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'Break the Silence' Speaker: Obama's 'Alice-in-Wonderland' Gov't
by Hana Levi Julian - ArutzSheva.com
A former aide to New York State Governor George Pataki slammed the Obama administration's treatment of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel in a prelude to Sunday's “Break the Silence' rally, set to begin at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan.
The event will take place rain or shine, according to organizer Beth Gilinsky, head of the Jewish Action Alliance.
Among those on the podium will be Jeff Weisenfeld of Bernstein Global Wealth Management, a long-time leader in New York's “mainstream” Jewish community who for years was also active in the National Committee for Jewish Education. Weisenfeld spent four years as chief of staff in the city administration of former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat before becoming an aide to Governor George Pataki, another Republican.
Speaking late Friday afternoon in an interview with Israel National News, Weisenfeld called the current diplomatic crisis “the biggest accidental or deliberate miscalculation in American-Israeli relations made by any American president.” He added that the Obama administration's overtures to the Muslim world, and the contrast with its hostility to the State of Israel, had transformed the U.S. executive branch into a “complete Alice-in-Wonderland government. I don't want to make light of it here,” Weisenfeld said with some sarcasm, “but it's like Purim, when Mordechai becomes Haman, and Haman becomes Mordechai.”
He reserved special criticism for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Special Presidential Adviser David Axelrod, both traditonal Jews in the Obama administration who are among the president's closest aides. “I had positions like theirs, I worked for a governor, a senator... I always made sure that I was representing the Jewish community to the governor, and the governor to them. But there are some who see their power as an end in itself. They don't want to tell the boss when he's wrong. And they are the worst kind of people to have in government,” Weisenfeld said.
“Islam has evolved backwards, has become more violent than perhaps it was even in its inception, since they did not have the weapons then, that they have today. And you have Emanuel and Axelrod, who have bad judgment, and who do not see the need to fight this moral equivalency.”
Weisenfeld also noted that most “mainstream” Jewish community organizations did not – and could not – officially sign on to sponsor Sunday's rally for fear of retribution from the Obama administration. “The mainstream groups are about access and response to a direct threat from the White House.
“The [Jewish] Federations and their beneficiaries and subsidiaries have been warned by Rahm Emanuel to stay away from public criticism of the president on Israel. But unless the weather is horrendous,” he added, “there will be an abundance of “establishment-affiliated” people. Maybe we can wake up this president and pull him back from the abyss.”
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2. Schumer Blasts White House on Israel Policy
by Hana Levi Julian
U.S. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and a leading Demcoratic Congressman have strongly criticized Obama administration policies against Israel. New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who once worked for Sen. Schumer and is the fiancé of a Muslim aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also came out swinging.
“The appropriate response was a shake of the head – not a temper tantrum," Rep. Weiner said. “Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already.”
Sen. Schumer told listeners on the Nachum Segal Show in New York that the White House stance on Israel has been “counterproductive”. The senator, who faces elections in the fall, said he had told White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weeks ago that he would take a public stand if the State Department did not back down from its “terrible” treatment of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“This has to stop,” Schumer said he told the White House.
Schumer said there was an internal “battle” going on in the White House between members of the president's staff. “One side agrees with us, one side doesn't, and we're pushing hard to make sure the right side wins – and if not, we'll have to take it to the next step,” he said.
“Palestinians don't really believe in a State of Israel,” Schumer noted. “They, unlike a majority of Israelis, who have come to the conclusion that they can live with a two-state solution to be determined by the parties, the majority of Palestinians are still very reluctant, and they need to be pushed to get there.
“If the U.S. says certain things and takes certain stands the Palestinians say, 'Why should we negotiate?' [State Department spokesman P.J.] Crowley said something I have never heard before, which is, the relationship of Israel and the United States depends on the pace of the negotiations,” Schumer added.
This was apparently the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back for the senior senator, who until now has been one of Obama's closest allies among the Jewish Democrats. Schumer was referring to a briefing in which the State Department spokesman said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words, but through specific actions, that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process.”
Up to this point, Schumer had been largely silent about the growing hostility of the Obama administration towards the State of Israel, despite numerous calls by grassroots groups for legislators to stand up and support the Jewish State.
The contention of the State Department that the so-called “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the U.S. could now depend on the pace of talks with the PA, however, was the red line for Schumer.
He explained, “That is the dagger because the relationship is much deeper than the disagreements on negotiations, and most Americans – Democrat, Republican, Jew, non-Jew – would feel that. So I called up Rahm Emanuel and I called up the White House and I said, 'If you don't retract that statement you are going to hear me publicly blast you on this.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded Friday, “We have an unwavering commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people. You heard General [James] Jones speak about that earlier in the week. We have said that from the beginning of the administration. I don't think it is a stretch to say we don't agree with what Senator Schumer said.”
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3. Diplomatic Coup for PA: Obama Invites Abbas
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has scored a diplomatic coup with an invitation from U.S. President Barack Obama to visit Washington as media analysts conclude that the president is toning down his criticism of Israel.
One day after the invitation reportedly was delivered, Abbas urged President Obama on Saturday to impose on Israel the acceptance of a new PA state based on its demands. Meanwhile, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday morning, both of whom issued positive statements on the background of no real achievements except to agree to further talks.
Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the PA said that Abbas will visit Washington next month, but other PA officials said that the trip depends on Israel’s accepting American-backed PA demands.
President Obama officially has not imposed on Israel the conditions for the establishment of a new Arab state within the current borders of the Jewish State. However, his administration in the past year has gradually adopted most of the PA's demands, bypassed PA commitments to halt incitement and violence against Israel, and demanded that Israel stop building for Jews in united Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Israel fears that doing so would be a de facto division of the capital.
In a speech to Fatah party officials in Ramallah on Saturday, Abbas said, "Mr. President and members of the American administration, since you believe in [an independent PA state], it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.”
The U.S. State Department has stated that the United States would not impose its own solution “for the time being.”
Israel continues to be on the defensive in the PA-American diplomatic maneuvers. Following several weeks of unprecedented public condemnation of Israel by the Obama administration, Mitchell called Sunday morning’s discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu “productive and positive. He added that he will return to the region next week for more discussions.
Reporters covering the State Department have grown increasingly skeptical of American efforts to bring the PA and Israel together. One journalist sarcastically asked U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Friday, “So what grand accomplishments has he [Mitchell] come up with in his meetings so far?”
Crowley responded with the routine answer that “we [are] trying to move the parties to a point where they agree to proximity talks and to begin to address the substance, the core issues of the process, but there’s still work to do.”
He added, “If you’re signaling are we expecting a breakthrough through on this visit, probably not.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday morning that Israel has been and continues to be prepared to begin direct talks with the PA immediately. Abbas has held out for acceptance of a halt to building for Jews in parts of Jerusalem where it claims sovereignty. The areas include the Temple Mount area and Western Wall, as well as the neighborhoods of Ramot, French Hill among others.
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4. Iran Trades Oil for Enriched Uranium from Zimbabwe