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Sunday, 26 July 2015

U.S., Israel on collision course if Iran deal goes through

Netanyahu-stares-down-Obama-ap-640x480AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Iran deal is President Obama’s most important “legacy” achievement. He sees it as the key to his vision of a “new equilibrium” in the region. In the past, he has “preempted” Israel’s preemptive capacity by leaking Israeli attack plans. He may do worse in future–unless Congress defeats the Iran deal and denies him that mandate.


On his visit to Israel in March 2013, President Barack Obama backed Israel’s right to use force to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

At a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said: “…each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action, and Israel is differently situated than the United States. And I would not expect that the Prime Minister would make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any other country…”.

Now, in the wake of the Iran deal, the Obama administration is sending dramatically different signals.On the Today show Friday, Secretary of State Kerry said of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran: “That’d be an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don’t think it’s necessary.”

Kerry later tried to deflect concerns that the Iran deal requires world powers to secure Iran’s nuclear facilities, downplaying the chance those clauses could be interpreted as requiring the U.S. to defend Iran against Israel.

Yet faced with a choice between defending Israel and defending the Iran deal, it is become clear that under some circumstances, the Obama administration would choose the latter. That is a radically different position from the one Obama took in public just a short time before formal negotiations began.

True, if Israel were to attack Iran preemptively, it would not be the first time it had done so without U.S. backing. President Ronald Reagan condemned Israel’s attack against Iraq in 1981; George W. Bush said “no” to Israel’s 2007 strike against Syria.

But Obama’s new stance suggests something stronger than mere disapproval.

The Iran deal is President Obama’s most important “legacy” achievement. He sees it as the key to his vision of a “new equilibrium” in the region. In the past, he has “preempted” Israel’s preemptive capacity by leaking Israeli attack plans. He may do worse in future–unless Congress defeats the Iran deal and denies him that mandate.

If the deal holds, Israel may soon face the impossible choice of whether to risk America’s new interests for the sake of its own survival.

Israelis applauds Italy PM Renzi's remarks during Israel visit


Israelis applauded Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for his stirring expressions of support for Israel and the Italian-Israeli relationship during his three-day visit to the Jewish state.

"The security of Israel is the security of Europe," said Renzi at a press conference in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We stand on the side of a people who fight for the ideals of democracy and prosperity," he said. "There is not a right for Israel to exist. There is a duty for Israel to exist."

On rising anti-Semitism around the world, Renzi was clear in stating that "we are absolutely committed to continue the fight against anti-Semitism because it is really an enemy of peace and a key for terror."

Addressing the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, Renzi was clear that Israel's existence is beyond question. "Recognizing Israel means recognizing reality," said Renzi. "The existence of the State of Israel is not a gesture of the international community after the Holocaust, but a fact that predates any international agreement by hundreds of years."

The Italian premier also criticized the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement: "Whoever boycotts Israel does not realize that he is boycotting himself, betraying the future. Italy will always stand at the forefront of cooperation, never of boycott. It is stupid and futile."

"Prime Minister Renzi's clear-eyed, principled remarks, at this time, are a powerful reaffirmation of Italian-Israeli relations and a model for other nations," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

"When it comes to Israel, there simply cannot be any equivocating. That's a key message conveyed by Italy's Prime Minister," he said.

Ex-chief of Israel's military intelligence Amos Yadlin briefly detained at London airport

Amos Yadlin was part of a delegation from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, where he is currently the director. 

LONDON (EJP)---The former chief of Israel’s military intelligence Amos Yadlin was briefly detained by British immigration officers at London’s Heathrow airport earlier this week, the Israeli media reported.

The incident occurred when Yadlin landed in the British capital as part of a delegation from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, where he is currently the director. He was held along with former Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Dan Halutz, former minister Gideon Saar and former head of Israel’s National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror.

Although Yadlin was quickly allowed to enter the country, the reasons for the initial hold-up are still unclear.

“We were part of a INSS delegation for dialogue in the U.K,'' Yadlin told Channel 2 television. 

“Everyone passed through passport control, but they delayed me for ten minutes. They probably had something on their computer they wanted to check,” he said.

