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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The only Jewish museum in the Arab world, plus new miniseries

Egypt's Al Masry al Youm has an article about the only Jewish museum in the Arab world.

It is in Casablanca, Morocco.

JTA reported on it when it re-opened in 2013:

The museum, with a floor space of a few hundred square yards, features photos of synagogues from across the kingdom, Torah scrolls and Chanukah lamps, Moroccan caftans embroidered with gold, jewels, ancient rugs and objects of Jewish-Moroccan cultural heritage.

“It’s not a fancy museum, but it contains some real treasures of cultures,” said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament, who saw the museum last month during a visit for talks with Moroccan officials.

Founded 15 years earlier by the Jewish community of Casablanca, the museum was later managed by the Foundation of Moroccan Judaism under its chief administrator, Simon Levy. The building was renovated following his death in 2011.

Morocco has about 3,000 Jews, a tenth of its original Jewish population before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Some of the items exhibited:






Egypt is showing some interest in its own Jewish past. A major TV miniseries, called "Jewish Quarter," is now being filmed and has attracted major Arab stars. It will take place in the early 1950s and sounds like it will be sympathetic with the Jews who were forced out of Egypt - but not the Zionists.

Video and Transcript of Bibi speech to Congress



NETANYAHU: Thank you.
(APPLAUSE)
Thank you...
(APPLAUSE)
... Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it's good to see you back on your feet.
(APPLAUSE)
I guess it's true what they say, you can't keep a good man down.
(LAUGHTER)
My friends, I'm deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the U.S. Congress.
(APPLAUSE)
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.

I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
(APPLAUSE)
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
(APPLAUSE)
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
(APPLAUSE)
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American -- of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
(APPLAUSE)
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
(APPLAUSE)
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.

Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.

In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.

Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
(APPLAUSE)
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.

And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.

But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
(APPLAUSE)
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
(APPLAUSE)
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
(APPLAUSE)
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel.

My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.

We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
(APPLAUSE)
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.

For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.

But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.

The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots -- religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.

That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."
I'm standing here in Washington, D.C. and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.

Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.

Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C.

In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
(APPLAUSE)
We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
(APPLAUSE)
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!

Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.

Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever.

Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.

In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.

So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
(APPLAUSE)
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember -- I'll say it one more time -- the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.
(APPLAUSE)
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.

Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.

Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.

The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.

Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short -- about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel's.

And if -- if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.

True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.

Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.

Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions -- 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.

Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock -- as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught -- caught twice, not once, twice -- operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed.

Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the U.S. and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one." Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.

Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.

Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount -- 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.

My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.

Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.

And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.

So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?

Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.

Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?

Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?

This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors -- Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.

And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.

This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.

If anyone thinks -- if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.

We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
(APPLAUSE)
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second...
(APPLAUSE)
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
(APPLAUSE)
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
(APPLAUSE)
Thank you.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
(APPLAUSE)
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
(APPLAUSE)
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
(APPLAUSE)
My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?

Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.
(APPLAUSE)
Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
(APPLAUSE)
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
(APPLAUSE)
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.

My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.
(APPLAUSE)
Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
(APPLAUSE)
A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends.
(APPLAUSE)
A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country...
(APPLAUSE)
... no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.

Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.

The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
(APPLAUSE)
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
(APPLAUSE)
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again."
(APPLAUSE)
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
(APPLAUSE)
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
(APPLAUSE)
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
(APPLAUSE)
This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
(APPLAUSE)
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
(APPLAUSE)
I know that you stand with Israel.
(APPLAUSE)
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.
(APPLAUSE)
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.

And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them."

My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Toda raba. Thank you all.
You're wonderful.
Thank you, America. Thank you.
Thank you.

