Hillary’s Russian Reset, Terrorism, and the Threat to Israel

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media


In her recent foreign policy speech, hailed by the media, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “If Donald [Trump] gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.” But as veteran correspondent David Satter points out, the celebrations began when Mrs. Clinton launched a “reset” in Russian relations in 2009 that ignored the criminal nature of the regime in Moscow and led to the invasion of Ukraine.

“It began as we know with a mistranslation of the word ‘reset’ and I think went downhill from there,” Satter said, referring to her photo-op with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Satter’s new book, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep, is the result of years of research that has uncovered some of the most closely-held state secrets of the Vladimir Putin regime. Putin came to power “as the result of an act of terror carried out against his own people,” he explained.

He discussed his dramatic findings in a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation.

The book has important implications for how intelligence agencies analyze Islamic terrorism occurring outside of Russia as well, and sponsored by regimes such as Syria or Iran.

The first American journalist to be expelled from Russia since the end of the Cold War, Satter investigated the former KGB’s role in such terrorist incidents as the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999, the Dubrovka Theater siege of 2002, and the Beslan hostage taking of 2004. In all of these cases, he says, there is strong evidence of links between the terrorists (sometimes labeled as Chechens) and the KGB (now known as the FSB). Either the FSB carried out the terrorism through its agents or let it occur, he said, in order to justify the creation of a new dictatorship in Moscow.

In the case of the apartment bombings, which killed about 300 people and led to a brutal invasion of the Russian region of Chechnya, Satter said, “This central historical event in my view was the greatest political provocation since the burning of the Reichstag. And it established the regime with which we now have to contend, both in Ukraine and potentially in other parts of the world.”

The burning of the Reichstag solidified the Hitler dictatorship in Germany, eventually leading to World War II.

Over the years, Satter has been gathering evidence of the role of Russian intelligence in various terrorist incidents inside Russia. He discussed some of the evidence intestimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 17, 2007, explaining how Putin and other former KGB agents had become the “new ruling hierarchy” in Russia.

But he said the Obama administration came to power in 2008 with the attitude that it “did not want to hear” about any of this and instead blamed problems in U.S-Russian relations on George W. Bush. This led to Mrs. Clinton’s disastrous “reset” with the Putin regime.

Russians who have investigated the KGB’s role in domestic terrorism in Russia usually end up dead, Satter pointed out. These included Sergei Yushenkov and Yuri Shchekochikhin, members of an independent commission created to investigate the apartment bombings; Anna Politkovskaya, a leading journalist; and Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB/FSB officer who had fled to London and co-authored the blockbuster Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror.

“As a result of this series of killings,” Satter said, “I became literally the only person left who was raising this issue publicly, protected by the fact that I am an American citizen and also participate in the political process in Washington.”

He said, “I can’t say that I’ve had overwhelming success in calling this to the attention of the political world in Washington. But I do write about it in The Wall Street Journal. I’ve testified about it in Congress and I wrote about it in my second book, Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State. And I’ve certainly dealt with it in much greater detail in this [new] book.”

In his latest book, Satter writes about how Western officials have been unable to accept the idea that the Russian regime would “murder hundreds of its own citizens and terrify the nation to hold on to power.” He added, “This refusal to believe the unbelievable, however, came at a cost. It crippled Western policy toward Russia, rendering it naïve and ineffectual. From the moment Putin took power, the West maintained an image of Russia that bore no relation to reality.”

During the question-and-answer period, an individual named Karl Golovin, who described himself as a retired Federal Special Agent, tried to change the subject to allegations that terrorist incidents in the United States were being carried out by agents of the U.S. government. These allegations figure prominently in the “inside job” theory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States that has been popularized by such figures as radio host Alex Jones. Such a theory is popular in the Russian media, Satter noted.

But he said the difference between the U.S. and Russia is that the U.S. is a democratic country with an independent press and institutions free of government control or intimidation.  On the other hand, there were no independent hearings into the terrorism inside Russia, and investigators who looked at official complicity were murdered.

Compounding this tragedy, President Obama’s pro-Russian and pro-Iranian foreign policy has backed Israel into a corner, leading to reports that the Jewish state is being forced to turn to Russia to assure its survival in an increasingly dangerous Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Moscow for an official visit, has to know that if Putin can kill his own people through terrorism that he blames on Muslims, then he can certainly arrange attacks on Israel through Palestinian terrorist groups once connected to the old Soviet Union and now working with Syria or Iran, both Russian client states.

Netanyahu has to know that what has been called the “Red Jihad,” which kills Russians for domestic political purposes, can easily target Israel and the West.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


One Messy Affair

Arlene from Israel

I am referring, of course, to the whole business of the votes in Congress on the Iran deal.

Netanyahu has come out with a statement, echoing what I and others said yesterday, that things can still change, and we must keep fighting.

Those who oppose the deal have already achieved a major goal in publicizing its various faults and weaknesses – its dangers.  At this point, the majority of the American people understands those dangers and is opposed to the deal.


As there seems some confusion, I want to clarify once again: there are two votes anticipated. The first on whether to accept the deal.  In that case, a simple majority of members of Congress suffices., as it will be couched in the negative: we do not accept.  And if that vote is taken, those opposed to the deal should hold sway – it should be rejected.

It is with regard to this vote that I wrote yesterday about the “moral majority” – the more reject the deal, the greater the moral and political impact.  Whatever happens subsequently, a majority of Congress will be on record as having declared against the deal.

Remember this, and use it: If Obama wins, it will not be because a majority of the Congress was with him.  It will be because of the games that have been played,  games that make it possible for Obama to win with a minority of the Congress voting with him.

For a better understanding of this, see Andrew McCarthy on the Corker Bill, which set the current process in place:



There is talk that the acceptance of the deal might never come to a vote – because a filibuster might be instituted: The rules of the Senate permit members to speak for indefinite lengths of time, thus preventing a vote from being called.  I say there is “talk” about this, but it is not at all clear that it will happen.  Senate rules require at least 2/3 of its members – or 60 Senators – to vote for cloture, to close debate.  Reversing the numbers, that means Obama would need 41 Senators to vote against cloture, so the filibuster could continue.  He does not have nearly that number now.


If the deal is rejected by a vote of Congress, the president will veto it.  And this is where Mikulski’s declaration in support comes in: it means that – right now – the opposition does not have the necessary number to override the veto.

We will continue to work, in hopes of a change in this situation.


It was my dear friend Sharmaine who advanced the most important suggestion in this regard, one I am remiss for not having mentioned sooner:

“…the timing for the vote is perfect after Rosh Hashana…We need to pray ….. For heavenly intervention on the vote!”

Amen on this.  Please!


There have been a good many other suggestions as well that have been sent to me, broadly in line with the McCarthy piece from July, cited above. There are multiple suggestions that this deal is really a treaty, and illegal or unconstitutional as currently structured.  There is the suggestion (advanced in American Thinker by Skloroff and Bender) that the Senate must sue the executive, “triggering a confrontation between the judicial [Supreme Court] and the executive branches.”

I do not intend to consider these various thoughts – which have merit – in any detail, however.  This is because it is my perception that there are a good many wimps among the Republicans in the Senate. They failed the nation in the first place, when they agreed to the current configuration for voting, which puts the onus on those who are opposed to the deal, rather than the other way around.  And I simply do not believe that they are about to take on Obama in any seriously confrontational fashion.

In the exceedingly unlikely event that they would do so, it has to be because some Republicans of courage in the Senate have considered various legal ramifications and have decided to move forward.  It must come from within the Republican ranks of the Senate.  It SHOULD come from their ranks, but…

What I do see as a possibility is that a scheme may be devised by the Republicans that is less confrontational. but has the effect of at least partially blocking what Obama intends to advance.  For example, there may be a push for reinstatement of sanctions.


I speak of Republican wimps, and I would like to use this opportunity to enlarge on this comment.  Many of us celebrated when Republicans gained control of the Congress. Today, many of us mourn the way in which that Republican majority has failed the nation.  I am not saying that there are no Republicans in Congress who have courage and integrity; I am saying the Republican majority bloc has not moved with determination and strength – in pursuit of a clear-eyed vision for the nation.

Just as there was unconscionable game-playing with regard to how the vote on the Iran deal would be structured, so have there been multiple other instances in which Obama has secured the upper hand when he should not have been permitted to.  Now I hear that the deal should have been a treaty, and that what Obama has done is not legal. But the Republicans agreed to it!  Just as they acquiesced in a dozen other instances in which the president has played fast and loose with the rules.

Is it that the president has the nation in his thrall?  Or that he plays such hardball that there is hesitation to move against him?  One matter is very clear: he plays the race card, which makes opponents uneasy about taking him on, lest they be charged with racism.


What we see again and again is that the president has no compunction about dancing around the truth, and evading direct promises that have been made.  All politicians do this to some extent, but he is an all time master.  We’ve seen this with “absolute” assurances he offered on the Iran deal, which have turned out to be no assurances at all.  Yet somehow, he has managed to get away with it, when Congress should have called a halt.

Add to this the telling of bold-faced lies.  I mention this here because only days ago, he did a webcast for the American Jewish community.  “We’re all pro-Israel,” he declared.  “We’re all family.”

Can anyone really believe this, after seeing that he agreed to a situation for Iran that will increase terrorism against Israel by Iran’s proxies?

“Nothing in this agreement prevents us from continuing to push back forcefully against terrorist activity,” he offered reassuringly.


Right… give Iran access to increased numbers of conventional weapons and huge sums of money, all of which will serve to bolster Iran’s terror proxies such as Hezbollah, and then provide assurance that there will be action against terrorism.

I am not sure how he says all of this with a straight face.  But he does, and manages without eliciting wholesale outrage.  I have not read of anyone who asked him, “What do you take me for, a fool?”

This tells me that America is in a very bad place.


The Horrific Made Real

Arlene from Israel

Until the end there was doubt that this would actually happen. But it happened.  Heaven help us now.  The fools who were negotiating in Vienna have reached an agreement.  And look how happy they appear, after the crushing damage they have fomented. (Of course Zarif of Iran, who is laughing the hardest, would be ecstatically happy.)

Iran nuclear deal
Credit: Reuters


I share here some basics of the agreement, as described by Omri Ceren of The Israel Project (with my bolded emphasis added):

(1) The Iranian nuclear program will be placed under international sponsorship for R&D – A few weeks ago the AP leaked parts of an annex confirming that a major power would be working with the Iranians to develop next-generation centrifuge technology at the Fordow underground military enrichment bunker. Technically the work won’t be on nuclear material, but the AP noted that “isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered to enriching uranium.” The administration had once promised Congress that Iran would be forced to dismantle its centrifuge program. The Iranians refused, so the administration conceded that the Iranians would be allowed to keep their existing centrifuges. Now the international community will be actively sponsoring the development of Iranian nuclear technology. And since the work will be overseen by a great power, it will be off-limits to the kind of sabotage that has kept the Iranian nuclear program in check until now.

(2) The sanctions regime will be shredded – the AP revealed at the beginning of June that the vast majority of the domestic U.S. sanctions regime will be dismantled. The Lausanne factsheet – which played a key role in dampening Congressional criticism to American concessions – had explicitly stated “U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.” That turns out to have been false. Instead the administration will redefine non-nuclear sanctions as nuclear, so that it can lift them

(3) The U.S. collapsed on the arms embargoJust a week ago Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.” Now multiple outlets have confirmed that the embargo on conventional weapons will be lifted no later than 5 years from now, and that the embargo on ballistic missiles will expire in 8 years. No one in the region is going to wait for those embargoes to expire: they’ll rush to build up their stockpiles in anticipation of the sunset.

(4) The U.S. collapsed on anytime-anywhere inspectionsThe IAEA will get to request access to sensitive sites, the Iranians will get to say no, and then there will be an arbitration board that includes Iran as a member. This concession is particularly damaging politically and substantively because the administration long ago went all-in on verification. The original goal of the talks was to make the Iranians take physical actions that would prevent them from going nuclear if they wanted to: dismantling centrifuges, shuttering facilities, etc. The Iranians said no to those demands, and the Americans backed off. The fallback position relied 100% on verification: yes the Iranians would be physically able to cheat, the argument went, but the cheating would be detected because of an anytime-anywhere inspection regime. That is not what the Americans are bringing home.


Last night, Ceren, who was in Vienna, was interviewed on Voice of Israel.  He referred to the deal as a “staggering, staggering failure of US diplomacy, and a staggering failure of US leadership.”


You can see more on the deal as a Western catastrophe in the op-ed by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz:



President Obama’s speech today, celebrating the end of the deal, is so filled with lies and misrepresentations it is difficult to know where to begin:

“…the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change, change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure…

“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.

“This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off…”


If you have been tracking the breathtaking concessions made by the US, either via my posts or elsewhere, you can identify the whoppers for yourself.  But let me take one very obvious example here:  He says, “we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region [the Middle East]. Quite the contrary is the case.

As the Jewish Policy Center explains:

“We have not. Far from providing for better arms control, the deal will encourage Sunni powers in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to reconsider their own nuclear programs, shredding the international non-proliferation protocol. The region will become increasingly unstable.”



Prime Minister Netanyahu calls the deal a “stunning historical mistake.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press following the nuclear deal with Iran, at the PM's Office in Jerusalem, on July 14, 2015. (Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90

In his statement today, he said (emphasis added):

The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday.

The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism. They’ve gambled that in ten years’ time, Iran’s terrorist regime will change while removing any incentive for it to do so. In fact, the deal gives Iran every incentive not to change.

In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing.

Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way

“In addition to filling Iran’s terror war chest, this deal repeats the mistakes made with North Korea.

“There too we were assured that inspections and verifications would prevent a rogue regime from developing nuclear weapons.

“And we all know how that ended.

“The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly what Iran’s President Rouhani said today: ‘The international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear program.’

“By not dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, in a decade this deal will give an unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs, in fact an entire nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver it.”


Netanyahu added:

Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran and Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction.

We will always defend ourselves.”


The Security Cabinet has met and unanimously voted to reject the terms of the agreement, and stands by Israel’s right to defend herself.


And here we come to one essential aspect of what will now follow.  There is a great deal of discussion regarding whether Israel can hit Iran, and whether Israel will opt to do so.

There are those who say declarations by Israel’s leaders are just bluff.  I’m not sure that is true (see below), but those who call these words “bluff” are missing a very essential point: If Iran knows Israel is watching, and Iran is not sure if Israel is bluffing, the situation has a certain inhibiting effect on Iran’s behavior.  This has already been demonstrated.

But in any event, as I said, we do not know that Israel is bluffing.

Military analyst Yaakov Lappin says that Israel will continue to develop means for attacking Iran, as long as Iran remains a threat: the military option is not off the table.  However, it is only an attempt by Iran to break through to nuclear capability that would trigger an attack.



An attempt by Iran to break through remains a possibility because, historically, Iran cheats, and now the monitoring is sorely insufficient.

See this video of an interview of Naftali Bennett by BBC.  He makes the point exceedingly well of how insufficient monitoring will be under the agreement:



A statement by MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Likud), Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, reinforces the view presented by Lappin: Israel’s ability to attack is independent, he says.  [I.e., no one controls us.]  We won’t attack if they don’t cheat. “And we know that this entire program is based on fraud and deceit that the world is now accepting.”



Netanyahu has been saying that he never promised he could stop this agreement, as the Western leaders were determined to go forward with it.

What he has promised, he says, and that promise stands, is not to let Iran go nuclear.  Lappin’s analysis gives teeth to this commitment. The capability of hitting Iran’s nuclear facilities is one Israel has no intention of forfeiting, Lappin says.


What I find more than a bit astounding is that in spite of widespread understanding in many quarters that the Iranian deal is badly flawed and dangerous, in all the world, Prime Minister Netanyahu is the only head of state who is speaking out forcefully.

In this, I believe he merits our whole-hearted support.

There are others, such as heads of the Sunni Arab states, who are truly horrified.  But they are opting for a deafening silence.


The next focus of attention is Washington DC and Congress – which has 60 days now to review the deal.  The president has already said he will veto a negative vote. We knew this going in.

Israel has plans to speak with Congressional leaders and to bring the case for rejection of the deal to the American people.  The hope is that the deal can be stopped.

According to some sources, Obama, for his part, now plans a charm offensive: he will invite Netanyahu to the White House, offer arms, etc., in an attempt to sway Netanyahu to accept the deal without campaigning against.  Make it worth Israel’s while, that is.

I do not expect this will work.

I’ve even read commentary that suggests that Netanyahu might secure guarantees from the US that if Iran attacked Israel, the U.S. would provide defense. Trust the U.S. to defend us?  Get real.

I will return to this diplomatic situation, as it plays out, several times over, I am certain.


Obama-Kerry’s JV Plan, Enhancing Iran’s Nuclear Destructiveness, within the USA

By: Arlen Williams
Gulag Bound


Netanyahu was right. This perverse deal would virtually guarantee Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

But as Jim Kouri’s Examiner.com article refers, it would also broaden their range, including their ability to plant bombs in the United States of America.

How much more evidence is necessary, to recognize Barack Hussein Obama II as the mass saboteur of the United States of America that he is? Just another hint: throughout these negotiations and now, apparently four innocent American citizens are imprisoned in Iran.

God shall protect Israel. If the USA does not cooperate, but opposes what He chooses to do with His Chosen Nation, even to become an enabler of its earthly enemies, will He protect America?

Obama-Iran nuke deal a ‘junior varsity’ foreign policy that’s childlike: Critics



A Lethal Farce

Arlene from Israel

For days, I have delayed writing because the situation regarding negotiations with Iran has been so much in flux.  I was waiting, waiting, for some outcome or closure.  My own feeling for some time has been that there is the possibility that there will be no deal, as the Iranians in the end might balk at signing.

No deal would be the best we might hope for now. Great damage has already been done.  But at least this way, Obama’s insanity would be exposed and he wouldn’t be able to claim “victory.”  And then, if/when Israel were to attack Iran, there would be no charge that an agreement that would have brought “peace” had been sabotaged.

In truth, the Iranians pretty much have what they want already – insofar as much sanction relief has been provided upfront, European nations are clamoring to trade, and the international community has conceded the Iranian “right” to operate centrifuges.  Why mess things up by signing an agreement that calls for inspections, however limited, or other controls?


The problem, of course, is that, while Iran hasn’t come to terms with signing, neither have the mullahs said negotiations were at an end.  They have been willing to play the game, on and on and on, all the while advancing their nuclear agenda.

While the American administration – in spite of Kerry’s feeble claims that he wouldn’t stay at the table forever – has been reluctant to be identified as the party that called an end to proceedings. Then, of course, the Iranians would charge that it was the US that was refusing to cooperate on a deal.

Thus have the negotiations gone past one deadline after another.  I came to refer to this process, in my own head, as “faux negotiations.” These are not legitimate negotiations, for there is no real give-and-take.


This is how journalist Daniel Greenfield described the situation in “Obama’s Infinite Nuclear Deadlines for Iran” (emphasis added):

“’We are certainly not going to sit at the negotiating table forever,’ John Kerry said. That was last year around the time of the final deadline which had been extended from July 2014.

“’New ideas surfaced’ in the final days, he claimed and ‘we would be fools to walk away.’ That’s also the theme of every sucker caught in a rigged card game, MLM scheme and Nigerian prince letter scam.

Smart people walk away after getting cheated. Only fools stay.

“The final deadline was extended to March. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in March that, ‘I think it’s fair to say that we’ve reached our limit, right now, in as far as the conversations have been going on for more than a year.’

“The March deadline was extended until the end of June.

“Earnest said earnestly that the Obama Squad was ready to walk away even before June 30. An official claimed, ‘No one is talking about a long-term extension. No one.’

“The Iranians had a good laugh and sent the US negotiators out to fetch them some coffee and smokes.


“…But Kerry was almost coherent compared to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who stated that, ‘We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. This does not mean we are extending our deadline.’

“When you don’t treat a deadline as final, that means it’s being extended. A deadline that isn’t kept, isn’t a deadline. It’s an ex-deadline pining for the peaceful Iranian fjords.

“But Federica explained that the deadlines weren’t being extended, they were being ‘interpreted… in a flexible way.’ A flexible deadline is a good metaphor for the Obama negotiating posture.

If the negotiators can’t even make one of many deadlines stick, who really believes they’ll stand their ground on nuclear inspections or sanctions snapback?

“…Obama’s people have admitted that they will negotiate until doomsday. And doomsday is likely to be the date that Iran detonates its first bomb.

