Pro-Israel News

Friday, January 23, 2015

By SAM SOKOL \01/23/2015 02:22| The Jerusalem Post| 


Europe without its Jews has no future, a senior European Union official asserted on Wednesday, echoing comments made by politicians in England and France in the aftermath of the attack on a kosher grocery in Paris earlier this month.

“If there’s no future for Jews in Europe, there’s no future for Europe,” said Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission, at a memorial in Brussels on Wednesday for the four men killed in that attack.

Combating anti-Semitism “is the essential fight for the peaceful nature of European society,” Timmermans asserted. “If the EU is to survive... it is based on the fact that for every community that belongs in Europe, there is a place in Europe.”

The mistreatment of Jews has always been a harbinger of “trouble ahead for European societies,” he added.

The official’s comments came on the heels of similar statements by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and British Home Secretary Theresa May, both of whom stated that their own societies’ identities would be compromised by the lack of a Jewish component.

“If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure,” Valls told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview.

Some in France, which emancipated its Jews in the late 18th century, see their Jewish countrymen as a symbol of their national ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, he explained.

“To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle,” the French prime minister stated.

According to Britain’s Daily Mail, May said at a memorial: “Without its Jews, Britain would not be Britain.”

She also entreated the Jews not to leave Britain, the tabloid reported.

Nearly three-quarters of French Jews surveyed in 2013 said they were considering leaving the country. In England, 45 percent of Jewish respondents recently told pollsters they were “concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Britain.”

In an op-ed in the Jewish Chronicle several days after the poll’s results were reported, British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote that the “idea that the Jewish people once again feels unsafe in Europe is a truly sickening thought that strikes at the heart of everything we stand for.”

According to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, around 50,000 French Jews inquired regarding aliya in 2014. France became the leading source of immigrants for the first time in 2014, with almost 7,000 arrivals, twice as many as in the previous year.

While there has been a great deal of rhetoric regarding combating anti-Semitism, some European Jewish leaders have asserted that the action taken has not been commensurate.

In December, the European parliament declined to establish a task force to deal with rising anti-Semitism despite what was perceived to be widespread support, eliciting harsh condemnations from Jews worldwide.

“Anti-Semitism is an abomination which has been around for a very long time. It has its specific roots and specific driving forces, not to mention the horrible results it produced in Europe – more so than anywhere else,” Stephan Kramer, of the American Jewish Committee’s European Office on anti-Semitism, said at the time.

“Therefore, combating anti-Semitism in as efficient a way as possible would have been aided by a special framework designed to do just this. I think that most of those who voted the proposal down realize this. Therefore we have to assume that they succumbed to a warped political correctness which frowns upon calling anti-Semites ‘anti-Semites,’” Kramer said.

Aside from anti-Semitic violence, European Jews have also expressed concerns over the rise of far-right political parties in a number of countries, and over efforts to curb Jewish religious slaughter. A Polish ban on the practice was recently overturned.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

White House says request by House speaker a breach of protocol; PM to speak on threats posed by Iran and radical Islam

BY ADIV STERMAN AND ILAN BEN ZION January 21, 2015, 6:45 pm | The Times of Israel| 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accepted an invitation to address the US Congress

next month on the threat posed by Iran and radical Islam. Netanyahu was reportedly also exploring the possibility of meeting with

President Barack Obama during his visit; however, the White House said the invitation by US Speaker of the House John Boehner

came as a surprise to Obama’s staff and was a breach or protocol. Boehner said the “invitation carries with it our unwavering

commitment to the security and wellbeing of [the Israeli] people.” In a statement posted on his website, Boehner said he had asked

Netanyahu to comment on the threats stemming from radical Islam as well as the Iranian regime. “Americans and Israelis have always

stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again,” he wrote. Netanyahu is scheduled to

address the joint session of Congress on February 11, the date of the 36th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, marking the day the

shah’s regime fell. Shortly after news of the invitation to Netanyahu broke, the White House said it was a breach of normal diplomatic protocol.

Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the White House had not heard from Jerusalem about whether Netanyahu planned to speak to Congress.

