Report from AIPAC conference: “Bombshell” interview by Obama may create new strains in US-Israel relationship. Kerry & McCain set to address 14,000 activists today.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor Party) shared his vision of the future of Israel on Day 1 of the AIPAC Policy Conference.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor Party) shared his vision of the future of Israel on Day 1 of the AIPAC Policy Conference.

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — The big question today: Just how far is President Obama planning to go to pressure Israel to make painfully deep concessions in the Mideast peace process, even as he appears to ease up pressure on Iran to give up its bid for The Bomb?

Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain are scheduled to be the main keynote speakers on Day Two of the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, amidst a massive March snowstorm that has shut down the federal government, all area schools and many businesses. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will close the conference on Tuesday morning.

The President declined an invitation to speak at the largest event in AIPAC history, attended by more than 14,000 pro-Israel activists, mostly Jewish, but including hundreds of evangelical Christians.

Strained relations between the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration could become even more strained as the result of the interview the President gave to Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg that was published on Sunday.

“Until he read the breaking news of President Obama’s earth-shattering interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have anticipated that Monday’s meeting was going to be one of his less confrontational and unpleasant sessions of frank, allied diplomacy with his good friend Barack,” noted David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel. “But then came that bombshell Bloomberg battering. The timing could not have been any more deliberate — an assault on the prime minister’s policies delivered precisely as Netanyahu was flying in to meet with him, and on the first day, too, of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual tour de force conference across town. At the very least, that might be considered bad manners, poor diplomatic protocol, a resounding preemptive slap in the face: I’ve just told the world you’re leading your country to wrack and ruin, Mr. Prime Minister. Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”

I’ll be live Tweeting from the conference, which is set to begin at 9:30am eastern. You can follow by going to: @JoelCRosenberg.

Stopping Iran from building nuclear weapons and trying to understand what the Putin invasion of southern Ukraine — and President Obama’s hesitant response – means for the U.S.-Israel relationship were the dominant themes on Day One of the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Main speakers included U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, former Israeli Shin Bet director Avi Dichter, former Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor Party), who is waiting in the wings, hoping to emerge as Prime Minister should the Netanyahu government stumble.

There were excellent break out sessions, as well. The two I attended focused on the vital role the Kingdom of Jordan plays in the region, and the growing strains on the Kingdom, and the future of Russian policy towards in the Middle East, including what the crisis in Ukraine tells us about the leadership styles and character of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama and rapidly shifting international perceptions of Russia and the U.S. i

It’s important to note that AIPAC has been working on reaching out to Christian pastors and grassroots leaders in recent years. While they have a long way to go to tap the enormous depth and breadth of Christian support for Israel, and mobilize that support on behalf of their lobbying efforts, they are moving in the right direction. I attended a “Christian Leaders Outreach Dinner” five or six years ago that AIPAC sponsored, and I can report that this year’s dinner was much better attended and revealed a growing warmth between AIPAC’s Jewish leadership and the Christian activists, evidence of the fruit being born by the Christian outreach team.

Here are the Tweets I sent out Saturday and Sunday tracking the latest developments at the conference, and in the crisis in Ukraine:

Saturday Night

  • Great 2b @ Christian Outreach Dinner tonight @Aipac w/friends Will & Penny Nance & other pro-Israel Christian leaders
  • John Kerry condemns what he calls “the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory.” (CNN)
  • Crimea falls to Putin without a shot fired; will #Ukraine suffer same fate? (Haaretz)
  • Stephen Harper: We join our allies in condemning in the strongest terms Pres. Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine
  • Netanyahu: I will be flying tomorrow to the United States, to represent the citizens of Israel. Wishing you all a wonderful week
  • The Czar Strikes Back? Russian Armor in Crimea (National Review)

Sunday — before conference began

  • Breaking: Ukrainian prime minister: ‘We are on the brink of disaster’  (WSJ)
  • Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister says actions by Russian forces in Crimea “a declaration of war.” (CNN)
  • Fmr Brit Ambassador to Moscow says UK & US signed 1994 agreement to defend Ukraine in case of attack (UK Daily Mail)
  • Context: Poll last Nov found more Ukrainians favor EU pact (45%) than competing customs deal offered by Russia (15%).
  • Context: in Dec, Ukrainian support for EU deal was 37% vs. 33% for customs deal w/Russia. Country was deeply divided
  • Context: 75% of Ukrainians in Western part wanted to join EU, but East wanted to join deal w/Russia. Split coming?
  • Ukraine has some 200,000 Jews & long history of anti-Semitism. Fears growing as synagogue firebombed. Pray for safety

