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Israel is the country that stands most to gain from the world's decreased dependence on oil. We always looked upon the Israelis as the potential natural leaders in developing alternate fuels. Israel has the manpower, scientific institutions, and the private enterprise needed for such an endeavor. In effect, going back to the 1950's, it had people aware of the problems that come from being dependent on oil when living in an unfriendly neighborhood. Israelis worked on oil shales first, then on solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies; the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has even created a "Commission for Future Generations" when it became obvious that for environmental reasons, as well as for sustainable development reasons, the world will have to switch to non-fossil fuels. Nevertheless, Israel itself did not implement these technologies, it also did not give away for free the technologies it did develop, perhaps because of political reasons resulting from the government's close relation to the US. In effect the Environment Ministry became a repository for politicians with other aspirations. In its own interest, as journalist Thomas Friedman said - "petrolism" is the main reason for lack of peace in the Middle East - the Israeli government should have taken a more agresive position on this subject, one seriously wonders why this did not happen.

We launched this Israel section on SustainabiliTank.info because we realized that above may change, if not through the leadership of the government, then at least through the push of NGOs and perhaps with the help of aggregates of local government.


 
Israel:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Middle East | News Analysis

New Saudi King and U.S. Face Crucial Point in the Relationship

By HELENE COOPER, ROD NORDLAND and NEIL MacFARQUHAR, of The New York Times – January, 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — Almost a decade ago, an Arab diplomat famously likened the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia to a Catholic marriage “where you can have no divorce.”

But there can be estrangement. As the Obama administration begins the arduous task of assessing the newly reconstituted House of Saud after the death of King Abdullah on Friday, the relationship between the United States and its most important Arab ally, one fostered with great care and attention to detail over the years, is at a critical and tumultuous point.

Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman, 79, inherits both the policies put in place by the more assertive brother he is succeeding and the conflicts that in recent years have characterized relations with Washington. On issues from Iran to the Arab Spring, from Syria to domestic issues within Saudi Arabia like the recent flogging of a journalist, there have been significant differences between American officials and the Saudi royal family.

The close ties once nurtured so lovingly by the Bush administration have given way to complaints from the Saudis about an aloof American president who should have done more to unseat President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and less to unseat former President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The Saudis also remain deeply skeptical about President Obama’s efforts to negotiate an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

“The Saudis are hard pressed to think of any country or collection of countries that can do what the United States can do,” said Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “At the same time, they are worried that the United States’ intentions are changing at a time when they don’t have an alternative or even the structure to find an alternative.”

Yet Saudi Arabia is still managing to change the global economy at a crucial time by flooding oil markets, keeping oil output so high that it is aiding Mr. Obama on a number of fronts. By depressing oil prices, Saudi Arabia has given him a boost at home. The Saudis have helped Mr. Obama abroad as well, because those lowered prices help pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions and Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. As a result, Obama administration officials are treading carefully as they navigate the Saudi succession. While Mr. Obama is going ahead with a long-planned trip to India, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia to pay respect and offer condolences.

“The president certainly hopes, and we expect, that the strong relationship that exists between the United States and Saudi Arabia will endure under the leadership of the new king,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Friday. The Saudis have long relied on the United States as their military umbrella. But that relationship soured after King Abdullah felt that Mr. Obama was ignoring the region, or at least Saudi concerns. According to a leaked diplomatic memo, in 2008 King Abdullah urged the United States to weigh military action against Iran to “cut off the head of the snake.” Now the Saudis worry about an American deal with Iran, and Saudi Arabia, like Israel, relishes the split between Congress and the White House over more sanctions and the possibility that they could scuttle an agreement.
Continue reading the main story

And the interests of the two countries tend to diverge on other issues, especially combating Al Qaeda and other extremist organizations, which receive some of their funding from Saudi sources. “I think the Saudis and the Americans have developed the habit of coexisting with their disagreements,” said Khalid al-Dakhil, a political-science professor in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

White House officials said they were confident that the United States and Saudi Arabia would continue to work together on a range of issues, including the fight against the Islamic State and the response to the recent instability in Yemen. And they said the relationship had improved in recent months, in part because of Mr. Obama’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State, a campaign that Saudi Arabia has joined and that King Salman’s ascension to the throne was not expected to derail.

“We are much closer now,” a senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I wouldn’t say we are completely aligned, but it’s far less than it was at times.”

Others are not so sure.

“The recent shift in Saudi regional and foreign relations is not how outspoken it has become, but how muscular it has become,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “It has long prided itself on acting behind the scenes.”

An annual “intelligence” dinner at a hotel in Washington every year illustrates that point. The host is the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, the guests a group of American and Arab spies and intelligence officials, Middle East policy experts and top national security officials in the American government like John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director who served as the agency’s Saudi Arabia station chief in the late 1990s. Save welcoming remarks by Mr. al-Jubeir, there is no set program, no keynote speech, just high-level national security officials and foreign policy experts networking. Attendees describe the affairs as a Saudi show of force.

“There’s no desire even to talk to the gathered public,” said one foreign policy expert who attended last year’s dinner, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he didn’t want to lose his invitation to this year’s dinner. “The point seems to be to say, ‘Hey, we can get 300 important people in a room. Now let’s move on.’ ”

Lacking American support in key areas, Saudi Arabia is increasingly striking out on its own. Without the military means to sway events in Syria, and with Mr. Obama balking at forcibly removing Mr. al-Assad in Syria, Saudi Arabia used oil to try to influence Syria’s two main backers, Iran and Russia. As worldwide demand softened, Saudi Arabia continued pumping, even as prices tumbled to around $50 a barrel from more than $100.

To maintain its own social spending, including $130 billion in benefits designed to ensure domestic stability, the kingdom needs an oil price of $100. But given its foreign reserves of around $730 billion, it could hold out for a few years with lower prices, analysts say.

Saudi Arabia has not been drawn directly into the Arab uprisings in Tunisia, which is relatively stable, or Libya, although that may yet occur. Its main problem is next door in Yemen.

Militiamen from the Houthis, a Zaydi sect of Shiite Islam and traditional rulers of Yemen, have seized power. Seeing the Houthis as modeled on Hezbollah in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia had already cut off the $4 billion in annual aid to the pro-American government. The United States has seemed much more inclined to try to reach an agreement with the Houthis, at least on the fight against Al Qaeda.

But despite these differences, the pattern of accommodation that emerged under King Abdullah is likely to endure. “The default setting for the Saudis is always the status quo,” added Eugene L. Rogan, the director of the Middle East Center at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.

Still, the days when American and Saudi leaders acted in unison in the Middle East, and when Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador, was the toast of Washington and a constant presence at the Bush White House, are in the past. And if King Salman is anything like his brother, a certain amount of friction will be a given. Late in January 2011, King Abdullah became so angry during a phone call with Mr. Obama over the president’s determination to abandon support for Mr. Mubarak that he hung up on him.

Saudi aides were quick to leak the anecdote.

————————–
Helene Cooper reported from Washington; Rod Nordland from Amman, Jordan; and Neil MacFarquhar from Moscow. Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington, Ranya Kadri from Amman, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Cairo.

Related Coverage:

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2007.
New King in Saudi Arabia Unlikely to Alter Oil PolicyJAN. 23, 2015
King Abdullah in 2014.
King Abdullah, a Shrewd Force Who Reshaped Saudi Arabia, Dies at 90JAN. 22, 2015.
Yemen Calm but Confused After President’s ResignationJAN. 23, 2015

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Saudi King Abdullah Dead.

from: Readers Supported News January 24, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s Tyrant King Misremembered as Man of Peace.

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

23 January 15

fter nearly 20 years as de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah ibn-Abdulaziz al-Saud died last night at the age of 90. Abdullah, who took power after his predecessor King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, ruled as absolute monarch of a country which protected American interests but also sowed strife and extremism throughout the Middle East and the world.

In a statement last night Senator John McCain eulogized Abdullah as “a vocal advocate for peace, speaking out against violence in the Middle East”. John Kerry described the late monarch as “a brave partner in fighting violent extremism” and “a proponent of peace”. Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden released a statement mourning Abdullah and announced that he would be personally leading a presidential delegation to offer condolences on his passing.

It’s not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.

Tiptoeing around his brutal dictatorship, The Washington Post characterized Abdullah as a “wily king” while The New York Times inexplicably referred to him as “a force of moderation”, while also suggesting that evidence of his moderation included having had: “hundreds of militants arrested and some beheaded” (emphasis added).

While granting that Abdullah might be considered a relative moderate within the brazenly anachronistic House of Saud, the fact remains that he presided for two decades over a regime which engaged in wanton human rights abuses, instrumentalized religious chauvinism, and played a hugely counterrevolutionary role in regional politics.

Above all, he was not a leader who shied away from both calling for and engineering more conflict in the Middle East.

In contrast to Senator McCain’s description of Abdullah as “a vocal advocate of peace”, a State Department diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks revealed him in fact directly advocating for the United States to start more wars in the region.

In a quote recorded in a 2008 diplomatic cable, Abdullah exhorted American officials to “cut the head off the snake” by launching fresh military action against Iran. Notably, this war advocacy came in the midst of the still-ongoing bloodshed of the Iraq War, which had apparently left him unfazed about the prospect of a further escalation in regional warfare.

Abdullah’s government also waged hugely destructive proxy conflicts wherever direct American intervention on its behalf was not forthcoming. Indeed, in the case of almost every Arab Spring uprising, Saudi Arabia attempted to intervene forcefully in order to either shore up existing regimes or shape revolutions to conform with their own interests.

In Bahrain, Saudi forces intervened to crush a popular uprising which had threatened the rule of the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy, while in Syria Saudi-backed factions have helped turn what was once a popular democratic uprising into a bloody, intractable proxy war between regional rivals which is now a main driver of extremism in the Middle East.

Saudi efforts at counterrevolution and co-optation under Abdullah took more obliquely brutal forms as well.

In the midst of the 2011 revolution in Egypt, when seemingly the entire world was rallying in support of the protestors in Tahrir Square, King Abdullah stood resolutely and unapologetically on the side of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. When it seemed like Mubarak was wavering in the face of massive popular protests, the king offered to step in with economic aid for his government and demanded that President Obama ensure he not be “cast aside”.

A few years later when the pendulum swung back towards dictatorship after General Abdelfattah al Sisi’s bloody 2013 coup, Abdullah and his fellow monarchs were there to lavish much needed financial assistance upon the new regime. This support came with the endorsement of Sisi’s unrelentingly brutal crackdown on Egypt’s former revolutionaries.

With increasingly disastrous consequences, Abdullah’s government also employed sectarianism as a force to help divide-and-conquer regional populations and insulate his own government from the threat of uprising. It also cynically utilized its official religious authorities to try and equate political dissent with sinfulness.

This ostentatiously reckless behavior nevertheless seemed to win Abdullah’s regime the tacit approval of the American government, which steadfastly continued to treat him as a partner in fighting terrorism and maintaining regional stability.

Despite recent tensions over American policy towards Iran and Syria, Saudi under King Abdullah played a vital role in U.S. counterterrorism operations. The country quietly hosts a CIA drone base used for conducting strikes into Yemen, including the strike believed to have killed American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. More controversially, Abdullah’s government is also believed to have provided extensive logistical support for American military operations during the invasion of Iraq; an uncomfortable fact which the kingdom has understandably tried to keep quiet with its own population.

Perhaps most importantly however, King Abdullah upheld the economic cornerstones of America’s long and fateful alliance with Saudi Arabia: arms purchases and the maintenance of a reliable flow of oil from the country to global markets. The one Saudi king who in past failed to hold up part of this agreement met with an untimely end, and was seemingly on less positive terms American government officials.

{This is about the 25 March 1975 killing of King Faisal- supposedly by his nephew – Prince Faisal Bin Musaed – as reported by the BBC} Some of the background of this was reposted today by the Pakistani DAWN from their May 5, 1975 article:

{“RIYADH, May 4: The United States had threatened to use force against Saudi Arabia in 1973 after King Faisal and other Arab and Muslim leaders imposed an embargo on oil shipments to western countries which supported Israel during the October War, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, said in an interview with the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat.” These days Prince Turki is meeting with a former Israeli Head of the Intelligence Services in order to find common ground on matters of the Middle East. We posted about that as well.}

In the interview that appeared ahead of a seminar on King Faisal, Prince Turki, son of the former Saudi king, shed light on important events that took place during his father’s rule.

Prince Turki, who was an adviser at the Royal Court in 1973 when King Faisal took the oil embargo decision, said the king was not shaken by the US threat and stood firm.

Given the foundations upon which American-Saudi ties rest, its unlikely that the relationship will be drastically altered by the passing of King Abdullah and the succession of his brother Prince Salman. Regardless of how venal, reckless, or brutal his government may choose to be, as long as it protects American interests in the Middle East it will inevitably be showered with plaudits and support, just as its predecessor was.

—————————————-

And Some of the Comments:

# ronnewmexico 2015-01-23 22:10
It is simply amazing the line of BS they give us, through mass media, and no one hardly questions it. And they want to limit internet speed so even our alternative truth sites, will be barely accessible(like this place)…

And on and on we go. What gets me a bit is some will see these obvious lies here and call it..liar liar pants on fire..

but then some other issue … and they buy it, hook line and sinker — it defies my understanding..

Nevertheless good story … ..at least some places are telling the truth.
Reminds me of our notables many of them attending the emperor of Japans funeral back in the day….have they no shame, no morality?

0 # FDRva 2015-01-24 01:11
It is likely a mistake to label the deceased as strictly a guardian of American interests.

The late King sounds like a leader schooled in British intelligence methods and tactics.

About those missing 28 pages from the 9-11 commission report…

0 # FDRva 2015-01-24 01:35
When did British intelligence quit running ops through the Saudi Royal family?

Well, they didn’t.

Not even after 9-11.

HMMM…

==============================
====================================================================

AND THE CONVENTIONAL VERSION TELLING ABOUT THE KING’S DEATH – as by Officialdom’s
RT

23 January 15

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died in hospital while undergoing treatment for pneumonia. An official statement has named Saudi Crown Prince Salman the new king.

“His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning,” said the statement on Saudi Arabian state TV channel attributed to Salman.

Salman has immediately appointed his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir.

Prior to the confirmation, conflicting reports suggested that the Saudis had initially dismissed the news of the king’s death on social media. However, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses early on Friday – a practice known to signify the death of a senior royal, Reuters reported.

King Abdullah had been in hospital for several weeks as he had been suffering from pneumonia and temporarily needed to breathe through a tube on account of his illness.

US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences and praised the late Saudi King for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has announced that he will be leaving the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in order to travel to Saudi Arabia and pay his respects.

Abdullah was officially appointed king in 2006, but prior to that he had run the country for at least 10 years as de facto regent, after his predecessor, King Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke.

The royal’s age is not officially known, however, it is believed that he was born in 1923, according to Reuters. Abdullah had approximately a dozen wives and was a father to more than 30 children, AP reported.

The new head of state of the number one oil exporter in the world is thought to be 79 years old. King Salman was appointed Crown Prince in 2012 and in the same year started serving as a defense minister. Before assuming these responsibilities, he had been governor of Riyadh province for five decades.

Abdullah was a staunch US ally, who supported the western fight against Al-Qaeda and maintained attempts to keep rival Shia Iran in check. Under his rule, Saudi Arabia strongly backed Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The monarch had also been the first international head of state to congratulate the interim government of Egypt after the July 2013 military coup deposed Mohamed Morsi.

King Abdullah implemented some modest reforms in the areas of women’s rights and economic deregulation, but largely stayed away from any severe changes to the kingdom’s political system. King Salman is said to be part of the royal circle that will continue to pursue similar policies.

Despite Abdullah’s reforms, women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to drive and require male “approval” to work, travel outside the country, open up a bank account, and sometimes, even to have surgery. Under Abdullah the country remained an absolute monarchy, guided by Sharia law, with severe punishments such as public beheadings.

The US has repeatedly turned a blind eye towards Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. For example, the US government chose to classify 28 pages of a bipartisan congressional 9/11 report, which pointed to the Saudi government as a partial financier of the terrorist attacks. More recently, the State Department came under media fire for not going beyond verbal disagreement when Saudi Arabia’s blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1000 lashes for criticizing Islam.

Abdullah has been a critic of the Arab Spring movement, harboring fears that it may have inspired local unrest and would have subsequently given more power to Iran or Al-Qaeda. His attempts at keeping local demonstrations to a minimum cost the country some $110 billion in social benefits.

Any discontent has landed activists in jail. The country’s reaction to protesters has caused grave concern in human rights communities.

=========================

Some of the Comments:

+9 # fredboy 2015-01-23 10:17
So powerful here there was never a complete criminal investigation of 9/11. All roads led to the White House, and all questions stopped at the gate.

-4 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-23 14:14
Interestng that fred. Not the comment I understand that. What it is saying is the white house was complicit in 9/11…

What is interesting to me is how many of these markers , who abound this place..firmly agree with you 7 right now.

Kudos…fred… I guess we find out who represents the green red marker folks..thanks for providing that.
Quite interesting.

+5 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 11:05
“US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences and praised the late Saudi King for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.” (Quote from article). Another example that in most cases, “International Diplomacy” = “Nicely worded hypocrisy and bullshit”!
Meanwhile, Riyadh’s “Chop-chop Square” will still function as the public State murder, hand-removal and whipping center of the world and a living example of surviving Hereditary Patriarchal Monarchy-driven feudalism.
Such a friend indeed (It’s the only country I’ve been offered a high-paying job in and refused).
With Saudi-Arabia and LIKUD’S Israel as “Allies”, the US is really choosing it’s associations well but not wisely, what?!

+5 # jdd 2015-01-23 11:15
Yes, the powerful ally that is the sponsor of world-wide jihadist terrorism, going back at least to the Al-Yamamah deal with BAE. Until the 28 pages of the 911 Joint Commission Report detailing the Saudi hand behind the 911 attacks, which were redacted and classified by Pres. Bush, are released over the obstruction of Barack Obama, the Saudis will continue their assault on civilization.

+4 # Billy Bob 2015-01-23 11:54
So, once again, there are “good” Islamic extremist states with Sharia Law, and “bad” Islamic extremist states with Sharia Law.

It all depends on who’s willing to play ball with the dirty sludge cartel, not to mention who OWNS the dirty sludge cartel.

In fact, where a Middle-Eastern country is too democratic, and unwilling to play ball with the international filthy sludge cartel, often, “measures must be taken”, to ensure that an “Islamic extremist state with Sharia Law” is put in place – specifically so the U.S. military can be used as a tax-funded bodyguard for the filthy sludge industry.

0 # ronnewmexico 2015-01-23 14:01
Well put…agree 100%

+1 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 16:38
Quoting ronnewmexico:

Interestng that fred. Not the comment I understand that. What it is saying is the white house was complicit in 9/11…

What is interesting to me is how many of these markers , who abound this place..firmly agree with you 7 right now.

Kudos…fred… I guess we find out who represents the green red marker folks..thanks for providing that.
Quite interesting.

Quoting ronnewmexico:

Interestng that fred. Not the comment I understand that. What it is saying is the white house was complicit in 9/11…

What is interesting to me is how many of these markers , who abound this place..firmly agree with you 7 right now.

Kudos…fred… I guess we find out who represents the green red marker folks..thanks for providing that.
Quite interesting.

Lest ye forget, immediately post-9-11, when US airspace was closed to ALL, a jet was waiting at Bluegrass Field, Lexington, KY, for the Saud party who were at the Keenland horse sales and which spirited them out of US empty (but surely traffic -controlled) skies to safety.

That sets up nicely with the Dimwits/Cheney/ Rice/Rumsfeld complicity scenario; and I’m no conspiracy-buff , just like to connect dots logically. I’m a member of “Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth” of which there are many across the country (See the website) and the official line’s about as plausible as the post JFK Warren Report.

“All governments lie ——-” as “Izzy” Stone reminded us. He’d ha’ loved this mess.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 24th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  readersupportednews.org/opinion2/… January 23, 2015


Congress Seeks Netanyahu’s Direction

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

23 January 15


Showing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech.

Boehner made clear that Netanyahu’s third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress – scheduled for Feb. 11 – {now seemingly re-scheduled for March 3, 2015} - was meant to counter Obama’s assessments. “There is a serious threat in the world, and the President last night kind of papered over it,” Boehner said on Wednesday. “And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”

The scheduling of Netanyahu’s speech caught the White House off-guard, since the Israeli prime minister had apparently not bothered to clear his trip with the administration. The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

In the past when Netanyahu has spoken to Congress, Republicans and Democrats have competed to show their devotion by quickly and frequently leaping to their feet to applaud almost every word out of the Israeli prime minister’s mouth. By addressing a joint session for a third time, Netanyahu would become only the second foreign leader to do so, joining British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who never used the platform to demean the policies of a sitting U.S. president.

Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East. Boehner doesn’t seem to realize that Netanyahu has developed what amounts to a de facto alliance with extremist Sunni forces in the region.

Not only is Israel now collaborating behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist leadership but Israel has begun taking sides militarily in support of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Syrian civil war. A source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria said Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces that control territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The quiet cooperation between Israel and al-Qaeda’s affiliate was further underscored on Sunday when Israeli helicopters attacked and killed advisers to the Syrian military from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran. In other words, Israel has dispatched its forces into Syria to kill military personnel helping to fight al-Nusra. Iran later confirmed that one of its generals had died in the Israeli strike.

Israel’s tangled alliances with Sunni forces have been taking shape over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. Both Saudi and Israeli leaders have talked with growing alarm about this “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.


Favoring Sunni Extremists

Senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the Syrian civil war rather than President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels.

In one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in September 2013 that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia shares Israeli’s strategic view that “the Shiite crescent” must be broken and has thus developed a rapport with Netanyahu’s government in a kind of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” relationship. But some rank-and-file Jewish supporters of Israel have voiced concerns about Israel’s newfound alliance with the Saudi monarchy, especially given its adherence to ultraconservative Wahhabi Islam and its embrace of a fanatical hatred of Shiite Islam, a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back 1,400 years.

Though President Obama has repeatedly declared his support for Israel, he has developed a contrary view from Netanyahu’s regarding what is the gravest danger in the Middle East. Obama considers the radical Sunni jihadists, associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, to be the biggest threat to Western interests and U.S. national security.

That has put him in a different de facto alliance – with Iran and the Syrian government – since they represent the strongest bulwarks against Sunni jihadists who have targeted Americans and other Westerners for death.

What Boehner doesn’t seem to understand is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have placed themselves on the side of the Sunni jihadists who now represent the frontline fight against the “Shiite crescent.” If Netanyahu succeeds in enlisting the United States in violently forcing Syrian “regime change,” the U.S. government likely would be facilitating the growth in power of the Sunni extremists, not containing them.


But the influential American neoconservatives want to synch U.S. foreign policy with Israel’s and thus have pressed for a U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s forces (even if that would open the gates of Damascus to the Nusra Front or the Islamic State). The neocons also want an escalation of tensions with Iran by sabotaging an agreement to ensure that its nuclear program is not used for military purposes.

The neocons have long wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran as part of their “regime change” strategy for the Middle East. That is why Obama’s openness to a permanent agreement for tight constraints on Iran’s nuclear program is seen as a threat by Netanyahu, the neocons and their congressional allies – because it would derail hopes for militarily attacking Iran.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama made clear that he perceives the brutal Islamic State, which he calls “ISIL” for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the principal current threat to Western interests in the Middle East and the clearest terror threat to the United States and Europe. Obama proposed “a smarter kind of American leadership” that would cooperate with allies in “stopping ISIL’s advance” without “getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.”


Working with Putin

Thus, Obama, who might be called a “closet realist,” is coming to the realization that the best hope for blocking the advances of Sunni jihadi terror and minimizing U.S. military involvement is through cooperation with Iran and its regional allies. That also puts Obama on the same side with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has faced Sunni terrorism in Chechnya and is supporting both Iran’s leaders and Syria’s Assad in their resistance to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Obama’s “realist” alliance, in turn, presents a direct threat to Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran represents an “existential threat” to Israel and that the “Shiite crescent” must be destroyed. There is also fear among Israeli right-wingers that an effective Obama-Putin collaboration could ultimately force Israel into accepting a Palestinian state.

So, Netanyahu and the U.S. neocons believe they must do whatever is necessary to shatter this tandem of Obama, Putin and Iran. That is one reason why the neocons were at the forefront of fomenting “regime change” against Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year. By splintering Ukraine on Russia’s border, the neocons drove a wedge between Obama and Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

Even the slow-witted mainstream U.S. media has begun to pick up on the story of the emerging Israeli-Saudi alliance. In the Jan. 19 issue of Time magazine, correspondent Joe Klein noted the new coziness between top Israeli and Saudi officials.

He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

Not only did Prince Turki offer an olive branch to Israel, he indicated agreement on what the two countries consider their most pressing strategic interests: Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war. In other words, in noting this extraordinary meeting, Klein had stumbled upon the odd-couple alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia – though he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Obama had shifted his position on Syria as the West made a “quiet retreat from its demand” that Assad “step down immediately.” The article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta noted that the Obama administration still wanted Assad to exit eventually “but facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria.”

    At the center of that diplomatic initiative was Russia, again reflecting Obama’s recognition of the need to cooperate with Putin on resolving some of these complex problems (although Obama did include in his speech some tough-guy rhetoric against Russia over Ukraine, taking some pleasure in how Russia’s economy is now “in tatters”).

    But the underlying reality is that the United States and Assad’s regime have become de facto allies, fighting on the same side in the Syrian civil war, much as Israel had, in effect, sided with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front by killing Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

    The Times article noted that the shift in Obama’s position on Syrian peace talks “comes along with other American actions that Mr. Assad’s supporters and opponents take as proof Washington now believes that if Mr. Assad is ousted, there will be nothing to check the spreading chaos and extremism.

    “American planes now bomb the Islamic State group’s militants in Syria, sharing skies with Syrian jets. American officials assure Mr. Assad, through Iraqi intermediaries, that Syria’s military is not their target. The United States still trains and equips Syrian insurgents, but now mainly to fight the Islamic State, not the government.”

    Yet, as Obama adjusts U.S. foreign policy to take into account the complex realities in the Middle East, he now faces another front in this conflict – from the U.S. Congress, which has long been held in thrall by the Israel lobby.

    Not only has Speaker Boehner appealed to Netanyahu to deliver what amounts to a challenge to President Obama’s foreign policy but congressional neocons are even accusing Obama’s team of becoming Iranian stooges. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democratic neocon, said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

    If indeed Netanyahu does end up addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, its members would face a stark choice of either embracing Israel’s foreign policy as America’s or backing the decisions made by the elected President of the United States.

    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutiona l.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

    =================================

    And Some of the Comments:

    +26 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:45
    .
    So Boehner is actually bringing a foreign leader into the — US — House of Representatives ‘ chamber? … to challenge the US President.

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.
    .

    +18 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:49
    .
    Or is it that this foreign leader will simply take the opportunity to challenge the President, even though he/she is in the US House of Representatives ‘ chamber?
    .

    +24 # ericlipps 2015-01-23 18:42
    Netanyahu is coming to Congress to give its new Republican members the opportunity to kiss his ring before he puts one through their noses. And of course to sound off against President Obama, something Republicans are always happy to hear someone do (they’d feel the same way if it were Bashir Assad)—but that’s just a bonus.

    +15 # X Dane 2015-01-23 19:52
    nice2bgreat.
    I am beyond furious. Why has nobody pointed out that Boehner and the republicans are TRAITORS. They are asking a warmongering prime minister of ANOTHER COUNTRY to dictate how we should conduct our foreign policy.

    This is what happens when so many in congress has dual citizenship with Israel. They do not grasp that they owe loyalty to USA …..NOT Israel.

    Traitors used to be thrown in jail and hanged for actions like this. Something is seriously wrong. And Netanyaho forgets who is propping up his country with BILLIONS annually.

    I can’t believe that Boehner is allowed to get away with this. It is sickening.

    -1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:04
    I too am beyond furious! Our Congress is full of people who should be charged with TREASON!! Those corrupt creatures deserve to so charged and if guilty PUT TO DEATH!!

    The United States has no business to be sending billions of dollars and our armed forces to the Middle East. Day by day we are causing the growth of terrorist forces who have damn good reason to hate Americans. We are killing people day and night all over the Middle East. We sure as hell are not winning the hearts and minds of those people. We need to get the hell out and take care of our problems here at home. That money for the endless wars could be used to put Americans to work rebuilding our failing infrastructure.

    Don’t vote for anyone in Congress now. NO ONE! They are not working for us. They work for their Israeli paymasters.

    +3 # LGNTexas 2015-01-23 21:04
    Just another example of the racist reich-wing delegitimizing our first black president.

    +6 # Interested Observer 2015-01-23 19:52
    It will save the time usually spent getting our Mid-east policy translated from Hebrew.

    +34 # indian weaver 2015-01-23 14:35
    Hard to believe Boehner would do this – not. I think crass now amounts to treason, or sedition? Where is our worthless spineless AG now? Time for being cute is over. Attack Netanyahoo criminally, whatever it takes. Such is the state of the union – what union?

    +39 # MEBrowning 2015-01-23 18:20
    Yes! During Dubya’s presidency, the Republicans constantly harangued anybody they thought didn’t have “respect for the office of the president.” In other words, anyone who dared to criticize neocon chickenhawks who pandered to the 1% and ignored everybody else. Where’s their respect for the office of the president now? Hypocrites all.

    +14 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:32
    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    +1 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:43
    Quoting wrknight:

    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    I presume you mean loyalty to Israel.

    +25 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:30
    “Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East.”

    Boehner’s ignorance extends far beyond foreign policy. In fact, one should question whether he is simply ignorant or just plain stupid.

    +20 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:35
    Along with those who vote for him.

    +20 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:33
    Makes you want to re-open the 9/11 and Iraq invasion investigations, doesn’t it? Sniff, sniff…

    +26 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:34
    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    +2 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:45
    Quoting fredboy:

    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    I hope the doghouse has a big, tough lock on the door and a high fence topped with razor wire around it.

    +24 # Ausmar 2015-01-23 19:05
    Boehner’s action is despicable. He has snubbed the president, impaired his diplomatic efforts with Iran, and implicitly acknowledged the Congress subservience to the Israeli lobby. Clearly, by calling on Netanyahu, his aim is to put pressure on some hesitant, AIPAC intimidated Democrats to fall in line with right wing Israeli policy and thereby have enough votes to overcome a presidential veto on further immediate sanctions on Iran, thus opening the way to armed intervention in Iran alongside Israel. Hopefully, enough of the American people will support the president in expressing their disdain for this kind of devious, dangerous, and servile behavior by the US Congress, so as to put a strain on American-Israel i relations. It would be about time for the US to stop being a lackey of Israel.

    +12 # angelfish 2015-01-23 19:16
    WHO the Hell does Boehner think he IS? WHAT gives him the ability OR the right to invite foreigners to speak to our Congress? Murderous NAZI foreigners, at that? It smacks of subversion and outright TREASON! I am appalled at his lack of judgment in taking it upon himself to do this. My only hope is that this might be the beginning of the end of the ReTHUGlican Party. Sane Americans EVERYWHERE should rise up and demand that he be REMOVED as Speaker and that they search High and Low for a ReTHUGlican with Bat’s sense! I know it’s a stretch but there has GOT to be someone out there with a modicum of intellect and sense of decorum. God help us and save us from these intellectual defectives!

    +13 # NOMINAE 2015-01-23 19:34
    From the article : “The Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”
    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutiona l.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

    +10 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 19:44
    Isn’t Mr “Cancer-bed-sun tan” Boner actually doing what he accused Obama of and wants to sue him for, as in “Overreaching his power” over the ACA, which actually helped a lot of people, it’s imperfections notwithstanding?
    All Nutty-Yahoo and his proto-Fascist and by default Rabidly Nationalist LIKUD party has done is press for “Israeli Exceptionalism” in committing attempted genocide, mass-murder, apartheid destruction of habitat and livelihood on a people forced to live in “The biggest open-air prison in the World”!
    They should both be locked up in the Abu-Grahib Country Club for delusional rogue leaders!

    0 # angelfish 2015-01-23 21:48
    Thank you reiverpacific, you are right ON the money!

    +1 # Paul Larudee 2015-01-23 20:18
    Can we commission a suitable crown that quickly?

    +2 # Activista 2015-01-23 20:19
    Great analysis and focus on the problem – this is essential – USA can NOT fight another war – can not afford it morally and economically.
    We are not helping Israel by solving their problems with neighbors by killing them.
    2014 killing of Gaza – 2140 Palestinians, mostly civilians – is direction where Netanyahu wants to go.
    Hope that people of Israel (and USA) wake up and stop this psychopath.

    +1 # Jayceecool 2015-01-23 20:31
    Does anyone else see the portents of a coup-de-etat here?

    +3 # jdd 2015-01-23 20:38
    While Boehner’s move is disgraceful, the bigger threat at this time if Obama’s quite open admission of financial warfare against Russia and his support for Unkrain’s assault on the Donbas region and intent to send advisors to the “National Guard.” Obama also made threatening statements against China. So while it is true that Obama realizes that he needs Russia’s help to defeat ISIS, he continues to threaten and harden relations with two of the world’s greatest nuclear powers.

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:54
    Obama is not a foreign policy mind – he has none. The CIA dictates to him. His own policy advisors are all CIA oriented or simply stupid in the field of diplomacy.

    The last real foreign policy we had was Dick Cheney’s – who had a brain transplant as a boy. I think he got Palin’s.

    +2 # Shorey13 2015-01-23 20:43
    Boehner is both stupid and a traitor. He either doesn’t understand our democracy or chooses to violate it. Foreign policy is the province of the Executive Branch, with Congressional approval of Treaties, Wars and other formal matters. Boehner clearly has no interest in responsible governance.

    But, I was not really unhappy when the Republicans won the last election, because I like to see stupid, evil people given enough rope to hang themselves. The Republicans will be roundly defeated in 2016. You can bet on it.

    +1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:14
    I hope they will be defeated but not by Democrats. The two corporate parties are equally bad. We need to follow the foot steps of Spain and Greece and form a new political party to represent the working people and throw the plutocrats out of our government. We don’t need endless wars and austerity. We need a government to serve the people of this nation and protect our mother the Earth. Down with this rotten government!

    0 # Saberoff 2015-01-23 21:14
    The world may well not last that long.

    0 # shgo 2015-01-23 21:36
    setting up for 2016 – hope it all backfires – on all these fools who purport to represent the people of this country. NONE OF THEM DO. They represent the corporate plutocracy. Maybe more of us will take to the streets, phones, legislators offices, and come together in a movement that says NO to all of it – but with a vision for social and economic justice for ALL!

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:39
    All of this is historically normal. Mussolini invited Hitler to speak before the Italian parliament. Franco and Hitler were close allies in the Spanish Civil War. Fascists stick together. We and the CIA have always embraced dictators. So what’s new?

    I assume that Obama alone doesn’t have the power to shut off our payments to Israel.

    0 # CarolYost 2015-01-23 21:54
    I’m thrilled to see intelligent comments in relation to Israel, for once–no Zionists. Of course Boehner is stupid and treacherous. I would love it if, while Netanyahu’s away from his home, there was a coup d’etat in Israel and a good leader put in his place!–One who would work toward a single state for all, Jews, Palestinians, everybody, as there should have been all along. No Jewish state for Jews only. When you have a country set up on behalf of one religion or group, the results are ugly. The Holocaust taught us that.

    Yes, let’s rise up against the Boehner-Netanya hu fraud. And let’s end the US devotion to Israel once and for all. Buchanan was so right when he called Congress–what? –Israeli-occup ied territory.

    Refresh comments list

    ======================================

    Pincas Jawetz

    5:50 AM (5 minutes ago)

    to Uri, Uri
    Dear Uri

    IN CASE YOU DID NOT SEE THIS ALREADY – I THOUGHT IT MIGHT INTEREST YOU .

    Pincas

    from:  readersupportednews.org/opinion2/… January 23, 2015

    Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo: AP)

    Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo: AP)

    go to original article

    ALSO SEE: Obama to Netanyahu: Stop Pushing Congress Toward New Sanctions on Iran

    Congress Seeks Netanyahu’s Direction

    By Robert Parry, Consortium News

    23 January 15

    howing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech.

    Boehner made clear that Netanyahu’s third speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress – scheduled for Feb. 11 – was meant to counter Obama’s assessments. “There is a serious threat in the world, and the President last night kind of papered over it,” Boehner said on Wednesday. “And the fact is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”

    The scheduling of Netanyahu’s speech caught the White House off-guard, since the Israeli prime minister had apparently not bothered to clear his trip with the administration. The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

    In the past when Netanyahu has spoken to Congress, Republicans and Democrats have competed to show their devotion by quickly and frequently leaping to their feet to applaud almost every word out of the Israeli prime minister’s mouth. By addressing a joint session for a third time, Netanyahu would become only the second foreign leader to do so, joining British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who never used the platform to demean the policies of a sitting U.S. president.

    Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East. Boehner doesn’t seem to realize that Netanyahu has developed what amounts to a de facto alliance with extremist Sunni forces in the region.

    Not only is Israel now collaborating behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist leadership but Israel has begun taking sides militarily in support of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the Syrian civil war. A source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria said Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces that control territory adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The quiet cooperation between Israel and al-Qaeda’s affiliate was further underscored on Sunday when Israeli helicopters attacked and killed advisers to the Syrian military from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran. In other words, Israel has dispatched its forces into Syria to kill military personnel helping to fight al-Nusra. Iran later confirmed that one of its generals had died in the Israeli strike.

    Israel’s tangled alliances with Sunni forces have been taking shape over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. Both Saudi and Israeli leaders have talked with growing alarm about this “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

    Favoring Sunni Extremists

    Senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the Syrian civil war rather than President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam. Assad’s relatively secular government is seen as the protector of Shiites, Christians and other minorities who fear the vengeful brutality of the Sunni jihadists who now dominate the anti-Assad rebels.

    In one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, a close adviser to Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post in September 2013 that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

    “The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

    Saudi Arabia shares Israeli’s strategic view that “the Shiite crescent” must be broken and has thus developed a rapport with Netanyahu’s government in a kind of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” relationship. But some rank-and-file Jewish supporters of Israel have voiced concerns about Israel’s newfound alliance with the Saudi monarchy, especially given its adherence to ultraconservative Wahhabi Islam and its embrace of a fanatical hatred of Shiite Islam, a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites that dates back 1,400 years.

    Though President Obama has repeatedly declared his support for Israel, he has developed a contrary view from Netanyahu’s regarding what is the gravest danger in the Middle East. Obama considers the radical Sunni jihadists, associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, to be the biggest threat to Western interests and U.S. national security.

    That has put him in a different de facto alliance – with Iran and the Syrian government – since they represent the strongest bulwarks against Sunni jihadists who have targeted Americans and other Westerners for death.

    What Boehner doesn’t seem to understand is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have placed themselves on the side of the Sunni jihadists who now represent the frontline fight against the “Shiite crescent.” If Netanyahu succeeds in enlisting the United States in violently forcing Syrian “regime change,” the U.S. government likely would be facilitating the growth in power of the Sunni extremists, not containing them.

    But the influential American neoconservatives want to synch U.S. foreign policy with Israel’s and thus have pressed for a U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s forces (even if that would open the gates of Damascus to the Nusra Front or the Islamic State). The neocons also want an escalation of tensions with Iran by sabotaging an agreement to ensure that its nuclear program is not used for military purposes.

    The neocons have long wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran as part of their “regime change” strategy for the Middle East. That is why Obama’s openness to a permanent agreement for tight constraints on Iran’s nuclear program is seen as a threat by Netanyahu, the neocons and their congressional allies – because it would derail hopes for militarily attacking Iran.

    In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama made clear that he perceives the brutal Islamic State, which he calls “ISIL” for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as the principal current threat to Western interests in the Middle East and the clearest terror threat to the United States and Europe. Obama proposed “a smarter kind of American leadership” that would cooperate with allies in “stopping ISIL’s advance” without “getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.”

    Working with Putin

    Thus, Obama, who might be called a “closet realist,” is coming to the realization that the best hope for blocking the advances of Sunni jihadi terror and minimizing U.S. military involvement is through cooperation with Iran and its regional allies. That also puts Obama on the same side with Russian President Vladimir Putin who has faced Sunni terrorism in Chechnya and is supporting both Iran’s leaders and Syria’s Assad in their resistance to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

    Obama’s “realist” alliance, in turn, presents a direct threat to Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran represents an “existential threat” to Israel and that the “Shiite crescent” must be destroyed. There is also fear among Israeli right-wingers that an effective Obama-Putin collaboration could ultimately force Israel into accepting a Palestinian state.

    So, Netanyahu and the U.S. neocons believe they must do whatever is necessary to shatter this tandem of Obama, Putin and Iran. That is one reason why the neocons were at the forefront of fomenting “regime change” against Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year. By splintering Ukraine on Russia’s border, the neocons drove a wedge between Obama and Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

    Even the slow-witted mainstream U.S. media has begun to pick up on the story of the emerging Israeli-Saudi alliance. In the Jan. 19 issue of Time magazine, correspondent Joe Klein noted the new coziness between top Israeli and Saudi officials.

