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Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

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One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal.

Lee Smith writes: The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

[Read the full story here, at Tablet Magazine]

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. Read the rest of this entry »

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Judge Sentences Former Substitute Teacher Mary Beth Haglin to 90 Days in Jail

In addition to the jail time, Haglin also will have to serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years and be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years due to the nature of the offense.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Trish Mehaffey reports: A judge on Friday sentenced former Washington
High substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin to 90 days in jail for having a sexual relationship — that started in 2015 and continued into last year — with a 17-year-old Washington High
student.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever said he didn’t think a deferred judgment and probation, as recommended by defense, and 180 days in jail, as recommended by prosecutor, were appropriate.

McKeever said he had considered all the facts of the case and both recommendations, but he believed the appropriate sentence was 360 days in jail. He did, however, suspend 270 days, which requires Haglin to serve 90 days in jail. He also placed her on supervised probation for two years.

Tell it to the judge

Haglin, 25, of Cedar Rapidswas found guilty by McKeever in December of sexual exploitation by a school employee, an aggravated misdemeanor. She agreed to a bench or nonjury trial based on the “minutes of testimony,” a limited summary of evidence the prosecution would present at trial.

In addition to the jail time, Haglin also will have to serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years and be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years due to the nature of the offense.

[ALSO SEE – ‘It’s the School’s Fault I Had Sex with That Boy’]

McKeever also warned her that because this is a sexual offense she would be subject to an enhanced penalty — more prison time — for any future conviction.

Haglin, during the sentencing, apologized to the victim and the court. She never went into teaching for this to happen, she said.

“I’m more complex than this one snapshot in time,” Haglin told the judge.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Heidi Carmer said during the hearing these kinds of cases are particularly difficult because the best outcome for both the victim and the community have to be considered. But the facts in this case “can’t be overlooked.” There was an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student, she argued.

Carmer said 180 days in jail would hold her accountable, protect the victim and community and discourage others from this kind of crime.

Katie Frank, Haglin’s lawyer, asked the judge to consider a deferred judgment or a suspended sentence and probation. Frank argued that Haglin had no previous criminal history, and she believed it was the intent of the law, that because this wasn’t a forcible felony, she would be eligible for a deferred or suspended judgment. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES HE DID: Obama’s Last-Minute $221 Million Palestine Payout Frozen by Trump

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Source says State Department has notified Ramallah the funds will not be immediately available, while it examines the transfer.

Avi Issacharoff and AP report: The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is freezing the transfer of $221 million which was quietly authorized by the Obama administration in its final hours on January 20, a senior Palestinian source has told The Times of Israel.

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“Kerry formally notified Congress that State would release the extra $221 million money Friday morning, just hours before President Donald Trump took the oath of office.”

US officials conveyed to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday that the funds were not expected to be handed over in the immediate future, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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“I am deeply disappointed that President Obama defied congressional oversight and released $221 million to the Palestinian territories.”

On Tuesday, the State Department said it was reviewing the last-minute decision by former secretary of state John Kerry to send the funds to the Palestinians despite objections to the transfer by congressional Republicans.

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 “I worked to make sure that no American taxpayer dollars would fund the Palestinian Authority unless very strict conditions were met. While none of these funds will go to the Palestinian Authority because of those conditions, they will go to programs in the Palestinian territories that were still under review by Congress. The Obama Administration’s decision to release these funds was inappropriate.”

–Kay Granger, House Appropriations Committee member, in a statement on Tuesday

The department said it would look at the payment and might make adjustments to ensure it comports with the Trump administration’s priorities. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Obama Palestinian Aid Supports Gaza’s Anti-Semitic Propaganda

“I think that was a final slap at Israel by Obama on the way out the door. It doesn’t compare with abandoning Israel at the United Nations on the vote at the Security Council a week before. But nonetheless, this is, a lot of this is money that goes through agencies of the U N which support really awful stuff being done, particularly in Gaza — the propaganda, the Jew-hatred that is taught — but nonetheless it is unnecessary it is gratuitous. It is not going to be reversed, the money amount is too small relatively speaking.”

bibi-obama Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Ultimate Inaugural Address 

Source: Washington Examiner


Obama Accused of Wrecking Trump’s Transition

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Paul Bedard writes: A leading House Republican charges that President Obama is implementing a “scorched earth” exit strategy aimed at undermining President-elect Trump first months while cementing his own legacy through a frenzy of midnight regulations.

“I do believe that the retaliation if you will with Russia was appropriate for conduct, but it was appropriate for conduct going back weeks, months, or even years. And that’s one of the challenges is, the Russians see this as the desperate act of a dying administration, not as a measured response to their misconduct.”

California Rep. Darrell Issa also hit Obama’s post-campaign effort to blame Russia for the outcome of the election, which has sparked some Democrats to suggest that the results are illegitimate.

“That’s where President Obama is going to come up with shortages in his legacy because there’s going to be an asterisk saying, basically President Obama had questionable actions during the transition.”

— Rep. Darrell Issa

President Obama is not going softly into the night. He very clearly wants to leave what some call scorched earth, or at least troubled waters,” said Issa on this weekend’s Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.

The show, titled “Exit Strategy,” focuses on Obama’s last minute moves, including the wave of regulations being flushed through the a government. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama May Be Blackballed by Golf Club Over Anti-Israel Policies

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Obama, who is hoping to join Rockville’s Woodmont Country Club, drew ire from many of its Jewish members after failing last month to block a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements, the New York obama-golf-sqPost reported late Tuesday.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com]

Days after the White House decision to abstain from the U.N. Security Council vote, Secretary of State John Kerry reprimanded Israel for threatening a two-state solution with Palestinians.

