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Our World: Hagel, Obama and the Israeli elections

Jerusalem Post - By CAROLINE B. GLICK 12/25/2012

Monday the National Journal reported that President Barack Obama is reconsidering his decision to appoint former Senator Chuck Hagel secretary of defense.

Hagel’s looming appointment provoked angry responses from many leading Jewish voices in the US.

Whether this opposition made a difference in driving Obama to reconsider his choice is unclear. Other influential groups – including senators, members of the military and lobbyists for homosexual rights – expressed their discomfort and opposition to the prospect of having Hagel serve as defense secretary.

If Obama indeed scuttles Hagel’s elevation to defense secretary, it shows that it is possible to fight Obama on foreign policy even in his second term, and win, at least sometimes. This is important information for Republicans, American Jews and the Israeli government.



Sounds like they are already warming up the 'victory lap' on another Obama cave. How many more times is he going to be 'rolled' I ponder.

Take My Neocon -- Please

David Isenberg

In case you are not aware, Jews have long been drawn to and practiced humor. It is just a plain matter of fact that in any listing of top U.S. komikers (comics) over half of them are going to be Jewish. Think Bud Abbott, Woody Allen, Hank Azaria, Bea Arthur, Lewis Black, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Billy Crystal, Al Franken, The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers, to name a very few.

So, as a duly certified member of the Chosen, allow me to explain what some of my fellow tribe members have been doing lately to bring comic relief to the American public. Please note that these are not the usual standup suspects we are accustomed to seeing on comedy clubs and late night talk shows.

A bit over a month ago they were feeling rather morose about President Obama being reelected. But then, some of them were able to rally their spirits a bit by helping to oppose the possible nomination of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice as Secretary of State.

So now, emboldened by that, and having eaten their morning Wheaties, oops, I mean blintzes the heretofore predictable third string mediocrities, and now aspiring humorists, have slithered out from beneath their neocon rocks to give use the benefit of their particular, and admittedly peculiar, brand of humor.

A case in point is the current contretemps concerning former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) who seems likely to be nominated to be the next Secretary of Defense. They oppose him because he is supposedly insufficiently supportive of Israel and even an anti-Semite.



Bipartisan Group Of Former National Security Advisers Condemn Attacks On Hagel

Four former national security advisers in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post published on Tuesday denounced what New York TImes columnist Tom Friedman described as “disgusting” attacks on former Republican senator Chuck Hagel and praised Hagel’s prior service to the United States.

Responding to a Dec. 21 Post story on Hagel’s potential nomination to be Secretary of Defense, the former national security advisers, James L. Jones (Obama), Brent Scowcroft (Ford, H.W Bush) , Zbigniew Brzezinski (Carter) and Frank Carlucci (Reagan), said they “strongly object…to the attacks on the character of former senator Chuck Hagel,” whom they called “a man of unshakable integrity and wisdom who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war”:

He is a rare example of a public servant willing to rise above partisan politics to advance the interests of the United States and its friends and allies. Moreover, it is damaging to the quality of our civic discourse for prospective Cabinet nominees to be subjected to such vicious attacks on their character before an official nomination.

This type of behavior will only discourage future prospective nominees from public service when our country badly needs quality leadership in government.

Scowcroft and 10 other retired senior U.S. military officials, including William Fallon and Anthony Zinni, signed a letter last week saying that Hagel would be “a strong leader at the Pentagon” and that he’s “eminently qualified for the job.” That letter came on the heals of one just days prior in which nine former U.S. Ambassadors, including Ryan Crocker, signed a letter praising Hagel’s qualifications for the top Pentagon job.



Syrian Official to Meet Russia’s Lavrov for Peace Plan Talks

Source: Bloomberg

By Henry Meyer & Terry Atlas - Dec 26, 2012 1:25 PM ET

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad will meet in Moscow tomorrow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss a resolution of the 21-month conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

In a sign of the growing pressure on the Damascus regime, a high-ranking Syrian military officer said he has joined the opposition, according to Al Arabiya TV.

Major General Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, chief of the military police in Syria, announced his resignation in a video, according to Al Arabiya’s website.

“I declare my defection from the regime’s army because of its deviation of its fundamental mission to protect the nation and transformation into gangs of killing and destruction,” the general said in the video according to Al Arabiya.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-26/syrian-official-to-meet-russia-s-lavrov-for-peace-plan-talks-1-.html

Nelson Mandela discharged from hospital

JOHANNESBURG Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela was discharged from the hospital Wednesday, according to several reports.

Sources told CBS News he is returning to his Houghton home, where he will continue to receive medical care.

Officials had said the 94-year-old leader was improving in recent days since he was hospitalized on December 8. Mandela was diagnosed with a lung infection and underwent gallstone surgery.

Mandela, who battled apartheid before becoming the country's first democratic leader, has a history of lung problems. He suffered from tuberculosis towards the end of his 27-year prison term.



Naftali Bennett, Israel's New Rightwing Star

AFP - A smile on his lips, his voice direct and authoritative, his agenda rightwing but broadbased, Naftali Bennett is quickly turning into the newest darling of Israel's national religious bloc.

Just under a month before snap elections on January 22, Bennett's Jewish Home party is snatching seats away from the joint list of premier Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud faction and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu of former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Polls project that the party, which now holds just three seats in the 120-seat Knesset, will win between 11 and 13 in the upcoming elections, many of them snapped from the Likud-Beitenu list, which still stands to win the most seats of any party, around 35.

The son of American immigrants to Israel, 40-year-old Bennett has succeeded in reviving the fortunes of a party that had its heyday in the 1960s, but has been a member of government coalitions from 1948 to 1992.



China on Alert After Japan Scrambles Jets over E. China Sea

Source: VOA

VOA News
December 25, 2012

China says it is on alert after Japan dispatched fighter jets over the East China Sea.

Japanese media report Japan sent F15 fighter aircraft after detecting a Chinese marine surveillance plane in disputed airspace near contested islands in the East China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Tuesday Beijing will pay close attention to Japan's decision to dispatch fighter jets. She said China's surveillance plane was conducting routine patrols at the time.

"As far as I know, China's marine surveillance plane you mentioned has been conducting routine patrols in airspace over the East China Sea," Hua said. "The Chinese side is highly concerned with and alert to Japan sending the air self-defense force jets."

Read more: http://www.voanews.com/content/cihna-on-alert-after-japan-scrambles-jets-over-east-china-sea/1571985.html

Israeli PM Aims To Deport Tens Of Thousands Of Africans

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 24, 2012 21:00 EST

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he aims to repatriate tens of thousands of African illegal migrants and that the inflow into Israel from the Sinai peninsula has been brought to a halt.

“Our aim is to repatriate tens of thousands of infiltrators now in Israel to their countries of origin,” he said, adding Israel had been in contact with several African governments.

“After having been confronted by the threat of hundreds of thousands (of illegal migrants), this month not a single infiltrator has reached cities in Israel,” he said, quoted in a government statement.

Rising tensions over the growing number of illegal immigrants exploded into violence in May when a protest in south Tel Aviv turned ugly, with demonstrators smashing African-run shops and property, chanting “Blacks out!”



New Wave Of Radical Israeli Settlers Digging In For The Long Haul In The West Bank

High on a windy limestone plateau in the ancient biblical land of Judea and Samaria is the settlement of Itamar, a Jewish bastion deep in what today is hostile Arab territory.

The farms and homes of its 230 families are protected by an electrified fence topped with barbed wire and monitored by the night vision cameras and sensors of the Israeli army. Jerusalem is within easy commuting distance by a fast road, although the drive to work can be hazardous and the past month has been more violent than usual.

Last week Palestinian youths were hurling rocks at Israeli cars, as they have done daily since last month's brief Gaza war, and they have taken it out on motorists since the Israeli government announced at the end of November that 3,000 homes are to be built in a planned settlement on a strategic chunk of the West Bank outside Jerusalem, a block of land called "E1".

"We're in the middle of Arab territory here, a place that a lot of Israelis are scared to come to," said Meir Rapaport, a 19-year religious student with a strong Bronx accent who arrived at Itamar from New York a year ago.

"Sometimes you get woken up at night and have to take shelter when there's a security alert, and you hear shots once in a while. My parents think I'm crazy to come here.
"When I first moved to Israel I headed for Tel Aviv and the party scene, but this is the place for me. This is our land. It says so in the Bible. You have to be ready to bleed for it and fight for it."



Asylum Seekers Arrested In Tel Aviv Raid After Authorities Announce Holiday Reprieve

Friday was a rainy day in Tel Aviv. The head of the immigration authorities, Amnon Ben Ami, had issued a press release promising to cease all arrest operations for the duration of the Christian holidays and New Year’s Eve.

The Levinsky Park multi-lingual library, an open library located at the center of the park, was closed due to the rain. Its regular visitors, children from asylum-seeking families, were left in the rain, wandering between the many homeless asylum seekers residing in the park. One of the girls, 9 years old, from a South Sudanese family, seemed worried. Her father had not returned home. While I was aware that her family had been granted temporary protection on humanitarian grounds (unlike most South Sudanese residents, who were deported this past summer), I was concerned, knowing all too well the “Oz” immigration unit often arrests people despite their protected status.

My concern was heightened because, only a couple of hours earlier, I was informed through a phone call from Juba that of the 700 deportees to South Sudan, 17 had died already, most from illness or violent attacks. My girlfriend Saranna and I decided to help the girl look for her father. Walking down Levinsky Street, we came across one Christmas procession after another, each of a different community: a Nepali, then a Philippine, and finally, an Eritrean procession. The girl accepted offers from the revelers, cheerfully joining the marches one after another, leaving her worries behind for a moment. Luckily, we found her father looking for her down the street.

The next day, Saturday evening, the neighborhood filled with Oz immigration vans. A major operation was going on. The public statement informing the communities that no operations would take place over the holidays turned out to be a deception designed to create a sense of comfort within the communities, thereby facilitating a major arrest operation. Perhaps some bureaucrats in the Ministry of Interior even enjoyed the little joke: no operation on the holiday, but a major operation on the eve of necessary preparations for the holiday. What a grotesque image: a group of Philippine ladies, dressed in their Christmas costumes, the contents of their shopping bags full of presents for their kids spread out in the street around them, as they desperately searched for their documents, the absence of which would result in detention and deportation. For the first time in over five years of activities in the neighborhood, the immigration officers even made an attempt to detain Saranna, proving their skills in discerning even a minute trace of non-Jewish origin.


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