    He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

    “They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

    Not only did Prince Turki offer an olive branch to Israel, he indicated agreement on what the two countries consider their most pressing strategic interests: Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war. In other words, in noting this extraordinary meeting, Klein had stumbled upon the odd-couple alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia – though he didn’t fully understand what he was seeing.

    On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Obama had shifted his position on Syria as the West made a “quiet retreat from its demand” that Assad “step down immediately.” The article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta noted that the Obama administration still wanted Assad to exit eventually “but facing military stalemate, well-armed jihadists and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United States is going along with international diplomatic efforts that could lead to more gradual change in Syria.”

    At the center of that diplomatic initiative was Russia, again reflecting Obama’s recognition of the need to cooperate with Putin on resolving some of these complex problems (although Obama did include in his speech some tough-guy rhetoric against Russia over Ukraine, taking some pleasure in how Russia’s economy is now “in tatters”).

    But the underlying reality is that the United States and Assad’s regime have become de facto allies, fighting on the same side in the Syrian civil war, much as Israel had, in effect, sided with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front by killing Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

    The Times article noted that the shift in Obama’s position on Syrian peace talks “comes along with other American actions that Mr. Assad’s supporters and opponents take as proof Washington now believes that if Mr. Assad is ousted, there will be nothing to check the spreading chaos and extremism.

    “American planes now bomb the Islamic State group’s militants in Syria, sharing skies with Syrian jets. American officials assure Mr. Assad, through Iraqi intermediaries, that Syria’s military is not their target. The United States still trains and equips Syrian insurgents, but now mainly to fight the Islamic State, not the government.”

    Yet, as Obama adjusts U.S. foreign policy to take into account the complex realities in the Middle East, he now faces another front in this conflict – from the U.S. Congress, which has long been held in thrall by the Israel lobby.

    Not only has Speaker Boehner appealed to Netanyahu to deliver what amounts to a challenge to President Obama’s foreign policy but congressional neocons are even accusing Obama’s team of becoming Iranian stooges. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democratic neocon, said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

    If indeed Netanyahu does end up addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, its members would face a stark choice of either embracing Israel’s foreign policy as America’s – or backing the decisions made by the elected President of the United States.
    __________________________________________

    And Some of the Comments:

    +26 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:45
    .
    So Boehner is actually bringing a foreign leader into the — US — House of Representatives ‘ chamber? … to challenge the US President.

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

    +18 # nice2bgreat 2015-01-23 13:49
    .
    Or is it that this foreign leader will simply take the opportunity to challenge the President, even though he/she is in the US House of Representatives ‘ chamber?
    .

    +24 # ericlipps 2015-01-23 18:42
    Netanyahu is coming to Congress to give its new Republican members the opportunity to kiss his ring before he puts one through their noses. And of course to sound off against President Obama, something Republicans are always happy to hear someone do (they’d feel the same way if it were Bashir Assad)—but that’s just a bonus.

    +15 # X Dane 2015-01-23 19:52
    nice2bgreat.
    I am beyond furious. Why has nobody pointed out that Boehner and the republicans are TRAITORS. They are asking a warmongering prime minister of ANOTHER COUNTRY to dictate how we should conduct our foreign policy.

    This is what happens when so many in congress has dual citizenship with Israel. They do not grasp that they owe loyalty to USA …..NOT Israel.

    Traitors used to be thrown in jail and hanged for actions like this. Something is seriously wrong. And Netanyaho forgets who is propping up his country with BILLIONS annually.

    I can’t believe that Boehner is allowed to get away with this. It is sickening.

    -1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:04
    I too am beyond furious! Our Congress is full of people who should be charged with TREASON!! Those corrupt creatures deserve to so charged and if guilty PUT TO DEATH!!

    The United States has no business to be sending billions of dollars and our armed forces to the Middle East. Day by day we are causing the growth of terrorist forces who have damn good reason to hate Americans. We are killing people day and night all over the Middle East. We sure as hell are not winning the hearts and minds of those people. We need to get the hell out and take care of our problems here at home. That money for the endless wars could be used to put Americans to work rebuilding our failing infrastructure.

    Don’t vote for anyone in Congress now. NO ONE! They are not working for us. They work for their Israeli paymasters.

    +3 # LGNTexas 2015-01-23 21:04
    Just another example of the racist reich-wing delegitimizing our first black president.

    +6 # Interested Observer 2015-01-23 19:52
    It will save the time usually spent getting our Mid-east policy translated from Hebrew.

    +39 # MEBrowning 2015-01-23 18:20
    Yes! During Dubya’s presidency, the Republicans constantly harangued anybody they thought didn’t have “respect for the office of the president.” In other words, anyone who dared to criticize neocon chickenhawks who pandered to the 1% and ignored everybody else. Where’s their respect for the office of the president now? Hypocrites all.

    +14 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:32
    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    +1 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:43
    Quoting wrknight:

    With Republicans, loyalty trumps hypocrisy.

    I presume you mean loyalty to Israel.

    +25 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:30
    “Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East.”

    Boehner’s ignorance extends far beyond foreign policy. In fact, one should question whether he is simply ignorant or just plain stupid.

    +20 # wrknight 2015-01-23 18:35
    Along with those who vote for him.

    +20 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:33
    Makes you want to re-open the 9/11 and Iraq invasion investigations, doesn’t it? Sniff, sniff…

    +26 # fredboy 2015-01-23 18:34
    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    +2 # randrjwr 2015-01-23 20:45
    Quoting fredboy:

    Get ready for a huge backfire if this happens. Putting both Israel and the GOP in the doghouse. Dumb bastards.

    I hope the doghouse has a big, tough lock on the door and a high fence topped with razor wire around it.

    +24 # Ausmar 2015-01-23 19:05
    Boehner’s action is despicable. He has snubbed the president, impaired his diplomatic efforts with Iran, and implicitly acknowledged the Congress subservience to the Israeli lobby. Clearly, by calling on Netanyahu, his aim is to put pressure on some hesitant, AIPAC intimidated Democrats to fall in line with right wing Israeli policy and thereby have enough votes to overcome a presidential veto on further immediate sanctions on Iran, thus opening the way to armed intervention in Iran alongside Israel. Hopefully, enough of the American people will support the president in expressing their disdain for this kind of devious, dangerous, and servile behavior by the US Congress, so as to put a strain on American-Israel i relations. It would be about time for the US to stop being a lackey of Israel.

    +12 # angelfish 2015-01-23 19:16
    WHO the Hell does Boehner think he IS? WHAT gives him the ability OR the right to invite foreigners to speak to our Congress? Murderous NAZI foreigners, at that? It smacks of subversion and outright TREASON! I am appalled at his lack of judgment in taking it upon himself to do this. My only hope is that this might be the beginning of the end of the ReTHUGlican Party. Sane Americans EVERYWHERE should rise up and demand that he be REMOVED as Speaker and that they search High and Low for a ReTHUGlican with Bat’s sense! I know it’s a stretch but there has GOT to be someone out there with a modicum of intellect and sense of decorum. God help us and save us from these intellectual defectives!

    +13 # NOMINAE 2015-01-23 19:34
    From the article : “The Boehner-Netanyahu arrangement demonstrates a mutual contempt for this President’s authority to conduct American foreign policy as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.”
    ___________________________________________

    Precisely, and therefore the Boehner-Netanya hu arrangement is *illegal* by the simple *reason* of being obviously, and egregiously Unconstitutional.

    As Indian Weaver notes above, if the Justice Department and the White House bend over, lie down and accept *this* “rogering”, they deserve everything they get.

    And we, the American “observers” of Government, get a full shout out about the fact that Obama and Holder are COMPLICIT in this bullshit – simply demonstrated by their refusal to ENFORCE against a clearly cut violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    This Kabuki Theater that *IS* U.S. Government is really beginning to grow quite threadbare. It now takes nothing to “see through” all of the phony posturing.

    +10 # reiverpacific 2015-01-23 19:44
    Isn’t Mr “Cancer-bed-sun tan” Boner actually doing what he accused Obama of and wants to sue him for, as in “Overreaching his power” over the ACA, which actually helped a lot of people, it’s imperfections notwithstanding?
    All Nutty-Yahoo and his proto-Fascist and by default Rabidly Nationalist LIKUD party has done is press for “Israeli Exceptionalism” in committing attempted genocide, mass-murder, apartheid destruction of habitat and livelihood on a people forced to live in “The biggest open-air prison in the World”!
    They should both be locked up in the Abu-Grahib Country Club for delusional rogue leaders!

    0 # angelfish 2015-01-23 21:48
    Thank you reiverpacific, you are right ON the money!

    +1 # Paul Larudee 2015-01-23 20:18
    Can we commission a suitable crown that quickly?

    +2 # Activista 2015-01-23 20:19
    Great analysis and focus on the problem – this is essential – USA can NOT fight another war – can not afford it morally and economically.
    We are not helping Israel by solving their problems with neighbors by killing them.
    2014 killing of Gaza – 2140 Palestinians, mostly civilians – is direction where Netanyahu wants to go.
    Hope that people of Israel (and USA) wake up and stop this psychopath.

    +1 # Jayceecool 2015-01-23 20:31
    Does anyone else see the portents of a coup-de-etat here?

    +3 # jdd 2015-01-23 20:38
    While Boehner’s move is disgraceful, the bigger threat at this time if Obama’s quite open admission of financial warfare against Russia and his support for Unkrain’s assault on the Donbas region and intent to send advisors to the “National Guard.” Obama also made threatening statements against China. So while it is true that Obama realizes that he needs Russia’s help to defeat ISIS, he continues to threaten and harden relations with two of the world’s greatest nuclear powers.

    0 # Anonymot 2015-01-23 21:54
    Obama is not a foreign policy mind – he has none. The CIA dictates to him. His own policy advisors are all CIA oriented or simply stupid in the field of diplomacy.

    The last real foreign policy we had was Dick Cheney’s – who had a brain transplant as a boy. I think he got Palin’s.

    +2 # Shorey13 2015-01-23 20:43
    Boehner is both stupid and a traitor. He either doesn’t understand our democracy or chooses to violate it. Foreign policy is the province of the Executive Branch, with Congressional approval of Treaties, Wars and other formal matters. Boehner clearly has no interest in responsible governance.

    But, I was not really unhappy when the Republicans won the last election, because I like to see stupid, evil people given enough rope to hang themselves. The Republicans will be roundly defeated in 2016. You can bet on it.

    +1 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-01-23 21:14
    I hope they will be defeated but not by Democrats. The two corporate parties are equally bad. We need to follow the foot steps of Spain and Greece and form a new political party to represent the working people and throw the plutocrats out of our government. We don’t need endless wars and austerity. We need a government to serve the people of this nation and protect our mother the Earth. Down with this rotten government!

    0 # Saberoff 2015-01-23 21:14
    The world may well not last that long.

    0 # shgo 2015-01-23 21:36
    setting up for 2016 – hope it all backfires – on all these fools who purport to represent the people of this country. NONE OF THEM DO. They represent the corporate plutocracy. Maybe more of us will take to the streets, phones, legislators offices, and come together in a movement that says NO to all of it – but with a vision for social and economic justice for ALL!

    Refresh comments list

    ======================================

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

based on edition.cnn.com/2015/01/20/politi…
and please see also our added paragraphs at the end of this piece.

———————————————————————————————–


State of the Union 2015: Full transcript.

Updated 0208 GMT – January 21, 2015

I watched the OBAMA January 20, 2015 STATE OF THE UNION – THE REAL FIRST SPEECH IN WHAT WILL BE REMEMBERED AS THE START OF TWO YEARS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INDEPENDENT PRESIDENCY – live, at 2 AM VIENNA TIME – January 21st.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.

America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:

The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.


At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

=======================================================================================================


AND THE BOTTOM LINE – WRITTEN IN SERIOUS HUMOR THE DAY BEFORE THE SOTU 2015:

Obama Addresses Extremist Group

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

21 January 2015


The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”

President Obama is courting controversy with his decision to address a group that has become dominated in recent years by extremists.

Some have questioned the appropriateness of the President speaking to such an extremist group, especially because in the past it has issued threats against the United States government.

As recently as 2013, for example, the extremists threatened to shut down the entire federal government if their demands were not met.

On Tuesday afternoon, the White House defended the President’s decision to speak to the extremists, pointing out that the Administration had also initiated dialogues with Iran and North Korea.

Some of the immediate Comments:

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We’ll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to ramp up the moderation.

+33 # wrknight 2015-01-21 22:33
I still can’t figure out why they call this satire.

+9 # joan 2015-01-21 23:25
Hear hear!

0 # cymricmorty 2015-01-22 01:02
My favorite news source and Borowitz, too, though sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference lately.

+17 # sharag 2015-01-21 22:58
At least Iran and North Korea are willing to talk and even show signs of being… reasonable.

+9 # Thinking 2015-01-21 23:43
Laughing out loud — with each sentence. How fun. What a treat after a serious day at a hearing.

=============================================================================================================


And the President continues:

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?

In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.

So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.

It begins with our economy.

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction.
Their first child, Jack, was on the way.

They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.

So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.

Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007. But here’s the thing — those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.

Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help. She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.


In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet — tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.

That’s what middle-class economics is — the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success — we want everyone to contribute to our success.

So what does middle-class economics require in our time?

First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement — and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.

Here’s one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage — these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. That is a fact. And that’s what all of us — Republicans and Democrats alike — were sent here to do.


Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.

By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.

That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.

Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships — opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.

And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.

Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.

Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America. That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.

21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.

21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs — converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain — and make sure to Instagram it.

Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the super-rich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.

This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.

Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.

My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military — then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.

First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.

At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.


Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

That’s how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.

In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.

Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.

Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.

In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules — in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

There’s one last pillar to our leadership — and that’s the example of our values.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice — so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it’s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties — and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.

Looking to the future instead of the past. Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely. Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities. Leading — always — with the example of our values. That’s what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards — our own.

You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America — but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home — a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.

Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.

I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.

I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.


So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.

So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.

Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.

Understand — a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.

A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.

A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.

If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments — but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.

Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.

We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.

That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.

I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol — to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.

Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth — that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen — man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.

I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:

“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”

My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

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Reading this great speech you do not get the full gist of what went on in that chamber. You had to see this with your own eyes on that CNN screen that transmitted it alive – you had to see that young new Lady Republican Senator who stood up and applauded the President – her President – who fought her party on issues of Women Rights of Human Rights and Human Freedoms.

Further, you had to see this with your own eyes how a well tanned House Speaker – Republican John Boehner – sitting on the podium next to Vice-President Joe Biden – glued to his chair – was getting more and more red in his face making his checkered off-red tie look more and more purple. This while VP Biden had a dark blue tie filled in with some red – but President Obama had a very light blue tie with his dark suit. Yes – that light blue tie signaled that he did not intend to dwell on Democrats’ orthodoxy; Obama is ready to work with the Republicans in the name of his ONE AMERICA theme.

This while Boehner did not miss a beat and in the morning invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address US Congress on February 11th on the issue of Iran – this as part of the Republican proposal to increase sanctions on Iran despite the fact that Obama government inspired international negotiations try to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Obama had just said that he would veto any new sanctions bill. We understand that Boehner’s game is to go after Obama, but we do not understand why Netanyahu allows himself to be used in such a game – putting at risk Israel’s special relationship with an American Administration – any American sitting Administration. A Conflict with an American President – Does Netanyahu think that this will play well in the Israeli elections to the Knesset – to be held March 17, 2015?

President Obama’s Vetoes – on the Keystone Pipeline and on Iran Sanctions can not be overruled as the Republicans are well short of the needed 60 votes in the Senate. If the Republicans will deny the President war powers in regard to ISIS they will just show to the World at large how anti-American they are. Much everything else Obama said he wants to do – except the needed taxes on the rich – he can do without Congress – without the Republicans – even without the Democrats. To avoid such a development, it is possible that we shall see more purple Republicans start to come out – this as a self preservation move by people that see the evolving world for what it is – with their own eyes rather then via those irresponsible Washington lobbyists.

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UPDATE ON THIS:

Far from holding their fire, Democrats who support a sanctions bill, like Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, have increased their criticism of the White House.

“The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran,” railed Menendez at a hearing with administration officials on Capitol Hill.

Asked by CNN if this was a deliberate poke at the President, Boehner replied “I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the world and the president last night kind of papered over it.”

He added, “the fact is there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is — from radical Islamic jihadists and from the threat posed by Iran.”

Boehner declined to say when the House would vote on another Iran sanctions bill, but said committees are planning hearings on the issue. Multiple House GOP aides say there are plans for a vote, but the timing is still unclear.

Boehner announced his invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress about Iran the day after President Obama pled with Congress during his State of the Union address to allow the talks to progress.

DOES BOEHNER EXPECT TO SIPHON OF ENOUGH DEMOCRATS ON THIS ISSUE TO OVERRULE THE PRESIDENT’S VETO ON THIS AND COOPTED NETANYAHU TO HELP SPLIT AMERICA?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We re-post this because we bow to Freedom of Speech and realize that this posting actually shows that Greenwald’s position here is a


We re-post this because we do believe in freedom of the press but we do not believe in one’s calling out FIRE when such a call can do harm. Greenwald’s position here is a give-away to a total misunderstanding – some sacred cows – like fight against budding Antisemitism – are sacred indeed.

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France Arrests a Comedian for His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s ‘Free Speech’ Celebration

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

14 January 2015

orty-eight hours after hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then this morning, arrested him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” The comedian, Dieudonné (above), previously sought elective office in France on what he called an “anti-Zionist” platform, has had his show banned by numerous government officials in cities throughout France, and has been criminally prosecuted several times before for expressing ideas banned in that country.

The apparently criminal viewpoint he posted on Facebook declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” Investigators concluded that this was intended to mock the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan and express support for the perpetrator of the Paris supermarket killings (whose last name was “Coulibaly”). Expressing that opinion is evidently a crime in the Republic of Liberté, which prides itself on a line of 20th Century intellectuals – from Sartre and Genet to Foucault and Derrida – whose hallmark was leaving no orthodoxy or convention unmolested, no matter how sacred.

Since that glorious “free speech” march, France has reportedly opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism.” AP reported this morning that “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.”

As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.

It is certainly true that many of Dieudonné’s views and statements are noxious, although he and his supporters insist that they are “satire” and all in good humor. In that regard, the controversy they provoke is similar to the now-much-beloved Charlie Hebdo cartoons (one French leftist insists the cartoonists were mocking rather than adopting racism and bigotry, but Olivier Cyran, a former writer at the magazine who resigned in 2001, wrote a powerful 2013 letter with ample documentation condemning Charlie Hebdo for descending in the post-9/11 era into full-scale, obsessive anti-Muslim bigotry).

Despite the obvious threat to free speech posed by this arrest, it is inconceivable that any mainstream western media figures would start tweeting “#JeSuisDieudonné” or would upload photographs of themselves performing his ugly Nazi-evoking arm gesture in “solidarity” with his free speech rights. That’s true even if he were murdered for his ideas rather than “merely” arrested and prosecuted for them. That’s because last week’s celebration of the Hebdo cartoonists (well beyond mourning their horrifically unjust murders) was at least as much about approval for their anti-Muslim messages as it was about the free speech rights that were invoked in their support – at least as much.

The vast bulk of the stirring “free speech” tributes over the last week have been little more than an attempt to protect and venerate speech that degrades disfavored groups while rendering off-limits speech that does the same to favored groups, all deceitfully masquerading as lofty principles of liberty. In response to my article containing anti-Jewish cartoons on Monday – which I posted to demonstrate the utter selectivity and inauthenticity of this newfound adoration of offensive speech – I was subjected to endless contortions justifying why anti-Muslim speech is perfectly great and noble while anti-Jewish speech is hideously offensive and evil (the most frequently invoked distinction – “Jews are a race/ethnicity while Muslims aren’t” – would come as a huge surprise to the world’s Asian, black, Latino and white Jews, as well as to those who identify as “Muslim” as part of their cultural identity even though they don’t pray five times a day). As always: it’s free speech if it involves ideas I like or attacks groups I dislike, but it’s something different when I’m the one who is offended.

Think about the “defending terrorism” criminal offense for which Dieudonné has been arrested. Should it really be a criminal offense – causing someone to be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned – to say something along these lines: western countries like France have been bringing violence for so long to Muslims in their countries that I now believe it’s justifiable to bring violence to France as a means of making them stop? If you want “terrorism defenses” like that to be criminally prosecuted (as opposed to societally shunned), how about those who justify, cheer for and glorify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, with its “Shock and Awe” slogan signifying an intent to terrorize the civilian population into submission and its monstrous tactics in Fallujah? Or how about the psychotic calls from a Fox News host, when discussing Muslims radicals, to “kill them ALL.” Why is one view permissible and the other criminally barred – other than because the force of law is being used to control political discourse and one form of terrorism (violence in the Muslim world) is done by, rather than to, the west?

For those interested, my comprehensive argument against all “hate speech” laws and other attempts to exploit the law to police political discourse is here. That essay, notably, was written to denounce a proposal by a French minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, to force Twitter to work with the French government to delete tweets which officials like this minister (and future unknown ministers) deem “hateful.” France is about as legitimate a symbol of free expression as Charlie Hebdo, which fired one of its writers in 2009 for a single supposedly anti-Semitic sentence in the midst of publishing an orgy of anti-Muslim (not just anti-Islam) content. This week’s celebration of France – and the gaggle of tyrannical leaders who joined it – had little to do with free speech and much to do with suppressing ideas they dislike while venerating ideas they prefer.

Perhaps the most intellectually corrupted figure in this regard is, unsurprisingly, France’s most celebrated (and easily the world’s most overrated) public intellectual, the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy. He demands criminal suppression of anything smacking of anti-Jewish views (he called for Dieudonné’s shows to be banned (“I don’t understand why anyone even sees the need for debate”) and supported the 2009 firing of the Charlie Hebdo writer for a speech offense against Jews), while shamelessly parading around all last week as the Churchillian champion of free expression when it comes to anti-Muslim cartoons.

But that, inevitably, is precisely the goal, and the effect, of laws that criminalize certain ideas and those who support such laws: to codify a system where the views they like are sanctified and the groups to which they belong protected. The views and groups they most dislike – and only them – are fair game for oppression and degradation.

The arrest of this French comedian so soon after the epic Paris free speech march underscores this point more powerfully than anything I could have written about the selectivity and fraud of this week’s “free speech” parade. It also shows – yet again – why those who want to criminalize the ideas they most dislike are at least as dangerous and tyrannical as the ideas they target: at least.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 6th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

An AIC Update comes at a very important time. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave a speech on January 4 in which he indirectly took issue with the Supreme Leader’s call for “resistance economy,” saying that Iran cannot live in “isolation” and still hope for economic development. Crippled by mismanagement, corruption and sanctions, Iran’s economy must now also cope with falling oil prices.

He also said that the Constitution (Article 59) anticipates a “referendum” on important issues facing the nation but failed to single out one and mention that any such referendum must pass two thirds of the conservative Parliament. Rouhani surely had the nuclear issue in mind, but given that he still has no deal and the negotiations are held in secret, his hint toward a nuclear referendum is premature.

Mr. Rouhani and his “hard line” rivals disagree on the extent of compromises Iran must make or gain. It is in this context that Dr. Amirahmadi’s article (below) is a must-read. He gleans the basic parameters of an emerging deal and posits that the negotiations will gradually “melt away” Iran’s nuclear program to a symbolic level in return for a phased lifting of some sanctions and Iranian assets.

Further, we agree with the basic assumption of AIC founder – Professor Amirahmadi -that Iran is a much more complicated case then Cuba and that here there cannot be a full one-piece agreement. It is rather an easing into such an agreement by stages that will make it eventually possible in the reality that opposition to an agreement lurches in every corner with serious non-forgiving stake-holders involved.

The Nuclear Negotiations: The Melting Strategy and the Missiles Time Bomb.
By AIC News – Posted on December 31st, 2014

by Hooshang Amirahmadi
Founder of The American Iranian Council

Melting Strategy-AIC – Given the secrecy of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, it is hard to surmise the concessions being made or the structure of a final settlement. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the path to a nuclear deal will involve many “mini deals” by which Iran’s nuclear program will be slowly “melted” away to a symbolic level in return for a measured release of its frozen oil money and lifting of some sanctions. This “melting strategy by default” is becoming increasingly attractive to both sides, given that the US and Iran cannot publicly and quickly succumb to each other’s “maximum” demands, knowing it will be seen as a “bad” deal by their respective opponents and thus not implementable. Besides, the word “comprehensive” is too loaded with expectations and has by itself become an obstacle.


As a sign that this strategy is at work, both sides are avoiding grand results and are making compromises in increments, with Iran offering disproportionate concessions. For the Rouhani government, this approach helps conceal its concessions from domestic radicals, while at the same time glorifying the meager concessions it receives from the US. For the Obama Administration, the approach helps minimize pressure from the Congress and stakeholders like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who demand tougher measures against Iran. In the face of these “opponents,” it would have been, and will be, hard if not impossible for the two sides to arrive at the desired “comprehensive deal” in a rush.

To maintain the “incremental momentum,” negotiations have resumed in Geneva after a short lull despite the fact that Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) “missed” their second deadline on November 2014 to reach a comprehensive deal on the basis of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in November 2013. The first deadline had been set for last July, only 4 months apart from the second. A third deadline has now been set for July 1, 2015, seven months later from the second. Reportedly, Iran, pressed by economic woes, wanted a shorter interval, but France convinced others that a longer time interval was needed. With Iran “disarmed” of its “nuclear ambition,” the urgency has also rescinded.

The temporal dimension is certainly a crucial issue as the parties need more time to figure out what extra compromises they can make in the next stage towards the desired comprehensive deal. However, for that groundwork, Iran and the US in particular would also need to bring on board their apathetic opponents, who would only acquiesce if the concession increments are seen to their political advantage. These obstacles also existed when the parties negotiated the JPA but that agreement, which was reached in a rush, had an urgent and temporary character, and was billed as a “framework” rather than a “comprehensive” deal.


The JPA gave the first indication that a “melting strategy by default” was at work. Iran committed to “never” and under “no circumstances” develop or seek nuclear weapons. It also agreed to nullify most of its 20 percent enriched uranium, reduce operating centrifuges to half and remove all advanced IR2 centrifuges from operation, cap the amount of enriched uranium to less than 10,000 Kg, stop work on and accept modifications on the Arak Heavy Water Plant, halt enrichment at the Fardo underground facility, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unrestricted inspection. In return for downsizing and halting its nuclear program, Iran was promised access to less than 5 percent of its frozen oil money and temporary relief from a few sanctions; significantly, the list did not include sanctions on banking, oil, and the UN resolutions.

As the IAEA has confirmed, Iran over-implemented its commitments in the subsequent months. Even if the issue of Iran’s possible intention to weaponize before 2003 was not explicitly included in the JPA, Iran has in vain tried to cooperate with the IAEA to settle this disputed matter. The agency is asking for inspection of certain military sites and access to scientists and unspecified documents. Iran has provided massive information, allowed inspection of the Parchin site, and has also offered access to the Marivan region, where Iran is suspected to have tested certain explosives. However, it has insisted that no secret documents exist and that interviewing scientists could lead to their identification and subsequent murder as in the past.

The P5+1, mainly the US, has also delivered on its commitments though with stiffness and delays. In one case, the US, using the “loophole” in the JPA, even imposed fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian entities who had allegedly violated the US sanction regulations. In spite of this cooperative spirit, the successive negotiations were increasingly inhibited by tougher demands by the US and stiffer resistance by Iran. The standard argument for why they failed to reach a comprehensive deal this last November is that they could not agree on the final scale and scope of Iran’s enrichment capacity, and on the extent and timing of sanctions relief for Iran. The dispute over Iran’s missile programs was certainly another obstacle.

For the US, concern regarding Iran’s enrichment capacity is directly related to the so-called breakout time – the time it would take Iran to develop a bomb clandestinely. For Iran, lifting of sanctions was more than just an economic concern; it would silence the so-called hardliners in Iran who continue to argue that the US cannot be trusted. Lacking trust in the Islamic regime, the P5+1 is seeking a “bullet proof” deal that eliminates Iran’s ability to ever develop clandestine bombs and missiles capable of delivering them. This requires that Iran is left with a symbolic enrichment capacity and smaller missile programs. To achieve this “normal” condition, the US insist that key sanctions will have to remain including the UN resolutions.

These “standard” arguments about why a comprehensive deal could not be reached have merits but they do not tell the full story. A deeper concern of the negotiators was how to “sell” the deal they would reach to their respective domestic and foreign opponents who would invariably view it as a “bad deal.” To them, there was only one sure solution: forego a comprehensive deal in favor of letting sustained negotiations gradually melt Iran’s nuclear, and hopefully its missile, programs in return for gradual trickle of sanctions relief. This “melting strategy by default” would also save the “huge investment of time and prestige” the parties had put into the nuclear negotiations while preventing a disastrous collapse.

Hence, despite the “vast differences,” the parties emphasized the “significant progress” being made and agreed to another extension of the negotiations. However, to move forward, another mini deal had to be struck. Thus, the JPA was extended and a new set of concessions was agreed upon. Accordingly, Iran committed to giving up certain other parts of its nuclear program in return for access to another small percentage of its frozen oil money. Specifically, Iran agreed to eliminate the remaining stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, stop research and development on advanced centrifuges, forgo laser enrichment technology, and permit the IAEA to double the frequency of its snap inspections.

Significantly, Iran has reportedly even considered the US proposal to ship part of its low enriched uranium to Russia for re-importation in the form of fuel rods. If true, this concession will be the sign that with the nuclear program melting away, the Islamic Revolution is fading away as well. The key aim of the 1979 revolution was national “independence,” a slogan directed at the colonial practices to which Iran had been subjected. One such practice, which has been said to have caused the country’s underdevelopment, is the so-called old international division of labor. Accordingly, Iran was forced to produce raw and semi-finished materials for conversion into final products by the imperial powers.

This last extension of negotiations also includes an interesting twist to the process: instead of setting one seven-month deadline, it actually sets two deadlines within that same time interval, one for arriving at a “political framework” and another one for arriving at a “comprehensive deal.” This innovation is intriguing because arriving at the political framework will be easier and its achievement will be heralded as a sign of a major success to come, which will in turn allow for subsequent concessions to be made easier. Significantly, this twist will reinforce the “melting strategy by default” and help negotiations to move to another future deadline.

Indeed, as the “comprehensive” approach has failed, the “melting strategy by default” has become the “melting strategy by design,” helping sustain the negotiations. Thus, the next round of negotiations may not also end in a “comprehensive deal,” but rather to yet another mini deal and extension, setting the next deadline with a longer time interval within which a few deadlines will be incorporated. In other words, negotiations will not simply collapse or produce a comprehensive deal but continue in a step-wise fashion producing mini deals. The only wild card in this scenario is the Supreme Leader; he could withdraw support for the melting approach as concessions reach his “red lines” for the Rouhani government.

One such red lines relates to Iran’s missile programs. As was reported in an important interview by Parliamentarian Mahmoud Nabavian with the Raja News, Iran has agreed to have its missiles discussed but demands for their downsizing will suggest a push for “disarming” Iran and will result in a breakdown of the negotiations. As Nabavian disclosed, Secretary John Kerry “crossed many of Iran’s red lines” during his meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Oman, making Zarif leave the meeting thinking that the negotiations would have to stop. Iran subsequently returned to the Vienna negotiations and agreed to further nuclear concessions in return for more money. Most likely, the missile time bomb has been left for the current negotiations.

This article was published in Payvand News

Curious why normalization of relations with Iran will be fundamentally more challenging than with Cuba? Click here to read Dr. Amirahmadi’s article “Iran is no Cuba”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Turkey is no American Ally
Originally published under the BESA title, “America’s Unacknowledged Problem.”

by Efraim Inbar
BESA Center Perspectives
January 4, 2015

for article please see - www.meforum.org/4955/turkey-is-no…


Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a Shillman/Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

December 4-6, 2014 I joined Genia and Yehuda Kedem – professional tour organizers – who with the help of Eilat based tour guide
Sam Caspi were taking about 25 people on a bus trip to the South of Israel with a two nights accommodation at the Leonard Hotel in Eilat. I write about this because we visited with four extremely interesting individuals or couples – who I felt espouse the heroic spirit of the country’s past, but also have input to the direction the State will take.

The trip was mainly to the Arava, (Arabah in Arabic) – that section of the Jordan Rift Valley running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Dead Sea and continues further south ending at the Gulf of Aqaba.

It is on the Eastern side of the Negev Desert joining the Kingdom of Jordan. Thanks to the ingenuity of the Jewish pioneers and their skill in using whatever water resources they could generate locally, then enhanced with a water pipeline from the more endowed North – great farm areas were developed here with various forms of agriculture.

But before I talk of the three people of the Arava proper, I will first report on a marvelous Beduin woman that plainly charmed all of us.

In the Yerucham region, filled with Israeli military installations and Bedui non-recognized villages – Salima is running her “Tent of Dreams” where she serves very sweet tea and tells her life story to tourists, and smiles showing off her beautiful little niece. Her clan has settled there after years of wandering in the desert – and as they could not produce a deed of ownership they are just tolerated – but their community is not recognized as a settlement. Like all other Bedui women she is the property of her husband, who has also other wives. But here the difference – he did not interfere with her drive to learn – and yes – she has learned to perfection both Arabic and Hebrew and even is going to the University in Beer Sheba to learn Hebrew literature.

Sure – she absorbed the Bedui culture, but the only learned culture she knows is the one that she managed to grab – the Hebrew culture. In effect we felt that she did better then some Jews that immigrated from Arab countries or from Russia.

The Bedui wanderers were historically at loggerhead with the Arab farmers, so when the Jews came they cooperated with them.
Bedui are the trackers in the Israeli army as they are native to the desert, but when Israel pushed to settle them, and then did not recognize their settlements – this created a change in the Bedui attitude towards the State. Salima is outspoken and we enjoyed seeing a an intelligent woman that grew out of nowhere, and managed to break many taboos. If she were not a woman I could see her as member of the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – but she must nevertheless watch out she does not anger too much the Bedui traditionalists.

From drinking her tea and hearing from her about the life of the Bedui women, we continued to the Arava with first stop at the Vidor Center – an interactive museum and window to the Arava; nearby there is also the headquarters of the Arava District.
The Center is a research station for advanced agriculture alongside the desert’s soil and water challenges.

From there we went to the Moshav Ein Yahav where we visited some more greenhouses before going to meet the widow of one of the founders – the fascinating Cha Cha Porat who continued the bee-keeping business that she started with her husband. Now she passed the business to her son so she can spend her time with her love – making art.

Her home is an astonishing museum – all the sculptures paintings, constructs were made by her. She spent her whole life here and would not want to live anywhere else.

In the honey business they developed a bumble bee that thrives in the heat of the area.

The following day we first went to the Timna Park to see the old Copper works that were once believed to be King Solomon’s mines but now have been placed at a different time in history. In any case – it is clear that once there was here a thriving civilization. After this touristic site we continued to look up our third fabulous host at a private company that everyone calls the Botanical Gardens of Eilat. We visited there with Yoram Nadel of the www.BotanicGarden.co.il The place was once a military
strong-point but after the peace with Jordan the military decided to vacate the place.

This Botanical Garden is a unique Organic and Ecological Garden -the first organic farm ever established in Israel that grows and acclimatizes plants to desert conditions. The impressive collection of plants began as seeds from all over the world. Everything started here 16 years ago when there was nothing there – only desert.

The seeds sprouted side by side, in harmony regardless of geographical association, in desert soil reinforced with compost only.
Stone terraces were built over the years, in ancient Biblical style, to produce balanced growth areas and overcome the high salinity of the ground. They have here the Baobab tree, Cuban almond tree, Coconut trees, etc. They have a palm tree that was grown from a 1250 year old seed that was found jn an archeological dig at the Dead Sea.

The garden is watered solely by brackish water and for the fun of it they even built a spray system to give the impression of a rain forest!

From here we drove north and passed the place where a burst oil pipeline just caused a huge disaster by destroying some ecological sites that we just learned how hard it was to get them in the first place. Oh well – that is what is due to a country that has not done yet enough to disengage itself from the importation of oil. This is the pipeline that brings shipped-in oil from Eilat to the two Israeli Petroleum refineries.

Then we stopped for our fourth visit at the Arendal Farm run by a young couple that turned it into a hotel while planting olive trees and getting on the market a high quality oil product. The place is run as a green business – everything organic and energy saving. Originally also a military stroghold but the army gave it up when the relations with Jordan improved.
It was a pleasure to talk to the couple running the place and clearly they are pioneers. Nobody before them planted olive trees in the Arava – now the Jordanians are trying to copy them on their side of the valley.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Jewish National Fund (Hebrew: Keren Kayemet LeYisrael) (abbreviated as JNF, and sometimes KKL) was founded in 1901, at the Fifth Zionist Congress, to buy land for Jewish settlement and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later British Mandate for Palestine, and subsequently the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories).

The JNF is a non-profit organization. By 2007, it owned 13% of the total land in Israel. Since its inception, the JNF has planted over 240 million trees in Israel. It has also built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of land, and established more than 1,000 parks.

In 2002, the JNF was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

Yona Kremenezky: A disciple of Theodor Herzl and his long-standing aide, was a well-known Viennese industrialist. He was appointed first Chairman of the JNF – 1902-1907 with Herzel’s support. Even before being appointed Chairman of KKL-JNF, soon after its establishment, Kremenetzky attributed paramount importance to the land for the Jewish People. He himself had acquired a tract in Petah Tikva and planted an orchard there.

In his capacity as head of JNF, he developed two salient fund-raising devices: Its stamps and Blue Box. He served as Chairman until the Head Office moved from Vienna to Cologne.

Early land purchases were in Judea and the Lower Galilee. In 1909, the JNF played a central role in the founding of Tel Aviv. The establishment of the “Olive Tree Fund” marked the beginning of Diaspora support of afforestation efforts. The Blue Box – the money collection box – (known in Yiddish as the “Pushke”) – has been part of the JNF since its inception, symbolizing the partnership between Israel and the Diaspora. In the period between the two world wars, about one million of these blue and white tin collection boxes could be found in Jewish homes throughout the world. From 1902 until the late 1940s, the JNF sold JNF stamps to raise money. For a brief period in May 1948, JNF stamps were used as postage stamps during the transition from Palestine to Israel.

The first parcel of land, 200 dunams (0.20 km2) east of Hadera, was received as a gift from the Russian Zionist leader Isaac Leib Goldberg of Vilnius, in 1903. It became an olive grove. In 1904 and 1905, the JNF purchased land plots near the Sea of Galilee and at Ben Shemen. In 1921, JNF land holdings reached 25,000 acres (100 km²), rising to 50,000 acres (200 km²) by 1927. At the end of 1935, JNF held 89,500 acres (362 km²) of land housing 108 Jewish communities. In 1939, 10% of the Jewish population of the British Mandate of Palestine lived on JNF land.

From the beginning, JNF’s policy was to lease land long-term rather than sell it. In its charter, the JNF states: “Since the first land purchase in the early 1900s for and on behalf of the Jewish People, JNF has served as the Jewish People’s trustee of the land, initiating and charting development work to enable Jewish settlement from the border in the north to the edge of the desert and the Arava in the south.”

After Israel’s establishment in 1948, the government began to sell absentee lands to the JNF. On January 27, 1949, 1,000 km² of land (from a total of about 3,500 km²) was sold to the JNF for the price of I£11 million. Another 1,000 km² of land was sold to the JNF in October 1950.

In 1953, the JNF was dissolved and re-organized as an Israeli company under the name Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL). In 1960, administration of the land held by the JNF-KKL, apart from forested areas, was transferred to a newly formed government agency, the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The ILA was then responsible for managing some 93% of the land of Israel. All the land managed by the ILA was defined as Israeli lands; it included both land owned by the government (about 80%) and land owned by the JNF-KKL (about 13%). The JNF-KKL received the right to nominate 10 of the 22 directors of the ILA, lending it significant leverage within that state body.

After concentrating on the Centre and Northern part of the state, the JNF-KKL started supporting Jewish settlements around the Negev border from around 1965.

The JNF charter specifies reclamation of land for the Jewish people as its primary purpose. During the 1980s, almost 60,000 acres (240 km2) were planted. Over 50,000 acres (200 km2) of crop-land were reclaimed and hundreds of miles of roads built. Research into soil and water conservation and the construction of dams and reservoirs took on added importance in the face of water shortages and drought.

The JNF’s collaborative work involves participation in the International Arid Land Consortium, which explores the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions, working to develop sustainable ecological practices as a means to improve the quality of life among people in arid regions

The present KKL-JNF World Chairman, since 2006, is Mr. Efi Stelzer who spoke to us at the Jerusalem Post Conference – please see our first article in this series - www.sustainabilitank.info/#34982

He said that the role of his organization now is mainly – in few words – “Preparing for the generations to come.”