03/03 Links Pt1: In blistering speech, PM warns ‘bad’ deal ‘paves path’ to Iranian nukes

From Ian:

Times of Israel Live Blog: In blistering speech, PM warns ‘bad’ deal ‘paves path’ to Iranian nukes
PM receives 25 standing ovations
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid, who is sitting in the chamber, counts 25 standing ovations overall for Netanyahu during his address.
Israel doesn’t stand alone, Netanyahu says
Netanyahu says Jews are no longer scattered and powerless, and IDF soldiers have “boundless courage.”
He says Jews can defend themselves, and more applause breaks out.
“This is why as prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
More applause.
“But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel,” he says. More applause.
JPost Editorial: Another way forward
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu achieves nothing else in his speech before the US Congress on Tuesday, he will generate scrutiny of the nuclear agreement materializing with Iran. And there is much to be scrutinized. Furthermore, there is a way forward that necessitates neither signing a bad deal nor war with Iran.
Based on leaks by representatives of the US and other countries in the P5+1 (the UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) we know the general contours of the agreement set to be signed by the March 31 deadline.
If these leaks are to be believed, the latest worrying detail is that Washington may have conceded to Iran’s demand for a sunset clause. Though no international law permits it, the Islamic Republic will be granted the right to build its uranium enrichment capabilities as large as it wishes after a 10-year limitation. Perhaps a five-year phaseout period will be tacked on. Eventually, Iran will have the internationally sanctioned right to pursue nuclear weapons.
This will have immediate implications. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, threatened by the Shi’ite regime’s expansionist ambitions in the region, will demand similar conditions for their own nuclear programs. US President Barack Obama has vowed to prevent precisely this sort of nuclear proliferation.
Gerald M. Steinberg : The US, Israel and the Iranian bomb
In 1992, shortly after Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister, he addressed an academic workshop in Tel Aviv focusing on military strategy and arms control. The Iranian nuclear threat was the top priority on Rabin’s strategic agenda as prime minister, and he was beginning to develop the elements of his response.
For over two decades, Rabin’s policies on Iran were adopted, extended and adjusted by every successive Israeli leader. On this issue, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau addresses the US Congress again in Washington today, he will be reflecting this continuity. And while Israelis differ over the platform and timing, there is broad unity over the substance of Netanyhau’s message regarding the need to confront the reality of the Iranian threat.
For Rabin, the first line of defense on this as on many other strategic issues was through close cooperation with the United States government. From that first meeting, Rabin emphasized that the threat posed by the Islamic Republic, led by a supreme leader (a position still held by Ali Khamenei) spewing hate for Jews and Israel, along with Holocaust denial, was not limited to Israel or the Middle East. The Americans – as the world’s only superpower at the time following the collapse of the Soviet empire – understood what needed to be done, for their interest and to maintain global stability.
In 1996, after the assassination and then the election won by the Likud and Netanyahu, nothing changed in this central dimension of the US-Israel relationship. The strategic dialogues and close coordination between Washington and Jerusalem intensified as Iran repeatedly violated its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Gaza power plant to shut down again, and Israel will be falsely blamed

Ma'an reports:

Gaza's only power plant is due to shut down by the end of this week as donor funding for fuel in the coastal territory has run out, officials said.

The energy and natural resource authority told Ma'an that the power plant had been using a Qatari grant to pay for diesel fuel to maintain operations.

Gaza's sole power station, which was damaged during the war, is struggling with a severe lack of fuel and is only able to supply the enclave with six hours of power per day.
All those billions of dollars of pledges, most from Arab countries, still aren't paying for fuel for the power plant.

And once again this will become part of an anti-Israel narrative, as has happened countless times in the past, often with staged photos of Gaza kids holding candles.

Guaranteed.

Times of London and Al Arabiya agree: Bibi's right, Obama's wrong

The Times of London is polite about it:
Biden won't be there this time (source)

The defiant decision of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to plead direct to the United States Congress against rushing into a nuclear deal with Iran represents a watershed in the dismal relations between Jerusalem and the Obama administration. A foreign leader is being invited by Republicans to denounce the president on American soil. It is a speech that even before its delivery today has split Israel and the Jewish community in America, and is being presented by the Obama team as crude electioneering and provocative mischief-making on the part of Mr Netanyahu.

Yet it is a necessary speech. All the signs are that the US, flanked by five other powers including Britain, is accelerating towards a deal with Tehran that will allow it to retain significant capacity to enrich uranium. The arrangement would in theory allow the West to spot and block one year in advance any attempt to build a bomb. That presumes easy access to the most sensitive nuclear sites and a quick and efficient verification system.

Israel does not trust Iran. It sees a regime that is so desperate to have sanctions lifted it is willing to fabricate concessions. The negotiations do not include Iran’s ballistic-missile programme, whose prime function can only be the delivery of a bomb.