Earnest added that the Obama administration was reserving judgment about the invitation until it had a chance to speak to the Israelis about what Netanyahu

might say. He said typical protocol was that a country’s leader would contact the White House before

planning to visit the United States. But Earnest said the White House hadn’t been given word of the invitation until Wednesday morning, shortly before Boehner

announced it publicly. The speech invitation comes as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is working on legislation that would allow Congress to weigh in

by allowing it to take an up­down vote on any deal the Obama administration reaches with Tehran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. A committee

hearing on Wednesday will focus on the status of the negotiations and the role of Congress. Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful and exists only to

produce energy for civilian use, while both Israel and the US maintain that the regime is attempting to produce atomic weapons. Time is running out for the

US to reach a deal with Iran, as bilateral talks between the representatives of both nations have been extended until July, with the goal of reaching a framework

for a deal by the end of March. Both Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani face stiff opposition to negotiations from conservatives in their respective homelands.

Moreover, a Republican victory in the 2016 presidential election would make renewed talks with Iran unlikely. Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, said

he’s worried that Iran is holding firm while the US, the European Union and the other international partners move closer to the Iranian point of view. “Whether it’s the intelligence

agencies in Israel or the people we deal with around the world, I have had no one yet say that Congress weighing in on this deal would do anything but strengthen the administration’s

hand and help cause this process to come to fruition,” Corker said Tuesday. Obama came out swinging last Friday, telling Congress he would veto any Iran sanctions bill that lands

on his desk. “Hold your fire,” Obama told Congress while standing at the White House alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, who took the unusual step of calling US senators

to lobby against a sanctions bill. Netanyahu has advocated for Washington to levy more sanctions on Iran in order to pressure it to relinquish entirely its uranium enrichment program,

a stance that has put him at loggerheads with Obama, who has said some enrichment should be allowed Iran. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Prison service officer tells of giving chase and shooting stabber after
seeing bus swerve
BY STUART WINER January 21, 2015, 11:09 am| The Times of Israel| 
Eyewitnesses thrown from a work­a­day Wednesday morning into the middle of a terror
attack in Tel Aviv described scenes of panic and chaos when a Palestinian man stabbed
over a dozen people on a bus.
One of the prison service officers who helped bring the attack to an end told how he and fellow
officers realized something was wrong when the they saw the bus ahead of them begin to zigzag
down the street.
Beni Butrashvilli and other officers from the prison service’s Nachshon unit, which specializes in
transporting and securing inmates, were traveling in a vehicle behind the number 40 bus when it
started to weave across the road.
“I saw the bus stop on a green light and then people burst out and screamed for help,” he recalled.
“We understood that it was a terror attack.”
The attacker, identified as a 23­year­old Palestinian man from Tulkarem, was shot and lightly
injured before being captured.
Butrashvilli said he and the other officers sprang into action, chasing after the stabber as he tried
to make his escape.
“We identified the terrorist and ran after him,” he said. “I blocked him off from one side and the
other officers blocked him off from the left and shot in the air. We shot at his legs, the terrorist
collapsed and fell over, and we handcuffed him and waited for the police to arrive. After we shot
him in the legs he didn’t say anything.”
The attack apparently began when the assailant stabbed the bus driver in the chest as the driver,
Herzl Biton, attempted to fight him off. The man then began to stab others as well.
A passenger on the bus during the attack, which left at least 17 injured, some seriously, told of the
confusion as the attacker began slashing at the driver.
“I heard screams and I didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “Everyone ran to the rear of
the bus. The terrorist was half a meter from me. The driver didn’t manage to open the doors. As
soon as he did everybody ran out.”
Liel Suissa, an 8th grade student on the bus, said he narrowly escaped from the attacker.
“I threw my bag at the terrorist when he got close to us to keep him away. The driver slammed on
the brakes when he got close to us. The terrorist went flying and I kicked the window and the
window broke and so we were able to exit. Also the driver opened the door,” he said.
The attack occurred as the bus, an urban line running from Bat Yam to the the city’s north,
traversed the busy Maariv Bridge intersection at about 7:30 a.m., a time when it is packed with
cars, buses and pedestrians.
The driver’s niece, Heli Sousan, told reporters outside the Ichilov Hospital that her uncle was in a
serious condition with injuries to his liver, and was undergoing an operation.
She said Biton sprayed the terrorist with pepper spray in an effort to fight back against the assault.
“It is awful,” she said.
A friend told Channel 2 news that the driver called him after being stabbed, telling him, “if anything
happens, take care of my kids.”
Eyewitness Avi Taviv told the Hebrew media website Walla that he saw the bus stop and people
pour out of it.
“I saw the terrorist run from the bus and two prison officers chase after him,” he said. “They fired
in the air and told him to stop but he kept running towards Hamasger Street. They shot him and
overpowered him.”
Tel Aviv District Police Commander Major General Benzi Sau, speaking shortly after the event,
described the attack as “difficult and serious,” the Hebrew media Ynet website reported.
“As soon as he got on the bus he began to attack the driver with a sharp object, injured him
several times, and then stabbed some other passengers,” Sau said.
“The driver’s response was excellent,” he said. “He fought back, he resisted the attack, and in so
doing bewildered the attacking terrorist.”
Sau added that there was a large effort being made to identify other possible suspects involved in
the attack.
“Together with the Shin Bet security service, we are making efforts to find out if he has or had
helpers,” he said.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

