Thursday, September 13, 2012

Israeli technology can capture and neutralize a wide range of deadly viruses

From Israel21C, 13 Sept 2012, by Karin Kloosterman*:
Vecoy Nanomedicines has a whole new approach: a virus ‘decoy’ to outwit the world’s worst enemy before it does any damage.
Virus-infected cells after treatment with Vecoy. Photo courtesy of Shmulik Ittah and Yaniv Amir

Virus-infected cells after treatment with Vecoy. Photo courtesy of Shmulik Ittah and Yaniv Amir

There’s the West Nile Virus forging a deadly path in North America, and a new round of Ebola in Africa. Then there’s bird flu, SARS and a handful of other rampant and unusually evil viruses circling the globe.
Any new super virus out of control could be far worse than the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, which killed 40 million people in just two years, says Israeli biologist Erez Livneh, CEO and founder of a new biotech company Vecoy Nanomedicines.
“Viruses are one of the biggest threats to humankind,” Livneh tells ISRAEL21c. “A viral pandemic could be more damaging than global warming or the Iranian nuclear program.”
Vecoy offers a cunning new way to disarm viruses by luring them to attack microscopic, cell-like decoys. Once inside these traps, the viruses effectively commit suicide.
Livneh presented his invention to colleagues in 2010, when he represented Israel at the multinational program of the Singularity University, based at NASA’s Ames Research base in California. He explained that Vecoy technology can capture and neutralize a wide range of deadly viruses, including resistant strains for which there are no vaccinations or cures.
“Viruses are one of the most polymorphic and resilient organisms out there,” says Livneh. “They are rapidly changing, and can change anything in their genome, either by changing their exterior so our immune system wouldn’t recognize them or by changing their enzymes so that the handful of drugs we have won’t affect them anymore.”
Yet all viruses, he notes, have one unchangeable Achilles heel: their cell host recognition site. Vecoy uses nanotechnology to give the virus two choices: either latch on to the Vecoy host trap or mutate in such a way that it cannot penetrate real host cells. In both scenarios, the end result is bad news for the virus.
“That is why, in theory, a virus cannot develop adaptive resistance to our traps,” says Livneh.
A cure, not just damage control
While vaccines, a 200-year-old invention, are a great prophylactic and have largely eradicated polio and smallpox, some viruses, such as HIV, elude vaccines. And anti-viral drugs attempt to block viruses from multiplying further from already infected cells.
Erez Livneh at NASA’s Ames Research Base. Photo by Matt Rutherford
Erez Livneh at NASA’s Ames Research Base. Photo by Matt Rutherford
“The trouble is, this is a bit too late; it’s damage control more than a cure,” explains Livneh. “Our virus-traps meet the viruses on their turf, in the bloodstream where they are disarmed before they reach the cells and before the damage is done.”
While it takes years to come up with new drugs, Vecoy’s virus traps could be tailored to address emerging new viral outbreaks quickly and efficiently, even in the event of a bioterror assault. If a government sees a threat coming from an enemy nation or a potential pandemic blowing its way, Vecoy’s solution could potentially inoculate populations before peril arrives.
“With the current state of overpopulation of our planet and international flights, we are now prone more than ever before to new viral pandemics which will be very hard to contain, and it is just a matter of time,” warns Livneh. “We’d better be in a position where we can do something about it.”
Treating the usual suspects too
Besides Ebola and new emerging and highly contagious viruses, Vecoy is also targeting the usual ones many of us struggle with every day, including hepatitis B and C, the human papillomavirus and herpes. New, smarter weapons are needed against all these viruses.
Results of cell-culture and pre-clinical studies in Vecoy’s laboratories at Bar-Ilan University’s nanotechnology center are promising, showing the neutralization of 97 percent of the viruses in the culture. Efficacy is expected to rise even further.
With an international patent pending and secured angel investments, the company now seeks several million dollars to begin studies on mammals, the next step before clinical trials in human beings.
While the road is long –– at least four or five years to start clinical trials –– it is a path worth taking if these Israeli-made virus decoys can do the job.
If Livneh succeeds on his quest he will no doubt go down in the history books along with Louis Pasteur (for pasteurization), Sir Alexander Fleming (for penicillin) and Jonas Salk (polio vaccine).

*Karin Kloosterman lives in Jaffa, Israel. She is a journalist, writer and blogger who focuses on the environment and clean technology from Israel and the Middle East. Published in hundreds of newspapers around the world, Karin also writes for the Huffington Post and Green Prophet.

