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In the past week, rumblings have occurred that the U.S. might sanction Israel on account of its settlements. Former national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes that while such sanctions will never happen, the mere mention of them empowers international anti-Israel sentiment:
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There were several news stories over the last week suggesting that the Obama administration is considering some form of sanctions against Israel to punish it for “settlement construction.” One story, in the Washington Free Beacon, was typical in noting reports that the administration “is considering imposing sanctions on Israel for continuing construction on Jewish homes in Jerusalem.” Ha’aretz, the Israeli newspaper, headlined its story “U.S. mulls harsher action against settlement construction.”
At first glance this is all incomprehensible. Congress would never permit such sanctions against Israel and would act to block them …
So what could possibly be the administration’s goal in “mulling” sanctions and seeing such stories appear in the press?
Simple: giving a signal to Europe. The debate is hot and heavy in Europe right now about sanctions, BDS, and recognition of a Palestinian state. There is no way for the administration to intervene in that debate on the anti-Israel side–except these news stories suggesting how angry it is at the government of Israel. That support for Israel in Congress means no such sanctions are possible would not deter the Europeans; in fact it would spur them on to do what they might believe the president would do if he only could get past the “Israel lobby.”
It’s possible that even in Europe the energy behind such moves will diminish now, as Israeli elections near. But news stories about mulling of sanctions in Washington will always give additional ideas and energy to anti-Israel forces. The White House should make it crystal clear that it is considering no such action, was never considering such action, and believes that such sanctions are wrong and harmful.
Thursday, December 11th, 2014 at 8:31 AM | Stand For Israel
This week, it was decided that Israel will hold new elections in March 2015 – elections that will shape the next Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. In order to better understand the Jewish state’s system of government, our wonderful friends at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., have provided an online guide to elections in Israel. While this guide was designed for the 2013 elections, it is an invaluable resource for information on how the Israeli election process works:
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Elections in Israel are based on nationwide proportional representation. The Knesset is elected directly by the voters, not through a body of electors. Knesset elections are based on a vote for a party, rather than for individuals …
The number of seats a party receives in the Knesset is proportional to the number of votes that party receives.
The Knesset is elected for a four-year term, although most governments have not served a full term and early elections are a frequent occurrence. Israel has a multi-party system based on coalition governments as no party has ever won a majority of seats in a national election.
Friday, December 5th, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Stand For Israel
The shaky ceasefire in Ukraine – between the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russian separatists from the nation’s east – continues. Even so, shelling and fighting continues to kill innocent civilians. The World Tribune reports that Ukraine is now asking Israel and the United States for military assistance during this time of chaos and turmoil:
Ukraine has reached out to Israel military for discussions on military training as it faces an unremitting challenge from Moscow-backed rebels.
Officials said Kiev has invited Israel to provide training for Ukraine’s military and security forces. They said Israel could provide expertise in the field of counter-insurgency and special forces.
“We have started to learn about the Israeli experience in greater detail, and we will invite Israeli instructors just as we invite American instructors,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleh Mahnitskiy said.
The Fellowship continues to aid the troubled and displaced Jewish communities of Ukraine. Learn how you, too, can help with our upcoming emergency airlift that will help hundreds of Ukrainian Jews make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).Comments (0) »
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Stand For Israel
Last week, Stand for Israel looked at the (sadly) unsurprising links between Hamas and the United Nations’ UNRWA agency. Now former U.S. national security adviser Elliott Abrams looks at the United States’ responsibility to investigate and fix these ties between the U.N. and the Gaza-based terror organization:
This month the Department of State published its “Framework for Cooperation Between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the Government of the United States of America for 2015″ …
The Framework might as well be legally binding, for all the reforms it demands of UNRWA.
What reforms might one seek?
