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Possible spy deal and computer malware add intrigue to international scene

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment
By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and other Democrats apparently are circulating a letter calling on President Obama to pardon convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel’s agreement not to build houses for Jews in places the Administration doesn’t want them built. (The Palestinians don’t want them built between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, but that’s another matter.)

The letter, according to Ha’aretz, “notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people…This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors.”  Our thoughts:

  • Jonathan Pollard has been in jail a really, really long time for the crimes he committed. It seems to us that a parole board might reasonably decide that he had spent long enough in jail and could be released without posing a threat to security. We would be OK with that but not with a pardon that erases the criminality of what he did. Has Pollard had a parole hearing? Why don’t Mr. Frank and company petition the Justice Department for one? 
  • The goodwill of “our nation toward Israel and the Israeli people” is not in doubt; concerns about policies pursued by one President or another are something else. If Israel has concerns about the policies of President Obama, its democratically elected government has an obligation to raise and deal with them. But in this case, Mr. Frank appears to be saying that Israel’s policies are problematic – and maybe a bribe by the President will cause Israel to change those policies. That should be beneath the Government of the United States.
  • Israel does indeed face “difficult decisions” about its future. The U.S. government appears to have dropped the requirement that the Palestinians and Arab States acknowledge the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty and provide the “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” that are due to Israel under the terms of UN Resolution 242. For the United States to suggest that Israel ignore the real issue and make decisions based on “goodwill” from an American bribe should similarly be beneath our government.

Mssrs. Frank and Weiner appear to have re-election issues and may be looking for support among left-of-center American Jews who oppose “settlements” under any circumstances and might appreciate American lawmakers who put the bait in front of the Israeli government. But that should be beneath an American Congressman.

Note on Stuxnet – The Internet was awash over the weekend with stories about a virus that appears to have infected a variety of computers around the world, including, perhaps, some in Iran and, perhaps, some involved in Iran’s nuclear program. According to a Yahoo report, “It is the first malware known to target and infiltrate industrial supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software used to run chemical plants and factories as well as electric power plants and transmission systems worldwide.”

Take the idea of a virus taking control of factories; note that it could be used as a weapon; throw in the possibility that it was invented by the Israelis; and surmise that it was sent to destroy Iran’s reactor complex without planes, cruise missiles and/or collateral damage. Voila – a story so enticing as to invite a total suspension of disbelief! Too enticing, maybe. Stay tuned.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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Plan gains to recognize campus harassment of Jewish students as a Civil Rights violation

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)—The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) praises U.S. Reps. Michael E. McMahon (D-NY) and Gary C. Peters (D-MI) for urging the Department of Education to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation. 

In a letter sent Monday, August 9,  to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Reps. McMahon and Peters joined three dozen other Members of Congress in supporting the ZOA’s long-held position that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be enforced to protect Jewish students, consistent with policy statements issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights in 2004.  Title VI requires recipients of federal funding to ensure that their programs and activities are free from racial and ethnic discrimination. 

In July 2010, 36 Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Duncan, urging that Jewish students be protected from harassment and intimidation under Title VI. 

The two congressional letters to Secretary Duncan followed from a well-attended June 2010 congressional briefing convened by U.S Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), co-chair of the Congressional Taskforce on Anti-Semitism.  Susan Tuchman, Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, and representatives from three other organizations, briefed congressional staffers on anti-Semitic harassment on U.S. college campuses and the federal government’s role in addressing these incidents. 

In addition to Rep. Klein, the July letter to Secretary Duncan was signed by the other co-chairs of the Congressional Taskforce on Anti-Semitism — Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ ) – and by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Shelley Berkley (D-NV); Gary Ackerman (D-NY); Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Ted Deutch (D-FL): Keith Ellison (D-MN); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL); Brad Sherman (D-CA); Kendrick Meek (D-FL); Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Allyson Schwartz (D-PA); Henry Waxman (D-CA); John Adler (D-NJ); Alan Grayson (D-FL); Kathy Castor (D-FL); Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Rush Holt (D-NJ); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Steve Israel (D-NY); Steve Kagen (D-WI); Doug Lamborn (R-CO); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Jared Polis (D-CO); Michele Bachmann (R-MN); Anthony Weiner (D-NY); Sander Levin (D-MI); Steve Rothman (D-NJ); Buck McKeon (R-CA); John Yarmuth (D-KY); Adam Schiff (D-CA); and Howard L. Berman (D-CA).

Their letter stated:  “We believe that enforcing Title VI to protect Jewish students who, in rare but highly significant situations, face harassment, intimidation or discrimination based on their ancestral or ethnic characteristics – including when it is manifested as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist sentiment that crosses the line into anti-Semitism – would help ensure that we’re preserving the integrity of our higher education system by affording the same protection to all ethnic and racial groups on our college campuses.” 

Endorsing this congressional letter “in its entirety,” Reps. McMahon and Peters said in their letter to Secretary Duncan, “It is critical that our civil rights laws be enforced as broadly as possible to make sure that all students can obtain their education in an environment that is tolerant, respectful, physically and emotionally safe, and conducive to learning.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein praised Reps. McMahon and Peters for calling on the Department of Education to provide Jewish students with the same legal protections that other ethnic and racial groups are already afforded: 

“We know from our work on college campuses that Jewish students have been threatened and physically assaulted.  Some students are even afraid for their physical safety because of the hateful speakers and programs that demonize Jews and Israel.  The ZOA thanks Congressmen McMahon and Peters for joining their colleagues in the House in supporting these students and affirming their legal right to a campus environment free from anti-Semitic hostility and Israel-bashing.”

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Preceding provided by Zionist Organization of America

Commentary: Welcome action by Congress reexamining aid to Lebanese Armed Forces

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday,  in the wake of the killing of an IDF officer inside Israel by Lebanese Armed Forces personnel, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced that Congress would block the disbursement of $100 million in U.S. military aid to Lebanon.  Lowey chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee that authorizes such funds.  Similarly, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) applied a hold with concerns about “reported Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
 
According to The Jerusalem Post, “Berman entered his hold the day before the deadly incident, which he said only confirmed his reservations. His office also wants more information on Hezbollah’s role in the LAF, how diligently U.S. weapons are kept track of and how well the LAF cooperates with UNIFIL. ‘Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the LAF – and can assure that the LAF is a responsible actor – I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,’ Berman said.”
 
The hold may, in the end, only be temporary. But credit where it is due.
 
For more than a year, JINSA has worried about the influence of Hezbollah on the Lebanese government, where it holds a “blocking third” in the Cabinet. While the U.S. government and UNIFIL have insisted that a bigger and more competent LAF would be expected to “secure the borders of Lebanon” and enforce UNSCR 1701 – which calls for all of the militias in the south to be disarmed – we have never believed that Lebanese soldiers could be induced to kill other Lebanese in the interest of keeping the Israeli residents of the North safe. 
 
It’s only too bad that 45-year old LTC (res.) Dov Harari of Netanya had to be killed before Congress stopped to consider the problem. Great follow-up for Congress would be to reconsider other American “train and equip” missions.  We wrote in May:  

“The current counterinsurgency model provides millions of dollars in American military aid to the PA, Lebanon and Yemen along with American trainers, and billions of dollars to Pakistan and Afghanistan with our troops on the ground or in the air. We are training locals to kill the people we want killed – Taliban, al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. But each group we call terrorists may have a place in the framework of those countries and entities, in which case shooting them will just make them angry.”

We said, then, of Lebanon: Lebanon wants quiet at home and to remain part of the “rejection front” against Israel. Hezbollah in the government and in collusion with the Lebanese Armed Forces provides that.
 
It is unreasonable for the United States to assume that our enemies are someone else’s enemies and that they will dispose of them because we want them to – it is unreasonable for Israel to assume the same.  One of the deepest beliefs that JINSA has is that the United States and Israel are allies in fact if not by treaty because – whether in the Cold War or the war against terrorists and the states that harbor and support them –  the same ideologies, same trends, same enemies threaten us both at some level.
 
Neither country should assume others share our concerns.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

San Diego County to participate in V-J Day 65th anniversary

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)—Last Friday the US Senate and on Monday, July 26th US Congress unanimously approved “Spirit of ’45 Day” a new National Day of Remembrance to recall the victory celebrations at the end of WWII.

This year “Spirit of ’45 Day” coincides with the 65th anniversary of Victory over Japan or VJ Day on  August 14, 2010, but in future years will occur on the second Sunday every August.  Everyone asks, “Why wasn’t this done before?”

A Victory celebration will be held at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park with activities from 10 AM until 2 PM Saturday that include: WWII-era music, concessions, and the opportunity to meet and talk with WWII Veterans and hometown heroes.

At noon, there will be presentations by Congressman Bob Filner, the author of the Bill, California Assembly member, Nathan Fletcher, a County Proclamation by Supervisor Greg Cox; WWII Veterans Stu Hedley Pearl Harbor Survivors Assoc. San Diego, BGen. Robert Cardenas Air Force retired, Jerry Kranz, Marine in 1st Wave Iwo Jima, and a City Proclamation will be read by Ron Lacey, representative from Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The public is welcome to attend and celebrate the victory brought about by sacrifices made by the Veterans of World War II and their families. “We are celebrating the success of this Bill recognizing the anniversary of a day in our calendars that has been overlooked for decades,” says Dan DeMarco, event chair. Hundreds of cities are set to take part in launching the Spirit of ’45 Project, a result of a year-long national initiative to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII. The hub of the San Diego celebration will be at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center and similar event is planned at the Chula Vista Veterans Home. At 7PM, at the Kiss Statue, now a memorial to Edith Shain, the Nurse, there will be a 1 hour event  Buglers will sound Taps which will be played across the USA from the East to West Coast in a rolling pattern for the first time in history.  This is the final place of celebration for the day across the continental USA.

“This celebration encourages all veterans and hometown heroes to tell us about their experiences that day. We want our young citizens to appreciate what they will learn from our elders and pass this along to future generations,” says Capt. Will Hays, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Veterans Museum. The Spirit of ’45 Day honors the legacy of service of America ‘s “greatest generation” and is mobilizing youth to help men and women who remember the day WWII ended to submit their memories to a Web site where they will become part of the nation’s permanent memory.  

The Veterans Museum and Memorial Center ‘s celebration event will be the first annual event.  Many WWII Veterans including  Pearl Harbor Survivors, Purple Heart, POW, and hometown heroes including Rosie Riveters and Nurses will attend and share their stories. All WWII Veterans, their families, friends, and patriots are invited.

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Preceding provided by Dan DeMarco, event chairman

Cantor seeks suspension of U.S. aid to Lebanese Armed Forces

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) House Republican Whip Eric Cantor  on Monday issued the following statement regarding Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces’ (LAF) relationship with Hezbollah:

“Since 2006, America has provided the Lebanese army with $720 million in aid. This includes stocks of M16 rifles, missile launchers, grenade launchers and night-vision devices. The purpose of the assistance was to build up a Lebanese fighting force that would serve as a check on the growing power of the radical Islamist Hezbollah movement.

“For the past few years, the U.S. and the international community looked the other way as the lines between Hezbollah and the Lebanese military and government became blurred. But the days of ignoring the LAF’s provocations against Israel and protection of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon are over. The LAF’s unprovoked attack on the Israeli defense forces in undisputed Israeli territory demands a sweeping reassessment of how we distribute our foreign aid.

“Lebanon cannot have it both ways. If it wants to align itself with Hezbollah against the forces of democracy, stability and moderation, there will be consequences. Congress must convey that message by blocking the roughly $100 million in 2011 assistance to the LAF until we find out the details of last week’s attack and can certify that the Lebanese army is not cooperating with Hezbollah.”

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Preceding provided by Congressman Cantor

Jewish political roundup: Emerald votes for sales tax ballot measure; Block to open reelection headquarters

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO  (SDJW)– Marti Emerald has voted with the San Diego City Council’s majority to place a ½ cent sales tax increase on the city ballot—an increase, which boost the levy from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent.

After doing so, the 7th District Councilwoman issued a statement, explaining her siding with the majority in the 6-2 Council vote:

““We’re asking the voters of San Diego to tell us if they are willing to pay a little extra to restore core services,” she said.  “That includes public safety, libraries and plugging pot holes.”

She noted that the “Reform Before Revenue measure” calls for a host of pension and financial reforms which must be met before the temporary 5-year half-cent sales tax would be levied.

“Not one penny would be collected until pensions are reduced and managed competition is enacted as part of a comprehensive package of reforms,” she said.  “I take very seriously my constituents’ message that we need reform before revenue.”
By working together, the City Council and Mayor have enacted budget cuts totaling $335 million annually, she added.

Meanwhile, another public officeholder from San Diego’s Jewish community – state Assemblyman Marty Block—announced his campaign headquarters for reelection will be opened at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 3717 Camino Del Rio South.

Block said that among expected attendees at the ceremony are Emerald;  Sweetwater Union High School District Trustee Arlie Ricasa;  and Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego & Imperials Counties  Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer

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Preceding compiled from news releases from Councilmember Emerald and Assembly member Block

Rothman lauds funding for U.S.-Israel anti-missile programs

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–U.S. Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, released the following statement:

On July 27, 2010, the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a strong message – to our allies and enemies alike – by appropriating more funds than ever before toward joint U.S.-Israel and Israeli missile defense programs. This is only the latest example that when it comes to defense, military, and intelligence cooperation, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger.

Chairman Norm Dicks, myself and all the members of the Defense Subcommittee understand how important it is to be at the cutting edge of anti-missile technology, both to safeguard our own citizens and troops, but also those citizens and troops of our allies and friends such as the people of the Jewish state of Israel.

Given the concern and attention that we are focusing now on every dollar we are expending on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer for all purposes, including the defense of the United States and its allies, it is a mark of the importance of these projects that they were all funded so robustly and fully by our Subcommittee.

The Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has just appropriated $217.7 million in funding for essential joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs, which is an increase of $95.7 million in funds over the original request. I am proud that since 2007, the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has allocated more than $750 million in federal funding for the Arrow and David’s Sling anti-missile systems. Including this year’s allocation of $205 million toward Israel’s Iron Dome program, the Subcommittee has allocated nearly one billion dollars toward these three missile defense systems over the past three years.

I thank President Barack Obama, Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee, Norm Dicks, and all my colleagues on the Subcommittee for their leadership and vision in providing this life-saving support. The growing proliferation and increasing deadliness of missiles around the world pose a direct threat to the U.S. and our allies, making funding missile defense systems vitally important for America’s national security.

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Preceding provided by U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman