Monday, March 2, 2015
(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday of being obsessed by allegations of Israeli abuses and said the United States would defend Israel against efforts to isolate it.
In a speech to the Council in Geneva, Kerry also exhorted the 47-member-state group to look into what he described as severe abuses in separatist-controlled areas of easternUkraine as well as in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year.
He also condemned North Korea's human rights record as "appalling" and said tens of thousands of people there lived "as virtual slaves". Kerry added, "There is no freedom of expression, worship or political dissent.
"Kim Jong-un executes those who disagree with him, purging his country of anyone he knows, or imagines, to be disloyal. For decades the government has subjugated its citizens, starving and torturing and incarcerating them or worse."
Kerry offered a strong defense of Israel against what he called the council's unbalanced focus on the country.
"It must be said that the HRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization," Kerry said.
"The United States will measure these things, I hope, fairly and dispassionately but we will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly de-legitimize or isolate Israel."
Former Canadian Minister John Baird: ‘Just About Every Single Arab Country’ Shares Israel’s Concerns About Iran
Former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird spoke at the 2015 AIPAC Conference about the broad concern in the Middle East regarding Iran's nuclear program. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird saidthat almost all Arab countries in the Middle East share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. His remarks were made in an address at the 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC.
“I used to view Iran’s nuclear program almost exclusively through the lens of Israel but over the past four years, I can tell you, just about every single Arab country in the Middle East shares the exact same concern that we all share,” he said. “And that’s why it’s so important that we work in partnership.”
“When a regime undertakes a nuclear program and they have been so crystal clear about their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, we’ve got to take that incredibly seriously,” he added. “I am tremendously concerned, obviously, about Iran. It is, in my judgement, the biggest threat to international peace and security in the world.”
Baird asserted that the last thing the world needs is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. He was joined on stage by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who said the Islamic Republic and its nuclear program continues to be an “existential threat not only for Israel but for all of us.”
Contrary to what liberals would like the country to believe, not all African Americans are on the side of Barack Obama.
A group of well-respected black pastors just made that very clear, and strongly criticized the president and the Congressional Black Caucus for snubbing Israeli leaderBenjamin Netanyahu.
The CBC claims to represent all black members of Congress, although it is almost exclusively a liberal organization.
Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus recently announced that they would boycott Netanyahu’s important speech in Washington, based on the strange claim that disagreeing with Barack Obama on Middle Eastern policy is somehow racist or disrespectful.
However, famous black pastors are now teaming up to let the CBC know that they do not speak for all African Americans.
Sponsored by RevContent
“The thing to me that makes no sense is why the Congressional Black Caucus has teamed up with this current administration against Israel,” said Pastor Dexter D. Sanders of the Rock Center for Transformation in Orlando, Florida.
“And yes, black caucus, I’m saying you have gone against Israel when you decide to protest the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from coming and speaking on the behalf of the nation of Israel,” Mr. Sanders said.
“That is a slap in the face to the people of Israel, and not only that, it’s a slap in the face to God. And not only that, it’s also a slap in the face of all Bible-believing African-American people in this country,” he continued.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was officially invited by Speak of the House John Boehner, and is expected to voice his concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. That program could potentially threaten America’s allies in Israel and around the world.
However, the Congressional Black Caucus has claimed that Netanyahu’s appearance somehow violates “protocol” — a stance that conservatives have called absurd.
“Charges from some members of the United States Congress about the breaking of protocol are no more than a very red herring,” said Pastor Cecil Blye. “The American people need to hear Israel’s voice on this urgent matter now. If one side of the aisle can facilitate this, so be it.”
Other prominent black pastors agreed. “Israel knows and understands Iran better than the rest of the world. This is not the time to involve ourselves in petty political maneuvering designed to embarrass our friend,” said Pastor Stephen Broden of the Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas.
Pastor Harvey Burnett was another black leader who had very strong words about the Congressional Black Caucus’s actions.
“I find it deplorable that some of our nation’s political leaders would contemplate and even encourage a boycott or a walk-out during the visit of the Israeli prime minister,” he said.
