Pro-Israel News

Date:
Friday, February 27, 2015

Pray For Israel And Its Prime Minister 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is addressing Congress Tuesday March 3rd. He is coming to warn America about the dangers of radical Islam and a nuclear-armed Iran. Yet the Associated Pressreports that the Obama White House is "mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington." 

This is what we have sunk to: a president who panders to the mullahs of Iran while he orchestrates a campaign against a hero and defender of our civilization like Bibi Netanyahu. 

Israel and its prime minister need our help!

America must stand with Israel. That's why I launched a new social media campaign this morning encouraging men and women of faith like you to pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his speech before Congress. You can join us by visiting my Facebook page. I want you to help us spread the word. "Like" and share this post with friends, family members and your church family. 

Lernergate Update 

Lois Lerner is back in the news. You will recall that Lerner was the IRS official who led the targeting of Tea Party groups. When her inquisition was exposed, her hard drive mysteriously crashed, her Blackberry was destroyed and all her emails just disappeared. 

The IRS did everything it could to recover her data, but, tragically, it was all lost. Or so we were told. No one believed that and for good reason -- it wasn't true.

The IRS Inspector General's office has in fact discovered thousands of Lerner's emails on backup tapes -- tapes we were told had been disposed of and recycled. 

Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he discovered the backup tapes were being stored at a facility in West Virginia. Contrary to the testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, no one from the IRS had ever asked for them. In addition, investigators discovered at least 400 more backup tapes just two weeks ago. Those tapes were discovered after investigators realized the IRS was withholding documents from them. 

Technicians are still reviewing the tapes, and they don't yet know exactly what is on them. Nevertheless, Camus said, "There is potential criminal activity." 

Benghazigate Update 

Newly revealed State Department emails prove that Hillary Clinton's closest advisors knew within minutes that the assault on our consulate in Benghazi was in fact a terrorist attack. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought against the State Department by Judicial Watch. Here's what they show:
 

  • Minutes after the attack began, former Secretary of State Clinton's chief-of-staff, Cheryl Mills, and Clinton's executive assistant, Joseph McManus, received a message entitled, "U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack."
     
  • They received another email 30 minutes later noting: "15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. . . . [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire."
     
  • Two hours later a third message was received reporting that an Al Qaeda-linked group was taking credit for the attack: "Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU):  “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli." 

    Yet in spite of these real time details, Clinton's State Department and Obama's White House -- contrary to advice from the Pentagon -- concocted a story about a spontaneous demonstration in response to a movie.

    After saying over and over again that "Al Qaeda was decimated and on the run," the Obama/Clinton team couldn't tell the truth and admit that Al Qaeda had just attacked our consulate, killing our ambassador and three other Americans. 

    Clinton Ethical Lapses 

    The Washington Post reported this week that the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments while Hillary served as Obama's secretary of state. At least one donation "violated [the foundation's] ethics agreement."

    The Clintons, fundraising scandals, ethical lapses. . . This sounds all too familiar. 

    One of the more problematic donations to the Clinton Foundation came from the government of Qatar, which also spent more than $5 million lobbying the State Department while Hillary was secretary of state. 

    Qatar has a scandalous human rights record. When Hamas fled the Syrian civil war in January 2012, it moved its headquarters from Damascus to Qatar. According to Amnesty International, "Women who report rape or sexual violence in Qatar are at risk of being charged with 'illicit relations' and face prison sentences if convicted." 

    Marriage Matters 

    Is the marriage debate over? Many political elites claim that it is, and that same-sex marriage has won the day. But that claim confuses the will of the people with the dictates of a handful of unelected judges. 

    When people have actually voted on marriage or revealed their preferences to pollsters, a much different picture emerges. Read more in my latest opinion piece at The Blaze.

Date:
Friday, February 27, 2015

Netanyahu defends his Congress speech in an interview to a haredi radio station.

By JPOST.COM STAFF \02/27/2015 14:48| The Jerusalem Post| 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat is crucial because Congress is one of the only bodies that can actually stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, he said during an interview to a haredi radio station on Friday morning.

"I am writing the speech and it is important, because I am going there to try to stop the deal from happening. We remember the times when Persia tried to destroy us, and today in the same Persia there is a ruler who calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and they plan on doing it with nuclear weapons," he said.

Netanyahu's speech to US Congress, due on March 3, has caused a rift between himself and US President Barack Obama's administration. During his speech, Netanyahu will speak out against the emerging nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. 

