Iran's Pivotal Role in Aleppo Massacres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Iranian-led troops have been responsible for mass executions and attacks on civilians in Aleppo.
Some 1,500 Iranian fighters from the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) under the command of Qasem Soleimani have been deployed in Syria, mostly around Aleppo. In April 2016, additional soldiers from Iran's regular armed forces joined the fighting in Syria.
Iran has recruited Afghani refugees in Iran to fight in Syria; the Fatemiyoun Brigade is trained inside Iran. Shia Pakistanis from Iran fight in the Zainebiyoun Brigade.
The IRGC also directly oversees over 10,000 Iraqi Shia militiamen fighting in Syria, including the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia and the Kata'ib Hizbullah brigades.
Iran's largest proxy, Lebanese Hizbullah, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars in financial assistance from Iran, was a key leader in the most recent ground assault in Aleppo.
After Mosul, Will Iraq's Shiite Militias Head to Syria Next? - Yaroslav Trofimov (Wall Street Journal)
When Islamic State collapses in Iraq, will the Iraqi Shiite militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces taking part in that campaign cross into Syria?
Most of these militias have been trained and armed by Iran and don't hide their close links with Iran's Revolutionary Guards. On their tanks and armored vehicles, they often fly banners with portraits of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Iranian officials have openly spoken about using these battle-hardened Iraqi militias in the Syrian conflict once Mosul is freed.
U.S., Russian Militaries Sharing More Information on Syria - Lolita C. Baldor and Bradley Klapper (AP-Military Times)
U.S.-Russian talks on their separate fights against the Islamic State in Syria are becoming more productive and more frequent, American officials said.
The U.S. and Russian militaries have been communicating regularly, often in real time, as strikes around Palmyra have been about to launch to make sure innocent troops aren't at risk.
Several hundred ISIS forces are believed to be in Palmyra, but Syrian government and Russian troops are also there, making it difficult to tell them apart.
It became more critical for the U.S. and Russia to make sure they avoid problems after the U.S. mistakenly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in airstrikes near Deir el-Zour in September.
Argentine Court Reopens Investigation of Iran Role in '94 Jewish Center Bombing - Daniel Politi (New York Times)
Three judges on Argentina's highest criminal appeals court voted unanimously to reopen an investigation on Thursday into accusations that former President Cristina Kirchner sought a secret deal with Iran
to cover up the role Iranian officials played in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people.
Hamas Condemns Muslims and Jews Dancing at Hanukkah Celebration in Bahrain - Gabriel Samuels (Independent-UK)
Hamas officials have criticized a video
showing Muslim and Jewish men dancing together at a Hanukkah ceremony hosted by the king of Bahrain and attended by members of the local Jewish community, describing it as a "humiliating and disgraceful spectacle."
"Hamas calls on Bahrain to fully stop any form of normalization with the Zionist enemy."
The War on Israel Never Ends - Douglas J. Feith (Wall Street Journal)
The relatively "moderate" Palestinian Authority, in its official daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, continually refers to Israeli cities as "occupied Haifa" or "occupied Jaffa."
In other words, even pre-1967 Israel is "occupied territory" and all Israeli towns are "settlements."
Friday's UN resolution says disputed issues should be "agreed by the parties through negotiations." Yet the resolution calls the West Bank and east Jerusalem "Palestinian territory." So much for negotiations.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy (2001-05).
The U.S. Encourages the Dreams of the Islamists - Clifford D. May (Washington Times)
When the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spokesman Dawood Shihab called it a "victory."
Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, called the resolution an "important evolution in international positions" and expressed Hamas' "appreciation."
The UN exhibits passivity toward the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, and the conflict in Yemen, but expends considerable energy railing against the world's only Jewish state, a tiny democratic nation on the front lines of the war against radical Islam.
The dream of PIJ, Hamas, the Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic revolutionaries is to destroy
the only state in the region not ruled by Muslims, the only one in which minorities - ethnic, religious, sexual - are guaranteed basic human rights, and to incorporate that exceptional state into a new empire that, over time, is to expand well beyond the region.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
UN, Obama Further Radicalize Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
Buoyed by the latest UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel, Palestinian leaders are now threatening to step up their diplomatic warfare against Israel - a move that is sure to sabotage any future effort to revive the moribund peace process.
