” Obama said. “The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why and as a country our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers wherever they call home.”

His remarks on the flight barely exceeded 30 seconds before he launched into his previously scheduled speech on transportation projects at the Port of Wilmington.

The White House said Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Poroshenko spoke on TV after Obama’s remarks, stressing, “We don’t call this an ‘incident’ or ‘catastrophe,’ but a terrorist action.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev posted a message on his Facebook page expressing “deepest condolences following the crash of the Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine.”

“This tragedy has claimed the lives of hundreds of people from different countries and has caused profound grief for those who lost loved ones,” Medvedev said. “I mourn for the victims.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today that she didn’t have “any confirmed information about casualties, the cause or additional details.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those on board, their families and loved ones. We’re closely monitoring the situation. The secretary is, of course, aware of these reports. And we’re seeking additional information,” Psaki said. “Our embassy in Kiev is also in close contact with the Ukrainian authorities on this incident. But at this point, those are all the details that we have.”

Reports have indicated 23 Americans were on the manifest, but Psaki said they were “looking to, of course, obtain that information.”

Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry hadn’t called any Russian officials, and she didn’t know of any plans to do so.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN that he didn’t want to leap to conclusions about the cause of the crash, but “if it was a missile that took this plane down, then it has to be a very sophisticated weapons system.”

“And the Ukrainians do not have that capability. So if it is the case, we’re going to have to act, and act in the most stringent fashions, including real sanctions, including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far,” McCain said.

“I think Putin was disappointed that he didn’t get more support both in Eastern Ukraine, Odessa, other parts of Southern Ukraine. But most of us who get to know Vladimir figured that he was not was going to give up easily and that he would continue to try to foment disorder in Eastern Ukraine, which, as we all know, is the most important part of the Ukrainian economy,” he said. “So I never believed he was going to go quietly, I’d – it’s impossible to assume that he’d believe that something like this would do anything but have the most negative effects.”

McCain told MSNBC, “If it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing that this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay, and there should be.”

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Vox.com: Sure, Hamas Commits War Crimes. So What?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Vox.com is now unofficially Hamas’ foremost apologist among juiceboxers in the West.

I’m not making that up. Check out today’s offering.

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Do we even need to read the rest?

The “militants” are Hamas terrorists who are hiding weapons in schools, near children and families, to provide the Israelis with a terrible choice: Bomb the schools to get the rockets and maybe kill children, or leave the rockets alone knowing that they will eventually rain down on Israel’s cities and kill Israeli children.

Hamas forces Israel into that choice for the propaganda value gained with every civilian death. Or, to destabilize Israel’s government if it chooses not to strike those targets.

Hamas is still designated a terrorist group, even by the Obama-Kerry State Department. Vox is thus knowingly setting itself up as an apologist for terrorists.

Hiding weapons of war in schools is a war crime, straight up. Targeting civilians intentionally, as Hamas does, is also a war crime. Thus, Hamas quite deliberately commits war crimes, and quite deliberately poses impossible choices for the democratically-elected Israeli government, for strategic and propaganda reasons.

Here’s how Vox’s Max Fischer treats that.

Both Hamas’s use of civilian Palestinian buildings and Israel’s strikes against those buildings are highly controversial, and rightly so. It would be understating things pretty dramatically to say that this an aspect of the Israel-Hamas conflict where both sides are behaving badly. But that does not make them equivalent.

“…both sides are behaving badly.” Moral equivalency between the terrorists who are choosing to put their own people in peril, and the democratically elected government that is acting to protect its own people.

Only the people responsible can know for sure why Palestinian militants would use civilian buildings, but any real possibility is bad. Maybe militant groups use civilian buildings like this UN school simply because they don’t mind the danger this creates for the Palestinians they claim to protect. Maybe it’s because they are hoping that the rockets will be safer in a UN school because Israel won’t want to bomb it, which means using Palestinians kids and teachers as human shields. An argument you hear from Hamas’s harshest critics is that they are hoping Israel will target the schools, thus rallying people to their side.

Hamas’ “harshest critics” have it right.

