Friday, October 12, 2012

Attack on Israel Must End "Interfaith" Sham

From Commentary magazine, 10 Oct 2012, by Jonathan S. Tobin | @tobincommentary

For mainstream American Jewish groups, it has long been an article of faith that strong alliances with liberal Protestant denominations with whom they shared a common agenda on domestic issues is integral to the safeguarding of the security and the rights of the Jewish community. That has been tested in recent years, as some of their liberal Christian partners debated supporting efforts to boycott, divest and sanction the state of Israel. But the latest instance of liberal Christians attacking Israel ought to cut the cord completely.

As the Times of Israel and JTA report, the leaders of several of the leading American Protestant denominations and one small Catholic group have signed a letter calling for a congressional investigation whose purpose would be to end U.S. aid to Israel.

The letter alleges that Israel is involved in crimes that violate U.S. law that should prevent the sending of aid or arms to the Jewish state. These charges are a tissue of deceptions, distortions and outright lies that are the product of Palestinian propaganda. (Though some of it is supported by radical leftist Jewish groups like B’Tselem, whose leaders own ambivalence toward Zionism has been documented in COMMENTARY.) The main focus of the letter is to delegitimize Israeli self-defense and to ignore the reality of Palestinian intransigence and opposition to peace. However, the reaction of Jewish groups to this latest development should not be ambivalent. To its credit, the Anti-Defamation League has said it will withdraw from a national Jewish-Christian dialogue event. They should not be the only Jewish group to do so.

The point here is that the letter, as well as the divestment activities of some of these churches, is nothing less than a declaration of war on the Jewish state. So long as these religious groups dedicate themselves to promoting libels against Israel, denouncing the security fence that has saved countless lives from Palestinian terrorism and seeks to isolate Israel and cut it off from its only ally and source of military aid, business as usual between them and American Jewry must end.

Some Jews see such dialogue efforts as an end in itself, but this is a fallacy. Any interfaith program must be based on mutual respect and any church group that aligns itself with Israel’s enemies lacks respect for Jewish life. Dialogue on those terms is a sham.

That these church groups couch their letter in language that seeks to portray their efforts as those of “peacemakers” is all the more offensive. Far from promoting peace, these anti-Zionist clerics are actually fomenting violence by undermining Israeli defensive measures and thereby encouraging Palestinians to think they can succeed in isolating Israel.

The letter, signed by, among others, the leaders of the National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, United Methodist Church, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., the American Friends Service Committee, and other groups, including the Catholic Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, is also particularly vile since it seeks to extend the BDS movement from church investments to the instruments of American foreign policy. It is nothing less than a manifesto seeking to sever the U.S.-Israel alliance and therefore cast the still-besieged Jewish state adrift in a hostile region bent on its destruction.

That the groups should have sent the letter only days after Iran repeated its latest slanders and threats is ironic but no coincidence. Despite their protestations of a desire for peace and non-violence, these churches have been remarkably silent about the religious persecution going on in Iran. It is only little, democratic Israel that is beset by enemies seeking its destruction that attracts their passionate opposition.

It should be specified that in most cases, these positions are largely the work of a small group of left-wing activists that dominate the public affairs policy work of their churches.
Most rank-and-file members of Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist churches are, like most Americans, strong supporters of Israel and have little idea that this assault on Israel is being done in their name. But it is incumbent on them as well as other decent church leaders to denounce this letter and other BDS activities. Until they do, no American Jewish group should have any dealings with the signatories or the groups involved in this letter.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Switzerland: as "neutral" to Iran as it was to Nazi Germany

Critics slam Bern government after Geneva-based oil company Vitol sells millions of barrels of Iranian oil.
Photo: REUTERS/Tim Chong
The Swiss government’s refusal to adopt comprehensive EU sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and finance systems – and the disclosure in late September that the Swiss-based company Vitol bought and sold millions of barrels of Iranian oil — has prompted concern from the US Embassy in Bern and sharp criticism from Israeli, US and Swiss experts.
“It is truly shameful that the Swiss government continues to help Iran evade EU sanctions as the regime in Tehran continues its march toward nuclear weapons, denies the Holocaust, threatens its neighbors and oppresses its people,”
Josh Block, a former Clinton administration official who was recently named CEO of The Israel Project, an American pro-Israel organization based in Washington, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Thursday.
The Geneva-based Vitol — the world’s largest oil trader — skirted sanctions and “bought 2 million barrels of fuel oil, used for power generation, from Iran and offered it to Chinese traders,” Reuters reported late last month.

