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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


[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 »


Yes, Obama Wants Your Guns 

Yes, He Will Fail. Again. As America Distrusts Government More Than At Any Time In Its History

Ben Shapiro writes: President Obama was having a bad political day on Thursday. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had humiliated him in Syria, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had excoriated his Iran deal before the United Nations, and his Secret Service had been caught leaking information about a Republican congressperson.

Then the clouds parted for the deeply cynical president — the same president who routinely ignores shootings in inner cities across the country, or attributes them to generalized American racism. News broke of a mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. And before waiting to find out all the facts, he leapt directly into political controversy, redirecting the national conversation once again toward useless gun control measures.

Here is, so far, what we know.

The community college campus was a gun free zone – so “gun free” that waterguns were banned on campus.

The only security guard on campus was unarmed.

Oregon has universal background checks, and strengthened its gun laws just months ago.

Most interestingly, The New York Daily News quoted an eyewitness thusly:

The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were christian. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.

It has now been several hours since the gunman was killed. We still don’t know his name. That’s a far cry from mass shootings in the past.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Wire]

Nonetheless, Obama focused his ire on Republicans – of course, because law-abiding Republicans who wish to protect law-abiding gunowners are the big problem, given that the gunman apparently met zero of those descriptors. “There’s been another mass shooting in America,” Obama said with dramatic flourish. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough.”

Obama and the left want your guns. That’s all. End of story.

What would be enough? Obama explained eagerly:

We’re not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these mass shootings every few months…This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families, who lose their loved ones, because of our inaction.

No, in fact, we are not. The gunman is responsible for his actions. The only politicians responsible for the gunman’s success are those who refuse to allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. But Obama couldn’t stop his scorn for gun-owners from seeping forth. Saying that people would undoubtedly accuse him of politicizing the shooting, Obama stated, “this is something we should politicize.” He tacitly attacked the National Rifle Association, asking gunowners if the NRA truly spoke for them. “How can you, with a straight face, argue that more guns will make us safer?” Obama whined.

They do, in the right hands. Data show that more guns held by law-abiding citizens decrease crime. If Obama believes differently, he can surrender his Secret Service protection at any time. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


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 »


London, We Have A Problem: Why British Pollsters Were So Dreadfully, Terribly Wrong

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Michael Barone writes: “The world may have a polling problem.” That’s the headline on a blogpost by Nate Silver, the wunderkind founder of the fivethirthyeight.com website. It was posted on 9:54 Eastern Time the night of May 7, as the counting in the British election was continuing in the small hours of May 8 UK Time.

“Polling provides useful information, but information whose reliability is often ephemeral and increasingly, it seems, limited.” 

That was an hour after the result in the constituency of Nuneaton made it clear that all the pre-election polls were wrong. Nuneaton, in the Midlands just east of Birmingham, was number 28 on a list of 42 marginal two-party contests. Projections based on pre-election polls were that Labour would win 35 of these 42 seats. Instead Conservatives won 34 of them.

Nationally, the pre-election polls predicted that Conservatives would win about 280 seats, barely ahead of Labour and far short of a 326-seat majority. The exit poll pegged them at 316. They ended up winning 331.

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“Readers may have noticed that all these errors seem to come from one ideological direction. In nations where the dominant media lean left–the New York Times and the old-line TV networks here, the BBC in Britain, Ha’aretz in Israel–opinion on the right has been understated in the polls.”

Something similar happened in 1992, when pre-election polls showed the two parties tied but Conservatives won by a 7.5-point margin. The most common explanation, advanced by Conservative analyst Rob Hayward: “shy Tories” were unwilling to tell pollsters they favored the Conservative party.

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“Evidently, some people don’t want to identify themselves as troglodytes to telephone interviewers or even on robocalls.”

British pollsters made adjustments then but, as Hayward notes, they didn’t work this year. Internal party polls apparently did better. American pollster Stanley Greenberg, working for Labour and using a longer questionnaire, found the party’s numbers sagging. Australian consultant Lynton Crosby, running Conservatives’ campaign, assured party leaders they would win 300 seats. Read the rest of this entry »


Netanyahu Forms New Israel Government

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61-seat majority leaves Netanyahu little margin for error

TEL AVIV— Nicholas Casey and Joshua Mitnick report: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized a deal late Wednesday to establish a new governing coalition, concluding weeks of negotiations after his March 17 election landslide victory.

“The present government is going to be even more dysfunctional than the last government given how narrow it is. Something has got to give.”

— Sam LehmanWilzig, a political-science professor at Bar Ilan University

At a joint news conference with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party and the last hold out in the coalition haggling, Mr. Netanyahu said he planned to immediately inform Israel’s president as required by law that he had successfully formed a majority coalition.

“No one was surprised that the negotiations were drawn out with all the parties, but no one was surprised that it ended on time.”

— Benjamin Netanyahu

Mr. Netanyahu’s struggle to form a coalition was a turn of fortune for the Israeli leader after his Likud party won a decisive mandate for a fourth term in the March vote. He opted to dissolve parliament and call early elections with the hope of forming a more cohesive and stable coalition. Now, he faces the prospect of more instability instead.

Mr. Netanyahu’s new majority numbers just 61 seats held by right-wing and religious factions, leaving Mr. Netanyahu with little margin for error in the 120-seat parliament, called the Knesset.

Analysts say that while such a government might be hard to topple from the outside—it will be solidly right-wing—such a narrow majority could leave it vulnerable to pressure from demands from individual lawmakers within his coalition that could endanger his government. Read the rest of this entry »


Anonymous White House Official Denies that Charlie Hebdo Staff were Invited to See Obama

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 “Really, we just don’t understand the French.” 

 — Obama’s staff response, According to Luzier

Chief Washington Correspondent  reports: The White House on Friday denied a report in a French magazine that the administration invited staffers from the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo to meet with and draw President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the bloody terrorist attack on the publication’s offices in Paris.

French President François Hollande, center, is surrounded by heads of state including, from left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend the solidarity march in the streets of Paris. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

French President François Hollande, center, is surrounded by heads of state including, from left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend the solidarity march in the streets of Paris. (Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

“The idea was to have folks from Charlie to the White House. An interview? Awesome.”

Rénald Luzier, better known by his pen name, Luz, told the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles that U.S. officials conceived of the visit as a way to make up for the absence of a top American official at a march in support for Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 11, one week after the attack.

“We would have gone there directly. Except that they wanted to have a cartoonist come to draw Obama. This isn’t Montmartre. I said, ‘If he comes to Paris, I’ll put Budweiser in the fridge and I’ll draw him.’”