He elaborated: “Conserve our natural resources for the future.” As examples of this policy, he cited the organization’s planting of over 240 million trees, its battle against encroaching desertification, its development of water resources, agriculture, community development and tourism, and its preservation work of religious sites of all the country’s faiths.

“KKL-JNF’s activities are intended to benefit all residents of the State of Israel without discrimination,” emphasized Stenzler, and described the Wadi Attir Project, which consists of the establishment of a sustainable desert community in conjunction with the Negev Bedouin. “All our work is carried out with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends throughout the world,” he added.

At the conclusion of his speech, KKL-JNF’s World Chairman addressed the diplomatic representatives directly: “The expertise KKL-JNF has accumulated is used by developing countries all over the world,” he said. “We shall be glad to expand our International collaboration and benefit from the knowledge your countries have to offer, while contributing to you the products of our experience.”

The guests at the Conference were able to learn more about KKL-JNF’s activities at the KKL-JNF stand in the entrance lobby, where informational pamphlets were distributed and Creating a Better Tomorrow – a film about the work of KKL-JNF – was screened before his presentation. A token gift of a key chain bearing the KKL-JNF symbol was presented to each visitor.

KKL–JNF is the oldest environmental organization in Israel, having been established over 110 years ago. Throughout the years they have actively cooperated with many countries and international organizations in a wide variety of projects. We will now focus on this International Cooperation.

We will look at topics that the KKL-JNF categorizes as:

– Knowledge in Service of Humanity
– International Climate Change Initiatives
– International Forestry Initiatives
– International Water Initiatives

KKL-JNF shares its knowledge and experience all over the world, and has participated in and sponsored numerous international conferences, showcasing KKL-JNF’s technical experience and applied research.

The technical areas are in: Desertification, Afforestation, Water, Climate Change, and Agriculture.


on International Climate Change Initiatives JNF plays a vital role in preserving open spaces. Israel is one of the only nations in the world to have more trees today than it did a century ago.

JNF has become an international expert in afforestation in arid and semi-arid regions, and regularly participates in international forums and participates in joint forestry projects with other countries and international organizations.

Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, water recycling and similar fields. JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis and helps other Nations with its know-how..

KKL-JNF is Israel’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO) with United Nations status, dealing with land amelioration, water conservation and afforestation. This international cooperation activity addresses key global issues through mutual networking, knowledge sharing and spreading environmental advances beyond Israel’s borders.

JNF stands at the forefront of knowledge and technology needed for:

Managing open areas and forests

Combating desertification

Developing and implementing advanced methods for harvesting water run-off

Reclaiming rivers and streams

Conserving the land through sustainable agriculture and research


As a country that is largely arid, Israel has met the challenge of managing desert lands and combating desertification. JNF is the leading body in this field, and is interested to share its experience and know-how with its neighbors and with countries around the world.

Just as KKL-JNF lessons are learned from the experience of others, so too does JNF teach others to use the experience it has accumulated. KKL-JNF plays a central role in disseminating this information through its cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture. In December 2008, the three were instrumental in realizing an initiative for an international seminar on the subject of “Combating Desertification.”

KKL-JNF also takes part in the ongoing discussions led by the International Arid Land Consortium (IALC) and the Middle East Research Cooperation (MERC).

Israel participates in the three Rio Conventions – Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification, was involved in hosting meetings that worked on the Synergies between the three conventions, and the bi-annual series of DDD Conferences started in 2008 – Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – which the Fifth Conference in this series, the Sede Boqer Conference, November 14-20, 2014 – was the reason of my own visit to Israel this year, was just the right example of how Israel and the JNF as part of it, can develop cooperation with international organizations, single States, corporations, Academia, and NGOs. In a future article on our website I will be going into more details of what transpired at the Sede Boqer meeting.

Talking about Climate Change, KKL-JNF are proud of their tree planting activities – and from their website I am copying the following:

The process of climate change is the result of human activities, which cause the emission of greenhouse gas that pollutes the atmosphere. The average person should plant 200 trees in his/her lifetime.

Planting trees is one of the most effective, proactive ways of stopping the greenhouse effect that is responsible for climate change.

People pollute the atmosphere as a result of their everyday activities. Each person is responsible for the emission of 70 to 100 tons of greenhouse gas during his/her lifetime.

Each tree absorbs about half a ton of atmosphere-polluting carbon dioxide during its life.

The average person should plant two hundred trees in order to neutralize the pollution s/he produces during his lifetime.

Since its inception, KKL-JNF has planted over 230 million trees on a million dunams of land, which help mitigate climate change.

As part of the United Nations (UNEP) “Plant the Planet” program, whose goal is to plant a billion trees, KKL-JNF committed itself to planting six million trees in Israel over the next decade.


Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, recycling, re-using wastewater and similar fields. Much of this information has been researched and implemented by KKL-JNF, who is happy to share knowledge with other countries and professional bodies throughout the world. With the help of its friends worldwide, KKL-JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis, including building water reservoirs, developing biological water technologies to purify wastewater for reuse, and river restoration.


Oak Hammock Wetlands in Manitoba, Canada and Hula Valley in the Galilee, Israel Bird Migration and Conservation Work – an opening to Africa as well:

A twin-site treaty for the promotion of the combined development of two major bird-conservation sites – Lake Hula in Israel and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba – has been signed in October 2010 between KKL-JNF and the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The partnership agreement was signed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick at a ceremony held at Lake Hula Park. It is designed to formalize cooperation on site development, scientific research, educational activities and management challenges. Upon signing the agreement, Minister Christine Melnick has said: “We hope that this collaboration between the two countries will enable Lake Hula and Oak Hammock Marsh nature reserve to reach their full potential both as tourist attractions possessed of a rich and varied ecological system that feeds significant freshwater sources and as major way stations for migrating birds.”

Oak Hammock Marsh Park covers 36 thousand dunam (approx nine thousand acres). It is the remains of what was once a large lake, and it attracts a great deal of wild life, including some 280 species of birds that either pass through the site or nest in it. Half a million geese and duck pass every year though the park, which is considered one of North America’s prime bird-watching locations. Visitors to the park have thirty kilometers of trails at their disposal, together with a modern visitors’ center.

The Hula Valley is one of the most unique regions in northern Israel, and the Hula Lake Park is considered one the most important birdwatching sites in the world. Lush, green fields are interspersed throughout the valley surrounded by imposing mountains on the east and the west. The striking black volcanic basalt hills south of the valley slowed down the flow of melted snow and rain from Mt. Hermon creating historic Lake Hula and its surrounding wetlands, which served as a filter for the water flowing into Lake Kinneret. At different seasons it hosts cranes, storks, pelicans, ducks, raptors and many water birds. KKL-JNF was among those who established the lake in the early 1990s, and it remains among the sites managers today.

We will get back to this subject in a future article in our series – this because on December 1st, 2014 I found myself involved at the German-Israeli Climate Talks in the Herzliya Israeli Air Force Auditorium on The Effects of Climate Change on Birds @ Bird Migration. This was a meeting on the importance of the Hula to the Bird Biodiversity in Europe. The Israeli scientists extended now their work to Kenya as well. This International topic was going to be picked up in Israellagain on December 22nd.

Manitoba and Israel are very different from each other. For example, Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes, some of which are larger than the entire State of Israel, while Israel has only one sizable lake: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The two countries’ bird-conservation sites, however, have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

I went to Israel after the 2014 Elections in the US for a full month – this so to see the Potential of President Obama Justifying to Himself and the World that Nobel Prize which he got on Credit.

The day the election results were known I said to myself that something I felt Obama ought to say to Himself in Private:
Good Riddance of the Democrat Senate that Blocked my Way. I know how to handle the obstinate Republicans – will even cut deals with them – but how could I set aside those Democrats that in their worry about losing their positions if they do something – preferred to do nothing – so they did not move on my scheme of things. Now they lost anyhow – this because their non-action was a non-starter.

I lost 6 years of my Presidency and the only thing I can show of with – is the Health-Care Bill and the improved economy. Everything else was interfered with, or I did not even submit because I was told – it is dead on arrival. I am left with two years to save my legacy – and by God – I WILL DO IT!

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Some of our previous postings that sort of anticipated this present posting:

The Lesson of November 4, 2014 – Uninspired Democrats that tried to look like Republicans have lost.
Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 9th, 2014

After an interim of two Months of the Zombies – Without the fiction of a Democrat Senate – we are optimists in the sense that we think Gridlock is over – instead there will be acceptable Compromise and honest Confrontation. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 7th, 2014

QUOTATION OF THE DAY:
“It doesn’t make me mopey. It energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA, on his party’s sweeping midterm losses.

Here’s what’s next: Now, President Obama Promisses Two Years Of Relentless Work That Will Secure The Future For Every Single American – Not Just The Few That Benefitted From The Achievements Of His First Six Years On The Job. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2014

The White House, Washington:
Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won.

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The direct excuse for my trip was an invitation to the 5th DDD Sede Boqer Meeting of the Ben Gurion University (Drylands, Desert, and Desertification) (Sunday November 16th till Thursday November 20th). This is an area of practical achievements Israel excelled with, and it could, and in effect does, help now poor but potentially rich, African States, and other Developing and even Developed States. I was at the first two meetings of these conferences – in the years 2006 and 2008 but did not go to the subsequent two conferences in the years 2010 and 2012. This because from the perch at the UN in New York it seemed like Israel being ostracized cannot live up to the potential it has to work with the Africans. I learned later – that this is not really the case and that the UNCCD (The UN Convention to Combat Desertification) finds ways to bring them on board. The organization’s Chief Scientist is now an Israeli – Professor Uriel Safriel from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – and a link to them is former Ambassador of Israel to the UN, Mr. Israel Eliashiv. Then, to say the whole truth – I had also a gripe that one of the Sede Boqer organizers was instrumental in splitting the Green Camp in Israel by creating a new party and causing the potential three mandates in the 2009 elections to come to nought – as no party passed the required minimum threshold. This effectively removed a party that could have played an important role in coalition building.

The 5-th Bi-annual Conference on DRYLANDS, DESERTS and DESERTIFICATION at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus – November 17 – 20, 2014. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2014

To get even more out of this trip I further enlisted for a tour of the Southern Negev and the Arawa and Eilat – for Thursday December 4 – till Saturday December 6th, with originally intended return to Vienna December 9th. This second activity took me to visit with four terrific individuals that have made very laudable advances that show the original pioneering spirit of Israel is not defunct. The above showed me there is still great potential in Israel, and on those Fridays I was in Tel Aviv, I had the honor to participate at the Uri Avnery table for dinner – an institution in itself that goes back to the Ben Gurion times and that is the place to be if you want politically uncensored insights to the Israeli body-politics. Now that was a special privilege in days the government is in tremors.

Then came the clincher – two announcements by two very different organizations that were analyzing the US and its future relations to Israel. That was a clear signal to me that there is an underground in Israel that realizes that these last two years of the Obama Presidency will be different – and that Israel better prepare to do more then just give lip-service to its relations with the US.

I changed my return ticket to Vienna for December 14th – so I could participate at those events – and that was the latest I could personally stay in Israel. I realized that I will be missing many more events as the political season has only started, with elections to the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) set for March 17th, 2015. Those elections will bring to life a government that will have finally to partner in finding solutions in an effort to – saying it mildly – tone down the uneasiness that prevails in the Middle East.

This first posting from that trip is only about the last two mentioned events – the other material – the more up-beat material – will come later. But I want also to mention that I missed the Ben-Gurion Day November 27th held by the University in Beer-Sheva – an occasion where Baroness Ariana de Rothshield of Switzerland, and Dr. Yossi Vardi – he was one of Israel’s first High-Tech entrepreneurs – got Honorary Doctoral Degrees, and Ms. Shoshana Agagani got the Ben-Gurion 2014 Negev Award “for promoting the personal and social prosperity of all its inhabitants.”

the two conferences were:
 besacenter.org/wp-content/uploads…


AMERICA’S STANDING IN THE WORLD – IMAGE AND REALITY – An International Conference at the BESA Center (The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Monday December 8 and Tuesday December 9, 2014.

The program was:

Monday, December 8

2:00 pm – Opening SessionToday’s America
Chair: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
with Prof. Eliot Cohen,SAIS, Washington DC – The United States and the World: Lessons from Fifteen Years of War
Prof. Henry Nau, George Washington University – The American Foreign Policy Debate: Deja Vu?
Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA Center – American Public Opinion
and Prof. Steven David, Johns Hopkins University – Obama: The Reluctant Realist

4:00 pm – The Asian Arena
Chair: Prof. Shlomo Shpiro, BESA Center
with Prof. Jian (Jay) Wang, University of Southern California – Chinese Perceptions of the U.S.
Dr. Alon Levkowitz – BESA Center – Seoul-Washington Alliance: The Beginning of Independence?
and Commodore Uday Bhaskar, Society for Policy Studies – Indian Perceptions

5:30 pm – Regional Perceptions
Chair: Ambassador Danny Ayalon
with Dr. Dima Adamsky,IDC – Change and Continuity in Russian Perceptions of the U.S.
Dr. Josef Braml, German Council on Foreign Relations – Transatlantic Relationship
and Prof. Arie Kacowicz, Hebrew University – Latin-American Perceptions

Tuesday, December 9

9:30 am Strategic Issues
Chair: Prof. Moshe Arens
Dr. Amit Mor, Eco Energy Ltd. – The Energy Market and U.S. Foreign Policy
Dr. Emily Landau,INSS – U.S. Counter-Proliferation Policy: The Iran Case
Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA Center – The U.S. in the Middle East: Offshore Balancing or Retreat?
and Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA Center – Obama’s Catastrophic Legacy in the Middle East.

11:30 am The Middle East
Chair: Ambassador Aryeh Mekel
with Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, BESA Center – American-Saudi Relations
Dr. Efrat Aviv, BESA Center – Obama’s Best Friend – Turkey’s Erdogan
Dr. Yaeli Bloch-Elkon, BESA Center, Israeli Attitudes to the Obama Administration
an dMichael Eisenstadt, Washington Institute – Toward a New U.S. Strategy in the Middle East.

2:30 pm Implications for Israel
Chair:Prof. Ron Hassner, Berkeley University
with Jonathan Rynhold, BESA Center – The Debate Over American Grand Strategy: The Implications for Israel
Dr. Michael Makovsky,JINSA – Israel: The Regional U.S. Ally
Prof. Yair Evron, INSS – American Realism and Israeli Policy Options
and Prof. Shmuel Sandler, BESA Center – US Impact on Israel’s Deterrence Policy.

4:15 pm Round Table of Former Senior Policy Makers
Chair: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA Center
with Prof. Uzi Arad, IDC, Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Steven Simon, Former Director of MENA Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council
Mr. Rafael Bardaji, Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Spain
Amb. Shivshankar Menon , Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India
and Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror, Rosshandler Fellow at the BESA Center,
Former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel.

6:00 pm Keynote Address Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel – American Leadership.

The program was very mixed and the organizers heavily based it on the Netanyahu government pro-US Republican attitude.

But that was not the whole story. The enlightening spots came from the foreign guests and from the US Ambassador.


The most enlightening aspect was that the event was covered in the media as a US presentation – and in effect it ended up being just that.

“Israel Hayom” – a no-charge newspaper established by a US Republican billionaire in order to prop up the Netanyahu government, had the following day a front page that started by saying that the US Ambassador, in his sharp presentation, raised (to Israelis) the question – Is this an interference with the Israel upcoming elections?

THEN IN BIG LETTERS – “WARNING: IN THE TWO YEARS THAT WERE LEFT, OBAMA WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH FORWARD THE NEGOTIATIONS” (That is the attempt at promoting the two States Solution for the Palestinian-Israel dispute).

“In Ambassador Shapiro’s words at the Bar Ilan University it was made clear that despite an oppositionary Congress, the President has more powers to act in matters of Foreign Policy; the principle of two States is important for him.”

Further, the paper described correctly that the Ambassador said that historically, with a non-functioning Congress, Presidents take lots of decisions by themselves and the US has had many highly active years in such situations.

Indeed, without coating, the Ambassador explained that the two States solution is important to him in context with regional policy goals. He expects understanding of the global interests of the United States on the part of Israel – “as this is not only about the daily security of Israel in the short term.” Obama has to worry about general leadership in the complex world. Indeed, the President is looking for, and expecting, innovative policies after the elections in Israel. To anyone with good hearing aids this means the President would like to see an innovative government in Israel with whom he can work in tandem. We all know he did not have this till now, and expects more cooperation in these two last years which he does not want to waste.

There is obviously much more to say about the BESA event, but now I will move over to the second event – the one that THE JERUSALEM POST newspaper organized at the David Citadel Hotel right across the Jaffa gate and the King David Tower of the Jerusalem Old City Walls.

This event was held right after the BESA event – December 11, 2014. Obviously – this second event, that perhaps was intended as a stand-alone event, being part of an established series of Diplomatic Conferences that the English language paper is running yearly, for the benefit of the world at large. The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference brings foreign Ambassadors, spokesmen, military attaches, in contact with the President of Israel, and various officials to create better understanding of what goes on in Israel.

This year’s program included:

9:15-9:30 Greetings and Opening Address Steve Linde, Editor-in-Chief of The Jerusalem Post

9:30-9:40 Bank Hapoalim Start-Up Nation Award introduced by Steve Linde and Zion Kenan, President and CEO of Bank Hapoalim.
Start–Up Nation Award presented by the 9th President of the State of Israel President Shimon Peres

9:40-10:00 Steve Linde, the Editor-in-Chief interviews the 9th President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres

10:00-10:20 Address by MK Yair Lapid – fired Finance Minister who runs hie own list in the elections

10:20-10:40 Address by Interior Minister Gilad Erdan

10:40-10:50 Greetings from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

10:50-11:00 Address by Chairman of KKL-JNF Efi Stenzler

11:00-11:45 Break–coffee, cake and mingling

11:45-12:00 Security overview by Major General Nimrod Shefer Head of the IDF Planning Directorate

12:00-13:00 Panel on “Europe–Israel: Threats and opportunities”
Opening Remarks: Vladimir Sloutsker, President of The Israeli-Jewish Congress.
Moderator: Herb Keinon, Diplomatic correspondent at The Jerusalem Post
with:
- H.E. Francesco Maria Talo, Italian Ambassador to Israel
- H.E. Jesper Vahr, Danish Ambassador to Israel
- Simon Johnson, CEO, The Jewish Leadership Council UK
- Aviv Shir-On, Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for Western Europe
- MK Hilik Bar, Deputy Knesset Speaker and Chair of European Forum of the Knesset (EFK)
- Concluding Remarks: Caroline B. Glick, Senior Contributor and Editor at The Jerusalem Post

13:00-13:15 Address by US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro

13:15-13:35 Address by Honorable President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin
with about 300 participants – including ambassadors, ambassadorial spokesmen and military attachés from various countries present.

As said, the intent of the Jerusalem Post Conferences is to explain Israel to outsiders. For the opening we saw the Publisher – Eli Azur, then the Editor in Chief Steve Linde. But the first real presentation after the Editor’s Opening Address we had the “Israel – The Start-Up Nation” concept presented by a Bank – the Bank Hapoalim, which was the former bank of the Labor Unions, but is now a regular financial institution involved in financing Start-Up companies, and witness to the great success such start-Ups have in Israel. Usually, an Israeli comes up with an idea that he manages to prove with help from the Bank, and then sell the proven concept to a large American Company for $400 million and moves on to other things.

Former President Peres said that “A Jewish State” is not a matter of declaration – what we need is Democracy.

After that came on the former Finance Minister, who with the Justice Minister Tsipi Livni, were both fired by PM Netanyahu, thus sparking the parliament (Knesset) towards the new elections. Lapid said that after two years on the Security Cttee. of the government he still cannot see the Prime Minister’s plan for Security and demands from Netanyahu to put a plan up for the elections. The left is wrong for blaming Israel alone, and the right wrongly believes it is better not to have a dealing process.
He further said that the Palestinians within Israel are part of the problem now – and that young Israeli Palestinians may now join ISIS. But he also said that he will not back to start the process for removing settlements without a solid (robust) agreement first. He said we are not talking about peace but about a serious agreement of separation of two people that do not trust each other. What we need to change is not what we say but with whom we talk.

With the Palestinian we will not reach an agreement as they fear being branded traitors. The Palestinians will always have to talk harder positions then Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States. These States have today real enemies that want to destroy their regimes. This is a big change from the contrived idea that we were their enemies. Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia need the other moderate States in their Coalition. I would suggest to the Arab League to come to Sharm El Sheik with Sisi leadership, and with the US, to discuss the normalization between the Israel and the Arab World.

Since the disengagement of 2001 we were told to leave territories and we left Gaza. But they hardly did develop the area – we retreated from.

