Monday, December 28, 2015

US threatens Israel with "vindictiveness" over Iran

From JPost,

An IAEA report shows that Iran was lying about its military nuclear program, but the deal continues. US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit:REUTERS)
THE US administration is concerned about the possibility of a new confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran’s nuclear shenanigans.
“We hope it won’t happen,” [said] a senior US official ...“but if it does, it will be a completely different ball game. The administration ...will be vindictive.”

In November, the IAEA published a report on Iran’s past nuclear activities, also known as the “Possible Military Dimension” (PMD). The long-awaited report was supposed to determine and conclude whether Iran had been actively involved in acquiring and mastering the expertise to assemble a nuclear bomb.

The report, however, is somewhat inconclusive and leaves all the parties dissatisfied.

However, one thing is certain.

The process of further implementing the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers signed in July will not be disrupted.

According to the agreement, also known as the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPA), Iran’s nuclear program will be scaled down, restricted and limited for 10 to 15 years.

Iran must, as soon as possible – around spring 2016 – dismantle uranium-enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordow, including 14,000 centrifuges, and remain with only 6,000 spinning machines. Iran is also required to dismantle and redesign its nuclear reactor in Arak, where it intended to produce plutonium, and to fully cooperate with the IAEA and to be under its intrusive inspection regime. Accordingly, the economic sanctions – the most crippling of which were imposed on Iran’s oil and gas sector ‒ will be gradually lifted.

An important aspect of the talks that led to the JCPA deal was the PMD issue. In fact, it was because of past suspicions that Iran had carried out illegal nuclear military activities and tried to deceive the world that the UN Security Council and subsequently the international community imposed in 2006 crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Iran has claimed all these years that its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes.

But the IAEA report’s findings show that Iran was lying. The report clearly states that Iran had a military nuclear program until 2003 and even probably beyond until 2009.

This included work in the field of “weaponization” – testing a chain reaction and detonation of explosives ‒ the last stage in assembling a nuclear bomb.

A KEY installation in the Iranian weaponization program was Parchin, a military base not far from Tehran. For years, Iran refused to allow IAEA inspectors any access to that base. Only after signing the agreement with world powers five months ago was partial and limited access permitted.

The IAEA arrived in Parchin and directed its Iranian counterparts on where and how to collect samples of soil, water and vegetation and how to seal them to prevent tampering. But the actual collection and sampling was carried out by Iranians with IAEA inspectors watching closely and filming the work.

Those who opposed the deal – Republicans in the US and Netanyahu in Israel ‒ argued that the sampling process would not be sufficiently reliable and leaves room for further Iranian cheating and deception. Yet, it turned out that, despite all that, the IAEA was not deceived and amassed enough evidence about Iran’s nuclear-military past.

... the report confirms Israeli intelligence assessments by the Mossad and Military Intelligence, as well as CIA estimates, that Iran was conducting weaponization tests.

Nevertheless, the IAEA report will not block implementation of the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran. This is because the deal is not conditional on the IAEA report and doesn’t contain any clauses that categorically and unequivocally demand of Iran full transparency and revelation of its nuclear past, but only its present and future ones.

...The report disappoints Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and those in Iran who supported and pushed for the deal. They hoped that Iran would be given a clean sheet and the PMD “file” would be closed forever.

That didn’t happen.

...The report also seems to back up Netanyahu’s claim that Iran cannot be trusted and that the nuclear deal was a historic mistake.

This is the background to fears in the US administration that sooner or later – certainly before the final implementation of the JCPA next spring – Republican lawmakers will try, once again, to sabotage the deal.

And administration sources are expressing their concern that, once again, Netanyahu will jump onto the Republican bandwagon.

Last April, three months before the nuclear deal was signed, Netanyahu, in an unprecedented move, was invited by John Boehner, then the Republican speaker of the house, to address Congress. While the Republicans just wanted to embarrass the president, Netanyahu hoped to torpedo the deal. But by dancing to the tunes of the Republican Party – its major donor is casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a friend of Netanyahu – the prime minister was thought to be interfering in US policy and siding with Obama’s opponents.

Both the Republicans and Netanyahu were outmaneuvered by Obama, who was determined to ensure that the nuclear deal happened. However, Netanyahu never publicly conceded defeat and he continues to describe the deal as a “bad” one.

IN NOVEMBER, Netanyahu met Obama in Washington and adopted a conciliatory tone, and the two seemed to mend their differences.

