Pro-Israel News

Date:
Thursday, February 28, 2013

 

(CNSNews.com) – Describing Iran as a country with an “elected” government and a “remarkable history,” Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday reiterated President Obama’s willingness to hold bilateral talks with the regime.

“It’s a matter of public record that he personally communicated to the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] that he was prepared to engage and to discuss these issues,” Kerry told a news conference with his French counterpart in Paris.

Responding to a reporter’s question about negotiating with a “terrorist” regime, Kerry pointed out that “Iran is a country with a government that was elected and that sits in the United Nations.”

“And it is important for us to deal with nation-states in a way that acts in the best interests of all of us in the world,” he added, drawing a parallel with President Reagan’s willingness to sit down with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Nixon’s decision to engage with China.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, speaking through an interpreter, said in reply to the same question, “If we were only to discuss with full democracies, the ministers for foreign affairs would have a lot of free time.”

Kerry also said that Obama “has made it clear that he will entertain the notion of a bilateral discussion” with Iran.

“The president has said publicly on any number of occasions, and it’s a matter of public record that he personally communicated to the supreme leader, that he was prepared to engage and to discuss these issues,” he said.

“So as a matter of record, I restate today, the United States is prepared to engage in a serious bilateral negotiation with respect to this course we’re on, with the belief that Iran, that has a remarkable history, the Iranian people – there are many Iranian Americans today who contribute to our society.

“We would like to move to a better relationship, and it begins by resolving this nuclear issue.”

The personal communication from Obama to Khamenei referred to by Kerry was reportedly a letter sent shortly before Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential election, a development not disclosed by the administration but first reported by the Washington Times on June 24, 2009.

When then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the letter during that day’s press briefing he said he would not “confirm or deny anything around this,” but also noted that “the administration has indicated a willingness to talk with the leadership in Iran and have sought to communicate with the Iranian people in a variety of ways.”

Khamenei himself referred indirectly to the letter, saying during a sermon at Tehran University that the U.S. administration was speaking in a supportive way about Iranian street protests – taking place at the time in response to the election dispute – while at the same time “they write letters to say we’re ready to have ties, that we respect the Islamic Republic … which one should we believe?”

As Kerry noted, Iran does have an “elected” government, but the 2009 election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term was viewed largely by Western governments, and by many of Iran’s citizens, as a farce.

 

Less than a month before the election the Guardian Council, an unelected religious-judicial body appointed by the supreme leader, announced that out of 476 men and women who had applied to be candidates, it had approved just four.

Iranians’ unhappiness with the process and an election result widely seen as rigged prompted the biggest anti-government protests seen in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution – and a subsequent bloody crackdown.

Kerry stopped short of calling the regime in Tehran “legitimate,” a term that his newly sworn-in cabinet colleague, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, used more than once in relation to Iran during his confirmation hearing last month, before backtracking under questioning and saying he should have said “recognized.”

Both Kerry and Hagel have a record of favoring engagement over isolation and sanctions when dealing with Iran and other regimes hostile to the U.S.

In Paris on Wednesday, Kerry stated, “The world has made a decision that an Iran with a nuclear weapon poses a threat to global stability, to nonproliferation efforts, to the Gulf, to the region, and that if we are interested in a world with less nuclear weapons, not more, it is critical to try to find a peaceful way – as President Kennedy did in the Cuban missile crisis – to defuse those situations that are dangerous for everybody.”

He described as “useful” talks between Iran and six powers in Kazakhstan on Tuesday and Wednesday, expressing the hope that Iran would carefully consider what he called “the credible confidence-building steps that the P5+1 have put on the table.”

 

“If Iran engages seriously, and we hope they will, then these could pave the way for negotiations that lead towards a longer-term and comprehensive agreement.”

The offer put forward by the P5+1 – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – has not been unveiled publicly, but reportedly includes easing of some sanctions in return for the suspension of some uranium-enrichment.