The prime minister shared that following his Congress speech, he will dine with Republicans and Democrats in Washington. "I take it as a blessing. There was an invitation from both sides...this shows that there is a greater interest." he said.

"According to the signs, in most of the US, there is support for Israel. So I can have differences with the US president, that is legitimate, so what is not legitimate about us speaking our minds? Especially when the majority supports us."

Netanyahu was asked about his feelings towards the negative media attention he garners, and he answered "you need to strong. The feeling is hard, when you and your family are being attacked and slandered." 

In regards to the upcoming election, Netanyahu was asked to whom his first phone call will be in order to make a coalition after the elections. He responded that depending on the results, the coalition building could fall on Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, but if it doesn't, he will call on Naftali Bennett, Moshe Kahlon and Avigdor Liberman. 

 

Date:
Thursday, February 26, 2015


Lawmakers express skepticism on reported concessions to Tehran in framework of nuclear deal

BY DEB RIECHMANN AND MATTHEW LEE February 26, 2015, 1:33 am | The Times of Israel| 
 


WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry played defense Wednesday on Capitol Hill, fielding dozens of questions from lawmakers worried about what Iran could get in a deal being negotiated to block its ability to make an atomic weapon.

California Republican Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Kerry at a hearing that members of the panel have serious concerns about the direction of the more than 1-year-old talks, which are at a critical juncture. Negotiators are rushing to try to meet a March 31 deadline for a framework agreement between Iran and the US and five other world powers.

“I’m hearing less about dismantlement and more about the performance of Iran’s nuclear program,” Royce told Kerry. “That’s particularly disturbing when you consider that international inspectors report that Iran has still not revealed its past bomb work.”

New York Rep. Elliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the committee, expressed skepticism too.

Engel noted news stories claiming that negotiators are willing to ease limits on Iran’s enrichment production during the later years of an accord in order to bridge the differences between the two sides over how long an agreement should last.

“We’re hearing troubling reports on the scale and duration of the program that Iran may be allowed as part of a deal,” Engel said.

The secretary testified in the House two days after returning to Washington from the latest round of talks in Geneva. US and Iranian officials reported progress on getting to a deal that would clamp down on Tehran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but would then slowly ease restrictions.

Any comprehensive pact could ease 35 years of US-Iranian enmity — and seems within reach for the first time in more than a decade of negotiations.

Royce said the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is worried about the scope of Iranian military-related activities, including its work in designing a nuclear payload for a missile.

“The IAEA inspectors have amassed over 1,000 pages which showed research, development and testing activity on technologies needed to develop a nuclear weapon,” the congressman said. “Of the 12 sets of questions that the IAEA has been seeking since 2011, Iran has answered part of one of them,” adding the Iranians are withhold information on the remaining set.

“They are legitimate and the questions have to be answered,” Kerry replied. “And they will be if they (the Iranians) want to have an agreement.”

He said Iran has complied with all the provisions of a first-step agreement, which launched the talks. “They agreed to roll back their program,” Kerry said. “I think that’s cause for hope.”

Wednesday was Kerry’s second appearance before Congress in as many days. As he did on Tuesday in the Senate, Kerry declined to disclose details of the discussions and told members of the House that it’s inappropriate to condemn what is in an agreement before anybody knows what it is — or even if there even will be a deal.

“It’s fair to be skeptical until you see the agreement, and it’s important to be hopeful. And that’s the way I’d put it,” Kerry said. “I’m not sitting here expressing confidence. I’m expressing hope, because I think we are better off with a viable, acceptable, good, diplomatic agreement than with the other choices. But it remains to see whether or not we can get that kind of agreement.”

“There are some big issues yet to be resolved. We are not there yet,” he said.

 

Date:
Wednesday, February 25, 2015


PM says planned speech before Congress next week ‘the final brake’ before an agreement

BY AFP February 24, 2015, 9:42 pm | The Times of Israel | 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he would do “everything I can” to prevent what he considers a bad nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, a week ahead of travelling to Washington.

Netanyahu’s government has long opposed the deal taking shape with Tehran over its nuclear program and he is to address the US Congress on March 3 on the subject, in a move that has angered the White House.

“The information which has reached me in recent days greatly strengthens our concerns regarding the agreement being formulated between the major powers and Iran,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This agreement, if indeed it is signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state,” he said.

“It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3.

