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Friday, January 30, 2015

Pat Condell: Time to stop Muslim immigration to Europe

It's about time someone non-Jewish who is not a far Right racist spoke up against Muslim immigration to Europe.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Why the Jews?

Matti Friedman will be speaking here in Boston on Monday night, and I hope to be there. You can look for "Mr. Matzav."

Friedman spoke last week in London and the text of his remarks is embedded below. Serious stuff.

Matti Friedman Speech

Hope to see you all on Monday night.

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School Retaliates Against Student For Parent’s Pro-Israel Stance

Received via email earlier today:
A state education department found that a school district and School Committee Chair retaliated against a student because of her parent’s complaint about inaccurate and biased materials.

The decision by the Massachusetts agency found that the Newton Public Schools (NPS)  and School Committee Chair Matthew Hills sent confidential information about the student and her family to local media, which published it. The media entities - a newspaper and a blog - also published false claims that the parent was associated with anti-Muslim groups.

The student’s family said that both the newspaper and blog knew that the family had previously been stalked and that publishing the false allegations put them in danger. They also stated they suffered emotional distress and other harm due to the district’s actions.

Parents and education groups have accused the school of distributing inaccurate and anti-Israel material, resulting in the removal of several widely used resources. One resource, the Arab World Studies Notebook, has been been subject to intense criticism by education groups and removed from other school districts. The district also removed a website and whited out a textbook’s claim that the Catholic church was “reconsidering polygamy as a Christian option”.

Parents’ complaint are supported by organizations including the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, StandWithUs, and Zionist Organization of America. 

Last September, the education research organization Verity Educate issued a report on materials used in NPS history classes. The report found numerous inaccurate and deceptive material, including altered primary source documents. It also found substantial anti-Israel bias, including material described as ‘neutral’ which had been prepared by anti-Israel activists.

The district denies that any bias or inaccuracies exist. Officials also told parents that they would ‘never’ read the report issued by Verity Educate or any other organization and that parents upset about deceptive or racist class material “should find another school for their children”.

“The retaliation by school officials against a child because of a parent’s legitimate complaints about biased and deceptive class materials is outrageous”, said Evan Jacobi, president of the group Parents for Excellence in Newton Schools (PENS). “Their goal is to further intimidate  parents who object to their children being told that biased and grossly inaccurate material is true.”

Hills was also found to have violated state Open Meeting law several times in 2014 in an attempt to cover up a plagarized speech given by Newton Superintendent David Fleishman, and advised Fleishman and others to violate state and federal law by withholding documents from responses to public records requests. No sanctions have been imposed on Hills for these violations.

Contact PENS President Evan Jacobi at NewtonExcellence@gmail.com for more information.
Yours truly grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (although, thankfully, I never attended its public schools).

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Sen. Cruz: Has President Obama Launched a Political Campaign Against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu?

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Congressman Lee Zeldin, R-NY-1, today sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking for information regarding media reports that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund efforts to influence upcoming elections in Israel. This is from Senator Cruz's press release.
“Has President Obama launched a political campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his representatives?” Sen. Cruz asked. “This administration’s relentless harassment of Israel is utterly incomprehensible. The Islamic Republic of Iran is pursuing the deadliest weapons on the planet, and there can be no doubt that their first target will be Israel, followed by the United States. This administration should be focusing its animosity on the very real enemies we face, not on our staunch allies.”

“It is completely unacceptable to use U.S. tax dollars to influence the elections in Israel,” said Rep. Zeldin. “State Department grants should never be given to entities working to overthrow strong allies like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We have great allies around the world, but Israel is our strongest, and a beacon of freedom in a region filled with radical Islamic extremists and state sponsored terrorism. Today, I join with Sen. Ted Cruz in calling for a U.S. Department of State investigation into this important matter.”

As specified in the letter, a recent article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that a U.S. taxpayer-funded non-profit organization called OneVoice is actively working with a campaign operation called Victory 2015 (V15) in an effort to influence the upcoming elections in Israel on March 17, 2015.

As a result, Sen. Cruz and Rep. Zeldin request answers to the following eight questions:

  1. How much funding has the U.S. Government provided to OneVoice, PeaceWorks Network Foundation, and any connected initiatives, projects or subsidiaries?
  2. Who approved providing such funds?
  3. What is the oversight and accounting process for how these funds are being spent?
  4. How often and on what dates has such funding been provided?
  5. What were the specific reasons and terms for providing funds, and how are these funds specifically being spent?
  6. Can the Department of State guarantee that none of these funds have been or will be used in the endeavor detailed above, namely the partnership with V15, or any similar effort to exert undue influence over the Israeli political process?
  7. Was there any knowledge from the State Department or other U.S. government officials of the partnership with V15 prior to providing funds to OneVoice?
  8. Does OneVoice’s work with V15 violate its 501(c)(3) status (or the status of the PeaceWorks Network Foundation) as a tax-exempt organization and should such status be revoked?
In the letter, Cruz and Zeldin write, “Of course private American citizens are free to engage in political activities according to their inclinations, but given the overtly partisan nature of this particular case, we are deeply concerned by the relationship that also exists between OneVoice and the U.S. Department of State.”

