U.S. Briefs 1-17-12

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ZOA calls out Obama for postponed U.S.-Israel military drill

Click photo to download. Caption: President Obama reflects. Credit: PD.The U.S. and Israel decided to postpone a large joint military exercise scheduled to take place in May after Iran interpreted the joint drill as a threat, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Sunday night, according to Israel Hayom.

The exercise was expected to include thousands of soldiers from both countries. While an official reason was not given, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem told Israel Hayom that the drill was postponed to avoid any moves that could heat up the region amid already high tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein expressed concern about the postponement, saying: “President Obama has often touted strong U.S./Israeli defense ties as proof of his Administration’s strong support for Israel. If that is so, why is a vital joint military exercise dealing with the Iranian threat postponed while no efforts other than weak sanctions pursued to stop Iran?”

ZOA is also alarmed by reports that Obama demanded an explanation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the recent killing of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, with Klein noting thateven the Iranian government has not internationally claimed that Israel carried out the killing.

—JointMedia News Service

Netanyahu: U.S. sanctions on Iran ineffective, more action needed

Click photo to download. Caption: Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: PD.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran so far have been ineffective, and that the international community should impose tougher measures on Tehran’s oil industry and its Central Bank, Israel Hayom reported.

Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran was penetrating Iraq at a fast pace and that instability in the country had increased since the U.S. withdrew its forces. Netanyahu said that the situation called for a strengthening of Israel’s defenses against aerial and ground attacks.

Echoing Netanyahu’s remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogey) Ya’alon said on Sunday that the U.S. government was not advancing tough sanctions against Iran due to internal political considerations during an election year.

Ya’alon said that while the Iranian issue remains at the top of the global agenda, and European leaders in France and Britain are taking a hard line against Tehran by understanding the need for sanctions against it's oil exports and central bank, this was not the case with the White House.

—JointMedia News Service

AIPAC to honor Shimon Peres with lifetime achievement award

Click photo to download. Caption: Shimon Peres. Credit: World Economic Forum.The American Israel Public Affairs Committee pro-Israel lobby group has extended a unique invitation to President Shimon Peres, asking him to attend and open the group's annual policy conference, scheduled for March 4-6 in Washington, D.C.

AIPAC officials have decided to grant Peres a unique lifetime achievement award in appreciation of the president’s efforts to establish, strengthen and support the state of Israel and for his endeavors to maintain strategic ties with the U.S.

The president is expected to take advantage of his trip to the U.S. to meet with senior government officials as well as Hollywood heavyweights. Israeli film and television has garnered numerous awards in recent years, and several Israeli television shows have been successfully adapted for U.S. audiences. Most recently “Hatufim” (“Prisoners of War”) was reincarnated on U.S. screens as the wildly popular “Homeland.”

Formed in 1963, AIPAC’s stated goal is to bolster the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. It has has 100,000 members, making it the leading American pro-Israel lobby.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Responses pour in on marines urinating video

Controversy erupted last week when a video surfaced showing U.S. marines urinating on dead bodies in Afghanistan. The U.S. military launched a full-scale investigation, identifying at least two of the marines in the video so far, CNN reported.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the behavior depicted in the video is “utterly deplorable.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that: “This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) sent a statement to the Weekly Standard saying that while the behavior in the video was clearly wrong, he does “not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu,” and continued to list other such abuse of American soldiers.

He called for the military to “give [the soldiers in the video] a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment)…and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped.”

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell,” Alan concluded.

—JointMedia News Service

Pop singer’s father apologizes for anti-Semitic comment

Click photo to download. Caption: Katy Perry. Credit: Eva Rinaldi.Rev. Keith Hudson, the father of pop megastar Katy Perry, publically apologized for anti-Semitic comments he made, and argued that his words were taken out of context, ABC News reported.

“You know how to make the Jew jealous? Have some money, honey. You go to L.A., and they own all the Rolex and diamond places. Walk down a part of L.A. where we live, and it is so rich it smells. You ever smell rich? They are all Jews, hallelujah. Amen,” he said at a church in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, on Jan. 5.

After the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center both condemned the remarks, Hudson released a statement, saying “I used images about Jews rooted in the worst anti-Semitism in the past, images that at times led to the persecution and murder of Jews…I used them without ever considering what they meant.”

—JointMedia News Service

Jewish couple narrowly escapes sinking ship

The Israel National News reported that several Jewish passengers, including Americans and Israelis, were rescued from the Italian Costa Concordia cruise liner that sank off the coast of Tuscany last weekend.

A young Jewish couple from Florida was having dinner on the ship when it hit a sandbar and flipped to the side. Joseph Saba, whose son David was on the ship, said: “They felt something hit from below, ‘Bap, bap bap!’”

After being rescued by a lifeboat, the couple is grateful they got away with their lives, although they lost all of their belongings. “He doesn't have a passport. They need to go to the embassy to see what they need to do to come back. They don’t have any clothes or anything,” Joseph Saba said. As of Sunday five people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, the BBC said.

—JointMedia News Service

Nazi railroads can’t do business with Florida

Proposed legislation forces any railroad company to reveal whether it participated in the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust before it can be allowed to do business with the state of Florida, The News Service of Florida reported.

Bill SB 546 refers to any railroad company that transported Jews to Nazi concentration camps during World War II and is now seeking rail contracts from Florida. Specifically, however, the bill targets the French national railroad SNCF, which had been used by the Nazis for this purpose.

SNCF wanted to plan a high-speed rail project in Florida last year, but Gov. Rick Scott killed the project. Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) sponsored the measure. It was unanimously approved and goes next to the Community Affairs Committee.

—JointMedia News Service

Survey shows most Jewish college students love Israel

Young college Jews strongly support Israel, a new study sponsored jointly by The Israel Project and the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise shows. Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the survey represents the opinion of 400 Jewish undergraduates. Among Jewish students, 66 percent said they feel close to Israel.

This is comparable to the American Jewish Committee’s survey of the national Jewish community, in which 68 percent said the same.

“Our survey found that Jews … believe that caring about Israel is an important part of being Jewish, think American and Israeli Jews share a common destiny and agree American Jews should support the policies of the government and express any criticism privately,” said Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the nonprofit American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and co-funder of the research.

The survey shows that Jewish college students feel more close to Israel if they attended a Jewish day school, a summer camp, or were involved in a youth group. Of those involved in a Jewish organization on campus, 78 percent support Israel, compared to only 52 percent of those who do not. Seventy percent of Jewish students believe they are well informed on Israel and 84 percent support Israel when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians.

—JointMedia News Service

Al-Jazeera English a different face from the Arabic channel

Since the Al-Jazeera news network began broadcasting its English-language counterpart to New Yorkers in August of 2011, the network has been praised by U.S. officials for its coverage of the Arab Spring. However, the Arabic language Al Jazeera broadcasting channel is being accused of promoting anti-Americanism and extreme Islamism, the Middle East Forum reported.

Journalist Fouad Ajami, who covered the Arabic channel for New York Times Magazine, wrote that the Arabic “Al Jazeera deliberately fans the flames of Muslim outrage.”

Just after 9/11, the channel frequently aired idealized footage of Osama Bin Laden and later referred to suicide bombings killing US soldiers in Iraq as an armed resistance struggle.

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the English channel as “real news,” Dave Marash, who previously worked for that channel, said that even there he felt an underdone of anti-Americanism and witnessed “really shoddy reporting.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on January 16, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..