“…The deadline concession officially puts Iran in the driver’s seat.”



And so… yesterday it was announced that a deal was very imminent and would likely be announced on Monday. (Monday midnight – tonight – is the latest deadline.) Hearts sank, stomachs clenched, at this possibility.

But here it is, Monday evening, and still no deal.  AP, reporting this afternoon, says a deal is still elusive (emphasis added):

Disputes over attempts to probe Tehran’s alleged work on nuclear weapons unexpectedly persisted at Iran nuclear talks on Monday, diplomats said, threatening plans to wrap up a deal by midnight

“The diplomats said two other issues still needed final agreement — Iran’s demand for a lifting of a U.N. arms embargo and its insistence that any U.N. Security Council resolution approving the nuclear deal be written in a way that stops describing Iran’s nuclear activities as illegal…”



The UN arms embargo has to do with conventional weaponry and impinges directly on Iranian plans for hegemony in the region.  But it has implications even beyond this.  As Andrew Bowen writes, in “Give the Mullahs Ballistic Missiles?” (emphasis added):

Ending an arms embargo on Iran will only destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. national security

“Advocates of this policy have three main arguments.

“First, that the U.S. shouldn’t get preoccupied by this small snag…

“Second, Washington’s concessions on the embargo aren’t a big deal because these negotiations are focused on Iran’s nuclear program…

Finally, there’s a claim that Iran simply needs advanced weapons to help defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria….

“Matthew McInnis, a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former senior expert on Iran at the CENTCOM, argues, ‘these are all red herrings. They distract from Iran’s real threat to U.S. national security interests: an unfettered Iranian armed forces’

It is one of the great ironies with this potential deal that in trying to constrain Iran’s nuclear program for ten to 15 years, we may actually help create an Iranian military that puts the lives of American sailors, soldiers, and airmen at serious risk.”



Omri Ceren’s observations on this:

“…it just doesn’t seem possible that the Americans can give ground on this. What’s the sales pitch to Congress going to be? ‘Not only are we giving Iran $150 billion to bolster its military, but we’re also lifting arms restrictions to make it easier for them to buy next-generation cruise missiles they’ll use against the U.S. military and our allies.’

“…yes of course lifting the arms embargo would detonate American national security

“…If Kerry agrees to drop the arms embargo, it’s difficult to see Congress accepting the agreement. If Kerry gets the Iranians to give up on the demand, Congress will want to know what he had to trade away to do it.”

But (see below), Khameini is saying all his red lines have to be met, if there is to be an agreement.  If the Americans cannot accept it, is this a genuine sticking point? Or, if they do, the kiss of death in Congress?

Whatever the case, it is imperative that all Americans be aware of what is going on here, and hold Congress accountable.


Perhaps by midnight tonight there will be a deal.  But do not count on it. There is talk of extending negotiations into Tuesday. In fact, there are reports that hotel rooms have been booked again in Vienna by the US delegation.

While Iranian media outlet PressTV cites Iran’s nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi (emphasis added):

“…certain issues still remain. As long as these issues are not settled, one cannot say we have reached an agreement. I cannot promise that the issues will be resolved by tonight or tomorrow night.”



If there is a deal, it will be the stuff of nightmares, beyond horrific.

Yesterday we saw photos of the overwhelming crowds in the streets of Tehran, waiting to celebrate the agreement.  Horrendous.

Aerial view of Tehran

Credit: Reuters

Hey folks, if the Iranians are that pleased, something is very very wrong.

According to the semi-official news agency Fars, the anticipated agreement complies with all the “red lines” set out by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Khamenei had put forth these “red lines” last month, in talks with Iranian president Rouhani.


Providing a somewhat different take, a Khamenei advisor, going by the name Velayati, has tweeted that: “Any deal in Vienna will be provisional, subject to approval by ‘Supreme Guide.’”

Iran's supreme leader and pivotal political figure has used a vast financial empire to secure his power, according to an investigation.

Credit: AFP


Also a signal of something very wrong is the readiness of the Obama administration to continue negotiations even as Khamenei calls for a continuing struggle with the US – which he refers to as an “arrogant power” – regardless of what deal is signed.


Last Friday, in Tehran, “Al Quds Day” was observed by crowds of tens of thousands shouting, “Down with America,” “Death to Israel.”

Iranian protesters mark 'Al-Quds Day' in Tehran, July 10, 2015.

Credit: AP

Not even the specter of a burning American flag prompted Obama or Kerry to protest, or gave them pause regarding the wisdom of the negotiations.


Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear again and again that Israel will not be bound by a bad deal with Iran.  Yesterday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, he showed a video of President Clinton, in which he praised a nuclear deal with North Korea, which would make the world safer.  We all know how that turned out.



In an interview with The Times of Israel yesterday, Dr. Dore Gold, who is currently serving as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, let it be known that (emphasis added):

“Israel won’t be shy about making its views on the Iran deal heard on Capitol Hill…While Israel needs to express its concerns with civility, he stressed, the government is gearing up to firmly advocate its position in discussions with all the relevant players in the US government. ‘We’ll do it respectfully, but we have to tell the truth,’ he said.”

