UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s U.N. ambassador on Monday denounced a U.N. agency head for tacitly comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and has demanded her suspension.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor castigated Rima Khalaf, the head of the Arab-oriented Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and called on the Secretary-General to suspend her.
In a speech in late February, Khalaf referred to “Israel’s adamancy that it is a Jewish State, which violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the 20th century.”
U.N. diplomats generally refer to massive “human suffering during the 20th century” as a way of referring to the Holocaust without having to name Hitler in every speech, or gratuitously slur Germany, a major U.N. member state, every time the issue comes up.
Khalaf, who is Jordanian, ‘did not name Nazi Germany or make a specific comparison. The Holocaust would be one obvious inference from her speech, though there were many ethnic and religious purges, massacres and wars in the 20th century.
She clearly had issues with Israel, as she also said in her Feb. 25 speech in Tunis, “Foreign interference comes in various forms, such as violations of Arab rights and dignity, but its worst manifestation is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanese territories, in flagrant breach of international conventions and resolutions.”
Khalaf was introducing a report on development in Western Asia, and said: “The authors of the report claim that the damage caused by Israeli policies is not limited to occupation activities, but they believe that aggressive Israeli policies, including its support for discord aimed at establishing Arab sectarian mini-States and its nuclear program that is not subject to international monitoring, pose a continuous threat to the security of Arab citizens in the region as a whole.”
Prosor called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend her and said, “It is unacceptable that inflammatory anti-Israel messages continue to be produced under the banner of the United Nations and using U.N. resources. By demonizing Israel, Ms. Khalaf is advancing a personal agenda rather than furthering the cause of peace or advancing regional Arab development. Senior U.N. officials should lead by example and demonstrate tolerance rather than prejudice.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old man from southwest Missouri with a long history of anti-Semitism, was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly opening fire and killing three people – two of them Christian – at and near a Jewish community center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.
As police were taking handcuffed Cross, a resident of Aurora, Mo., and known as F. Glenn Miller, in the back of a car, he yelled out, "Heil Hitler," according to The Kansas City Star.
Matt Davis, who saw Miller's arrest and whose daughter was inside the center when the shooting took place, said that the man was smiling. "I was wondering, 'Why is the guy smiling when he's being arrested.'"
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Miller is an Army veteran and retired truck driver who founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He has been involved in the "white supremacist" movement for most of his life. He was the group's "grand dragon" until he was sued for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against blacks. Miller then founded a similar group called the White Patriot Party.
In 1987, federal agents found Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Miller tried running for U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010.
The gunman, who was carrying a shotgun, a handgun and possibly an assault weapon, fired at five people Sunday afternoon but missed two of his targets, according to police.
The shootings, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, began around 1 p.m. Two males were shot in a parking lot outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, one dying at the scene and the other at a hospital later, according to Reuters. The shooter then drove a mile away to the Village Shalom retirement community and killed a woman.
The shooting came at a time when hundreds of high school singers were expected to audition for a contest.
One of the victims has been identified as William Lewis Corporon, a Johnson County doctor. His 14-year-old grandson, identified as Reat Griffin Underwood, an Eagle Scout, died later at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.
The third victim has yet to be identified.
Corporon and his grandson attended United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo.
The church's senior pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, told the congregation about the incident during Sunday evening service. "Help us, o Lord, to grieve as people of hope," Hamilton was quoted as praying.
The Jewish Community Center has said it will remain closed Monday. "Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day," the center said in a statement. "Our heartfelt gratitude as well to all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support."
Friday, April 11, 2014
JERUSALEM – Israel's Defense Ministry says it has launched a new observation satellite into orbit.
Israel announced the launch of the "Ofek 10" late Wednesday. The launch was carried out with state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries.
The Ofek 10 is the latest in a line of spy satellites built by Israel Aircraft Industries for the government. Israel is expected to use the satellite to keep tabs on Iran and hostile militant groups in the region.