None of these speaks well of militant groups or the effects of their rocket campaigns on Palestinian civilians. It is not a great secret that “resistance” campaigns by groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad bring far greater harm to Palestinian civilians than they do anything resembling liberation, but this incident is a small glimpse of how, and of the effects of militant groups firing hundreds of rockets into Israel from densely populated neighborhoods in Gaza.

Hey, he got something right. Have a cookie.

Here’s the thing, though: while incidents like this force Israel to decide between bombing civilian structures or allowing Hamas to use those structures as rocket storage depots, it does not actually force Israel to choose to bomb civilian buildings. It is entirely within Israel’s power to not bomb civilian buildings.

Did a 10-year-old write that? Certainly someone with no moral foundation at all, no understanding of the laws of war, and no understanding at all of military strategy or the purpose of propaganda, wrote it.

In all seriousness, it’s C level work for a decent middle school. Or it’s expert trolling, getting people to click just to gawk at the stupidity. Hey, Slate makes a decent living off that tactic.

If this is “explanatory journalism,” then the genre needs to die, and quickly.

 

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Malaysia Airlines 777 Down in Restive Area of Ukraine

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it has lost another Boeing 777: Flight MH17 from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, over a restive region near Donetsk, Ukraine.

There were 280 passengers on board and 15 crew members.

The incident comes a day after President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia. “Along with our allies, with whom I’ve been coordinating closely the last several days and weeks, I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a cease-fire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally-mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border,” Obama said Wednesday evening.

“On top of the sanctions we have already imposed, we are therefore designating selected sectors of the Russian economy as eligible for sanctions,” he said. “We are freezing the assets of several Russian defense companies.  And we are blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies.  These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted — designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone this morning about the new sanctions regime. It was unclear if that call took place before or after MH17 went down.

Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Delaware that Obama “had been briefed about the airliner crash and had instructed his staff to keep him updated,” according to the White House pool report.

Obama is speaking at the Port of Wilmington today to “announce a new initiative, using his pen and his phone, to increase private sector investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”

Malaysia Airlines, which lost Flight MH370 in March, has given few updates as the situation unfolds.

An aide to Ukraine’s interior minister posted on Facebook that they believe the plane was taken down by a Buk missile system “kindly” given to pro-Russian rebels in the region.

The aide said the plane was flying at 10,000 meters when it was taken down. “Cynicism of Putin and his terrorists have no limit! Europe, USA, Canada, the civilized world – open your eyes! Help us all what you can! This is a war between good and evil!” the aide wrote.

“Here’s a video from the crash site! Some rascals shouted ‘Beauty! Beautifully lit’! Nonhumans!”

YouTube Preview Image Ukrainians posted photos of a Dutch passport reportedly found near the crash site.

 

 

 

 

 

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Snowden Document Exposes UK’s Orwellian Online Spying Tactics

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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A new document released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that the British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has developed an extraordinary array of tools, not only for internet surveillance, but also for the purpose of promoting propaganda and manipulating social media.

The document, released to British newspaper, The Intercept, shows that the secretive spy agency — the British equivalent of the NSA — has in its possession tools created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate page view counts on web sites, “amplify” sanctioned messages on YouTube (or censor video content judged to be “extremist”), and even seed the internet with false information. JTRIG also has ability to find photos of specific targets on Facebook that are not available to the public.

The document—available here—is a Wikipedia-style page from 2012 designed to inform other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s “weaponised capability” in the area of internet technology. The document describes not only the run-of-the-mill tools used to create mayhem online by average hackers (“distributed denial of service” attacks and “call bombing”), but in a disturbing insight into the capabilities of the British government, also reveals tools that could be used to manipulate political discourse and public opinion — and even to disseminate state-approved propaganda.

JTRIG describes some of the tactics as “in development” but says most are “fully operational.” The document brags, “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.” Some of the capabilities described by JTRIG in the document, along with their code names are listed below:

• “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)

• “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER)

• “Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)

• “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery”

•  ”Content removal” (SILVERLORD)

• “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)

• “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)

• “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY)

• “Ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

• “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)

• “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE)

• “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)

• “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (www.ebay.co.uk)” (ELATE)

• “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)

• “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

 

The new Snowden document also reveals that the agency has the ability to monitor Skype conversations in real time:

• “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)

JTRIG Tools and Techniques   The Intercept

This raises questions about Microsoft’s cooperation with spy agencies or possible security vulnerabilities with the program. Microsoft uses advanced encryption for Skype and the company claims it “only respond[s] to legal government demands” and only complies with “orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers.” The document does note that though it is fully operational, there may be some “usage restrictions” for the Skype tool.

