Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Latest video of the week: Jerusalem Market at Night: http://tinyurl.com/my6aynn
Congress has every right, and even an obligation, to hear the Israeli leader speak about the Iranian threat.
Feb. 23, 2015
For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/luj58ob
As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.
Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions. Congress has a critical role to play in scrutinizing the decisions of the president when these decisions involve national security, relationships with allies and the threat of nuclear proliferation.
Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.
Congress has the right to disagree with the prime minister, but the idea that some members of Congress will not give him the courtesy of listening violates protocol and basic decency to a far greater extent than anything Mr. Netanyahu is accused of doing for having accepted an invitation from Congress.
Recall that President Obama sent British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby Congress with phone calls last month against conditionally imposing new sanctions on Iran if the deal were to fail. What the president objects to is not that Mr. Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but the content of what he intends to say. This constitutes a direct intrusion on the power of Congress and on the constitutional separation of powers.
Not only should all members of Congress attend Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, but President Obama—as a constitutional scholar—should urge members of Congress to do their constitutional duty of listening to opposing views in order to check and balance the policies of the administration.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Speaker John Boehner ’s decision to invite Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to accept, no legal scholar can dispute that Congress has the power to act independently of the president in matters of foreign policy. Whether any deal with Iran would technically constitute a treaty requiring Senate confirmation, it is certainly treaty-like in its impact. Moreover, the president can’t implement the deal without some action or inaction by Congress.
Congress also has a role in implementing the president’s promise—made on behalf of our nation as a whole—that Iran will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. That promise seems to be in the process of being broken, as reports in the media and Congress circulate that the deal on the table contains a sunset provision that would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after a certain number of years.
Once it became clear that Iran will eventually be permitted to become a nuclear-weapon power, it has already become such a power for practical purposes. The Saudis and the Arab emirates will not wait until Iran turns the last screw on its nuclear bomb. As soon as this deal is struck, with its sunset provision, these countries would begin to develop their own nuclear-weapon programs, as would other countries in the region. If Congress thinks this is a bad deal, it has the responsibility to act.
Another reason members of Congress should not boycott Mr. Netanyahu’s speech is that support for Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. The decision by some members to boycott Israel’s prime minister endangers this bipartisan support. This will not only hurt Israel but will also endanger support for Democrats among pro-Israel voters. I certainly would never vote for or support a member of Congress who walked out on Israel’s prime minister.
One should walk out on tyrants, bigots and radical extremists, as the United States did when Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust and called for Israel’s destruction at the United Nations. To use such an extreme tactic against our closest ally, and the Middle East’s only vibrant democracy, is not only to insult Israel’s prime minister but to put Israel in a category in which it does not belong.
So let members of Congress who disagree with the prime minister’s decision to accept Speaker Boehner’s invitation express that disagreement privately and even publicly, but let them not walk out on a speech from which they may learn a great deal and which may help them prevent the president from making a disastrous foreign-policy mistake. Inviting a prime minister of an ally to educate Congress about a pressing foreign-policy decision is in the highest tradition of our democratic system of separation of powers and checks and balances.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Video of the week: Arab, Israeli High Tech venture .http://tinyurl.com/maab6ut
The Algemeiner: By Edwin Black
For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/nveff9b
Last year, Congressional legislators were astonished to learn that the Palestinian Authority was issuing monthly payouts totaling between $3 and 7 million as salaries and other financial rewards to specific terrorists and their families.
The money was channeled, in part, through the Ministry of Prisoners pursuant to the Law of the Prisoner. The law set forth a graduated scale, pegging monthly salaries to the length of Israeli jail sentences, which generally reflects the severity of the crime and the number of people killed and/or injured.
Thousands of documents, newly obtained by this reporter through a lawsuit to unseal court-protected files, demonstrate that these payouts are not blind automated payments. Rather, senior Palestinian Authority officials as high as President Mahmoud Abbas scrutinize the details of each case, the specific carnage caused, and the personal details of each terrorist act before approving salaries and awarding honorary ranks in either the PA government or the military.
Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser has explained, “We are very proud of this program and we have nothing to hide.” Nonetheless, in response to the international furor, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would replace the Ministry of Prisoners with an outside PLO commission known as the Higher National Commission for Prisoners and Detainees Affairs.