Another bad UN egg

GENEVA - Promoters of the UN’s hypocrisy-ridden Human Rights Council say it’s been reformed. Yet the 47-nation body stooped to a new low today by installing a top official whose life’s work — authoring books on World War II — make Germans the victims and the Allies the war criminals.
Alfred de Zayas made his first appearance this afternoon as the council’s “Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.” I participated in the debate and took the floor to call him out. Now it is U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice who must act. Click here to send an email urging action.
The post was initiated by Cuba — the same country that interrupted my remarks today — in order to criticize Western countries that “wish to dominate the world with their economic and military models.”
At first glance, De Zayas seems highly qualified. He was born in Havana, grew up in America and graduated from Harvard Law School. He spent 22 years with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for whom he continues to freelance in his Geneva retirement.
But a closer glance at De Zayas’ writings — his website has everything, including the minutiae of his daily activities — raises troubling questions.
De Zayas is not a Holocaust denier. But he is a hero to them. His publications and lectures are promoted on websites such as “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.” It’s easy to see why.
One of his key themes is that hardly any Germans knew what was happening to their Jewish compatriots.
In 1996, when historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published “Hitler’s Willing Executioners,” documenting the complicity of the broader German population, De Zayas responded that Germans could not have been anti-Semites because there were “many German Jews in Bismarck’s circle,” and “many mixed marriages.”
Rather, he said, it was Goldhagen who was “racist.”

And, he argued, just as Americans never assumed their government would kill the Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps, Germans had no reason to imagine the Nazis would do such things to Jews.
De Zayas pressed Germans in Canada to prosecute Goldhagen’s book distributors on charges of “hate literature,” and advised them how to win at a UN human rights tribunal for which he then worked. Referring to a Canadian revisionist, De Zayas boasted in an email to supporters that “Jim Bacque and I even visited a lawyer in Toronto to suggest this procedure.”
He urged Germans in the U.S. to do like the Jewish community, which he said contributes millions of dollars to “the Lobby.”
His books’ other focus concerns the suffering of Germans during and especially after the war, in population transfers that he said cost over two million Germans their lives.
While uncovering unpleasant truths is worthy, De Zayas’ accusations against the Allies are invariably overstated, while Nazi atrocities are minimized:
- Churchill and Roosevelt connived at “a form of genocide” against the Germans.
- Because the Allies weren’t prosecuted for their “barbarous” and “gruesome” crimes, the Nuremberg Court that judged Nazi war criminals has “
hardly any legitimacy.”
- Proposals for dealing with Germany by Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Jewish cabinet member, were “racist” and “inhuman.”
- Calling the Holocaust unique can negate the suffering of others, such as expelled Germans, “tantamount to a
serious violation of their human rights.”
Scholars criticize his work as shoddy and revisionist. According to a 1993
German Studies Review article, De Zayas “makes no attempt to integrate his work with that of existing historiography on World War II, Nazi Germany or war crimes in general.”
But Cuba and its gang chose De Zayas not for his history, but current politics.
As a Third Worlder, he’s unlikely to criticize any of the countries who
supported his mandate, including Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uganda.
Second, they can rely on De Zayas to dutifully attack the U.S., whom he recently accused of “responsibility for the destabilization of the situation of countries in the Middle East.”
Third, De Zayas hates the Jewish state. Israel, he
says, “emerged out of terrorism against the indigenous population,” remains “privileged on the international scene” and its representatives should be denied UN accreditation.
When it comes to Nazi Germany, he focuses on the suffering of its citizens without any historical perspective. For Israelis, it’s the exact opposite.

De Zayas: "After a successful hunt with Corpsbrüder in 1989."
“It is imperative to keep the conflict in Gaza in historical perspective. Here the oppressor is Israel and the oppressed are the Palestinians.”
A top source for De Zayas is Norman Finkelstein, author of “The Holocaust Industry” and a leading anti-Israel activist. De Zayas endorsed Finkelstein’s bid for tenure and compared him to Socrates.
Today, as this detractor of Western democracies is now armed with a global U.N. podium, we should ask:
Why did the British delegate on the selection committee
join the jackals in unanimously endorsing him? Obviously Havana pressed hard for their candidate, but London had the moral duty to object.
And when will U.S. Ambassador Rice speak out, and demand that this wolf in sheep’s clothing be fired?

*Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva

Jews also have justice and rights.

From a presentation to a Conference on Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, 11 September 2012, by Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon:
... For too long [the story of Jewish refugees from Arab lands] was unknown, their history and suffering unacknowledged and their rights ignored.