The Arab World needs our technologies in water and Arid Land Agriculture – but after the disengagement from Gaza came the rockets.

Our relations with the US require rehabilitation after Netanyahu. One tenth of the cost of war is greater then the cost of development. War cannot be a way of life – we must talk to the Palestinians and the Arabs to find a way out.

He was followed by the Likud Government Point of View presented by sitting Interior Minister Gilad Erdan – but let me say this even before writing up what he said – it was Lapid who won the debate – hands down. Surely, when this Conference was planned – both of them sat at the Government table – so this was not conceived as a debate. But things have changed since then – now they will compete for the votes within the Israeli electorate and for favors eventually from the new Washington. One can already say that Obama could side rather with a Lapid then with an Erdan.

Gilad Erdan said: The Conflict & Challenges are much more dangerous now then those Golda Meir faced at the time of her New Middle East. ISIS said that they will not stop before their flag will flow from the top of the White House. Hamas and Hezbollah are no less then ISIS. This is a battle for civilization.

Another danger – Illegal immigration: Thousands want to come here for a better life – people that see in Israel hope.

We are committed for the safety of our citizens and have safe borders. We hope for Peace but the other side caused set-backs.
The European States had the effect of hardening the Palestinians and that was counterproductive.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat obviously focused on Jerusalem:

Jerusalem has gone through a cultural Renaissance, he said. There is an Island of Peace in the Middle East – Israel – and in it a Crown Jewell – Jerusalem – he said.

The working together under the Status Quo – by everyone – this is the key to the future of the city – he said. By 2018, a light rail will exist from Jerusalem to the center of the country. Jerusalem must stay a united – non-divided City. This is the only successful path for the City.

Efi Stenzler, the Chairman of the KKL-JNF a 130 year old NGO of the Jewish people – as old as Secular Zionism – it’s function is to prepare Israel for the Jewish People and for future generations. It is a global organization dispersed like the Jewish Diaspora. They have planted 240 million trees helping change the land. Israel is the only country in the World that has now more trees then it had 100 years ago – this with 200 mm water/year as country average.

KKL acts like an environmental organization and our website will return to write about them. Their Wadi Attir project at Hura is focusing on the Solar Energy age. The KKL helps countries overseas and the partnership with Kenya was mentioned with the Kenya Ambassador present. Spain is another country they cooperate with – and obviously Spain was represented in the audience.
The KKL has offices in 48 countries.

Major General Nimrod Shefer is head of the Military Planning Directorate. He touched upon the nuclear subject (Iran) and the concept of “FRENEMIES” that leads to a competition for sophistication. Security is stretched to new areas like Energy Security.

He was followed by the CEO of the Israel Jewish Congress that filled in for the President of the IJC – Mr. Vladimir Sloutsker – so they got back on the program from which they were taken off when the President could not attend. She moderated the Panel on Europe-Israel Threats and Opportunities and started by saying that the people killed last year in Europe were killed because they were Jews.

The Italian Ambassador spoke also as representing the country holding the EU Presidency and quoted the Italian Prime Minister that said: “Israel has not only the right to exist but has the duty to exist.” But he also noted that – “EUROPE DEBATES A PALESTINIAN STATE AT THE SAME TIME ISRAEL DEBATES A JEWISH STATE.”

The representative of the Israeli Foreign Ministry complained that Israel is being seen through the eyes of the conflict rather then the way the Israelis see the conflict through Israeli Eyes. One must learn to link the two. The Danish Ambassador knew to quote from Israeli writer Amos Oz – “Try to nurture elements that try to lead to support.”

The Israeli knew to complain that China does not have to certify goods it exports – made in Tibet, so why does Israel have to be viewed differently in matters of the West Bank?

When his turn came, the American Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Daniel Shapiro, did not repeat the presentation he made at Bar Ilan University. It sounded as if there he spoke to the Israelis, but here he addressed the World at large, or just American Jewry?

When introduced by JP Editor Sreve Linde the audience was reminded that the Israeli Prime Minister goes to Rome the following week to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and that FDR had a 100 days plan – so we assume it is taken for granted that President Obama has now also a clear plan for his last two years. We were also told that the Jerusalem Post, not like Israel itself, has indeed the property to adapt to changes and that democracy in Jerusalem exists despite weirdos and black hats. The true example is that school – Jewish and Arab – is witness to it – that it is possible to bring the sides together.

The Ambassador said – Israel is heading to a pre-election season – I wish them well. When the campaign is over the US looks forward to work in partnership with the new government.

Under President Obama we find ways to build a third pillar of the partnership and this is an Economic Growth based pillar to be added to the Security and Military pillars, he said.

There are large material investments to be made in the economics, and the development of Israel’s technology sector, he said.
The Bird Foundation has sponsored many innovation products. 2/3 of the innovation centers in Israel have US involvement. Obama said – if you want to see the future – look at Tel Aviv – these are the new horizons – the new Halutzim – an improved Trade and Investment Partnership. The Development of Israel’s Natural Gas technology to make Israel energy independent – independent power and Clean power – with solar, wind, etc.

PEACE WITH ITS NEIGHBORS REMAINS BED-ROCK FOUNDATION FOR US INTEREST IN ISRAEL AND THE REGION, he promised.
Investment in life saving defense technologies – we are in the trenches in Israel, he said.
Helping for the oil-spill in the Arawa – you can count on us – he said.
PEACE IS NECESSARY, JUST, and POSSIBLE (OBAMA).
ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF BY ITSELF.
In spite of the obstacles Kerry tries to restore calm and deescalate intensities. Think what it would have taken without the Jordan & Egypt agreements.
Unilateral measures by either party are counterproductive. Progress will happen only in mutual discussions.

We see no alternative to a two States Solution. Kerry said at the Saban meeting – there is no Single State solution that can help Israel survive.

Moving to the campaign on Iran, the Ambassador said the US will not allow Iran acquire nuclear weapons – period.
Vice President Biden said diplomatic negotiations are and shall be the best way to handle this.

These are tactical solutions. We are both committed to “No Deal is Better then a Bad Deal,” – but we believe a deal is possible.
The one commitment that will not change is the US leadership in the Middle East – including the International Coalition to destroy Daish!

The Ambassador’s presentation was followed as a finale by the address of the President of the State of Israel – Mr. Reuven Rivlin.

Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin is descendant of students of the Vilna Gaon. His parents – Rachel “Ray” Rivlin and Yosef Yoel Rivlin, who created he first Hebrew edition of the Koran and who was a candidate for third president of Israel. The Rivlin family is established in Jerusalem since 1809. Moshe Rivlin, KKL-JNF’s eighth Chairman (1977-1998), was the first to be born in The Land of Israel to a family with 200-year-old roots in the country. Rivlin’s grandfather, Abraham Benjamin Rivlin, was the first Jewish child born outside of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, in the new quarter of Nahalat Shiva.

The President said: In Israel, his concerns have been raised on Israel’s democracy that is under pressure – We have seen increase in tension between Arab and Israeli – between Jew and Muslim. Social, Political, Security challenges were all the life of Israel – Israel’s democracy survived six wars- tens of thousands of fallen soldiers and civilians. The end game – Israel is democratic and Jewish Jewish and Democratic.

Man is Created in God’s Image is what Rabbi Akiva declared. I was concerned by the unnecessary bill that was put before the Knesset. Why should it not be defined as a State of all its citizens? It was agreed that it was for the return to the homeland and Jerusalem. His own ancestors were here 1205 years ago – they prayed to come here every day until they decided – just get up and go. Israel is the homeland for the Jewish People were his final words.

————–

That was December 11th and December 14 I had to leave with interesting events just starting.

For December 15th I had on my desk:

- an Israeli Green Tech Nader’s Raiders meeting to discuss political party support in the elections to Israel’s 20th Knesset.

- a Jerusalem meeting of the German Heinrich Boell Foundation (Israel) – a discussion of Religion and Civic Freedom.

- a Peres Center for Peace meeting in Jaffo on Environmental Health in Israel: Progress and Challenges.

then for December 18th a Columbia University Law School of New York, the Center on Global Energy Policy, a full day conference in Tel Aviv on the Changing Energy Sector – a View from Israel and the United States.

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Also, I would like to mention that there was an overlap with the BESA Conference – The December 7-8 ISRAEL BUSINESS CONFERENCE at the David InterContinental Hotel in Tel Aviv – organized by the “Globes” Business News – the Israeli Wall Street Journal equivalent. It was a political free-for-all showing the strength of the Israeli economy and allowing for criticism of the government. It also allowed for new political stars like former Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon or old stars like Ehud Barak to voice their opinions.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Uri Avnery
27.12.2014

My Glorious Brothers

WHEN I was 15 years old and a member of the Irgun underground (by today’s criteria, an honest-to-goodness terrorist organization), we sang “(In the past) we had the heroes / Bar Kochba and the Maccabees / Now we have the new ones / The national youth…” The melody was a German military marching song.

Why did we look for heroes in the remote past?

We were in desperate need of national heroes to emulate. For 18 centuries, Jews had not fought. Dispersed throughout the world, they saw no reason to fight for emperors and kings who mostly persecuted them. (Though some of them did. The first authentic hero of the new Zionist entity in Palestine was Josef Trumpeldor, one of the few Jewish officers in the Czar’s army, who lost an arm in the 1905 Russian-Japanese war and was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Palestine.)

So we found the Maccabees, the Zealots and Bar Kochba.

THE MACCABEES, in whose honor we celebrated Hanukka this week, revolted against “the Greeks” in 167 B.C. “My Glorious Brothers” Howard Fast called them in his famous novel.

Actually, “the Greeks” were Syrians:
When Alexander the Great’s empire was divided between his generals, Seleucus acquired Syria and the countries to the East. It was against this mini-empire that the Maccabees rose up.

It was not only a national-religious struggle against a regime which wanted to impose its Hellenic culture, but also a cruel civil war. The main struggle of the Maccabees was against the “Hellenizers”, the cultured modernist Jewish elite who spoke Greek and wanted to be part of the civilized world. The Maccabees were fundamentalist adherents of the old-time religion.

In today’s terms, they were the ISIS of their time. But that is not what we learned (and what is being taught today) in school.

The Maccabees (or Hasmoneans, their dynastic name) set up a Jewish state, the last one in Palestine, that lasted for 200 years. Unlike their successors and imitators, they had a lot of political acumen. Already during their rebellion they made contact with the up-and-coming Roman republic and secured its help.

Yet the Maccabees won by a quirk. Their revolt was a very risky adventure, and they owed their eventual victory to the problems that beset the Seleucid empire.

The irony of this story is that the Hasmonean kings themselves became thoroughly Hellenized and adopted Greek names.

THE NEXT great rebellion started in the year 66 AD. Unlike the Maccabee revolt, it was a totally mad affair.

The Zealots belonged to diverse competing groups, who remained disunited to the bitter end. Their rebellion, called “The Great Revolt”, was also a fanatical national-religious affair.

At the time, messianic ideas filled the air in Palestine. The country absorbed religious influences from all directions – Hellenic, Persian, Egyptian – and mixed them with the Jewish traditions. It was in this feverish atmosphere that Christianity was born and the Book of Job and other later books of the Hebrew Bible were composed.

With the Messiah expected any moment, Jewish fanatics did something that now seems incredible: they declared war on the Roman Empire, which was then at the height of its power. As if Israel today would declare war on the US, China and Russia at the same time – something even Binyamin Netanyahu would think twice about doing.

It took some time before the Romans gathered their legions, and the end was as could be foreseen: the Jewish community in the country was squashed, the temple was destroyed (perhaps by accident) and the Jews evicted from Jerusalem and many other places in Palestine.

Throughout, the Zealots believed in their God. In besieged Jerusalem, already starving, they burnt each other’s wheat, sure that God would provide. But God, it seems, was otherwise engaged.

At the height of the siege of Jerusalem, the venerable rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai was smuggled by his pupils out of the city in a coffin, and the Romans allowed him to start a religious school in Yavneh, which became the focus of a new kind of anti-heroic Judaism.


HOWEVER, THE lesson of the catastrophe caused by the Zealots was not learned. Less than 70 years later, an adventurer called Bar Kochba (“Son of a Star”) started another war with the Roman Empire, even more hare-brained than the last.

At the beginning Bar Kochba, like the Zealots, won several victories, before the Romans could gather their forces. At that time, the important rabbis supported him. But his megalomaniac nature caused him to lose their support. He is said to have told God: “You don’t have to support me, but at least don’t obstruct me!”

The inevitable defeat of Bar Kochba was an even greater disaster than the previous one. Masses of Jews were sold into slavery, some were thrown to the lions in the Roman arena. A legend recounts that Bar Kochba fought a lion with his bare hands and killed it.

However, the basic Zionist tenet that the Jews were expelled from Palestine by force and that this was the beginning of the Diaspora (the “Exile”) is a legend. The Jewish peasant population remained in the country, and most became Christians, and later Muslims. Today’s Palestinians are probably mostly descendants of this Jewish population which clung to their soil. At one time, David Ben-Gurion supported this theory.

The Jewish religion was actually born in the Babylonian exile, some 500 years before Christ, and from the beginning the majority of the Jews lived outside Palestine, in Babylon, Egypt, Cyprus and many other countries around the Mediterranean. Palestine remained an important religious center which played a significant part in the transition of Judaism into a Diaspora religion based principally on the Talmud.


THE HANUKKA feast symbolizes the basic change of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple – and the counter-change effected by the Zionists in modern times.

The rabbis were against the cult of heroism, whether God-fearing or not. They belittled the battles of the Maccabees and found another reason to celebrate. It appears that a great miracle had happened, which was much more important than military victories: when the Temple was re-dedicated after being defiled by the “Greeks”, the sacred oil left sufficed only for one day. By divine intervention, this small quantity of oil lasted for a whole week. Hanukka was dedicated to this huge miracle. (Hanukka means literally inauguration, dedication).

The Book of the Maccabees, which recounts the struggle and the victory, was not included in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew original was lost.

(Hanukka, like Christmas, was originally a pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice, much as Passover and Easter are based on the pagan celebration of the spring equinox.)

The Jewish sages were determined to stamp out, once and for all, the craving for revolts and military adventures. Not only was Hanukka turned into an innocuous feast of sacred oil, but the Zealots and Bar Kochba were ignored or belittled in rabbinical writings, which shaped Judaism and Jewish life since then until this very day. Jews were supposed to adore God, not human heroes.


Until Zionism appeared on the scene. It resurrected the ancient heroes and turned them retrospectively into Zionists. The Maccabees, Zealots and Bar Kochba became our models. The mass suicide of the Zealots on the Masada mountain after the Great Revolt was celebrated as a glorious deed, generations of children were and are taught to admire them.


Today we have national heroes in great abundance, and really do not need all these ancient myths any more. But myths die slowly, if at all. Still, more and more voices of historians and such are cautiously raising doubts about their role in Jewish history. (I may have been the first, in an essay I wrote some four decades ago.)


ALL THIS may reaffirm the saying that “nothing changes as much as the past”. Or, in the words of Goethe: “What you call the spirit of the times is nothing but the spirit of the lords in which the times are reflected.”


Zionism was a great spiritual revolution. It took an ancient ethnic-religious Diaspora and re-shaped it into a modern European-style nation. To effect this, it had first of all to re-shape history.

It could base itself on the works of a new generation of Jewish historians, led by Heinrich Graetz, who painted a new picture of the Jewish past influenced by the German nationalist historians of their time. Graetz himself died a few years before the First Zionist Congress, but his impact was and remains immense.

While the Germans resurrected Hermann the Cherusker and built a huge statue of him on the site of his great victory over the Romans in the Teutoburger forest, shortly before the Jewish Great Revolt, the early Zionists resurrected the Jewish heroes, ignoring the disasters they caused. Many European peoples, large and small, did the same. It was the Zeitgeist.

Three generations of Israeli children were brought up from kindergarten on these myths. They are almost completely cut off from world history. They learn that the Greeks were the people whose yoke was thrown off by the Maccabees, but learn next to nothing about Greek philosophy, literature or history. It creates a very narrow, egocentric state of mind, good for soldiers, but not so good for people who need to make peace.

These children learn nothing at all about the history of the Arabs, Islam and the Koran. Islam, for them is a primitive, murderous religion, bent on killing Jews.

The exception is the autonomous Orthodox school system which teaches nothing much except the Talmud, and is therefore immune to the cult of heroes, but also to world history (except the pogroms, of course).

The great political change we need must be accompanied by a profound change of our historical outlook.

The heroes of antiquity are perhaps due for another revision of their status.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency – for what it is worth this December (2014)

News Brief: Iran unveils monument to Iran-Iraq War Jewish ‘martyrs’
December 18, 2014 5:40pm

(JTA) — Iran unveiled a monument to Jews who died during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

IRNA, the official Iranian news agency posted photos of the ceremony Monday, headlined “Monument to Jewish Martyrs Unveiled in Tehran.”

The page was captioned, “Iran on Monday unveiled a monument to the Jewish citizens who lost their lives in the 8-year Iraqi imposed war on Iran.”

The monument, a gold colored slab with inscriptions in Persian and topped by an artistic representation of the Hebrew phrase, “Peace Forever,” appears to be set in a Jewish cemetery.

Another slab bears a tiled depiction of a gold seven-stemmed Menorah set against a royal blue background.

There also are photos of officials speaking at a podium next to a large seven-stemmed Menorah, and of Jews praying and paying respects at tombstones in the cemetery.

The Iranian parliament’s vice-speaker, Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, praised the relationship between the government and Iran’s Jewish community during an address at the ceremony.

“The explicit stances of the Jewish community in supporting the Islamic Republic’s establishment and their obedience to the Supreme Leader of the (Islamic) Revolution demonstrate the bonds originating from the teachings of the divine religions,” he said, the Tasnim news agency reported.

He also praised the Jewish community for its condemnation of U.S. demands on Iran, Israeli actions visa vis the Palestinians, and the “violent and inhumane” behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Read more: www.jta.org/2014/12/18/news-opini…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Jihadi Connection between Sinai, Gaza and Islamic State.

by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
November 1, 2014

There is a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza.

 www.meforum.org/4876/the-jihadi-c…

What kind of relations do the jihadists of northern Sinai and Gaza have with Islamic State, and with Hamas? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month national emergency this week, following the killing of over 31 Egyptian soldiers in a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists in northern Sinai.

No organization has issued an authoritative claim of responsibility for the bombing, but it comes amid a state of open insurgency in northern Sinai, as Egyptian security forces battle a number of jihadist organizations. Most prominent among these groups are Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen; the attack on the Sinai military base came a few days after an Egyptian court sentenced seven members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to death for carrying out previous attacks on the army.

In subsequent days, Egyptian officials pointed an accusing finger at the Hamas rulers of Gaza, asserting there is “no doubt that elements belonging to Palestinian factions were directly involved in the attack.” Cairo is now set to build a new barrier separating the Strip from northern Sinai.

In a number of Arabic media outlets, unnamed Egyptian government sources openly accused Hamas members of aiding the assault, assisting with planning, funding and weapons supply.

Are the Egyptian claims credible? Are there links between Hamas or smaller jihadist movements in the Gaza Strip and the insurgents in northern Sinai? And no less importantly, is the armed campaign in northern Sinai linked to Islamic State? First, it is important to understand that jihadist activity in northern Sinai is not a new development. Long before the military coup of July 3, 2013, and indeed before the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, this area had become a lawless zone in which jihadists and Beduin smugglers of people and goods carried out their activities.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis emerged from this already existing jihadist milieu in the period following Mubarak’s ouster.

At this time, Egyptian security measures in the area sharply declined.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has not confined its activities to the Sinai area; rather, it has directly engaged in attacks on Israeli targets. Recently, the group beheaded four Sinai locals who it accused of being “spies for the Mossad,” also carrying out two rocket attacks on Eilat this past January.

The claim of links between Hamas and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been raised in the past. In September, Egyptian security forces claimed to have found uniforms and weaponry identifiable as belonging to Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam brigades.

It is worth remembering that the current Egyptian government has, since its inception, sought to link salafi jihadist terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as part of its strategy of marginalizing and criminalizing the Brotherhood.

The current statements seeking to link Hamas directly to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis may form part of this larger strategy.

For its part, Hamas indignantly denies any link to this week’s bombing.

But what can be said with greater confidence is there is, without doubt, a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza – with various organizations possessing members and infrastructure on both sides of the border.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis itself and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen both have members in Sinai and Gaza. Working tunnels smuggling goods and weapons exist between Gaza and northern Sinai, despite Egyptian attempts to destroy them.

It is also a fact that Hamas is aware of these tunnels and makes no attempt to act against them, benefiting economically from their presence.