Mr Netanyahu therefore comes to Washington full of suspicion not only about Iranian intentions but also those of the Obama administration. He fears the nuclear treaty would be the first step towards projecting Tehran as a de facto ally and a regional power-broker. A nation that is so often challenged by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias and the Iranian-supplied weaponry of Hamas has a right to be concerned.

President Obama has needlessly aggravated relations with the Israeli government by making it public that he is angry with the prime minister. More, he seems ready to veto the bipartisan Kirk-Menendez bill that would impose further sanctions on Tehran if it failed to sign an accord. This saps the negotiating power of the West.

...Relations between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu have never been warm but the US should recognise that Iran cannot be blindly trusted. Tehran is already a leading sponsor of terrorism in the region; it is alarming to contemplate how nuclear weapons would transform this status. There is still time to build cheat-proof assurances into a future accord. This must be done to reassure Israel and all of Iran’s rightly nervous neighbours.

Rigorous inspection, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency, must become the norm. Any attempt to conceal should be punished. Washington cannot deny itself the option of escalating sanctions. Iran, though ready for its own reasons to sit down with the West, remains a hostile power rather than a putative ally.
Al Arabiya is a bit more blunt:
The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.

In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.

What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei. (Although, the latter never seems to write back!)

Just to be clear, nobody disagrees that ridding Iran of its nuclear ambitions is paramount. And if this can be achieved peacefully, then it would be even better. However, any reasonable man CAN’T possibly turn a blind eye to the other realities on the ground.

Indeed, it is Mr. Obama’s controversial take on managing global conflicts that raises serious questions.

...The real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing.

Not only is Iran responsible for sponsoring Shiite terrorist groups, but Sunni ones too.

In fact, according to the U.S.’s own State Department, Tehran was home to a number of Al-Qaeda facilitators and high ranking financiers. These accusations are also backed by findings of the U.S. Treasury Department as well.
Some think that Obama's attempts to punish Bibi has backfired spectacularly because the publicity will give Netanyahu a much bigger audience than he would have ever had otherwise - and his speech is the hottest ticket in Washington:

For Senator Lindsey Graham, the only ticket more in demand than a seat inside the House chamber for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday morning would be “if it was Garth Brooks — maybe.”

“The tickets are hotter than fresh latkes,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

Mr. Graham said the White House’s “desire to undercut” Mr. Netanyahu’s visit had simply made it more appealing. “They have made it the most talked about thing in Washington, and I think it blew up in their face,” Mr. Graham said. “Everything he says, people want to hear, and people want to be in that room to listen, they want to be in person. It’s become a historic speech.”

Mr. Boehner’s office said it had received requests for 10 times as many tickets as there are available seats in the gallery, and both the House and the Senate have set up alternate viewing locations that will also require tickets. There will be heightened security throughout the Capitol complex, according to the Capitol police.

“If Taylor Swift and Katy Perry did a joint concert at Madison Square Garden wearing white-and-gold and black-and-blue dresses, accompanied by dancing sharks and llamas, that’s the only way you’d have a tougher ticket,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner.

Similarly, Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, said, “If I was solely responsible for filling the gallery, it would have been filled up in a New York minute.”

“I have people all day, every day, contacting me as if there’s a hundred thousand seats just vacant,” he said. “It’s a historic time for Israel, for America, for the stability of the Middle East, and I think that people see that historic moment on March 3 and want to be part of it.”

The interest, Mr. Zeldin noted wryly, represented a change from President Obama’s State of the Union address, for which the congressman had to seek out a guest to invite. “No one asked to be my guest,” he said.

(h/t Adam)

HRW says #EyalNaftaliGilad were killed because of "settlements"

Human Rights Watch continues its disgusting anti-Israel campaign with its latest article by "researcher" Bill Van Esveld:

Israel typically justifies its harsh policies in the West Bank on security grounds, but since Binyamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, Israel has begun construction on more than 10,000 housing units there for Israeli civilians.

Israel assigns soldiers to protect these civilians, for whose safety it proclaims the need to build expensive special roads, walls and checkpoints. Those measures failed this summer, when Palestinian gunmen abducted and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank – sparking a massive military operation.
Van Esveld knows quite well who was behind the planning, funding, logistics, kidnapping and murders of the boys: Hamas.