“In light of the votes at the U.N. and the Kerry speech and everything else, there’s this major uproar with having him part of the club, and a significant portion of the club has opposed offering him membership,” an unnamed source told the Post.

The country club had planned to provide the outgoing president with a complimentary membership, which costs regular members an $80,000 initiation fee and another $9,673 in annual dues. A source said this was now unlikely following the administration’s handling of the U.N. Security Council vote. Read the rest of this entry »


Senate Republican to Offer Resolution Rebuking UN’s Israel Vote

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Moran’s rebuke, which was first reported by Politico, might not be the only formal action taken by Republican leaders. Several Senate Republicans called for cuts to UN funding over the vote.

Kyle Feldscher reports: Senate Republicans could rebuke the United Nations’ for condemning Israeli settlement construction as early as next week.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., plans to introduce a “sense of the Senate” resolution issuing the rebuke next week. The formal condemnation resolution would be the first official action against the U.N. by the Senate GOP in response to the Security Council resolution, which passed because President Obama refused to veto it.

“I am committed to working with both Republicans and Democrats to make sure we stand with Israel and that the United Nations cannot be used as a forum to create policies that hurt our nation and its allies,” Moran said Friday.

The Security Council resolution was long feared by Israel and their congressional allies, as rumors percolated throughout the fall that the Obama administration would countenance a condemnation of Israeli settlement construction in disputed Palestinian territory. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Israel’s Legal Founding 

When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, it was done so with the approval of the United Nations. But today, Israel’s enemies routinely challenge the legitimacy of its very existence. So, under international law, who’s right? Israel? Or its enemies?

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[VIDEO] The Middle East Problem

The Middle East conflict is framed as one of the most complex problems in the world. But, in reality, it’s very simple. Israelis want to live in peace and are willing to accept a neighboring Palestinian state. And most Palestinians do not want Israel to exist. As Dennis Prager explains, this is really all you need to know. In 5 minutes, understand how Israel was founded, and how, since that auspicious day in 1948, its neighbors have tried to destroy it, again and again.

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Obama: Anti-Israel, Anti-West

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Ben Shapiro writes: Barack Obama has done his best for nearly eight years to undermine the state of Israel. He’s signed a treaty that enshrines an Iranian path to a nuclear weapon while funding their global terrorist activities to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. He’s repeatedly undercut Israel’s image on the world stage, labeling Israel a mere outgrowth of the Holocaust and suggesting that Israeli intransigence stands as the chief obstacle to peace. He’s ushered Benjamin Netanyahu out the side door of the White House, attempted to undercut the prime minister’s speech before Congress, and then deployed an election team to Israel to try to defeat him in an election. Obama has tried to cut weapons shipments to Israel in the middle of a war against terrorists, forced Israel to apologize for stopping weapons shipments to Hamas terrorists, and funded the Palestinian terrorist unity government with American taxpayer dollars.

“Here’s the most plausible explanation: Obama despises Israel because at root, Obama despises the traditional Judeo-Christian underpinning of Western civilization. He breaks down Bible believers into two categories: fools and liars. The fools are the ‘bitter clingers,’ the idiot masses who fall into racism and xenophobia and Bible jabber because they’re poor and stupid. The liars are the self-interested characters who want to do what they want to do while citing the Bible for their support.”

Nonetheless, Israel has survived.

Actually, Israel has thrived.

It’s thrived, in part, because Obama’s absolute incompetence has created an alliance of convenience between Israel and its erstwhile enemies. Saudi Arabia is more fearful of a nuclear Iran than of Israel; Egypt worries more about the Muslim Brotherhood than about Israel; Jordan frets over the Palestinians more than it does over Israel. Even the Palestinian Authority is more concerned about Hamas and ISIS than about Israel.

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[Read the full text here, at National Review]

That means that there’s been very little pressure on Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists in recent years.

Until now.

Obama’s animus for the state of Israel stretches beyond the typical internationalist leftist view of Israel as a colonialist outpost, a cancer growing in the heart of the Muslim Middle East. Most internationalist leftists think that Israel is the cause of Muslim ire, that if Israel were to disappear, suddenly the Muslim lands surrounding it would view the rest of the world with fresh, dewy eyes. This is the same general philosophy that blames the West for the problem of Islamic violence, that suggests that income maldistribution breeds discontent that in turn breeds terrorism.

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[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Obama may think that, but that’s not what drives him.

Something deeper drives Obama when it comes to Israel. Why else would he spend the last few weeks of his presidency throwing gasoline on Israel and then lighting a match?

Some might suggest ideological kinship with Islam. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Special Report Panel: US-Israel Ties Strained by Anti-Settlement Vote 

Fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council raise their hands in affirmation of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. The U.S., which had veto power, abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to pass. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma Press

 


[VIDEO] Israeli Prime Minister Responds to John Kerry’s Comments on UN Vote Part 1 



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[VIDEO] Krauthammer on the United Nations: Trump Should ‘Turn It Into Condos’

Charles Krauthammer has been clear in his disapproval for America’s decision to not veto the United Nation’s resolution on Israeli settlements. The syndicated columnist revisited this topic last night, saying that President-elect Donald Trump already knows how he can put the U.N.’s New York headquarters to better use than it is right now.

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“I think it’s good real estate in downtown New York City. Trump ought to find a way to put his name on it and turn it into condos.”