President Barack Obama has refused to meet Netanyahu during his trip, saying diplomatic protocol forbids him from doing so, since the Israeli leader is running for re-election on March 17.

The two leaders have a famously frosty relationship, which has grown even more tense as a result of the disagreement over Netanyahu’s upcoming speech.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for civilian use.

There is a heightened sense of urgency as the clock ticks down towards a March 31 deadline to agree on a political framework for the deal.

 

Date:
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Feb. 20, 2015 3:47 PM EST | AP News | 

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.

There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.

Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America's leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel's March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.

Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

Netanyahu's plan for a March 3 address to a joint meeting of Congress has further strained already tense ties between the U.S. and Israel. Congressional Republicans orchestrated Netanyahu's visit without consulting the White House or State Department, a move the Obama administration blasted as a break in diplomatic protocol. Some Democratic lawmakers say they will boycott the speech.

U.S. officials believe Netanyahu's trip to Washington is aimed primarily at derailing a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama's signature foreign policy objective. While Netanyahu has long been skeptical of the negotiations, his opposition has increased over what he sees as Obama's willingness to make concessions that would leave Iran on the brink of being able to build a nuclear weapon. His opposition has intensified as negotiations go into overdrive with an end-of-March deadline for a framework deal.

"I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it," Netanyahu said Thursday.

The difference of opinion over the deal has become unusually rancorous.

The White House and State Department have both publicly accused Israeli officials of leaking "cherry-picked" details of the negotiations to try to discredit the administration. And, in extraordinary admissions this week, the administration acknowledged that the U.S. is withholding sensitive details of the talks from Israel, its main Middle East ally, to prevent such leaks.

The rebukes have only emboldened the leader of Israel, whose country Iran has threatened to annihilate. He has a double-barrel attack on the Iran talks ready for when he arrives in Washington. Not only will he address Congress, he will also deliver similar remarks at the AIPAC conference, an event to which administrations past and present have traditionally sent top foreign policy officials.

But maybe not this year.

An AIPAC official said Friday that the group has not yet received any reply to its invitation for senior administration figures to attend the meeting that starts March 1. The official stressed that last-minute RSVPs are not unusual, but the White House has been signaling for some time that a Cabinet-level guest may not coming.

Instead, the administration is toying with the idea of sending newly installed Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken to speak to the conference, according to officials familiar with internal discussions on the matter. But it's possible Treasury Secretary Jack Lew could attend.

Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who have both previously addressed AIPAC, will be out of the country on foreign travel that appears to have been arranged to make them unavailable to speak. Biden will be visiting Uruguay and Guatemala on a trip that was announced after Netanyahu's speech was scheduled, while the State Department announced abruptly this week that Kerry will be traveling to as-yet-determined destinations for the duration of the AIPAC conference.

Obama spoke to AIPAC in 2012, while he was in the midst of his re-election campaign

Date:
Monday, February 23, 2015

PM pans US­led ongoing negotiations in light of IAEA report that Tehran is hiding military components of nuke program

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AFP February 22, 2015, 1:10 pm | The Times of Israel| 

 

P rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticized the international community for negotiating with Iran while taking no steps to curb its sponsorship

of global terrorism, as top American and Iranian diplomats attempted to hammer out a deal in Geneva. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister s

aid that it was “astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks are proceeding.”

 

“Not only are they continuing, there is an increased effort to reach a nuclear agreement in the coming days and weeks,” Netanyahu said. The deadline for the six world powers and Iran to reach a political agreement about Tehran’s unsanctioned nuclear program is March 31. His

comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to arrive in Geneva Sunday for renewed talks with his Iranian counterpart on Tehran’s nuclear program,

after warning “significant gaps” remain ahead of the deadline. On Thursday, an IAEA report stated that Tehran is being evasive and ambiguous in its dealings with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, preventing the organization from launching a thorough assessment of the country’s

nuclear program. In the wake of the report, Netanyahu called on world leaders to stop “wooing Iran” over a nuclear deal. Netanyahu also panned the international community

for continuing to negotiate despite Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism. “The fact that Iran is continuing its murderous terrorism that knows no borders and which embraces the region and the world has, to our regret, not prevented the international community from

continuing to talk with Iran about a nuclear agreement that will allow it to build the industrial capacity to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said Sunday. Israel has accused Iran of carrying out a slew of terrorist attacks in recent years against Israeli targets from Bulgaria to

Bangkok and providing material support for both Hezbollah and Hamas.