Hamas doesn't distinguish between Jews on either side of the Green Line, calling all Israeli towns "settlements."

So HRW's pathetic attempt to claim that Israeli security is compromised by Jews living in their historic homeland of Judea and Samaria is absurd. The second intifada made no distinctions between where Jews lived. The bombings that happened regularly during the Oslo process weren't concentrated to the east of the Green Line.

If HRW wants to use the murder of the boys as proof that settlements cause terror, then they must admit that the number of terror attacks has decreased significantly even as the number of Jews who live in the territories - Jews who move there voluntarily, and not in violation of any sane reading of international law - has increased. By their own logic, settlements help curb terror.

By blaming the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for Arab terror, HRW is pushing a myth that has no factual basis in the interests of furthering an agenda against Jews having the human rights to live where their forefathers lived  Control of that land has passed from the Ottomans to the British to the Jordanians to the Israelis without ever having been legally owned by the newly minted "Palestinian people."

The depths of HRW's hate for Israeli Jews can be seen from this sentence:
Unsurprisingly, settlements are flashpoints for confrontation; many arrests of Palestinian children, often for throwing stones, occur near settlements.
Hmmm, why would those horrible Israelis arrest people who throw stones at Jews who are living in and traveling to their communities? Who are the children (HRW doesn't want to mention the adults) throwing stones at? This article blames Jews for Palestinian Arabs throwing rocks at them - and it implies that people throwing rocks at other people is only a human rights issue for the criminals, not the victims! Indeed, Van Esveld seems to believe that throwing rocks at people is a human right in itself.

This is how depraved HRW has become in its zeal to characterize everything Israel does as a violation of human rights while giving Hamas (not mentioned once in this article) and stone throwers (who can and do kill human beings) a pass.

As we've seen, HRW is not a human rights organization: it is a racist organization that has condonedsupported and justified war crimes against Israeli Jews.

(h/t Anne)

Monday, March 02, 2015

Special relationships

I'm not sure why I'm in such a mood for graphics today...


03/02 Links Pt2: Why the silence of the left on anti-Semitism?; Melanie Phillips 'Down Under'

From Ian:

Why the silence of the left on anti-Semitism?
Moreover, confronting the resurgence of anti-Semitism would mean accepting that the demonisation of Israelis and Jewish diaspora – such as the toxic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that effectively calls for the destruction of Israel – has in part contributed to the legitimation of violent attacks against the Jews of Europe.
Instead, we have seen a bizarre reversal of victimhood. The first instinct of many, rather than sympathise with the victims of terror, has been to warn against a potential Islamophobic backlash. According to this warped and infantilising logic, Muslims, as the "new" Jews, are all innocent victims of Western (and Israeli) imperialism and racism.
No one wishes to see the peaceful majority of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims subject to discrimination because of the actions of a minority. We are not, as Roger Cohen has written in these pages, at "war with Islam". However, fear of giving offence or singling out a minority for criticism is scarcely a reason not to oppose anti-Semitism.
What then is to be done? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wrong to call for Europe's 1.4 million Jews to consider a mass aliyah to Israel. This suggestion can only embolden the thugs seeking to hunt the Jewish people off the continent.
Rather the solution is easy and begins with us. We need to talk about the threat of modern anti-Semitism not as some 1930s throwback but as a real and present danger. The next time you are privy to anti-Semitic abuse, speak up. The next time a protest calls for the destruction of Israel, or explains away terrorism with "but Israel", speak up.
Do so as a matter of principle. But we should also not forget the darkest chapter of European history: fascists come for the Jews first and never stop there.
Chloe Valdary: To The Students for Justice in Palestine, A Letter from an Angry Black Woman
The student organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.
- If you seek to promulgate the legacy of Arab colonialistswho raped and pillaged the Middle East, subjugated the indigenous peoples living in the region, and foisted upon them a life of persecution and degradation—you do not get to claim the title of “Freedom Fighter.”
- If you support a racist doctrine of Arab supremacism and wish (as a corollary of that doctrine) to destroy the Jewish State, you do not get to claim that the prejudices you peddle are forms of legitimate “resistance.”
- You do not get to justify the calculated and deliberate bombings, beatings, and lynchings of Jewish men, women, and children by referring to such heinous occurrences as part of a noble “uprising” of the oppressed—that is racism. It is evil.
- You do not get to pretend as though you and Rosa Parks would have been great buddies in the 60s. Rosa Parks was a real Freedom Fighter. Rosa Parks was a Zionist.
Coretta Scott King was a Zionist.
A. Phillip Randolph was a Zionist.
Bayard Rustin was a Zionist.
Count Basie was a Zionist.
Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. was a Zionist.
Voice of Israel: Melanie Phillips 'Down Under': Australian Attitudes to Israel
VOI's Melanie Phillips has been "Down Under," chatting with Australian MP Josh Frydenberg and journalist Miranda Devine about Australian attitudes towards Israel and Islamic extremism. She also meets two women with remarkable stories to tell: novelist Suzy Zail on how she started writing Holocaust fiction for teenagers, and tsunami survivor Rebekah Giles, who made an astonishing discovery about her identity.