But “Obama didn’t forget and didn’t forgive,” US sources say. After Netanyahu’s partisan performance in Congress, Obama made a calculated decision not to retaliate against Netanyahu and Israel. Nevertheless, according to the sources, if Netanyahu repeats his anti-deal, anti-Obama behavior, “this time there will undoubtedly be a fierce reaction and retribution will follow accordingly.”

The US sources admit that even in such a worst-case scenario US military aid to Israel, currently $3.1 billion, will not be affected.

But, they point out that Netanyahu, in his meeting with Obama, asked for additional funds as “compensation” for the nuclear deal. Israel is concerned that once sanctions are lifted and money begins pouring in to revive the Iranian economy, some of it will be diverted to further sponsor anti-Israel terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and upgrade the Iranian armed forces.

The two leaders agreed to form a joint commission to discuss the Israeli request for additional aid. “In case Netanyahu goes wild again, we may stop or suspend or delay the talks,” the sources warned....

Jews and Christians are Partners

From Breitbart, 17 Dec 2015, by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.:

A group of prominent Orthodox rabbis in Israel, the United States and Europe have issued a historic public statement affirming that Christianity is “the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations” and urging Jews and Christians to “work together as partners to address the moral challenges of our era.”

“Jesus brought a double goodness to the world,” the statement reads. “On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically” and on the other hand “he removed idols from the nations,” instilling them “firmly with moral traits.”

This year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the declaration issued in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council, which marked a watershed in Jewish-Christian relations.

In language unusual for its day, Nostra Aetate stated that “God holds the Jews most dear,” stressed the great “spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews,” and condemned “hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

Now, a group of Jewish leaders has responded in kind, expressing their desire to accept “the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters.”

“Christians are congregations that work for the sake of heaven who are destined to endure, whose intent is for the sake of heaven and whose reward will not denied,” the text reads.

The statement bears the title, “To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians,” and is signed by over 25 prominent Orthodox rabbis, who invite fellow Orthodox rabbis to join in signing the statement.

“Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the eternal Covenant between G-d and Israel, we Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption, without any fear that this will be exploited for missionary purposes,” it says.
Echoing recent words by Pope Francis, the document states: “We are no longer enemies, but unequivocal partners in articulating the essential moral values for the survival and welfare of humanity.”

“Neither of us can achieve G-d’s mission in this world alone,” it says.

According to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, one of the statement’s initiators, the “real importance of this Orthodox statement is that it calls for fraternal partnership between Jewish and Christian religious leaders, while also acknowledging the positive theological status of the Christian faith.”

“This proclamation’s breakthrough is that influential Orthodox rabbis across all centers of Jewish life have finally acknowledged that Christianity and Judaism are no longer engaged in a theological duel to the death and that Christianity and Judaism have much in common spiritually and practically. Given our toxic history, this is unprecedented in Orthodoxy.” said Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Academic Director of CJCUC.

Israel 'has no choice' but to expose foreign-funded NGOs

From A7, 27 Dec2015, by Ari Soffer:

...Knesset gears up for vote to force foreign-funded NGOs to reveal source of funds ...[because] EU [is] subverting Israeli democracy.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked proposed the bill
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked proposed the bill
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

European states' underhanded funding of radical-left Israeli NGOs, with the express purpose of undermining Israeli government policy, necessitates legislation to force those NGOs to reveal the sources of their funding...

Just hours before a Ministerial Committee on Legislation vote on a bill to force NGOs funded by foreign states to declare their sources of income, the NGO Monitor watchdog - which previously opposed such measures - has now said the initiative may be necessary.

In a statement Sunday morning, NGO Monitor said that
"legislative proposals, such as the one introduced by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and discussed today (Sunday) by the government, might be unavoidable if European countries continue to fund anti-peace groups through secretive processes."
The bill in question is the latest incarnation of a string of failed initiatives - staunchly opposed by Arab and left-wing parties - to legally require NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments to register as "foreign agents."

...NGO Monitor has consistently opposed such measures, arguing instead in favor of a campaign - which it has been leading - to convince European officials to recognize that funding such organizations actually undermines the possibility of peace in the region.

But the group's head now says it has become clear that EU states have no intention of ending funding of extreme anti-Israel groups, regardless of the ultimate consequences.

"I have previously opposed various proposals to penalize Israeli political NGOs that receive millions of shekels from foreign governments (a total of 135 million NIS has been reported, January 2012-August 2015) for use in promoting false allegations of war crimes and fueling boycotts," said Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.  

"My hope was that the public debate and exposure of the facts, both in Israel and among the European governments, media, and parliaments that provide the money, would lead to changes in policy. But without action by European funders, the Israeli government may have no choice but to act."