By SAM SOKOL \01/20/2015 04:22 | The Jerusalem Post| 

Many European Jews are afraid to identify themselves as Zionists and supporters of Israel, the leaders of several national branches of the Women’s International Zionist Organization told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Speaking at the organization’s annual meeting in Tel Aviv, the heads of the WIZO branches in France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden described the difficulties facing their constituents in a Europe in which Jewish nationalism is decreasingly acceptable.

“There is a very bad atmosphere around Jewish people,” said Joelle Lezmi, the president of WIZO France.

“People do not have the right to wear kippot; Jewish people are afraid to put on their Star of David; Jewish people have no place to say I am Jewish, just to say I am Jewish. If you are to say ‘I am a Zionist’ it’s quite a revolution.”

A similar situation exists in Sweden, admitted Susanne Sznajderman, Lezmi’s Swedish counterpart.

“People self-censor themselves. They hear anti-semitism, but do not act, because they don’t feel safe in reacting,” she said, condemning her government’s “very weak leadership” on this issue.

Sweden’s recognition of a Palestinian state outside of the framework of a negotiated solution gave “courage to the Palestinians and to those who are violent and to the Muslims in our country to act. That strategy is extremely dangerous.”

Due to the climate in which they must operate, she added, many Jewish organizations within her community have declined to push a Zionist agenda, instead focusing on protecting themselves.

WIZO Belgium president Vicky Hollander, meanwhile, complained about the tenor of European press coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict, stating it’s a trigger and “emphasizes violence to provoke more violence.”

While she said Belgian Jews are unafraid to identify as Zionists, when mentioning pro-Israeli politicians in her country’s parliament she asked that their names not be cited in this newspaper out of concern for the possible ramifications.

“We are scared of the media. We know what they can do.

With one word they turn the world around,” she said.

Diana Schnabel of WIZO Germany agreed, stating that in her experience there is little press interest in reporting on coexistence projects run by the Zionist group and that the media only seemed to want to cover WIZO as part of the Middle East conflict.

While unafraid, Schnabel admitted that she is worried.

As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, she always identified as a Jew living in Germany, but saw how her children began to see themselves as German Jews. With recent events, including the “anti-Semitic flood” seen this summer during Israel’s military incursion in Gaza, however, she is no longer sure that many see themselves in this way.

Both in Germany and France, those in attendance said, the use of anti-Semitic terminology is becoming more common and accepted.

Citing the rallies following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Schnabel said millions would not have taken to the streets if the victims had been Jews.

“We have to be realistic,” she said.

Monday, January 19, 2015
January 8, 2015 | The Jewish Chronicle Online| 

As 2014 drew to a close, the assessment at the United Nations was that the Palestinians would postpone the vote on their proposal to set a fixed timetable for the establishment of an independent state.

The US had made it clear that they would vote against, meaning that even if Palestinian proposal received the necessary nine-nation majority, it would be vetoed.

On Monday, Britain's ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said that the UK would not be supporting the Palestinian proposal either.

Confident that the vote would be delayed, Israel's envoy, Ron Prosor, left New York for a conference in Jerusalem. On Tuesday, however, all the plans were upended as ambassadors were summoned to the Security Council chamber. The Palestinians, acting through the Jordanian delegation, had requested an immediate vote.

What had changed? The French government had finally decided to vote in favour and the Palestinians believed that that would be sufficient to deliver the ninth vote, forcing the US to veto the proposal and resulting in what they believed would be a "moral victory".