January 29, 2015

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Senate Banking Committee passes Kirk-Menendez 18-4

Here's a pretty strong indicator that the Senate has had enough with President Obama's dithering on Iran. The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday reported out the Kirk-Menendez bill that would increase sanctions on Iran. It wasn't even close. The vote was 18-4.

The Banking Committee vote suggests that the a veto-proof 68 Senators now support the Kirk-Menendez bill. Here's how that calculation comes about:
52 Republicans (everyone but Flake and Paul)
10 Democrats on the Menendez letter indicating support (Menendez, Schumer, Blumenthal, Peters, Casey, Cardin, Coons, Manchin, Donnelly, Stabenow)
3 Democrats on Banking who voted 'yes' today but weren't on the Menendez letter (Tester, Heitkamp, Warner)
3 Democrats who cosponsored Kirk-Menendez during its last iteration (Booker, Bennett, Gillibrand)
The bill has been moving forward quickly. Consider this:
Tuesday: The Senate Banking committee held hearings to discuss the legislation (that was the same day 10 Democrats signed the Menendez letter indicating support).
Tuesday (night): The legislation was introduced with 16 co-sponsors (7 Democrats and 9 Republicans, including McConnell, indicating that it has a clear path to the floor).
Thursday: The legislation got voted out of committee 18-4.
What could go wrong?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2 IDF soldiers killed, 7 wounded in Hezbullah attack near Har Dov

Two IDF soldiers have been killed and seven wounded - two moderately and the rest lightly - in an RPG attack on an IDF jeep near Har Dov, where the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon all meet. This is from a constantly updated post on the IDF blog. It's in reverse chronological order.
19:24 PM: The IDF has confirmed that during today’s attack, Hezbollah militants fired 5 anti-tank missiles at the patrolling force near Mt. Dov. One soldier and one officer were killed:
  • Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, 20, from Shtulim. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
  • Captain Yochai Kalangel, 25, from Har Gilo. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major.
Maj. Kalangel was a company commander in the “Tzabar” Battalion of the Givati Brigade. Staff Sgt. Nini was an infantry soldier. Their families have been notified.
Seven additional IDF soldiers were injured, two of them moderately. The injured soldiers were evacuated to a hospital.
14:20 PM: The IDF has confirmed that two soldiers were killed in this morning’s attack. Additionally, seven other soldiers were wounded, two of them moderately.
13:50 PM: The IDF responded to attacks with combined aerial and ground strikes at Hezbollah operational positions.
13:36 PM: The IDF holds Hezbollah responsible for the attacks in northern Israel today.
12:51 PM: Mortars hit a military position on Mt. Hermon. The IDF closed the site and is evacuating civilians from the area.
11:35 AM: An anti-tank missile was fired at a military vehicle near Mt. Dov in northern Israel. Several injured in the attack.
I'm almost surprised the IDF only went after Hezbullah assets and not after Lebanon's infrastructure. I would expect that if Hezbullah continues to escalate, Lebanese targets will be hit.

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Terror attack leaves 140 million without power

A terror attack on the country's power grid left 140 million people without power in Pakistan. It was the third such attack in two weeks.
A terrorist attack on the Pakistani national grid plunged more than 140 million people into darkness before power was restored, prompting U.S. experts to warn that terrorist cells and “lone wolves” in the United States could cause similar damage to the vulnerable national electric-grid system.
The blackout in Pakistan affected more than 80 percent of the country’s population and all public services in all the major cities, including the capital, Islamabad.
A separatist group in the Naseerabad district of Baluchistan province in the country’s southwest caused the blackout by blowing up a major transmission line connected to the national grid.
It was the third such attack in two weeks.
“It shows the bad guys definitely do know what they’re doing when they want to – in a country with upwards of 100 nuclear weapons,” said Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.
In the latest attack on a major transmission line in Pakistan, two nuclear plants went offline after the outages while problems occurred at the country’s main international airport in Lahore.
Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Senate Democrats give Obama a deadline on Iran

Ten Senate Democrats have sent a letter to President Hussein Obama threatening to vote for time-triggered sanctions if Iran does not agree to a framework by March 24.
"In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24," said the letter, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is the co-author of Iran sanctions legislation.