Sunday — conference begins — morning session

  • Israeli Arab Christian who runs hospital in Galilee sharing at @AIPAC about how his team cars for Syrian casualties of civil war.
  • Over 14,000 here for opening session of Policy Conference, including hundreds of evangelical Christians. Largest conf in @AIPAC history
  • Fmr. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Shin Bet Director Avi Dichter & Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) discussing Iran threat @ #aipac2014
  • Fmr Shin Bet Director Avi Dichter tells @Aipac if diplomacy doesn’t work Israel will have to “kill” Iran nuke program
  • @JoeLieberman tells @AIPAC there used to be 2 stable democracies in Mideast: Israel & Turkey. Now just Israel. Says Turkey going wrong way.
  • Sen @ChrisCoons, a Democrat, expresses concern that US credibility is in doubt in Mideast for declaring red line in Syria but doing nothing.
  • Sen. @ChrisCoons tells @AIPAC that Putin is moving aggressively in south Ukraine in part due to US showing weakness & indecision in Syria.
  • @avidichter warns @AIPAC participants that Israel must control Jordan Valley in case Jordan is one day controlled by Iran. (God forbid.)
  • @AIPAC leader Howard Kohr: we want negotiations w/Iran to work. But success is full dismantlement of capacity to enrich uranium & build Bomb
  • Only way to force Iran to give up path to Bomb is pressure–sanctions, isolation & credible threat of force–says @aipac leader Howard Kohr.
  • Pressure forced Iran to the negotiating table. Now is the time to ratchet up pressure on Iran, not ease up, says @AIPAC leader Howard Kohr.
  • In final morning talk, Howard Kohr asks 14,000 @aipac delegates to take msg of “more pressure” on Iran to 535 Members of Congress this week.
  • Some say “we’ll ramp pressure on Iran if talks fail,” but that will be too late says @AIPAC leader Howard Kohr. Congress must weigh in now.
  • Key to effectiveness on Israel & Iran issues is bipartisan support, say leaders here @AIPAC Conference. Must work w/leaders of both parties.
  • Embarking for US, Netanyahu says Israel will reject pressures (Times of Israel)
  • Kerry Warns Russia of Possible Eviction From G-8 (NYT)

Sunday — afternoon break out sessions

  • Russia expert @Dr_Ariel_Cohen is speaking @AIPAC session. Says all eyes on how NATO responds to aggression against Ukraine.
  • @Dr_Ariel_Cohen says US, UK & Russia persuaded Ukraine to give up nuclear weapons in ’94 on basis that we would protect them from aggression
  • @Dr_Ariel_Cohen tells @aipac session Russian move on southern Ukraine most dangerous moment in Europe since collapse of USSR & Yugoslav war.
  • We don’t want war w/Russia. They have nukes. So does US, UK & France. But @Dr_Ariel_Cohen says Russia must pay price or they will take more.
  • @Dr_Ariel_Cohen: A US foreign policy that twists friends’ arms & appease enemies is a disaster. Not how you build a safe world. @AIPAC
  • @Dr_Ariel_Cohen says he doesn’t support Ukraine joining NATO @ this stage. Too provocative. Goal is draw clear line but step back from brink
  • Russian experts Dr. Mark Levin & @Dr_Ariel_Cohen say Russia is exploiting vacuum in Mideast that US creating by our withdrawals, vacillating
  • Overlooked during Sochi Games: Egyptian leader Gen. Al-Sisi went to Moscow to sign deals to buy Russian weapons for 1st time since 1973.
  • Russia expert Dr. Mark Levin (not radio host) just spoke to chief Rabbi in Ukraine. Says no attacks against Jews — yet. But real concern.
  • Excellent panel just finished @Aipac w/Russia experts Dr. Mark Levin & Dr. Ariel Cohen on Putin’s Mideast goals. SRO

Sunday — afternoon final main session

  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is now speaking to the @Aipac Policy Conference. Urging bipartisan support for Israel
  • Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) is speaking @Aipac conference on his vision for the future of Israel.
  • US sanctions enforcer defends Iran interim deal to AIPAC (Jerusalem Post)
  • Blackpastor closed @Aipac w/passionate love4God & Israel & sang w/his choir. Wow, 14,000 Jews on their feet cheering
  • Pleased to welcome PM and Mrs. Netanyahu to the United Stares! (Dan Shapiro, US Amb to Israel)


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Larwyn’s Linx: 6 reasons Mike Lee’s response to the State of the Union address was amazing

Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn’s Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.

