Over the weekend, President Barack Obama reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself with respect to Syira. President Obama said in an interview with Telemundo:
What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We coordinate closely with the Israelis recognizing they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon.
(CAMERA) An Associated Press report published on April 1 noted that at least 6000 Syrians were reported killed in the civil conflict in March, the highest single month toll yet. During this same period, the main news item of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the death of a single Palestinian hunger striker, a convicted terrorist, in an Israeli prison.
According to a tally from a Lexis-Nexis media search, the New York Times published a total of 39 articles (news articles, editorials, and on its blog) in March that were mainly focused on Israel and the Palestinian conflict, plus an additional 24 on U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel. The Nexis search turned up 59 pieces — a substantial proportion were brief blog items — focused on the conflict in Syria.
(Behind the News) Israel's intelligence community has determined that Iran deployed 50,000 troops in Syria.
Israeli military intelligence commander Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Iran has taken over much of the Syrian campaign against Sunni rebels. Kochavi said Iran deployed Hizbullah and Shi'ite fighters in Iraq to protect the regime of President Bashar Assad, whose military dropped from 220,000 to 50,000.
"The damages of the imminent fall of Syria are very high for both Iran and Hizbullah," Kochavi said.
Iran is losing a sole ally in the region surrounding Israel. It will lose the ability to transfer weaponry through Syria to Hizbullah. Iran and Hizbullah are both doing all in their power to assist Assad's regime.
The Jobar synagogue in Syria has been severely damaged by Syrian forces in Damascus. This 2,000 year old synagogue was built in honor of the prophet Elijah. It was constructed over a cave where Elijah was believed to have hidden from persecution. Jews have made pilgrimages to this synagogue for centuries.
(CAMERA) A Reuters article was posted yesterday on yahoo.com,with the headline"Israel Hits Target in Syria Border Area: Sources" under which was posted a large photo of children carrying a dead body. The Israeli strike was on a Syrian convoy transferring weapons to the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon. And the photo, in fact, had no connection whatsoever to the article about the Israeli strike.
We traced the origin of the photo. It was taken by a Reuters stringer on Jan. 25, 2012 and it showed children carrying the body of a friend that was killed by shelling during heavy fighting between the Free Syrian Army and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Jobar district of Damascus. Here is the screen capture of the article, as it appeared around noon, Jan. 30, 2013 on Yahoo's news site.
The question is who at YAHOO made the decision to run an old photo falsely insinuating that Israelis were responsible for the death of a child? It represents journalistic bias at its worst.
(The Israel Project) Israeli Air Force jets struck a weapons convoy traveling from Syria into Lebanon Tuesday, in an operation that appears to have been aimed at preventing the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah from acquiring advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from the increasingly endangered Bashar al-Assad regime.
Israeli officials have been warning for months, and in increasingly explicit language, that Jerusalem will not allow the transfer of Syria's advanced weapons, including and especially chemical and biological weapons, to terrorist groups. The strike this morning may indicate that Damascus is testing the so-called Israeli "red line" regarding such transfers.
GENEVA, Dec. 18 - The U.N. General Assembly today adopted nine resolutions on Palestinian rights and the Golan, sharply criticizing Israel yet making no mention of Sunday's massacre of Palestinians by Syrian warplanes firing missiles into a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Nor did the texts mention the tens of thousands of Palestinians who continue to flee the camp.
Mitt Romney repeated his contention that Syria is Iran's "route to the sea." This is a puzzling claim, considering that Syria shares no border with Iran — Iraq and Turkey are in the way — and that Iran has about 1,500 miles of coastline along the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, leading to the Arabian Sea. The Fact Checker column has looked into this before.
The annual Israel home front drill, "Turning Point 6," taking place Sunday simulates a major earthquake followed by a tsunami washing up from the Mediterranean against Israel's coastal cities. It postulates 7,000 deaths, 70,000 injured and 170,000 rendered homeless. Updated Homeland Front directives advise people in its path to run for open ground instead of staying indoors.
The US-Israeli three-week war game also starting Sunday simulates an Iranian, Syrian and/or Hizballah missile attack on Israel. It deploys 1,000 American and Israeli soldiers each, using Patriot, Arrow and Iron Dome anti-missile batteries. The Israeli homeland exercise is also relevant to a possible war with Iran. Its commander, Lt. Gen. Eyal Eisenkott, said the practice would inure the population and authorities to preparedness for different kinds of emergencies.
