Saturday, April 10, 2010

US lip service: denounces PA incitement

From a US dept of State Daily Press Briefing in Washington, DC, April 8, 2010, by Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary:

...Regarding the Middle East, we are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement....

The question what do the WORDS mean? Will US funding of the PA be made contingent on cessation of denial and incitement?

Friday, April 09, 2010

US denying visas to Israel's nuclear scientists

From, 9/4/10, by Maayana Miskin:

The United States has begun denying visas to Israel's nuclear scientists ...Workers at the reactor in Dimona told the paper that they had been treated poorly by US representatives, and had been told they could not travel to the States.

For the past 20 years it has been common for scientists working at the Dimona reactor to travel to universities in the U.S. to enhance their knowledge in the fields of physics, chemistry, and nuclear engineering.

The only reason the Dimona scientists' visa requests were refused was their work at the reactor, sources in the military establishment said. None of the researchers has had any trouble with the law, in Israel or America.

A former Dimona worker told Maariv that the problems between Israel and America went beyond denied visas. The US has also created a “de-facto embargo” on equipment needed in the Dimona reactor, he said.

The refusal to sell Israel certain parts began after current US President Barack Obama took office, he said. When it comes to certain other pieces of equipment, he added, the US now permits sales only if Israeli officials explain exactly what the part will be used for.

"And yet, when it comes to those who manufacture nuclear terrorism, we hear a lenient approach, even though the entire world can see that Iran's leaders are making a joke out of the US,” he said.

Professor Zev Alfasi of the nuclear engineering program at Ben-Gurion University confirmed the statements made by the anonymous former Dimona worker. “Some people are not getting visas to the United States for the sole reason that they work at the Dimona reactor,” he said. In addition, he said, “The US does not sell a single piece of nuclear-related equipment to the Dimona reactor... They sell to the universities, but they refuse to sell equipment to the reactor.”

On Friday morning, spokesmen for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he would not attend a Nuclear Security summit in the US as previously planned, but would send a senior minister in his place. Netanyahu apparently decided not to attend the summit due to concerns that he would face pressure over Israel's nuclear program. The visa refusals may have been another factor leading to his concerns.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Obama's legacy: an nuclear-armed Iran?

From: The Australian April 03, 2010, by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor:

US President Barack Obama has decided to abandon any serious effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He is determined instead to live with a nuclear Iran, by containment and, if possible, negotiation...

...This is the giant story of the past few weeks which the world has largely missed, distracted by the theatre of the absurd of Obama's contrived and mock confrontation with Israel over 1600 apartments to be built in three years' time in a Jewish suburb in East Jerusalem.

...Obama has not explicitly announced his new position and he and his cabinet secretaries still make speeches saying they will try to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. But if you look at the statements closely you see a steady weakening of resolve, a steady removal of any threat of any consequence for Iran. Similarly, if you look at the actions of the administration, the sombre conclusion is inescapable.

Given Iran's missile program ...profoundly undermines American strategic credibility, which is the bedrock of whatever global order this troubled planet enjoys.

The troubling realisation that the Americans have given up, or are in the process of giving up, the fight to prevent Iran going nuclear is backed by the best informed security sources in Washington, London, Jerusalem and Canberra.

The bust-up between Washington and Israel only makes sense in this context....
...It is inconceivable that Obama would have treated any Arab or Muslim leader with the same considered contempt that he showed to Netanyahu. I speculated last week that Obama engaged in his furious over-reaction in order to pursue personal popularity in the Muslim world, and perhaps to force Israel to make so many concessions that the Palestinians would come back to negotiations. Although these negotiations would not produce a comprehensive peace deal, at least Obama could claim the talks themselves as a victory of sorts.

I still think these were important considerations but there was a much bigger strategic purpose, as well. In 2008, Israel told Washington it was planning to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Washington talked Jerusalem out of the move, not least by showing its own determination to stop the Iranians.

...When Obama spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2008, he said  ,,,"I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything." That was Obama's equivalent to Bush's "all options".

Obama doesn't talk anything like that any more. In his message to Iran on the Iranian new year a few weeks ago, he reiterated his determination not to meddle in Iran's internal affairs and said the nuclear matter should still be negotiated.

Clinton, in her address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last week, spoke only briefly about Iran ...the bulk of her speech was all about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

...The sub-text of Obama and Clinton's recent speeches can only be that they have decided that the battle against a nuclear-armed Iran is over.

One thing they are determined to do is to stop Israel from taking its own unilateral military action to stop or retard Iran's nuclear program. Israel has taken this type of action twice before. In 1981, it destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak. And in 2007, it bombed into obliteration a North Korean-supplied secret nuclear reactor in Syria.

