Friday, February 27, 2015

U.S. vs Israel, U.S. vs Russia, How ISIS Threatens Europe

When a Russian bomber flew over international waters some 25 miles off the southwest tip of England last week, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon called Russia "a real and present danger." The UK government scrambled jet fighters to meet the Russian aircraft as a show of force. 
Said Secretary Fallon of the incident, "NATO has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes." He added that, "NATO is getting ready," warning particularly that Russia may soon move to invade the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. 
Reading the feverish Twitter feed of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Phil Breedlove, one would get the impression that NATO is already at war with Russia. Fighter jets sit menacingly atop aircraft carriers as the General beams about NATO member countries' commitment to contribute to the fight.
The message is clear: Russia is about to attack! NATO has, for no understandable reason, found itself in Russia's crosshairs. NATO cannot figure out how it is that Russia could possibly feel threatened by its actions, which, unlike Russia's are not in the slightest provocative.

Russian military plane over international waters 25 miles from the UK coast is "real and present danger" to NATO. Yet...

Yet yesterday US combat vehicles conducted a military parade and show of military force in Estonia just 300 yards -- yards! -- from the Russian border. That is just over 60 miles from downtown St. Petersburg.

Here is dramatic video of NATO's military display just three football fields from Russia:

This is not a provocation, we are to believe. This is not a "real and present danger" to Russia. NATO is exempt from the rules it imposes on its enemies. 
In the Guardian's review of a new book by Politics professor George Sakwa, the current fallout from a near quarter century of post-Cold War NATO policies is perfectly captured:

The hawks in the Clinton administration ignored all this, Bush abandoned the anti-ballistic missile treaty and put rockets close to Russia’s borders, and now a decade later, after Russia’s angry reaction to provocations in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine today, we have what Sakwa rightly calls a “fateful geographical paradox: that Nato exists to manage the risks created by its existence”.
That line bears repeating: "Nato exists to manage the risks created by its existence."

In Philadelphia in 2008, Candidate Obama threatened his political opponents in stating, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” He continued, “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

Six years into President Obama’s eight-year tenure we are now seeing him with full guns blazing. Unfortunately, they are not directed at Russia, Iran, North Korea, or ISIS. The Bully-in-Chief apparently believes that the world likes “a good brawl” and has chosen Israel and its Jewish citizens as the target of his irrational and venomous rage. 

Despite clear indications well before Obama’s 2008 victory that he would not be a friend of Israel (articulately addressed by many conservative journalists, including AT’s prolific Ed Lasky), watching Obama unchained over the past several months has nonetheless been shocking and disturbing. Obama has aggressively and senselessly sicced his attack dogs on Israel’s Prime Minister. 

And the efforts to which he is going to block a speech that is intended to prevent the world’s largest purveyor of terrorism from attaining nuclear capability is astounding.

Obama believes, or at least would like the world to believe, that Netanyahu has begun a fight with him. What knives does Obama perceive as having been thrust at him by Netanyahu?  The issuance of building permits and the refusal to acquiesce to administration pressure to sign a dangerous deal with the Palestinians top the list. But apparently Bibi pulled out the butcher knife when he accepted an invitation to speak before Congress next week.

Netanyahu has been personally ridiculed, lambasted and yelled at by Obama and other administration officials, given a time out and abandoned to sit for hours in the basement of the White House while Obama dined on food prepared by his private chef, called names that only classless gutter inhabitants would utter, ignored, abused on the world stage, and generally treated like vermin. 

Furthermore, the detailed list of anti-Israel steps taken by Obama and his administration maintained at Discover the Networks is currently 36 pages long -- and counting. For instance, Obama has leaked and directly disclosed Israeli classified information and military secrets (including Israel’s involvement in developing the Stuxnet virus, outing Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and disclosing a secret agreement that would allow Israel to use Saudi airspace for an Iranian strike). 