ElderToons: Soaring productivity


Tough to do, but worth it! (ElderToons)


REAL victim of apartheid holds webinar debunking "Israel apartheid" slander

From Young ZF for Israel:

Rev Dr Kenneth Meshoe MP (South African Parliament) on objections to claims of "Israeli Apartheid" 
South African MP Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, a person of color who survived the apartheid regime, explains why he does not believe that Israel can be considered an apartheid state.

He has spoken often about this issue and how Israel is often unfairly attacked and accused of Apartheid by its enemies. Rev Dr Meshoe has fought vocally against misuse of this term and attempting to shed light on the real situation in Israel - that while it is a country with problems like any other, it is a vibrant democracy and a beacon of light in a sea of dictatorships and religious and ethnic oppression in the Middle East.

The Reverend is also the Parliamentary Leader and President of the African Christian Democratic Party as well as the President of DEISI (Defend, Embrace, Invest and Support Israel).
This is happening on Tuesday, 1 PM EST.

(h/t Margie)

Bibi's AIPAC speech (video, text)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the ‪#AIPAC‬ Policy Conference 2015:




"Thank you. Wow, 16,000 people. Anyone here from California? Florida? New York?

Well, these are the easy ones. How about Colorado? Indiana? I think I got it. Montana? Texas?

You're here in record numbers. You're here from coast to coast, from every part of this great land. And you're here at a critical time. You're here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli-U.S. relations are not only premature, they're just wrong.

You're here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever.

And because of you, and millions like you, across this great country, it's going to get even stronger in the coming years.

Thank you Bob Cohen, Michael Kassen, Howard Kohr and all the leadership of AIPAC. Thank you for your tireless, dedicated work to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States.

I want to thank, most especially, Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans. I deeply appreciate your steadfast support for Israel, year in, year out. You have our boundless gratitude.

I want to welcome President Zeman of the Czech Republic. Mr. President, Israel never forgets its friends. And the Czech people have always been steadfast friends of Israel, the Jewish people, from the days of Thomas Masaryk at the inception of Zionism.

You know, Mr. President, when I entered the Israeli army in 1967, I received a Czech rifle. That was one of the rifles that was given to us by your people in our time of need in 1948. So thank you for being here today.

Also here are two great friends of Israel, former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar and as of last month, former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Thank you both for your unwavering support. You are true champions of Israel, and you are, too, champions of the truth.

I also want to recognize the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, for your genuine friendship, Dan, and for the great job you're doing representing the United States and the State of Israel.

And I want to recognize the two Rons. I want to thank Ambassador Ron Prosor for the exemplary job he's doing at the U.N. in a very difficult forum.

And I want to recognize the other Ron, a man who knows how to take the heat, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Ron, I couldn't be prouder to have you representing Israel in Washington.

And finally, I want to recognize my wife, Sara, whose courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration to me. Sara divides her time as a child psychologist, as a loving mother, and her public duties as the wife of the prime minister. Sara, I'm so proud to have you here with me today, to have you with me at my side always.

My friends, I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital.

And I also bring to you news that you may not have heard. You see, I'll be speaking in Congress tomorrow.