Nation

6 reasons Mike Lee’s response to the State of the Union was amazing: Patrick Howley
ICE officer slams Obama for illegal aliens attending State of the Union: DC
The poison of postmodern lying: Victor Davis Hanson

GOP Crafts Plan to Wreck the Country, Lose Voters: Ann Coulter
Governing by Pen and Phone : Victor Davis Hanson
State of the Union 2014: Cal Thomas

Obama is right — there are two Americas: Bob Lonsberry
Eric Holder can’t explain constitutional basis for Obama’s executive orders: Exam
Bend Over, America: Paul Ryan Has an Amnesty Colonoscopy Ready!: Hot Air

Economy

IRA confiscation: it’s happening: Simon Black
Mitch McConnell, the Farm Bill and the Power of Logrolling: Daniel Horowitz
Barack Obama’s insidious master plan for the United States?: TPC

Incredible video! Black Chicago SOTU response: Allen West
Don’t dare tell me there are no barriers to hiring for small businesses: Thomas Crown
What does Obama really think has gone wrong with the US economy?: Peth

Scandal Central

Ted Cruz reams Eric Holder over handling of IRS investigation: Scoop
Theft of a Nation: Plan of the Day
Feds data-mining hundreds of millions of consumer credit card accounts, mortgages: Exam

Climate & Energy

Climate Change Is Dead Last On List Of American’s Priorities: Cove
Atlanta Is Basically An Episode Of “The Walking Dead” Right Now: BuzzFeed
Freak Southern Snow Storm Strands 8,000 Students: ABC

Media

Ted Cruz: Media Acting as ‘Palace Guard’ to Protect Obama in IRS Scandal: R.S. McCain
Fox Doubles MSNBC’s Ratings, Quadruples CNN’s: Ace
WaPo: You know, the official GOP response was, er … good: Hot Air

Mark Murray Was Right. Just Not How He Meant It: Erick Erickson
Dude, You Nailed It!: Ace
MSNBC Hits a New Low: GWP

Holder: I really, really wanted to publish photos of Sandy Hook slaughter to push gun control!: Jennifer Koons
Ted Cruz has some things to say about the State of the Union speech: Adrienne
Ben Affleck: ‘Big Republican’ Actors Are Hard to Watch: Larry Elder

World

Israeli Defense Official Offers Dark Security Assessment: IPT
U.S. Intel Chief Confirms North Korean Reactor Relaunch: Diane Barnes, GSN
Malik Obama Found To Be Supporting Muslims Who Kill Christians: Shoebat

Sci-Tech (courtesy BadBlue Tech News)

Coveted $ 50,000 Twitter username swiped in tale of woe: Don Reisinger
New Clues in the Target Breach: Brian Krebs
Apple looking to start producing new ‘critical’ sapphire component in U.S. by Feb.: Apple Insider

Cornucopia

SOTU Six: Ladders of Opportunity in 6840 Words (just words).: MOTUS
Obama’s High School Pot Dealer Murdered Over ‘Flatulence’: Bryan Preston
The Arrival: Chris Muir

Image: Incredible video! Black Chicago SOTU response
Today’s Larwyn’s Linx sponsored by: Send a pink slip to Mitch McConnell: support Matt Bevin for Senate

QOTD: “The University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database tracks terrorism incidents from 1970 to today: search for “Islam” and you find almost 5,000 entries. Search for “Christianity” and you will find a grand total of 14.

The NSA could probably save a lot of money — as well as abide by the Constitution — if it simply acknowledged the following:

A person with neither a first nor a last Muslim name stood only a 1 in 500,000 chance of being a suspected terrorist. The likelihood for a person with a first or a last Muslim name was 1 in 30,000. For a person with first and last Muslim names, however, the likelihood jumped to 1 in 2,000 (Levitt & Dubner, Super Freakonomics, 2009, p. 93).

Clearly, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Islam is the world’s major ideological motivator of terrorism and violence. (I have neither the time, nor the patience, to yet again demonstrate the legitimate Islamic roots of violence. Ray Ibrahim’s brilliant article should be all the proof needed for those able to handle the truth.) Yet Eric Holder and his boss would have the federal authorities most responsible for protecting the public — led by the FBI — pretend that up is down, freedom is slavery, and Islam is peaceful except when “twisted” by a “handful of extremists.”

Instead of ardent Islamic beliefs being treated as a clear marker for potential terrorism, they are now a talisman protecting the holder not just from scrutiny, but suspicion.

Obama and Holder are transforming the U.S. into a dhimmi nation: one that cowers before Islamic law and demands that its non-Muslim citizens — especially its 240 million Christians — meekly accept their second-class status and never broach the glaringly obvious fact of Islamic violence, even if this means making all non-Muslims less safe. The question for those of us in the majority, then: just how long will we put up with such a dangerous policy?” —Timothy Furnish

Doug Ross @ Journal

Canadian PM Harper visits the epicenter. Tells Israel: “Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” Brings delegation of 208 Canadians, including Rabbis & Pastors. Also, read full text of Harper address.

harper-net-flagsAt a time when so many world leaders are turning away from Israel and trying to isolate the Jewish state, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – an evangelical Christian and the most pro-Israel world leader on the planet at this time — arrived in Jerusalem on Sunday for his first visit, telling the Israeli people, “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

Harper was given the red carpet treatment by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with whom he has become a close and personal friend, as well as a staunch and reliable ally. He and his wife, Laureen, dined with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. The Harpers also toured several Christian holy sites, and plan to visit several more — including sites around the Sea of Galilee — during their trip.

