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Today's News

Jan. 23, 2015




Obama & Kerry Will Not Meet With  Netanyahu in Washington

 By DEBKAfile & Israel Hayom


President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will not see Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he visits Washington at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress on March 3 on Iran. The State Department said that the president does not receive foreign leaders running for election so as not to be seen to interfere in the democratic process of other countries.


It is hard to believe that the White House was caught by surprise over House leader John Boehner’s unusual invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress on March 3. After all, prior arrangements must have kept the Israeli embassy in Washington busy for weeks in a city, whose life blood is kept flowing by the mining and trading of information and secrets about friends and rivals alike.


All the same, it suited the four parties involved in this extraordinary event – Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the White House and Netanyahu - to pretend they were taken aback on Wednesday by the Speaker’s announcement of the prime minister’s coming address on "the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.” Boehner accused Obama of "papering over" these threats over in his State of the Union speech a few hours earlier.


The White House said the invitation breached "typical protocol" but the administration would reserve judgment until they heard from Netanyahu about his plans. The assumed air of astonishment greeting the invitation added an element of drama to the event. It also had the effect of further polarizing the camps for and against the Obama administration’s insistence on banking solely on diplomacy for containing Iran’s nuclear program.


(Editor's note: It has been reported that satellite photos of an Iranian missile base showed a missile 27 meters in length, that can carry a nuclear or non-nuclear explosive beyond the confines of continental Europe.).


Obama and Netanyahu, who could never stand each other, have been at loggerheads for most of the six years of the former’s presidency over what is widely seen as the dead-end US Middle East policies he pursued in most major arenas such as Iraq, Yemen and Libya, the futile US air strikes against marching Islamist State soldiers, the unending Syrian conflict and the Palestinian issue.


The showdown building up for years between them may now be at hand. It will catch Obama and Kerry fully engaged in a desperate pursuit of a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the Six-World-Powers group. This deal could then be presented as an unquestioned success of Obama’s Middle East policies – indeed the only one.


Together with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohamed Zarif, US officials have roughed out a draft accord. But most American nuclear experts and Israel’s top political and military leaders view this paper as a bad agreement, because it would leave Tehran with the freedom and resources to jump back from low-grade enrichment to full-dress production of a nuclear bomb and missiles when international and economic circumstances were more convenient.

But Obama and Kerry are counting on the ayatollahs holding their horses until the end of 2016, when the US administration changes hands. The Iranian nuclear deal’s inevitable breakdown would then land squarely on the shoulders of the next president and secretary of state taking over in Washington, while Obama would have formally honored his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.


But this plan faces an outsize impediment: Rouhani and Zarif are holding back from putting pen to paper because of the strong objections posed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards military chiefs. Earlier this month, the issue reached boiling point in Tehran, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources reported: The Guards threatened to unseat Khamenei by a military coup if he let Rouhani and Zarif sign the draft into a comprehensive, binding nuclear accord.


Khamenei, never lost for a devious maneuver, began weaving between the two compulsions – American demands for more concessions to finalize the deal and demands by hardliners at home not to give way. The move he made was to throw a bone in the form of an offer to cut down on the number of centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. Obama and Kerry hailed this as a breakthrough toward a deal, although the experts dismissed it as meaningless.


On this basis, Obama phoned Netanyahu Monday night to ask him for Israel’s support for the evolving comprehensive nuclear accord with Iran. In return, he offered closer US cooperation in various areas of interest to Israel, such as the Palestinian issue, if the prime minister would withhold or cool his support for US Senate sanctions legislation:


Obama was adamant in his State of the Union references to the Iranian nuclear issue: “New sanctions on Iran would all but guarantee that diplomacy fails, heightening the prospects of war.” He said.: “Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies – including Israel – while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.”


Obama did not elaborate on the parties who would take part in this hypothetical conflict, or explain why he limited himself to only two extreme scenarios – either a deal with Iran or tighter sanctions that would precipitate war.


It was no accident that two days before this speech, Obama had his answer from Israel. Sunday, January 19, Israeli Air Force drones struck an Iranian-Hizbullah military convoy near the Syrian Golan town of Quneitra. Six Iranian officers were killed, led by Gen. Mohamad Ali Allah Dadi, as well as the same number of high-ranking Hizbullah operatives.