 

Netanyahu said the emerging deal was “dangerous for Israel,” and defended his planned speech about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program in Washington next month. In a jab at the executive branch, he said the US Congress “would appear to be the body that will affect the

fate of the deal.” World powers are trying to strike a deal with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of punishing international economic sanctions. Kerry is set to arrive in the Swiss city Sunday morning for two days of talks with I

ranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country denies its nuclear program has military objectives.

“There are still significant gaps, there is still a distance to travel,” Kerry said in London on Saturday. There is a heightened sense of urgency as the clock ticks down towards the March 31 deadline for a political framework for the deal. “President [Barack] Obama has no inclination

whatsoever to extend these talks beyond the period that has been set out,” Kerry said. US and Iranian diplomats have been meeting in Geneva since Friday, and senior negotiators from the so­called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany were also

expected to meet on Sunday to help drive the talks forward. 

Date:
Friday, February 20, 2015

As the US talks with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic, it fails to bring up the issue of the “genocidal agenda of anti-Semitism” that both bodies have expressed, Asher Small says.

By SAM SOKOL \02/19/2015 18:58| The Times of Israel| 

 

The American failure to highlight Jew hatred when engaging with entities such as Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood may be defined as “institutional anti-Semitism,” an expert on the topic told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

In Israel to address a conference on far right radicalism at IDC Herzliya, Dr. Charles Asher Small, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, further expressed the view that American Jews have not engaged with the issue.

“I think that the American Jewish organizational establishment is more willing to speak clearly on European anti-Semitism [than] what is going on in the United States,” he said. “It is easier to look at the anti-Semitism far away than it is to look at the anti-Semitism within American society.”

Small was careful to explain that while he is far from accusing any members of the current administration of harboring anti-Semitic attitudes, he believes that a sort of functional anti-Semitism exists.

As the United States takes part in dialogues with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Republic, it fails to bring up the issue of the “genocidal agenda of anti-Semitism” that both bodies have expressed, he said.

“To not deal with anti-Semitism is not only immoral, but I would call it, and this is coining a phrase, institutional anti-Semitism.”

Riffing off the term institutional racism coined by Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton during the 1960s, Small explained that both concepts relate to a system “in which individuals may not be racist, individuals in this case may not be anti-Semitic, but there is an institutional culture which promotes certain types of behavior. And when an administration is engaging those who want to exterminate Jews and [by] not engaging this immoral and horrific form of hatred they give oxygen to it and allow it to fester.”

“Can you imagine dealing with the apartheid regime, negotiating with it, and not not mentioning racism,” he asked.

Small added that he agreed with a recent assessment by thinker David Hazony, who asserted in an article that the “myth of Israeli centrality” to the world’s problems, a common perception in certain policy and academic circles, is functionally anti-Semitic and that those who believe in it are spreading a modern version of the ancient trope of Jewish complicity in all of the world’s problems even if they themselves are not anti-Semitic.

“In the modern reinvention of the idea, however, it is not the Jewish people but the Jewish state that is the core problem in the world, the key obstacle to betterment. The claim takes different forms and has long been fueled by the propaganda juggernaut of the Arab world. By the time it reaches the softer shoals of places like Foggy Bottom, of course, it goes through a filtration system of bureaucratic qualifiers,” Hazony wrote in a recent issue of the online magazine Tower.

“I think that there are still people in the United States and in the [Obama] administration who believe that if it were only for the settlements, jihad would dissipate,” Small commented. “There are people who still hold on to these views and it's irrational thinking.”

 

Date:
Thursday, February 19, 2015


When it comes to Iran nuclear talks and anti-Jewish attacks in Europe, PM does not pull any punches, even if it costs him

BY RON KAMPEAS February 19, 2015, 3:26 am | The Times of Israel| 


WASHINGTON (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be running for office in Israel, but this week he had plenty of strong messages for Jews in the United States and Europe.

Speaking Monday in Jerusalem to leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Netanyahu said he would press ahead with plans to speak March 3 to the US Congress even though the speech has roiled the US capital.

“I think the real question that should be asked is how could any responsible Israeli prime minister refuse to speak to Congress on a matter so important to Israel’s survival?” Netanyahu said. “How could anyone refuse an invitation to speak on a matter that could affect our very existence when such an invitation is offered?”

Netanyahu also sparked controversy with his comments after the weekend attacks in Copenhagen that killed two people, including a synagogue security guard.