— Rénald Luzier

U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley attended the demonstration, along with leaders of Germany, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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“We have seen some reports that a Charlie Hebdo staffer claims to have received, and declined, an invitation to the White House. These reports are not true. No such invitation was ever extended.”

— White House official, on condition of anonymity

But the absence of Obama, Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry led to accusations from American conservatives that the president was turning his back on freedom of speech. The attack, by two brothers of Algerian descent, was in apparent retaliation for cartoons that many Muslims saw as blasphemous. Twelve people were shot to death and 11 injured.

“Obama didn’t send an important representative, and sending John Kerry to see [French President François] Hollande wasn’t enough,” Luzier said. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Remarkably Spiteful Comment’: Obama’s Preemptive Attack on Iran Deal Critics

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 writes:

…Obama’s press conference this afternoon was notable for its tone. Though he was ostensibly announcing what he considers something of a diplomatic victory, he was agitated and defensive. But it was not just the tone. Here is what Obama said about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:obama-incandescent

It’s no secret that the Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue. If in fact Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option.

It is a remarkably spiteful comment. What the president is saying is not that he and Netanyahu disagree about how to achieve a peaceful resolution. He says they disagree on “whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution” (emphasis added). In other words, Obama is saying publicly that Netanyahu wants war with Iran, and he wants the United States to fight it.

This is significant not just because of what it says about the president’s opinion of Netanyahu. It’s also important because Netanyahu is not just speaking for Israel. As we’ve seen throughout this process, Netanyahu has of late become the public spokesman for a coalition consisting of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other regional allies. And he’s voicing concerns that the French clearly possess as well, but won’t risk their seat at the table to say publicly….(read more)

Commentary Magazine


Derby Murdock: Iran’s Tentacles of Destruction Dim Confidence in a Nuclear-Arms Deal

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Terrorists You Can Trust

Deroy Murdock writes: ‘Death to America,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told a screaming crowd in Tehran Saturday. “The politics of America is to create insecurity.”

“Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse.”

With U.S.-Iranian atomic-bomb talks in full swing, Khamenei’s crack was not exactly what diplomats call a confidence-building measure. Of course, Khamenei offered no olive branch. Realizing that Obama is desperate for any deal to burnish his leaden legacy — even one so flimsy that White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough admits it’s “a non-binding agreement” — Khamenei can say whatever he wants.

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Obama will keep begging the mullahs to sign a piece of paper that he will probably slip past Congress and send to the United Nations for approval — the Constitution be damned.

Far scarier than Khamenei’s words are Iran’s actions. Its long record of support for Islamic terrorism demonstrates why it cannot be trusted to comply with anything its leaders endorse. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Israel Tantrum

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The leader of the free world takes revenge on an ally

You’ll have to forgive President Obama. The leader of the free world is still having difficulty accepting that the Israeli people get to choose their own prime minister, never mind his preferences.

The latest White House tantrum in the wake of Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election last week took the form of a speech delivered Monday by Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, in which he declared that “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”

“Mr. Obama was counting on Mr. Netanyahu to be defeated in last week’s election, and the President did what he could to help that defeat along. But Mr. Obama’s overt hostility backfired.”

When a chief of staff speaks in public, especially as the keynote speaker at a scheduled event, the President has signed off. In this case the audience was also carefully chosen: the annual conference of J Street, a left-leaning Jewish lobbying group that has never met an Israeli concession it didn’t like. Which makes it all the more distressing that Mr. McDonough would talk about Israel in language usually associated with Palestinian terror groups.

“Instead, the President and his team seem out for revenge.”

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

Mr. McDonough’s remarks come amid other expressions of presidential pique—including last week’s unprecedented threat that Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election may mean an end to U.S. backing for Israel at the United Nations, and this week’s report in the Journal that the Israelis have been spying on the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks. (Israel denies it, and we don’t condone such spying, but the U.S. also shouldn’t be keeping its allies and Congress in the dark.) Not to mention the more or less constant snubs and insults directed at the Israeli prime minister by unnamed Obama officials, with one calling him a “coward.”

“So desperate is the U.S. for an Iran deal, the French look like hard-liners, hardly a consoling thought.”

Mr. Obama was counting on Mr. Netanyahu to be defeated in last week’s election, and the President did what he could to help that defeat along. But Mr. Obama’s overt hostility backfired. In the normal course of things, this would be the time for the White House to soften the rhetoric and seek to restore relationships. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Mitt Romney on Bambi/Bibi Blowup: ‘Hell Hath No Fury Like Obama Scorned’

At The Corner, Brendan Bordelon writes:

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a simple explanation for the ongoing friction between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister obama-incandescentBenjamin Netanyahu: “Hell hath no fury like Obama scorned.”

“Well there’s a lot going on here. I think the first thing that comes to mind is, hell hath no fury like Obama scorned.”

After Obama again ribbed Bibi over his comments on Palestinian statehood during a joint press conference with the Afghani president on Tuesday, Romney spoke with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto about the continuing spat between the American and Israeli leaders.

Romney added that part of the friction stems from a deeper source.

“What this is really about is Iran. And I think that the White House is trying to minimize Bibi Netanyahu and minimize Israel’s concerns at the the same time they’re trying to push through an agreement with Iran.”

(read more)

National Review


Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.

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Ally’s snooping upset White House because information was used to lobby Congress to try to sink a deal

Adam Entous writes: Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.

The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy.”

— A senior U.S. official

The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.

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The U.S. and Israel, longtime allies who routinely swap information on security threats, sometimes operate behind the scenes like spy-versus-spy rivals. The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers—a posture Israel takes when the tables are turned.

[Also see – Don’t Be Shocked that Israel Spied on the Iran Nuclear Talks]

The White House discovered the operation, in fact, when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks, officials briefed on the matter said.

“These allegations are utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share.”

— A senior official in the prime minister’s office

Israeli officials denied spying directly on U.S. negotiators and said they received their information through other means, including close surveillance of Iranian leaders receiving the latest U.S. and European offers. European officials, particularly the French, also have been more transparent with Israel about the closed-door discussions than the Americans, Israeli and U.S. officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer early this year saw a rapidly closing window to increase pressure on Mr. Obama before a key deadline at the end of March, Israeli officials said.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer met with U.S. lawmakers and shared details on the Iran negotiations to warn about the terms of the deal. Photo: CNP/Zuma Press

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer met with U.S. lawmakers and shared details on the Iran negotiations to warn about the terms of the deal. Photo: CNP/Zuma Press

Using levers of political influence unique to Israel, Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer calculated that a lobbying campaign in Congress before an announcement was made would improve the chances of killing or reshaping any deal. They knew the intervention would damage relations with the White House, Israeli officials said, but decided that was an acceptable cost.