With only two nations voting against - the US and Australia - the UK, Lithuania and South Korea promising to abstain, and six definite votes in favour (including Russia's), the focus was on four members: France, Luxembourg, Rwanda and Nigeria.

Israeli and US pressure on the two European nations failed to deliver, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the presidents of Nigeria and Rwanda and convinced them to abstain in the name of close relations with

They did, and the proposal received only eight votes in favour.

Israel's foreign policy balance sheet now shows damage to its relations with Europe and a surprising improvement in its ties with sub-saharan Africa.

The expectation is that the Palestinians will push for another vote soon, with new members joining the Security Council in 2015.

Friday, January 16, 2015
Decision follows security evaluation by community leaders, reportedly
in coordination with Mossad; school, synagogue in Amsterdam
shuttered as a precaution
BY EJP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF January 16, 2015, 11:06 am | The Times of Israel|
Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp were closed Friday due to the heightened terror
threat against sensitive targets, one day after the Belgian police conducted a wide antiterror
operation targeting jihadists who have returned from Syria.
In nearby Amsterdam, an Orthodox synagogue and Jewish school were shuttered Friday as well.
Belgian police killed two men who opened fire during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday
against an Islamist group that, according to federal prosecutors, was about to launch “terrorist
attacks on a grand scale.”
The decision to cancel classes in Jewish schools in Belgium followed a security evaluation by the
internal security service of the Jewish community on the basis of the available information, reports
According to Antwerp’s Joods Actueel Jewish magazine, Israel’s Mossad intelligence service,
which advises Israeli embassies in countries with prominent Jewish communities, took part in the
security analysis. Around 40,000 Jews live in the country.
Over in Holland’s Amsterdam, an Orthodox synagogue was closed Friday, Israel Radio reported.
A Jewish school in Amsterdam canceled classes as a precaution, the Ynet news website
reported, although there were no concrete threats against it. A senior Western official told CNN
early Friday that second to Belgium, the Netherlands is also at risk of attack by European
Belgian Magistrate Eric Van der Sypt told reporters Thursday the suspects were on the verge of
perpetrating a major terror attack in Belgium. He told an emergency press conference that
Belgium’s terror­alert level had been raised to its second­highest notch.
Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, including 4 Jewish men in a
kosher supermarket, Belgium’s police operation fueled fears across Europe of attacks by young
Muslims who have returned — radicalized — from Syria
But the Belgian probe had been under way before the Paris attacks and Belgian officials saw no
obvious link between the two.
In May 2014, an Islamist terrorist, Mehdi Nemmouche, who had also joined jihadist groups in Syria
before returning to Europe, killed four people in the Jewish Museum of Belgium, located in
Thursday, January 15, 2015

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF January 15, 2015, 1:07 am | The Times of Israel| 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged all Jews living in the Diaspora to immigrate to Israel, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris last week.

At the annual Taglit-Birthright ‘Mega Event’ in Israel, Netanyahu asked thousands of participants to hold a minute of silence for the victims of the attacks at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed, and later at a kosher supermarket in the French capital in which four Jewish men were murdered, among them Yoav Hattab. The young Tunisian Jew had visited Israel with Birthright, the program that brings Jewish 18-to-26-year-olds on free 10-day trips, just a few short weeks ago.

“Tonight, I call on all of you, and on all young Jews around the world: Come to Israel, Make aliya. This is your country. This is your birthright,” the prime minister urged.

Picking up on one of the popular slogans showing support for the victims of the market siege, Netanyahu said his visit to France following the attacks made him question whether Jews in other countries were free and unafraid to declare their identity.

“I was proud to represent Israel in Paris alongside other world leaders in the fight against terror. I saw there masses of French people marching and saying “Je Suis Charlie” [in support of the victims of the satirical magazine attack] — and in my heart, I said to myself ‘for us [Jews] there is an additional questions — can Jews in other countries march in the street declaring “Je Suis Juif” [I am Jewish]?

The four victims of the Paris Hyper Cacher attack, from left to right: Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Francois-Michel Saada, Philippe Braham. (photo credit: Courtesy)

“I tell you as prime minister of Israel what every Jew in the State of Israel can say, ‘Je Suis Juif’, and we declare this without fear, without hesitation, and with great pride,” he went on.

“This is what makes Israel unique. Every Jew can feel part of Israel and that Israel belongs to them.”