Other Palestinians view the resolution as a license to escalate "resistance" attacks on Israel, meaning terror attacks.
The UN resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand.
The UN decision is a true defeat for the peace process and for the few Arabs and Muslims who still believe in the possibility of coexistence with Israel.
Rocket-Fire from Gaza at Israel Falls to 11-Year Low - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
There were fewer Hamas rocket attacks on Israel in 2016 than during the previous 11 years, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported Tuesday.
During 2006-2016 there have been 10,412 rocket attacks, including 15 in 2016 and 24 in 2015.
During 2014, the year of the last Gaza war, there were 3,852 rockets fired at Israel.
Uruguay Opens $20 Million Security Center Fueled by Israeli Technology (JTA)
Uruguay opened a $20 million video surveillance monitoring center near the tourism capital of Punta del Este with major support from Israeli technology.
The center, which will be fully operational next year, comprises 1,200 cameras in 375 spots.
The Israeli technology includes high definition cameras with License Plate Recognition technology.
Snapchat to Buy Israeli Augmented-Reality Startup Cimagine for $40 Million - Eliran Rubin (Ha'aretz)
Snap - the company behind Snapchat - is to buy the Israeli augmented-reality company Cimagine Media for $40 million.
Cimagine's technology is used to scan and identify surfaces in scenes captured on a mobile or wearable device camera and overlays life-like 3D images onto real-time video.
Users can virtually place furniture or appliances they are thinking of buying in their homes before making a decision.
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- UK Issues Unprecedented Rebuke of Secretary of State John Kerry after His Attack on the Make-Up of the Democratically-Elected Israeli Government - Matt Dathan
The UK government on Thursday launched an unprecedented attack on the U.S. over John Kerry's condemnation of the Israeli government as the "most right-wing in history." A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said it was inappropriate of Kerry, America's top diplomat, to attack the make-up of the democratically-elected Israeli government - a key ally of both the U.S. and Britain.
Downing Street also rebuked Kerry for focusing on the single issue of Israeli settlements and not the whole conflict. "We do not...believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex. And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally." (Daily Mail-UK)
- John Kerry's Israel Speech Elicits a Shrug in the Arab World - Ben Hubbard
The Palestinian issue today is not as central as it once was in the wider Arab consciousness. While most Arab states remain unlikely to recognize Israel any time soon, the Arab Spring uprisings and the violence that followed in Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Libya have left heads of state and their populations more focused on domestic concerns. And the rising influence of Iran has created new regional worries for Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, which now share a strategic interest with Israel in checking Iranian power.
"Arab countries have sociopolitical problems that trump the Palestinian cause," said Ziad A. Akl, a senior researcher at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, noting that few Arab governments have done much for the Palestinians over the last decade. Now, he said, "a lot of Arab nations have interests with Israel, and it is part of their national security equation. They have realized that Israel is a fact that they have to live with."
The region's population is also skewed young, and younger Arabs feel less loyalty to the Palestinians than their elders, said Bassel Salloukh, a professor of political science at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. "There are generations of Arabs who have no idea what Palestine symbolizes." (New York Times)
- Netanyahu Spokesman: Israel Wants Two States, Palestinians Don't - Kyle Feldscher
David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, told CNN Thursday that the prime minister wants peace and even stopped construction in settlements, but that wasn't enough for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "President Abbas didn't take that too seriously and that's because the issue isn't the settlements or the presence of Jews," Keyes said.
"The conflict is not about the creation of a Palestinian state. It's about the existence of a Jewish state."
Keyes said Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on Wednesday dealt with tangential issues, but he wasn't getting to the core issue of Palestinians refusing to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. "Peace can be forged when, at long last, the Palestinians recognize our very right to exist and no longer call Tel Aviv a settlement." (Washington Examiner-The Hill)
See also below Observations - Israeli Ambassador: "Israel Is Not Going to Freeze Life Because the Palestinians Have Decided Not to Negotiate Peace" (MSNBC)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Arrests Hamas Tunnel Operative Infiltrating from Gaza - Itay Blumental
Bilal Razineh, a member of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, was arrested on Nov. 27 after crossing the border from Gaza into Israel. An investigation revealed that he was involved in extensive terrorist activity including digging tunnels and he provided a lot of information about tunnel routes in northern Gaza and tunnel digging methods.