In October, the U.S. military will partner with the Israeli Defense Forces to assist in Preparing Israel for potential missile attacks from Iran and Syria. This joint military project is the largest one that Israel or the U.S. have ever taken part in-about 3,000 US soldiers and thousands of Israeli troops will participate.
News of the drill comes amid ongoing violence in Syria, and with Israel and the US closely discussing the means to thwart Iran's nuclear drive. The commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt.-Gen.Craig A. Franklin, on a recent visit to Israel, established a planning committee with representatives of the IDF to coordinate the details of the exercise, the Maariv Hebrew daily reported Monday. Some 3,000 US soldiers are to participate, alongside thousands of Israeli troops.
During the drill, hundreds of rockets will be fired, providing Israel with the opportunity to test their upgraded Arrow 2 anti-missile system.
A recent article by Barry Rubin provides a preview of the misleading arguments and half-truths we can expect from now until November. Rubin compresses so much nonsense into so little space that I'll only cover some of his article today, and the rest later.
Rubin begins his article with a strawman argument, that we claim President Obama is good simply because he speaks warmly about Israel. It is true that President Obama speaks warmly about Israel, but his record is the basis for the claim that he is strong on Israel.
President Obama's record on Israel is outstanding.
President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran's illicit nuclear program, restored Israel's qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, taken US-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
Not all presidents say "nice" things about Israel.
Rubin gets it wrong even on his own terms. Words do matter, and not all presidents say nice things about Israel. Gerald Ford threatened to reassess America's strategic relations with Israel, Ronald Reagan condemned Israel's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor, Bush I decried lobbyists for Israel (he actually attacked citizen lobbyists like you and me), and in 2003 Bush II rebuked then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by rescinding $289.5 million in loan guarantees for Israel as punishment for what Bush considered illegal settlement activity. In 2004, the Bush administration abstained rather than veto a UN resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza during a military operation aimed at stopping terrorism and weapons smuggling. If President Obama had done anything like what Ford, Reagan, Bush I or Bush II had done to Israel, then maybe Rubin would have something to write about.
It is true that President Obama speaks warmly of Israel, but Rubin leaves out to whom President Obama speaks warmly about Israel.
It's easy to tell AIPAC how important the US-Israel relationship is. AIPAC already knows. The difference between President Obama and previous presidents is that President Obama eloquently delivers the case for Israel and a strong US-Israel relationship to those who need to hear it most.
During the 2008 campaign, I participated in a conference call with Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), one of Israel's best friends in Congress in either party. Rothman asked us to imagine the impact of a president named Barack Hussein Obama telling the entire world, including the Arab world, that America stands with Israel.
That's exactly what President Obama did when he went to Cairo in 2009 and told the Arab and Muslim world that America's bond with Israel is "unbreakable."
He told the Arab and Muslim world, a world rife with Holocaust denial, that to deny the Holocaust is "baseless, ignorant, and hateful." He told them that threatening Israel with destruction is "deeply wrong." He said that "Palestinians must abandon violence" and that "it is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus." And he said that "Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist." Who knows where we'd be today if previous Presidents had had the courage to personally deliver this message on Arab soil.
In 2011, President Obama went to the UN, another forum not known for its love for Israel, and told the world that
America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let's be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.
These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
The Israeli newspaper Yehidot Aharonot said that "An American President has never given such a pro-Israel speech at the UN."
Isn't that what we want from our President?
Under President Obama, the US-Israel relationship is warmer than ever.
Yet Rubin says that President Obama is "cold" toward Israel. Former Congressman Robert Wexler explained just last month that this "coldness" argument is
the argument Republican surrogates make. They say he's cold. I hear that he doesn't feel Israel in his kishkes. I think that's something you say when you don't have any factual arguments to make. What does it mean that he's cold? Does being cold mean articulating the strongest pro-Israel argument ever at the UN - a forum not warm to Israel? Is it cold that America has engaged in the largest joint military operation between the US and Israel in Israel's history during the Obama administration? Is it cold that more than 200 high-level Pentagon officials visited Israel during the last calendar year? Is it cold that America and Israel will likely engage in an even larger joint military exercise this year? And I'll tell you one group who doesn't believe the relationship is cold - that's the current leadership in Tehran.
No wonder the vast majority of Jews vote Democratic and will continue to vote Democratic.
Aside from exceptions like Congressmen Joe Walsh and Ron Paul, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support pro-Israel positions. But only the Democratic party is good on Israel and the other values we cherish.
Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta noted in the Los Angeles Times today that for all of his bluster and smears regarding the President's foreign policy — including border-line "belligerent" statements — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has yet to state what exactly he would do differently from the President on a wide range of issues.