Israel believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon — a charge Iran denies — and accuses it of arming militants across the region.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
By REUTERS 10/04/2014
Iran has made a proposal that would significantly lower plutonium production at a planned reactor, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying, signalling flexibility on a key issue in talks to end the nuclear dispute with world powers.
The comment by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic energy organization, was the latest sign that a compromise may be possible over the Arak research reactor, which the West fears could yield weapons-usable material. Iran denies any such aim.
The fate of the heavy-water plant, which has not yet been completed, is one of the central issues in negotiations between Iran and six major powers aimed at reaching a long-term deal on Tehran's nuclear program by an agreed July 20 deadline.
Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China on Wednesday ended their last round of negotiation in Vienna and said they would start drafting an agreement at their next meeting there on May 13. But officials said significant gaps needed to be bridged.
The website of Iran's English-language state television Press TV, citing Salehi late on Wednesday, said Iran had offered a "scientific and logical proposal to clear up any ambiguities" over the Arak reactor.
"In our plan, we explained that we would redesign the heart of the Arak reactor, so that its production of plutonium will decrease drastically," Salehi was quoted as saying.
RUSSIA SEES ARAK COMPROMISE
The West is worried that Arak, once operational, could provide a supply of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can trigger a nuclear blast.
The Islamic Republic has said that the 40-megawatt reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. It agreed to halt installation work at Arak under a six-month interim accord struck on Nov. 24 which was designed to buy time for negotiations on a comprehensive deal.
Russia's chief negotiator suggested after the April 8-9 talks that progress had been achieved on Arak. "The possibility of a compromise on this issue has grown," Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
Heavy-water reactors like Arak, fueled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium. To do so, however, a spent fuel preprocessing plant would also be needed to extract it. Iran is not known to have any such plant.
If operating optimally, Arak - located about 250 km (150 miles) southwest of Tehran - could produce about nine kg of plutonium annually, the US Institute for Science and International Security says.
Any deal must lower that amount, Western experts say.
Last week, Princeton University experts said that annual plutonium production could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly 8 kg needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way Arak is fueled and lowered its power capacity.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By JPOST.COM STAFF
According to The Daily Beast, high-ranking members of both parties have strong objections to freeing Pollard.
Netanyahu and Obama shake hands at start of Oval Office meeting, March 3, 2013 Photo: REUTERS
If the Obama administration thought about freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an effort to entice Israel to show more flexibility in the negotiations with the Palestinians, it will have to take into consideration the fierce objections of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
According to The Daily Beast news site, high-ranking members of both parties have strong objections to freeing Pollard in a proposed deal that would include Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners and a continuation of peace talks through the end of this year.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D – California) told The Daily Beast that releasing Pollard at this stage – without any sign of a final-status deal between Israel and the Palestinians on the horizon – was a mistake.
“This was a major betrayal and I’ve followed it over the years. It’s one thing if there’s an agreement. It’s another thing totally if there isn’t,” she told The Daily Beast. Feinstein would not say what legislative measures – if any – she would pursue in order to prevent the administration from following through on the proposed deal.
Another influential lawmaker, Republican Saxby Chambliss, is quoted in the report as saying that he opposed Pollard’s release altogether.
“I think he’s done a lot of harm to America and I just don’t think he should be released,” the Georgia Republican said.
Both Republican and Democratic figures as well as retired statesmen have urged the Obama administration to pardon Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that he supports releasing Pollard on the merits of the case, though he did not agree with using Pollard as an enticement to move the peace process forward.
"It's disgusting," McCain said. "I favor his release, I think he's served long enough, but to be used in this fashion, it's disgraceful."
Monday, March 31, 2014
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
US Secretary of state breaks from his travel schedule in Rome amid crisis over delayed prisoner release and Abbas's refusal to extend talks.
PM Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, December 6, 2013. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
PARIS - US Secretary of State John Kerry broke from his travel schedule for the second time in a week to rush back to Israel on Monday to try to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The US-brokered negotiations faced a crisis over the weekend when Israel, saying it was seeking a Palestinian commitment to continue negotiations beyond an end-of-April deadline, delayed the fourth prisoner release to which it had committed to in previous negotiations.