The campaign may not have worked as well as hoped, Israeli officials now say, because it ended up alienating many congressional Democrats whose support Israel was counting on to block a deal.WJS-quotes

“People feel personally sold out. That’s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”

— A senior administration official

Obama administration officials, departing from their usual description of the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel, have voiced sharp criticism of Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer to describe how the relationship has changed.

“People feel personally sold out,” a senior administration official said. “That’s where the Israelis really better be careful because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”

This account of the Israeli campaign is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former U.S. and Israeli diplomats, intelligence officials, policy makers and lawmakers. Read the rest of this entry »


The Orwellian Obama Presidency

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Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory

Bret Stephens writes: The humiliating denouement to America’s involvement in Yemen came over the weekend, when U.S. Special Forces were forced to evacuate a base from which they had operated against the local branch of al Qaeda. This is the same branch that claimed responsibility for the January attack on Charlie Hebdo and has long been considered to pose the most direct threat to Europe and the United States.

So who should Barack Obama be declaring war on in the Middle East other than the state of Israel?

“He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner.”

There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria.

“He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words ‘Islamic’ and ‘terrorism’ must on no account ever be conjoined.” 

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army.

“The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.”

He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working.

To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.

The current victim of Mr. Obama’s moral inversions is the recently re-elected Israeli prime minister. Normally a sweeping democratic mandate reflects legitimacy, but not for Mr. Obama. Now we are treated to the astonishing spectacle in which Benjamin Netanyahu has become persona non grata for his comments doubting the current feasibility of a two-state solution. This, while his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas is in the 11th year of his four-year term, without a murmur of protest from the White House. Read the rest of this entry »


David Harsanyi: The Left’s Ugly Israel Freakout

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You know who else came to power by winning an election?

 writes: After years of ginned-up conflict, Barack Obama has finally found a pretext to change the contours of the United States-Israel alliance. Israel’s policies might not be changing, but the administration will “reevaluate” the relationship, anyway.

POLITICO reports that Obama may, among other things, stop shielding Israel from international pressure at the United Nations. So Americans can look forward to joining Sudan or Yemen—feel free to pick any autocratic dump, really—in condemning Jews for living in their historic homeland and relying on democratic institutions rather than a consensus at the United Nation to decide their fate.

“Obama, with no more elections to run, will now use these threats to pressure Israel into compliance on an Iran deal that looks more dangerous every day. That’s not surprising.”

So our morally chaotic foreign policy is coming to a predictable climax. At least on this issue. Obama, with no more elections to run, will now use these threats to pressure Israel into compliance on an Iran deal that looks more dangerous every day. That’s not surprising. What is, though, is how self-proclaimed Zionists have co-opted some of the most absurd justifications for throwing Israel to the wolves.

“What is, though, is how self-proclaimed Zionists have co-opted some of the most absurd justifications for throwing Israel to the wolves.”

These rationalizations come in familiar flavors. There’s the tough-love crowd. The notion here is that Democrats are the ones who truly have Israel’s “long-term” interests at heart. And because of a deep and abiding love for the Jewish State, Democrats are obliged to support policies that will set Israel straight. Without the stern guidance of lefty columnists, how can we expect one of the most technologically advanced market economies in the world to remain a vibrant democracy?

Others argue, and have been arguing for a long time, that the United States has a moral responsibility to distance itself from Israel right now, because the two nations no longer share ideals about freedom and liberalism.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Iran’s President Boasted of Deceiving West Over Nuclear program in Pre-Election Remarks — Why Wasn’t He Punished?

(But By All Means, Yes, Let’s Continue to Punish Israel)

Just as Obama wants to use the UN as a forum to punish an ally for pre-election comments made by its leader, Obama is eager to negotiate a nonbinding ‘executive’ agreement with a long-time enemy so he can bypass Congress and instead seek to codify the deal through the United Nations. This despite the rhetoric that’s been coming out of Iran for decades. Talk about moral bankruptcy.

Philip Klein reports: In recent days, the news has been dominated by stories of President Obama’s plans to punish Israel over comments that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made in the run-up to his successful campaign for re-election.

[Read the full text of Philip Klein‘s article here, at WashingtonExaminer.com]

In a phone call between the two leaders on Thursday, “The president told the prime minister that we will need to reassess our options following the prime minister’s new positions and comments regarding the two-state solution,” a White House official told Reuters.

“The Tehran Declaration was supposed to outline the resolutions and suspensions. We didn’t allow it. We only halted the gas supply for those 10 centrifuges in Natanz.”

— Hassan Rouhani

Operatively, that means removing traditional U.S. protection of Israel at the United Nations.

The remark that evidently prompted this reassessment had to do with comments that Netanyahu made with regard to establishing a Palestinian state. As John Podhoretz and others have noted, it was pretty clear from Netanyahu’s comments that he wasn’t ruling out a Palestinian state ever — he was just talking about how it would be naive to think that one can be established under the current circumstances.

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“Do you know when heavy water was developed? Summer of 2004. Do you know when we developed yellowcake? Winter 2004. Do you know when the number of centrifuges reached 3,000? Winter 2004.”

His actual statement was, “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.” The word “today” is quite important.

Netanyahu has made this distinction clear in subsequent interviews, but that still hasn’t altered Obama’s determination to punish an ally.

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“We halted the nuclear program? We were the ones to complete it!”

— Hassan Rouhani

This is a striking difference from how the White House has treated Iran. In the lead up to his 2013 election victory, Hassan Rouhani gave an interview in which he pushed back against the suggestion that as Iran’s nuclear negotiator during the 2003 to 2005, the program was suspended under international pressure. Read the rest of this entry »


President Obama: Call Bibi

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At press time, President Obama has not yet congratulated the new Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel is the only real democracy in the region, it is militarily sophisticated, and is America’s strongest and most stable ally.

President Obama’s peevish, grudging, and hostile behavior is not statesman-like and is definitely not in America’s best interest.

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However, Obama’s self-indulgent behavior does not seem to change. For example, in 2013, it took President Obama one full week before he called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election win.

  • In 2012, it took Obama “hours” to congratulate Muslim Brotherhood candidate and then Egyptian President-elect Mohammed Morsi on winning his election.
  • In 2012, Obama called to congratulate Vladimir Putin on winning what was probably a rigged election. So much for Obama’s concern for democracy and human rights. Russia is the country that annexed Crimea, invaded and occupied Ukraine, and has Stalinist designs on eastern Europe.
  • Also in 2012, Obama congratulated the former Saudi King on choosing a new heir: Prince Salman. Saudi Arabia is a world class human rights violator, and a Sharia state.
  • In 2013, Obama broke three decades of silence to congratulate Islamist Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani.
  • In 2013, Obama congratulated Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan for his Presidential victory. According to Reuters, the initial call “lasted 45 minutes.” Obama praised the prime minister’s speech.