 He has blamed Israel for general strife in the region insinuating that if Israel would just make peace with the Palestinians, the civil wars and violence would end.  And he has blamed Israel rather than the terrorists when his attempt to ram a two-state solution down Israel’s throat failed. He has not unconditionally supported Israel at the U.N. as the constant threat of a veto of any anti-Israel resolutions hangs over Israel’s head. And he delayed sending rearmaments and weapons shipments that Israel needed during Operation Cast Lead this summer.

But all of that looks like small handgun-style combat in comparison to the automatic weapons that have been drawn over the past couple of months. Obama wants a deal with Iran and will do almost anything to achieve that goal. Netanyahu wants to ensure Israel’s survival and that of the Jewish people.

 Based on the way the P5+1 negotiations are proceeding, it appears that Iran’s nuclear program will not be required to be dismantled. Like all of Obama’s empty promises, his vow to do everything in his power to prevent Iran from going nuclear was simply a lie uttered for political gain.

Obama will not be stopped in his quest to ensure Iran’s hegemonic takeover of the Middle East -- and certainly not by the likes of an adversary like Netanyahu.  So with all the fire power he can muster, Obama is on the attack as if preventing Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is a life or death matter.

He has ordered to combat the big guns like National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who told Charlie Rose that Netanyahu’s speech is “destructive” to the U.S./Israel relationship (ignoring the prior six Obama years of tearing down and destroying what American presidents had recognized as a strategically and morally essential alliance). 
Kerry made the unmerited claim that Netanyahu cannot be trusted because he supported the Iraq war “and look how that turned out.” No mention that Netanyahu was not the prime minister at the time, that Kerry also supported the war, and most importantly, that the only reason Iraq is a failure is because Kerry’s boss chose to surrender the victory.

In preparation for post-speech spin claiming that Netanyahu has no idea what he is talking about, the administration has stopped sharing information with Israel regarding the P5+1 negotiations. Of course, Congress and Americans are being left in the dark as well. Obama is following Nancy Pelosi’s playbook when she claimed, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.” Obama wants to sign a treaty allowing Iran to go nuclear before Americans or Netanyahu can stop him.

We have never seen an administration more coordinated in their attacks, from Susan Rice to John Kerry to the president, repeatedly, at Netanyahu, calling him, 'destructive".

Elliot Abrams concludes that there are three motivations for Obama’s current temper tantrum:

to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.

Historically speaking, Netanyahu’s speech may very well be the most important since World War II. At this point, only Congress can stop Obama from caving to the Mullahs and forever changing the world. For instead of preventing a nuclear Iran, Obama is going nuclear on Israel. And if he continues to elevate the type of weaponry he uses in his war against Israel, pulling out nuclear missiles in his final years in office, Israel will need all of the friends in Congress that Netanyahu can muster.

There are a lot of stories about the Dem members of Congress boycotting Netanyahu’s speech. But most of the names on the list are longtime opponents of the Jewish State.

The boycott lists consists of two groups. Congressional Black Caucus members who are offended on Obama’s behalf and can smell racism anywhere.

The other consists of opponents of Israel.

It’s instructive to compare the list of boycotters to the 54 members of Congress who signed a letter calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of Hamas in Gaza.

Their boycott isn’t some new response to something Netanyahu did. They’re longtime opponents of Israel.

And it is instructive to note how many of the congressmen and congresswomen on the list are funded by CAIR money. Keith Ellison, John Conyers, Loretta Sanchez, Betty McCollum, Lois Capps, Bill Pascrell, Elijah Cummings, Bob Filner, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, John Dingell, James Moran, Nick Rahall, Andre Carson, Mary Jo Kilroy, Carolyn Kilpatrick and Jim McDermott are among the top receivers of CAIR money in congress.

The news from the nuclear talks with Iran was already troubling. Iran was being granted the “right to enrich.” It would be allowed to retain and spin thousands of centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. Yet so thoroughly was Iran stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that just last Thursday the IAEA reportedits concern “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed . . .development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Bad enough. Then it got worse: News leaked Mondayof the elements of a “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would reenter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview in December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.
The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations.