On Fox’s Special Report, Krauthammer lamented that the U.S. provides so much to the U.N., yet the organization spends its time “trying to attack the only Jewish state on the planet,” instead of addressing international concerns like genocide and terrorism more.  Read the rest of this entry »


Israel: ‘Ben Rhodes is an Expert at Fiction’

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Patrick Goodenough reports: Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday contemptuously dismissed White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’ denials that the Obama administration played a key behind-the-scenes role in getting a resolution condemning Israel through the U.N. Security Council, describing him as an “expert at fiction.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government says it has “iron-clad” information indicating that the Obama administration had a role in the crafting and passage of the resolution that passed Friday in the absence of a U.S. veto.

Ambassador Ron Dermer told MSNBC the Israeli government had proof that it would share that evidence with the incoming Trump administration – which “can decide whether they want to share that with the American people.”

“We’re obviously not going to share it with this [Obama] administration because this administration is behind it,” he charged.

Asked about Rhodes’ denial of an administration role, Dermer replied, “Ben Rhodes is an expert of fiction

“Let’s just wait until all the evidence is presented to the new administration and they will decide,” he said.

And then you can invite me back on your show and you can see whether I’m telling you the truth,” he added. “When the prime minister of Israel makes such an allegation, that is backed up by 100 percent evidence. You can take that to the bank.”

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(Dermer’s barb directed at Rhodes may allude both to his educational background – he has a master’s degree in fiction writing from New York University – and to last summer’s controversy surrounding his reported boasting at having “created an echo chamber” of experts and journalists to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the U.S. people and lawmakers.)

Dermer said criticism of the incoming administration taking a stance on the matter was a distraction; the real issue was an outgoing administration shifting policy towards Israel so fundamentally in its waning days, a step he called “an attempt to handcuff” the Trump administration.

Resolution 2334 states that areas of land disputed between Israel and the Palestinians – including the holiest site in Judaism – is “Palestinian territory” and declares Israeli presence there to be “a flagrant violation under international law.” Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Anti-Israel Tantrum 

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The anti-Israel U.N. resolution is a defining act of Obama’s Presidency.

The decision by the United States to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank is one of the most significant, defining moments of the Obama Presidency.

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“No effort to rescind the resolution, which calls the settlements a violation of ‘international law,’ will succeed because of Russia’s and China’s vetoes.”

It defines this President’s extraordinary ability to transform matters of public policy into personal pique at adversaries. And it defines the reality of the international left’s implacable opposition to the Israeli state.

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“Instead, the resolution will live on as Barack Obama’s cat’s paw, offering support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”

Earlier in the week, Egypt withdrew the Security Council resolution under pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President-elect Donald Trump also intervened, speaking with Egypt’s government and, via Twitter, urging Mr. Obama to block the resolution, as have past U.S. Administrations and Mr. Obama himself in 2011.

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“For Donald Trump, meet your State Department. This is what State’s permanent bureaucrats believe, this is what they want, and Barack Obama delivered it to them.”

As was widely reported Friday after the U.N. vote, the White House decided to abstain—thereby allowing the pro-Palestinian resolution to pass—in retaliation against the intervention by Messrs. Netanyahu and Trump.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Obama’s animus toward Prime Minister Netanyahu is well known. Apparently Mr. Obama took it as an affront that the President-elect would express an opinion about this week’s U.N. resolution. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Netanyahu Exposes US Treachery in UN Vote, Slams Obama, Kerry; ‘Friends Don’t Take Friends to the Security Council’

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[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Anti-Israel Vote a Disgrace: ‘U.S. Joined the Jackals at the U.N.’ 

“What happened today is that the United States joined the jackals at the U.N. That was a phrase used by Pat Moynihan, the great Democratic senator, the former U.S. ambassador who spoke for the United States standing up in the U.N. and to resist this kind of disgrace. To give you an idea of how appalling this resolution is, it declares that any Jew who lives in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter, inhabited for 1,000 years, is illegal, breaking international law, essentially an outlaw, can be hauled into the international criminal court and international courts in Europe, which is one of the consequences. The Jewish quarter has been populated by Jews for 1,000 years. In the war of Independence in 1948, the Arabs invaded Israel to wipe it out. They did not succeed, but the Arab Legion succeeded in conquering the Jewish quarter. They expelled all the Jews. They destroyed all the synagogues and all the homes. For 19 years, no Jew could go there. The Israelis got it back in the Six-Day War. Now it’s declared that this is not Jewish territory. Remember, it’s called “the Jewish quarter,” but it belongs to other people. And any Jew who lives there is an outlaw. That’s exactly what we supported. The resolution is explicit in saying settlements in the occupied territories and in east Jerusalem.”

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Read the rest of this entry »


A Frantic Path to Obama’s Dark Side: The U.N. Vote on Israeli Settlements

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Israeli officials became convinced Obama might take action after Trump’s election; Palestinians believed new administration would never endorse a vote critical of Israel.

In three frenetic days of diplomacy this week, President Barack Obama openly sided with the United Nations Security Council against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And the fallout for U.S.-Israel relations, and the future of the Middle East peace process, could be profound, said current and former U.S. officials.

Resolutions at the U.N. concerning the Israeli settlement issue had been circulating for around a year, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats. Obama administration officials said their plans on Mideast peace, however, were complicated by the U.S. presidential elections. The White House didn’t want to undermine the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who is viewed as a strong supporter of Israel.

Israel’s government became increasingly convinced Mr. Obama might take action after Donald Trump’s surprise victory. Israeli officials have described the time before the president elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the “kill zone,” when the Obama administration could take steps that would be difficult to reverse.

Fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council raise their hands in affirmation of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. The U.S., which had veto power, abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to pass. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma Press

Fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council raise their hands in affirmation of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. The U.S., which had veto power, abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to pass. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma Press

Israeli officials said they were spooked by a Dec. 4 speech Secretary of State John Kerry gave in Washington in which he sharply criticized Mr. Netanyahu’s settlement policy. Mr. Kerry then held meetings with the Palestinians’ lead negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on Dec. 12 at the State Department to discuss the peace process.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

A senior Israeli official said its government got wind that Mr. Kerry conveyed to the Palestinian diplomat at that meeting that the U.S. was likely to abstain on the U.N. resolution. “Kerry was colluding with the Palestinians to put the resolution in motion,” said the Israeli official.

Obama administration officials denied “previewing” the U.S. vote to anyone.

As early as October, Palestinian diplomats at the U.N. began assessing prospects for a Security Council resolution. They drafted two resolutions: one that would condemn Israel’s rapid expansion of settlements in disputed territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem, and another that would recognize Palestine as a state at the U.N. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Future of Israel Relations After U.S. Abstains from UN Vote

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Israel Thrashes Obama for Anti-Israeli ‘Shameful Move’ at UN

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The Israeli official’s admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Josef Federman reports: An Israeli official on Friday accused President Barack Obama of colluding with the Palestinians in a “shameful move against Israel at the U.N.” after learning the White House did not intend to veto a Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem the day before.

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“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.. The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory.”

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the U.N.,” the official said. “The U.S administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tail wind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” he said calling it “an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN.”

Earlier he said Israel’s prime minister turned to President-elect Donald Trump to help head off the critical U.N. resolution.

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“Under heavy Israeli pressure, Egypt called off a planned vote in the Security Council hours before it was to take place. In the diplomatic activity ahead of the postponement, both Netanyahu and Trump issued nearly identical statements urging the U.S. to veto the measure.”

Although the U.S. opposes the settlements, it has traditionally used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning Israel, saying that disputes between Israel and the Palestinians must be resolved through negotiations. But after eight years of failed peace efforts during the Obama Administration, Israel has expressed concern the outgoing president would take an audacious step to leave his mark on the region. In recent weeks, the White House had been especially secretive about its deliberations.

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The Israeli official’s admission marked a final chapter in the icy relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama over the last eight years, and signaled an era of close ties between Israel and the incoming Trump administration.

Israel knew even before the Egyptian draft resolution that the White House was planning an “ambush” and coordinating it with the Palestinians, said another Israeli official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal diplomatic conversations.

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Israeli diplomats believe they were misled by the U.S. during a meeting last week between high-ranking Israeli and Obama administration officials in which the U.S. side offered reassurances about its efforts to support Israel but declined to explicitly state that the U.S. would veto such a resolution if it came up. The Israelis told their counterparts that “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” the official said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump Opposing U.N. Israel Resolution ‘Extremely Effective and Extremely Daring’ 

The U.N. was expected to vote today on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, and reports indicate that Obama was ready to allow the resolution to pass until Egypt put off the vote. President-elect Donald Trump put pressure on Egypt not to go forward with the resolution, and it seems to have had an effect. Charles Krauthammer said that the resolution could have done serious damage to Israel, making Trump’s involvement bold and effective.

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Israel Fires: Tens of Thousands Flee; Arson Suspected

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Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as wildfires rage through parts of the Israeli city of Haifa, the third largest in the country. On social media, the Arabic-language hashtag #Israel_on_fire began trending, with most tweets expressing pleasure over the outbreak.

Huge flames are being fanned by strong winds in residential areas in the north of the city of about 250,000.

“It’s likely that where it was arson, it goes in the direction of nationalistic. I don’t want to disturb the investigation.”

— Roni Alsheich

Fires are also threatening homes near Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Israel’s police chief said arson was suspected in some cases and hinted that some of it could be politically motivated.

“It’s likely that where it was arson, it goes in the direction of nationalistic,” Roni Alsheich told reporters, adding: “I don’t want to disturb the investigation.”

Map showing Haifa

“Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav said there were indications that one of the fires started when ‘someone tossed a cigarette in an area full of oil and flammable fluids’ in an industrial zone.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing religious Jewish Home party, said on Twitter in Hebrew: “Only those to whom the country does not belong are capable of burning it.”

On social media, the Arabic-language hashtag #Israel_on_fire began trending, with most tweets expressing pleasure over the outbreak.

Haifa Mayor Yonah Yahav said there were indications that one of the fires started when “someone tossed a cigarette in an area full of oil and flammable fluids” in an industrial zone.

Four Palestinians have been arrested in connection with a fire near Jerusalem and are due to appear in court on suspicion of starting a bonfire negligently.

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Months of dry weather have left the country vulnerable to fires – Reuters

“Four Palestinians have been arrested in connection with a fire near Jerusalem and are due to appear in court on suspicion of starting a bonfire negligently.”

The Palestinian Authority has offered to help Israel’s fire department, a senior Israeli security official told the BBC, but has not yet received a reply.

Meanwhile, hundreds of military reservists have been called up to help battle the three-day outbreak of fires. Read the rest of this entry »


Shinzo Abe: ‘Our alliance will not function without trust. I came away convinced that President-elect Trump is a leader who can be trusted’

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After the talks, Abe gave a golf driver to Trump as a gift, while Trump gave a golf outfit to Abe.

NEW YORK — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump held a meeting in New York on Thursday evening.

It is believed that Abe emphasized during the meeting the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and free trade mechanisms, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

After the meeting with Trump, Abe told reporters, “It gave me confidence that the two of us can build a relationship of trust.”

Abe and Trump agreed to meet again.