President Obama was led on a tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Museum Director Sara Bloomfield.
At the end of the tour, the President walked slowly and wordlessly into the Hall of Remembrance, a somber look on his face and Elie Wiesel keeping pace on his right side.
The two men, both in dark suits, walked up to the dais holding the eternal flame, and paused there in a moment of silent reflection. The President and Mr. Wiesel lit a candle and observed a moment of silence in the Hall of Remembrance. The President placed a candle in front of the Buchenwald section of the wall in memory of the concentration camp his great-uncle helped liberate at the end of World War II.
The President was introduced by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel. During his address, the President eloquently noted "'never again' is a challenge to reject hatred in all its forms, including anti-Semitism," and that "'never again' is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security" — including Israel. Indeed, the heart of the President's message is his pledge that "never again" must truly mean never again — and the American people and our government both have a role in translating this aspiration into reality. President Obama called for all of us to stand against indifference and ignorance, and to work together to prevent and end genocide in our time.
Obama's plan would allow the United State to impose sanctions against foreign entities, specifically in Iran and Syria, for using technology to carry out human rights abuses.
President Barack Obama also announced that he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former officer in the Polish Underground during World War II who was among the first to provide eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
President Obama said,
"We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen-because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts; because so many others stood silent. But let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations. Among them was Jan Karski-a young Polish Catholic-who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself. Jan Karski passed away more than a decade ago. But today, I'm proud to announce that this spring I will honor him with America's highest civilian honor-the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Last Thursday, Pres. Obama released a statement honoring the Jewish day of remembrance Yom HaShoah.
"On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I join people of all faiths across the United States, in Israel and around the world in paying tribute to all who suffered in the Shoah - a horrific crime without parallel in human history,"
Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation. Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials. He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt. Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.
President Obama's words this morning exemplified his commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) by ensuring that the pledge of "Never Again" is fully realized.
I, with my wonderful congregation Leyv Ha-Ir, celebrated Purim, the wild and crazy Jewish holiday celebrating the downfall of Haman (boo!), who as vizier to the Persian King tried to massacre all the Jews in the realm; but his plan was foiled by Mordechai (yay!) entering his beautiful cousin Esther (woo hoo!) into a beauty pageant to be the queen, and Haman's plot was foiled.
It's the celebration of the downfall of a tyrant; the world has been full of them, people who have become legends in their own minds, such as Mubarak in Egypt, Ghadaffi in Libya, and Assad in Syria. There are also mental Hamans as well, within our psyches, such as low self-esteem and self-doubts, which we daily must overthrow; I know, I deal with them as well.
This article was authored by Nathan Gonzalez and
originally appeared in the Huffington Post (2/15/2012). Reprinted with the expressed permission of the author.
There is much talk in the news about Israel weighing its military options against Iranian nuclear facilities. Yet if for a moment Israel stops focusing on the region's military balance, and starts thinking of its long-term security as a Jewish state in the post-Arab Spring Middle East, it will realize that its warplanes would be of greater use flying over Damascus than over Tehran. In coalition with other nations, Israel can and should intervene to stop the current humanitarian catastrophe in Syria for the sake of its own long-term security.
B'nai B'rith is encouraged by President Obama's State of the Union commitment to "take no options off the table" to "prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror, has ignored international entreaties to cease its quest for nuclear weapons. B'nai B'rith commends the world powers that have united behind the United States to implement sanctions against the Tehran regime.
We also welcome the concrete support the president gave Israel when he stated unequivocally that the ties between the United States and Israel are strong:
Our iron-clad commitment to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.
On the domestic front, the president indicated he will seek comprehensive immigration reform measures this year, will work to lessen America's dependence on foreign oil and will continue to work to ensure health care reform measures help those Americans who need it most-all issues B'nai B'rith strongly supports..
It was encouraging that the president noted the precarious situation in Syria, stating:
I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can't be reversed, and that human dignity can't be denied.
As an organization committed to human rights, B'nai B'rith paid special attention to the president's declaration of the need for global tolerance:
We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings...We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.
B'nai B'rith supports the president's call for a nationwide investment in and overhaul of our current energy policies, touting alternative energy programs instead. The nation's current dependence on foreign oil undermines our security and in some cases, forces the United States to deal with countries that may not share our commitment to democracy and freedom.
B'nai B'rith supports legislation that would help pave a smoother path to citizenship upon high school graduation for foreign-born children raised in the United States without documentation. We were pleased to see the president endorse this important measure. B'nai B'rith also supports the president's call for women to earn "equal pay for equal work."