The Snowden document does not reveal whether all of the programs were used or how often. It does note that “there can be some reasons our tools won’t work for operational reasons” and adds that “there may also be some legal restrictions” on using the tools.

The release comes as the British parliament is considering an emergency surveillance law that would require telecom companies to retain customer data for a year. The companies had been required to retain data for 12 months under a 2006 European Union directive but the policy was thrown out in April by the European Court of Justice on the grounds that it violated human rights.

Prime Minister David Cameron has championed the surveillance legislation, saying the government’s powers must not be compromised at a time of growing concern over Brits traveling to Iraq and Syria to join militant Islamist groups. Privacy advocates have objected to the legislation, saying it is moving too quickly and without enough public debate about privacy and human rights.

 

 

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BREAKING: Reports Indicate Israel Agrees to Ceasefire

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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After an unprecedented day of attacks from 4 fronts, Sinai, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, reports indicate that the Israeli government has agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

The Jewish Week reports:

Israeli media is now reporting that Israel has agreed to an Egyptian draft ceasefire proposal. Hamas has not yet replied, but there are hints it may agree.

According to the proposal: There were would be de-escalation of the fighting beginning at 9 a.m. Israel time that would last for 12 hours. That would be followed by a ceasefire for 48 hours. Then delegations from Israel and Hamas would travel to Cairo for peace talks.

Israel has not rejected it, according to the media reports, because this war is seen as an achievement for Israel because it will have ended without Israel suffering any serious damage.

If Hamas were to reject it, Israel then would have international legitimacy to widen the war, according to analysts quoted in the Israeli press.

Early analysis published at the Times of Israel indicates that a deal is unfavorable to Hamas:

…there is some language providing for the opening of the border crossings, and an  easing of movement of people and goods via those crossings as permitted by the  security situation. But that language is almost a direct repetition of the  November 2012 ceasefire terms that brought Operation Pillar of Defense to a  close. Time and again, Hamas’s leaders have been stressing in recent days that “there will be no return to the 2012 ceasefire terms.”

However, Israel’s willingness to accept the ceasefire pins the terrorist organization into a tight corner in the international scene:

Hamas’s problem is that if it rejects the Egyptian proposal it will find itself  unprecedentedly isolated in the international community and the Arab world.  Cairo will accuse it of torpedoing the opportunity for calm, and Jerusalem  will have the legitimacy to mount a ground offensive into Gaza.

…And what of the Netanyahu government? It would seem that most members of the  security cabinet recognize that the Egyptian proposal represents a fair  achievement for Israel, and a significant failure for Hamas.

Will Israel only be pushing off the inevitable, or worse in seeking to negotiate with Hamas? Or is this merely a move by Netanyahu’s government to increase international support for a full-fledged military operation? With an unwilling partner in the White House, and an unlikely negotiating partner in Egypt, only time – or terrorists – will tell.

Update: 6 hours into the unilateral ceasefire, during which time Hamas fired 50 rockets into Israel, Israel has resumed strikes on Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned Hamas for not accepting the ceasefire. Has Bibi called Hamas’ bluff?

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Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Hamstrings His Nuclear Negotiators

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

SURPRISE!

A major speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader has limited the ability of the Iranian delegation at high-level nuclear talks to make concessions with six world powers and this could scuttle chances for Tehran to reach an accord to end sanctions, diplomats said.

In a public address filled with technical detail, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran needs to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, clashing with the powers’ push for it to be reduced to minimise the risk of nuclear bombmaking, as July 20 deadline for a deal nears.

This is your weekly reminder that behind all of the “we want to play in the polite world” theater Iran occasionally engages in is an anti-Western, Islamic fundamentalist dictator who will kill those who don’t dance for him.

We counter that with a meandering, unfocused approach to this that has gotten so bad Bob Menendez and Linsdey Graham are the Senators calling for a hard line.

