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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remarks By President Peres On American Independence Day

Israeli President Shimon Peres' remarks at the US Embassy's 4th of July Celebration in Tel Aviv.
There are more than two hundred and thirty five different things I can say about the wonder, the grandeur, the accomplishment and the spirit that is AMERICA -  the powerful nation and generous giver.

It is the history of a mighty – nay, the mightiest – country that never occupied but always contributed.

America is the great nation that was always sensitive to the grim. To the dire. To the impoverished. And made the world a less dangerous one.
Ready to overcome its flaws.

Some criticize the United States. All of us know that a world without the U.S. would be the greatest mistake of all.

For all of us.

Read more at Israelpolitik

Kansas abortion ban starts tomorrow

Kansas has passed the strictest abortion licensing regulations in the country and is poised to ban abortion across the state.   A lawsuit has been filed to block the regulations.
It looks like Republicans in Kansas are going to succeed in shutting down abortion in that state via red tape -- at least temporarily -- starting tomorrow when the state's new licensing regulations for abortion clinics take effect. So far, none of the the state's three remaining clinics has been approved for a license.

A clinic run by Planned Parenthood is the only one that was inspected under the new rules. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President Peter Brownlie tells us they haven't been told yet whether they'll be licensed.

A second abortion provider has sued to block the regulations and the third has sought to join the case. But the first hearing in that lawsuit isn't scheduled until tomorrow afternoon -- and the law kicks in tomorrow. So all three providers tell us they've decided not to schedule abortions procedure tomorrow for risk of running afoul of the new law.
 Read and hear more at Maddow Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Several States Forbid Abortion After 20 Weeks

In the past year, six states have passed laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of gestation based on the heavily disputed theory that a fetus can feel pain at that point, and other states are looking at similar legislation.
Dozens of new restrictions passed by states this year have chipped away at the right to abortion by requiring women to view ultrasounds, imposing waiting periods or cutting funds for clinics. But a new kind of law has gone beyond such restrictions, striking at the foundation of the abortion rules set out by the Supreme Court over the last four decades.

These laws, passed in six states in little more than a year, ban abortions at the 20th week after conception, based on the theory that the fetus can feel pain at that point — a notion disputed by mainstream medical organizations in the United States and Britain. Opponents of abortion say they expect that discussion of fetal pain — even in the face of scientific criticism — will alter public perception of abortion, and they have made support for the new laws a litmus test for Republicans seeking the presidency.

“The purpose of this type of bill is to focus on the humanity of the unborn child,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. “Fetal pain is something that people who are in the middle on the abortion issue can relate to.”
Read more at the New York Times

Here comes another lost tribe

Later this month, the Knesset will vote on a resolution to bring the remaining 7,000 members of B'nei Menashe, one of the lost tribes who settled in India, back to Israel.  Close to 1,700 members of this community have already made aliyah.
Thousands of kilometers to the east, in the furthest reaches of northeastern India, a long-lost community continues to nourish its age-old dream of returning to its ancient homeland, the land of Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” are descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, which were exiled by the Assyrian empire more than 27 centuries ago. The community, which numbers 7,232 people, resides primarily in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, along the border with Burma and Bangladesh.

Despite generations of wandering, the Bnei Menashe never forgot who they were, where they had come from, or where they aspired to return.
Read more at the Jerusalem Post

Friday, June 24, 2011

What Has Gilad Shalit Missed and What Have We Experienced?

Today is the 5th anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit, a 19 year-old Israeli soldier at the time of his capture.  A lot has happened in five years, but his release is not one of them. 
In 2006, Facebook had just 10 million users, Justin Bieber was 11, and Gilad Shalit was free. 

On June 25, 2006, Hamas terrorists captured Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal, in a cross border raid. He has remained captive since.

A lot can happen in five years.
Read more at Huffington Post

A video has been compiled to show how much he has missed.

Op-Ed: Obama’s path paves the way for a secure Israel

Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat who has served in several presidential administrations, recently wrote an op-ed stating President Obama's support for Israel and his goals "provide the key to a safe and secure Jewish state." 
A strong secure Jewish state of Israel, supported by the United States as a close ally, has been a central feature of my public and private careers.

As a senior government official in several administrations, an American and a Jew, I see Israel from multiple perspectives. Israel plays a strategic role in advancing American interests in the Middle East and beyond; Israel and the United States share a common set of democratic values and have developed a partnership unique in the annals of history. Israel is the Third Jewish Commonwealth, returning the Jewish people to their homeland after 2,000 years of exile, and it is the home of relatives and close friends, and the final resting place of my great-grandfather and grandfather, both of whom made aliyah.

I fervently believe President Obama’s course is essential to achieve the hopes I have for Israel’s future in the 21st century and beyond -- notwithstanding the recent controversy over the president’s remarks about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and differences over Israeli settlement expansion.
Read more at JTA

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Obama: Israel-United States Bond Is 'Unbreakable'

President Obama reiterated his unwavering support for Israel and his pursuit of peace in the Middle East this week.
Seeking to reassure Jewish donors amid questions over his support for Israel, President Barack Obama pledged Monday that his administration would "devote all of its creative powers" to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

Obama made the comments at a high-dollar fundraiser at a Washington hotel hosted by Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship.