Friendly overtures to Islamist Iran—the country that kidnapped fifty two Americans and held them hostage for 444 days; the country that has exported terrorism to all corners of the globe both ideologically and militarily through Hezbollah, its striking arm; the country that is hell-bent on exterminating Israel; the country that is well on its way to becoming nuclear— this is the country the Obama honors with a congratulatory phone call. Read the rest of this entry »


Bibi Prevails: President Obama Loses His Bid to Defeat a U.S. Ally

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It isn’t Mr. Obama’s habit to admit error, or to be gracious to his opponents, but it would serve the interests of both nations if he were.

The Israeli election that looked like a cliffhanger when the polls closed on Tuesday had turned into a decisive victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party by Wednesday morning. With at least 29 seats in the parliament compared to 24 for the main center-left party, Israel’s Prime Minister should be able to put together a ruling coalition of center-right parties that is more manageable than his last majority.

“President Obama might also reflect on his own contribution to Mr. Netanyahu’s victory. Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction are most likely to take risks for peace when they feel secure in America’s support.”

The victory is a remarkable personal triumph for Mr. Netanyahu, who is now Israel’s second longest-serving Prime Minister after David Ben-Gurion. He gambled that he could assemble a more stable center-right coalition, as well as by giving a high-stakes speech to the U.S. Congress on Iran two weeks before the election, and in the final days stressing above all the security themes that must be Israel’s abiding concern.

“While the results may dismay Mr. Netanyahu’s detractors abroad, especially in the White House, they surely reflect Israel’s security consensus.”

Mr. Netanyahu and Likud were trailing in the polls in the final week as the opposition stressed the rising cost of food and housing and an economy that had slowed to about 3% growth from near 6% in 2010. But in the closing days Mr. Netanyahu played up that foreigners (read: President Obama) wanted him defeated, and he rejected statehood for Palestinians, reversing a position he had taken in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dr. K: It’s Clear that Obama Loathes Netanyahu More than Any Other World Leader

From The Corner

“This was an election between Bibi and Obama — that was on the ballot. He did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.”

President Obama’s approach to Iran and the Middle East was firmly rejected in Israel’s election on Tuesday, in which prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu won reelection, said Charles Krauthammer.

“This was an election between Bibi and Obama — that was on the ballot,” he said on Wednesday’s Special Report. “He did everything he could to unseat him, but he failed.”

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Krauthammer criticized “the pettiness and the petulance” from the Obama administration regarding Netanyahu’s victory, which included a backhanded congratulatory statement and a delayed phone call from secretary of state John Kerry rather than President Obama.

“It’s clear that Obama loathes Netanyahu more than any other world leader, meaning more than the ayatollah in Iran or Putin in Russia.”

“I think the reaction of the administration is now reaching levels where it’s become unseemingly,” he said….(read more)

National Review


BIBI REBOOT: Exit Polls Show Show Obama’s Israel Regime Change Efforts May Not Succeed

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TV exit polls Tuesday night showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud set to retain the Israeli leadership at the end of a bitter election campaign.

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Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and Israeli citizens headed for the ballots to vote for Israel’s 20th Knesset. Polls from the end of last week had left options open for a tight race. The TV exit polls were published at 10 p.m., as polling stations closed, after which official results began to roll in. The official final results won’t be publicized until Thursday.

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Netanyahu, vying for the role for his fourth time (third consecutively), had made a last-ditch attempt over the past days to win back voters mainly from the right-wing bloc, vowing Monday night to block a Palestinian state should he remain in office.

Unlike years past, analysts had said the race between Likud and Zionist Union, the two leading factions, was too close to call with confidence, but the exit polls showed Netanyahu clearly better placed to build the next coalition.Bibi-Obama-AFP-Jim-Watson

UMM AL-FAHM — “We are in a historic moment,” Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tells supporters at the party’s post-election event.

“We have the highest Arab voting rates since 1999,” he adds.

“We will block Netanyahu from forming the government.”

— Elhanan Miller

The Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, insists the left and right are “tied” in the wake of tonight’s exit polls.

“I think this is a major achievement for Zionist Union. No poll gave us 27 mandates,” which the party gets in the polls. “I think you have to remember where Labor was three months ago, at 14 mandates, and where it is today.”

“Nothing is finished,” Yadlin insists. “Meretz passed the electoral threshold nicely and Yachad didn’t pass the threshold,” he notes, “so let’s wait for the final results. This is a tie, and the keys are in Moshe Kahlon’s hands,” he concludes.

Final turnout hits 71.8%, highest since 1999

Final voter turnout rises to 71.8%, according to final Central Election Committee data, higher than in the past five elections. It marks a five-point rise from 2013’s 66.6%.

Kahlon also tells Netanyahu to wait

Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, like the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, tells Netanyahu he will not decide who to support for premier until the final official results are published on Thursday.

He reportedly told the same to Isaac Herzog, who is frantically trying to put together a Netanyahu-blocking coalition that might force a unity government. Read the rest of this entry »


Source: Senate Panel Probing ‎Possible Obama Administration Ties to Anti-Netanyahu Effort

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Obama’s Clandestine Regime Change Operation

Steven Edwards reports: A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the panel’s activities told FoxNews.com.

“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15.”

The fact that both Democratic and Republican sides of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on the probe could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who has had a well-documented adversarial relationship with the Israeli leader.

The development comes as Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two television station this week that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning — Bibi being the Israeli leader’s nickname.

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It also follows a FoxNews.com report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican and chairman of the committee, declined comment, and aides to ranking Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, did not immediately return calls.

The Senate subcommittee, which has subpoena power, is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ chief investigative body with jurisdiction over all branches of government operations and compliance with laws.

“In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel’s Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.”

“The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Portman spokeswoman Caitlin Conant told Foxnews.com.

But a source familiar with the matter confirmed for FoxNews.com that the probe — undisclosed until now — was both underway and bipartisan in nature.

According to the source, the probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants, and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administrations.

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A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, itself guided by top operatives of Obama’s White House runs, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel.

“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the American group, which bills itself as working for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel’s Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.

He characterized the campaign against him as “unprecedented.” While Netanyahu pointed the finger at “European countries and left-wing people abroad,” some observers note that he held back from openly criticizing Obama during his recent trip to the U.S. to address Congress on problems his government sees with administration-backed efforts to reach a nuclear weapons inspection deal with Iran.