Think about the discoveries of last summer, during the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas. July 17: 20 rockets found in a vacant UNRWA school. July 22: more rockets found in another UNRWA school. July 30: rockets found in an UNRWA school for the third time. Nor was that all. In the first case, it seems that Hamas was called upon to remove the rockets, which suggested that UNRWA was turning them back over to Hamas rather than seizing them or asking the UN for help. In the 2012 employee union elections, 25 of 27 seats apparently went to Hamas supporters. (This may make it slightly less mysterious why Hamas can hide rockets at UNRWA locations. And here is a more recent report of support for terrorism by UNRWA staff.) Finally, there was this moment during last summer’s war: “Three IDF soldiers were killed on Wednesday in Gaza in an explosion at a booby-trapped UNRWA health clinic that housed the opening of a tunnel….”
Here are some ideas for those regular bilateral consultations in 2015: No more business as usual. Thorough, independent investigations of each rocket incident. An investigation of the health clinic incident. An investigation of the influence of Hamas on UNRWA staff, and through that staff and its union on UNRWA schools and…Read More » Comments (5) »
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 at 8:34 AM | Stand For Israel
As the deadline for an agreement between the United States and other world powers on Iran’s nuclear program was extended, we’ve been keeping an eye on global reactions to the situation – American, Israeli, and otherwise. The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz reports that 69% of Americans oppose a deal that would allow Iran – which they consider the greatest threat to the U.S. – to obtain nuclear capabilities:
More than two-thirds of Americans oppose a deal with Iran that would allow it to maintain nuclear weapons capabilities, according to a new survey by American political strategist Frank Luntz. Americans are also overwhelmingly mistrustful of Iran, and consider it to be the country that poses the greatest threat to the United States …
… an overwhelming majority of Americans believe the Iranians are stalling rather than negotiating in good faith, and that the regime in Tehran cannot be relied upon to honor any accord it may reach.
More broadly, Americans overwhelmingly feel the world to be less safe today than 10 years ago, and believe America is weaker today than it was 10 years ago …
The survey also showed 62% of Americans consider that Iran is an enemy of the US, while 37% consider it neutral, and 1% consider it an ally. It found that 73% of Americans consider that Iran is an enemy of Israel, while 25% consider it neutral, and 1% consider it an ally.
A staggering 81% of respondents do not believe the current government in Iran can be trusted to keep agreements, compared to 5% who think it can be trusted. And an even more overwhelming 85% do not believe the Iranians’ assertions that their nuclear program is peaceful, as compared to 8% who do.
“When it comes to Iran, the Israeli prime minister is closer to the American people than the US president,” Luntz said of the findings. This was a reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for any deal with Iran to provide for the dismantling of Iran’s entire nuclear…Read More » Comments (6) »
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at 8:36 AM | Stand For Israel
In yesterday’s Daily Dispatch, we noted that the deadline for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was extended until July, with meetings expected to resume next month. Writing at Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum says that while world powers declare that we are closer to world safety, Iran is openly stating that it is closer to something much different and more sinister:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
”Today we are closer to a deal that will make our partners like Israel and the Gulf states safer,” he said. “We now see a path for solving issues that until now were intractable.”
Responding to this turn of events at a forum in Tehran on the same day, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari expressed satisfaction.
”The Americans have very clearly surrendered to Iran’s might,” he said. “[Which] is obvious in their behavior in the region and in the negotiations.”
He then pointed to the fact that Iran is arming Hezbollah and Hamas with heavy weaponry for the purpose of defeating Israel and attaining a “final victory” over the West.
Jafari was referring to hundreds of Fateh missiles — with 160- to 220-mile ranges and the ability to carry 1,100-pound warheads — whose transfer was announced over the weekend by Revolutionary Guard Aerospace Force Brig. Gen. Seyed Majid Moussavi.
”Our strategic guiding principle is … to allow the resistance groups to deal with the bloodthirsty Zionist regime,” Moussavi told Iran’s Fars news agency.