His brother, Mustafa Razineh, is head of Hamas internal security in northern Gaza. A tunnel had been dug on his family's property, leading to many tunnels in the area. During the 2014 Gaza war, he said his brother and other senior Hamas members hid in the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza and oversaw the fighting from there. (Ynet News)
- 27,000 New Immigrants Arrive in Israel in 2016 - Tamara Zieve
The number of new immigrants to Israel was 27,000 in 2016, down from 31,000 in 2015, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption said Thursday. Immigration from Russia rose from 6,600 to 7,000. There was also a rise in the number from Brazil - 760 compared with 497.
5,500 immigrants from Ukraine arrived in 2016 compared to 7,221 in 2015. French aliya totaled 5,000, down from 7,900. "Israel continues to draw Jews from around the world seeking to live lives of meaning and identity," said Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israeli Economy Grows by 3.5 Percent in 2016 - Zeev Klein
Israel's economy grew by 3.5% in 2016, the Bank of Israel's Research Department said Wednesday. Unemployment dropped to a record low of 4.8%. Overall investments jumped by 10%. The inflation rate was a negative 0.3%, the third consecutive year in which the Israeli economy has seen a negative inflation rate.
- On Israel, an Exaggerated and Misguided Focus on Settlement Construction - Editorial
The Obama administration is ending eight years of failed Middle East diplomacy exactly where it began in 2009 - with an exaggerated and misguided focus on Israeli settlement construction. President Obama during the early months of his first term insisted that the Israeli government freeze all construction as a starting point for negotiations on a Palestinian state. The president's demand had the effect of encouraging Palestinian leaders to resist all concessions while seeking to delegitimize Israel internationally; the peace talks went nowhere even when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu imposed a temporary construction freeze.
Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on Wednesday was a vivid demonstration of the administration's inability to learn from its mistakes or adjust the ideological tenets that Obama brought to office. The administration asserts that the Jewish population in the West Bank has increased by 100,000 since 2009 - but by Kerry's account, 80% of that growth was in areas Israel would likely annex in any settlement. In eight years, 20,000 people have been added to communities outside Israel's West Bank fence, the product of a restraint for which Netanyahu received no White House credit. The Jewish population there may have decreased as a percentage of the overall population, even as Obama and Kerry have made it the focal point of U.S. policy.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walked away from a generous Israeli statehood offer eight years ago and in 2014 refused to accept the framework for a settlement that Kerry outlined on Wednesday.
- Obama's Attack on Israel - Peter Wehner
Barack Obama seems to delight in applying pressure to Israel even as he overlooks or downplays the malevolence of its enemies. He acts publicly as though he feels more loathing toward Benjamin Netanyahu than Bashar al-Assad - and more anger toward Israel for its settlement policies than toward Syria for its mass atrocities.
On behalf of the U.S. he has directed antipathy against not only one of America's most loyal allies but a nation that is among history's most estimable and admirable. In a sea of tyranny, Israel is democratic, pluralistic, self-critical, and respectful of individual rights, human rights and minority rights.
It is bone-weary of war and has made enormous sacrifices for peace. Yet to its critics it seems to matter not at all that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to sacrifice "land for peace" or that the Palestinians have repeatedly walked away from generous deals that would grant them statehood.
The writer, a former Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. (RealClearPolitics)
- Israel, the U.S., and the UN - Shalom Lipner
Where preceding U.S. administrations had contented themselves with characterizations of settlement construction as a proverbial "obstacle to peace," Obama's rhetorical upgrade questioned the very legality of Israel's policy. The Netanyahu government has responded plausibly that not only is it absurd to deny Jewish communal life in the crucible of Jewish civilization,
but also that multiple governments in Jerusalem have uprooted settlements in order to advance reasonable chances for peace. As such, it rejects all arguments that settlement activity serves to negate the possibility of an eventual two-state solution.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334 was a poorly conceived misfire. Assuming charitably that those who supported the resolution were concerned only with the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, this feel-good boomerang will likely accomplish the diametric opposite: forcing the former into a defensive crouch and emboldening the latter in their continual efforts to avoid direct negotiation by subcontracting their grievances to the international community.
As the Obama Administration finishes out its term and weighs further moves in the Israeli-Palestinian theater - now including Wednesday's address by Secretary of State Kerry - it would be unwise to let frustration or utopian impulses get the better of statecraft.