Reports The Times:

“According to other Israeli diplomats, never before has a Foreign Ministry director-general been as close to the prime minister as Gold is to Benjamin Netanyahu, who also happens to be serving as interim foreign minister. Unlike his predecessors, Gold, who immigrated to Israel in 1980, can pick up the phone and call Netanyahu at any time. It is quite clearly Gold, rather than Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is calling the shots in Israel’s diplomacy, these diplomats say, acting as Netanyahu’s trusted emissary.”

’The story of Iran’s nuclear capability is not over,” said Gold, the author of a 2009 book on the Iranian regime’s bid for the bomb.

“…he hailed Netanyahu, whom he has advised since the mid-90s, as the courageous defender of the entire region, single-handedly bearing the burden of opposition to a deal that all Sunni states loathe but don’t dare to publicly criticize.

“’They can afford a strategy of silence when there is one player in the region who is defending not just itself but the entire Middle East,’ Gold said. ‘When Prime Minister Netanyahu stands up and attacks Iran, he’s not just defending Israel. He’s defending Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and all the other Sunni countries.’”



Gold’s role here is important not only because of his close relationship with Netanyahu.  It is also because he carries a certain prestige as an academic, author and diplomat.

Dr. Dore Gold

Credit: Flash 90

In truth, we do not yet know how this will play out.


Never Easy

Arlene from Israel

But we might wish it were not quite so difficult.

We begin with the report on the Gaza war of 2014 prepared by the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry (COI), which was headed by Mary McGowan Davis.  It was released yesterday, and while not as flagrantly outrageous as the Goldstone report had been, it is very bad in several respects.

What is outrageously off the mark is its reach for even-handed moral equivalency:

“The commission was able to gather substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and Palestinian armed groups.  In some cases, these violations may amount to war crimes.” (emphasis added)



And please consider this, which is jaw-dropping (emphasis added):

“The United Nations Human Rights Council report on the 50-day Gaza conflict said there was no indication Hamas’s cross-border tunnels were constructed to attack Israeli civilians, since the terror group exclusively targeted ‘legitimate’ Israel Defense Forces positions during the summer war.

“The commission, headed by American jurist Mary McGowan Davis, said that the network of tunnels reaching into Israel did not conclusively prove a threat to Gaza border communities and were used legitimately.

’The commission cannot conclusively determine the intent of Palestinian armed groups with regard to the construction and use of these tunnels,’ the report said. ‘However, the commission observes that during the period under examination, the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.’

As I recall, a tunnel was found dug adjacent to a kindergarten in a community in the south – which made the blood of many of us run cold.  And the commission cannot determine the intent of Hamas???

“In October 2014, the IDF confirmed a report in Vanity Fair that Hamas had planned to carry out a massive assault by penetrating Israeli communities via tunnels under the border from the Gaza Strip, and then killing or kidnapping as many civilians as possible.

IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner said the terror group planned to use the tunnels to attack civilian areas in Israel and ‘inflict mass casualties.

“’Hamas had a plan,’ Lerner added. ‘A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel.’”



The response by the Israeli Foreign Ministry:

“It is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound difference between Israel’s moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted. This report was commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.” (Emphasis added)

Our prime minister noted that (emphasis added):

Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and which has perpetrated many war crimes. Any country that wants to live would have acted this way… We will continue to take strong and determined action against all those who try to attack us and our citizens, and we will do so in accordance with international law.”

The UN Human Rights Council, charged Netanyahu, has a “singular obsession with Israel.
It has passed more resolutions against Israel than…against all the countries of the world combined.

So Israel treats this report as flawed and biased and urges all fair-minded observers to do the same.”


NGO-Monitor has released a preliminary response to the report (emphasis added):

“[The Report] quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although these groups lack credibility and do not employ professional fact-finding standards, the COI repeated the NGOs’ unverifiable factual claims and allegations of Israeli ‘war crimes.’

European government funding enables these NGOs, as does funding from private foundations such as the New Israel Fund (NIF). Without the financial support and public backing from their donors, these fringe advocacy organizations would not have a platform to disseminate their propaganda.

“An initial review of [the report] shows that the unverified claims of NGOs were referenced, cited, and quoted at a high volume, in contrast to accepted international fact-finding standards…”



We will, undoubtedly, be returning to this subject.  Especially as the next stop may be the international courts.


Then we have the situation with the Druze, which has now become even more complex and problematic than it had been.

Last night, an IDF ambulance in the Golan transporting two wounded Syrian soldiers to a medical facility in the north for treatment was stormed by some 150 Druze, who pelted the ambulance and managed to get inside.  One of the injured Syrians was left in critical condition and required surgery. The other died on the way to the hospital. Two IDF soldiers were lightly injured as well.

Credit: Yeshiva World News


Prime Minister Netanyahu was very clear on this: “We will not let [residents] interfere with IDF soldiers’ duty to carry out their missions.”

While IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot declared, “It’s inconceivable that IDF soldiers and [Syrian] wounded are attacked by Israeli citizens.”

Inconceivable, but it happened.  General Eisenkot has called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.



Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, religious leader of the Druze community in Israel, lamented that, “This is not our way, and we are hurting over the criminal act done by lawbreakers, and call on authorities to act.”  He will be calling a meeting of Druze leadership to discuss the matter.

This attack was actually the second of its kind in 24 hours, although the earlier attack had less serious consequences.



The charge by the Druze is that Israel is treating and sheltering jihadis from the Nusra Front who threaten their fellow Druze inside of Syria.

IDF spokesman Motti Almoz said Israel “has not provided aid to the Nusra Front over the past four years, since the civil war in Syria began…

“We help wounded Syrians who arrive at our border and give them medical treatment.”



A bit of background on the Druze situation:  Druze policy (or ideology, perhaps) requires them to be loyal to the authority of the area in which they live.  Most of the Druze inside of Israel are loyal Israelis and deeply Zionistic; many serve in the IDF.  There is, for example, Col. Rasan Alian (below), first Druze commander of the Golani Brigades. After being seriously wounded last year, he could not wait to get back to his men.

Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90

And MK (Likud) Ayoub Kara, who boasts that he is more Zionist than the Jews.

Some in the Golan, however, express ambivalence.  Before Israel took the Golan in 1967, they were loyal to Assad, and those still in Syria have remained so.  Some on the border, on the Israeli side, are fearful that Israel might yet relinquish the Golan, and so have been uneasy about assuming Israeli citizenship; they are tacitly loyal to Assad.


Yesterday I spoke with one of my key analysts – an Arab speaking Israeli journalist with significant knowledge of what is going on in the Arab world.  It is his opinion that Israel absolutely should not get involved inside of Syria in order to protect the Druze.  What Israel should do, he says, is provide them with the weaponry that will allow them to defend themselves.

If Assad goes, they will find it near impossible to shift loyalty to jihadis, even if they should wish to do so, he tells me. For these extremists would demand they follow their Islamic line. (The Druze religion is syncretic and not shared  readily with outsiders.)  By default, Druze loyalties would become pro-Israel, he predicts.

As to Israel providing a safe zone in Syria, at the Golan border, he points out with some logic that a good part of Syria would run to be in that safe zone, not just Druze, and Israel would be left with an untenable situation.  Israel should thus not rush to institute such a zone now, he believes, but rather consider doing it slowly and judiciously, and with Jordanian cooperation.


Speaking of loyalty: how about on the part of all those in the Knesset?

Israel is facing the possibility of another flotilla incident.  Like we need this now.  In May, a trawler, the Marianne of Gothenburg, carrying a small crew, left from Sweden – the first in what is said to be a flotilla in formation. It has been stopping at a number of ports before heading for Gaza, and at some point is supposed to be joined by three or four other ships.

Credit: demotix

Overtly declaring intention of trying to break Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza (a fully legal blockade); the organizers of the flotilla are seeking as much international press attention as they can garner.  They may be carrying some minimal supplies (ostensibly solar panels and medical supplies), but I think they have more or less abandoned the charade that their action is about bringing “humanitarian assistance” to the people of Gaza.  (Note: large quantities of humanitarian aid and other supplies enter Gaza from Israel routinely via land crossing points.)

Said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon, “if the so-called helpful Gaza flotillas were really interested in the welfare of the population in Gaza, they would send their aid via Israel. The fact that they insist on a flotilla demonstrates this is an unnecessary provocation.”

Israel has already declared unequivocally that the boats of this flotilla will not be permitted to enter the territorial waters outside of Gaza: “The navy intends to treat the ships [of this flotilla] just as it would any vessel that tries to enter Israel’s territorial waters without authorization.”



While understanding that other methods may be necessary, Israel is attempting to use diplomatic channels to stop the flotilla.

And the Israeli NGO Shurat Hadin -The Israel Law Center is approaching the issue in its own fashion.  On Sunday Shurat Hadin’s president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, sent a warning letter demanding that the Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB) “cease providing financial services” to the groups Free Gaza and Ships to Gaza, which are “helping to arrange a flotilla to breach Israel’s lawful naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.”  The letter noted that “SEB holds a maritime lien on the Marianne av Göteborg, the lead ship in the planned Gaza flotilla.”

That flotilla ship, continued the letter, “might be destroyed or confiscated” by the IDF and warned that the Stockholm-based bank “is at serious risk of losing its collateral: The boat.”

Such tactics have worked in the past.


What has caused a furor here in Israel is the announced intention of Arab MK (Balad) Basel Ghattas to join the flotilla. I believe the vessel is now docked in Palermo and will be moving on to Athens, and then heading towards the Gaza coast in just days.

Ghattas declared that those on board, including several others who are going to join him, will not be carrying weapons. But, “If the IDF wants to kill, then shoot.” As if the IDF routinely shoots unarmed persons.  False bravado – words he wouldn’t dare utter to an authority that does shoot.

Any action to take over the vessel, warned Ghattas, would “complicate Israel with another international crisis.”

There are furious charges from members of the Knesset that Ghattas is a traitor and provocateur, along with demands that his Knesset immunity be lifted and that he be otherwise investigated.

What is happening here with Ghattas is a problem we have faced on several occasions, regarding Arab MKs who are not loyal to Israel and eager to utilize Israeli democracy to weaken our state.


And good news, which is so badly needed:

“Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute reported the results of their Personalized Nutrition Project.  They discovered that bacteria in the stomach of different people reacts differently to the same food.  Some even lost weight from ice cream and buttered bread.”