“To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world,” Netanyahu said, “I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”

In both cases, Netanyahu stuck with highly charged messages along with his repeated insistence that his top responsibility — even more than pleasing allies — is to speak out when Israeli security and Jewish safety are at stake.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the US House of Representatives, added fuel to the controversy over Netanyahu’s speech when he told Fox News over the weekend that he purposely kept President Barack Obama out of the loop regarding the invitation to the Israeli prime minister.

“It is no secret here in Washington about the animosity this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Boehner said. “I simply didn’t want them getting in the way and quashing what I thought was a real opportunity.”

Boehner issued Netanyahu the invitation without consulting with the White House, notifying it just an hour or so before he issued the announcement on Jan. 21. Boehner also did not notify Democrats, and much of the pro-Israel community was kept out of the loop, too.

Top Obama administration officials have said they will not meet with Netanyahu in part because he is speaking just two weeks before Israel’s election and appearing with him would be inappropriate.

Netanyahu said that the looming March 24 deadline for an outline of an agreement between Iran and the major world powers trumped any other timing issue. That date is what “drives the speech,” he told US Jewish leaders.

“Now is the time for Israel to make its case – now before it’s too late,” Netanyahu said. “Would it be better to complain about a deal that threatens the security of Israel after it’s signed?”

US officials including Obama have said that any likely deal will leave Iran with the capacity to enrich uranium, albeit at a civilian scale. Netanyahu insists that even at minimum levels, an ability to enrich leaves Iran with breakout capacity.

Details of what minimum enrichment would look like have been leaked to the Israeli media, and the Washington Post reported Monday that this has led infuriated US negotiators to limit what they convey to the Israelis after each session with the Iranians.

Netanyahu’s response, again, has been to intimate that the urgency of keeping Iran from going nuclear outweighs the niceties of keeping secret briefings from what both sides have agreed is an extraordinarily close defense and intelligence relationship.

“Just as Iran knows what kind of agreement is being offered, it’s only natural that Israel should know the details of the deal being formulated,” he told Haaretz as he headed into the meeting with the Presidents Conference. “But if there are those who think this is a good agreement, why must it be hidden?”

Officials on both sides have taken pains to assert that the strength of the relationship persists.

After news of US plans to withhold information first made headlines in Israel, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz issued a statement noting that he recently met with the top two US officials consulting on the Iran talks — Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state leading the U.S. side in the talks, and Phillip Gordon of the National Security Council.

The sides had differences, Steinitz said in his statement, but the meeting Monday with Gordon was in “a good and friendly atmosphere” and another one with Sherman a week earlier included a lengthy one-on-one session – code meant to convey that the United States was still sharing sensitive information.

Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, also was at pains to say that the defense and intelligence-sharing relationship persisted at full strength.

“Whether it be in the intelligence sphere, where we have reached new heights of intelligence sharing and cooperation, or with respect to joint training and readiness, our two defense establishments and our two fighting forces have never been closer,” Shapiro said at the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

He acknowledged, however, that there were “hot-button issues defining this election season,” but deferred to others at the conference to address them.

After his 2012 reelection, Obama said he would be tougher on Israel, one of his top advisers, David Axelrod, wrote in a book published this month titled “Believer: My Forty Years In Politics.”

Axelrod, who is Jewish, said Obama was a strong supporter of Israel, but he “felt he had pulled his punches with Netanyahu to avoid antagonizing elements of the American Jewish community.” CNN reported on the Israel sections of the book.

At the same time that the debate over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress raged on, the Israeli prime minister also found himself on the receiving end of criticism regarding his call for European Jews to consider making aliyah following the attacks in Copenhagen.

“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country, but we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” Netanyahu said. “We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are, Israel is the home of every Jew.”

Netanyahu made the statement on Sunday morning before Israel’s Cabinet approved a $46 million plan to encourage immigration and adapt the absorption process to Jews from France, Belgium and Ukraine.

In response, Denmark Chief Rabbi Jair Melchior said, “Terror is not a reason to move to Israel.”

Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, sounded a similar note, telling more than 1,000 attendees at the Times of Israel gala in New York on Sunday that Jews should come to Israel “because you want to live in Israel.”

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt visited the synagogue late Sunday morning, laying a bouquet of flowers at its gate and vowing that Denmark “will do everything” it can to protect its Jewish community.

“Jews are a very important part of Danish society,” she said earlier at a news conference. “I say to the Jewish community, you are not alone.”

Netanyahu has pushed forward with such calls for aliyah, even as he works to cultivate close ties with European leaders in his bid to head off what he sees as a bad Iran deal, and also to limit the influence of those in Europe calling for boycotts of Israel because of its policies regarding the Palestinians.

One of Israel’s main allies in both spheres is France, perhaps the most hawkish of the six major powers negotiating with Iran. Still, Netanyahu has irked the French with the immigration plan passed Sunday, budgeting for an expected surge in aliyah from France in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris last month. The attacks included the siege of a kosher supermarket in which a terrorist killed four Jews.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls rejected Netanyahu’s call for European immigration to Israel, saying, “My message to French Jews is the following: France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave.”

 

Date:
Wednesday, February 18, 2015


US State Department reported to say Israelis would ‘twist details’ to undermine negotiations

BY AVI LEWIS February 18, 2015, 3:08 pm | The Times of Isreal| 
 


European officials have confirmed that the US State Department cautioned them against providing Israel with sensitive information on the current round of negotiations with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The account came amid vehement denials by the White House and State Department that they had stopped updating Jerusalem on the progress in the talks, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted Monday that Israel was indeed being kept in the dark.

The report quoted an unnamed European official involved in negotiations who said he was told recently by the State Department’s Wendy Sherman, the lead American negotiator with Iran, not to disclose too much information to the Israelis because “the details could be twisted to undermine a deal.”

Another unnamed State Department official speaking on Sherman’s behalf noted that talk with Israel was encouraged, so long as it remained clear “that the negotiation should take place in the negotiating room,” a reference to the fact that Israel is not directly involved in the talks.

The comments echoed those of an Israeli official interviewed for the report who quipped that he received only “empty” briefings on the looming deal, signalling perhaps a further chill in ties between the Obama administration and the Jewish state that The New York Times compared to “posting notes to each other on a refrigerator door.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that the Iranian nuclear program is an existential threat to Israel and that Tehran is intent on developing nuclear weapons to use against the Jewish state.

To that effect, Netanyahu vowed to go ahead with a speech before the US Congress on March 3 to discuss the looming nuclear deal, raising the ire of the White House, some US congressmen and his political opponents in Israel.

The report quoted another European official who said that US Secretary of State John Kerry was “fuming about [the] Israeli leaks” following a report Sunday on Channel 2 to the effect that the administration has been withholding information from Israel.

According to the TV report, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice had cut off contact with Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, while Sherman was quoted as saying that she will no longer keep Israel informed either.

The report was hurriedly denied by both US and Israeli officials.

Kerry, who has been leading the negotiations along with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, argued that it was in no one’s interest to negotiate in public.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

 

Date:
Tuesday, February 17, 2015


No responsible PM could refuse invitation to speak to Congress on issue that threatens israel’s survival, he tells visiting US Jewish leaders

BY TAMAR PILEGGI February 16, 2015, 11:33 pm Updated: February 17, 2015, 7:34 am | The Times of Israel|
 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched thinly veiled criticism at the Obama administration Monday for reportedly withholding information from Israel regarding the ongoing US-led nuclear talks with Iran. He also left no doubt whatsoever that he will go ahead with his controversial speech to congress on March 3, saying that no responsible Israeli prime minister could “refuse an invitation to speak on a matter that could affect our very existence” before the world’s most important parliament.

“Just as Iran knows what deal is being outlined in the negotiations, it’s only natural that Israel also know the agreement being drafted,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew at the start of an address to a visiting group from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “But if there is anyone who thinks that this is a good agreement, why should it be hidden?”

On Sunday, Israeli media outlets reported that the Obama administration has decided to keep Israel in the dark regarding the details and progress of the talks, over fears that the Israeli leader is undermining the talks and using the controversy for political gain. Both the White House and State Department categorically denied the reports. But further media reports in the Hebrew press Monday quoted unnamed sources on both sides saying the US is indeed changing the flow of information to Israel over the negotiations.

Netanyahu, who continued his address in English, went on to reiterate the importance of his addressing US lawmakers concerning the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, leaving no doubt whatsoever that he would proceed with the speech despite criticism from the White House; President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will not meet him during the trip because of its proximity to Israel’s March 17 elections, and Vice President Joe Biden will not attend the Congressional speech citing a prior unspecified overseas commitment.