Netanyahu has made several remarks urging mass immigration to Israel, including in a subtle speech delivered to an audience at the Grand Synagogue in Paris following the massive rally against terror on Sunday in the French capital that drew dozens of world leaders and some 1.6 million people.

Other Israeli leaders including Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also made similar statements following the attacks.

The four victims at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris last Friday — Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Phillipe Barhan and Francois Michel Saada — were buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday in a ceremony attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Netanyahu, Knesset members from various political parties and religious leaders.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

By Rebecca Shimoni Stoil January 14, 2015, 7:42 am | The Times of Israe| 


WASHINGTON — Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) ushered in the new Congressional session by proposing legislation Tuesday to force the Obama administration to change longstanding US policy and move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The bill, which stands little chance of surviving both Congress and the presidential veto pen, nonetheless represents the opening shots from a newly Republican Congress that has vowed to challenge presidential authority on key foreign policy questions.

It also comes as the Supreme Court readies to rule on a high profile case which could determine Congress’s ability to shape foreign policy and force the State Department to change course and recognize Jerusalem’s status on passports of Americans born in the city.

The Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2015 seeks to force the executive branch to uphold the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which calls for the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, but has been pushed off by pro forma presidential measures since.

“Almost fifteen years ago Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate,” Cruz, the bill’s cosponsor, wrote in a statement Tuesday. “It is my hope that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle support this important bill. It is long past due for our government to finally and unequivocally recognize Israel’s historical capital both in word and deed.”

Introduced late last week, the bill is headed for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, although there is no date scheduled for work to begin on advancing the legislation.

The bill’s stated purpose is “to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel, and for other purposes,” and in addition to removing the ability of the president to delay moving the embassy, it includes a statement of policy that “it is the policy of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel, both de jure and de facto.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit September 26, 2014 in Washington, DC (Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

In practice, the bill strikes the language in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that gave the president waiver authority to delay the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the grounds that it would harm national security interests.

Every president since Bill Clinton has signed a presidential waiver every six months in order to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, citing concerns that a move to Jerusalem would upset the prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The bill would also require any official government document which lists countries and their capital cities to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and proposes a partial freeze of State Department building funds until an embassy is constructed in Jerusalem.

The US has been reluctant to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and the CIA factbook notes that “Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.”

Heller’s legislation is similar to a 2011 attempt in the House to pass the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011. That bill, which was cosponsored by 14 members of Congress, also sought to discontinue the Presidential waiver authority and thus effectively force the embassy’s move. That bill, however, did not make it out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In the new political environment in Washington, the embassy bill has a chance of passing both houses of Congress, where Republican lawmakers are jostling to challenge aspects of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. It will almost certainly, however, be felled by a presidential veto.

Congressional pressure on Obama

The bill is co-sponsored by Cruz, a Tea Party Republican thought to be a main contender for a GOP presidential run in 2016 and it is one of the first attempts to use the new Republican-controlled Congress to challenge Obama’s foreign policy decisions. In the coming weeks, a number of legislative initiatives are likely to attempt to shape foreign policy

Obama’s foreign policy is expected to be the epicenter of a number of battles waged between the White House and the Capitol under the new Congress which was sworn in last week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Senator Lindsey Graham at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on December 27, 2014. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Prominent Republicans have already indicated that the new Congress will push hard for additional sanctions on Iran. Options include reviving the legislation drafted last year by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that would threaten Iran with additional sanctions if any nuclear deal falls through or is not reached within a specific timeframe. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) may also work to push their legislation, which would require committee hearings and a Congressional floor vote to approve any potential nuclear deal with Tehran.

“You will see a very vigorous Congress when it comes to Iran,” Graham promised during a December visit to Israel. “You will see a Congress making sure that sanctions are real and will be reimposed at the drop of a hat. You will see a Congress wanting to have any say about a final deal.”

The Kirk-Menendez bill enjoys the support of enough Democrats that it approaches the threshold for a veto-busting majority. With 54 Republicans in the Senate, the bill would need an additional 13 Democratic votes to override a presidential veto – and there are currently 11 Senate Democrats signed on to the bill as co-sponsors.

Supreme Court challenge

The anticipated battles over which branch of government has a say in determining foreign policy are not restricted to Pennsylvania Avenue. In the coming months, the Supreme Court is expected to deliver a long-anticipated ruling in Zivitofsky v. Kerry, in which the current policy of not writing “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place of birth in US passports is challenged.