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Whaddya Know-Eric Holder Notices Terrorists Are Dangerous And Working Together

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Refreshing.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is worried about wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Take, for instance, the current mix of bomb-makers from Yemen with foreign fighters in Syria.

“That’s a deadly combination, where you have people who have the technical know-how along with the people who have this kind of fervor to give their lives in support of a cause that is directed at the United States and directed at its allies. And it’s something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern,” he told ABC’s “This Week.”

He estimated there are about 7,000 foreign fighters in Syria, coming from places like Europe and the United States.

In this sixth year of the “Politics of Oprah” presidency, it’s a bit different to hear his closest confidante in the administration acknowledge what most fourth graders have been aware of for a long time: hey these people want to kill us and they talk to each other. Oh, by the way, Syria is kind of a mess.

Holder is actually the only member of Team Lightbringer besides Crazy Joe the Wonder Veep who can get away with remotely making any realistic observations without incurring the wrath of President “Don’t Rush To Judgment” and keeping his job.

It probably isn’t safe to place bets on any reality making it to the guy at the top any time soon though.

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Pro-Palestinian Rioters Corner Jews in Paris Synagogues

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The Times of Israel reports:

Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.

But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas. The unrest was continuing early Sunday evening.

Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.

A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”

The event comes after a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue in the suburbs of Paris this past Friday night. Despite it being Shabbat, there were no injuries and only minor damage occurred. 

On July 8, the day Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, a teenage girl in Paris was physically assaulted by a man with a “Middle Eastern appearance” who pepper sprayed her while shouting, “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.”

France, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, is second only to Russia in terms of Jewish immigration to Israel. According to Israeli politician and former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, “Something historic is happening. It may be the beginning of the end of European Jewry.”

According to Israel’s Channel 2 news, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has confirmed that anti-Israel rioters attempted to enter two synagogues in central Paris. The rioters were stopped by French police.

Instagram user Jean-Baptiste Soufron posted a video from the Synagogue de la Roquette where pro-Palestinian activists were in the midst of a standoff with French police. One French Instagram user commented, “A shame for France ….far from the land of my childhood.” Another wrote, “The French media are responsible for inciting strong hatred and misinformation.”

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Americans Also Targets in Hamas Attacks

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The above news clip represents what the average American hears on a daily basis regarding Operation Protective Edge, the latest military spate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on (officially) since 1948. In the span of the 2 minute report, the Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza were mentioned 3 times. What was not mentioned: These civilians have been instructed by their Hamas government to ignore the flyers and phone calls from the Israeli Defense Forces warning citizens to get out of the way of impending rocket attacks in their areas.

While an Israeli mother putting her baby to sleep in a bomb shelter is included in the report, what the reporter didn’t bother to tell you are the number of Israelis currently being hospitalized for shock. Nor did the report include the fact that this is just another day for the residents of Sderot, who’ve received a constant barrage of rockets since Israel relinquished Gaza back to the Palestinians in 2005. That’s nearly a decade of rocket fire, making the generation who grew up under these attacks old enough to train incoming school students in how not to suffer the inevitable PTSD associated with a lifetime of death threats flying through the air and landing in your back yard.

American audiences hear none of this because the majority of American and world media have fallen prey to Hamas’s most powerful ongoing terrorist operation: A disinformation and glasnost campaign designed to destroy western support for Israel through a constant barrage of media bias.

Here is how the disinformation and glasnost campaign has been executed in response to Operation Protective Edge :

Seed of Truth: Palestinian civilians are being killed by Israeli rocket fire in Gaza.

Pack of Lies: Israelis are safely protected in bomb shelters under the Iron Dome while their military targets innocent civilians in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Ultimate Goal: Encourage American and worldwide support for the Hamas campaign to wipe Israel off the map and eliminate all evidence of the Zionist entity, including the Jewish people and their supporters, from the face of the earth.

The glasnost element is the most perverse. Hamas plays on the western disbelief in the idea of martyrs, portraying these women and children as “innocent civilian victims” of Israeli aggression. When speaking to the non-Western media, these dead are referred to in a term most recently used by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, “the Gazan martyrs.” Glasnost is the term for glorifying the leader’s image abroad. In this case, Hamas is using the bodies of women and children to shield their missiles in life and glorify their reputations in death.

