The emerging agreement with Iran that President Obama sees as his legacy will give Iran three paths to a bomb: it can break out, wait out, or sneak out of the agreement. Iran will pocket its huge signing bonus; take reversible steps toward “compliance”; then either break out (perhaps after a dispute about implementation, or while the U.S. is involved in some other crisis), or wait out (after which, President Obama concedes, Iran will face no further barrier to a bomb), or sneak out (using secret sites and undetectable methods). In an important new paper entitled “Deterring an Iranian Nuclear Breakout,” Michael Eisenstadt, director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes that “the most likely scenario” is “an Iranian breakout using undeclared facilities” (emphasis in original). Congress should read the paper carefully before it signs onto ObamaPeace in our time.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to President Obama yesterday, citing reports that the administration plans to take its nuclear agreement with Iran to the UN Security Council for a vote, and would veto any legislation allowing Congress to vote on it first. Corker asked the president to “advise us as to whether you are considering going to the [UN] Security Council without coming to Congress.” As it happens, Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, answered Sen. Corker’s question in his response to the “open letter” to Iran by 47 senators.
Zarif informed the senators that “if the current negotiation with the P5+1 results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with … all permanent members of the Security Council [the P5], and will be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.” [Emphasis added.]
So the plan is to transform existing UN resolutions, which ban Iran’s enrichment and related nuclear activities, into a brand-new resolution that allows them. The foreign minister added that he hoped his comments would “enrich” the senators’ knowledge of international law: he took it upon himself to instruct the senators that the U.S. will be bound by the new UN resolution.
The administration’s plan is apparently, as Jonathan Tobin wrote earlier, to assert that the Iranian deal is not legally binding–and thus is not a “treaty” requiring a vote by the Senate–and then present it to the UN for incorporation into a “binding” UN resolution. At yesterday’s State Department press conference, spokesperson Jen Psaki was, understandably, having trouble explaining the administration’s strategy:
From my post at COMMENTARY on the reliability of presidential commitments:
The White House “outrage” at the “open letter” to Iran signed by 47 senators, led by Sen. Tom Cotton, was reinforced by Vice President Biden’s formal statement, which intoned that “America’s influence depends on its ability to honor its commitments,” including those made by a president without a vote of Congress.
Perhaps we should welcome Biden’s belated insight. As Jonathan Tobin notes, on taking office in 2009, President Obama refused to be bound by the 2004 Gaza disengagement deal in the letters exchanged between President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, announced that such commitments were “unenforceable” –- not binding on the new administration. In 2009, Obama disregarded previous commitments not only to Israel but to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Georgia; he “fundamentally transformed” America’s previous commitments ...
The Gaza disengagement deal was (1) approved by Congress; (2) included in the Gaza disengagement plan presented to the Israeli Knesset, and (3) relied on by Israel in withdrawing from Gaza later in 2005. The history of the deal (which the current secretary of state endorsed at the time as a U.S. “commitment”) is set forth here, and the reason Obama sought to undo it is discussed here. In 2009, the Obama administration refused at least 22 times to answer whether it considered itself bound by the deal, and in 2011 it reneged on key aspects of it.
Prime Minister Netanyahu received a bust of Churchill from Speaker of the House Boehner on the occasion of Netanyahu’s third address to Congress on March 3. Netanyahu’s speech contained an unspoken message, hidden in a subtle but unmistakable allusion to Churchill’s 1941 address to the Canadian Parliament popularly known as the “Chicken Speech.”
He recalled that in 2002, when a petition circulated among the Harvard and MIT faculty and students, calling on universities to divest from companies doing business in Israel, he labeled the initiative “anti-Semitic in effect if not intent.”
Last week, he said his 2002 assertion “seems to me to have stood up rather well,” and warned that the situation has gotten even worse: “It is my impression that there are more grounds for concern today than at any point since the Second World War”:
'We live in a world where there are nations in which the penalty for homosexuality is death, in which women are stoned for adultery, in which torture is pervasive, in which governments are killing tens of thousands of their own people each year. But the proponents of Israeli boycotts, divestiture, and sanctions do not favor any form of pressure against countries other than Israel.'
Four killed in terror attack in Jerusalem synagogue - Update from the Israel Foreign Ministry
The victims: Rabbis Moshe Twersky, 59, Aryeh Kupinsky, 43, Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, and Kalman Levine, 55.
PM Netanyahu: "This is the direct result of the incitement being led by Hamas and Abu Mazen."
Scene of terror attack in Jerusalem synagogue Copyright: Israel Police
At 7: 00 on Tuesday morning, 18 November 2014, two terrorists entered the Kehillat Bnei Torah building on Harav Shimon Agassi Street in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, which includes a synagogue and yeshiva, wielding a gun and butcher knives. They began attacking worshipers, stabbing them before opening fire. About 30 worshipers were in the midst of the morning prayers, wearing prayer shawls and phylacteries.
Police who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack began shot and killed the two terrorists.
Police confirm that four people were killed in the terror attack and eight wounded, three seriously and one critically. Two of the wounded are policemen, one in critical condition as doctors fight for his life.
Following security consultations, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the recent attacks and directed that enforcement against those who incite toward terrorist attacks be significantly increased. A series of additional decisions have been made to strengthen security throughout the country.
Hamas said on its official Al-Aqsa TV: "The attack in Jerusalem is a reaction to the crime and execution of the martyr al-Ramouni and a reaction to the crimes of the occupation. The Hamas movement is calling for more revenge attacks." Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, employed as a driver by the Egged bus company in Jerusalem, was found hanged at a bus terminal on Sunday night. Contrary to claims published in the Palestinian media that al-Ramouni was murdered, official autopsy results confirmed the police's suspicion of suicide.
"People who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere.” "To have this kind of act, which a pure result of incitement,” is unacceptable, Kerry said, adding that Palestinian leaders “must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, other people’s language and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path."
The White House liason with the Jewish community has just emailed me President Obama's statement regarding the terror attack, issued just now. It reads, in its entirety, as follows:
"I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more. There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace."
I was just on the phone to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. This morning, today in Jerusalem, Palestinians attacked Jews who were praying in a synagogue. And people who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder.
I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, and particularly after a discussion that we had just the other day in Amman, where the prime minister of Israel flew to Amman, sat down with the Custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque, King Abdullah of Jordan, and went to the extent of restoring in absolute terms the status quo with respect to the management of that mount, including lowering the age, taking away any age limits on people who could visit, guaranteeing that there were peaceful, completely uninterrupted visits over the weekend. And to have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable.
So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path. Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is – simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead – lead their people to a different place.
From Omri Ceren at The Israel Project:
Some more links and background on recent Abbas statements, in case you're following the incitement debate:
Nov 2: "Abbas says Glick shooter will go to heaven as martyr" (you'll be hearing more about this stmt - Glick is an activist for expanded Jewish access to the Temple Mount; he's also a rabbi and when he was shot earlier this month Abbas hailed the terrorist as a hero; today 2 other terrorists walked into a synagogue and started murdering other rabbis) http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-says-glick-shooter-will-go-to-heaven-as-martyr/
The Israeli film “Bethlehem,” which won the Ophir (the Israeli equivalent of the Oscar) for Best Picture, opens in the United States today. Here is the synopsis from the film’s distributor:
"Bethlehem tells the story of the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Shuttling back and forth between conflicting points of view, the film is a raw portrayal of characters torn apart by competing loyalties and impossible moral dilemmas, giving an unparalleled glimpse into the dark and fascinating world of human intelligence."
Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a ripe red tomato, with a 72% rating among the critics (including The New York Times). In yesterday New York Daily News, Jordan Hoffman wrote that “By its conclusion, this fascinating film has informed its viewers more than a hundred political essays could.” I think that is correct.
This is an important film, raising significant issues that I have addressed in an article in the current issue of The Tower Magazine (“Ideology at the Oscars”) and a post at Commentary (“Cinematic Intifada”).
Stephen Harper, now in his third term and eighth year as Canada’s prime minister, addressed the Israeli Knesset, and gave a speech for the ages.
It is worth reading in its entirety, but here is the portion that provoked a walkout by Arab MKs and a standing ovation from Prime Minister Netanyahu and other MKs. It was at the point where Harper stated that in much of the western world anti-Semitism has been “translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society”:
People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East. As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.
Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.
The Arab MKs who left thus missed the following:
In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace. And we understand that Israelis live with this impossible calculus: If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again. But should you fail to act you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.
Harper’s concluding thought was that the story of Israel is a “great example to the world”:
It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation. You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land, one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own … Israel represents values which our Government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.
This should be an excellent program, by a dynamic young rabbi, on an important topic: Rabbi Daniel Greyer, on The Role of the Forgotten Mourner.
Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., LA 90049, Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Jewish law has clearly defined rolls for family members to grieve a loss, but it does not define a role for a friend in the grieving process. Faith Unravelsis Rabbi Greyber's story of his experience as a "forgotten mourner," a story of faith lost and regained. Look inside his book here.