This was a dual threat: Israel would not stand by if Iranian and Hizbullah forces moved into the Syrian Golan right up against its frontier. But in the wider context, Netanyahu was signaling Obama in Washington and Khamenei in Tehran, that he no longer had any qualms about striking Iranian military targets if the two rulers failed to forge a workable, credible accord for keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.


The Israeli action added military muscle to the US Senate legislation on Iran -  in the face of Obama’s reluctance to embrace tactics he believes would be disincentives for Khamenei to play ball on the ongoing multilateral nuclear diplomatic track in Geneva. It also explains why John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress on March 3. However, until then, Iran, Hizbullah, Syria and even Israel may not stand idle. And the Obama administration may also decide to round up its assets in a bid to spoil the prime minister’s run for re-election on March 17.


Netanyahu will likely receive a very warm reception from Congress. In the Obama era, the White House might not be friendly terrain for Netanyahu. But in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike have great respect for the prime minister.


Perhaps we should put cynicism aside and view the invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress in a positive light. Let's ignore the internal politics, ego battles and electoral intrigues for a moment and consider the fact that only one other leader has been invited to address Congress three times. His name was Winston Churchill.


In a related report, the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency told U.S. lawmakers that imposing new sanctions on Iran would undermine the ongoing diplomatic process between Tehran and the West, the Bloomberg news agency reported on Wednesday. This stance runs contrary to Netanyahu's repeated assertion that the world must step up sanctions against Iran if it is to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.


According to Bloomberg, the Obama administration and several senators are taking advantage of the internal Israeli disagreement to undermine a bill, penned by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran if the current negotiations fail to yield an agreement by the June 30 deadline.


Preacher Indicted for 'Slaughter Jews' Speech on Temple Mount



The Jerusalem district attorney on Wednesday submitted an indictment at the local magistrates court against Muslim preacher Omar Abu Saara, who called to "slaughter" Jews in a speech on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.


Abu Saara is a 49-year-old living in eastern Jerusalem, and last November 28 he said in a speech before Muslims at the Al-Kabali Mosque "I say to the Jews explicitly, the time has come to slaughter you" - a point he repeated numerous times to thunderous calls of support.


The hateful preacher was charged with several other charges related to incitement and racism, aside from the central charge of incitement to violence. "The time has come to go to war with you, the time has come to kill you. And we, with God’s help, will destroy you," said Abu Saara in his tirade calling for murderous violence against Jews.


In his speech, the preacher added "We, the Muslims, the correct ones, the faithful and the soldiers of the Islamic caliphate, will arrive to the land to free it from your soiling, and today this is close by. So go on and do what you want for now," he said addressing the Jewish state of Israel. "Now you have the power." According to the indictment, Abu Saara had the inciting speech recorded and uploaded to YouTube the next day to further spread his incitement.



 World to Mark 70th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Next Week

By AFP &


Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom will represent the Israel at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day memorial scheduled to be held next week in Poland. The ceremony will mark the 70th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.


The event is scheduled to take place on January 27, with European leaders and dozens of Holocaust survivors in attendance. However, the absence of one European head of state will not go unnoticed; Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be paying his respects to Soviet soldiers and Holocaust survivors at the memorial, even though the Soviet Red Army liberated the death camp from the Nazis in 1945.


According to reports, Putin will be represented at the event by Sergei Ivanov, his chief of staff. Putin's absence stems from the tension between Russia and the U.S. and the European Union following Russia's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.


Palestinian Maher Nasser, a United Nations official with over 25 years experience in the organization, will join Rivlin to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.


 In 2005, the UN unanimously accepted then-foreign minister Silvan Shalom’s suggestion to hold an international Holocaust memorial day in honor of the six million Jews, 1 million Gypsies, 250,000 disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. Now, Shalom will participate at the event, being held at the former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Nasser, who was born in Albireh, a small Palestinian town near Ramallah, has held a number of UN positions in Gaza and Jerusalem before taking up the management of the UN Department of Public Information.



Hitler's Long Shadow



It all looked very surreal. In a town in northern Germany, in a region known to be one of the strongholds of the neo-Nazi movement, several dozen right-wing extremists could be seen marching down one of the main streets while the figure of Adolf Hitler stood on the balcony of a nearby hotel and waved to the demonstrators and other passers-by. Hitler, in fact, has been popping up in Germany in various expected and unexpected locations all over the place of late.


The man responsible is actor Oliver Masucci, who has been dressing up as the Fuehrer for the filming of a new movie, He's Back, which is scheduled to premiere next fall. The film is based on the bestseller of the same name that has sold more than two million copies since its release some three years ago. The cover of the book is adorned with Hitler's most distinctive features – his hairstyle and small mustache; and even the price is symbolic – 19.33 Euros (Hitler rose to power in 1933).


So what's all the fuss about? He's Back revives Hitler after a prolonged coma. He wakes up in Berlin in 2011, not far from the bunker in which he spent the final weeks of the war and where he also committed suicide. According to the plot of the bestseller, Hitler simply loses consciousness while fooling around with his personal weapon, and he doesn't recognize anything around him when he comes to. The owner of a newspaper kiosk comes to Hitler's assistance after discovering his unique ability: Hitler sounds just like Hitler, speaks just like Hitler, and thinks all the time like Hitler.


The kiosk owner gets Hitler a gig as a stand-up comic on a television show presented by a Turkish entertainer; and Hitler, for his part, tries to get to know the Germany that has evolved in his absence and is very different to what he had in mind – a woman is leading the country; the Reich mark has been abolished and replaced by an all-European currency, and there are Turks all over the place. Only one thing pleases Hitler – Germany remains relatively "clean" of Jews.


Thanks to his gig on television, Hitler is also exposed to technological innovations such as computers, the Internet and mobile phones (and is sure they have all been invented by Aryan scientists); and instead of being deterred by the changes, he uses them to return to power, with dizzying success. He speaks of issues that concern the public at large, video clips of his television appearances get millions of views; and Hitler, who insists that is his original name and that he was born sometime in the late 19th century, becomes a superstar, starts working on his own TV show, and moves closer than ever to realizing his old-new vision – the political takeover of Germany.


Could it happen today? Ostensibly, He's Back is a comic novel, but readers quickly find themselves trapped and exposed to a rather alarming message. Hitler's tackling of certain issues reveals how things really have not changed much since his days in power, including the general public's attitude towards the positions he presents – for example, the fact that the current political system is unable to cope with the everyday problems that plague the population.


"Despite the overwhelming success of the book, it has yet to prompt a serious debate in Germany that tries to analyze the significance of this success and the needs it fulfills in German society," says the author of He's Back, journalist Timur Vermes. "What does the fact that they are enjoying the book say about the Germans? What does it say about our handling of the past?"


And do you have an answer? "I think we need a more authentic Hitler. Most people are familiar with his story, but they don't know what motivated him, how he acted. People are looking for a more mature way of dealing with the figure of Hitler that is not immediately influenced by a sense of guilt."


Were you concerned that the book would be misunderstood? I wondered what would happen if the Nazis loved the book. Ultimately, if someone agrees with what Hitler said, he's a Nazi, and I cannot help him because he was one even before reading the book. As far as I'm concerned, it's not a book designed to educate the Nazis, but to examine how Hitler's mind worked, how we are dealing with our past, and if the things described in the book could happen today.


"The book causes us to develop an affinity with someone we never thought we could be close to, and then we discover that he intends to do it all over again. He doesn't hide it, and we continue to read because the book is amusing, because it offers a few moments of laughter together with sides of Hitler that we never knew about; and that's the process I wanted people to undergo. People could drop the book at any moment, but they continue to read and there are even those who are asking about a sequel. So what does that say about us?"


Vermes, 47, came up with the idea for He's Back, his first book, while on holiday in Turkey. He was browsing through the shelves in a used book store and came across a copy of "Hitler's second book," a sequel to Mein Kampf that Hitler wrote in 1928 following the Nazi Party's failure in the general elections. The book was never published, but copies can still be found here and there.


"What a strange book, I thought to myself," Vermes recalls, "It seemed so absurd that I said to myself: 'If there's a second book, then I can write a third one.' And right there and then, I thought of writing a book in the first person, and to do something funny too, something that even if it's never published will at least amuse me. The surprise find made me want to step into Hitler's shoes, to unravel his character and explain his worldview. It wasn't very difficult; fanatics after all are already very close to being parodies, and his worldview is not very complex to begin with."