Ari Zivotofsky (right), stands with his nine-year-old son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, November 7, 2011. (photo credit: AP/Evan Vucci, File)

At the heart of the case is legislation that — not unlike Cruz’s bill — seeks to shift the State Department’s policy on recognizing the status of Jerusalem. The law in question, passed in 2002, requires the secretary of state to honor requests to record Israel as the place of birth in US passports held by American citizens born in Jerusalem.

Then-president George W. Bush signed the bill into law, but issued a signing statement acknowledging that he would not actually uphold the law, as it “impermissibly interferes with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the Nation’s foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch.”

The Supreme Court case, which originates in a request by the parents of Menachem Zivitofsky to write “Israel” as the place of birth in their Jerusalem-born son’s passport, is popular among court-watchers for its potential implications for Congress’s role in shaping foreign policy.

Although a narrow ruling that does not have sweeping implications for the shaping of foreign policy is expected, it is still possible that the Supreme Court could attempt to swat down attempts like Cruz’s to change the State Department from outside.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Leaders speak on phone as president’s UN ambassador tells
Republicans White House objects to new sanctions on Tehran
BY AP January 13, 2015, 3:04 am
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday night, telling him he opposed the Palestinians’
move to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war­crimes charges against
Israel. Obama also spoke of American efforts to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.
The White House said Obama told Netanyahu that the Palestinian Authority wasn’t yet a state and
wasn’t eligible to join the court. Obama said the Palestinians’ application to the court wasn’t
constructive and undermined trust with Israel.
The US is reviewing its aid package to the Palestinians because of their bid to join the court.
Palestine was accepted as an observer state by the 122 countries that are members of the
International Criminal Court in December. Its ratification of the Rome Statute that established the
ICC in late December has been accepted at the United Nations, and the state of Palestine will
become the 123rd member of the international war crimes tribunal on April 1. The United States is
not a member of the ICC, so its views on Palestinian statehood have no bearing on the court.
The White House said Obama also told Netanyahu the US was working toward a nuclear deal that
prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has repeatedly warned such a deal could
undercut Israel’s security.
The nuclear talks resume this week in Switzerland.
Obama’s UN ambassador strongly objected Monday to any new US sanctions push on Iran,
saying the administration wouldn’t compromise with the Republican­led Congress.
Samantha Power said the proposed penalties on Tehran, as championed by Republican and
some Democratic lawmakers, would “almost certainly end” nuclear talks between Iran and world
powers. And she said the legislation would weaken existing sanctions on Iran by undermining
international cooperation.
While the sentiments weren’t new for the Obama administration, Power’s remarks were
noteworthy for the forum where they were delivered. She was speaking at an event in Louisville,
Kentucky, hosted by Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s new majority leader.
While Power sought to stress common goals between the administration and Congress — from
fighting Ebola and confronting terrorists to ending Burma’s dictatorship — she drew lines on the
issue of Iran and Cuba.
“Imposing new sanctions now will almost certainly end a negotiations process that has not only
frozen the advance of Iran’s nuclear program, but that could lead us to an understanding that
would give us confidence in its exclusively peaceful nature,” Power said.
“Iran would be able to blame the US for sabotaging the negotiations and causing the collapse of
the process, and we would lose the chance to peacefully resolve a major national security
challenge,” Power said.
And, she argued, a new package of nuclear­related trade, oil or financial restrictions on Tehran
would “likely weaken the sanctions pressure on Iran, by undermining crucial international support.”
In the Senate, nearly all Republicans and several Democrats have voiced support for toughening
the economic pressure on Iran in a bid to squeeze its negotiators into making more concessions
in nuclear talks. Support from the Republican­dominated House is a given.
The US and its partners are hoping to seal a deal with Iran by July that would provide the country
long­term relief from international sanctions in exchange for stricter limits on its nuclear activity.
Iran says its program is solely designed for peaceful nuclear energy and medical research
purposes. The US and many governments in the world suspect Iran of maintaining a covert
interest in producing nuclear weapons.
The Senate is likely to take up the issue in February.
Aides say the legislation being drafted by Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, and Sen. Bob Menendez,
a Democrat, has significantly softened language from a bill the pair drafted a year ago. The last
effort would have compelled an increase in sanctions unless Iran ended all uranium enrichment
activity. That is no longer a binding condition, said aides who weren’t authorized to speak publicly
on the bill while it was still being worked on and demanded anonymity.
Power also defended the administration’s outreach to Cuba, confirming that the communist
government has released 53 political prisoners it promised to free last month when the two
countries vowed to re­establish diplomatic ties. She said differences with Cuba hawks on that
effort were an issue of tactics, not overall objectives, and said
Monday, January 12, 2015