“We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” Netanyahu told lawmakers — while Obama refused to meet with the Israeli leader, and later criticized his speech as “nothing new.”

No direct link has been confirmed between Obama and the anti-Netanyahu campaign in Israel, but polls have shown that a large majority of Israelis believe the administration has been interfering in the election, set for March 17.

One expert told FoxNews.com earlier this month the State Department grants constituted indirect administration funding of the anti-Netanyahu campaign by providing OneVoice with the $350,000 — even though State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election. Read the rest of this entry »


Poll: More than Terrorism, More than ISIS, More than Race Relations, Americans View the U.S. Government as Their Biggest Problem

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For the fourth month in a row, Americans have voted that the government is the biggest problem currently facing the United States.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 18% of Americans surveyed named the government as the most important U.S. problem, followed by 11% who named the economy in general and 10% who said unemployment. These beat out terrorism, ISIS and race relations on the survey. Read the rest of this entry »


Byron York: A War of Obama’s Making

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Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come

Byron YorkFeatured Image -- 64100 writes: The White House and some Democrats are livid over congressional Republican attempts to circumvent President Obama’s authority to make a nuclear arms deal with Iran. They have a right to be angry — but not to be surprised.

There’s a war going on between the executive and legislative branches in which Obama has shown contempt for Congress‘ constitutional powers, and now, in response, Congress is showing contempt for the president’s constitutional powers. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s what Obama has wrought.

“It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits…”

The latest development is an open letter to Iranian leaders written by GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and signed by 46 other Senate Republicans. Released Monday morning, the letter reminds Iran that Obama is negotiating with them on his own, without the formal approval or support of Congress. Obama is not pursuing a treaty, which would have to be agreed to by the Senate, or a joint executive-congressional agreement, which would also require Congress’ approval.

“It is not good to invite a foreign leader to address Congress in a campaign against the U.S. president. It is not good to undermine the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy. But it’s not a good thing to undermine Congress’ authority to make laws, either. And to threaten even more undermining in the future, as Obama has done.”

“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the Republican senators write. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

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Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come.

The Cotton letter comes on the heels of House Speaker John Boehner‘s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in what amounted to an extended attack on Obama’s Iran negotiations.

It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too? Read the rest of this entry »


The Audacity of Weakness

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The withdrawal from the world stage is associated not just with a massive borrowing and spending spree at home, but also with administration penance for supposed past self-righteousness and sins abroad

 writes: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress on Tuesday to warn Americans of the anti-Western threats from theocratic — and likely to soon be nuclear — Iran.

Netanyahu came to the U.S. to outline the Iranian plan to remake the Middle East with a new nuclear arsenal. His warning was delivered over the objections of the Obama administration, which wants to cut a deal with Iran that allows the theocracy to continue to enrich lots of uranium.

“Amid such moral confusion, who is the American enemy and who is the ally? Netanyahu has received more administration invective than has Iran — as if a Western democratic nation, not the specter of a nuclear Iran, was the source of growing tensions.”

Netanyahu received a standing ovation for stating the obvious. Iran is currently the greatest global sponsor of terrorism. Tehran now has de facto control over four Middle East nations: Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Iran has serially ignored all past U.S. deadlines to stop nuclear enrichment. It habitually misled U.N. inspectors. It threatens to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

At one point the Iranian economy was sputtering due to Western sanctions. Hundreds of thousands of reformers hit the streets of Tehran in 2009 to protest what they believed to be the fraudulent results of a presidential election. The theocracy was worried that its nuclear plans would either cause economic collapse due to the sanctions or obama-tiny-head-sidebarprompt some sort of Western military response.

But all of that has changed due to the Obama administration’s zeal to conclude an agreement with Iran at any cost.

“The Obama administration’s paralysis is not just rhetorical. For the first time since 2001, defense spending will dip below 4 percent of GDP, as the Army, Navy, and Air Force shrink to near–record-low postwar levels.”

For the last six years, lots of American allies besides Israel have become scared of this strange new diffidence of the United States — as if the Obama administration feels that America’s prior prominence as leader and protector of the West was either unwarranted, too costly, or resulted in an unfair world order in need of adjustment.

President Obama entered office promising reset diplomacy with Russia. He declared an end to former president George W. Bush’s punitive measures against Russia — as if somehow the United States, not Russia, was responsible for the growing estrangement.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, however, interpreted the reset as American guilt. He assumed there would be few consequences to gobbling up the Crimea and eastern Ukraine in the same way that he had sliced off parts of Georgia. So far, he has been right. No wonder that he eyes the Baltic states next.

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Controversy surrounds the creation and spread of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But there is no disagreement about what followed Obama’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, as he fulfilled a campaign promise.

At one time the administration bragged of Iraq as possibly its “greatest achievement,” and as being “stable” and “secure.” But the precipitous pullout led to anarchy and a fertile landscape in which the Islamic State could thrive. After 2011, it turned out that the absence of U.S. troops in Iraq, not their presence, had enabled the savage terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »


Americans Getting Taste of What a Second Clinton Presidency Would Look Like

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With Americans’ attention diverted perhaps to the big and controversial visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, two news bombshells dropped on Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. They provide not just a reminder of the Clinton era — a time when government accountability vanished from the earth and excuses abounded for even the most flagrant illegalities — but also an early taste of what a second Clinton administration would be like.

The first story was a follow-up on the Washington Post‘s earlier report that the Clintons’ family foundation received millions in donations from foreign governments while Clinton was serving as Clinton, Gates, And Mullen Testify Before Senate Foreign Relations CmteSecretary of State. This implies obvious conflicts between her personal and official obligations — how does Clinton respond to a 3 a.m. phone call from a foreign government that is also feeding her family foundation?

Clinton’s defense — and the State Department’s — was that State had vetted all such donations under a prior agreement that had (incredibly) permitted them. In the words of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “We have reviewed every donation that was submitted.”

But on Monday, the State Department had to back off this claim, because it wasn’t true. As Josh Gerstein reported in Politico, “there are no indications any Clinton Foundation donations were ever sent to the State Department for approval.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times went up with its own bombshell. For her entire time as Secretary of State, Clinton conducted all of her official business using a private email address, and did not contemporaneously save emails related to government business. This is how government officials illegally circumvent the Freedom of Information Act and prevent transparency in government. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Hammer: Netanyahu’s Speech Reminiscent of Churchill — in the 1930s

“In a way it was Churchillian — not in delivery; it was not up to Bibi’s norm — but in the sonorousness and the seriousness of what he said…And it was not Churchill of the ‘40s. This was the desperate Churchill of the ‘30s.”

Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech today before a joint session of Congress was “Churchillian,” says Charles Krauthammer. But not Churchill triumphant…(read more)

“And it was not Churchill of the ‘40s. This was the desperate Churchill of the ‘30s. This was a speech of, I think, extraordinary power but great desperation.” 

National Review


[VIDEO] Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress In Two Minutes

“We’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

 writes:  In a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out the perils of a potentially “very bad” nuclear deal with Iran and called for the U.S. to work toward a better one for the sake of Israel and the entire world’s security.

Netanyahu spoke strongly about the threat of Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, calling the new supposedly moderate regime “as radical as ever” and still bent on the destruction of Israel. He also laid out the connections between Iran and the Islamic State terrorist group, saying that despite their differences they were both still dangerous enemies of the U.S.

“First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East,” he said. “Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country Israel, the one and only Jewish state!”

The deal that could be struck between Iran and the U.S. would at best curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions but would do nothing to end them, and it would create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Netanyahu said.

“Not a single nuclear facility would be demolished,” he said. “Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning.”

“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. We can’t let that happen. But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran.”

Even before it began, Netanyahu’s speech infuriated the White House. Obama has long been at odds with him, and more than 50 Democrats boycottedNetanyahu’s speech. Netanyahu used his prominent platform Tuesday to demonstrate why Obama’s second-term goal would have the unintended effect of further endangering the Jewish state.

Two key concessions to Iran made the deal “so bad,” Netanyahu said. Read the rest of this entry »


Bret Stephens: Israel and the Democrats

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Chuck Schumer and other liberal fence-sitters will have their reputations stained forever if they let this Iran deal pass

Bret Stephensrenocol_BretStephens writes: The Democratic Party is on the cusp of abandoning the state of Israel. That’s a shame, though less for Israel than it is for the Democrats.

The Democrats’ historic support for the Jewish state has always been what’s best about the party. The understanding not only that Jews are entitled to a state, but also that a liberal democracy is entitled to defend itself—robustly and sometimes pre-emptively—against illiberal enemies, is why the party of Harry Truman, Scoop Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan commands historic respect.

“The Democrats’ historic support for the Jewish state has always been what’s best about the party. The understanding not only that Jews are entitled to a state, but also that a liberal democracy is entitled to defend itself—robustly and sometimes pre-emptively—against illiberal enemies…”

But that party is evaporating. A 2014 Pew survey found that just 39% of liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to Israel than they are to the Palestinians. That compares with 77% of conservative Republicans. During last summer’s war in Gaza, Pew found liberals about as likely to blame Israel as they were to blame Hamas for the violence.

That means the GOP is now the engine, the Democrats at best a wheel, in U.S. support for Israel. The Obama administration is the kill switch. Over the weekend, a defensive White House put out a statement noting the various ways it has supported Israel. It highlighted the 1985 U.S.-Israel free-trade agreement and a military assistance package concluded in 2007. When Barack Obama must cite the accomplishments of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as evidence of his pro-Israel bona fides, you know there is a problem.

A 2014 Pew survey found that just 39% of liberal Democrats are more sympathetic to Israel than they are to the Palestinians. That compares with 77% of conservative Republicans. During last summer’s war in Gaza, Pew found liberals about as likely to blame Israel as they were to blame Hamas for the violence. That means the GOP is now the engine, the Democrats at best a wheel, in U.S. support for Israel.

True, there is also the administration’s financial support for the Iron Dome missile-defense system, along with votes at the U.N.’s General Assembly opposing the usual anti-Israel resolutions. The administration and its congressional lemmings are nothing if not heroic when it comes to easy votes.

But this week Democrats don’t have the luxury of an easy vote. Will they boycott the Israeli prime minister’s speech? Will they insist the administration put any deal it reaches with Iran to a vote in Congress? Will they support a fresh round of sanctions, vehemently opposed by the president, if no deal is reached?

The administration is now trying to dodge all this by waging an unprecedented campaign of personal vilification against Benjamin Netanyahu (of a sort they would never dream of waging against, say, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan ), accusing him of seeking political gain for himself in the U.S. at Mr. Obama’s expense. Read the rest of this entry »


Netanyahu Delivered Just What Obama Feared

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Israel’s prime minister delivered a sober reminder of the risks of dealing with Iran—and painted Obama as naïve in the process

James Oliphant writes:  Congressional Republicans haven’t had many victories in their lasting conflict with President Obama, but Tuesday brought one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s somber, provocative speech to Congress checked all the boxes.

“If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country. This is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

It called into question the efficacy of any deal the Obama administration might strike with Iran over its nuclear program, it likely renewed momentum for another round of Iranian sanctions on the Hill, it positioned the GOP politically as the party more worried about Israeli security, and, despite the White House’s best efforts, made the president appear petty and churlish.

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“Obama, in an interview with Reuters, had dismissed the speech as a ‘distraction,’ and aides made sure everyone knew he would be too busy to watch it. But if the president didn’t cast an eye at a TV, he might have been the only person in Washington not to. And that’s the problem.”

Obama, in an interview with Reuters, had dismissed the speech as a “distraction,” and aides made sure everyone knew he would be too busy to watch it. But if the president didn’t cast an eye at a TV, he might have been the only person in Washington not to. And that’s the problem.

[Also see – Bibi Gives Obama a Taste of His Own Medicine – Deroy Murdock, NRO]

For weeks, the White House has worked steadily to write the speech off as a thinly veiled Republican ploy to undermine the delicate negotiations with Iran. But network coverage treated it for what it was: the head of state of a critical ally delivering a controversial address on American soil. That served the interests of both House Speaker John Boehner, who was the impetus behind the speech, and Netanyahu, elevating both of them while key Democrats such as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren stayed offstage.

Netanyahu was hailed in the House chamber like a conquering hero. The moment felt, well, presidential. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] George Will: There Is a Culture Clash Between the Obama Administration and Israel

George Will said he thinks the disagreement between the Obama administration and Israel is representative of a personal dispute between President Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We have a community organizer dealing with a commando; they’re not on the same wavelength. There’s a kind of culture clash between this administration and the administration of a country that lives in a dangerous neighborhood.” 

Will said the Obama administration….(read more)

National Review


Richard Fernandez: A Question of Personality

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A charismatic leader derives authority from himself; from an astounding life story, from attributes possessed by no other man.

Richard Fernandez writes: One of the minor casualties of the Obama administration has been the reputation of genuine “community organizers”.  Before going any further, might the reader please try this test.  Please name one other “community organizer”  besides Barack Obama.

“The Obama phenomenon is founded so completely on his legend that to attack the legend is to undermine the very foundations of the tower on which he stands.”