“I find it deplorable that some of our nation’s black leaders would call the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members were elected by the public, to snub our greatest ally in the war against terrorists,” continued Pastor Burnett. (H/T: Washington Times)
It’s about time that leaders such as these pastors stepped up and called out liberals on this issue.
Israel has been one of America’s closest friends for as long as it has existed — and whether or not Barack Obama likes it, we have a responsibility to at least listen when its Prime Minister asks for our help.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address morning to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) seemed a curious addition to his visit, a kind of undercard bout before the main event. It turned out to be one of his best speeches ever, the perfect setup for his address to a special joint session of Congress . The 34 Democrats who are boycotting the address are likely feeling that they made the wrong decisions. Here are 5 reasons why.
Full transcript of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the March 2nd, 2015, AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC.
“Thank you. Wow, 16,000 people. Anyone here from California? Florida? New York?
Well, these are the easy ones. How about Colorado? Indiana? I think I got it. Montana? Texas?
You’re here in record numbers. You’re here from coast to coast,from every part of this great land. And you’re here at a critical time. You’re here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli-U.S. relations are not only premature, they’re just wrong.
You’re here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever.
And because of you, and millions like you, across this great country, it’s going to get even stronger in the coming years.
Thank you Bob Cohen, Michael Kassen, Howard Kohr and all the leadership of AIPAC. Thank youfor your tireless, dedicated work to strengthen the partnership between Israel and the United States.
I want to thank,most especially, Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans. I deeply appreciate your steadfast support for Israel, year in, year out. You have our boundless gratitude.
I want to welcome President Zeman of the Czech Republic.Mr. President, Israel never forgets its friends. And the Czech people have always been steadfast friends of Israel, the Jewish people, from the days of Thomas Masaryk at the inception of Zionism.
You know, Mr. President, when I entered the Israeli army in 1967, I received a Czech rifle.That was one of the rifles that was given to us by your people in our time of need in 1948. So thank you for being here today.
Also here are two great friends of Israel, former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznarand as of last month, former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.Thank you both for your unwavering support. You are true champions of Israel, and you are, too, champions of the truth.
I also want to recognize the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, for your genuine friendship, Dan,and for the great job you’re doing representing the United States and the State of Israel.
And I want to recognize the two Rons. I want to thank Ambassador Ron Prosor for the exemplary job he’s doing at the U.N. in a very difficult forum.
And I want to recognize the other Ron, a man who knows how to take the heat, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.Ron, I couldn’t be prouder to have you representing Israel in Washington.
And finally, I want to recognize my wife, Sara, whose courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration to me.Sara divides her time as a child psychologist, as a loving mother, and her public duties as the wife of the prime minister.Sara, I’m so proud to have you here with me today, to have you with me at my side always.
My friends, I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital.
And I also bring to you news that you may not have heard. You see, I’ll be speaking in Congress.
You know, never has so much been written about a speech that hasn’t been given.And I’m not going to speak today about the content of that speech, but I do want to say a few words about the purpose of that speech.
First, let me clarify what is not the purpose of that speech. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both.
I deeply appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,security cooperation, intelligence sharing, support at the U.N., and much more, some things that I, as prime minister of Israel, cannot even divulge to you because it remains in the realm of the confidences that are kept between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.I am deeply grateful for this support, and so should you be.
My speech is also not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate. An important reason why our alliance has grown stronger decade after decade is that it has been championed by both parties and so it must remain.
Both Democratic and Republican presidents have worked together with friends from both sides of the aisle in Congress to strengthen Israel and our alliance between our two countries, and working together, they have provided Israel with generous military assistance and missile defense spending. We’ve seen how important that is just last summer.
Working together, they’ve made Israel the first free trade partner of America 30 years ago and its first official strategic partner last year.
They’ve backed Israel in defending itself at war and in our efforts to achieve a durable peace with our neighbors. Working together has made Israel stronger; working together has made our alliance stronger.
And that’s why the last thing that anyone who cares about Israel,the last thing that I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue. And I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that. Israel has always been a bipartisan issue.
Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of my address to Congressis to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel. Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Look at that graph. Look at that map. And you see on the wall, it shows Iran training, arming,dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.
And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.
And as prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there’s still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak on our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves.
Well, no more, no more.
The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over.Today in our sovereign state of Israel, we defend ourselves. And being able to defend ourselves, we ally with others, most importantly, the United States of America, to defend our common civilization against common threats.
In our part of the world and increasingly, in every part of the world, no one makes alliances with the weak. You seek out those who have strength, those who have resolve, those who have the determination to fight for themselves. That’s how alliances are formed.
So we defend ourselves and in so doing, create the basis of a broader alliance.
And today, we are no longer silent; today, we have a voice.And, as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state, I plan to use that voice.
I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that’s devouring country after country in the Middle East, that’s exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States agree that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but we disagree on the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons.
Now disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time, even among the closest of allies. Because they’re important differences between America and Israel.
The United States of America is a large country,one of the largest. Israel is a small country, one of the smallest.
America lives in one of the world’s safest neighborhoods. Israel lives in the world’s most dangerous neighborhood. America is the strongest power in the world. Israel is strong, but it’s much more vulnerable. American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country.
You knowI think that encapsulates the difference. I’ve been prime minister of Israel for nine years. There’s not a single day, not one daythat I didn’t think about the survival of my country and the actions that I take to ensure that survival, not one day.
And because of these differences, America and Israel have had some serious disagreements over the course of our nearly 70-year-old friendship.
Now, it started with the beginning. In 1948, Secretary of State Marshall opposed David Ben-Gurion’s intention to declare statehood.That’s an understatement. He vehemently opposed it. But Ben-Gurion,understanding what was at stake, went ahead and declared Israel’s independence.
In 1967, as an Arab noose was tightening around Israel’s neck,the United States warned Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that if Israel acted alone, it would be alone. But Israel did act — acted alone to defend itself.
In 1981, under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin,Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor at Osirak. The United States criticized Israel and suspended arms transfers for three months. And in 2002, after the worst wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel’s history, Prime Minister Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield. The United States demanded that Israel withdraw its troops immediately, but Sharon continued until the operation was completed.
There’sa reason I mention all these. I mention them to make a point. Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade.
And our friendship will weather the current disagreement, as well, to grow even stronger in the future.And I’ll tell you why; because we share the same dreams. Because we pray and hope and aspire for that same better world; because the values that unite us are much stronger than the differences that divide usvalues like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance,compassion.
As our region descends into medieval barbarism, Israel is the one that upholds these values common to us and to you.
As Assad drops bell bombs on his own people, Israeli doctors treat his victims in our hospitals right across the fence in the Golan Heights.
As Christians in the Middle East are beheaded and their ancient communities are decimated, Israel’s Christian community is growing and thriving, the only one such community in the Middle East.
As women in the region are repressed, enslaved, and raped, women in Israel serve as chief justices, CEOs, fighter pilots, two women chief justices in a row.Well, not in a row, but in succession. That’s pretty good.
In a dark, and savage, and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of humanity, of light, and of hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We’re like a family. We’re practically mishpocha.
Now, disagreements in the family are always uncomfortable, but we must always remember that we are family.
Rooted in a common heritage, upholding common values, sharing a common destiny. And that’s the message I came to tell you today. Our alliance is sound. Our friendship is strong. And with your efforts it will get even stronger in the years to come.
Thank you, AIPAC. Thank you, America. God bless you all.”
Power Tells AIPAC 'US Support of Israel Transcends Politics' -- US Ambassador to UN talks about Holocaust, 'ugly' attacks on modern Israel, and the ties between the Jewish state and United States.
Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), addressed the AIPAC conference on Monday, where she spoke about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in which Jews fought back against the genocidal Nazi war machine during the Holocaust, linking those events with the challenges Israel faces today.
Ambassador Power began by speaking about Jan Karsky, who infiltrated the Warsaw Ghetto and later a death camp to smuggle out information about the scope of the genocide.
Transferring to the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel, she added "for generations Jews had dreamed of being a free nation in their own land, eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel)."