You know, never has so much been written about a speech that hasn't been given. And I'm not going to speak today about the content of that speech, but I do want to say a few words about the purpose of that speech.

First, let me clarify what is not the purpose of that speech. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.

I deeply appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel, security cooperation, intelligence sharing, support at the U.N., and much more, some things that I, as prime minister of Israel, cannot even divulge to you because it remains in the realm of the confidences that are kept between an American president and an Israeli prime minister. I am deeply grateful for this support, and so should you be.

My speech is also not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate. An important reason why our alliance has grown stronger decade after decade is that it has been championed by both parties and so it must remain.

Both Democratic and Republican presidents have worked together with friends from both sides of the aisle in Congress to strengthen Israel and our alliance between our two countries, and working together, they have provided Israel with generous military assistance and missile defense spending. We've seen how important that is just last summer.

Working together, they've made Israel the first free trade partner of America 30 years ago and its first official strategic partner last year.

They've backed Israel in defending itself at war and in our efforts to achieve a durable peace with our neighbors. Working together has made Israel stronger; working together has made our alliance stronger.

And that's why the last thing that anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue. And I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that. Israel has always been a bipartisan issue.

Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue.

Ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Look at that graph. Look at that map. And you see on the wall, it shows Iran training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.

And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.

And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there's still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak on our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves.

Well, no more, no more.

The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over. Today in our sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves. And being able to defend ourselves, we ally with others, most importantly, the United States of America, to defend our common civilization against common threats.

In our part of the world and increasingly, in every part of the world, no one makes alliances with the weak. You seek out those who have strength, those who have resolve, those who have the determination to fight for themselves. That's how alliances are formed.

So we defend ourselves and in so doing, create the basis of a broader alliance.

And today, we are no longer silent; today, we have a voice. And tomorrow, as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice.

I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that's devouring country after country in the Middle East, that's exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States agree that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but we disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons.

Now, disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time, even among the closest of allies. Because they're important differences between America and Israel.

The United States of America is a large country, one of the largest. Israel is a small country, one of the smallest.

America lives in one of the world's safest neighborhoods. Israel lives in the world's most dangerous neighborhood. America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it's much more vulnerable. American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.

You know, I think that encapsulates the difference. I've been prime minister of Israel for nine years. There's not a single day, not one day that I didn't think about the survival of my country and the actions that I take to ensure that survival, not one day.

And because of these differences, America and Israel have had some serious disagreements over the course of our nearly 70-year-old friendship.

Now, it started with the beginning. In 1948, Secretary of State Marshall opposed David Ben-Gurion's intention to declare statehood. That's an understatement. He vehemently opposed it. But Ben-Gurion, understanding what was at stake, went ahead and declared Israel's independence.

In 1967, as an Arab noose was tightening around Israel's neck, the United States warned Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that if Israel acted alone, it would be alone. But Israel did act -- acted alone to defend itself.

In 1981, under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor at Osirak. The United States criticized Israel and suspended arms transfers for three months.

And in 2002, after the worst wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel's history, Prime Minister Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield. The United States demanded that Israel withdraw its troops immediately, but Sharon continued until the operation was completed.

There's a reason I mention all these. I mention them to make a point. Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade.

And our friendship will weather the current disagreement, as well, to grow even stronger in the future. And I'll tell you why; because we share the same dreams. Because we pray and hope and aspire for that same better world; because the values that unite us are much stronger than the differences that divide us values like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, compassion.

As our region descends into medieval barbarism, Israel is the one that upholds these values common to us and to you.

As Assad drops bell bombs on his own people, Israeli doctors treat his victims in our hospitals right across the fence in the Golan Heights

As Christians in the Middle East are beheaded and their ancient communities are decimated, Israel's Christian community is growing and thriving, the only one such community in the Middle East.
As women in the region are repressed, enslaved, and raped, women in Israel serve as chief justices, CEOs, fighter pilots, two women chief justices in a row. Well, not in a row, but in succession. That's pretty good.

In a dark, and savage, and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of humanity, of light, and of hope.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family. We're practically mishpocha.

Now, disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we are family.

Rooted in a common heritage, upholding common values, sharing a common destiny. And that's the message I came to tell you today. Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come.

Thank you, AIPAC. Thank you, America. God bless you all.

(h/t JH)