Why is Iran building them? You don’t build ICBMs in order to deliver sticks of dynamite. Their only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. Nor does Iran need an ICBM to hit Riyadh or Tel Aviv. Intercontinental missiles are for reaching, well, other continents. North America, for example.
The deal now on offer to the ayatollah would confer legitimacy on the nuclearization of the most rogue of rogue regimes: radically anti-American, deeply jihadist, purveyor of terrorism from Argentina to Bulgaria, puppeteer of a Syrian regime that specializes in dropping barrel bombs on civilians. In fact, the Iranian regime just this week, at the apex of these nuclear talks, staged a spectacular attack on a replica U.S. carrier near the Strait of Hormuz.

The threat posed to Europe by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) came closer to home on Feb. 15 when the group released a video showing ISIS militants killing 21 Egyptian Christians on the Libyan shores of the Mediterranean — the same coastline from which each week hundreds of people set sail for Europe. One of the militants points across the sea at the heart of Europe and says: “We will conquer Rome, by the will of Allah.”

“They have been making threats about targeting the West for some time,” says Rob Wainwright, the director of the pan-European Union law enforcement agency EUROPOL. “Here, they’re making [the threat] closer to Europe in geographical terms and in an area of North Africa that’s also the embarkation point for flows of migrants. So common sense would dictate that there is a potential threat there, and we’re very alive to that possibility.”
The spread of ISIS across the Middle East has already had a significant impact on Europe. Unrest has forced record numbers of people to flee the fighting in Syria and Iraq and embark on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean. In 2014, 200,000 people attempted the sea journey to seek sanctuary in Europe compared to 60,000 the previous year, according to statistics from the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

The U.K.-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam recently translated an ISIS propaganda paper outlining potential strategies the group could adopt in Libya. One possible approach involves taking advantage of Libya’s vast coastline and its proximity to Europe and travelling on the same routes as migrant boats to slip into Europe undetected.

“If this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in the southern Europe,” Quilliam’s translation of the ISIS document reads. “It is even possible that there could be a closure of shipping lines because of the targeting of Crusader ships and tankers.” The researcher who translated the paper, Charlie Winter, notes the claims should be treated as propaganda, with no evidence that ISIS is actually employing this strategy.

Another concern is that fighters could join the refugee exodus fleeing across the Syria-Turkey border and make their way overland through Greece and the Balkans and into Western Europe.

In a vote along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved what amounts to a government takeover of the Internet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow Democrats, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, approved placing the Internet under Title II regulations. They will reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, and regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like utility companies, or “common carriers,” rather than “information services” that remain outside the agency’s regulatory power. Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly dissented, with Pai explaining that net neutrality is “a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

The arrogance of Wheeler and his allies has been evident for some time. The 332-page proposal they approved was never made available to the public or Congress prior to the vote, even as Wheeler ignored pleas by Pai and O’Rielly to do so. “We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it,” they said in a statement released Monday.

Wheeler also ignored a similar request Wednesday to testify before the House Oversight Committee, eliciting condemnation from Committee Chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”

In her remarks, Commissioner Clyburn said the “framers” of America’s Constitution “would be pleased” with the FCC’s plan. Really? A plan kept completely secret until after it was voted on? One that imposes government controls where there were none before? Commissioner O’Rielly was far more accurate. “I see no need for net neutrality rules,” he said, adding that the FCC’s decision amounted to a “monumental and unlawful power grab.”