"After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Kerry had interrupted a visit to Rome last week to go to Amman for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to convince him to prolong the talks beyond an April 29 deadline for a deal and to press Israel to release the prisoners.
Speaking at a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday, Netanyahu said that Israel would not make a deal to free the prisoners "without a clear benefit for Israel in return." He acknowledged that negotiations to come to an agreement could potentially "blow up."
In order to move back to the negotiations table, Israel agreed in July to release 104 terrorists convicted of crimes before the the 1993 Oslo accords in four tranches of 26 prisoners each. In return the Palestinians agreed not to pursue unilateral diplomatic actions in international forums, including taking Israel to the International Criminal Court. Israel has so far released 78 prisoners.
A deal has allegedly been reached for Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners by Tuesday evening after Israel missed a Saturday night deadline to free theinmates, sources in Ramallah told Palestinian news site al-Quds on Sunday, though the report also stated that the Palestinians were not expected to make additional compromises, such as agreeing to an extension of talks, in exchange for the release.
By returning to the region, Kerry may be indicating that he believes there is a chance to save the talks, possibly with commitment from both sides to extend the negotiations, or to issue a message that US patience is not without limits.
Kerry was scheduled to attend a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would still be able to make the first day.
Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed last July after a three-year break. In the absence of any obvious breakthroughs, Kerry said he wanted a clear framework to enable discussions to continue in the coming months.
Officials have said the two sides remain far apart even on the draft framework. However, the State Department's Psaki said on Monday the Israelis and Palestinians "have both made tough choices" over the past eight months.
"As we work with them to determine the next steps, it is important they remember that only peace will bring the Israeli and Palestinian people both the security and economic prosperity they all deserve," she said.
American officials said that Kerry was expected to travel to both Israel and Ramallah in the coming hours.
Friday, March 28, 2014
KUWAIT CITY – Arab leaders said Wednesday they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, blaming it for a lack of progress in the Mideast peace process.
The announcement by the Arab League was a rejection of a key demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a boost to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the faltering negotiations.
Netanyahu believes there can be no peace with the Palestinians without recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The Palestinians oppose this, saying it harms the rights of Palestinian refugees displaced from what is now Israel, as well as those of Israel's large Arab minority.
The statement, at the end of a two-day League summit in Kuwait, also rejected what it described as the continuation of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured territories claimed by the Palestinians, and settlement construction has continued throughout the negotiations.
"We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East," the communique said. "We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state."
It said the League rejects what it said is the "the continuation of settlements, Judaization of Jerusalem, attacks on its Muslim and Christian shrines and changing its demographics and geography."
Wednesday's announcement set the stage for Abbas to take a tough line in talks later in the day with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan.
Kerry arrived in Jordan on Wednesday in hopes of jump-starting the foundering peace talks. He is meeting with King Abdullah II before a working dinner with Abbas. A State Department spokeswoman said Kerry also would talk with Netanyahu in the next few days.
In Kuwait, Abbas delivered scathing criticism of Israel in an address to the summit late on Tuesday, saying it was staging a "criminal offensive" to step up settlement building in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
"It is carrying out demolitions (of Palestinian homes), arrests, siege and strangling the Palestinian economy as a prelude to imposing a final settlement to the Palestinian issue that conforms with Israeli conditions and requirements," he said. He also accused Israel of deliberately trying to foil U.S. efforts to reach an agreement.
"And that is not all, it has come up with new conditions that had never been heard before like recognizing it as a Jewish state, something that we reject to even discuss," he said.
In Israel, a senior official said Abbas threatened to "torpedo the peace process" and paraded "rejectionism as a virtue."
"By reiterating his adversarial maximalist position, Abbas is undermining President (Barack) Obama's vision of peace and torpedoing Secretary Kerry's efforts to move the process forward," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
After a nearly five-year break, Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace talks last July, agreeing to talk for nine months.