... for several years the most senior US officials would agree that a nuclear-armed Iran represented an existential threat to Israel. Iran's rulers, after all, not only deny the Holocaust but have made militant anti-Americanism, confrontation with Israel and even anti-Semitism, defining ideologies of the Iranian state. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Most analysts believe that for all their extremism, the Iranian rulers are rational actors and would not actually use nuclear weapons. But this is a slender analytical thread to ask Israelis to hang their very lives on. And the danger of Iran proliferating some element of nuclear material or technology to terrorists is much more plausible.

This is where the Obama-Israel dust-up comes in. By so isolating Israel, by irresponsibly unleashing a global wave of anti-Israel sentiment, especially in nations which normally support Israel, Obama has made the possibility of Israel considering unilateral action against Iran much more unlikely. The Israelis would weigh such action very carefully. There are many pluses and minuses. By creating the impression of Israel as a besieged, isolated and reckless nation, which the wildly disproportionate reaction to the East Jerusalem apartments accomplished, Obama has made the potential cost to Israel of action against Iran much greater.

Is it fair to conclude definitively that Obama has decided to give up, except for symbolic and meaningless actions, the fight against a nuclear-armed Iran?

Obama might still change his mind - he is nothing, after all, if not flexible - but that is the inescapable conclusion of his actions so far.

He has set so many deadlines for Iran. Each of them has passed and nothing ever happens. There are never bad consequences for the US's enemies in Obama world, it seems, only for its friends.

Remember, initially, that the Obama administration wanted to wait for the Iranian election in the middle of last year before it exhausted dialogue or went down the sanctions road? Remember then the deadline was September? Remember the proposal for Iran's uranium to go to Russia for enrichment? Remember the revelation of Iran's secret nuclear facility at Qom? Remember Iran's announcement that it intended to enrich uranium up to 20 per cent, a vast leap on the technological road to weapons? Did you notice a couple of weeks ago Iran's announcement that it would build new nuclear facilities?

And where are we today? Now it is April and Obama is still talking in his feckless way about possible UN sanctions. Anything that is passed by China and Russia at the UN Security Council will be weak and ineffective. A serious US administration would have built a critical mass of like-minded countries to impose crippling sanctions on Iran outside the Security Council.

The only explanation that fits with all the facts is that the US administration is no longer serious about stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. ....

...There is no chance Obama will produce a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in his first term in office, which is how he would like to be remembered by history.

There is every chance history will remember him for something altogether different, as the American president on whose watch Iran became a nuclear-weapons state.

The pope must confront the depravities of child molestation and rabid anti-Semitism in his Church

From a JPOST EDITORIAL, 06/04/2010:

The pope must confront the depravities of [child molestation or rabid anti-Semitism in] his Church, wherever they appear.

...On Good Friday, Father Raniero Cantalamessa said he was thinking about the Jews in this season of Pessah and Easter, because “they know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms.”

Callously, astoundingly, the veteran preacher, who has held his position since Pope John Paul II’s era, was not sympathizing with the real victims of the sex scandal rocking the Church. Not the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children who have allegedly been molested by a sexually rapacious clergy over the decades. These were not the “victims of collective violence” Cantalamessa had in mind. Nor was his talk of “recurring symptoms” an allusion to the sex scandals that have surfaced recurrently in the Catholic Church. No, Cantalamessa was reserving his compassion for his fellow clergymen and his boss, who are being rightly censured for failing to stop the abuse and punish the sex offenders.

...WHAT COULD possibly have been going through the mind of Cantalamessa, no newcomer to public scrutiny, when he trotted out the specter of anti-Semitism in this context? As The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier put it, “Why would the Catholic Church wish to defend itself by referring to other enormities in which it was also implicated?”

Cantalamessa’s, and perhaps the Church’s, understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism is all-too plainly deeply flawed. And the Church – itself responsible for such inventions such as the “Jew badge,” the auto-da-f├ę, the blood libel, the Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal – has no excuse for such insensitivity.

Even more pernicious is the charge, also coming from within the Church, that a Jewish Cabal is escalating the present campaign against the pope and the Vatican. The center-left La Repubblica, Italy’s second largest daily, quoted “certain Catholic sources” last week as blaming a “New York Jewish lobby” for sensationalizing the scandal. Revelations such as the pope’s apparent willingness to refrain from defrocking a Wisconsin priest who allegedly sexually abused some 200 deaf children are, ostensibly, only considered news by Jews, such as The New York Times’ Sulzberger family, who are motivated by a “liberal” agenda. Nor is the Times redeemed by “not hesitating to attack Israel,” according to these Catholic sources. Even the “progressive” Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has accused the Times of having an “uncontrollable desire to personally involve” Benedict in the scandal, according to La Repubblica.

Will the real anti-Semites please stand up?

SINCE BECOMING the 265th pope in April 2005, Benedict has inadvertently hurt Jews while trying to reach out to more conservative – and some downright anti-Semitic – elements in the Church.