We can see that this truth has a great power by the extreme and babbling responses by Palestinian officials, who have no answer to this issue except to say that it simply doesn’t exist. However, the facts are well known to many [despite] the Palestinian attempts at historic revisionism.
In 1947, after centuries of repression and sporadic violence, the situation of the almost one million Jews living in Arab countries became untenable when the Arab League released a draft law calling on its member states to consider the Jews in their countries as members of an enemy state and to freeze their bank accounts. These monies were then to be used to fight Jews in Mandatory Palestine and then the State of Israel.
This law was prepared, and endorsed, by the Political Committee of the Arab League with the agreement of each member state.
Of course, this was only the minimum each member state was supposed to do. Many states, went above and beyond, sometimes appropriating all of the assets of Jews, revoking their citizenship and forcing them, often through violence, from their homes. State-sponsored pogroms and massacres, expulsions and the disappearance of Jews became common throughout the region.
Thus ended large scale Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa which predated the Muslim conquest and subsequent occupation of the region by as much as a millennium.

In recent days I created a public diplomacy campaign titled “I am a Refugee” [also on Facebook] where I called on those who suffered this fate, and their descendants, to place their story online to set the record straight. Each of these stories, and many more, are important, not just for the sake of memory, but to stand in opposition to the Arab narrative which has been allowed to stand uncontested for too long.
The fact is the Jews driven out of Arab countries have rights and justice already established by the international community on their side.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which is the basis for all agreements and peace discussions with our neighbours in the region, speaks of “a just settlement of the refugee problem,” not “the Palestinian or Arab refugee problem.” The history of the resolution demonstrates that it was intentional and reflected recognition that the Arab-Israeli conflict created two refugee populations, not one.
While some tried to restrict the term refugees to just the Arab side, former U.S. Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, the American Ambassador to the UN who played a key role in the ultimate language adopted, pointed out that the omission was intentional.
Over the years other important actors in the international arena have also referenced the situation of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees officials, and just more than a decade ago, by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
During the discussions at Camp David in 2000, President Clinton suggested an international fund for both sets of refugees, both Arabs and Jews. This is in addition to a US Congress resolution of 2008, Congressman promoted and sponsored by Congressman Jerry Nadler, who is with us today.
Other legislation is in the works in Canada, thanks to another good friend and former Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler who is also here with us. We also being updated on moves in other parliaments around the world, and in this regard I would like again to acknowledge the participation in this conference of French MP Avi Assouly and Hungarian MP Pal Steiner.
During the last few years at the Foreign Ministry we have firmly and formally placed the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries on the national and international agenda.
Today, with the assistance of our partners, Deputy Minister for  Pensioners Affairs Leah Ness, the World Jewish Congress, represented by Secretary General Dan Diker and the organizations representing Jews from the Arab world, we are launching a new phase in our campaign.
From today we are actively moving forward on an active diplomatic and political agenda.
We are instructing our embassies and consulates around the world to bring up this issue with the governments and parliaments in their host states in any relevant discussions or meetings. We are liaising with parliamentarians from around the world who can bring forward a resolution on this issue.
In addition, later this month I will be travelling to New York, where we will hold a conference at the United Nations in order to specifically call on the United Nations Secretary General to place the issue of Jewish refugees firmly on the international agenda.
Finally, in Israel there still remains too little understanding and knowledge of this issue. To this end, I have proposed an annual day on the national calendar to remember the Jewish communities in Arab lands and their dismemberment. This proposal has been approved in principle and I hope that it will be approved by the government soon.
All of this will be bolstered with public diplomacy and awareness efforts to place the issue where it belongs, on the public agenda.
The Jewish refugees from Arab lands deserve their story being told, their history known, their rights recognized and the justice of their cause accepted.
Jews also have justice and rights.

Obama acknowledges Islamists' excuse to murder

A personal opinion:
Check out this 2-minute video of Obama's statement about the killing of the US Ambassador and other personnel in Libya. The Islamist murderers purportedly blamed America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

In particular, note Obama's comment commencing at the 30-second mark:
"...Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths and rejects all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others ...but there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence ...none..."
If there is truly no justification for this "type of senseless violence", then why mention respect of all faiths while condemning the attacks?
U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and Reuters reports one U.S. official as saying that "It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack".
If there had been no "insulting" video about Islam, these Islamist would have no doubt found another excuse to murder on the anniversary of the Sept 11 attack.
Why does Obama acknowledge and publicise the Islamist murderers' excuse to murder?

An initial statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, which also came under siege Tuesday when protesters shredded an American flag and appeared to replace it with a pro-Islam banner:
"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims ...Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States... We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
Romney said in his own statement:
"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi...It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
Around the same time, the White House disavowed the embassy's prior statement ....