From this standpoint, Hamas authorities in Gaza are guilty by omission of failing to act against the infrastructure supplying and supporting salafi guerrillas in northern Sinai, whether or not the less verifiable claims of direct Hamas links with them have a basis.

Given this reality, it is also not hard to understand the Egyptian determination to build an effective physical barrier between the Strip and Egyptian territory.

What of the issue of support for Islamic State? Should these jihadist groups be seen as a southern manifestation of the Sunni jihadist wave now sweeping across Iraq, Syria and increasingly, Lebanon? From an ideological point of view, certainly yes.

From an organizational point of view, the situation is more complex.

According to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadist groups currently based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the Middle East Forum, neither Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis nor Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen have formally pledged their allegiance to the caliphate established by Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nevertheless, Tamimi confirmed, both organizations have expressed “support” for Islamic State and its objectives, while not subordinating themselves to it through a pledge of allegiance.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is known to maintain contacts with Islamic State, which has advised it on the mechanics of carrying out operations. Islamic State, meanwhile, has publicly declared its support for the jihadists in northern Sinai, without singling out any specific group for public support.

Tamimi further notes the existence of two smaller and more obscure groups in Gaza with more direct links to Islamic State.

These are Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of Helpers/ Supporters of the Islamic State in Bayt al-Maqdis), which carries out propaganda activities from Gaza and helps funnel volunteers to Syria and Iraq, and the Sheikh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Battalion, a Gazan contingent fighting with Islamic State in these countries.

So, a number of conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, Hamas, in its tolerance of and engagement with smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, at least indirectly permits the jihadists networks operating these tunnels to wage their insurgency against Egypt – even if the claims of a direct Hamas link to violent activities in Sinai have not yet been conclusively proven.

Secondly, the most important organizations engaged in this insurgency support Islamic State, and are supported by them, though the former have not yet pledged allegiance and become directly subordinate to the latter.

Islamic State is not yet in northern Sinai, but its close allies are. Their activities are tolerated by the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip – as long as they are directed outward, against Egypt and Israel.

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Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Marketplace
Israel’s Solar-Powered ‘Trees’: For Smartphones And Community.
 www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/…

by Emily Harris on an nPR blog
October 25, 2014

A man surfs the Internet on a tablet attached to a solar tree in Israel. This tree’s broad “leaves” are solar panels, powering electric and USB outlets, a drinking fountain and Wi-Fi, all available to people passing by.

A man surfs the Internet on a tablet attached to a solar tree in Israel. This tree’s broad “leaves” are solar panels, powering electric and USB outlets, a drinking fountain and Wi-Fi, all available to people passing by.
Emily Harris/NPR

There are plenty of real trees in Ramat HaNadiv. Oaks, pine and willow line the trails that circle through this nature park near Mount Carmel in northern Israel.

And planted in the gravel at the edge of one clearing is a new species, the solar powered tree.

Biologically speaking, of course, all trees are powered by the sun. But this is different.

Its brown metal trunk and branches reach high toward the sky, like the acacia tree this model is named after. Its seven broad “leaves” are standard solar panels. They shade benches below, as well as power electric and USB outlets, chill drinking fountain water and supply energy for wi-fi.

Inventor Michael Lasry says it’s a new way of bringing solar power to people.

“We’re used to seeing big companies working on large scale systems,” he says. “Now we see solar energy becoming accessible to each one of us on the street.”

The tree was formally unveiled Thursday, although it and a smaller, two-panel model were installed in the park several weeks ago. Guests invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony loved it.

“People come with computers to coffee shops,” said Gideon Inbar, a retired Israeli-American. “They can come here.”

“It’s wonderful,” said Xia Wang, from China, who attended the unveiling. “Many functions. And it’s also very green energy.”

Wang’s company, Mode PV-Tech, made the panels. The Israeli company that dreamed up the tree, Sologic, is targeting cities in China and France for first sales, says Claude Brightman, a Sologic publicist. Her pitch aims at the future.

“The new cities of tomorrow, the smart cities … this will be the icon of the city who has made such a choice,” she says.

One Acacia model solar tree costs about $100,000. Brightman calls it a combination of art, convenience, green energy and community — all frequent aims of urban design, she says.
A small solar-powered tree, invented by Israeli energy entrepreneur Michael Lasry, stands at the edge of natural greenery.

A small solar-powered tree, invented by Israeli energy entrepreneur Michael Lasry, stands at the edge of natural greenery.
Emily Harris/NPR

A seven-panel tree can generate a maximum of 1.4 kilowatts, enough to run 35 laptops. A battery stores excess power, lighting the area at night using LEDs and providing backup power on cloudy days.

One Israeli politician speaking at the unveiling ceremony suggested fields of solar trees might be nicer than the fields of industrial solar panels that have sprung up on rooftops and in deserts. Eli Barnea, an investor in Israel’s largest private power company, agrees they are prettier. But he says the solar tree has its limits.

“It’s an excellent idea for young people away from home, they go to the park, they play and want to charge their phone or do other things. That’s fine.”

But to use solar trees for serious power generation, he says would be difficult.

“It will be expensive. When you don’t look at it as a means of energy production, but like another item in a park, I think it will catch on worldwide.”

Sologic CEO Lasky doesn’t want to plug the trees in to the grid anyway. He says keeping them self-sustaining is part of the point.

“Showing that OK, we’re in the middle of the desert and we’re able to create everything we need just from the solar system,” he says.

Future solar tree models are planned to include technology to condense water from the air, as well as touch screens to display information or give internet access.

And cameras, says Lasry, to connect people under a solar tree in one part of the world with people under another solar tree in another place.

“That’s the idea, to bring the community closer. All the trees around the world will be able to communicate,” he says.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

First our posting of October 21st – then the Jewish Week article reporting from St. Louis that was coincidentally written also October 21, 2014 and todate is the best article we found in the printed press.

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We saw last night the Metropolitan Opera’s opening of the Opera titled “The Death of Klinghoffer” and we came out with a firm conclusion that the roaring controversy is all nothing more then a misunderstanding created by an unfortunate choice of the name of the Opera.

PROLOGUE:

Yesterday my wife was having lunch with one of her lady-friends at EJ’s Luncheonette. Her friend, a New Englander, has a daughter who is media-correspondent in the Middle East and the family is very much aware of what goes on in that corner of the world.
She asked my wife what she thinks of the brouhaha that surrounds the MET, and my wife said that we are going to see it “tonight” as I saw it years ago when it was first performed and do not recollect that I had misgivings at that time. That was the era of operas like “Einstein on the Beach” and “Nixon in China.”

Another lady, seemingly a grandmother having pancakes with her grand-daughter, before leaving the restaurant, turned to my wife and said that she is going to the opera – “to demonstrate.” My wife asked her – “did you see the opera?” The lady answered NO!
My wife said then that she is going to see it in order to be able to make up her mind and the lady answered – “Fair Enough!.

I did see the opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music September 1991 still the days of President Bush the First, and coincidentally, was also at a Chamber Orchestra semi-staged performance at a modern restored building in Geneva, Switzerland, (1998) that was funded in part by a rich local Jewish Real Estate man and his Israeli wife. There were really no accusations of antisemitism that I remember.

The work, composed by John Adams with libretto by poet Alice Goodman – the same team that also wrote “Nixon in China” (1987) -
is presented as the memory of the Captain of the Achille Lauro passenger cruise-ship that was involved in the October 1985 highjacking by four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) that ended with the murderous execution of American wheelchair-bound Mr. Leon Klinghoffer.

First let us note that John Adams, besides the mentioned two operas also created “On The Transmigration of Souls” (2002) -
a choral piece that commemorates the 9/11 2001 events – for which Adams was awarded the Pulitzer prize in 2003, and with Peter Sellars as librettist he created the “Dr. Atomic” Opera (2005) on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb – all three operas mentioned were produced also by the MET.

The 1991 production of Klinghoffer was staged with the help of Peter Sellars and the present days MET production was done with staging by Tom Morris. I seem to remember that the 1991 production started with the image of the ship – something non existent in 2014. This production starts with people running around with green Islamic flags and inducting Omar into the group. He is then bound to be one of the four hijackers. Later we see him interacting with one of the two Klinghoffer daughters.

We find it unacceptable to focus on corners of humanity when centering on lamentations by Palestinians for lost homes when seeing them run around with those green flags as if they were doing Allah’s work. And that is really the point – it looks like real daily life as presented on our TVs. That PLF is now – 24 years since the take-over of Achille Lauro – morphed into Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front …and yes – Boko Haram, the Somali Shabaab, the Libyan and Yemen Islamists as well.

Leon Klinghoffer told the hijackers that they were wrong in what they were doing – in some ways he was actually a hero tied to his wheelchair. He saw the reality. He was on a trip to Egypt with his family – he did not hate Arabs as such – he was on his way to see the pyramids. His antagonists did hate the Jews because thy were from abroad – no recognition on the Arab side that these Jews must be fit somehow into their life as they were actually people that came home to the region for which they have historic ties as well.

Look again at those green flags and think for a moment. If those flags represent real life so just stand up and acknowledge that the show before you is a negative picture not of Klinghoffer but of what the four hijackers stand for – and yes – THEY EXECUTE KLINGHOFFER BECAUSE THEY CANNOT ACCEPT THAT THIS MAN IN HIS WHEELCHAIR HAS THE STRENGTH TO TELL THEM OFF.

The 100 people outside Lincoln Center sitting in wheel-chairs under a sign saying “I am Klinghoffer” did not demonstrate against antisemitism. They actually spoke up in my opinion against the green-flag-waving lunatics.

It is not about the death of Klingoffer – but about the lunacy of his executioners – so for Pete’s sake object to all those Middle-Easterners running around with colored flags – green or black – but stop accusing the whole world of antisemitism.
RENAME THE OPERA AND CHANGE NOTHING FROM WHAT YOU SEE – Do you not realize that whatever is your cause – this opera actually helps you by the mere fact that the artistic creators aimed at pure neutrality and brought to us a documentary?

In the hall there was one demonstrator who shouted as long as he could:”THE MURDER OF KLINGHOFFER WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN.”
His intervention had clear echos – at first we heard only three people clapping their hands after the run of the flags, but there was strong applause at the end of the performance. THE AUDIENCE ACCEPTED THE TOTALITY OF THE SHOW.

============================================================

‘Klinghoffer’ As Gateway To Dialogue

In St. Louis, the controversial opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines.
10/21/14
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Special To The Jewish Week

For the past few weeks, my email and social media have been inundated with discussions and links to flyers, articles and events that all support the opposition, protest and even disruption of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’ “The Death of Klinghoffer.” And I disagree with each one.

Like many, if not most, of the protesters, I have not seen “The Death of Klinghoffer” or read its libretto. I cannot comment on its content nor its staging. I make no judgment to classify it as anti-Semitic or to argue against such a classification. I also cannot make any determination of its commentary on terrorism, those who perpetuate those heinous acts, and those who fall victim to these horrific crimes.

My disagreement is not with the offense that they take to the performance — although I would hope that each person would choose to at least read the text for themselves before coming to a final conclusion — but with the chosen response.

The Jewish community in New York has chosen to launch a passionate protest against the performance and, in doing so, they have let a tremendous opportunity fall by the wayside.

In 2011, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis staged a production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” — the first staging of the full opera in the United States in 20 years. The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis did not object to the performance, but instead partnered with the Opera Theatre and other faith-based and arts organizations to prepare study guides, coordinate community events, organize roundtable discussion and engage in deeper dialogue around painful and difficult subjects.

Instead of igniting hatred or perpetuating anti-Semitism, as some protesters have predicted, the opera served as a foundation for new relationships across faith lines. In fact, these initiatives sparked a new nonprofit initiative, Arts & Faith St. Louis, based on the belief that the arts have a unique power to inspire thoughtful discussion among diverse audiences, to bring people together and to bridge divides through shared experiences. This initiative has brought together leaders across the faith communities of St. Louis (Jews, Muslims and Christians) with leaders in the art world to respond to pressing needs in our region and to create innovative approaches to difficult discussions.

These conversations are not easy. Often, they are quite painful. To engage in dialogue around such profoundly tender and traumatic topics such as terrorism, anti-Semitism, extremism, hate crimes, identity, abuse and fear, by definition, requires a person to be immensely vulnerable.

The bonds that can form between two people who strip away their protective shells and open their minds and hearts to one another, however, is immeasurable.

I admire the monumental efforts of the organizers in New York to raise awareness for their cause, to coordinate partners and organize demonstrations. I am confident that, as the objectors state, “The Death of Klinghoffer” is both disturbing and uncomfortable. But a protest is easy. To protest the opera is to express a voice — a unilateral opinion shared through words on a placard or the dramatic imagery of 100 wheelchairs staged at Lincoln Center.

Instead, I invite all those who plan to protest the production to choose to engage. To take the difficult, likely painful step, to opt for dialogue over demonstrations, proaction over protests.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is the largest classical music organization in North America, with the capacity for nearly 4,000 viewers at each opera performance. The opportunity here is monumental. We can choose to seize the moment, or to stand on the sidelines, holding placards, as it passes us by.

Please, choose the difficult path. Choose the disturbing. Choose discomfort. Choose dialogue.

Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is director of programming, education, and community engagement at Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Will Israel build two new ports in order to answer the needs of an evolving Fly-to-Buy trend?

Everything shown in articlewww.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/…was bought in China, including the lights and flooring of the entryway, had to be partially paid for upfront. There are no refunds and no returns in this niche fly-to-buy industry. Everything for the bathrooms was bought on the 10-day shopping trip to China except for the tile, which came from a Palestinian factory. Adi Asulin, the woman in the story, is shown in the kitchen of her family’s remodeled apartment, in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv. She saved thousands of dollars by flying to China to buy furnishings and flooring directly from manufacturers.

Adi Asulin lives in a fabulous apartment on the top floor of a seven-story building in the Israeli town of Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv. The entry hall is long and light. Windows open onto an enormous balcony, which wraps around three sides of her home. The decor is fresh and white.

“It’s all made in China,” Asulin says.

Not just made in China. Nearly everything — the floors, the lighting, the furniture — she bought in China on a 10-day shopping spree.

The day after Asulin and her husband got keys to the place, she got on a plane to Guangzhou, in southern China.

“An adventure!” she says.

The big appeal was the price.

“Forty, sometimes 50 percent off the prices in Israel,” Asulin says.

The savings add up the bigger the job. Her new apartment had been a rental and needed a lot of fixing. But buying plus remodeling seemed beyond the family budget.

From a friend, Asulin heard about Israeli companies that arrange trips for individuals to buy directly from Chinese factories. She signed up, getting tickets and booking hotel rooms for herself, an architect and her dad for advice.

Once on the ground in Guangzhou, the trio was guided by the owner of the Israeli company and local staff. Their first stop was a flooring factory bigger than Asulin had ever seen — half the size of her city, she says.

“And I can choose whatever I want,” she says. “Different colors, different materials, different prices.”

The factory was organized by style: marble in one area, dark wood in another, colored linoleum somewhere else. For Asulin, it helped to have done a lot of planning and measuring before she arrived.

She loved having the time to focus exclusively on shopping — and finish most of it in a short time. She says this made the remodel much easier for her, a 37-year-old working mother of three.

“If I was buying everything in Israel, it was after work, with kids, afternoons and every weekend,” she says.

Flying to China instead of letting Chinese products come to you is not the approach for everyone. Nurit Gefen, an Israeli interior designer, went on one China shopping trip with a client. She will not go again.

Gefen says it is the entirely wrong way to create a home.

“When you build a house, it’s like pregnancy. You have to think about it, you have to dream about it,” she says.

Plus, there are significant financial risks, she says.

“When you go to China, you have to buy everything in advance. Before you know the colors, before you know exactly what you want,” Gefen says. “And you can make mistakes when you buy things in advance. And you can’t exchange it afterwards.”

Partial payment in cash is often required upfront. Israeli newspapers have run horror stories of people who were ripped off on China shopping trips.

Still, they go. And Israelis are not the only ones doing their shopping directly in China. Israelis in the business say it’s popular among people from a number of places, including Russia, India and the Gulf states.

Economics professor Daniel Levy of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University says this service began because of structural problems in the Israeli economy. Israel started out socialist, and he says many practices of centralized control still affect the economy today.

“We don’t have what you are used to in the U.S.,” he says, “everybody trying to offer the best deal, which brings about greater efficiency and lower prices and happy customers. That’s not what we have here at all.”

This shows up most dramatically in grocery bills in Israel. Protests over the cost of food shook up Israel’s elections last year. A 2011 parliamentary report showed that just two companies controlled more than 80 percent of the domestic cheese and yogurt production.

But weak competition also affects imports, including nonfood items like flooring and furniture.

Shai Safran heads Basini, an Israeli company that takes about 10 customers a month to China to buy everything they need for home remodels or building. He doesn’t have a big showroom in Israel. He just treats factories in China as his own.

“Like my stores are the factories in China,” Safran says. “I don’t need 50 workers; I don’t need inventory. I can save the cost of the business in Israel.”

Even with his fee — for his contacts, logistics and know-how — Safran says he still beats the prices offered in Israel.

But that could change over time. Israel is building two new private ports and is hoping to reduce import costs in part by banning labor unions. A contract for the first port was signed last month — with a construction firm based in Beijing.

Emily Harris is NPR’s Jerusalem correspondent. Follow her @emilygharris.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our original posting date was September 25, 2011, and we do this re-posting because we were just reminded of the article by a comment I received from India from seemingly a non-political person. We wonder ourselves if that article is still relevant after this week’s events at the UN, and on the eve of a new meeting today in Washington between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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THE LINK IS HERE AND YOU CAN READ IT BUT NOT COPY IT:
 www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

of September 25, 2011.

MENAFN – stands for Middle East North Africa – read ARAB  Financial Network – it is   a Delaware-based corporation with a wholly owned subsidiary in Amman, Jordan.

So, it must be an American Oil Industry enterprise, probably close to the Republican party,  with a Jordanian address as well.

The site [www.menafn.com] offers regional and global business content in both Arabic and English. It attracts over 340,000 highly targeted visitors on a regular basis.

It has a weekly e-Newsletter that reaches 55,000 subscribers. It summarizes major business news and events, market data and research for the Middle East region and the globe.

We hope that our readers in the Arab world see this posting of ours on www.SustainabiliTank.info so they understand the depth of the hole their leaders have dug for the Arab world. There is no way to bitch about Israel – if you are not ready to acknowledge the Israelis that try to find a way to peace. You will not have peace if you do not recognize Israel.
If some business interest thinks they can profit from the state of war the time has come that the Arab World distances itself from them.

——————————-

BUT THE ARTICLE IS AS FOLLOWS – AND WE GOT IT FROM URI AVNERY HIMSELF.

WHY DID MENAFN NOT POST THAT ARTICLE AS ORIGINALLY POSTED?  - THEY TOOK IT VERBATIM FROM AVNERY AND DID NOT MENTION HIM –  NEITHER DID THEY SAY  THAT AVNERY, – OR AT LEAST “THE WRITER” –  IS AN ISRAELI.  THIS SHORTCOMING POSES BIG QUESTION ON THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS MENA – MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA – READ ARAB – FINANCIAL REPORT.

THIS REMINDS US OF THE ARAB SPRING, TAHRIR SQUARE,  LEADER WHOM I ASKED IN VIENNA, BEFORE AN AUDIENCE  - IF AN ISRAELI LIKE URI AVNERY APPROACHES YOU WOULD YOU OUTSTRETCH YOUR HAND IN PEACE?  SHE ANSWERED FLATLY – “NO! HE IS A ZIONIST.”

THIS IS THE REAL DOWNFALL OF THE ARAB WORLD – AND IN NO WAY CAN I HAVE SYMPATHY FOR SUCH HYPOCRASY.

WHY DID NOT THIS MENAFN ACKNOWLEDGE URI AVNERY? WHY DID THEY NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY – WELCOME ABOARD – HERE YOU ARE THE ISRAELI WE WANT TO TALK TO.  IN THE LIGHT OF THIS LACK OF HONESTY AND LACK OF COURAGE  -  I THINJK NOW THAT URI AVNERY HAS INDEED GOOD REASON TO RETHINK HIS NOBLE VIEWS.

————————–

Uri Avnery

September 24, 2011

Abu Mazen’s Gamble

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s told the 69th United Nations General Assembly on September 29th, 2014:

Thank you, Mr. President. Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel. I’ve come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we seek. I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace, but our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam is on the march. It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. And typically its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one: Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds. No creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world.

You know the famous American saying, all politics is local? For the militant Islamists, all politics is global, because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world. Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late.

Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS, and yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. Listen to ISIS’ self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master. The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West — by Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.