Date:
Monday, February 11, 2013

 

New footage of a speech by Chuck Hagel in 2008 has surfaced, in which the former Senator mocked the idea of continuing the U.S. policy of confronting Iran and supporting Israel. "When I hear the talk about--well you can’t talk with Iran, you can’t talk with Syria and we’re, we should stay where we are and support Israel, and so on, well you miss the point," he told the laughing audience at an event for his bookAmerica: Our Next Chapter.

Hagel added that the U.S. "shouldn't even be thinking about the options of bombing Iran," even in the event of a nuclear attack on Israel, and suggested Israel would be the first to attack Iran with a nuclear weapon.

Hagel told the Senate on Jan. 31 that he could not provide records or video for more than four of the "hundreds" of speeches he had given over the previous five years because they had not been transcribed or recorded:

We have given the committee every copy of every speech that I have that's out there, every video that I have that's out there. On paid speeches, most every one of those paid speeches--in the contract it says that they are private and not videotaped. That wasn't my decision. That was the contract of the group I spoke to. I believe every paid speech I gave I didn't have a prepared text. I gave it extemporaneously, which is something I've been doing for long before I left the Senate.

However, records and recordings of many of those speeches do exist, suggesting the administration either did not perform the due diligence necessary to comply with the Senate's request, or that Hagel misled the Senate.

In the new footage, which was uploaded to YouTube and is apparently from a question-and-answer session after his formal remarks, Hagel fields a question about whether the U.S. would attack Iran to help defend Israel from an attack by Iran or one of its proxies that threatened Israel's existence. He says that the U.S. should not attack Iran, and that the U.S. should "engage" Iran instead--even in those circumstances:

Q: [I]f Israel is attacked by Iran or an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah in a way that existentially threatens Israel, almost to the extent that Israel was attacked in ’73 and it’s existentially threatened, would you support an American airstrike using U.S. forces, B2s, whatever on Iran?”

A: I’ll answer the question as honestly as I can. That’s a hypothetical question that somehow frames up the simplicity of the hypothetical question. The complications in the Middle East, and I’m certainly not an expert there, I have a chapter on the Middle East, I do know [laughter], I know a little something about the Middle East. I spent a lot of time there. And I spent a lot of time in Israel with the prime minister and others. You, who are well informed on this issue know the complexities starting with--go back to the Bible, go back to ancient times, thousands of years. I mean that, if you really want to start trying to understand the Middle East, Paul, or David Aaron Miller, who you may know, has a new book out on this, The Not So Promised Land, [sic]. And if you want to read something that is very, very enlightening, this guy, he’s getting tremendous reviews on it. He’s Jewish. He worked in the State Department , worked for Baker, worked for Albright, I think he’s worked for four Secretaries of State, different Democrats, Republicans. But it’s a great, great book.

But your question, I mean the complication of what’s going on there, Hamas is already attacking Israel. Iran supports Hamas. Iran supports Hezbollah. What I would much rather see is this administration, or hopefully the next administration, engage Iran, engage Syria. When I hear the talk about--well you can’t talk with Iran, you can’t talk with Syria and we’re, we should stay where we are and support Israel, and so on, well you miss the point. 

Our policy has been so successful I believe, hasn’t it [laughter], that the Middle East is far better off today than it's ever been, isn’t it? [Laughter.] I mean all those countries, Lebanon is in great shape, Gaza is in great shape, Israel is in good shape, Iran, Iraq, things have never looked better, because we won’t talk to anybody. We are not going to have peace, stability, security or anything that even hints of it in the Middle East until Iran and Syria and all the players are part of it.

Now that doesn't apologize for, or doesn't close our eyes to what Iran has been doing, what Iran does do. But unless they are engaged in some way, then I don't see this getting any better. And where this could go, where this could eventually go--somebody was asking me the other day about a nuclear exchange in the world, where that would come from? And I said, well, I'll give you a scenario that's very real. If Israel gets backed up enough into a corner, and Israel uses a tactical theater nuclear weapon--you want to talk about seeing some things unravel in the world. The United States shouldn't even be thinking about the options of bombing Iran or anybody else. I mean, we got our hands full right now... [Applause]

Last week, Iranian "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei bluntly rejected the suggestion by Vice President Joe Biden that the U.S. and Iran should meet for direct, bilateral talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Date:
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

 

A day after American Jewish columnist Jeffrey Goldberg quoted President Barack Obama as saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not understand what is in Israel’s best interest, Netanyahu visited the Gaza border on Wednesday and essentially shot back, “Yes I do.”