Deadly Islamist Violence in Libya and Egypt

From Reuters, WASHINGTON/BENGHAZI, Libya, 13 Sept 2012:
...U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans ...died after Islamist gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attackers were part of a mob blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
The violence in the eastern city, a cradle of Libya's U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi last year, came on the 11th anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo in which protesters, who included Islamists and teenage soccer fans, tore down and burned a U.S. flag.
Stevens, 52, became the first U.S. ambassador killed in such an attack since Adolph Dubs, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, died in a kidnapping attempt in 1979.
U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia - which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law - may have been involved.
They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.
"It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack," one U.S. official said. However, some U.S. officials cautioned against assuming that the attacks were deliberately organized to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary.
Security personnel were separated from Stevens during the attack, U.S. officials said, describing a chaotic scene of smoke, gunfire and confusion.
A U.S. official said Washington had ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli and was reducing staffing in the capital to emergency levels.
The U.S. military is moving two Navy destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets, according to a U.S. official. The military also is dispatching a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team to boost security in Libya.
The violence in Benghazi and Cairo threatened to spread to other Muslim countries.
Police fired teargas at angry demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia and several hundred people gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Sudan. In Morocco, a few dozen protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans near the U.S. consulate in Casablanca....
...Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said Stevens and another diplomat died as a result of the consulate attack, while the other Americans died in what a Libyan military officer called an intense and highly accurate mortar attack on the safe house.
Ziad Abu Zaid, the duty doctor in the emergency room at Benghazi Medical Centre on Tuesday, said he had treated Stevens.
"He came in a state of cardiac arrest. I performed CPR for 45 minutes, but he died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation."
U.S. officials said Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and one security officer were trapped under fire in the burning consulate building.
The security officer made it outside and returned with help to search for the diplomats, officials said. The searchers found Smith, who was already dead, but were unable to find Stevens amid repeated exchanges of gunfire between Libyan security forces and the attackers over the next several hours.
"At some point in all of this ... we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information on what his condition was at that time," a senior U.S. official said.
Stevens' body was later returned to U.S. custody at Benghazi airport, the official said.
Images of Stevens, purportedly taken after he died, circulated on the Internet. One image showed him being carried, with a white shirt pulled up and a cut on his forehead.
Two more Americans died when a squad of U.S. troops sent by helicopter from Tripoli to rescue the diplomats from the safe house came under mortar attack, said Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, commander of a Libyan special operations unit ordered to meet the Americans.
"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it," Sharif said of the safe house.
...Security experts say the area around Benghazi is host to a number of Islamist militant groups who oppose any Western presence in Muslim countries.

If Obama wins on Nov. 6, then Israel's troubles will really begin

From National Review Online, September 4, 2012, by Daniel Pipes:

"President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus."
That's what Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, said in the high-profile speech accepting his party's nomination last week, repeating a slang phrase for sacrificing a friend for selfish reasons. Romney had deployed this phrase before, for example in May 2011 and Jan. 2012. This criticism of Obama fits a persistent Republican critique. Specifically, several other recent presidential candidates used or endorsed the same "bus" formulation vis-à-vis Obama and Israel, including Herman Cain in May 2011, Rick Perry in Sept. 2011, Newt Gingrich in Jan. 2012, and Rick Santorum in Feb. 2012.

Barack Obama pointed a finger at Binyamin Netanyahu in 2008.

These Republican attacks on Obama's relations with Israel have several important implications for U.S. foreign policy.
  • First, out of the many Middle East-related issues, Israel, and Israel alone, retains a permanent role in U.S. electoral politics, influencing how a significant number of voters - not just Jews but also Arabs, Muslims, Evangelical Christians, conservatives and liberals – vote for president.
  • Second, attitudes toward Israel serve as a proxy for views toward other Middle Eastern issues: If I know your views on Israel, I have a good idea about your thinking on such topics as energy policy, Islamism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, AKP-led Turkey, the Iranian nuclear build-up, intervention in Libya, the Mohamed Morsi presidency in Egypt, and the Syrian civil war.
  • Third, the Republican criticism of Obama points to a sea-change in what determines attitudes toward Israel. Religion was once the key, with Jews the ardent Zionists and Christians less engaged. Today, in contrast, the determining factor is political outlook. To discern someone's views on Israel, the best question to ask is not "What is your religion?" but "Who do you want for president?" As a rule, conservatives feel more warmly toward Israel and liberals more coolly. Polls show conservative Republicans to be the most ardent Zionists, followed by Republicans in general, followed by independents, Democrats, and lastly liberal Democrats. Yes, Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, also said, in Sept. 2011, that Obama "threw Israel under the bus," but Koch, 87, represents the fading old guard of the Democratic party. The difference between the parties in the Arab-Israeli conflict is becoming as deep as their differences on the economy or on cultural issues.

Big smiles between Mitt Romney and Binyamin Netanyahu, friends since 1976, in July 2012.

  • Fourth, as Israel increasingly becomes an issue dividing Democrats from Republicans, I predict a reduction of the bipartisan support for Israel that has provided Israel a unique status in U.S. politics and sustained organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. I also predict that Romney and Paul Ryan, as mainstream conservatives, will head an administration that will be the warmest ever to Israel, far surpassing the administrations of both Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Contrarily, should Obama be re-elected, the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow.

Obama deferentially listening to Edward Said at an Arab community event in Chicago, May 1998.

Obama's constipated record of the past 3½ years vis-à-vis Israel on such topics as the Palestinians and Iran leads to this conclusion; but so does what we know about his record before he entered high electoral politics in 2004, especially his associations with radical anti-Zionists. For example, Obama deferentially listened to Edward Said in May 1998 and sat quietly by at a going-away party in 2003 for former PLO flack Rashid Khalidi as Israel was accused of terrorism against Palestinians. (In contrast, Romney has been friends with Binyamin Netanyahu since 1976.)

Also revealing is what Ali Abunimah, a Chicago-based anti-Israel extremist, wrote about his last conversation with Obama in early 2004, as the latter was in the midst of a primary campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Abunimah wrote that Obama warmly greeted him and then added: "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." More: referring to Abunimah's attacks on Israel in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere, Obama encouraged him with "Keep up the good work!"
When one puts this in the context of what Obama said off-mic to then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in March 2012
("This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility")
and in the context of Obama's dislike for Netanyahu, it would be wise to assume that, if Obama wins on Nov. 6, things will "calm down" for him and he finally can "be more up front" about so-called Palestine. Then Israel's troubles will really begin.

Sep. 5, 2012 update: Before the Democrats restored mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to its party platform, Romney called the omission "very troubling" and "one more example of Israel being thrown under the bus by the president."
*Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Democrats pretend to be pro-Israel (for electoral reasons)

From National Review Online, September 11, 2012, by Daniel Pipes*:
Last week saw a dispute over Jerusalem at the Democratic National Convention that, in the context of similar incidents, provides an important insight into the party's covert distancing of itself from Israel.
The story broke on Sept. 4, when the Washington Free Beacon reported that "Jerusalem is unmentioned" in the 2012 Democratic Party platform. This made news because, since it became U.S. law in 1995 that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel," every platform of both major U.S. parties has reiterated this point. The Republican platform this year, for example, refers to "Israel with Jerusalem as its capital."
Responses to the Democrats' silence came swiftly: Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post called it "the most radically unsupportive statement of policy on Israel by any major party since the founding of the state of Israel." Nathan Diament of the (Jewish) Orthodox Union found it "extremely disappointing." Paul Ryan called the omission "tragic." Mitt Romney (who referred to "Jerusalem, the capital of Israel" recently while standing in Jerusalem itself) rued that the entire Democratic Party embraced Obama's "shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."
Democrats acted no less swiftly. The next day, Sept. 5, delegates at the Democratic National Convention were told that "President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and our party's platform should as well." Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked them, by voice vote, to approve by 2-to-1 an amendment to the platform along these lines, as well as another amendment.

DNC Parliamentarian Helen T. McFadden instructed Villaraigosa, "You've got to rule and then you've got to let them do what they're going to do." Right before he begins to speak, she repeats her order: "Rule!"

Then, in the only unscripted moment of the convention, the nays resounded as loudly, if not more loudly, than the ayes. A puzzled looking Villaraigosa asked for a second voice vote and got the same result. As he appeared unsure what to do, Parliamentarian Helen T. McFadden approached and instructed him, "You've got to rule and then you've got to let them do what they're going to do." Dutifully, he asked for a third vote. Again, the nays at least matched the ayes. But this time Villaraigosa read his teleprompter instructions and stated that "in the opinion of the chair, two-thirds having voted in the affirmative, the motion is adopted." Cheated of a victory, anti-Israel delegates booed.

The DNC teleprompter contained the phrase "in the opinion of the chair, two-thirds having voted in the affirmative …" meaning that, regardless of the actual voice vote, the convention chairman had orders to add Jerusalem to the party platform.