But the current round, brokered by Kerry, has faced daunting challenges as both sides spar over the drawing of future borders, the status of Palestinian refugees, security arrangements and Israel's demand that it be recognized as a Jewish state.
After months of deadlock, Kerry has given up hopes of brokering a deal and is scrambling to persuade the sides to agree to extend talks beyond his original April deadline.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip -- territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war -- for a future state. They have demanded that a future border with Israel be based on the pre-1967 lines, allowing small changes through negotiated land swaps.
Netanyahu has refused to accept the 1967 lines as the basis for talks and says he will never relinquish east Jerusalem -- home to the city's most sensitive holy sites.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Fatah official says Jerusalem informed Palestinians via US mediator that release expected Saturday would not occur; slams move as "slap in the face" of Washington and American diplomatic efforts.
Palestinians waiting at the Erez crossing for the release of prisoners from Israel. Photo: REUTERS
Israel has reportedly informed the Palestinian Authority that it will not release a fourth and final batch of prisoners expected to be freed as part of peace negotiations, a Palestinian official said Friday.
"The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide with its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 29," AFP quoted Fatah official Jibril Rajoub as saying.
Rajoub charged that "Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreements".
As a gesture for resuming diplomatic negotiations in July, Israel said it would free 104 Palestinian terroristsconvicted before the 1993 Oslo accords. In exchange, the Palestinians pledged to halt their diplomatic efforts to seek full recognitions a member state in the United Nations.
"Not releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation," stressed Rajoub, who also serves as the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association.
Israel has so far release 78 long-serving Palestinian prisoners. Jerusalem would have needed to publicly release on Wednesday the names of the terrorists it planned to free to allow for a 48-hour appeals period – not including Shabbat – ahead of a Saturday night release.
The Fatah official slammed Israel's said refusal to release the 26 remaining prisoners as a "slap in the face of the US administration and its efforts".
The Israeli government had no immediate response to the report.
Earlier Friday, US State Department envoy Martin Indyk met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the issue of the prisoner release. A PA official said the meeting has ended without result.
Abbas was slated to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the coming week following a meeting last Wednesday in Jordan that also yielded little progress.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF arrested a terrorist cell from Nablus implicated in a gun and bomb attack on Israeli civilian vehicles in Samaria, security forces announced on Monday.
The attack took place on January 15 at Jit junction, near the settlement of Kedumim, and the arrests occurred later that month. Terrorists shot at an Israeli car and threw an explosive at another. The vehicle fired upon was damaged, but the driver escaped the attack without injuries.
“Our investigation found that in the months prior to the attack, the cell was involved in two failed shooting attacks in the area. The attacks failed despite the fact that the cell’s members gathered intelligence prior to the shooting, and trained in firearms,” the Shin Bet said.
During the security raids, the IDF and Shin Bet seized a firearm used in the attack, security forces added.
The domestic intelligence agency said five members of the terrorist cell are in Israeli custody, including two central suspects, Abd Naif Shahshir, 23, and Jihad Adel Shahshir, 25.
“Their arrest, days after the attack at Jit junction, prevented the continued consolidation of a military cell that carried out a number of attempts in recent months to harm Israeli civilians in the Samaria region,” the Shin Bet said.
Palestinian Authority security forces arrested additional members of the terrorist cell after the attack, and they remain in custody.
In a different case, security forces arrested a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist cell in recent weeks on suspicion of being behind a gun and grenade attack on an IDF post in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday.
The attack occurred on February 25 near the Palestinian village of Bir Zeit, north of Ramallah.
The Shin Bet said a prominent terror suspect, Fadi Musa Washaha, 27, had confessed to carrying out the attack together with an accomplice, Muataz Washaha, 24, who acted as a lookout.
Muataz Washaha was killed on February 27 during an attempt by security forces to arrest him in Bir Zeit, following a lengthy standoff.
Security forces arrested Fadi Musa Washaha – who has served multiple prison sentences for terrorist offenses – in counterterrorism raids. He later surrendered a homemade rifle to the Shin Bet.