Some news agencies and opinion sites are catching onto this disinformation campaign, willing to call it “media bias against Israel.” This is more than media bias. This is a calculated effort on the part of Hamas to sway world opinion against the only nation willing to confront and fight against Islamic terror. Therefore, whether the mainstream media is a willing partner in this endeavor makes no matter. The bottom line is, the media is marketing this disinformation to audiences in America and worldwide that are watching blind, with no Iron Dome to protect them.

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House Affirms Support for Israel ‘As It Defends Itself Against Unprovoked Rocket Attacks’

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The House passed a bipartisan resolution by unanimous consent today to support Israel “as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) introduced the resolution two days ago, and it was fast-tracked to the floor with more than 140 co-sponsors.

“I applaud the passage of this bipartisan resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself against violence,” said Israel, who is also chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It demonstrates the strong and unwavering partnership between the U.S. and the State of Israel and sends a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that acts of terror against Israel will not be tolerated.”

Cole said the House “reinforced its support of our friends in Israel during times of great tension and unrest in the region.”

“Over the last several weeks, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, putting the lives of our Israeli friends in grave danger. As Israel combats these acts of terror, I am pleased that this resolution shows that America stands behind our friends,” he said. “I am also very proud that the Iron Dome, a joint Israeli-American project that intercepts missiles, has helped in the fight against terror and protected millions of lives. During these times of unrest, this technology is proving indispensable.”

The Iron Dome battery has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress since they went into action in 2011.

The resolution “reaffirms [House] support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel, condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel, and calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel.”

It included an amendment from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noting that Iran is an enabler of Hamas.

“Hamas and their supporters remain committed to armed struggle against Israel’s right to exist–as they deliberately target Israeli population centers using many weapons provided by Iran,” Royce said. “With these threats arrayed against Israel, we will continue stand with the Israeli people.”

A similar resolution has been introduced in the upper chamber by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and is expected to come to the floor for a vote next week.

When asked at today’s briefing if there is anything more the U.S. can do to stop the violence, White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Air Force One yesterday.

“The president, in that telephone call, also did something that we have done several times publicly, which is reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” Earnest said. “That said, we also condemn the attacks this morning that were launched from Lebanon.”

“In the course of that telephone call, the president also expressed his concern about the risks associated with further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides in this dispute to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm,” he added.

“It is evident that civilians have been killed, including children; that’s tragic and we offer our condolences to the families.”

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Obama Calls Netanyhu for First Time Since Crisis Began

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today for the first time since the murder of three Israeli teens touched off the latest rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

“The president reiterated the United States’ strong condemnation of continuing rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. The president expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”

Press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama “once again expressed condolences to the people of Israel on the kidnapping and murder of teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel, who was an American and Israeli citizen, and urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice.” Obama expressed those condolences in a statement issued by the White House on June 30.

“The two leaders also discussed the situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” today’s readout continued. “The president welcomed the arrest of suspects in the abduction and murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir and expressed appreciation for the prime minister’s determination to see that they be brought to justice. He expressed concern about the beating and detention of teenage American citizen Tariq Khdeir and acknowledged Israel’s efforts to resolve this case.”

“The two leaders discussed the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and the president reiterated that the United States will not accept any agreement that does not ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.”

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Time Well Spent? Obama Isn’t Where He Needs to Be

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

I’m not going to delve into the situation in Israel. I’m only going to say that I am beyond saddened by the death of the kidnapped teens, appalled by the unleashing of rockets on Israeli cities, and concerned for Israel’s ability to defend herself. I will not even entertain the critics’ argument, that Israel is an aggressor, and deserves carnage and punishment. These arguments are made by people who do not know the history, and who do not have the courage to know what is right. Israel is the only free democracy in the Middle East, the biggest proponent towards peace, and the main funder of Gaza and West Bank services. And Israel is a sworn ally of the US.

This last statement is something President Obama has trouble remembering.

With rockets overhead and bomb sirens becoming a norm, Israel is in crisis. Since the situation escalated, Obama has not even made a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Not any kind of reassuring message, nor any offer of support. Silence.