“There is no sign of the Palestinian Authority’s BDS policy in Bethlehem.  During Kay Wilson’s visit, she saw plenty of Israeli products in the supermarkets. She saw some Arabs driving cars that the rest of us could only dream of.  Kay’s Facebook post went viral.”

Seems Abbas is eager to promote BDS in order to weaken Israel, but not so eager so that he deprives Palestinian Arabs of Israeli products they seek.

“An Israeli-developed smart flight helmet will detect emergency situations in which pilots are about to lose consciousness, and take control of the plane in order to prevent disasters.  Tel Aviv’s Lifebeam developed the Cannary system with sensors measuring the pilot’s vital signs.”



The Ups and Downs

Arlene from Israel

Lots of “downs,” for sure, but we have to also seek out the “ups” wherever we can find them.


American-born Michael Oren – historian, immediate past Israeli ambassador to the US, newly elected MK in the Kulanu party, – has surprised me, and a whole lot of other people as well. He was always a very middle of the road, “two-state” advocate, and someone who has seemed to be an “establishment” type. I would not – could not! – have predicted the critique of Obama he has now produced.

Credit: Bloomberg


Oren has written a book – Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide, which will be released June 23 – and a major article in the WSJ, in which he discusses Obama’s attitude towards Israel with startling candidness.

John Podhoretz wrote about the book thus (emphasis added):

“It’s an ultimate insider’s story told while all the players save Oren are still in place…

“It’s not that there’s lots of breaking news in ‘Ally’ that will startle people. Rather, it makes news on almost every page with its incredibly detailed account of the root hostility of the Obama administration toward the Jewish state…

“On major matters, the administration seemed to hold Israel accountable for problems it had nothing to do with…

“Oren also writes about bizarrely petty offenses. In 2010, Obama left Israel off a list of countries he mentioned as having helped in the wake of the Haiti earthquake when it was the first nation in the world to dispatch relief teams and get them to the disaster sites — because the president was angry about something having to do with the peace process…”



In his Wall Street Journal piece, written this week, Oren writes (emphasis added):

“’Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.’ When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility—President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—for the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations.

“I never felt like I was lying when I said it. But, in truth, while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately

“From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.

The first principle was ‘no daylight’…immediately after his first inauguration, Mr. Obama put daylight between Israel and America.

“’When there is no daylight,’ the president told American Jewish leaders in 2009, ‘Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs’…

The other core principle was ‘no surprises’

“Israeli leaders typically received advance copies of major American policy statements on the Middle East and could submit their comments. But Mr. Obama delivered his Cairo speech, with its unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, without consulting Israel.

“Similarly, in May 2011, the president altered 40 years of U.S. policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps—formerly the Palestinian position—as the basis for peace-making. If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen.”



Obama’s inherent hostility towards Israel will come as news to very few of us.  It is a very “down” side of what we must contend with today.

The “up” aspect is Oren’s willingness to catalogue his experience publicly, and point an appropriate finger.  More routinely, there is an inclination to diplomatically paper-over problems between nations, especially nations that are supposed to be the closest of allies.  One can only guess at the level of distress and frustration Oren coped with during the years he served as ambassador.

What is more, I see it as part of the “up” side that Prime Minister Netanyahu is refusing to comment or criticize Oren or apologize on behalf of Israel.  Netanyahu has had to swallow a whole lot of fury with regard to Obama’s treatment over the years.  Surely, he must feel vindicated at some level now, although he cannot give overt expression to this vindication.  Let us hope he continues to stand strong.



It goes without saying that the response of the Obama administration to Oren’s revelations has been angry and indignant.  That angry indignation was expressed here in Israel by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, who has been pressuring Netanyahu to apologize.  All the more credit to Bibi that he is not responding to this pressure.

The one who did back down is Moshe Kahlon, head of the Kulanu party, to which Oren belongs.  He says that Oren does not speak for his party.

According to the article I cite above, Gilad Erdan, Minister of Internal Security, has written something criticizing Oren, as well. That disappointed me.


An item of importance to mention here, and a real downer:

Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP

A famous Catholic church – the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish – in Tagbah, near the Kinneret, suffered a serious fire on Thursday.  Arson is being assumed because of the nature of the fire, and an investigation is in process.

I want first to condemn this act of arson in the strongest terms. This is not only wrong morally in and of itself; it tears the fabric of Israeli society and damages the name of Israel – which prides herself on being a place where there is freedom of worship for all.  I would like my Christian readers especially to know how abhorrent Israelis find this behavior.

Netanyahu said: “There is no room for hate or intolerance in our society.”

Chief Rabbi David Lau declared that the attack “contradicts Jewish values and human morality.”

At the same time, I caution just a bit of patience, as the investigation proceeds.  Perhaps, as is being charged in some quarters, ultra-religious young Jews are responsible for this.  But we do not know this yet.  I have memories of other times that the assumption was made, in the face of religious desecration of one sort or another, that it was Jews who did it – when it later turned out that others were responsible but had attempted to make it appear that it was an act of Jewish extremists.

A group of young Jews was questioned, but then released quickly because there was no evidence that they were involved  Fervently I hope it was not Jews who did this, but I am prepared to accept the verdict that it was, if that is what is determined in the end, and to fully condemn those responsible.

What everyone needs to know is that the investigation will be serious.


Time grows short, and so I simply say, Shabbat Shalom.