Alexander Daniels, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Bern, wrote the Post on Thursday, “We are aware of reports that Vitol may have traded Iranian fuel oil ... We have heard reports that oil-trading company Vitol may have been involved in a fuel oil deal with Iran.”
Daniels added that “Vitol has acknowledged one transaction in July 2012 and issued a statement on September 26, saying that the company will ‘no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin.’ While we continue to look into all possible sanctionable activities, we welcome Vitol’s commitment to cease transactions with Iran, a commitment that is in line with that made by many other companies and governments throughout the world.”
Jonathan Kreutner, general secretary of Switzerland’s 18,000-member Jewish community, wrote to the Post on Thursday; “In contrast to the EU, the Swiss have not prohibited oil trade and its financing” with Iran, rather the Swiss government has only made registering such trade obligatory.
“We expect from the Swiss government that the Swiss will completely adopt the enhanced EU sanction measures, and freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank located in Swiss banks as the EU decided,” Kreutner said.
He continued, “We are of the opinion that only sharp sanctions against Iran can prevent an escalation in the Middle East.
Moreover, we are concerned that foreign subsidiaries of Swiss firms could undermine sanction measures.
We, therefore, call on the Swiss Bundesrat [Federal Council, the seven-member collective head of state] to extend the existing Swiss sanction measures toward Iran to foreign subsidiaries of Swiss firms.”
As a non-member of the European Union, Switzerland is not required to follow EU sanctions.
Marie Avet, a spokeswoman for the Swiss Economic Ministry, told the Post, however, that Switzerland has implemented a large part of the EU penalties against Iran from the January and March, 2012, EU sanction rounds.
Avet wrote that Vitol confirmed to the ministry that its “Geneva office was not involved in the business, rather it was a subsidiary in Bahrain.” She said that Swiss sanctions are not applicable to subsidiary companies of Swiss enterprises.
Asked about the October 15 EU sanctions against Iran, Avet said that “Switzerland will decide in due time whether the new sanctions will be adopted.”
The spokeswoman said Switzerland decided not to sanction Iran’s Central Bank because of its importance for the Iranian economy. The Obama administration sanctioned the Central Bank in February because of its “deceptive practices” within the context of Iran using banks to finance its nuclear weapons program.
Tommy Steiner, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, told the Post on Thursday,
“The incident involving the Vitol Group reveals that there are still not insignificant loopholes in the international sanctions regime that the international community must urgently address also through applying pressure on the Swiss government. But not less importantly, the story also reveals the effectiveness of the sanctions regime by demonstrating how difficult it is for Iran to market its oil on the international markets. I find it striking what maneuvering the Iranians were compelled to undertake to unload 2 million barrels of oil.”
...Block said the overall Swiss position toward sanctions shows they are continuing their behavior during World War II.
Just like they continued to trade with Nazi Germany as that heinous regime slaughtered Jews and terrorized the people of Europe, by aiding Iran today the Swiss government embarrasses its people and itself,” he said.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who is the REAL the enemy of the Arabs?

Description: Click HereFrom Arab News, Saturday 6 October 2012, by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim:
Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.
I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.
The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized.
The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list.
The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.
These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people.
In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?
On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel was declared. And just one day after that, on May 15, 1948 the Arabs declared war on Israel to get back Palestine. The war ended on March 10, 1949. It lasted for nine months, three weeks and two days. The Arabs lost the war and called this war Nakbah (catastrophic war). The Arabs gained nothing and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
And on 1967, the Arabs led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdul Nasser, went in war with Israel and lost more Palestinian land and made more Palestinian refugees who are now on the mercy of the countries that host them. The Arabs called this war Naksah (upset). The Arabs never admitted defeat in both wars and the Palestinian cause got more complicated. And now, with the never ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinians refugees or Palestinian cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attacks from their own forces.
Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them. It is the Syrian Air Force which is dropping the bombs. And now, Iraqi Arab Muslims, most intelligent brains, are leaving Iraq for the est. In Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.
Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.

Obama exposed, and foreign policy is still to be debated.

From the Toronto Sun, 5 Oct 2012, by Michael Coren:

What a sheer bloody joy it was to see Barack Obama, peace be upon him, exposed as the mediocre, media-inflated, self-important regional politician he so obviously is.
...In spite of the massive amounts of media spin and Hollywood slander.... in spite of Obama’s blatant dishonesty, Mitt Romney looked the ...mature and responsible adult a petulant and angry child.
Perhaps the most startling moment of the debate was when Romney told Obama: “Listen, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. The idea that you get a break for taking jobs overseas is simply not the case.”
Obama was suddenly the community organizer playing with the big boys. He lowered his head, looked scared and tired, was clearly in enormous trouble.
Beyond Romney’s electoral gains after the debate, remember foreign policy is still to come, and that should leave the president drowning in a sea of accusations.
  • Why did he joke and laugh with donors hours after a U.S. ambassador had been murdered?
  • Why did he tell us a movie had caused that murder when he knew it was a planned terror attack?
  • Why has he insisted on apologizing to an Islamic world that sees compromise as weakness?
  • Why has he not supported foreign liberation movements in Iran that look to Washington for help, but aided revolutionaries in the Middle East who despise the United States?
  • Does he realize that his policies have increased the chances of war between Iran and Israel?
  • Does he know that Russia feels more enabled under him than it did under President Bush?
  • Why do allies in Europe and Asia feel betrayed?
There are only so many ways and so many times you can tell people, “Yes we can,” when four years have shown, beyond doubt, that no, you can’t. domestic and foreign policy ...Obama is a flickering shadow.
This may have been the worst defeat of an incumbent in the history of presidential debates. Challengers have been ripped apart in the past — nobody got the better of Ronald Reagan — but never has a sitting president done so badly. You know you’re in trouble when even your buddies in media and entertainment can’t joke and lie you out of defeat...

Are US and Israel preparing a surgical strike on Iran?

From Foreign Policy, 8 Oct 2012, by DAVID ROTHKOPF:

In Mitt Romney's "Hope Is Not a Strategy" speech at the Virginia Military Institute, the Republican challenger zeroed in on the current unrest in the Middle East as a sign that President Barack Obama's foreign policy is not working....
[Important] to the Republican critique of Obama is Romney's assessment that Obama's efforts to reverse Iran's course toward gaining nuclear weapons have been unsuccessful. ...hours before the speech was delivered, ... Romney foreign-policy advisor Dan Senor suggested ...that Obama effectively had to be dragged against his will toward tougher sanctions on Iran -- the same tough sanctions for which the administration is now regularly taking credit because they have started to work.
Senor noted that both Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg pushed back against bipartisan congressional support for the sanctions out of concern that they would have unintended negative consequences for the U.S. and global economies.
A centerpiece of the Romney campaign's argument that Obama has not been tough enough on Iran is that the president has not offered a credible military threat against the Iranians. ...some of the president's supporters have told me privately they wonder about his commitment and that of the U.S. military to taking action against Iran.
.... the public bickering with the Israelis suggested that the United States was dragging its feet and that the Israelis might be forced to act alone precisely because they did not expect to get U.S. support.
Despite the public histrionics in the run-up to the U.N. General Assembly meetings, both White House and Israeli officials assert that the two sides behind the scenes have come closer together in their views in recent days. While there may not be exact agreement on what constitutes a "red line" -- a sign of Iranian progress toward the development of nuclear weapons that would trigger military action -- the military option being advocated by the Israelis is considerably more limited and lower risk than some of those that have been publicly debated.
Indeed, according to a source close to the discussions, the action that participants currently see as most likely is a joint U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities. The strike might take only "a couple of hours" in the best case and only would involve a "day or two" overall, the source said, and would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support. Advocates for this approach argue that not only is it likely to be more politically palatable in the United States but, were it to be successful -- meaning knocking out enrichment facilities, setting the Iranian nuclear program back many years, and doing so without civilian casualties -- it would have regionwide benefits. One advocate asserts it would have a "transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come."
While this approach would limit the negative costs associated with more protracted interventions, it could not be conducted by the Israelis acting alone. To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others....