Prominent examples include his decision to revoke the excommunication of a group of schismatic fundamentalist bishops, including Holocaust denier Richard Williamson; his publicized meeting with anti-Semitic Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk just weeks after Rydzyk called Jewish demands for Holocaust reparations from the Polish government “insatiably greedy”; and his decision to revive a Latin-language rite that includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

Now the pope is hurting the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of victims of pedophilia by attempting to play down the present scandal. While the Vatican’s newspaper has called media reports on the unfolding revelations “gross propaganda” against the pontiff and a spokesman has tried to shrug off the affair as “petty gossip,” Benedict himself in his Easter address chose not to speak out against the sick phenomenon, opting to completely sidestep the issue. Is he buying into the Vatican line that he is the target of a smear campaign by the world’s media?

The pope must confront the depravities of his Church, wherever they appear, whether they be child molestation or rabid anti-Semitism. A continued failure to do so undermines his moral legitimacy and the respect of the Catholic faithful worldwide.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Israel's exports surged 145% in 2009

From The Ettinger Report, 3/4/2010, by Yoram Ettinger, :

Intel-Israel's exports surged 145% in 2009, reaching a record $3.4BN.

The record was facilitated by the completion of Intel's $4BN sixth plant in Israel. Intel is currently [in] negotiation with Israel's government [about] a possible $2.7BN expansion of the plant.

Intel employs 6,340 persons at its two plants and four R&D centers in Israel. Intel has invested $6.1BN in its Israel presence, boosted by a $1.2BN Israeli investment.

Clinton Owes New Yorkers An Apology

From a ZOA press release 5/4/2010:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her "to apologize to your former New York constituents  ...for having misled them by falsely claiming to support an undivided Jerusalem as Israel 's capital." The letter was signed by Morton A. Klein, President of ZOA; Dr. Michael Goldblatt, Chairman, National Board; Dr. Alan Mazurek, Chair, Executive Committee and Steven Goldberg, Esq., Vice-Chairman, National Board.

The letter went on to say, "when you were New York's Senator from 2001 to 2009, you repeatedly stated in speeches and in a September 2007 position paper that you believed ' Israel 's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, must never be questioned.'...
"Madame Secretary, you also signed the June 2004 Senate Resolution endorsing President Bush's letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that supported Israel 'retaining major Israeli population centers' in Judea and Samaria in any final peace agreement.'

"We make this demand following your passionate and heartfelt condemnation of Israel for announcing the construction of Jewish homes in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem by stating that Jews building and moving there 'is an insult to America .' The only reasonable interpretation of this policy is that it is a first step toward dividing Jerusalem ."

...Secretary Clinton made a harsh telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in which, according to the words of the State Department, she called the Israeli announcement "a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship"*. Clinton also later described it as being "not only an insult to [visiting Vice-President Joseph] Biden, but an insult to the United States "**.

The ZOA letter went on to say, "Your shocking words about Israel building in east Jerusalem is especially perplexing in light of  ...Congress passing the 'Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995' by a margin of 93 to 5 in the U.S. Senate and 347 to 37 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"The Act which is U.S. Law stated:
(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city.
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel .'
It also stated
(1) Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.
(2) Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
(3) The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel 's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
(4) The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.
(5) From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan .
(6) In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six Day War.
(7) Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel , and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.
(8) This year marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.
(9) In 1990, the Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that the Congress ``strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city."
(10) In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113 of the One Hundred Second Congress to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem , and reaffirming congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "It took only a few months to confirm that Secretary of State Clinton ...was apparently misrepresenting her true views and beliefs on Israel to her New York constituents. From having once loudly proclaimed support for an undivided Jerusalem, upon becoming Secretary of State, suddenly, parts of an "undivided Jerusalem" became places where Jews may not move or build, even though Jews were a majority in eastern Jerusalem from the mid-1800s until 1948, when Jordan forced Jewish residents to flee, and are now a majority once again. Her recent harsh words of condemnation - a term used in diplomacy normally only to describe the most heinous acts committed by a non-democratic regime, confirms that Secretary Clinton did not believe what she said about Jerusalem when she was Senator Clinton.

"Preventing Jews, because they are Jews, from moving into or developing their communities in Jerusalem is a racist and even apartheid American and Palestinian Arab policy which aims to weaken Israel's claim to Jerusalem an is a first step towards dividing the city. This is a policy one would never have expected Secretary Clinton to support in view of her previous unequivocal statements, as U.S. Senator from New York , of support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

"Secretary Clinton owes her New York Jewish and pro-Israel constituents a public apology," the ZOA said.

*(Glenn Lessler, 'Clinton rebukes Israel over east Jerusalem plan, cites damage to bilateral ties,' Washington Post, March 15, 2010)

**(Moshe Dann, 'A blessing in disguise,' Yediot Ahronot, March 15, 2010 )