"After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement," they wrote.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).
The White House had been pressuring Democrats to hold back on the sanctions bill, warning it could blow up the negotiations and empower hard-liners in Iran who want to walk away from the table.
With Democrats now pledging to hold their fire until March, it could set the stage for a last-ditch push to try and reach the outlines of a deal.
It is doubtful that any sanctions deal could be passed before then anyway.
All but two of the signatories — Peters and Stabenow — were co-sponsors of a previous version of the sanctions bill. But two Democrats who had previously sponsored an Iran bill — Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — did not sign the letter to Obama.

The letter describes the signatories as "supporters" for a new Iran sanctions bill, which could bring the bill closer to a veto-proof majority. If Republicans were united, they would need at least 13 Democrats in order to override a presidential veto.

"We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 — a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran only if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline," the letter said. 

While the Democrats pledged not to vote for the bill on the Senate floor, it says nothing about a Senate Banking Committee vote on Thursday, when some of the Democrats are expected to vote for advancing the bill.

An aide to Menendez said he still plans to co-sponsor and vote for the bill this Thursday.

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IDF: Hezbullah behind rockets launched from Syria

The IDF is confirming that Hezbullah is behind two rockets that were launched from the Golan Heights onto Israel earlier on Tuesday. This is from the first link.
A senior IDF source remarked on the two rockets fired from Syria that hit the Golan Heights Tuesday afternoon, saying the IDF response strike took out the rocket launcher.
The rockets were fired from territory under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad according to the source, who added that those who actively launched the rockets were members of the Iran-proxy Hezbollah terrorist organization, which has been fighting for Assad.
In the attack on Tuesday, two rockets hit two separate regions on the Golan Heights, one in the Hermon region and the other in El Rom.
Mount Hermon, which is a skiing site, was evacuated on IDF orders following the attack - it is to reopen on Wednesday. The IDF responded with tank and cannon fire at the sources of the rocket strike in Syrian territory.
 I'm kind of disappointed they didn't hit Hezbullah assets in Lebanon as well. Next time....

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Mohammed Allahdadi died because... he left his cell phone on

Hey youngsters - you have to turn your cell phone off once in a while.
An Iranian general killed in an alleged Israeli air strike last Sunday in Syria may have died because he did not turn off his cellphone.  

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria reported on Saturday that a Hezbollah investigation into the strike found that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammed Allahdadi kept his cellphone on in a sensitive area targeted by Israeli intelligence.

According to the report, Allahdadi was in the Quneitra area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Sunday with Hezbollah personnel at outposts that the Syrians and the Iranian built in order to counter Syrian rebels along with Syrian army forces. A few days before Allahdadi's visit a joint "operations room" was established with Hezbollah.

Allahdadi reportedly was killed along with his personal assistant, his driver and a more junior Iranian officer.  

Eleven people total were killed in the airborne attack, including Jihad Mughniyeh the son of the late Hezbollah military leader and Imad Mughniyeh Mohammed Issa, the head of Hezbollah's operation in war-torn Syria and Iraq. Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, said six of its members died in the strike.

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IDF digging trenches along Syrian border in Golan

Good morning to all of you from snowy Boston where, at least from looking out my window, the storm does not appear to be overrated. My boots are arriving tomorrow (I do have rubbers for my shoes in the meantime).

The IDF is reportedly digging trenches on the Golan Heights to prevent infiltration from Syria. That won't stop rocket fire like what happened this morning (see below), but at least it will keep Hezbullah outside the border.

The IDF has begun digging trenches along the border with Syria, Walla! News reports Monday night, amid fears of real escalation between Israel and Islamists in neighboring Syria and Lebanon. 
The mechanical engineering company of the IDF's Northern Command has employed tractors and borders to dig the trenches, a source told the news site, amid specific concerns regarding terrorist infiltrations by car via border crossings. 
"The trenches are being dug along vulnerable spots on the border, after a thorough analysis [of the risks], to prevent free traffic in the area and reduce infiltration," the military source stated. Outposts near the Syrian border are not far from rebel positions from the Al-Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, who patrol the border regularly in cars and motorcycles. 
In addition, Western diplomatic officials said that Israel has imparted to Lebanon a stronger warning than before, emphasizing that Jerusalem will respond to any attack on Israel or Israeli institutions anywhere in the world.
This was conveyed today the Arabic Al Hayat newspaper, published in London, which claimed that Israel has given warning, through foreign ambassadors, that Hezbollah would be perceived as responsible for any harm to Israeli targets, "even at the other end of the world."

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Obama reinventing 'protocol'

It's been less than a week since the Obama administration started seething over a surprise invitation extended to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Obama administration whined to anyone who would listen that the invitation was a  'breach of protocol.'

The Obama administration is reinventing diplomatic protocol. It is sending a team to Israel - led by Obama's own campaign manager from the 2012 elections - to defeat Netanyahu in Israel's March 17 election. I hope that all Israelis are outraged by this patronizing interference in our country's election. Yet another reason to vote against Livni and Herzog's non-Zionist party (as if you needed one).