Harvard's Alan Dershowitz dismissed the boos as coming from "rogue elements." Sen. Charles Schumer (Democrat of New York) declared that "everyone knows" the "vast, overwhelming majority" of Democrats favor Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. In contrast, anti-Israel activist James Zogby declared victory for his side: "When I hear all the boos, … [it] means we're not isolated on the margins of American politics anymore." Which interpretation is right?
  • Dershowitz and Schumer are wrong to deny that anti-Israel forces are gaining ground in a party increasingly warm to Islamists and boasting a president whose understanding of the Middle East is, as the National Review puts it, "more Edward Said than Bernard Lewis." Fact is, party delegates split evenly on Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
  • But, contrary to Zogby, Obama's needing personally to intervene and change the platform signals how broadly the American public supports Israel and that coolness to Israel hurts in national elections. Anti-Israel boos coming from Democratic delegates will do damage with voters; tellingly, the Romney campaign plans to rebroadcast this incident - which the New York Sun rightly calls "the defining story of the [Democratic] convention" - in campaign ads.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, caught out fabricating twice last week on the topic of Israel.

The normal and moral thing would have been for Parliamentarian McFadden to have told Villaraigosa to rule the amendment defeated, rather than command him to miscount delegates and ram through the pro-Israel amendment.

Sadly, this public display of deceit fits into a larger pattern of Democratic Party duplicity vis-à-vis Israel.

Consider three items:
  • Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz last week accused the Washington Examiner of "deliberately" misquoting her about the Israeli ambassador having said Republicans are "dangerous for Israel"; in fact, she lied twice - fabricating the ambassador's statement and then denying what she had said about him.
  • A National Jewish Democratic Council video, "What Do Israelis Think of Obama?" actually doctored anti-Obama statements by Israelis, making them into pro-Obama ones.
  • The White House re-labeled picture captions a year ago to remove their use of an offending phrase, namely "Jerusalem, Israel."
Democrats pretend to be pro-Israel (for electoral reasons) even as they cool to the Jewish state (for ideological reasons). Their distortions are becoming increasingly ineffectual, blatant, and squalid.
Sep. 11, 2012 updates: (1) Compounding two of the deceits above, asked on CNN about the amendment debacle, Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisted on their being only "a smattering of opposition." Someone get her a hearing aid, quick.
(2) Another example of distortion, though this one tied to Americans for Peace Now, not the Democratic Party: Lara Friedman, the head of APN, just sent out a jaw-dropping fundraising appeal. On the cover one finds this quote: "Sometimes the [George] Zimmermans of the world turn out to be Jewish and/or Israeli. Their actions bring shame to all of us and are a stain on our community, our religion, and the Jewish state." (The whole analysis can be found in a July article by Friedman, "Where's the Shame?") Phyllis Chesler dissects this outrage in "Lara's Lies - Or How Peace Now Sees the IDF."
*Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Israel's population nears 8 million

From Ynet, 11 Sept 2012, by Yaron Drukman:
Data published Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reveals that on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5773 (2012), the population of Israel numbers approximately 7,933,200– with 5,978,600 Jews, 1,636,600 Arabs, and approximately 318,000 persons categorized as "others".
In addition, there are some 203,000 foreign workers currently living in Israel.
...In 2011, the rate of growth of the Jewish population was 1.8% (similar to previous years), of the Arab population – 2.4% (a decrease from 3.4% during 1996–2000)...
The rate of growth of the Moslem population was 2.5%, of the Christian population – 1.3%, and of the Druze population – 1.7%.
...In 2011, the proportion of natively born Israelis in the population continued to show an increasing trend, and their number reached about 4.3 million persons, who comprise approximately 55.8% of the total population in Israel.
The proportion of those born in Israel among the Jewish population and "Others" has increased consistently since the establishment of the State of Israel. Native born Israelis constituted 35% of total Jews at the time of the State's establishment, compared with 73.0% of total Jews at the end of 2011.
...In 2011, an increasing trend in the average number of children for Jewish women continued; it was estimated at 2.98 children per woman (compared with 2.97 in 2010).
This is the highest level recorded since 1977. A slight increase in the number of children per woman was recorded also among Christian women, from 2.14 in 2010 to 2.19 in 2011, as well as among women without a religious classification – from 1.64 to 1.75.
Meanwhile, the average number of children for Moslem women continued a downward trend and reached 3.51 children per woman in 2011 (a decrease from 3.75 in 2010). The average number of children for Druze women also continued in a downward trend and reached 2.33 children per woman in 2011, a decrease from 2.48 in 2010....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

US has no right to stop Israel acting on Iran

From JPost, 11 Sept 2012, by Herb Keinon:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that ...
"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines in front of Iran, don't have a moral right to put a red light in front of Israel...."
"So far we can say with certainty that diplomacy and sanctions have not worked ...The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy, but have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program. That is a fact."
The comments came in response to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments that the United States will not set a deadline for Iran, and that negotiations remain "by far" the best option for stopping its nuclear program.
...Netanyahu reiterated his position that diplomacy and sanctions have not yielded concrete results.
"The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs...If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference toward nuclear capability and nuclear bombs....The world tells Israel 'Wait, there is still time.' And I say 'Wait for what? Wait until when?'" ...

..."Your words on not setting red lines for the Iranians are are a slap in the face to the State of Israel," [MK Danny] Danon wrote in an urgent dispatch to Clinton.
"This irresponsibility in handing the Iranian issue is dangerous to the Western world. On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there is a need to issue clear lines to the Iranians, who are threatening the entire Western world," he continued.
Danon is in Washington promoting his new book, Israel: The Will to Prevail, which is highly critical of US President Barack Obama....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Canada denounces Iran as "the most significant threat to global peace"

Canada announced on Friday (7/9/2012) that it is closing down its embassy in Iran, and has also expelled all Iranian diplomats from the country.
"Canada has closed it's embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared persona non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomates in Canada," states Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in a press release, which later further explains that "Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended. All Canadian diplomatic staff have left Iran, and Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been instructed to leave within five days."
Baird expressed a robust and unwavering Canadian government stance on Iran: "Canada's position on the regime in Iran is well known. Canada views the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."
The Canadian Foreign Minister then went on to list the assorted dangerous rogue behaviours of the Iranian regime: "The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide; it is among the world's worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups, requiring the Government of Canada to formally list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. Moreover, the Iranian regime has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel. Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran."
The Canadian government's decision was positively received by opposition MPs such as former Attorney-General Prof. Irwin Cotler, co-Chair of the Interparliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran and International Chair of the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition, which published a report on "The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal, and Rights-Violating Iran."
Cotler stated that "The Canadian government's decision to close the Canadian Embassy in Iran - and expel Iranian diplomats from Canada - is as important for the reasons underlying the decision, as the decision itself," adding that "Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger to international peace and security manifested in the four-fold Iranian threat:
  • Iran is in standing violation of international law prohibiting nuclear weaponisation;
  • Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention;
  • Iran is a leading state-sponsor of international terrorism; and, finally,
  • Iran is engaged in the massive domestic repression of the rights of its own people."
Colter also mentioned other reasons underpinning the Canadian decision:
  • "Iran's complicity in Syria's atrocities;
  • Iran's complicity in assaults upon diplomats from Central Asia to Central America; and
  • the intimidation of Canadian-Iranians in Canada."...

US and Israel clocks on Iran are ticking at different paces

From the TIMES OF ISRAEL, September 10, 2012, by RON FRIEDMAN and STAFF:
The US will not set deadlines for Iran and still considers negotiations and sanctions the best way to halt it from developing nuclear weapons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday.
The comments were sure to disappoint Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week welcomed reports that the US was considering setting out “red lines” which, if crossed by Iran, would trigger US military action.
...Clinton told Bloomberg, “We’re not setting deadlines.”
“We’re watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words,” Clinton said in an interview following visits to China and Russia, where she spoke with leaders of both countries to seek cooperation on Iran.
Clinton said China and Russia share the US’s view that Iran must be stopped from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
...Last week, after the New York Times reported that the administration was considering setting out certain red lines that, if crossed by Iran in its nuclear drive, would trigger a resort to military force, Netanyahu welcomed the idea. “The greater the resolve and the clearer the red line, the less likely we’ll have conflict,” he said.
A report on Israel’s Channel 10 news last week went so far as to assert that Israel would not attack Iran this year if President Barack Obama sets out his “red lines” and offers certain other promised assurances to Netanyahu at a meeting between the two tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 27... when Netanyahu will be in New York to address the UN General Assembly.
...US ...Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ...met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv on Thursday. After their talks, Barak said the US and Israel “face the same challenge [on Iran] but the clocks are ticking at different paces.” He said “Israel reserves the right to make sovereign decisions. The US respects this. Israel and Israel alone will take the decisions that affect its future and its security.”
Clinton [said] that while the two countries share the goal that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon, there is a difference in perspective with the Israelis over the time horizon for talks.
“They’re more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they’re right in the bull’s-eye, so to speak,” Clinton said. “But we’re convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good-faith negotiation.”
...“They feel that it would be an existential threat if Iran were a nuclear-weaponized state, and no nation can abdicate their self-defense if they feel that they’re facing such a threat,” she said.
At the same time, Clinton said Israel has supported the Obama administration’s effort to unite the international community behind the toughest sanctions ever....

Monday, September 10, 2012

What "Red Line" on Iran?