The writer, a nonresident senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, recently retired from the government of Israel, where he served at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem from 1990.
- Obama's Shameful Parting Shot at Israel - Shelley Berkley
The UN stooped to a new low last week, passing a Security Council resolution with the transparent goal of delegitimizing Israel and damaging the prospects for a lasting negotiated peace with the Palestinians.
The Obama administration's decision to abstain, allowing the UN's highest body to condemn Israel in such harsh and biased terms, declare settlements an illegal obstacle to peace, and call the eternal capital of the Jewish people "occupied," is unprecedented and dangerous. The decision to allow it to come to a vote runs counter to American interests, and more importantly, it flies in the face of our values.
I served seven terms in Congress, where support for Israel was a cornerstone issue for members of both parties. Broad bipartisan majorities in Congress urged the administration to veto any one-sided resolution attacking Israel's legitimacy. Though this is a sad day in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the special bond between our two nations must and will endure.
The writer served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Nevada (1999-2013).
Secretary of State John Kerry's Speech
- The Misplaced Optimism of the Two-State Solution - Steven A. Cook
The Palestinian Authority cannot claim to want two states living side-by-side while it routinely delegitimizes Israel and the Jewish connection to the land. The PA's president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Fatah cannot claim to want to settle the conflict when, at the same time, they glorify, in Arabic, violence against Israelis and Jews. The people who run Gaza - Hamas - are more up front about their goals to liberate all of Palestine, meaning all of the territory that is Israel.
What was so interesting about Secretary of State Kerry's speech was that he billed it as a last-ditch effort to save the two-state solution, but he actually outlined precisely why such an outcome is entirely unlikely. Kerry might have gotten more credit had he framed the speech as a statement about the fallacy of two democratic states living side-by-side in peace and offered some thoughts about how best to manage the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians going forward because a one-state solution is not going to happen either.
The secretary also made clear the limits of American power when parties to a conflict define their struggle in existential terms. This is worth underlining, given the American inclination to believe that, with enough grit and determination, the U.S. can meaningfully contribute to the resolution of these kinds of conflicts. This should also shatter any Arab illusions about Washington's ability to force a solution on the parties. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at CFR.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- Obama, Kerry Seek Peace for a Middle East that No Longer Exists - Eli Lake
Secretary of State Kerry's speech was that of a man trapped in the past, a prisoner of a peace process from a bygone time. Since George H.W. Bush, U.S. presidents have pushed and prodded the two sides to agree that there should be two states for two peoples. Kerry's speech hit familiar notes. Palestinians must end incitement. Israel must stop building settlements. Time is running out.
But 2016 is not 1999. Back then the establishment view was that a two-state solution was the key to unlocking stability for the region. Nobody believes this anymore as today the Middle East is coming unglued. Iran is meddling. Russia has entered the region for the first time since the 1970s. The jihadist Islamic State still has its caliphate in Raqqa, Syria. These conflicts have nothing to do with settlements in the West Bank. It's worth marveling at the spectacle of Kerry's dire warnings about the survival of a peace process disconnected from the wars raging all around it. (Bloomberg)
- Kerry Lost the Israeli Public Long Ago - David Horovitz
Many in Israel recognize the dangers of being permanently intertwined with millions of hostile Palestinians. But the secretary of state and his president long ago lost much of the Israeli public by underestimating the depth of Palestinian opposition to the very fact of the Jewish state's existence. Kerry has underestimated, too, the consequent scarring that the Israeli public has accumulated over decades of war, terrorism, and demonization as the Palestinians and those who championed their cause have sought Israel's obliteration.
We left south Lebanon. Hizbullah took over. We left Gaza. Now it's ruled by Hamas. When the secretary expresses his "total confidence" that Israel's security requirements in the West Bank can be met via sophisticated multi-layered border defenses and such, he quite simply loses Israel.
(Times of Israel)
UN Security Council Resolution on Israel
- The Damage Done to Israel at the UN - Charles Krauthammer
People don't quite understand the damage done to Israel by the U.S. abstention that permitted passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel over settlements. For the past 35 years, every U.S. administration, including Obama himself in 2011, has protected Israel with the U.S. veto because such a Security Council resolution gives immense legal ammunition to every boycotter, anti-Semite, and zealous European prosecutor to penalize and punish Israelis.