This is in keeping with the nine-point plan for Israel’s destruction tweeted earlier this month by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It also jibes with Khamenei’s anti-Israel and anti-American speeches surrounding the celebration of the Nov. 4, 1979, takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Islamic revolutionaries who had ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and ushered…Read More » Comments (5) »
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 8:30 AM | Stand For Israel
News from Washington, D.C., this morning is that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is resigning his position under pressure. The Times of Israel reports sources have said the resignation is due to Hagel’s handling of the fight with the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria:
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is to resign under pressure on Monday, The New York Times reported.
Senior administration officials who spoke with The New York Times said the decision to replace Hagel stems from the belief that he lacks the necessary skills to manage the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.“The next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” an official told The New York Times.
Hagel, a former Republican senator, has served as Pentagon chief since early 2013. Obama is expected to announce the resignation Monday …
Before he assumed office in the Pentagon, Hagel was known as a critic of Israel and of American policy toward the Jewish state. He criticized the Bush administration in 2002 for refusing to meet with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and rebuked Israel for not engaging in negotiations with an Arafat-led Palestinian Authority.
“Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace,” he wrote in the Washington Post at the time. “This does not mean giving up or limiting its right to self-defense against terrorism. But Palestinian reformers cannot promote a democratic agenda for change while both the Israeli military occupation and settlement activity continue.”
During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hagel broke party ranks by calling for an immediate unilateral ceasefire by both Israel and Hezbollah.
“The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now,” the then-senator from Nebraska said. “President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop.”
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, was also an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Iraq, and rebuked his party’s approval…Read More » Comments (1) »
Monday, November 24th, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Stand For Israel
Three of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Jerusalem held American citizenship. Now, The Times of Israel reports, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem warned other Americans to be safe and to make themselves “hard targets”:
The United States Consulate in Jerusalem said in a security message to Americans in Israel that the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday demonstrated “low-level coordination.”
The Har Nof synagogue attack, in which five Israelis were killed by two Palestinian terrorists, “differs from recent attacks, potentially demonstrating low-level coordination to attack a pre-identified soft target as opposed to an opportunistic random act of violence,” the consulate said in the message posted on its website and e-mailed to Americans registered with the consulate or State Department.
“While we cannot predict where and when attacks may take place, we have consistently seen a cycle of violence in East Jerusalem neighborhoods following incidents like the one today,” the consulate said.
The message came less than a day after the attack during morning prayer services. Three of the dead were dual American and Israeli citizens. The FBI reportedly is participating in the investigation of the attack.
The consulate’s message urged Americans in Israel to “make yourself a ‘harder target’ and raise your situational awareness” when visiting “soft targets” such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiable Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events, which the message said often have little or no security in place.
Even as we continue to pray for God’s comfort over those who lost loved ones and who were injured in yesterday’s attack – and other attacks in recent weeks – let us to ask for His protection over all who are in the Holy Land.Comments (0) »
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Stand For Israel
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, discusses today’s terror attack in Jerusalem, expressing gratitude for American condolences and outrage, while condemning the continued Palestinian incitement. Ambassador Dermer provides much insight on the historical and continued provocation of such terrorist activities, and says that the world must take a stand against such violence.Comments (2) »
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Stand for Israel
With three of the victims of today’s synagogue attack in Jerusalem, more American citizens have been killed by Palestinian terrorists in the past six weeks than by the Islamic State (ISIS) in the past six months. The Jerusalem Post reports on the rising American death toll in Jerusalem:
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Leaders across the Jewish world in the United States responded forcefully and in unison to the murder and maiming of praying rabbis in Jerusalem on Tuesday, reflecting on the religious nature of the terror attack.
No one superlative was sufficient to describe the horror these groups expressed, as images of bloodied meat cleavers and knives filtered through the internet throughout the morning hours.
Three Israeli-American rabbis were killed in the attack, as well as one Israeli-Briton. Several others were injured. The two perpetrators, identified as Palestinians from east Jerusalem, were also killed.
The number of American casualties in the latest wave of terror attacks throughout the city— which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “concentrated” effort on Tuesday— appears to have swelled anger in the Jewish community here. Of ten Israelis killed in a month so far in terror attacks, half have been identified as American.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Stand for Israel