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a non-elected federal government agency, voted three-to-two to reclassify broadband Internet as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act. This means that – without the vote of Congress, the peoples’ branch of government – a federal agency now claims the power to regulate the Internet. I am surprised that even among civil liberties groups, some claim the federal government increasing regulation of the Internet somehow increases our freedom and liberty.
The truth is very different. The adoption of these FCC rules on the Internet represents the largest regulatory power grab in recent history. The FCC’s newly adopted rule takes the most dynamic means of communication and imposes the regulatory structure designed for public utilities. Federal regulation could also open the door to de facto censorship of ideas perceived as threatening to the political class – ideas like the troops should be brought home, the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, military spending and corporate welfare should be cut, and the Federal Reserve should be audited and ended.
The one bright spot in this otherwise disastrous move is that federal regulations making it more difficult to use the Internet will cause more Americans to join our movement for liberty, peace, and prosperity. The federal government should keep its hands off of the Internet!

Also see:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Russia Moves Towards Arctic, Mediterranean, Holds Military Exercises On Estonian Border

This is another example of prophecy always being correct and specific. When the Soviet Union broke up - Russia appeared weak and crumbling and many people questioned the prophetic interpretation that Gog-Magog represents the leader and the land who will invade Israel per Ezekiel 38-39. We knew Russia would rise again towards the end of the age and indeed that has happened in a big way. Almost every day we read about Russia's increasing military power and movements around the world:

At the end of a long, narrow tunnel into the mountain, in a cavernous room filled with computers and radar monitor screens, intelligence specialists stare at blinking icons marking the movement of aircraft around Norwegian airspace. On an all-too-typical afternoon recently, they watched as two nuclear-capable Tu-95 Russian Bear Bombers floated like fireflies across the top right of their monitors. A few desks away, an airman picked up phone and called Bodø, a military base on Norway’s northern coast. Moments later, two F-16s rose to eyeball the intruders.  

It turned out the Russian bombers were just practicing some kind of circling maneuver outside of Norway’s Arctic air space. But on January 28 two more Tu-95 bombers, escorted by tankers and Russia’s most advanced MiG-31 fighter jets, showed up off the coast. One of them was carrying “a nuclear payload,” according to the London Sunday Express, which cited intercepted radio traffic. And last fall, a Russian Tu-22 supersonic bomber skirting Norway’s northern airspace was photographed carrying a cruise missile in launching position, according to the Barents Observer blog. Similar examples abound.

Adding to the potential for an unintended catastrophe, Russian warplanes typically lift off without filing a flight plan and cruise the busy commercial flight lanes with their transponders off, riling airline and NATO pilots alike. In recent months Russian warplanes have been engaging in Top Gun–style stunts far from home, popping up unannounced aside an SAS airliner on a flight between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo and buzzing a Norwegian F-16 pilot. (A widely watched cockpit video of the incident, released by the defense ministry, shows the pilot yelping “Holy ****!” as a MiG-31 darts past his wingtip.)
“We haven’t seen this kind of activity for many years,” Colonel Arvid Halvorsen, Mågerø’s base commander, says as he watches the blinking icons for the Russian Tu-95s on a radar screen. “The missions are also more complex lately,” he says, with larger and larger groups of bombers escorted by MiGs, tankers and surveillance aircraft.

But late last year, with the world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Putin put a little-noticed exclamation mark on his Arctic strategy. For the first time, the Kremlin’s announced military doctrine included instructions to prepare to defend Russia’s interests in the Arctic. Plans for two new Arctic army brigades were drawn up. An abandoned military base at Alakurtti, Russia, less than 30 miles from the Finnish border, was reopened. And military construction crews began refurbishing a string of Cold War–era bases on islands in the Arctic. “Our main objective is research and evaluation of conditions in the Arctic and the suitability of our weapons and equipment this far north,” Vladimir Kondratov, commander of the surface ships group of the Northern Fleet, told Russia Today.

No one knows what Putin's endgame is. And while the Norwegians would rather prepare quietly than stoke fears of a Crimean-style Russian grab in the Arctic, the country's memory of the Nazi invasion 75 years ago remains fresh.