From INSS Insight No. 369, September 9, 2012, by Asculai, Ephraim: ...The issue [of “red lines”] is now resurfacing as part of a proposed understanding between the US administration and Israel, with the intention of lowering the tension between them.
The main point of contention is that Israel assesses that Iran has already gone far enough with its nuclear weapons development program to produce them at will, while the US administration thinks that there is time enough for a “diplomatic solution” to this issue.
The US also assesses that it will know well in advance if the Iranians are “breaking out” and starting the relatively short route towards the production of nuclear weapons. ...
There are two implicit assumptions here:
  • the first is that the US intelligence system is infallible, and
  • the second is that the IAEA inspectors would discover an Iranian “breakout” in time to sound a reliable warning.
The problem is that Israel does not share these assumptions, and indeed, both are difficult to embrace.
  • Intelligence is not infallible, as history has shown, and
  • the IAEA is very limited in its observational powers, especially in Iran.
Reliance on intelligence can lead to overconfidence and misread facts, and the stakes, at least for Israel, are too high for that.
...The fact that the US has maintained that there is still time for a diplomatic solution may also imply that the US has not issued any warning or even an ultimatum to Iran...
Thus, the talk of setting red lines seems to be little more than a method of dousing the public disagreements between the governments of Israel and the US, at least until after the elections. The Iran issue, however, will only grow more and more serious – and less reversible – as time goes on.

Does Germany Still Want Its Jews?

Charlotte Knobloch was president of the Council of Jews in Germany from 2006 until 2010.
Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote a stinging editorial on Wednesday attacking the circumcision debate, calling talk of a Jewish revival a sham and wondering whether she was right to spend her adult life defending Germany.
Germany has been debating the rights and wrongs of circumcising infant boys ever since a German court ruled in June that the ritual, a core part of the Jewish religion, was unlawful.
Now Charlotte Knobloch, 79, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has had enough. In a furious editorial published on Wednesday in one of the country's top newspapers, Süddeutsche Zeitung, she said the controversy was calling the existence of Germany's small Jewish community into question and asked:
"Do you still want us Jews?
"For 60 years I have defended Germany as a survivor of the Shoah. Now I ask myself if that was right," she wrote. Knobloch is president of the Munich Jewish community and vice president of the World Jewish Congress.
The verdict by a court in Cologne, though extremely limited in its scope, was denounced by Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders as a serious intrusion on religious freedom. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany risked becoming a "laughing stock" if Jews were not allowed to practice their rituals.
In July, the lower house of parliament passed a resolution to protect religious circumcision and the government has promised a new law to make clear that doctors or families will not be prosecuted for carrying out the procedure.
Foundations of Jewish Religion 'Dragged Through the Mud'
But the debate has gone on. Doctors and politicians have weighed in, warning about supposed health risks and infringements of infants' rights.
"It didn't occur to me even in my nightmares that I should have to ask myself the question ahead of my 80th birthday whether I was allowed to survive the murder of the Jews to have to witness this," wrote Knobloch.
Born in Munich in 1932, she survived the Holocaust because a former employee of her uncle's, Kreszentia Hummel, took her in and pretended she was her illegitimate daughter. Knobloch's father survived the Holocaust as a forced laborer. Her grandmother was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Her mother was not Jewish and her parents had got divorced in 1936.
Knobloch wrote that circumcision was at the core of Jewish identity. "The zeal with which the self-appointed are unfeelingly and thoughtlessly dragging our religious foundations through the mud is unequalled. People who apparently have no idea of the religious significance of the Brit Mila (circucision ceremony) who presumably have never spoken to a Jew, now want to tell us whether and how we can follow our religion.
'Sham' Of a Flourishing Jewry
"I don't want to go on bearing that silently. Not after all we Jews had to suffer in Germany," wrote Knobloch. "And I'm no longer prepared to go along with the sham in which people are talking about a new, fresh, flourishing Jewry in Germany, to give Germans the feeling that time can heal even the greatest conceivable wound. The fact is that German Jewry has never gotten over the Shoah. The few who survived it are marked and defined to this day by the absence of that Jewish life that existed at the start of the 20th century."
Knobloch said Jews in Germany had to put up with a lot: Nobel Laureate Günter Grass writing about the risks Israel posed to world peace, "obsessive world improvers" calling for boycotts of Israeli products, sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers, and the Prague Declaration in which "some civil rights activists equate the crimes of communism with that of the Holocaust.
She also mentioned attacks on Jews such as the assault on a rabbi in Berlin last month. She said German Jews had spent decades justifying their continued presence in Germany to their families and friends abroad.
"For six decades I have had to justify myself because I stayed in Germany -- as a remnant of a destroyed world, as a sheep among wolves," wrote Knobloch. "I always readily carried this burden because I was firmly convinced that this country and these people deserved it. For the first time my basic convictions are starting to shake. For the first time I feel resignation. I seriously ask if this country still wants us."