This is from the next to last link.
The anti-Netanyahu, left wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports a group called “One Voice,” reportedly funded by American donors, is paying for the Obama campaign team. That group is reportedly being lead by Obama’s 2012 field director Jeremy Bird.
As Jerusalem Post columnist and putative Knesset candidate Caroline Glick reported on her Facebook page, “Obama won’t meet Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington when he addresses the Joint Houses of Congress in March because of Netanyahu’s visit’s proximity to the Israeli elections. And Obama, of course believes in protocol and propriety which is why he won’t get involved.” And yet, Glick adds, “He’s just sending his 2012 field campaign manager to Israel to run a campaign to defeat Netanyahu.”
For all the harsh accusations of foreign interference currently being leveled against GOP Speaker John Boehner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, reports of Obama operatives actively working to unseat a democratically elected leader of a strong U.S. ally is hardly the news it might appear to be.
The Obama White House has aggressively worked to defeat allied leaders it has not liked and to elect or re-elect foreign leaders it does like. As the Times of Israel recently reported, the list of Obama Administration meddling in foreign elections is a long one.

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Greetings from Boston

For those who were wondering, I made it.

My flight was supposed to land at 5:55, and after circling to get the most weather-favorable approach, it landed around 6:15. We were one of four international flights that came in at the same time. The international flight after ours, which was scheduled to land at 6:35, was canceled. I have been told that the airport was officially closing at 7:00. I cannot confirm that one. There were signs on the Massachusetts Turnpike (which I took to get to where I was going - probably a good idea, although I considered taking Storah Drive) that said there's a travel ban from Midnight. Skidded once (turning onto Hahvahd Street) and got stuck on ice trying to park in the parking lot (half a dozen people pushed the car into a parking space).

I figure this is my penance because during the Great Blizzard of '78, I was a college senior in New York, and did not come up to Boston until I took the overnight train (the only thing running) on Thursday night. That storm hit on a Monday (Great pictures at that link by the way - beats any Jerusalem snow storm).

If I can stay awake for a while, I will try to post a little more....

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Snowed in?

By the time you see this, hopefully my flight will have taken off.

Have to run now.

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More than I bargained for?

So yes, I am in London, and yes, I am heading to Boston and there's a warning for an 'epic snow.'

Will this make up for the fact that I spent the 'Great Blizzard of '78' in school in New York and just took the overnight train up on Friday? (That storm started on Tuesday and by Friday the streets still were not open).

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Travel Day

Really quick. If you ever see me in Ben Gurion Airport, you should know that I am allowed to bring one guest with me to the lounge.

And with that, it's off to my flight. More later.

And you thought I was joking when I said I wanted a ticket to the Super Bowl.....

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Tit for tat: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declines meeting with Obama

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who is visiting the United States this week, has declined to meet with Barack Hussein Obama.
Rivlin will be in New York this week to speak at UN Headquarters, for an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event. The President’s Residence had informed U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in early December of Rivlin’s planned visit, and the information was conveyed to the White House.
A senior Israeli official said that at first Rivlin did not want to impose himself on Obama, and that he would be happy to go to Washington if invited by the White House. The deputy spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Alistair Baskey, said that Rivlin had asked in December about the possibility of a meeting as part of his visit to New York, and that there had been contacts between the two presidential bureaus over the matter in recent weeks.
The White House did not suggest a date for the meeting for some time, but on Saturday night contacts became more concrete. The White House suggested that Rivlin come to Washington toward the end of the week, after Obama returns from his trip to India and Saudi Arabia. The White House also updated the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Journalist Chico Menashe first reported the talks regarding the visit on Sunday.
After consultations, Rivlin finally declined the American suggestion. His advisers explained to the Americans that the two leaders’ schedules do not overlap, because Rivlin is expected to return to Israel before Obama gets back to Washington.
However, beyond scheduling conflicts, it may be assumed that the high tension between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau over the latter’s planned speech to Congress contributed to Rivlin’s decision to forego a meeting at this time. Rivlin did not want a meeting to be perceived by either side as a political move.
The President’s Residence and the White House released coordinated statements last night identical in their wording, that there had been contact between the relevant parties in Israel regarding a meeting while Rivlin was in New York.
“At this stage, it has been agreed not to hold a meeting during his visit, due to the schedule constraints of both leaders, and that a meeting would be scheduled at a later date,” the statement said.
In other words, the White House wasn't interested in a meeting until it became a useful tool to 'get' Netanyahu. Rivlin didn't take the bait.

The only two politicians in this country who might meet with Obama are Tzipi Livni and Yitzchak Herzog. Right now, I'm not sure even they want to risk the fallout. 

If Obama wants to destroy the US-Israel relationship, let him try. But let him suffer the consequences.

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