But “the worst” is a mystery. “I'd agree that the Russians have been very active,” says Keith Stinebaugh, a longtime Defense Department civilian intelligence specialist who is now a senior fellow in Arctic Security Policy at the Institute of the North in Anchorage. But “aggressive” may be overstating it, he adds. “You'd have to define what is meant by aggressive and compare it to what they did during the Cold War.… They are certainly more active around the world, not just in the Arctic.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades signed an agreement on Wednesday that will allow Russian navy ships regular access to ports on the Mediterranean island nation.
The move comes as ties between Russia and the West have soured over the Ukraine conflict. Putin told journalists that the ships that will dock at Cypriot ports would mostly be used in international anti-terrorism and piracy efforts.
"Our friendly ties aren't aimed against anyone," Putin said, adding, "I don't think it should cause worries anywhere."
 Moscow just had a more solid legal basis for docking its ships in Cyprus. Earlier this week Russia restructured a 2.5 billion euro loan ($2.8 billion) to Cyprus from 2011, reducing the interest rate from 4.5 percent annually to 2.5 percent.

Russia has attempted to create stronger ties with individual members of the European Union, including Cyprus, Hungary and Greece, in the wake of the 28-nation bloc imposing cumulative sanctions on the Kremlin for its alleged role in stoking the Ukraine crisis. Moscow has offered financial assistance to Athens, and last week Putin received a warm welcome in Budapest.
The EU authorities in Brussels worry this policy is aimed at weakening resolve to pass a further tightening of sanctions.
The Cyprus deal solves a problem facing Russia since it lost its Syrian Mediterranean base to the conflict between rebels and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russian news agency Tass reported that besides the navy deal, Putin and Anastasiades were also discussing the possibility of Russian planes using an air base near the town of Paphos for humanitarian relief missions.

Russian and Nato troops took part in rival exercises on either side of the Estonian border on Wednesday, highlighting fears that the tiny Baltic state could be the next target of the Kremlin’s territorial ambitions.

Nato forces put on a show of strength within yards of Estonia’s Russian border, with armoured personnel carriers, tanks and 1,300 Estonian soldiers forming a military parade. The parade, which also included 100 troops from Britain and other European nations, followed warnings from David Cameron on Tuesday that the Baltics could be next in Russia’s sights for a Crimea-style annexation.

The parade took place in the snow-bound Estonian frontier town of Narva, where a majority of residents are ethnic Russians. The choice of location was a pointed warning to Moscow, which regards the Russian community there as de facto evidence that Estonia is part of Russia’s “back yard”.

The Kremlin responded with its own military drills, sending 2,000 paratroopers into Russia’s western Pskov region, which borders both Estonia and neighbouring Latvia.

The military exercises came amid fresh political wrangling in Britain over how to respond to Russia’s renewed assertiveness. Ken Clarke, the former Conservative Cabinet minister, attacked Mr Cameron’s plan to send 75 British troops to provide logistical advice to Ukraine’s beleaguered forces as pointless.

“Military conflict doesn’t help,” he said. “I don’t have strong feelings about retraining the Ukrainian army, but it’s not going to solve anything because no matter how well trained and equipped the Ukrainian army are, the Red Army could defeat them by the end of this week if they wanted to.”

Kiev troops have started the long-promised withdrawal of heavy weapons from eastern Ukraine, a step required by the fragile ceasefire agreement signed earlier this month. The rebels have been criticizing their opponents for stalling the disengagement.
“In accordance with the agreement reached in Minsk on February 12, today Ukraine begins withdrawal of 100mm artillery from the disengagement line. It's the first step towards withdrawal of heavy weapons, which will only be carried out under OSCE monitoring and verification,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The order to withdraw heavy weapons was given on Thursday after the Ukrainian military confirmed that they had not been shot at for a day. No combat casualties have been reported for a second day in a row.
“If there are any attempts to launch an offensive, the withdrawal schedule will be changed. The Ukrainian troops are fully prepared to defend the country,” the statement added.