Most people will not be able to name a single one and for  good reason.  The overarching ethos of a “community organizer”, especially one trained in the Alinsky method, is to plant ideas in people’s minds, let them run with it and  fade away.  But as the New York Times recalled, the young Obama did not want to toil in obscurity and finish up like all those community organizers whose names you can’t remember — the kind who live out their old age with a cupful of money and barrel full of war stories.  He wanted fame; position, to be on center stage.

Be Like Barack The Pros and Cons of a Career in Community Organizing

[Read the full text of Richard Fernandez’s essay here, at Belmont Club]

Mr. Obama had risen to executive director of the Developing Communities group, but the demanding hours, small victories and low pay took a toll on him, and he decided to leave.

“‘We are not making large-scale change, and I want to be involved in doing that,’ ” Mr. Kellman said Mr. Obama had told him. … Mr. Obama had mused to friends in Chicago about one day working for unions or becoming a preacher, a journalist or even a fiction writer. While there, he wrote short stories based on people he had encountered. “The stories were beautifully crafted and evocative,” said Mr. Kruglik.

But Mr. Obama decided on law school instead. Shortly before Mr. Obama left for Harvard, about 60 people attended a farewell reception for him at Altgeld Gardens. He told associates that he intended to return to Chicago once he earned his law degree to pursue a career “in public life.”

This was the moment of clear departure from the community organizing road.  But let us pause for a moment and fix in our mind the existence of these beautiful, evocative short stories  which Kellman describes for we will return to it later. The purpose of this digression into Obama’s “community organizing” past is to identify the leadership model he chose which was  the complete the opposite of the anonymous behind the scenes community organizer.  Obama’s BW-Obamachosen model for greatness was to become a charismatic leader.

“Obama’s vulnerability is America’s vulnerability…American credibility — and that of its cultural elite — now rests on a single point of failure: the narrative life history of the least vetted person in recent presidential politics.  No republic, especially one as great as the United States, should ever be based on the such a fragile thing as the biography of a single man.”

A charismatic leader derives authority from himself;  from an astounding life story, from attributes possessed by no other man. The approach has become common and we know the sort; the Native American who became a law professor and then Senator; the single mother who wanted to be a governor.  The life-story is now standard, but Obama was clearly special. From the very beginning of his career Obama argued that his unique biography — his bi-racial parentage, foreign upbringing, his literary skills etc — made him a special person.  By virtue of these gifts he could heal racial divisions; reach out to the Muslim world; bridge the gap between rich and poor and serve as a link between the generations.

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“What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy.  Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance.  It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion.”

By contrast most American presidents derived their greatness from the position, many simply political hacks who we remember today simply because they occupied the Oval Office. Obama marks the first time in recent memory when the office is deemed uplifted by the man and not the other way round.
Charismatic leadership has its advantages, which is why it occurs repeatedly in history. It permits the charismatic person to “be bigger than the job” and do great things.  Men with this attribute, like Alexander, Caesar or Napoleon seem to rise above the rules and constraints that bind mere human beings.  It’s natural that Obama would prefer to be a ‘special’ president rather than an ordinary one.obama-BW

“Disrespect America, even attack it if you want, and you will not receive a tenth such voltage as did Netanyahu. The torrent of hostility poured upon Netanyahu was so out of proportion to any conceivable offense, that he probably felt obliged to persist in coming, reasoning that he must be on to something.”

Yet as someone said to a student who aspired to drop out of college “like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs”, you have to first be sure you can walk that walk before casting your academic career to the winds. Because charismatic leadership has some drawbacks.  The most obvious being that since power flows from the person himself then when Rudy Giuliani publicly questioned Obama’s patriotism he was attacking the wellsprings of the administration.

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When Giuliani told an audience ”I do not believe – and I know this is a horrible thing to say – but I do not believe that the President loves America,” he was inadvertently doing more than criticizing a president; he was in a manner of speaking, committing treason. The unprecedented firestorm of opprobrium that greeted Giuliani suggested that he had somehow hit a switch.  It was like pushing an ordinary button in the wall and watching the skyscrapers out the window suddenly crumble in dust down into the ground.

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What Giuliani had done was undermine Obama’s legitimacy.  Because so much of Obama’s “power” comes from his special-ness that to question his patriotism is to strike at the basis for his governance.  It was, as in a monarchy, tantamount to rebellion. The reason that similar remarks by Obama about George Bush’s patriotism evoked simple shrugs was because Bush was just an ordinary president, the latest in a line of politicians to occupy the office since George Washington. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] John Boehner: White House’s Animosity for Netanyahu No Secret in D.C.

At The Corner, Ian Tuttle writes: Why did House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) not mention his invitation to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House? “Because I wanted to make sure that there was no interference,” the Speaker told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

“There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I, frankly, didn’t want them getting in the way and quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.”

Boehner said elsewhere in the interview that inviting Netanyahu was apposite…(read more)

National Review Online


[VIDEO] REASON TV: The State of Jefferson Moves One Step Closer to Reality

On Thursday, January 15, 2015 a small group of people gathered in front of the Califonia State Capitol in Sacramento, California. They mostly wore green and chanted slogans like “The time has come for fifty-one.” This group is part of the State of Jefferson movement.

The State of Jefferson is a group of people who are fighting to take a handful of counties in Northern California and seperate to become its own state.

They were gathered at the state capitol to turn in declarations from three new counties to separate from the state of California. With their goal set at 10 to 12 counties and the current number sitting at 7, they are about half way to reaching their goal. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Won’t Defend Western Civilization

Rome, Vatican Museum, Octagonal Courtyard, Apollo sculpture (2)

Never miss an opportunity to indict the West, to ignore the current threat to Western civilization or to smear Americans who rightly see themselves as the defenders of decency and humanity against the barbarism of Islamic fundamentalists

Jennifer Rubinj-Rubin writes: The confluence of events is striking. The president is capitulating in slow motion to the demands of Iran at the P5+1 talks. With regard to the Islamic State, which just this week burned alive a Jordanian pilot (a Muslim, remember), the president has empty words. Yemen, which was held up as a great success story, is now being taken over by Iranian-supported rebels with nary a peep from the president. Iran is effectively absorbing Iraq’s army. Iran continues to back terrorist groups throughout the region, including Hezbollah, which is increasingly more aggressive in attacking Israel.

“No, he is not a Manchurian candidate nor a Muslim. He is, however, entirely in over his head in a world fraught with jihadist violence and completely blinded by the left-wing dogma that declares the West to be not so civilized at all and the United States in particular to be the cause of many of the world’s problems.”