It was Trump’s first meeting with a foreign leader since winning the U.S. presidential election. It is extremely rare for a Japanese prime minister to meet with a U.S. president-elect.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

The talks were held in Trump’s residence within Trump Tower in Manhattan. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes, longer than the initially scheduled 45 minutes. Abe had only his interpreter present.

Trump had the following people present: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who is seen as likely to take the national security adviser’s post; Ivanka, Trump’s eldest daughter; and Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: After NY Talks, Abe Confident He Can Build Trust-Based Ties with Trump

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the two talked about various issues but refrained from disclosing the contents of the meeting with Trump because the talks were unofficial.

He made the comments in New York after a meeting that was intended to smooth relations following Trump’s campaign rhetoric that cast doubt on long-standing U.S. alliances.

Abe became the first world leader to meet Trump on Thursday, seeking reassurances over the future of the U.S.-Japan security and trade relations.

Abe met with Trump in New York, where the incoming president is working on setting up an administration after his surprise election victory last week that has injected new uncertainty into old U.S. alliances.

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“I do believe that without confidence between the two nations (the) alliance would never function in the future and (after) the outcome of today’s discussion I am convinced Mr. Trump is a leader in whom I can have great confidence,” Abe said following the meeting.

Trump’s campaign rhetoric caused consternation in many world capitals, including Tokyo. Trump has said he would demand that allies such as Japan and South Korea contribute more to the cost of basing U.S. troops in their countries.

Such comments have worried Japan at a time when the threat from North Korea is rising, and China is challenging the U.S.-led security status quo in the Pacific. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Benjamin Netanyahu Response to a Video: ‘The Palestinian Leadership Must Stop Encouraging Children to Kill’

“I’ve just watched a video that shook me to the core of my being. In just a few seconds, it shows why our conflict persists.

So here is a short snippet:

“Shoot him! Shoot him! Here he is. Go, go. Shoot him!”

A Palestinian father holds up his 4-year-old son. He pleads with Israeli border police to kill his own child. He shouts, “Shoot this little boy!” His boy.

He pushes his young son forward toward the soldiers and screams, “Kill him! Shoot him!”

The boy pauses. He is scared. Any child would be.

He turns back, looking at his father for guidance.

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With his shirt tightly tucked into his bright red shorts, the boy ambles forward towards the soldiers. One of them extends his hand in friendship. The boy gives him a high-five.

It’s hard to make a four-year-old hate.

Imagine your own child at that age. Think of his smile. Imagine her laugh. Picture the unrestrained joy and innocence that only a child possesses.

Encouraging someone to murder a child – let alone your own child – is probably the most inhumane thing a person can do.palestinian-boy2-1-400x324

What did this child do to deserve this? The answer is: nothing. He is innocent.

He should be in a playground. He should be in the sun, laughing with other children.

Sadly, this father’s crime is not an isolated example. In Gaza, Hamas runs summer camps that teach children to value death over life – suicide kindergarten camps.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education in Ramallah recently organized an event for students to honor terrorists who murdered three civilians.

Two weeks ago, the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper praised teenage terrorists and wrote that “death as a martyr is the path to excellence and greatness.” That’s a direct quote.

Palestinian and Israeli children deserve better. They deserve to live. They deserve to live in peace.
Children are not cannon fodder. They are the most precious things in the world. They’re the most precious things we have.

I’m sure Palestinian parents, many of them, are as outraged as I am at this video. Read the rest of this entry »


At Least 3 Killed, 7 Wounded in Shooting Attack at Food & Retail Center in Tel Aviv

At least three people were killed and seven people were wounded in a shooting attack at a food and shopping center in Tel Aviv, after two gunmen, said to be disguised as ultra-Orthodox Jews, opened fire on passersby.

All of the wounded were evacuated to nearby hospitals. One of the shooters was captured by police and taken in for questioning, and the other was taken to Ichilov Hospital in serious condition.

Netanyahu, who arrived on Wednesday from Moscow, is convening a security briefing in Tel Aviv.

Seven of the wounded have been evacuated to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and another was taken to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. One of the wounded was said to be in critical condition, four in serious condition currently and two are in light condition. The casualty at Sheba is in moderate condition.

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The attack took place at Sarona Market, an upscale food and retail center located opposite to the military headquarters in central Tel Aviv and near government buildings. Police said they received a call at 9:30 P.M. regarding shootings heard at Sharon. As emergency forces were making their way to the scene, there was another of a shooting incident at near the food and shopping center.

Tel Aviv district police chief Moshe Edri said there was no prior terror alert before the shooting occured and there was no information about an additional terrorist at large.

According to initial reports, two armed man opened fire at passersby near the Benedict restaurant. The shooter then reportedly opened fire at the nearby Ha’arbaa Street. Read the rest of this entry »


David P. Goldman: Why France Will Do Nothing About the Paris Massacre

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France simply doesn’t have the stomach for it.

David P. Goldman writes: Ignored in news coverage of the Paris massacre is the single most pertinent piece of background:  A 2014 opinion poll found that ISIS had an approval rating in France (at 16%) almost as high as President Francois Holland (at 18%). In the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, ISIS’ support jumped to 27%. Muslims comprise about a tenth of France’s population, so the results imply that ISIS had the support of the overwhelming majority of French Muslims (and especially Muslim youth), as well as the endorsement of a large part of the non-Muslim Left.

“Finding a needle in a haystack is possible only when the haystack helps you find the needles. The French authorities would have to persuade its own Muslim community to turn informer against its radicalized youth.”

Reporting the survey, conducted by the polling organization ICM for a Russian news service, Newsweek’s France correspondent Anne-Elizabeth Moutet wrote, “This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds, unemployment to the tune of 40%, who’ve been deluged by satellite TV and internet propaganda.”