BY AFP AND TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF January 12, 2015, 12:47 pm | The Times of  Israel| 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday visited the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris where four Jews were killed by an Islamist gunman who stormed the store last week, warning that attacks could grow worse.

Arriving to the cries of “Bibi, Bibi” — his nickname — and under massive security protection, Netanyahu paid tribute to victims at the site, and was accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Speaking to the press there, Netanyahu called on European leaders to support Israel in its own fight against terror, likely a reference to European criticism of Israel regarding its conflict with the Palestinians.

“A direct line leads between the attacks of extremist Islam around the world to the attack that took place here at a kosher supermarket in the heart of Paris,” he said. “I expect all of the leaders, with whom we marched in the streets of Paris yesterday, to fight terrorism wherever it is, also when it is directed against Israel and Jews.”

The prime minister also warned that the terror threat would grow.

““The terror strikes that we have experienced here will grow to dimensions people do not yet understand, and this is why I hope Europe will unite, I hope it will wake up in time,” he said. “Israel supports Europe in its fight against terrorism and it’s time Europe supported Israel in the same fight.”

Referencing his attendance at a march a day earlier, where he was one of dozens of world leaders who rallied along with millions others, Netanyahu defended his move to shoulder himself into the first row of leaders, alongside French president Fancois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Insofar as it depends on me, I will always see to it that Israel marches in the first row of nations vis-à-vis its security and its future,” he said.

In a visit with French Jewish leaders before his tour of the site of the attack, Netanyahu said he hoped the Paris terror attacks would lend European support to Israeli efforts to combat terror.

“If the world does not unite now against terrorism, the blows that terrorism has struck here will increase in a magnitude that can scarcely be conceived; therefore, I hope that Europe will unite. I hope that it will also take action,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel supports Europe in the struggle against terrorism and the time has come for Europe to support Israel in the exact same struggle,” he said.

The prime minister also described his address at the Paris synagogue on Sunday evening as “emotional,” and “a moment of genuine Jewish solidarity.”

“The visit to Paris was also a moment of general solidarity with humanity,” Netanyahu added.

Netanyahu arrived in Paris for Sunday’s mass rally in commemoration of the 17 victims of the Paris terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and HyperCacher market, as well as the shooting death of a policewoman. Netanyahu later gave an address in Hebrew at the Grand Synagogue in Paris where he thanked France for its “very firm position” against anti-Semitism.

“Our common enemy is radical, extremist Islam — not normal Islam,” Netanyahu said in an address at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, after briefly joining other world leaders in a mammoth march against extremism through the capital that drew up to 1.6 million people.

Netanyahu called on Europe and the rest of the world to support Israel’s fight against terror.

“Israel is today at Europe’s side, but I would like Europe to be on Israel’s side too,” Netanyahu said.

“Those who killed and massacred Jews in a synagogue recently in Israel and those who killed Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same global terror movement,” he added, referring to a deadly November attack at a synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof.

“We must condemn them in the same way, we must fight them in the same way.”

The prime minister asserted that the danger imposed by global terror had the potential of deteriorating into a serious threat to all humankind if radicals were to achieve nuclear capabilities. He then demanded of world powers to thwart Iranian nuclear aspirations.

“We cannot let Iran achieve nuclear capabilities,” he said. “Israel stands with Europe, and Europe must stand with Israel [on this issue].”

Netanyahu went on to once again extend an invitation to French Jews to emigrate to Israel, just a day after he said the Jewish state was their home.

“Jews have the right to live wherever they want,” the prime minister said. “But Jews these days have an opportunity that did not exist in the past, to live freely in the only Jewish state, the State of Israel.”

“Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel,” he said.

“Am Israel chai! Am Israel chai!,” Netanyahu concluded. The crowd loudly repeated his final remarks. Some could be heard chanting Netanyahu’s name.