The president's reiteration of his commitment to health care reform was also welcome:
I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.
Pro-Israel activist Steve Sheffey wrote an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post warning about the false smears likely to be spread by right-wingers against President Barack Obama's strong pro-Israel record as the presidential campaign heats up.
The campaign to delegitimize President Obama in the eyes of pro-Israel voters will only intensify between now and November 6....
Opponents of territorial compromise and Americans who use concern for Israel to mask concern about paying their fair share of taxes compose most of the 20-25 percent of Jews who vote Republican. But that's not enough to win an election; hence their efforts to distort President Obama's record on Israel. Most Jews support the Democratic domestic agenda, so if there is no reason to oppose the president based on Israel, there is no reason to oppose him at all.
Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran's illicit nuclear program, restored Israel's qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the previous administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, taken US Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and is mounting a diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to allow the Arab bloc candidate, Syria, to serve on the body's Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, which "examines communications relating to cases and questions concerning the exercise of human rights."
This election, by consensus, should never have happened while Syria further intensifies its violation of human rights. In yet another sign of moral obtuseness and incoherence in policy at the U.N., the business-as-usual approach to Syria at UNESCO soon preceded a General Assembly committee's condemnation of the Damascus regime's continuing domestic brutality. Indeed, the Arab League itself has decided to suspend and possibly sanction Syria.
B'nai B'rith calls on UNESCO's Executive Board to immediately revoke Syrian membership in all committees at the U.N. agency.
Today, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed two major sanctions bills targeting Iran for greater economic and diplomatic pressure, and strengthening the nonproliferation regime against Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Both bills, sponsored by Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, included major provisions authored by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA). The Committee voted to pass the Iran Threat Reduction Act and the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act. Congressman Sherman is the lead Democratic cosponsor of the latter bill.
I urge the House leadership to swiftly bring this important legislation to the House floor for passage. We must send a tough message to Tehran: stop your nuclear weapons program, or else face serious economic consequences. We must send a tough message to Iran's remaining business partners: stop doing business with Tehran or you will be forced to stop doing business in the United States. Sanctions have had some impact on Iran's economy &mdash as Ahmadinejad recently admitted &mdash but we need to ramp up the pressure much more and fully enforce all Iran sanctions passed by Congress.
The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples' pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy. They have braved ferocious brutality at the hands of their government. They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality - day after day, week after week. The Syrian government has responded with a sustained onslaught. I strongly condemn this brutality, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir al Zour, and the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. These violations of the universal rights of the Syrian people have revealed to Syria, the region, and the world the Assad government's flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Syrian people.
The United States opposes the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, and we support the universal rights of the Syrian people. We have imposed sanctions on President Assad and his government. The European Union has imposed sanctions as well. We helped lead an effort at the UN Security Council to condemn Syria's actions. We have coordinated closely with allies and partners from the region and around the world. The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.
As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people. I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria. This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria's petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today's actions to be amplified by others.
Reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.
As a political cartoonist I'm supposed to present my explanation of current events. The problem is that trying to explain the motives behind America's current inconsistent "Arab Spring" policy is REALLY difficult. So, baffled, I decided to comment on my plight!
Today's cartoon features a TV Middle East Expert answering questions that have been "tweeted in" to him.
U.N. Must Address Flaws of System that Could Even Consider Syria as Human Rights Watchdog
B'nai B'rith International is encouraged to learn that Syria is likely to drop out of the May 20 election for a seat on the Human Rights Council. It is unthinkable that Syria could sit in judgment of other nations when it comes to their commitments to human rights.
A cold wind is blowing across Israel from Araby and parts of the Muslim world causing a severe deterioration in its diplomatic position. Turkey and Egypt, the anchors of its diplomatic and military positions in the region, are now uncertain neighbors. Political developments in the two countries have placed both on an increasingly unfriendly course to the Jewish state. The Arab Spring, which is blossoming into an Islamic political revival, is raising questions whether Egypt will continue to retain its decades- old peace treaty with Israel. Turkey, an erstwhile ally of Israel, has become increasingly
Iranian generals "increasingly regular visitors to Lebanon" says Israel.
Hezbollah hides weapons among civilians in southern Lebanon.
Fears that Hariri report will implicate Hezbollah, bring civil war.
The buildup of rockets by Iran-backed Hezbollah is more substantial than media reports have suggested, The Israel Project has learned. In line with reportage, Israeli intelligence understands that Hezbollah has amassed in excess of 40,000 rockets in the immediate vicinity of the Israeli-Lebanese frontier.
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