“Muslim community leaders would have to fear the French state more than they fear their own radicals, and this would require a large number of arrests, deportations, and other coercive actions. In this case the situation would get worse before it got better.”

After last Friday’s massacres, to be sure, the flip-it-to-them attitude reflected in last year’s poll no doubt has attenuated somewhat. Nonetheless, it is clear that a very large proportion of French Muslims support the most extreme expression of radical Islam, offering the terrorists the opportunity to blend into a friendly milieu. The problem has gotten too big to be cured without a great deal of mess and pain. In the Gallic hedonistic calculus, a massacre or two per year is preferable to a breach of the tenuous social peace. And that is why France will do nothing.

That makes counter-terrorism challenging, but not impossible. There are two successful models for suppressing terrorists who enjoy the passive support of the ambient population: the French in Algeria and the Israelis after the Second Intifada of 2002. The first is infamous for the extensive use of torture and mass reprisals against civilians; the second succeeded on the strength of superb human as well as electronic intelligence and seamless integration of military, police and intelligence organizations. Israel reduced the number of Arab suicide bombings from 47 in 2002 with 238 dead to only 1 in 2007 with 3 dead.

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Unlike the French in Algeria, Israel undid the Intifada entirely without the use of physical stress on prisoners. Israeli interrogation techniques do not require physical stress; humiliation is a more effective tool than pain with Arab suspects. Prior to 1999, Israeli security forces employed mild forms of enhanced interrogation (sleep deprivation, hooding, and so forth), but eschewed the practice afterwards. By contrast, the French Army shelled and bombed villages that gave refuge to the rebels of the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale, killing tens of thousands indiscriminately and forcing 2 million Algerians out of their homes.

[Read the full story here, at Asia Times]

It also used extreme forms of torture to elicit information from captured FLN fighters.  Popular revulsion against the conduct of the war brought down the Fourth Republic and returned Gen. Charles De Gaulle to the presidency. More than 90% of French voters backed Algeria’s independence in a 1962 referendum, and France voluntarily abandoned what it had won by brutal methods on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »


The Price of Free Speech in Japan

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Koji Murata was dismissed Friday as president of a prestigious Japanese university for supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. Photo: Kyodo

Michael Auslin writes: It’s not just American university campuses that are being roiled by clashes over the limits of free speech. At one of Japan’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, no less than the president himself has just been dismissed by his academic colleagues for publicly supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The dispute taps into a deeper national debate over Japan’s future.

“Japan’s academics are known to be a largely liberal lot, but the concerns over free speech in the Murata case reflect Japan’s larger problems. At root, it’s about how the country will face both its past and its future.”

A favorite claim of liberal academics and activists is that Japan remains one of the most conservative societies. In recent years, their invective has been directed toward Mr. Abe, who is charged with repressing and intimidating liberal views. Media outlets argue that they have been pressured, and academics warn that government forces are trying to stifle debate about the country’s wartime past.

Yet punishing free speech in Japan is no prerogative of the right. Last week, the president of the prestigious liberal-arts college Doshisha failed to be re-elected due to his support earlier this year of Mr. Abe’s controversial security legislation to relax post-World War II restrictions on the use of the military.

Koji Murata is a well-known and respected academic and public intellectual in Japan. A fixture on news shows, the nattily dressed Mr. Murata is also an expert on foreign policy and security. In July, he was one of several experts testifying in front of Japan’s Parliament in favor of Mr. Abe’s security bills, which would modestly expand Japan’s ability to conduct military operations abroad. Read the rest of this entry »


Syria is Obama’s Watergate

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What did he know and when did he know it? The immortal question about Richard Nixon and Water­gate should be posed to Barack Obama about Syria. What and when did he know about Vladimir Putin’s axis-of-evil coalition?

Michael Goodwin writes: The significance is not limited to Syria. The question goes to the heart of the Iran nuclear deal, especially the timing of the congressional votes.

Imagine Obama trying to sell the Iran deal now. With Russia, Iran and Iraq working together to muscle the United States aside and defend Bashar al-Assad, the president couldn’t possibly argue that the nuke deal would help stabilize the Middle East. Nor could he argue that Russia could be trusted to help enforce ­restrictions on Iran.

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The strong likelihood that Obama would have lost the Iran vote if Congress knew then what the world knows now suggests the possibility the president concealed the Russian plan until the Iran deal was done. That view fits with his single-minded determination to get a deal at any price, including making key concessions and downplaying Iranian threats to Israel and the United States.

After all that, what’s another lie?

That view is also supported by the chronology, which reveals strong evidence the president hid the truth.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

For much of September, reports of Russia moving soldiers and military equipment into Syria invariably said the Pentagon was “puzzled” or the White House was “unclear” about Putin’s intent. Obama declared on Sept. 11 that whatever the dictator’s plan, it was “doomed to fail.”

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

The claims of fuzziness about Syria allowed Obama to keep the focus on his push to sell the Iran pact to Congress. He touted Russia’s support, vowed to impose “snapback” sanctions if Iran cheated and said he would work to stop the mullahs’ ­regional aggressions.

His arguments and arm-twisting kept 42 Senate Democrats in line, enough to save the deal. Yet soon ­after opponents lost their final vote, on Sept. 17, Russia revealed that it would lead a coalition of Iran and Iraq to intervene militarily to save the Assad regime. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Netanyahu’s Historic 45 Seconds of Silence, Condemning the U.N.’s ‘Utter Silence’ on Tehran’s Existential Threat to Israel

Despite losing political ground to Obama, Israeli prime minister condemns nuclear deal, says Tehran’s threats have been met by ‘utter silence’ at global body.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu glares silently at the United Nations for 45 seconds after berating the organization for their silence in the wake of Iran’s continued threats against the Jewish state.

Carole E. Lee, Jay Solomon, and Joe Lauria report: 

UNITED NATIONS— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday delivered a fiery address here condemning the Iranian nuclear deal, largely unbowed in his opposition despite losing steep political ground to President Barack Obama over the issue this year.

In his speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu thundered that Iranian threats to destroy Israel have been met in the world body by “utter silence, deafening silence.”

He then stopped speaking for 45 seconds, panning the hall with a furrowed glare.

“Perhaps you can now understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal,” he said.

The nuclear deal, reached in July between Iran and six world powers including the U.S., passed a crucial milestone when the U.S. Congress failed to adopt a resolution of disapproval that essentially could have blocked the deal from moving forward.

Mr. Netanyahu had thrown his support behind congressional opponents of the deal, delivering a controversial speech to Congress in March and meeting repeatedly with U.S. lawmakers.

After Mr. Netanyahu’s political loss, the White House sees him as wielding less influence over the president’s agenda.

Inside the White House, officials have come to expect forceful rhetoric from Mr. Netanyahu, especially at a high-profile platform such as the U.N. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Strikes Again Expose US Disarray

New York (AFP) – Russia’s dramatic entry Wednesday into the Syrian war put the United States on the back foot once again and left Washington struggling to regain the military and diplomatic initiative.

As US Secretary of State John Kerry was in New York trying to coordinate with his Kremlin opposite number Sergei Lavrov, a Russian officer contacted the US embassy in Baghdad.

His message was simple: Russian jets are about to launch air strikes in Syria, please stay out of their way.

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Kerry quickly protested to Lavrov that this was not in the spirit of Moscow’s promise to agree a “de-confliction” mechanism to ensure Russian flights do not interfere with US-led operations.

But the strikes were already underway, potentially altering the balance of power in Syria back in favor of Bashar al-Assad‘s regime, and Washington was looking at a fait accompli.

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Lavrov’s next move was to promise to bring a motion before the UN Security Council to coordinate “all forces standing up against Islamic State and other terrorist structures.”

This would be a plain victory for Assad, who invited the Russians to join his battle to cling on to power, and a defeat for the United States, which has demanded he step down. Read the rest of this entry »


Ann Has a Fan in Tehran: Khamenei Joins Coulter in Lamenting GOP Pandering

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[Also see David French‘s Ann Coulter Panders to ‘Cuckservative’-Obsessed White Nationalists — While She Denounces GOP Pandering]

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Source: The Times of Israel


Farewell to the Era of No Fences 

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Europe’s openness rests on America’s strength—you can’t have one without the other.

Bret Stephensrenocol_BretStephens writes: This was supposed to be the Era of No Fences. No walls between blocs. No borders between countries. No barriers to trade. Visa-free tourism. The single market. A global Internet. Frictionless transactions and seamless exchanges.

In short, a flat world. Whatever happened to that?

In the early 1990s, Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres published a book called “The New Middle East,” in which he predicted paradwhat was soon to be in store for his neighborhood. “Regional common markets reflect the new Zeitgeist,” he gushed. It was only a matter of time before it would become true in his part of the world, too.

[Order Robert Kagan’s book “Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order” from Amazon.com]

I read the book in college, and while it struck me as far-fetched it didn’t seem altogether crazy. The decade from 1989 to 1999 was an age of political, economic, social and technological miracles. The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union dissolved. Apartheid ended. The euro and Nafta were born. The first Internet browser was introduced. Oil dropped below $10 a barrel, the Dow topped 10,000, Times Square became safe again. America won a war in Kosovo without losing a single man in combat.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Would Israeli businessmen soon be selling hummus and pita to quality-conscious consumers in Damascus? Well, why not?new-middle-east

[Check out Shimon Peres’s bookThe New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World at Amazon.com

Contrast this promised utopia with the mind-boggling scenes of tens of thousands of Middle East migrants, marching up the roads and railways of Europe, headed for their German promised land. The images seem like a 21st-century version of the Völkerwanderung, the migration of nations in the late Roman and early Medieval periods. Desperate people, needing a place to go, sweeping a broad landscape like an unchanneled flood. Read the rest of this entry »


Advice on Handling Bibi, Gefilte Fish, and Other Gems from the New Hillary Emails 

Out of the 7,000 emails posted Monday, about 150 messages are deemed to be classified. Previously, officials said 63 messages were considered classified.

The State Department has released the largest batch yet of emails from Hillary Clinton while she was America’s top diplomat, providing more fuel for a controversy that has proved politically damaging for her White House campaign.

“As she attempted to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Clinton got some advice from an ex-diplomat on how to handle Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

While Clinton has not been charged with breaking the law or knowingly spilling state secrets, her poll ratings have steadily declined since she acknowledged using a personal server for both work and personal email correspondence while she served as secretary of state from 2009 until 2013.
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“In an email, Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and longtime Mideast hand, told Clinton that Netanyahu needed to be reassured, but not indulged.”

Clinton’s struggle to put the email controversy to rest has helped feed speculation that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race for the Democratic nomination.

“Put your arm around Bibi,” he wrote in a September 30, 2010 message, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “He still thinks we are out to bring him down.”

Out of the 7,000 emails posted Monday, about 150 messages are deemed to be classified. But the State Department said the material was labeled classified after the fact and not at the time the email was sent. Previously, officials said 63 messages were considered classified.

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“In an email with the cryptic subject line, ‘gefilte fish,’ Clinton asked: ‘Where are we on this?’ There was no explanation of what mysterious crisis Clinton was referring to.”