Vermes' Hitler often surprises the reader. He scolds his young secretary when she starts screaming "Heil Hitler" whenever he arrives at the office, and he asks her to address him quietly. He's very taken by the principles of the Green Party and sees many similarities between them and the ideas of his party. Sympathy for Hitler creeps in, and that's exactly what Vermes wanted to achieve – to shake our automatic way of thinking.


"I admit: It's not a fair text," he says. "After all, the easiest solution would have been to present Hitler as a monster, but people who are drawn into reading the book discover that Hitler was a normal person, sympathetic at times, and are surprised to reveal that he also had normal sides to him; and it was convenient for us to cover up these normal sides after the war and highlight only the atrocities he committed, to turn him into the absolute evil. And herein, I believe, lies the big story; and the question we all have to ask ourselves is why everyone cooperated."


And the answer? "By laying the blame solely on him, the Germans absolved themselves and managed to get along better with the Allies. And the Allies, for their part, explained that cooperation with the Germans is possible because Hitler is no longer in the picture."


But holding onto this old monster story means giving up on the effort to understand how Hitler thought and operated. And therein lies the danger… Our (German) society is still traumatized and unable to deal with unraveling Hitler's character."



Feel Like a Woman? Just Change Your Israeli ID Gender



The State Attorney's Office told the High Court last week that it no longer opposes allowing Israelis to officially change their sex, even without undergoing an operation. The announcement was made in response to a motion filed by three women who were originally men, and The Aguda – The Israeli National LGBT Task Force. They demanded that the Ministry of Interior drop its demand that a person undergo a sex change operation in order for the state to change the sex designation in his ID card.


According to Ha'aretz, the matter was discussed in a meeting headed by Dina Zilber, the Deputy Attorney General, with the relevant representatives in the Ministries of Interior, Health and Justice. The Health Ministry representatives said that “in the world,” there are generally accepted professional criteria for determining that a person has changed his sex, even without an operation.


It was decided to change the current regulations, and to have the Health Ministry's committee of experts, which currently approves sex change operations in Israel, to determine the criteria for changing sex registration without an operation. After the criteria are set, approval by the committee will suffice for approving the sex change in an individual person's ID.


The state claimed that by agreeing to let a committee decide on sex changes, it had made the legal motion superfluous. The plaintiffs, however, are not satisfied with the compromise and intend to fight to let people change their sex without committee approval.


The legal motion claims that in Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, the Zurich district of Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand, a statement by a physician or social worker that confirms that the requester “identifies” with the opposite sex suffices for an official sex change.


Rabbi Haim Navon of Modiin attacked the decision on Facebook and said that it is a huge social change. He noted that Jewish Halakha forbids sex change operations and that most decisors do not recognize them as changing a person's sex. However, he said – if a person undergoes a sex change operation and wants the state to recognize this, there is “internal logic” in his actions, but if a person does not undergo an operation, there is nothing to define him as having changed his sex.


Navon added that it is not clear what the committee can check in order to decide that a person has changed his sex. “If anyone can define the concepts of man and woman according to his own wishes, then that means that these terms have no real meaning,” he explained. “And if so, why should it be important to a person if the state defines him this way or the other?


"It's as if a person who was born on the sixth month of the year demanded that the state let him define that month as 'January'," the rabbi elaborated. "If the state agrees to this demand, then the registration of dates in general will lose its meaning, since every date will signify whatever the person who registered it wanted it to signify. So why should a person demand a specific registration, if the result is the loss of meaning of all the dates? Unless that is exactly what he wants: to cause such a loss of meaning.”
















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By Frances Bernay-Cohen

I can't speak for you, but my grandparents came to the United States to find a refuge from "change." They came to The United States where their basic freedoms were guaranteed by the Constitution; where they could build a future on this solid ground.

Whether our forefathers and forI'm sure you will find some truth in this song.






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Air France flew from the U.S. to Israel during the early 1950s. They flew Lockheed Constellations and the flying time was 20 hours.

This promotional film - in English for an American audience - shows Israel as it was three years after the War of Independence .

Please click photo





 Paradise Regained, Paradise Lost

By Don Canaan (Commentary)

This year marked the 29th anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the 2,000 settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated by Israeli authorities under the command of Ariel Sharon, from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.

Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.

Since April 25, 1982 only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war.

Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.

Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene: Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts."

April 25, 20011 marked the 29th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and a cold peace between long-term enemies.

That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.

Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.



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