He called his upcoming March 3 speech before Congress an “obligation,” and said he would “do everything in my power to prevent the conclusion of a bad deal that could threaten the survival of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu warned: “The current proposal to Iran would endanger Israel. It would enable Iran to break out to its first nuclear device within an unacceptably short time. And it would allow Iran to build an industrial capability to enrich uranium that could provide the fuel for many bombs in the coming years. A regime that openly calls for Israel’s destruction would thus have finally the means to realize its genocidal aims.”

He stressed he was “not opposed to any deal with Iran. I’m opposed to a bad deal with Iran. And I believe this is a very bad deal. I’m certainly not opposed to negotiations. On the contrary – no country has a greater interest, a greater stake, in the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear question than does Israel. But the current proposal will not solve the problem,” he said. “It will perpetuate and aggravate the problem. It would provide a path for Iran to become a nuclear power. And therefore it’s very important that I speak about this in Washington.”

He said he had to speak in Congress “because Israel has been offered the opportunity to make its case on this crucial issue before the world’s most important parliament; because a speech before Congress allows Israel to present its position to the elected representatives of the American people and to a worldwide audience; because Congress has played a critical role in applying pressure to the Iranian regime – the very pressure that has brought the ayatollahs to the negotiating table in the first place; and because Congress may very well have a say on the parameters of any final deal with Iran. That’s why I’m going to Congress.”

He said “the real question,” in fact, was “how could any responsible Israeli prime minister refuse to speak to Congress on a matter so important to Israel’s survival? How could anyone refuse an invitation to speak on a matter that could affect our very existence when such an invitation is offered?”

And the speech had to come right away “because the deadline for reaching an agreement with Iran is March 24th. That’s the date that drives the speech. Now is the time for Israel to make its case – now before it’s too late.”

He asked: “Would it be better to complain about a deal that threatens the security of Israel after it’s signed? I believe it’s more responsible to speak out now to try to influence the negotiations while they’re still ongoing. I think the whole point of Zionism is that the Jewish people would no longer be spectators to the decision-making that determines our fate. Remember, we were once powerless. We were once voiceless. We couldn’t even speak on our own behalf. Well, we can and we do now.”

Responding to criticisms that his invitation and acceptance were a slight to the US president and Democratic lawmakers, Netanyahu insisted: “I don’t see this issue in partisan terms. The survival of Israel is not a partisan issue. It concerns everyone, all the supporters of Israel from every political stripe. The fight against militant Islamic terrorism is not a partisan issue. The battle against the Islamic State, which just beheaded 21 Christians, is not a partisan issue. And the effort to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons, that’s not a partisan issue either.”

He went on: “I think the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran is the most urgent security challenge facing the world. I think the greatest danger facing humanity is the possibility that any movement or any regime of militant Islam will arm itself with the weapons of mass destruction. Everything that we see in our region now will pale by comparison. Everything that we see in Europe will pale by comparison. When a militant Islamic regime that is rampaging through the region right now – that’s what Iran is doing, it’s conducting a rampage through the region – when such a regime has nuclear weapons, the whole world will be in peril.

“Look at what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons,” he urged. “States are collapsing. And Iran is plunging forward. It’s already controlling four capitals. It’s controlling now through its Houthi proxies the Bab-el-Mandeb Straits. It’s trying to envelope Israel with three terrorist tentacles – Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas in Gaza and now it’s trying to build with its Hezbollah proxies a third front in the Golan. Such a regime with nuclear weapons would be infinitely more dangerous to everyone, not only to Israel.”

He said he could not “guarantee” that his speech in Congress will prevent a dangerous deal with Iran from being signed. “Honestly, I don’t know. No one knows. But I do know this – it’s my sacred duty as prime minister of Israel to make Israel’s case. On March 3rd, I’ll fulfill that duty, representing all the citizens of Israel before the two houses of Congress. And I will make the best case for Israel that I can, knowing that our case is just, that our case is sound, and that our case offers the best hope to resolve this issue peacefully.”

Congress will vote on March 24 on the Iran sanctions deal, a week ahead of a March 31 deadline for an agreement in principle in the P5+1 talks with Tehran.

Diplomatic relations between the two allies have reached new lows in past weeks over the invitation to address Congress, which bypassed the White House. Netanyahu accepted an invitation last month from Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the US House of Representatives, to speak to Congress, but the White House complained that Boehner had not cleared the invitation in advance with Obama or Democrats in Congress. Boehner later acknowledged this was the case, saying he hadn’t wanted the White House to intervene.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

 

Pages