The emails have offered a glimpse behind the scenes during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, showing her own preoccupation with media coverage and her frequent communication with longtime advisor and confidant Sidney Blumenthal. Read the rest of this entry »


Arms Race: U.S. Greenlights Sale of 600 Patriot Missiles to Saudi Arabia

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That could be bad for regional security, but it’s a boon for defense contractors who have already cut deals with Middle Eastern states worth roughly $6 billion in the months leading up to the historic nuclear accord.

Saudi Arabia is having a tough summer; all while Lockheed Martin has a banner year. The latest confluence of these trends came Wednesday as the U.S. State Department approved a $5.4 billion sale of 600 Lockheed-made PAC-3 missiles to Saudi Arabia, alongside an additional half billion dollars in ammunition for various smaller weapons. The deals still have to be approved by Congress, but such deals typically are.

“It marks the first major arms deal since the Iran nuclear deal struck earlier this month raised the prospect of reduced sanctions against the state. The deal would lift Iran’s conventional arms embargo within five years and leave the country free to pursue long-range missile technologies within eight.”

“The proposed sale will modernize and replenish Saudi Arabia’s current Patriot missile stockpile, which is becoming obsolete and difficult to sustain due to age and limited availability of repair parts,” the Pentagon said in it’s written notification to Congress of the pending deal. “The purchase of the PAC-3 missiles will support current and future defense missions and promote stability within the region.”

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Also see -$1.5B contract goes to Lockheed Martin for Patriot interceptors

“I think we saw quite clearly at Camp David when President Obama met with several of the Gulf partners back in May that missile defense cooperation would be a prime area of investment going forward as a way to bolster partner defense.”

— Melissa Dalton, a Middle East defense and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

The sale of so many PAC-3 missiles—the most advanced missile for the Patriot missile launcher and built by Raytheon is the latest in a string of high-priced, high-profile arms deals between the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Cooperation Council allies in the region. It marks the first major arms deal since the Iran nuclear deal struck earlier this month raised the prospect of reduced sanctions against the state. The deal would lift Iran’s conventional arms embargo within five years and leave the country free to pursue long-range missile technologies within eight.

[Read the full text here, at Fortune.com]

That could be bad for regional security, but it’s a boon for defense contractors who have already cut deals with Middle Eastern states worth roughly $6 billion in the months leading up to the historic nuclear accord. U.S. defense companies like Boeing, and General Dynamics [fortune-stock symbol=”GD”] are all poised to reap the benefits of a Middle East arms race. Given the threat, (or at least the perceived threat) posed by Iran’s collection of ballistic missiles, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin look to have a busy year ahead. Read the rest of this entry »


Israel and Saudi Arabia Present United Front over Iran Deal

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Iran’s enemies unsettled by its deal with the West, but Bashar al-Assad of Syria says it is ‘a great victory’

 writes: The nuclear deal with Iran caused fury in Israel and consternation around the region at the likely increase in influence and resources of a newly enriched Iran.

Most telling was the loudest expression of support. “I am happy that the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved a great victory by reaching an agreement,” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in a message to his Iranian opposite number, Hassan Rouhani.

“In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu during an earlier, tense press conference (Reuters)

Israel and the Sunni Arab world have set aside old grievances to stand together against the West’s engagement with Iran.

The more strident denunciations came from Israel, which regards Iran as a direct threat. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said the country would not be bound by what he called a “stunning historic mistake”.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran,” he said in a televised address hours after the conclusion of the accord. “Iran continues to seek our destruction and we will defend ourselves.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Mr Netanyahu, who had condemned the deal even before it had been announced, said its terms failed to achieve the goal of denying Iran the capacity to build a nuclear bomb while, by lifting sanctions, enabled its theocratic rulers to increase their support for groups Israel considers terrorists.

“The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly as Iran’s President Rouhani said today – the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear programme,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Simon Kent: BBC Admits ‘Jews’ Anti-Semitism In Israel Coverage

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Simon Kent reports: Being economical with the truth is a BBC speciality. After all it views the world through a prism of oh-so-trendy left-wing morality so massaging the truth into something more palatable to its own world perspective is, sadly, a given.

Viewers had another taste of the public broadcaster’s distorted views last night when BBC Two aired an hour-long documentary called Children of the Gaza War presented by chief international correspondent Lyse Doucett. She typified the truism that ‘neutral’ for a BBC reporter is left-of-centre for everyone else – Guardian readers excepted.

Doucett’s report was all pretty anodyne stuff and purported to show the Palestinian conflict through the eyes of children from both sides during and after the 50-day war last summer. Except something got lost in translation. That something was the truth.

Throughout the programme the word “Israelis” was substituted for “Jews” in the on-screen translation of interviews with Palestinian children. In one instance, a Gazan child says the “yahud” are massacring Palestinians. However the subtitles read: “Israel is massacring us”.

There were other examples where Palestinian children were routinely interviewed and used the word ‘yahud’ meaning Jew. BBC translators again insisted on using the word ‘Israelis’ instead. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Open your eyes about Gaza

Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007. What have they been doing since? Oppressing the Gazan population and investing billions in terrorism against Israel’s civilian population. Some people choose to close their eyes to the reality on the ground. What about you?


‘Hey America, Get Off Your High Horse’

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At The Corner, Jim Geraghty has this:obama-BW

Via Walter Russell Mead, here’s a comment from the president in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg:

Obama responded to this theory by saying the following: “Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—”

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He really needs to point out America’s past sins and flaws whenever anyone points out vile behavior overseas, doesn’t he? Read the rest of this entry »