While opponents of the bill claim it amounts to an attack on freedom of speech, supporters note it does no such thing; the bill would not ban any NGO or limit their activities, but would merely bring transparency levels for state-funded NGOs in-line with those for privately-funded ones.

"Unlike private funding for NGOs, which is generally transparent to comply with regulations in the donors’ home countries, foreign government processes which fund NGOs are often secret and violate national sovereignty," NGO Monitor further noted.

"Israel cannot legislate rules for Europe, but it can regulate Israeli NGOs, and demand foreign donations be made public and known – without limiting such donations or impeding freedom of speech."

"The real problem is in Europe, with irresponsible funding practices, not in Israel," continued Steinberg. "When European governments try to short-circuit Israeli democracy, they should not be surprised when there is pushback."

...and from The US Department of Justice:

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938.

FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. 

Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents.

The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

It is time for donors to the New Israel Fund to stop funding the enemies of the Jewish state.


...There is room for views on the Left and the Right, whether we agree or not, as long as those ideals are rooted in loyalty and fairness.

There are certain opinions, however, that we cannot accept: those rooted in deception, intended to cause harm, yet presented under the guise of legitimate concern. Views that lead to actions which undermine the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people cannot be welcomed, nor given credence, much less financial support, by those who believe in Israel as a Jewish nation.

Actions that seek to undermine the men and women who serve in the IDF; ones that would have Israeli citizens arrested in foreign countries and charged with war crimes; ones that would see Israel brought before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, are unacceptable.

Additionally, those who would encourage and support a boycott of Israel, painting the country and its people as an apartheid nation and people, cannot be seen as beneficial in any way, as they only help to make Israel appear illegitimate to world bodies and the court of public opinion.

This, of course relates to the ongoing debate in Israel about the NGO Shovrim Shtikah – Breaking the Silence, and its primary benefactor in the United States, the New Israel Fund. Breaking the Silence it has recently been revealed is simultaneously funded by Palestinian entities opposed to the existence of the Jewish state.
In May 2015, Breaking the Silence provided 57 testimonies against IDF soldiers for a report intended to prove that Israel not only used excessive force during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, but callously targeted Palestinian women, children and non-combatants.

It has also been revealed that report was partly commissioned by the Palestinian foundation The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, operating in Ramallah. The Secretariat noted in a report published in 2015 that it paid Breaking the Silence to bring it testimonies against the IDF.
Additionally, Hamas, at no less than nine events it held worldwide, used the Breaking the Silence report to promote the idea of bringing Israelis up on war crimes charges. Two were held in Scotland, under the auspices of MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine) and the anti-Israel Scottish National Party. Other events took place in Zurich, Luxembourg, Madrid, and in several places in the United States, under the banner of the New Israel Fund.
Following the intense advocacy of the Hamas-backed groups, last month an IDF reservist who served in the Operation Protective Edge was detained over accusations of war crimes after landing in Britain on a business trip. He was released after Israel’s embassy intervened, but it confirmed that groups are working hard to expose individual Israeli citizens to international scrutiny.

Last week, 20 IDF combat soldiers began a campaign to urge donors to groups opposed to the IDF – and funded by the New Israel Fund in America – to recognize the damage their money is causing. Letters were delivered to more than 100 major donors to the New Israel Fund, including Barbara and Eric Dobkin, Murray Koppelman, the Leichtag Foundation, the Jewish Communal Fund, and Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel of White Plains, New York.

Offering the benefit of the doubt, the letter stated, “The goal that you sought to achieve with your donation was to support Zionism and support organizations working for human rights and against anti-democratic activities. You support organizations that you believe work towards creating a better, saner, more democratic, and more moral Israel.”

They called on these donors to use their clout to “[d]emand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations that defame IDF soldiers, in Israel and around the world. These include organizations such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Machsom Watch.”
It cannot be ignored that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all IDF bases, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all schools.

Within the US Jewish community there is no shortage of opinions. There are issues of religion which our rabbis and leaders argue over.

When it comes to the State of Israel, however, the Israel Defense Forces must be a holy entity for our people. When work delegitimizes the State of Israel, seeks to have it citizens threatened as they travel around the world, and causes the military to be anything less than a force of strength and security against Israel’s enemies, it harms the Jewish state.

It is time for donors to the New Israel Fund to stop funding the enemies of the Jewish state.

*George Birnbaum is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

**Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents. His clients have included former president Bill Clinton.

***Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR agency, and author of For Immediate Release.