Prior to the attack on the IDF post, he said, he and his accomplice held training exercises with the rifle.
After firing on the post, both suspects fled to the village of Bir Zeit, where security forces caught up with them a few days later.
In the days after Muataz Washaha’s death, the PFLP’s regional commander held a “military funeral” for him, the Shin Bet said, adding that Ramallah Governor Leila Ghnaem took part, and that the Palestinian Authority condemned Israel for the counterterrorism raid.
“In this context, we would like to stress the high motivation terrorist organizations have to promote attacks on the ground on military targets, as well the threat level from the PFLP organization, whose members are working on attacks against Israeli targets,” the Shin Bet said.
Washington – A religious freedom-themed panel organized by a liberal group stated Monday that the American left should focus more on the issue of persecution of Middle Eastern Christians.
Experts brought together by the Center for American Progress spoke of the need to spread awareness on the plight of Christian communities in the Middle East. Marwan Kreidie, professor at Villanova University's Center for Arab & Islamic Studies, told The Christian Post that "progressive organizations" have not effectively grasped the religious component of the Middle East.
"The Middle East is all based on sectarianism, so religion is going to be a way of life," said Kreidie, adding that Americans should play "a more dynamic and more thoughtful role" in the region.
"The Christians in the Middle East have kind of been the invisible victims. Not many people know about them," said Kreidie. "We don't understand what the impact of America does to Christians over there and we need to play a more dynamic and more thoughtful role."
Kreidie was part of a panel brought together for an event titled "The Impact of Middle East Transitions on Christian Communities" held at the CAP office.
"The Middle East uprisings and political transitions that began in 2011 have raised questions about political pluralism and support for religious freedom," reads the event's online description in part. "Over the past several years in the region, some of the oldest Christian communities in the world have faced new challenges resulting from changes in the security, political, legal, and social environment."
While believing that progressive groups in the United States have not properly understood the religious component of current Middle Eastern issues, Kreidie also spoke of concern regarding the political right.
Kreidie told CP that he believes the right often blames "Islam in general" for the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, which he found "problematic."
"The future of Middle Eastern Christianity is always going to be in an Islamic-dominated Middle East," said Kreidie, stressing that by dominated he meant regarding population numbers.
In addition to Kreidie, other panel members included Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, and Hisham Melhem, the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief for Al Arabiya News Channel.
Arab American Institute President James Zogby was originally scheduled to be part of the panel, but was replaced by Kreidie due to a last minute change of plans on Zogby's part.
Brian Katulis, senior fellow with CAP, provided the opening remarks and moderated the panel during the question and answer session.
"We've been working quite a lot for years on political change in the Middle East from the Iraq War to the recent changes of the Arab uprisings," said Katulis. "This issue of religious freedom and the issue of political pluralism has come up quite a lot in the course of that research."
Marshall spoke about the growing problem of religious intolerance abroad, especially in the Middle East and used recent examples of attacks on Christian communities in Egypt and Syria.
"In the Middle East we are seeing a downturn," said Marshall, adding that "the pattern I am describing affects pretty well all non-Muslim religious minorities."
In an interview with CP, Marshall explained how he became involved in the panel because Katulis had contacted him and wanted to explore an issue not often talked about in progressive circles.
"[Katulis] was interested in this issue and says 'people on the left are not paying attention, they should be and I would like to call attention to it,'" said Marshall.
Marshall contrasted this with leftwing publications and political parties in Europe, who have frequently devoted attention to the contemporary issue.
"People in the American left tend to see it as a right wing issue," said Marshall. "In Europe, you don't get that."
"What's interesting right now is that the French, the German, the Italian governments have raised this as an issue, Chancellor Merkel several times, the current Socialist government in France."
A similarly-themed event focusing on the issue of the plight of Christian communities in the Middle East will be held Tuesday at Villanova University.
Titled "Middle East Christian Communities at a Time of Change," the conference will have multiple panels, including one moderated by Kreidie.