Harper brought with him a delegation of 208 Canadians, including 21 Rabbis, 27 CEOs of Canadian companies, as well as numerous evangelical pastors and Catholic priests.

On Monday, Harper became the first Canadian Prime Minister in history to address the Israeli Knesset. He reaffirmed the importance of Israel as ”a Jewish state,” and was given a standing ovation for his long-standing and warm friendship and support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

“It is right to support Israel because after generations of persecutions the Jewish people deserve their own homeland,” Harper told the Israeli parliament. “I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary. An innovative, world-leading ‘start-up’ nation. You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land, one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own. In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our Government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life. And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

To read the text of his extraordinary speech, please click here (scroll to the bottom of the Haaretz article where the video of the speech is located).

Harper met with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday morning. Later this week, he will visit Jordan and meet with King Abdullah II in Amman, deeply committed as he is to encouraging peace between Israel and the Arab people.

“Prime Minister Harper, my good friend Stephen, welcome to Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu said on Sunday upon welcoming Harper at his office, reported Israel Hayom. “I have to say, Stephen, that you are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I’m not just saying that — I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart and I speak for all the people of Israel….This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership. When it comes to fighting terrorism, you know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international action….When it comes to anti-Semitism, you have stood up unabashedly at the side of Israel and the entire Jewish people, I think at the side of decency and fairness to everyone: Jews and non-Jews alike. And when it comes to Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s annihilation and its unrelenting development of nuclear weapons — you and Canada have stood unflinchingly on the right side of history.”

“Touching on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations,” Israel Hayom noted, Netanyahu told Harper, “You recognize that a genuine peace, a lasting peace, must be based on mutual recognition and sound security arrangements on the ground. I think in all this and in so many other things, you have shown courage, clarity and conviction. And in standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one,” Netanyahu said. “So the people of Israel and I deeply appreciate your friendship and the friendship of the people of Canada to us.”


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Fmr. senior Israeli official writes oped for New York Times: “A Most Dangerous Deal: The Iran Agreement Does Not Address the Nuclear Threat.”

NYT_home_bannerYaakov Amidror stepped down last month as Israel’s National Security Advisor. He was — and remains — one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s most trusted advisors.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed by him. It was an important message to the U.S. and the Western world, but it may very well have been missed because of the holidays.

Here are critical excerpts. I commend the entire column to your attention.

——————————

“Just after the signing ceremony in Geneva on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran declared that the world had recognized his country’s ‘nuclear rights.’

He was right.

The agreement Iran reached with the so-called P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany — does not significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium. The agreement represents a failure, not a triumph, of diplomacy. With North Korea, too, there were talks and ceremonies and agreements — but then there was the bomb. This is not an outcome Israel could accept with Iran.       

Harsh sanctions led Iran to the negotiating table. The easing of those sanctions will now send companies from around the world racing into Iran to do business, which will lead to the eventual collapse of the sanctions that supposedly remain.       

Might economic relief, reduced isolation and new goodwill lead to greater pressure on the Iranian regime to reach a fuller agreement later? I doubt it: As recently as last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denounced Israel as a “rabid dog,” a jab that Western leaders failed to condemn.       

The deal will only lead Iran to be more stubborn. Anyone who has conducted business or diplomatic negotiations knows that you don’t reduce the pressure on your opponent on the eve of negotiations. Yet that is essentially what happened in Geneva.       

Iran will not only get to keep its existing 18,000 centrifuges; it will also be allowed to continue developing the next generation of centrifuges, provided it does not install them in uranium-enrichment facilities. Which is to say: Its uranium-enrichment capability is no weaker.       

Under the deal Iran is supposed to convert its nearly 200 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity — a short step away from bomb-grade material — into material that cannot be used for a weapon. In practice, this concession is almost completely meaningless.       

The agreement does not require Iran to reduce its stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, not even by one gram. Transforming unprocessed uranium into 3.5 percent-enriched uranium accounts for more than two-thirds of the time needed to transform unprocessed uranium into weapons-grade material. And given the thousands of centrifuges Iran has, the regime can enrich its stock of low-level uranium to weapons-grade quality in a matter of months. Iran already has enough of this material to make four bombs.

The Geneva deal, in short, did not address the nuclear threat at all. This was Iran’s great accomplishment. No wonder Mr. Rouhani boasted that the world had recognized Iran’s nuclear rights.

————————


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog