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Foxman Calls Hagel Anti-Semitic, But Won't Oppose His Nomination (includes President Jimmy Carter)

It's a new phase of what can only be described as a campaign to prevent former Sen. Chuck Hagel's potential appointment as Defense Secretary. The pattern seems to be emerging here: the right-wing raises harebrained objections, no one bothers to defend the potential nominee, the campaign catches on and, before you know it, the candidate withdraws before they've even been appointed. Henceforth, the hyperventilating war cries against Hagel emanated only from dyed-in-the-wool neoconservatives and former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block, and Josh Block, and Josh Block (a distinction without a difference, perhaps). But now the Chuck Hagel affair is at the "campaign catches on" phase: the first of the relatively centrist or moderate pro-Israel Jewish groups just spoke up with a shocking statement.

Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, released an exclusive statement to—where else?—the Washington Post's pugnacious neoconservative blogger Jennifer Rubin:

Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel. His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling. The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter.

What's most stunning about the accusation is that Foxman didn't here launch into what's become the more mild—and, I think all comers will agree, more reasonable—policy critiques of some of Hagel's positions. Instead, Foxman went for the nuclear option: that Hagel's statements on Washington's pro-Israel community "border on anti-Semitism." I've addressed the anti-Semitism charge against Hagel already, and Peter Beinart did so again in these pages in response to another attack alleging Jew-hatred in the Wall Street Journal today (Jen Rubin cited the latter, natch). But don't listen to me or Peter (or Miller or Kurtzer) that Hagel's views don't put him beyond the pale for the Defense Secretary position. Listen to Abe Foxman. According to a report in the Times of Israel—which came out after Rubin's exclusive—Foxman doesn't intend to oppose Hagel's nomination:



Syrian Rebels Say Capture Military Base, Seize Weapons

HAWA, Syria | Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:01pm EST
(Reuters) - Syrian rebels have seized a military base in the country's north, capturing weapons they hope will repel air raids by President Bashar al-Assad's forces, rebels said on Sunday.

Under cover of rain and fog, Col. Anas Ibrahim Abu Zeid led 200 fighters in a four-hour operation to take over the 135 Infantry Brigade base in the village of Hawa, a mostly Kurdish area in northern Aleppo province, on Saturday, they said, as they showed the base to journalists.

The rebels found about 150 soldiers at the base, though it can hold up to 3,000 troops, Abu Zeid said. Between 10-15 soldiers were taken prisoner, he said. They would not say what happened to the other troops, although a Reuters journalist saw at least one corpse.

The rebels said they lost six of their men.

The weapons were hidden in secret locations in Aleppo's countryside, where the majority of the rebels fighting in this part of the country are from. At a warehouse in a residential area down a narrow street, rebels showed off two .57mm field guns and three 14-1/2 mm anti-aircraft guns.



House Urges Obama To Shut PLO Office As Punishment For UN Vote

WASHINGTON - Just over half of the U.S. House of Representatives called on President Obama to shut down the PLO office in Washington as punishment for its ascension in United Nations status.

"One important way of expressing U.S. disapproval would be to send the message that such actions are not cost-free and that, at a minimum, they result in setbacks to U.S.-Palestinian relations," said the letter sent Dec. 21, initiated by the incoming and outgoing leaders of both parties on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and signed by 239 members, including leaders such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip.

"We can do this by closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. We can also call our Consul-General in Jerusalem home for consultations," the letter said.

The Palestine Liberation Organization had its status elevated last month to non-member observer state, which could facilitate efforts to charge Israel with war crimes in the international court system.



Sean Hannity Waterboard Weasel - 1340 Days Since Promising To Undergo Waterboarding For Charity

It has now been 1340 days, or three years and eight months, since Sean Hannity said, on April 22, 2009, he'd undergo waterboarding to prove it's not torture - and do it to raise money for charity. Time to man up, Sean, to borrow one of you favorite phrases and either fulfill your promise or explain why you haven't.

Below is a video (from our friends at Crooks and Liars) showing Hannity's promise to undergo waterboarding - plus Keith Olbermann's offer to add $1,000 to charity for every second Hannity tolerates the process.

You can email Hannity via his website and let him know he may want to forget his promise but we won't!

MORE with video...


Russia, Iran Lose When Assad Falls, But Who Wins?

There is not much doubt that the Syrian regime headed by Bashar Al-Assad will collapse soon and the dictator will flee to Moscow. In many ways that will be a welcome development, but the fall of Assad will raise new concerns for Israel, the United States and moderate Arab states.

The fall of Assad and his minority Alawite regime will be a net plus for many reasons. The big losers will be Iran, Russia and terrorist elements such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Iran is a close ally of Syria and Assad, not just because the Alawites (only about 11 percent of Syria’s population) are a Shia sect, but as a key conduit for Tehran’s shipments of weapons and supplies to Palestine and Lebanon. Syria is Russia’s only ally in the region, indeed Moscow’s only foothold there, including most importantly its naval base at Latakia.

Given that the fall of Assad would be such a devastating loss for Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah, it would seem axiomatic that it would be a net plus for Israel. Maybe. While Syria under Assad has certainly been no friend to Israel, there have been no major conflicts between the two for more than 30 years. The Golan Heights has been quiet.

What is driving the ambivalence on Assad’s fall is the uncertainty regarding what a follow-on regime might look like. Israel and the U.S. are worried about the increasing dominance in the rebel alliance by highly capable Sunni forces, including elements associated with al-Qaida in Iraq and the Nusra Front, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the United States. There is considerable sympathy for, if not direction from, the Muslim Brotherhood within the rebel coalition.



The IDF, Netanyahu And The Next War

By Amir Oren | Dec.23, 2012 | 1:00 AM

If there is a lesson to be learned from Operation Pillar of Defense, it's that the Israel Defense Forces has gone back to preferring air strikes to ground operations and has tacked on a preference for surprise over preparedness. If such operations are kept to a few days and the home front suffers little, that's a military achievement that saves soldiers' lives.

But politically it's the opposite: Israel doesn't gain time but borrows it at an exorbitant rate, because down the road is a world ever more hostile to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies. The strike that launched Pillar of Defense was meant to behead Hamas. The organization's military commander, Ahmed Jabari, was targeted at a good time, when he wasn't surrounded by civilians. Israel also could have targeted any one of four or five other Hamas leaders. Just a few minutes after Jabari was killed, Hamas and Islamic Jihad's strategic arm, their Fajr missiles, were hit.

The Israel Air Force has a unique skill in planning (based on intelligence, combat doctrine and training ) and implementing its plans in a few hours, sometimes in less than an hour. This happens from the moment a ministerial decision is made and sent down the short chain of command from the chief of staff to the IAF commander to IAF operations to the squadrons. The rest of the military machine is too ponderous to take advantage of brief windows of opportunity.

Surprise requires disconnecting the operation from background noise that might reveal it. It must therefore not follow a major terrorist act, after which everyone expects an Israeli response and the other side gets ready.



Joe Lieberman: Chuck Hagel Would Face 'Tough Confirmation Process' For Defense Post

A top outgoing senator on foreign policy issues, Joe Lieberman, told CNN on Sunday morning that former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel would likely face a "tough confirmation process" over his votes on Iran sanctions, were he nominated as the next secretary of defense -- but that he shouldn't be automatically eliminated.

President Barack Obama is expected to name his pick for the top Pentagon job in the coming days, and Hagel, a former Republican senator who broke with his party over the war in Iraq, is widely viewed as a leading contender.

Hagel has also faced pushback from Jewish and pro-Israel groups over his inconsistent voting record on Iranian sanctions and a small selection of remarks that have been interpreted as anti-Jewish. Friends of Hagel have dismissed the charges as absurd.

The independent senator from Connecticut, who is a leading figure of Congress' Jewish caucus and will retire at the end of the year, said he didn't think Hagel should be disqualified for the post based on his votes.



Germany Warns Britain Against ‘Blackmailing’ EU

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 23, 2012 5:58 EST

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned Britain in a Sunday newspaper interview against “blackmailing” its EU partners in a bid to bring powers back home from Brussels.

“We want to keep Britain in the EU and not force it out,” Schaeuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “But I will also say that does not mean anyone can blackmail us.”

Asked whether a debate raging in Britain about a possible referendum on the country’s future in the 27-member bloc was “dangerous”, Schaeuble said the European Union needed to be sending a clear message to the rest of the world.

“Our British friends are not dangerous. But a referendum would create uncertainty,” he said.



Gun Enthusiasts Pack (gun) Shows To Buy Assault Weapons

Source: Reuters

ALLENTOWN, Penn./KANSAS CITY, Missouri | Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:25pm EST
(Reuters) - Gun enthusiasts thronged to shows around the country on Saturday to buy assault weapons they fear will soon be outlawed after a massacre of school children in Connecticut prompted calls for tighter controls on firearms.

Reuters reporters went to gun shows in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas, and found long lines to get in the door, crowds around the dealer booths, a rush to buy assault weapons even at higher prices and some dealers selling out.

The busiest table at the R.K. Gun & Knife show at an exposition center near the Kansas City, Missouri airport was offering assault weapons near the entrance.

West Plains, Missouri dealer Keith's Guns sold out of about 20 AR-15 style assault rifles in a little over an hour, owner Keith Gray said.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/22/us-usa-gun-shows-idUSBRE8BL0DP20121222

Russia: Syria Consolidates Its Chemical Weapons

Source: CNN

By CNN Staff
updated 11:40 AM EST, Sat December 22, 2012

(CNN) -- Syria has consolidated its chemical weapons into one of two locations from its usual places scattered across the country, Russia's foreign minister said Saturday.

The move comes as unrest in the country extends to nearly two years, with rebels making gains recently.

"As of right now... the government is doing all it can to safeguard those weapons," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

"We are following all leads concerning chemical weapons," the foreign minister said, adding that the consolidation was a measure to assuage fears that such weapons could end up in "the wrong hands," the agency reported.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/22/world/meast/syria-civil-war/
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