The Security Council just declared the territories legally Palestinian - without the Palestinians having to concede anything, let alone peace. What incentive do the Palestinians have to negotiate when they can get the terms - and territory - they seek handed to them for free if they hold out long enough?
America has acquiesced to a declaration that, as a matter of international law, the Jewish state has no claim on the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, indeed the entire Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. They belong to Palestine. At the very least, Obama should have insisted that any reference to Jerusalem be dropped from the resolution or face a U.S. veto.
- UN Vote on Settlements Can't Hide Palestinian Collapse - Walter Russell Mead
The UN vote is certainly a propaganda victory for the Palestinian cause, but it does nothing to help the Palestinians in practical terms. Indeed, the Palestinians have not been this weak, this divided, or this helpless in many decades. Palestinians have been organizing to fight Zionism for well over 100 years; during all that time the fundamental problems of the Palestinians have come from the weakness of Palestinian political leadership and the lack of capacity of Palestinian institutions.
The Palestinians continue to fall farther and farther behind the Israelis when it comes to political organization and military power. Not only have the Palestinian territories devolved into two micro-states (Gaza and the West Bank), but both Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank have become increasingly corrupt, ineffective and exhausted. Both depend on foreign paymasters to cover their expenses; neither has shown much ability to build a real state or to solve the problems of the Palestinian people.
The incapacity of the UN to do anything concrete in the Middle East has never been more obvious; ask the people of Aleppo. The Sunni Arabs, the most natural allies of the Palestinian cause, are so weak and divided that they look to Israel as a defender of the Sunni world against the Persians and the Shi'a. No vote in the impotent echo chamber of the Security Council can change any of these facts. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.
- The UN's Outrageous Assault on Israel's Legitimacy - Rafael L. Bardaji and Richard Kemp
The UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli house-building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is itself illegal, unjust and immoral. East Jerusalem and the entire West Bank constitute disputed territory rather than being occupied, as the UN falsely insists. The final status of these lands must be mutually agreed in bilateral negotiations between the parties, in accordance with the legally-binding Oslo Accords which the Security Council now treats with contempt.
It is not the settlements that have undermined peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the total intransigence of the Palestinian leadership, their refusal to make any concessions for peace, and their uncompromising rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries. If every settlement were torn down we would still not be one step closer to peace.
Rafael L. Bardaji, executive director of the Friends of Israel Initiative, is a former national security adviser to the Spanish government. Col. Richard Kemp is the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
(Times of Israel)
- Obama's Slap in the Face - MK Sharren Haskel
Barack Obama and his closest advisers have used the last eight years to conduct experiments in foreign policy without giving consideration to the consequences, thinking all along the way that they know the Middle East better than it knows itself.
In this neighborhood only the strong are respected, and only the strong survive. In this neighborhood, no matter your religion or ethnicity, a person's word is their honor. And where you do find peace and coexistence, you find that it comes only from the honoring of one's word, from deterrence, and from strict enforcement of laws and assertion of rights. In this neighborhood, if you give your word or make a promise but don't stick to it, you lose respect and nobody will trust you.
What the Obama administration's approach failed to factor in was that the lack of a strong and firm policy not only results in the weakening of the image of the U.S., but a weakened U.S. has led to the weakening of the UN - and if the international community is weak, then the entire free world should be worried about what comes next.
The UN Security Council resolution last Friday was made against Israel, the one and only true democracy in the region, the only stronghold that fights terror with one strong hand while guarding stability and human rights with the other. The Obama administration's decision was a slap in the face to the only country in the region that in any way represents the same values that the U.S. has sworn to stand for and strive to protect.
The writer, a Knesset member for Likud, served as a combat soldier and commander in the Israel Border Police during the time of the second intifada. She is the second youngest MK (32).
- UN Vote Legitimizes Arab Myth about Israel - Sol Wachtler
The U.S. abstained from a UN vote that condemned Israel for its "occupation" in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The UN resolution legitimizes the Arab myth that Jews (and Christians) have no historical connection to the Holy Land, and that the 430,000 Israelis living in the West Bank and the 200,000 Israelis living in east Jerusalem are illegal occupiers.
The Palestinians claim that Jews are mere "occupiers" and not legitimate inhabitants of the territory.
However, what is referred to as the "occupied territory" is land that was historically occupied by Jews since biblical times. Going back to the first census taken in 1820, Jews always constituted a majority of the population in Jerusalem. The Old City of Jerusalem houses the Western Wall - a remnant of King Solomon's Temple sacred to the Jews. The Palestinians are now armed with a UN resolution that brands Israel an outlaw for living and worshipping in a land that has always been its ancestral home.
The writer, a former chief judge of New York State, is distinguished adjunct professor at Touro Law School.
- Supporting Israel Is a No-Brainer - U.S. Rep.-elect Brian Mast (R-Fla.)
Sadly, the current administration's shameful failure to veto the anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week will undermine Israel's desire for peace, as well as the security of the U.S. and the safety of Americans traveling abroad. Israel has shown they are willing to negotiate in good faith. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, manipulates the UN to impose Palestinian terms on Israel.
Even Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech given to defend the U.S. failure to veto the resolution, listed an extensive record of Palestinian aggression, which includes rocket attacks, stabbings, vehicular attacks, attacks from tunnels and many other acts of violence that have been praised by Palestinian leadership. If the U.S. had a neighbor repeatedly attacking us the way Secretary Kerry described Israel being attacked by Palestinians, that neighbor would cease to exist.
The national security of the U.S. is directly tied to the strength of Israel. The most peaceful country in the Middle East, Israel, is not responsible for the lack of peace in the region. They are in fact the primary reason any peace can be found in the region at all. For all freedom-loving Americans, standing with Israel will always be an issue of right versus wrong.
(Times of Israel)
See also Pro-Israel U.S. Army Vet Runs for Congress - on Prosthetic Legs - Renee Ghert-Zand
Brian Mast, 35, a practicing Christian, volunteered for a month with the Israel Defense Forces in January 2015 where he packed medical kits and moved supplies around, including some heavy lifting. He lost both legs when, as a bomb disposal technician in Afghanistan, he stepped on a hidden improvised explosive device (IED). (Times of Israel-2March2016)
See also Military Vet Harvard Grad Who Lost His Legs in Afghanistan Has Now Become a Congressman - Hannah Parry (Daily Mail-UK)
Video - Israeli Ambassador: "Israel Is Not Going to Freeze Life Because the Palestinians Have Decided Not to Negotiate Peace" (MSNBC)
Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told MSNBC on Thursday:
- "In the first year of the Obama administration...we had a crisis with the United States over the issue of settlements three months into the administration. At the very first meeting that the prime minister [Netanyahu] had in the Oval Office the same story was told - that the two-state solution was disappearing, that action had to be taken immediately on the settlements."
- "There were two views that this administration put forward from the very beginning. The first was that the root of all the problems in the Middle East was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we could just solve this problem, that was the key to stability in the Middle East. That blew up about five years ago in Tunisia [with the start of the Arab Spring]....You have Syria collapsing, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, you have chaos throughout the whole Middle East. The one place where you don't have chaos? It's Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and guess what, we don't have peace. But that seems to be the most stable place."
- "The second view was that the settlements are the root of the conflict. It was not true then and it's not true now. And I think we have to start dealing with the root of the conflict, which is the persistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries."
- "Israel is going about living their lives, continuing to build in these areas that are in dispute, and may one day convince the Palestinians - you know what, you should come to the table to actually negotiate with Israel because if you don't do that Israel is just going to keep going on with their lives. They are not going to freeze life because you've decided not to negotiate peace."
- "In Secretary Kerry's speech yesterday...what he didn't say was that in 2000 an Israeli government made a sweeping peace offer to the Palestinians. Arafat rejected it and then he launched a terror campaign against Israel. And in 2008 another peace offer was put forward and the Palestinians also rejected that. So this is not about Israel not wanting peace. It's about the Palestinians not wanting to end the conflict."
- "I do not blame any secretary of state, any president, for the failure to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The reason why we do not have peace is because the Palestinians refuse to accept the existence and the right of the Jewish people to a state in our ancestral homeland. That is the problem."
- "The President of the United States cannot force them to do that. But what he can do is stand beside Israel, speak truth to the world about what this conflict is all about, and hopefully the Palestinians will realize that they have no chance to defeat Israel militarily or to defeat it diplomatically. Ultimately, if they can't beat 'em, they can join 'em. And together we can have a much better future for both Israelis and Palestinians. That's what we want to see."
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