Remember President Bush, in 2003, said directly to then Prime Minister Sharon, “Israel must not feel constrained in defending the homeland.” But he’s a right-winger! In 1994, President Clinton spoke before the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and said, “Israel must always be able to defend itself,” and reaffirmed the US’ commitment to stand by our ally. So where’s Obama’s statement to the people of Israel? Not even a phone call?!?

Meanwhile, Obama has been in the Southwest of our country. He spoke of the need to reform our immigration policy, and asked for billions of dollars to strengthen border security as he enables a quasi-amnesty anyway. But, he was in Texas. Did he go to see the border he’s talking about? Did he look at what unique factors might need to be taken into account? Did he ask border patrol and local enforcement officers what could best be done?

President Bush did. He toured a long patch of the border in 2006, to ascertain what could be done to assist Federal law enforcement. This is after serving as Governor of Texas.

Obama did not. The Selfie-in-Chief claimed that he did not want to go actually look at our border, because he doesn’t like photo ops.

So he didn’t go to the border, and he hasn’t called Israel. What has our President had time to do in the past few days?

Obama has been watching the World Cup; he even dropped in on a party to cheer on our team. And, he knows how to dial a phone, because he called Soccer players Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey after their loss. And he had a debaucherous night of drinking, billiards, and mustache complimenting, in Denver.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beer or several. And I have been avidly watching the World Cup—but not in detriment to my job. I would not fail to meet my obligations because I was too busy drinking, partying, and watching sports.

But calling foreign dignitaries and securing our borders are the President’s job responsibilities. Like literally—they are two of the only things the Constitution actually says he should do.

So Obama: it’s time to start putting your responsibilities first.

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California Dem Blasts Al-Jazeera on Al-Jazeera: ‘The Owners of This Network Fund Hamas’

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson
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Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) may not get an invitation to reappear on Al-Jazeera America, but he sure gave the network an earful in the segment he did get this week.

“Every one of those rockets is a war crime… every rocket that is not aimed at a military target but is aimed at a city,” Sherman said on a live feed from Capitol Hill. “The owners of this TV network help fund Hamas.”

He went on to call the Hamas offensive launched against Israel “open season on those of the Jewish faith.”

“The idea that you would have a TV clear effort to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible and then you on this TV station say, ‘well, maybe it’s not a war crime because it’s not successful — the rocket didn’t hit a kindergarten. It was aimed at a kindergarten but it didn’t hit a kindergarten. So then it’s not reprehensible.’”

Sherman defended Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets as “proportionate.”

“I don’t think there are always two sides to every story. Those who are trying to kill as many babies and children and women as possible, who rejoice in their death… no, you have one side in this conflict that is doing everything it possibly can to reduce and avoid civilian casualties and to prosecute those who engage in acts against civilians,” the congressman said.

“And then you have the Hamas side… which of course Qatar supports, which rejoices in how many babies they can kill, how many children they can kill. They name squares and provide subsidies to those who are able to kill civilians and they aim their rockets at civilian targets. That’s not two equal sides.”

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Hagel: Uranium Seized by ISIS ‘Not a Threat Now’

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated the administration isn’t particularly concerned with the uranium seized by ISIS terrorists in Iraq, saying the “old chemicals” aren’t weaponized.

Reuters obtained a letter written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8 from Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in which the envoy asks the world body for help to “stave off the threat” of the use of the 88 pounds of uranium compounds from the University of Mosul by terrorists.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”

“These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts,” he added.

“We were aware of that facility,” Hagel told reporters on a stop at the Naval submarine base at King’s Bay, Ga. “We’ve known about it for a number of years. And I think the best way to respond to it is — it is not chemical weapons munitions.”

“They are not weaponized. They’re old chemicals from many years ago,” he continued. “So, we know where they are. We’ve known about them, we’re keeping our eye on them, but again, they’re not munitions and they’re not weaponized.”

Under questioning, Hagel acknowledged that the compounds seized by terrorists are inherently dangerous.

“Well, there are toxins. That’s right. But again, they are not munitions. They are not weaponized. And there’s no question, if you venture into that — that area, there is danger. That’s right. And there is danger for those who happen to wander in there,” the Defense secretary said.

“But they are not a threat now in — in any way as a form of a weapon.”

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