Yadlin added that the British officials “did not say or explain anything, and after ten minutes they sent me on my way.” He said he was “detained for a few minutes, asked a few questions, but went on as usual.”

Yadlin has had a long and storied career in Israel’s political and defense establishment. He holds the rank of Major General in the Israeli Air Force, was formerly the IDF’s military attache to Washington, D.C., and has served as the head of IDF Military Intelligence (AMAN).

He was the Zionist Union's candidate to be Defense Minister during the last election

Last month, the British government refused an Israeli request to grant immunity from arrest to former Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, who arrived in London. However, Mofaz faced no problems upon his arrival.

According to Channel 2, the measures may well be related to war crimes charges filed against Israelis in international tribunals and the International Criminal Court.

Learning to tolerate Judaism in Kazakhstan

Learning to tolerate Judaism in Kazakhstan 

While covering the Fifth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana recently, The Jakarta Post visited the Beit Rachel synagogue. Beit Rachel is the largest house of Judaic worship in Central Asia.

Kazakhstani Rabbi chief Yeshaya Cohen expressed his appreciation for the government for its support of the local Jewish community. Such support included facilitating the development of the synagogue, and in the present day, working to strengthen religious tolerance between Muslims and Jews.

B✡B ✿⊹⊱╮

Friday, 24 July 2015

Award-Winning American Jewish Author E.L. Doctorow Dies at 84

American Jewish author E.L. Doctorow via/YouTube

(JNS). Award-winning American Jewish author E.L. Doctorow died Tuesday at age 84 due to complications from lung cancer, his son Richard Doctorow told the New York Times.

Doctorow wrote a dozen novels, three volumes of short fiction, and one stage drama. His most well-known written works were fictional historical novels such as “Ragtime,” “Billy Bathgate,” and “The March.” He also wrote essays and commentary on literature and politics.

“The distinguished characteristic of E. L. Doctorow’s work is its double vision. In each of his books he experiments with the forms of fiction, working for effects that others haven’t already achieved; in each he develops a tone, a structure and a texture that he hasn’t used before. At the same time, he’s a deeply traditional writer, reworking American history, American literary archetypes, even exhausted subliterary genres. It’s an astonishing performance, really,” wrote literary critic Peter S. Prescott in Newsweek in 1984.

On Twitter, President Barack Obama called Doctorow “one of America’s greatest novelists.”

“His books taught me much, and he will be missed,” Obama said, citing “Ragtime” as his favorite Doctorow novel.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Netanyahu's Childhood Letters with Fallen Hero Revealed

Benyamin Netanyahu was always serious as a young man, intense, and a strong debater. Young men like that are usually loners and can’t find other boys their age with compatible qualities or interests.

Yoni (center) with his brothers Benjamin (left) and Ido

In a recent article in Ynet, it was revealed that Netanyahu, who missed his high-school graduation to enlist in the IDF for the ’67 war, had such a friend, but he was tragically killed in the Yom Kippur War, three months after Yoni Netanyahu was killed at Entebbe.

A fascinating glimpse into the psyche of the emerging leader is given by a pack of letters written by his friend, Ariel Barzilay. Netanyahu returned the letters to Barzilay’s mother three years after his death, in 1976, after he found them while searching for letters from his brother, Yoni. He attached a letter to the gift.

“Dear Tova,” Netanyahu wrote. “While searching for Yoni’s letters, I found this letter from Ariel. Clearly now, more than ever, the value of these traces is clear to me – because apart from memories and letters, there is so little left that can be passed on to other, so that they will also know. And it’s important for Roee to get to know Ariel and draw power and inspiration from him, just like it’s important for me that my children will get to know, really know, my brother Yoni. All the best, Bibi.”

The pack of letters sat in her attic for decades, passing to her daughter, Anat Keinan, when she passed away.

Anat explained why she had not revealed the letters earlier.

“It was difficult for us to deal with it. My mother and I would open a box, read a letter and shed a tear. That’s why we also couldn’t deal with commemoration evenings and events. When you see the pictures, you understand what a special group they were. Bibi and Beller and Ariel were attached to each other in the summer. When we marked 30 years since Ariel was killed, Bibi was supposed to come and in the end it was too complicated security-wise, so he called me and we spoke about Ariel a bit.”