The kidnapping of dozens of Assyrian Christians by the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria has prompted an exodus of terrified families fleeing their homes, activists said Wednesday.
The United States condemned the mass abduction of Christians - the first of its kind in the war-torn country - and demanded the release of over 150 hostages.
Nearly 1000 Assyrian Christian families have fled their villages in the northeastern province of Hasakeh since Monday's kidnappings, said Osama Edward, director of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network.

About 800 families have taken refuge in the city of Hasakeh and 150 in Qamishli, a Kurdish city on the border with Turkey, Edward said, adding that the number of displaced individuals came to about 5000.

Most of the hostages were women, children or elderly, he added.
Edward said he believed the mass abduction was linked to the jihadists' recent loss of ground in the face of US-led coalition air raids against IS that began in Syria in September.

"IS has been losing territory because of the international coalition's strikes and they took the hostages to use them as human shields," the activist said.
The jihadists, who are battling Kurdish fighters on the ground, may try to exchange the Assyrian Christians for IS prisoners, according to Edward.
He said the aim of the jihadists is to take over the Assyrian Christian village of Tal Tamer, which is located near a bridge over the Khabur river that links Syria to Iraq.

In Tal Shamiran, the jihadists burned down part of a church.
And in the Arab village of Ghbeish, IS decapitated four men, and burned down several houses and a school. They accused the villagers of "collaborating" with the Kurdish fighters.
IS, which also holds swathes of Iraqi territory, last year declared an Islamic "caliphate" in areas under its control and has committed widespread atrocities.
Assyrian Christians, who are from one of the world's oldest Christian communities, have been under increasing threat since IS captured large parts of Syria.
Last week, the IS branch in Libya released a video showing the gruesome beheading of 21 Coptic Christians, mostly Egyptians.

He also said the hostages were taken to Shaddadi, an IS provincial stronghold.
The jihadists had been intimidating the Assyrian villagers for weeks, he said, including by threatening to remove crosses from their churches.

Also see:

The U.S. vs Israel And Increasing Persecution

Its clear that as many adversaries as Israel has in the world, the U.S. is now moving rapidly towards the top of that list. A quick trip through Israel's history through the ages will reveal the fate of countries who have opposed Israel. It's not a pretty sight and it is unfortunate that no one seems to learn from history. A good read on the topic is "As America Has Done To Israel" by McTernan would be a good place to start researching this topic. 

Today's news reveals the extent of this riff between the U.S. and Israel and its growing wider by the day. We'll see how this works out for the U.S.

As far as the situation with Iran - Netanyahu clearly knows that if Iran is to be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, it will be up to Israel and Israel alone to stop them and this would require military intervention. In this case, the powder-key will have been officially ignited in the region. 

As they say in the Air Force, you know you are close to the target when you start getting a lot of flak. Obviously Netanyahu, in his speech, will be hovering very close to the target and that is what is ruffling the feathers of the U.S. regime:

[This is obviously directed towards the U.S.]

In his sharpest criticism yet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said world powers “have given up” on stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons in ongoing negotiations.

Netanyahu made the comments Wednesday night at a meeting of his Likud Party outside of Jerusalem. They come as the prime minister plans to address the US Congress next week on the nuclear negotiations.

In his remarks, Netanyahu said that the greatest challenge Israel faces is “the threat of Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons with a declared goal of annihilating us.”

“From the agreement that is forming, it appears that they (world powers) have given up on that commitment (to thwart Iran) and are accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years, develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “They might accept this but I am not willing to accept this.”

Netanyahu’s upcoming speech before Congress, which is openly opposed by the White House, some Democratic legislators and many within the US Jewish community, angered the Obama administration and US lawmakers, who charged that the invitation to address Congress disregarded diplomatic protocol and was an attempt by the prime minister to derail the US-brokered nuclear negotiations with Iran, Obama’s signature foreign policy objective.

Netanyahu said he respects President Barack Obama but stressed he has no choice but to travel to America to lobby against a nuclear deal with Iran.