The Holocaust gave the dream "greater urgency," said Power, adding that it also was a great impetus for the creation of the UN.
"Of course the story about the creation of Israel...is about much more than the Holocaust," said Power, noting it is based on the yearning to return to Israel by Jews over thousands of years.
"Attacks on the legitimacy of Israel are biased and they are ugly, and the United States of America will not rest until they stop," she pledged.
"You may have heard of tension in the relations between the United States and Israel," Power, saying there is a difference between politics and policy, with the US support of Israel transcending politics. "This partnership never should be politicized, and it cannot and will not be tarnished or broken."
She spoke about the necessity of debating policy to reach joint goals, but criticized politicizing that process.
"The United States of America will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon period," Power emphasized, noting this is a shared goal with Israel and the foundation of the US's policy.
While touting diplomacy as a means to stop Iran's nuclear program, she noted America is prepared to take any steps to stopping a nuclear Iran, vowing "there will never be a sunset on America's commitment to Israel's security."
Reviewing the rising signs of anti-Semitism worldwide, including the lethal terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, she noted the rising tide of anti-Semitism not only threatens Jews but also the liberal nature of Europe.
Fighting anti-Israel bias at the UN
Power then noted on the UN resolution condemning Zionism as "racism," recalling how together with Canada and other nations the US has worked to hold conferences on anti-Semitism in the UN.
"When 18 biased resolutions were proposed against Israel at the UN Generallast September as they are every fall, we opposed every one of them," Power said, listing off various steps the US has taken at the UN to counter biased resolutions against Israel.
She added that at the UN Security Council the US has acted vigorously to oppose measures taken against Israel's ability to defend itself.
"We stand ready as we always have" to hold peace talks along the "two state solution" paradigm dividing Israel toa Palestinian state, said Power, noting such an agreement would require "brave leadership and tough decisions."
"Israeli settlement activity damages the prospects for peace," opined Power, adding that Palestinian Authority (PA) unilateral acts against Israel at the(ICC) also do not help.
Power said "it is a false choice to tell Israel it has to choose between peace on the one hand and security on the other," saying the UN must not prevent Israel with such a choice.
Speaking about why the US supports Israel, she said "we believe in the values of pluralism, freedom and democracy that (Israel) represents," adding that the Jewishthe right to be in their own nation. She added that Israel is engaged in numerous humanitarian operations worldwide to improve the world, another reason the US supports the Jewish state.
Instead offrom the UN given the bias against Israel, she called to fix the problems and work through the UN framework to achieve the goals of Israel and the US.
Israel throughout it's history has been forced to overcome challenges on its very right to exist, noted Power, stressing America's "national commitment" to Israel and saying that commitment should never be a partisan matter.
PM Netanyahu Lists Times Israel Defied U.S. to Act in Self Defense 'Our friendship will weather the current disagreements' Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a portion of his AIPAC speech today to list the times when Israel has defied U.S. warnings to act in its self defense.
"America and Israel have had some serious disagreements over the course of our nearly 70-year-old friendship," said Netanyahu from the annual AIPAC policy conference. "That started with the beginning.
"In 1948, Secretary of State George Marshall opposed David Ben-Gurion's intention to declare statehood. That's an understatement -- he vehemently opposed it. But, Ben-Gurion, understanding what was at stake, went ahead and declared Israel's independence. In 1967, as an Arab noose was tightening around Israel's neck, the United States warned [the prime minister] that if Israel acted alone, it would be alone. But Israel did act --acted alone -- to defend itself. In 1981, under the leadership of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor at Osirak. The United States criticized Israel and suspended arms-transfers for three months. And in 2002, after the worst wave of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel's history, Prime Minister Sharon launched Operation Defensive Shield. The United States demanded that Israel withdraw its troops immediately but Sharon continued until the operation was completed.
"There's a reason I mention all of these. I mention them to make a point. Despite occasional disagreements, the friendship between America and Israel grew stronger and stronger, decade after decade. And our friendship will weather the current disagreements as well to grow even stronger in the future."