As Hamas’ charter makes clear, Hamas’ immediate goal is to destroy Israel, but Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists, and that’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered in 9/11, and that’s why its leaders condemn the United States for killing Osama bin Laden whom they praised as a holy warrior.

So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common all militant Islamists share in common. Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, Hezbollah in Lebanon, al-Nusra in Syria, the Mahdi army in Iraq, and the al-Qaida branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.

Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shiites, some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the seventh century, others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the ninth century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their battle for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance, where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice, convert or die. For them, anyone can be considered an infidel, including fellow Muslims.

Ladies and gentlemen, militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad, but so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith. That’s what they truly disagree about. And therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.

There is one place where that could soon happen — the Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words. “We will export our revolution to the entire world until the cry ‘there is no god but Allah’ will echo throughout the world over.” And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran’s revolutionary guards, have done exactly that.

Listen to its current commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. And he clearly stated his goal. He said “Our imam did not limit the Islamic revolution to this country, our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government.”

Iran’s President Rouhani stood here last week and shed crocodile tears over what he called the globalization of terrorism. Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s revolutionary guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone.

You know, to say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees. This is — this bemoaning by the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s greatest displays of doubletalk.

Now, some argue that Iran’s global terror campaign, its subversion of countries throughout the Middle East and well beyond the Middle East, some argue that this is the work of the extremists. They say things are changing. They point to last year’s election in Iran. They claim that Iran’s smooth-talking president and foreign minister, they’ve changed not only the tone of Iran’s foreign policy but also its substance. They believe that Rouhani and Zarif (generally/genuinely ?) want to reconcile with the West, that they’ve abandoned the global mission of the Islamic Revolution. Really?

So let’s look at what Foreign Minister Zarif wrote in his book just a few years ago:

We have a fundamental problem with the West, and especially with America. This is because we are heirs to a global mission which is tied to our raison d’être, a global mission which is tied to our very reason for being.

And then Zarif asks a question — I think an interesting one. He says: How come Malaysia — he’s referring to an overwhelmingly Muslim country — how come Malaysia doesn’t have similar problems? And he answers: Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order.

That’s your moderate. So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose and for one purpose only: to lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces and leave it with a capacity of thousands of refugees — of centrifuges, rather — to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power. And in the future, at the time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction.

I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists. Well, that didn’t happen, and President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do those things either, because here’s what will happen. Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.

There’s only one responsible course of action to address this threat. Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. (Applause.) Make no mistake: ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war. (Applause.) To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.

Ladies and gentlemen, the fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it’s set back in every place. That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight, it’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow. For 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters day after day. You wouldn’t let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity, nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. (Applause.)

Yet Israel faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war because in an attempt to win the world sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools — not just schools; U.N. schools — private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel. As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians. We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualties.

And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, all this to enable Palestinian civilians to evaluate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. (Applause.)

Now, this concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. And as their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel’s citizen army, the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls, they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. (Applause.) Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation but admiration, admiration from decent people everywhere. (Applause.)

Now, here is what Hamas did. Here is what Hamas did. Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest. And no less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this — hundreds of them.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the crimes, the war crimes, committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated or spoken out against from this podium last week. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, as Israel’s children huddle in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer. Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles. (Applause.)

By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the U.N. Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties — Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians — that’s a double war crime — Hamas is given a pass.

The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as a human shield. Use them again and again and again. And you know why? Because, sadly, it works. By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the U.N. Human Rights Council has thus become a terrorist rights council, and it will have repercussions — it probably already has — about the use of civilians as human shields. It’s not just our interests. It’s not just our values that are under attack. It’s your interests and your values.

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria, and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq, yet nearly half — nearly half of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East; Israel, where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by the — by independent courts, and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society.

The human rights — that’s an oxymoron, the human — U.N. Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same. The council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of one of the world’s largest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. and that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism. It is now spreading in polite society where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel.

For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide — genocide. In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy civilian population to get out of harm’s way, or ensuring that they receive tons — tons of humanitarian aid each day even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us, or setting up a field hospital to aid their wounded?

Well, I suppose it’s the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews — Judenrein — can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people, but no more. Today, we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield — (applause) — we will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity. After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together, we and they face many of the same dangers, and principally, this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world. Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership, one that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East. Together, we can strengthen regional security, we can advance projects in water and agricultural, in transportation and health and energy in so many fields.

I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world. But these days, I think it may work the other way around, namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace. And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere.

I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries — those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support. I’m ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. (Applause.) History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.

I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people, but it must be a genuine peace — one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements — rock solid security arrangements on the ground, because you see, Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders for which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel, and these sobering experiences heightens Israel’s security concerns (regarding ?) potential territorial concessions in the future.

Now, those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you. The Middle East is in chaos, states are disintegrating, and militant Islamists are filling the void. Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range, a few miles, of 80 percent of our population.

Now think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the U.N. building here and Times Square. Israel is a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement, which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. (Applause.)

And yet despite everything that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do and I always will — (applause) — because as prime minister of Israel, I’m entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility. (Applause.)

I believe that with a fresh approach from our neighbors, we can advance peace despite the difficulties we face. See, in Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish, and with very few natural resources, we’ve used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation, and peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people, but for many, many others in our region.

But the old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new Middle East. It presents new dangers but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities. Together, we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians. All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth, and the truth must always be spoken, especially here in the United Nations. (Applause.)

Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power. (Speaks in Hebrew.) For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future. Thank you.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Abbas’ UN speech further widens Israeli-Palestinian rift.
Belligerent rhetoric irks U.S. administration but does not mention timeframe for statehood.
By Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid | HAARETZ, Sep. 28, 2014

The serious rift between Israel and the Palestinian Authority widened further over the weekend following the speech by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to the U.N. General Assembly Friday.

In one of his most belligerent addresses ever, Abbas accused Israel of “genocide” during last summer’s war in Gaza, said the Palestinian people “will not forget and will not forgive” and declared that the Palestinians will act in the international arena to bring to justice Israeli officials responsible for war crimes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to travel to New York this morning and will address the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow. On Wednesday Netanyahu will meet in Washington with President Barack Obama at the White House. In the context of the international struggle against the Islamic State, Netanyahu is expected to focus his speech on the dangers of extremist Islam and the Iranian nuclear program. However, he is now expected to devote a good portion of his speech to Abbas’ attacks.

“After the Iranian president’s fraudulent speech and the speech of incitement by Abu Mazen (Abbas), I will tell the truth on behalf of the citizens of Israel in front of the entire world,” Netanyahu said yesterday. “In my speech to the UN and in all my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel, and I will refute in their names the lies and slander (spoken) about their country,” he added.

Senior officials in Netanyahu’s bureau said Abbas’ speech was “full of lies and incitement and “this is not the way a man who wants peace speaks.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas’ speech proved that the Palestinian president “doesn’t want to be, and cannot be, a partner for a logical diplomatic resolution” and that “Abbas complements Hamas when he deals with diplomatic terrorism and slanders Israel with false accusations.”

Abbas’ speech greatly angered the American Administration; State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded sharply by saying it included “offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject.” She added, “Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties.”

The Palestinian Authority, in turn, was infuriated by the U.S. reaction to Abbas’ address and the critical remarks by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. PA sources said the U.S. response was “improper, irresponsible, and the Palestinians categorically reject it.”

According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Abbas’ remarks related to a number of issues, first among them a condemnation of the Israeli assault in Gaza. “The Palestinians will not retreat from their intention to bring those responsible to justice,” said Erekat.

Erekat called on the United States and the international community to “come down on the side of justice and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and not support Israel’s destructive policies.”

Two days before Abbas’ speech, Obama told the U.N. General Assembly that the United States would not abandon its efforts to bring an end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, Obama said the conflict is not the source of all the problems in the Middle East. Obama said the wave of violence in the region had led too many Israelis to abandon efforts to reach peace and that the status quo in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could not go on.

Abbas said in his speech that the Palestinians would work together with Arab countries to move ahead a U.N. Security Council resolution on an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, with its capital in East Jerusalem. He said a timetable should be established for an end to the occupation, but did not cite a timetable in his speech or give details of coming Palestinian moves.

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz after Abbas’ speech that he did not mention dates or timetables so as not to clash head-on with the American government on the matter. As opposed to statements made by people close to Abbas before his speech, he did not say the resolution should include a demand to end the occupation within three years.

It is believed that the change in the content of the speech came after meetings Abbas had at the United Nations before the speech with several leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to a senior Palestinian official, the Palestinian delegation heard clear opposition from the Americans to a unilateral move in the Security Council and that the United States would veto such a resolution if it won a majority.

Abbas started his speech on Friday with an attack on the government of Israel, which he said had launched a “devastating war” in the Gaza Strip “by which its jets and tanks brutally assassinated lives and devastated the homes, schools and dreams of thousands of Palestinian children, women and men, and in reality destroying the remaining hopes for peace.”

The Palestinian president accused Israel of committing war crimes “before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment.” Abbas also said: “We will not allow war criminals to escape punishment.”

Abbas said the Palestinian people reserved the right “to defend themselves against the Israeli war machine” and the right to oppose the occupation and settlements. He said the Palestinians would act only in accordance with international law and would not “abandon our humanity, our values ??and our ethics.”

The Palestinian president accused Israel of causing the American peace initiative to fail and blowing up the negotiations between the parties that had lasted eight months. He said the Palestinians had acted positively during the negotiations while Israel’s “settlement construction, land confiscations, home demolitions, killing and arrest campaigns, and forced displacement in the West Bank continued unabated.”

Abbas claimed Israel had breached the agreement to release veteran prisoners who were to have been released as part of the understandings that led to the renewed talks. He added Israel had opposed any accord based on a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. According to Abbas, Israel’s best offer during the negotiation included areas that did not constitute contiguous territory, “without sovereignty over its airspace, water and natural resources.”

Abbas accused Israel of racism against Palestinians and mentioned attacks by settlers whom he called “fascists.” He said increased incitement and racist discourse against Palestinians is what led to the murder of the teen from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shoafat, Mohammad Abu-Khdeir, in July.

Abbas accused the Israeli government of attempts to weaken the PA and undermine its institutions. He said after the reconciliation with Hamas that led to the establishment of the Palestinian unity government, the whole world welcomed it while Israel tried to counter it.

The Palestinian president said he had no intention of returning to the negotiating table with Israel merely for the sake of negotiations without dealing with the core issues of the conflict. “There is neither credibility nor seriousness in negotiations in which Israel predetermines the results via its settlement activities,” he said.

Abbas complained that for years the Palestinians and not Israel, had been required to make goodwill gestures and concessions to prove the seriousness of their intentions. In a barb at Netanyahu, Abbas said the Palestinians would not be the ones “to understand the conditions of the other party and the importance of preserving its coalition government while it entrenches its occupation.”

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THIS WAS PUBLISHED ON THE EVE OF THE PRESENTATION by PRIME MINSTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU BEFORE THE 69th SESSION OF THE UNGA IN NEW CITY – AN OP-ED WRITTEN ACTUALLY BY THE EDITOR HIMSELF WITH THE INTENT OF CALLING ON THE ISRAELI PM NOT JUST TO REJECT THE PALESTINIAN’S STATEMENTS BUT ACTUALLY TO SHOW THAT IT IS IN THE INTEREST OF BOTH PEOPLES THAT THE TONE OF THE CONVERSATION BE CHANGED AND ATTEMPT BE MADE TO A JOINT EFFORT AT FINDING A SOLUTION TO THE CONFLICT.

OP-ED by DAVID HOROVITZ, THE TIMES OF ISRAEL, September 28, 2014.

Since Abbas is no partner, Israel should help try to produce one.

One wishes Netanyahu, apart from bashing the PA chief, would tell the UN that Israelis and Palestinians have an interest in creating a different climate here — in which demonization gradually gives way to moderation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the 69th UN General Assembly on September 26, 2014.


David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011)

More on this story:
Netanyahu vows to ‘refute lies’ in United Nations address.
Hamas said ready to accept PA forces on Gaza borders.
Iranian military said ‘in the field’ advising ‘Palestinian resistance.’
US official talks up potential for cooperation with Iran.
Hamas says it’s ready for more fighting, promises ‘surprises.’
Livni reportedly meets with clutch of Arab foreign ministers.


We didn’t need Mahmoud Abbas’s ghastly “genocide” speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday to make plain that this is a man with whom Israel cannot reach viable terms for co-existence and a two-state solution.

His unleashing of incendiary false accusations before the watching world was particularly despicable, but this was only the worst in a long series of vicious speeches calculated to exacerbate the hostility to the very fact of Israel’s existence among his own people, across the region, and indeed worldwide.

More substantively, while not personally fostering terrorism, Abbas has long since proved disinclined to counter the uncompromising narrative that his late and unlamented predecessor Yasser Arafat bequeathed the Palestinians — namely, that there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and that the Jewish people thus have no sovereign legitimacy here. Under his rule, as under Arafat’s, most aspects of normalized relations with Israel and Israelis are discouraged, and Palestinian media routinely demonizes and delegitimizes Israel.

At the negotiating table, moreover, Abbas has proved himself a serial rejectionist.

Most tellingly, six years ago he opted not to seize upon prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bombshell offer of everything the Palestinians ostensibly seek: Israel was gone from Gaza and now offered a 100% withdrawal from the West Bank with one-for-one land swaps, the division of Jerusalem into Israeli and Palestinian sovereign sections, and shared authority for the Palestinians, alongside Israel, as part of an international, non-sovereign tribunal responsible for the Old City area. Abbas placed firm blame Friday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking uncompromising and unworkable positions in peace talks over recent months. And Netanyahu’s settlement policies — including last month’s announcement of planned land expropriation in the Etzion Bloc — certainly haven’t helped build trust, bolster moderation, and discredit extremists. But it was Abbas who passed up compromising, workable positions in 2008.

The problem is that, as things stand, there is absolutely no prospect of a Palestinian leadership emerging after Abbas that will interact more fair-mindedly with Israel in the cause of viable co-existence.

Moreover, as chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni reminded us in her Times of Israel interview last week, it was Abbas, just months ago, who similarly failed to respond to the US-drafted framework document, accepted with reservations by Israel, that was intended to serve as the basis for the self-same substantive effort to negotiate a two-state solution he purports to seek.

Abbas the rejectionist, and duplicitous about it, too. Doubtless, when he addresses the General Assembly on Monday, Netanyahu will focus on this.

For that overwhelming majority of Israelis who want to maintain a Jewish and democratic Israel, however, the problem is that, as things stand, there is absolutely no prospect of a Palestinian leadership emerging after Abbas that will interact more fair-mindedly with Israel in the cause of viable coexistence. Quite the reverse.

Netanyahu might well note this, too. After all, he subscribes to a particularly bleak worldview, often vindicated, that holds that the Jewish people always have been and always will be persecuted, that the prime imperative of Jewish leaders is to protect the people from such persecution, and that his privilege is to lead the Jews in a rare period of history when the Jewish nation-state has been revived and has an army capable of defending it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday October 1, 2013 at the United Nations headquarters in New York (photo credit: AP/Andrew Gombert,Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday October 1, 2013 at the United Nations headquarters in New York (photo credit: AP/Andrew Gombert,Pool)

What one wishes Netanyahu might also say, once he’s countered Abbas’s genocide slander, however, is that Israelis and Palestinians alike have an interest in creating a different climate here — an atmosphere in which hostility, demonization and delegitimization gradually give way to moderation and mutual acceptance.

In her interview, Livni vouchsafed that baby steps in this direction were discussed in the months of US-mediated talks that collapsed in April — that a document was drawn up, and agreed upon for implementation, geared at fostering a “culture of peace” between Israelis and Palestinians. It aimed, she said, at countering racism and discrimination in the media, in the speeches of political and spiritual leaders, in schoolbooks and more, promoting mutual understanding, tolerance and respect instead.

Netanyahu’s critics, overseas and here at home, assert that his rhetorical support for a two-state solution is contradicted by his policies, especially ongoing support for the expansion of settlements. A speech in which the prime minister sets out territorial red lines — broadly delineating those areas he believes Israel must retain, and beyond which he will not seek to expand settlements — could begin to address those concerns. A speech in which he then seeks a partnership with the international community to work to marginalize violent extremism — hostility to Israel among the Palestinians, as well as hostility to the West throughout this region — would offer a path forward that could be immensely appealing worldwide, precisely as the widening US-led coalition battles IS and other brutal iterations of radical Islam.

Abbas’s speech on Friday essentially told Israel, and the US for that matter, to go to hell. It underlined what his years of failed leadership had long since confirmed — that he lacks the will or the guts to challenge and change the poisoned mindset of his people.

For Netanyahu to bitterly point this out, however, is insufficient. Since Abbas is no partner, Israel should at least try to do what it can to help create a climate in which a partner could emerge and flourish.

Netanyahu needs to galvanize the international community by specifying how the climate of hostility could be altered for the better, and by committing Israel to playing its part. No such radical shift can happen overnight. It will take years. But since Israel would be a prime beneficiary, Monday at the UN General Assembly would be a particularly good time and place to start.

The Times of Israel www.timesofisrael.com/since-abbas… Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

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Also, reminded that in the past PM Netanyahu showed a closeness to US Republicans, surfing the internet we found that anti-Obama Republicans take now positions that might be embraced again by Mr. Netanyahu and we are curious if any of the following will find its way into his speech tomorrow:

(1) The main issue was defined by a source as “Keep an eye on the ball: the Iranian nuclear build-up is 1,000 times a greater threat than ISIS.” Tehran should be left to deal with this problem, which threatens its allies in Damascus and Baghdad, and potentially even Iran itself.

(2) Remembering the strong interest by Republican business in the oil industry, and the fact that The “Islamic State” – actually like most well-to-do Muslim States – gets its financial underpinnings from oil – – and the US finds it attractive to bomb their oil facilities – the critics offer the opinion – “Destroying oil production facilities is almost always a mistake.”

(3) From the above, the remaining conclusion that leads to a lower level of activity – is thus one of “American efforts should be limited only to (a) providing assistance to the Kurds and (b) humanitarian missions.”

(4) If it is decided to fight and eventually stimulate a US war economy – “Never initiate fighting unless prepared to do what is needed to win. (I.e., don’t in advance rule out ground troops which are needed if serious involvement is contemplated.)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Bi-annual conferences on “Drylands, Deserts and Desertification” (DDD), are one of the largest international academic forums on desertification. They take place at Ben Gurion University of the Negev – BGU’s Sede Boqer campus.

Three hundred to five hundred people from around the world have come to learn practical lessons and make connections to bring back to their home countries.

The fifth DDD conference is scheduled for November 17-20, 2014.

The United Nations defined desertification as potentially the most threatening ecosystem change impacting livelihoods at the global scale; based on the total number of people threatened by desertification, this ranks among the greatest contemporary environmental problems.

Developed as a result of the 1992 Rio Summit, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has brought attention to the phenomenon of land degradation called “desertification” when it occurs in drylands, as the most vulnerable ecosystems. Fifteen years after coming into force, the UNCCD was increasingly recognized as an instrument which can make an important contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and poverty reduction. The Committee of Science and Technology (CST – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), provides information and advice on scientific and technological matters relating to combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought to the UNCCD’s Conference of the Parties (COP).

The uniting theme of the 2014 conference is “Healthy Lands – Healthy People” which encompasses a variety of aspects relating to Drylands, Deserts and Desertification, including natural sciences, social sciences, planning and policy issues.

Sessions with the following themes are already confirmed to be held during the conference:

• Afforestation in Drylands • AgroEcology • Architecture and City Planning in Drylands and Arid Areas • Carbon Footprint • Climate Change, Desertification and Society in the Ancient Near East: Lessons from the Past Desertification in Mongolia and China • Drip Irrigation (main theme of Desert Agriculture this year) • Deserts and Drylands in Ancient Literature and Archeology • Dryland Landscapes as Pattern-forming Systems: Modeling and Analysis • Ecohydrology of Dryland Landscapes • Economic Development in the Drylands • Environmental Education • Geological Aspects of Deserts and Desertification • GIS Applications for Dryland Studies • Green Building in Extreme Climates • Healthy Buildings • Hydrology in Drylands • Kidron River Restoration • Media and Environment • Mathematical Aspects of Desertification and Restoration • NGO Perspectives on Dryland Development • Nutritional and Food Security • On-site Waste Collection and Treatment • Public Health and Life in Deserts and Drylands • Remote Sensing • Society and Technology • Soil and Land Restoration • Water Policy in Drylands • Women and Economic Change in Rural-Arid Lands.

Additional specialized themes will be announced shortly. Some themes may be united with others.

An important part of the discussions will be The Economics of Land Degradation, and this connects to the developing science of the impact of man induced climate change.

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