“I respect the White House and the US president but on a serious subject, it’s my duty to do everything for Israel’s security,” Netanyahu said during a campaign rally at a West Bank settlement.
“Under the agreement that is being prepared, we have reason to worry… if the world powers have reached an agreement with Iran,” he added.


Amid a barrage of criticism from Obama administration officials at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his upcoming speech before Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry attacked Netanyahu’s judgment by implying Wednesday that he publicly advocated for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The latest spat signals a further nosedive in relations between Netanyahu and the White House over a disagreement on how to tackle Iran’s nuclear program.

“The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in an apparent attempt to delegitimatize Netanyahu’s evaluation of the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program.

Netanyahu “may have a judgment that just may not be correct here,” Kerry said.
In 2002, as a private citizen, Netanyahu sounded the alarm on Iraqi WMDs during a talk to a Congressional committee.
Kerry, then a senator, voted in favor of the US invasion of Iraq on October 11, 2002.
Kerry’s comments came less than day after US National Security Adviser Susan Rice blasted Netanyahu for damaging ties between the two close allies.

Rice faulted both Netanyahu and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who extended the invitation to the prime minister, for creating the current “destructive” situation.

In a searing rebuke of the Israeli prime minister, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned Tuesday that Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech in front of a joint session of Congress has cast a partisan pall over the ties between the two close allies and threatened “the fabric of the relationship.”

In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, Rice faulted both Netanyahu and the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who extended the invitation to the prime minister to address Congress on Iran, for creating the current “destructive” situation.

“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu, two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship which is not only unfortunate; it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” she said.

Netanyahu’s speech is controversial because it puts Israel on a collision course with the Obama administration as it negotiates with Iran over its nuclear program — talks that in their current form could lead to a deal that potentially poses an existential risk to Israel, Netanyahu has warned. Thus, he intends to argue before Congress on March 3 that the international community should increase its pressure on Iran, rather than ease sanctions against it under the reported terms of the emerging nuclear deal.

A fire broke out early Thursday morning in a Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem in what police suspect may be a hate crime. No one was injured.
The fire started at approximately 4 a.m. in the bathrooms of the seminary.

The walls of the building were vandalized with ultra-nationalist and racist graffiti.

“Jesus is a son of a whore” and “Redemption of Zion” were among the slogans painted in the areas surrounding the bathrooms.

Three teams of firefighters were called to the seminary, which is located near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, and quickly extinguished the flames, preventing it from spreading through the rest of the building.
Emergency personnel searched the area but did not find any suspects at the scene.
Jerusalem police have opened an investigation into the incident as a hate crime.
Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the alleged arson and promised to follow the case as it develops. “There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem,” he said in a statement. “We must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice.”

Jews should think twice before wearing a yarmulka in certain areas of Germany, the head of the country’s Jewish umbrella group warned Thursday.

“The question is whether it makes sense to be recognizable as Jews in certain areas… by wearing a yarmulka, or whether it’s better to wear a different head covering. This is indeed a development that I didn’t see five years ago and that is a little frightening.”

In an interview with a Berlin-based radio station, Schuster said such areas include “problematic quarters,” particularly in Berlin but also elsewhere in Germany, “and districts with strong Muslim populations.”

Jews and Jewish institutions feel safe in Germany, Schuster said, adding, however, that he still asked authorities to boost security. “It is certainly necessary to improve security especially for smaller and medium-sized Jewish communities.”

The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes increased in Germany in recent years. While in 2013, some 790 such cases were registered, last year the number climbed to 1076, according to Spiegel Online, the country’s leading news portal, quoting yet unpublished government figures.

One of Schuster’s predecessors, Charlotte Knobloch, advised German Jews not to make themselves recognizable as such in public. But Schuster rejected such recommendations. “Hiding is not the right way,” he said, calling on communities and institutions to present themselves confidently to the public. “Jewish communities should open up and show themselves, because only something that is known causes no fear.”