During the visit to the headquarters of the IDF’s Gaza Division, Netanyahu was shown figures indicating that December was the quietest month in the South – in terms of rocket and terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip – in the past 12 years, since January 2001.

“I think everyone understands that only Israel’s citizens are those who will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israel’s vital interests,” the prime minister said in his first direct response to Obama’s reported criticism.

Netanyahu said over the past four years he had withstood “enormous pressure,” including demands that Israel curb its pressure on Iran, withdraw to the pre- 1967 lines, divide Jerusalem and stop building in the eastern part of the capital.

“We fended off all those pressures, and I will continue to stand firm on Israel’s vital interests for the security of the citizens of Israel,” he declared.

Netanyahu, who was joined on his visit by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF brass, said he was “very impressed” by the advanced technological measures being deployed in the area, “and even more so by our young soldiers operating them here.”

The IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and other security forces were doing “very important work,” he said. “They are maintaining the quiet that has been kept since Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Netanyahu said that no one had any illusions, and that the quiet could be shattered at any time.

But, he added, the IDF was prepared for any scenario. “We will do everything necessary to defend Israel’s citizens here and everywhere else,” he said.

Barak attributed the calm in the area primarily to “the serious blow sustained by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations” in Gaza during November’s military operation.

Barak said that a secondary factor was “the positive influence of Egypt,” adding, however, that the foremost reason for the cease-fire having held up was the “exceptional work being carried out here by IDF battalions, the observational post system, the division,” and the new Sinai security fence.

The IDF “is prepared here with tools that are more and more advanced,” Barak said, adding that he had been shown “an amazing exhibition of field intelligence abilities.”

At the same time, “at any given moment, it goes back to the old things, to sticking to the objective, to the speedy orientation of commanders, to the responses of soldiers and commanders,” the defense minister said.

 

Date:
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

 

NBC political director Chuck Todd said Monday there is a “soft count” of 10 Senate Democrats who might oppose Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Department of Defense.

“I know of a soft count of 10 no votes on the Democratic side,” Todd said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding: “We know Republicans look like they’re going to be fairly united in opposition to Hagel, at least at the beginning. Well, if you’ve got 10 [Democratic] ‘no’ votes, then you don’t have the votes. Hagel’s most important meetings aren’t going to be with his Republican colleagues; they’re going to be with Chuck Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, a lot of the Northeast lawmakers who will be nervous when they’ve got donors, Jewish donors upset about comments.”


Obama is expected to nominate Hagel as defense secretary later Monday. Hagel’s votes opposing sanctions against Iran and comments announcing he is unafraid of the “Jewish lobby” have caused pro-Israel groups to oppose Obama’s selection.(PHOTOS: Chuck Hagel's career)

Pressed last month on “Meet the Press,” Schumer pointedly declined to endorse Hagel.

“I’d have to study his record,” he said. “I’m not going to comment until the president makes a nomination.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/todd-10-dems-may-oppose-hagel-85831.html#ixzz2HW60TowL

Date:
Saturday, December 22, 2012

WASHINGTON - Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), who was nominated by US President Barack Obama on Friday serve as his next secretary of state, is very familiar with the Middle East and the current Israeli leadership. Like outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kerry supports Israel and understands its needs, but is a staunch opposer of the settlement enterprise.

From John Kerry: Supports pro-Israel laws, opposes settlements - Israel News, Ynetnews

Date:
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pro-Israel groups have tried to derail a possible plan for the White House to appoint a former Republican senator as the next US secretary of defence, saying his comments on Jewish influence in American politics "border on anti-Semitism". Pro-Israel groups want to block appointment of Chuck Hagel as new US defence secretary

From Pro-Israel groups want to block appointment of Chuck Hagel as new US defence secretary - Telegraph

Date:

Great video on why Israel is one of our greatest allys in the World.

from Hot Topic: May 4 - Israel, Our Ally

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