The PA is dependent upon foreign donor countries to supply much of its budget, which now exceeds $4.2 billion annually. About ten percent of the PA budget, more than $400 million, is contributed annually by United States foreign aid. The U.S. and many other countries have enacted laws forbidding any payments when the monies directly or indirectly support or encourage terrorism.
The interdepartmental bureaucratic notations the Palestinian Authority has recorded on each terrorist before approving the level of salaried compensation is extensive. For example, one prominent case involved Ahmad Talab Mustafa Barghouti, who personally coordinated numerous terrorist acts. These included a January 2002 shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding 37; a March 2002 shooting spree at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three and wounding 31; and finally a March 27, 2002, attempt to smuggle an explosive suicide belt in an ambulance. The Israel Defense Forces arrested Ahmad. On July 30, 2002, a military court concluded that he was responsible for murdering 12 Israelis, and Barghouti was sentenced to 13 life sentences.
According to on-going internal Palestinian Authority security reviews dated February 3, 2009, and July 6, 2009, Barghouti’s special compensation began retroactively to July 1, 2002, the first of the month that the 13 life sentences were imposed. At the time of his arrest, Barghouti was a Sergeant in the Palestinian Police. As a reward, while in an Israeli prison, Barghouti’s annual salary of 12,953 Israeli shekels was continued and gradually escalated when he was promoted to First Sergeant.
Still in prison, Barghouti was promoted again, this time to Warrant Officer, pursuant to a November 13, 2008, Presidential Order 15999/3, according to Palestinian internal security records. One document lists Barghouti’s bank account as account 36079 at the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance in Ramallah. A related document tabulates additional monthly allocations for Barghouti’s two named beneficiaries, showing they jointly received 900 shekels monthly in 2002, beginning the month he was sentenced. That monthly allocation rose to 1,000 shekels in January 2004. The beneficiary payments were deposited into account 628134 at the Arab Bank’s al Bireh Branch 9030, the documents show.
In another case, terrorist Sa’id Ibrahim Sa’id Ramadan went to a busy Jerusalem street around 2:30 p.m. on January 22, 2002, and began randomly shooting passers-by. Two people were murdered: Sarah Hamburger, 79, and Orna Sandler, 56. Dozens of others were injured. Police shot and killed Ramadan at the scene.
Just five days later, on January 27, 2002, Ramadan’s case was reviewed by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Social Affairs for martyrdom status and to determine the financial benefits that would accrue to the family. That review was conducted by the Martyr’s Families and Injured Care Establishment, a little known organization originally created in 1969 by the Palestine Liberation Organization to systematize financial benefits to those wounded or killed in terrorist attacks deemed acts of “martyrdom.”
“Martyrdom Establishment” compensation is dispensed worldwide, wherever the terrorist act takes place, according to a 2010 Palestinian Authority Social Ministry report. The report states that by 2009, more than 288 million shekels were paid in the program, of which more than 97 million went outside Israel and the Palestinian region to reward international terrorism.
In Ramadan’s case, the opening file noted that his body was still in Israeli custody. Kuwait-born Ramadan’s employment was listed as a Sergeant in the Palestinian Maritime Police. The qualifying martyrdom incident is routinely described in a section headlined “Date and Place of Event,” which simply records “January 22, 2002, West Jerusalem.”
In the next section, “Description of Event,” the form states, “He was martyred while executing a martyrdom operation in West Jerusalem. The operation led to the death and injury of a number of Israelis.” In a short biographical sketch, Ramadan is described in these words, “He was known to be a calm person and faithful to his country. Among his expressions was ‘O Martyr! You have tested my soul.’ He was martyred while performing his nation duty.” The Establishment director ruled: “We recommend that he is considered as one of the al-Aqsa Martyrs.”
Some weeks later, a Palestinian Authority internal security document shows approval of the recommendation, concluding “Sergeant Sa’id Ibrahim Sa’id Ramadan, from the Maritime Police/ Northern Governates, is hereby approved as a martyr by the Palestinian Authority as of January 23, 2002, by rank and salary, as he was martyred while performing his national duty.”
The money was “to be disbursed by General Headquarters / Northern Governates / Martyr’s Roster.” Copies of the payment order were routed to the PA’s Financial Administration, the Maritime Police, Social Affairs, Medical Services, Supply and Equipment, and Computer departments, among others.
How much would he get? A married martyr would have a family payout of about 1,300 shekels monthly. But the family of an unmarried martyr would only be entitled to 400 shekels. The money would go the father, but when the elder Ramadan passed away, his allocation was transferred to Ramadan’s mother, the documents record.
A posthumous August 2006 review stated, “The martyr is single … His mother is alive. The martyr’s father passed away May 5, 2006. I recommend a transfer to the martyr’s mother,” adding, “Her bank account number at Cairo Amman Bank is 349834 … The Islamic Development Bank [previously used by the father] shall be notified of the situation.”
The Barghouti and Ramadan cases are just two of hundreds of terrorists who are rewarded for their actions – not in a blind, faceless program, but in a meticulous, exacting official process that can remain in place for years. The money is represented to donor countries as “government salaries.” Most taxpayers in donor countries have no idea that their well-intended money is actually financing the flames of terrorism.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
VIDEOS OF THE WEEK: We recommend the following:
“Christian persecution” http://tinyurl.com/q8qpqlz
“Starling migration” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_1o0ao9Uqc
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
By Editorial Board, Washington Post 1.02.2015
For the full article go to; http://tinyurl.com/nzgbc5y
THE POST’S William Booth witnessed a chilling event in the Gaza Strip on Thursday: thousands of youths lined up “in crisp military fashion” for a “graduation ceremony” after a week of training by the armed wing of the Hamas movement. Even as thousands of Gazan families struggle to survive amid the rubble of last summer’s war with Israel, and children are reported to be dying from exposure, Hamas is once again investing its resources in preparing for another unwinnable battle.
That this is happening is yet another indictment of this Islamic terrorist movement, which has started three wars with Israel in six years while depriving the 1.8 million people on its devastated territory any hope of peaceful development. But it is also shameful evidence of the failure by other parties — from the Palestinian Authority and Israel to Egypt and the United States — to take steps to lift Gaza out of its tragic cycle of bloodshed and blockade.
Last year’s war, which killed more than 2,000 Gazans and damaged or destroyed 124,000 homes, could have been a turning point. Israel pressed for Hamas’s disarmament as part of a cease-fire; though that proved impossible, the United States and Egypt pressed a formula under which the Palestinian Authority would take over responsibility for security on the territory’s border, allowing for an expansion of trade and humanitarian relief.
The deal never took hold. Hamas refused to give up its checkpoints on the border, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chose to focus his energies on another empty diplomatic offensive at the United Nations rather than the more difficult work of restoring order in Gaza. The predictable result was that Egypt, ruled by a regime deeply hostile to Hamas, sealed its border and redoubled its effort to prevent smuggling, while Israel, worried about Hamas’s rearmament, allowed only a fraction of the imports the United Nations says are needed for reconstruction.
International donors — above all, the Arab states — have meanwhile held back the reconstruction funding they pledged. The result was that the U.N. refugee relief agency in Gaza was forced to suspend payments to families last week. Its director, Robert Turner, issued a statement saying that “people are desperate and the international community cannot even provide the bare minimum — for example a repaired home in winter — let alone a lifting of the blockade, access to markets or freedom of movement.”
U.N. officials, like much of the rest of the world, are quick to blame Israel for this horrific situation, even though Egypt’s border “blockade” is tighter. It’s certainly striking that while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to consider the danger of Iran so serious that it justifies his violation of diplomatic protocol to address a joint meeting of Congress, he appears to have no policy for Gaza — the source of the most lethal attacks on Israelis in recent years.
Israel, however, can hardly be expected to facilitate Hamas’s relentless preparations for more war, to which concrete and other reconstruction materials have been diverted in the past. An Israeli official told Mr. Booth that Gazan workshops were “assembling new rockets as fast as they can” and that the strip’s militias would be fully rearmed and trained within months. Sadly, that is likely to be the next time the world pays heed to Gaza — when war with Israel again erupts.