All that is happening while President Obama throws a fit when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gets an invite to speak to Congress. And he lectures the country that Christianity is rotten, too — don’t you remember the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition?

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“This is not an academic oddity or a harmless quirk. It is of grave consequence when the leader of the free world is unable and unwilling to defend it rhetorically, diplomatically or militarily.”

His remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast may be the most memorable of his presidency for they so completely express his moral vacuity and personal arrogance: “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Obama-WP-Reuters

“The president’s thinking manifests itself in the desperation for a deal with the Islamic fundamentalist Iranian state, the biggest supporter of terrorism in the region.”

Never miss an opportunity to indict the West, to ignore the current threat to Western civilization or to smear Americans who rightly see themselves as the defenders of decency and humanity against the barbarism of Islamic fundamentalists. The egregious comments and the thinking behind them was denounced not only by right-wing critics but also by thinking liberals, a variety of Christian leaders and centrists such as Joe Scarborough.

Relief-Sculpture

“This is not trivial matter. It is the central dilemma of time: How do we defend Western civilization when the leader of the free world won’t, and doesn’t even like it all that much?”

No, he is not a Manchurian candidate nor a Muslim. He is, however, entirely in over his head in a world fraught with jihadist violence and completely blinded by the left-wing dogma that declares the West to be not so civilized at all and the United States in particular to be the cause of many of the world’s problems. Read the rest of this entry »


Iran May Already Have Its Bomb…

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But It Is Not Nuclear

Iran may have already secured its greatest leverage, achieving a strategic and economic chokehold on Saudi Arabia and Israel at the same time.

Ghanem M. Nuseibeh and Eli Epstein writes: President Barack Obama’s trip to pay his respects to the new Saudi Arabian king, Salman, could not come at a more crucial time. The past weeks have been momentous for the Middle East.

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“The blocking of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt triggered the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Iran has in the past threatened to block the Straits of Hormuz if it was attacked by the West.”

Recent developments threaten to continue to spread instability to the region and indeed the world. But the particular media coverage of the demise of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and the red-sea-riviera-large1concurrent collapse of the Yemini government are hardly the most compelling story, important and unsettling as they are.

“The access to the Red Sea by Iran’s allies makes the threat of an effective use of sanctions against Iran smaller. Iran is poised to push back the West in the nuclear negotiations.”

The unfolding events, including Islamic State (IS), the resurgence of al-Qaida, chaos in Syria and Libya, the unprecedented level of civilian refugees and the possibility of civil war in Yemen challenge policy makers around the globe. But a less obvious and even more threatening development may have already taken place that can further destabilize the situation for years to come.

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“President Obama’s strategy of focusing on Iran’s nuclear ambitions ignores Tehran’s overall objective of asserting itself as the regional superpower.”

Western countries, led by the US, have been busy trying to justify to the Sunni Arab states their rationale for continuing negotiations with Iran with the goal to manage if not reverse Iran’s nuclear plans.

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“Failure to deal with the threat of an Iranian takeover of Yemen has now contributed to vastly increasing the cards that the Iranian regime can play.”

Long-standing US allies in the Arab world remain skeptical and unwilling to sign on to Obama’s Iranian overtures. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is so intent on challenging the US policy that he is willing to risk a complete severance of his relationship with President Obama by encouraging the US Congress to push for additional sanctions.

But it may already be too late. Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Hit by Artillery Attacks

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Hezbollah Claims Responsibility for Artillery Fire; Israeli Forces Retaliate With Attacks in Lebanon

JERUSALEM— Nicholas Casey And Joshua Mitnick reporting: Israel was hit by two artillery attacks along its northern border Wednesday, its military said, and Israeli forces retaliated with attacks in Lebanon.

“To all those who are trying to challenge us on the northern border I suggest to look at what happened…in the Gaza Strip.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would respond sharply to Wednesday’s rocket and mortar attack, the second in two days on the country’s northern borders. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political and militant group that controls southern Lebanon, claimed responsibility for the artillery fire.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said Israeli forces “reserved the right” to resume military operations in Lebanon if attacks continued. She said Israeli casualties were being tallied, but gave no further details.

Lebanon’s state news agency reported Israeli artillery attacks on several southern Lebanese villages. It also said a member of the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon had been killed.

Israeli police were for the second consecutive day evacuating residents and tourists from border areas. At checkpoints, police were directing vehicles to move south, out of the range of artillery fire. Read the rest of this entry »


Islamic State Militant Extremist Thugs Threaten to Execute Japanese Hostages

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LONDON — A video posted online on Tuesday, purportedly by the Islamic State extremist group, depicted a black-clad militant with a knife threatening to kill two Japanese hostages within 72 hours unless the government in Tokyo paid a ransom of $200 million.

“To the Japanese public, just as how your government has made the foolish decision to pay 200 million to fight the Islamic State, you now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision by paying the 200 million to save the lives of your citizens.”

— Masked Islamic State Militant

The video, which could not immediately be verified independently, showed two men, identified as Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, kneeling on a rocky hillside, with the masked militant standing between them.

“Using human lives as a shield to make threats is an unforgivable terrorist act, and I am extremely indignant. I strongly demand that they be released unharmed immediately.”

— Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

The militant linked the ransom demand to a Japanese offer of assistance to enemies of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, which controls a large amount of territory stretching from Syria into Iraq. The group says it is seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate and has previously shown videos of the beheading of two Americans, James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, and two Britons, David Cawthorne Haines and Alan Henning.

From the Japan Times:

In an online video released Tuesday, the Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese citizens unless Tokyo pays a ransom of $200 million within 72 hours.

The hostage crisis developed as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on the final leg of a six-day tour to the Middle East to pledge $200 million in non-military aid to countries in the region.

Abe vowed to save the men…(read more)

“To the Japanese public, just as how your government has made the foolish decision to pay 200 million to fight the Islamic State, you now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision by paying the 200 million to save the lives of your citizens,” the masked man said in the video, speaking with what sounded like a British accent. “Otherwise this knife will become your nightmare.”

The masked man, whose voice, manner and attire resembled those of a person who appeared in earlier videos showing beheadings, did not specify a currency, but a subtitle in Arabic identified it as dollars.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a conference in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Abe is on his six-day visit to the Middle East. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a conference in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. Abe is on his six-day visit to the Middle East. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan made the promise of nonmilitary assistance to foes of the Islamic State on Saturday during a visit to Cairo on a Middle East tour.

The hostages in the video wore orange jumpsuits, the attire of many of the group’s captives in previous videos. The threat thrust Japan into the sort of high-profile hostage dilemma that has vexed the United States and Britain, which both say they refuse to pay ransoms. Read the rest of this entry »