“Throughout the years, I said that I don’t want to close this circle. Something in me said that I want to leave this channel open all the time. After the 30th anniversary event in Ariel’s memory, I was all shaken up. I was in a terrible storm of emotions after that evening. I am a teacher and I remember walking to school so I could cry. It was very difficult.”

This year, as part of the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Anat found a picture of Ariel and his friends from 1965 in one of the museum’s exhibitions. It led her to open up about the pictures.

An old, black-and-white  photo shows a group of friends, including Uzi Beller, now know as Professor Beller, who introduced Netanyahu to his friend, Barzilay.

“Bibi was a friend of mine from elementary school,” says Beller. “He and his family moved to the US, and in the summers he would live in my house and I would take him to the Scouts camp to hang out with the guys. That’s how he met his first wife, and that’s how Ariel got to know him too.”

“Ariel was a very positive person. He had charisma which couldn’t be ignored. It’s true that we were all successful, but there was something very charismatic, serious and responsible about Ariel.”

The group went on to high-school together, but Benyamin Netanyahu moved to Pennsylvania with his family. He stayed in touch, though, through writing letters.

In February 1967, Barzilay wrote to Netanyahu:

 “Memories… memories… remember… a lot to remember. We remember everything. It’s a bit strange and unpleasant to think that this is the last summer we could fool around and make a mess like animals and see ourselves as small children who are allowed to do anything. It’s a bit strange and unpleasant to know that at the end of this year we’ll be entering a harsh and fatal discipline of an army, efforts of a body we are not exactly familiar with. We won’t be allowed to do strange things, because they don’t befit a grownup person. We will have to be like everyone, with long trousers, polished shoes. No, no, it’s just unpleasant.

“To the last word, this was written yesterday, on Friday evening, until my girlfriend arrived and we went to a party. Today it’s Saturday morning. I am starting to study for an exam in analytical engineering. There was a party at Fefferman’s. It was great. I will conclude here. It’s raining outside, it’s February, I must go study. So long, Ariel.”

On September 20, 1965, Netanyahu wrote a letter to Ariel from the US:

“Hello Barzil! Listen, I returned from school pretty desperate, pondered and idled away for half an hour and then decided it was time to do my homework. I went to my father’s room to get a new pen and found instead of it on the table – a letter from you! In a flash my mood changed and I began screaming ‘hello’ excitedly, kicking the furniture, scratching the walls… Don’t think I’m exaggerating. I haven’t been this satisfied in a long time, and I mean it. In short, I immediately sat down to answer you.

 “The truth is that the situation here, although it is depressing, isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Last week I had pretty serious nightmares, but very quickly, when school began, I no longer have time for these things (tough, my friend). I am starting to see the wheels turn and time passing by. In my leisure time I miss and remember the exact things you mentioned. You are right: It really was my most successful summer. Let’s hope the next one will be even better (by the way, I don’t want you to escape to Rehovot during the vacation, because I want to spend quite a lot of time with you. Even two months. Is that clear?)

“You tell me – I understand from all kinds of sources that you really being tormented in the scientific classes. Miki wrote to me that you have dangerous mind bullies, while you and Buz (Beller) are praising some Romanian-speaking grown creature. If he causes any trouble, we’ll take care of him together during the summer (we can also add Piker to project).”

In a letter dated April 2, 1967, Barzilay asks Netanyahu about his future plans in Israel:

“As for your university, I see that you’re an organized fellow and that you are taking care of your future. If so, I dare ask you what are your plans for the longer term. Do you have plans to stay in the US or just an intermediate station again? You know, I am not attracted by overseas at all. I think that since my future lies in this country, it’s clear that everything it can provide me with is more than enough, and I ask you not to take this lightly, because the level in Israel is not low in any way! (Especially in high school!) By the way, do you know that Israel is first in mathematical studies in the world? And that’s based on tests taken by delegations from several dozen countries, including the US. I should note that the eastern countries were not included, and they are a considerable mathematical force. Well, I’ve had enough of talking about studies. In general, there is almost no news.”

 In the next letter, sent a month and a half later, on May 16, Barzilay tries to emphasize what he said:

 “I’m rushing to answer for two reasons: A) you asked me to; and B) you somewhat angered me, so I am rushing to fill in the void that has been created. An American or British band called The Animals sang a song called, ‘Please, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.’

 “All that is left for me is to sing it out loud. It’s true that your intellectual way resides permanently in the way I think. I never doubted the fact that in order to create an opinion you must gather information about the sides and opinions, and after becoming proficient, make a ruling!… There is a certain difference between expressing an opinion and an impression. My impression in my current situation is that I am not attracted by overseas. It’s a simple story about my world of senses and not necessarily slander against anything beyond the border. I had no patriotic intention in that, and if you think it’s easy to sit in an armchair in Jerusalem and be a patriot, I hereby inform you that this is the situation, it’s difficult! Because emigration is in fashion, there are voices in favor of it. While they don’t exceed the more patriotic ones, they are heard and are not unusual (and I am convinced that you are personally familiar with the emigration problem). I am ending the problem here, and if you tried to raise an intellectual problem you encountered in my letter, I hope I have convinced you that you failed to understand the data of the problem, and it’s very simple!

 “From patriotism to patriotism, we’re still on the same issue: Today is Independence Day!! The guys and I had a campfire picnic with 35 people, with kebab, hummus, pita bread, and cold, warm and alcoholic drinks. They sang and it was very joyful. By the way, the kebab was made by us and it’s something to be proud of. We prepared it on a charcoal barbecue, on embers. Very romantic. In school it’s starting to get busy and let’s hope it will be okay. In a month and a half it will all be behind us. So long. Yours, Ariel.”

Bibi was a very mature student, but he was completely ‘Americano,'” says Professor Beller. “Before Yoni was killed, he made plans to stay there at major stages. Many people suggested that he stay in American. Good Israelis who move to America and receive offers is not a rare thing. I also lived there and came back. So at the time Bibi had quite a few temptations to stay there.

“He graduated from business administration school. After completing his studies, he worked in a very large business consulting company, the Boston Consulting Group, and changed his last name to Nitay (the name his father sometimes used to sign his articles). It’s no secret that he planned to stay there, but then Yoni was killed and everything changed and he decided to come back.”

Anti-Israel campaigners protest against ladies U19 Lacrosse event

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists have been urged to protest at the event and call for Israel’s team to be excluded.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) has scheduled demonstrations at each of the matches involving Israel. The team is pencilled in to play South Korea today, New Zealand tomorrow, Finland on Saturday and the US on Sunday.

Angus Maclean, of SPSC, said: “For 67 years Israel has defied international law and Palestinians are calling on civil society and grassroots organisations to take a stand against ethnic cleansing and genocide. 

“We will be present at each of the matches to protest and send a clear message that Israel’s involvement in this, and any, international sporting event is unacceptable.”

The Edinburgh Friends of Israel have set up an online petition calling on the Scottish Government, the city council and Lacrosse Scotland to “guarantee the safety of teenage girls representing Israel” at the lacrosse event.

(The petition, )

A statement on the website reads: “Scotland has an enviable reputation for hospitality and celebrating culture. The SPSC has targeted a sporting event to further its extremist campaign of hatred and misinformation. 

“Anyone who believes that political campaigns should not be thrust upon sport, particularly when youngsters are involved, should sign this petition. 

“We need to show that campaigns based upon hatred and vilification have no place in events hoping to strengthen international goodwill and develop lasting friendships.”

Last summer an Israeli Fringe show, The City, a “hip hop fable” part-funded by the Israeli government, was cancelled following disruptions by demonstrators over the situation in Gaza.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “We are aware of a planned demonstration due to take place at Peffermill. 

“Officers have been liaising with the relevant agencies and individuals to ensure the event passes without incident.”

Tournament organisers are aware of the planned demo but declined to comment, while the city council confirmed it was aware of potential powderkeg protests.

The Israeli Embassy in London said it knew of the SPSC’s plans but had no further comment to make.