The appearance came a month after he clashed publicly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That handed ammunition to Republican presidential hopefuls who accused Obama of insufficient support for Israel.
Read more at Huffington Post

Monday, June 20, 2011

What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?

An interesting perspective on what the world would look like if Israel had not been created and instead the survivors of the Holocaust had taken a different path.
It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world's Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saving the Yale anti-Semitism institute

Yale just killed the country’s best institute for the study of anti-Semitism. If Yale doesn’t want it, Washington should grab the institute before it goes anywhere else.

For the past five years, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism has flourished in New Haven, Conn. On a small budget it has sponsored research, visiting fellowships, papers and presentations on the most abiding and lethal hatred mankind has ever known — the one that brought us the Holocaust and that is once again racing around the world.

A few institutes for the study of anti-Semitism have sprung up globally — a couple in Israel and some in Europe and North America. Yale’s is the first in the States and the first to be closed down.
Read more at The Washington Post

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hamas rejects Fayyad for Palestinian prime minister

Since signing a reconciliation accord more than a month ago, the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have made only slow progress in carrying it out, and on Sunday the pact hit its first significant snag with a public disagreement over who should be prime minister of a joint government.

The dispute over Fatah’s nomination Saturday of Salam Fayyad, a political independent who is the Palestinian Authority premier, cast a shadow over planned talks in Cairo on Tuesday on the composition of the new cabinet.

The candidacy of Fayyad is key to whether a unified Palestinian government will continue to have the Western backing that the Palestinian Authority has received during his term in office. The U.S.-educated economist is respected by foreign donors and has been credited internationally with revamping Palestinian finances and building government institutions necessary for statehood.
 Read more at the Washington Post

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Remembering Six Days in 1967

Ambassador Michael Oren reviews the history and lessons of the 1967 Six Day War on its anniversary.
"We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared Palestine Liberation Organization leader Ahmad al-Shuqayri. "As for the survivors -- if there are any -- the boats are ready to deport them." A half-million Arab soldiers and more than 5,000 tanks converged on Israel from every direction, including the West Bank, then part of Jordan. Their plans called for obliterating Israel's army, conquering the country, and killing large numbers of civilians. Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif said the Arab goal was to wipe Israel off the map: "We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa."
This was the fate awaiting Israel on June 4, 1967. Many Israelis feverishly dug trenches and filled sandbags, while others secretly dug 10,000 graves for the presumed victims. Some 14,000 hospital beds were arranged and gas masks distributed to the civilian population. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike to neutralize Egypt, the most powerful Arab state, but the threat of invasion by other Arab armies remained.  
Israel's borders at the time were demarcated by the armistice lines established at the end of Israel's war of independence 18 years earlier. These lines left Israel a mere 9 miles wide at its most populous area. Israelis faced mountains to the east and the sea to their backs and, in West Jerusalem, were virtually surrounded by hostile forces. In 1948, Arab troops nearly cut the country in half at its narrow waist and laid siege to Jerusalem, depriving 100,000 Jews of food and water.
Read more at Foreign Policy

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

White House trying to restart Mideast peace talks based on Obama guidelines

Israeli and Palestinian representatives have been holding separate talks in Washington, as part of an American effort to restart direct negotiations and thereby forestall a Palestinian bid to obtain unilateral UN recognition as a state in September, according to a source at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Senior American officials met with each side separately in the White House or the State Department, the source said.
Israel is being represented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, Isaac Molho. The Palestinians sent Saeb Erekat, their former chief negotiator, and Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman. 
Read more at Ha'Aretz

Friday, June 03, 2011

Obama’s commitment to Israel

Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff to President Obama and newly-elected mayor of Chicago, discusses the President's commitment to the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
Days into my tenure as mayor of Chicago, with my focus on keeping our city’s streets safe, our schools strong and our finances stabilized, I expected my attention to be in the Midwest, not in the Middle East. But as an American and the son of an Israeli immigrant, I have a deep, abiding commitment to the survival, security and success of the state of Israel.
I am among the many who know that the Israeli people yearn for peace. They have taken risks for peace in spite of dangers. They will again, when they have a viable partner in the process and a region that recognizes a Jewish state of Israel with secure and defensible borders.
President Obama, like every student of the Middle East, understands that the shifting sands of demography in that volatile region are working against the two-state solution needed to end generations of bloodshed. The fragile stasis that exists today cannot hold.
Read more at The Washington Post

US administration says it will boycott UN world racism conference because of anti-Semitism

The United States will boycott the third "Durban" conference which marks the 10th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism originally held in Durban, South Africa due to continuing displays of anti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
The Obama administration said Wednesday it will boycott a world conference against racism being held at U.N. headquarters in September because of concerns about anti-Semitism.
The U.N. summit marks the 10-year commemoration of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism that was held in the South African city of Durban. The U.S. and Israel walked out of that meeting over a draft resolution that criticized Israel and equated Zionism with racism.
The United States will not participate in the upcoming conference because the Durban process “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism,” Joseph E. Macmanus, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Read more at Washington Post