U.S. Briefs 2-28-12

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American leaders urge for more protection of Mount of Olives cemetery

Click photo to download. Caption: Pictured, the graves closest to the main road running through the Mount of Olives cemetery are in “terrible shape," American Jewish leaders said. Credit: Amelia Katzen.American Jewish leaders called on the Knesset to legislate more security at the Mount of Olives cemetery, which has fallen victim to desecration. Worshippers have also been attacked with rocks at the location. The request came on Monday, the same day as a gathering by Knesset members at the cemetery in honor of the 20th anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as well as founders Abe and Menachem Lubinsky, said that graves closest to the main road running through the cemetery are in “terrible shape.” Portions of this road must be closed to reduce vandalism, they added.

“[The Mount of Olives] survived 3,000 years, including all of the occupiers of Israel, but it’s having trouble surviving modern day Israel,” Abe Lubinsky added, according to the Jerusalem Post.

—JointMedia News Service

Asked about support for ‘Zionist lobbies,’ Clinton says political campaigns ‘don’t reflect the United States’

Click photo to download. Caption: Hillary Clinton. Credit: PD.Questioned in Tunisia on Sunday about the trustworthiness of political candidates that “run toward the Zionist lobbies to get their support in the states” but then “come to show their support for countries like Tunisia and Egypt,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reassured an Arab audience that these candidates don’t necessarily mean what they say.

There are “a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention,” Clinton said, according to Fox News.

“There are comments made that certainly don’t reflect the United States, don’t reflect our foreign policy, don’t reflect who we are as a people,” Clinton said. 

“I mean, if you go to the United States, you see mosques everywhere, you see Muslim-Americans everywhere. That's the fact. So I would not pay attention to the rhetoric," she said, referring to remarks by the Republican presidential candidates.

Clinton’s comments come in advance of the March 4-6 annual conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. 

—JointMedia News Service

Former UN ambassador says U.S. trying to stop Israel from attacking Iran

Former United States ambassador to the UN John Bolton said last week that the purpose of visiting Israel for General Martin Dempsey, U.S. National Security Advisor Thomas Danilon, and Director of Intelligence Tom Clapper was to dissuade the Jewish state from attacking Iran.

The U.S. officials, Bolton said, are operating under the assumption that any meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the near future will not go well. Netanyahu will visit Washington D.C. in March to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.

“It may be one of those meetings where Netanyahu doesn’t get a sandwich and a cup of coffee at the White House, but they have to have it,” Bolton said, according to the Israel National News. “We’ve to confront the reality that if we don’t, or if someone doesn’t act, Iran will get nuclear weapons and then there won’t be any point in sanctions or diplomacy,” he added.

—JointMedia News Service

Obama insists on political pressure as more Syrians die

While UN officially stated last week that the Syrian government is engaged in crimes against humanity, President Barack Obama has yet to request military intervention in the region.

The UN report comes in the wake of bombardment in the Syrian city of Homs for 20 successive days. Activists say the death toll has reached hundreds, much higher than official estimates, and supplies like medicine and food are insufficient. Overall, more than 6,000 people were killed in Syria during the past year, according to estimates.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has demanded military intervention in Syria from the Obama administration, according to reports. While the administration responded that the option is not off the table, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said officials are “discussing a range of options, from tightening sanctions to increasing humanitarian relief, to helping the opposition.” The administration currently still prefers to end the crisis with political pressure, added White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

—JointMedia News Service

Most Republican presidential primary candidates united on Iran

The recent Arizona Republican presidential primary debate showed a united front among the candidates on the issue of Iran, with the exception of Ron Paul. The candidates criticized President Obama for discouraging Israel from taking military action against the country.

“If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons,” former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said during the debate. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum also pointed out the irony that the Obama administration is more than happy to help topple regimes in Libya and Egypt, and as a result, the radical Muslim Brotherhood is now emboldened in Egypt.

“Ahmadinejad having fissile material that he can give to Hezbollah and Hamas and that they can bring into Latin America and potentially bring across the border into the United States to let off dirty bombs here...We simply cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weaponry,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said.

—JointMedia News Service

Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘dictator’ exiled from Oscars

Click photo to download. Caption: Sacha Baron Cohen. Credit: teh_defiance.British Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was forcibly removed from the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday after spilling a powdery substance all over E! host Ryan Seacrest’s tuxedo.

Despite being expressly forbidden to do so, Cohen arrived at the ceremony dressed as Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, the lead character in his latest film, “The Dictator,” flanked by two “amazonian guards” and carrying an urn he jokingly claimed contained the ashes of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Cohen, who routinely dresses in character and takes promotional stunts to new, and often grotesque, levels, had been told by the academy that the Aladeen character was banned from the red carpet. The academy did make it clear, however, that Cohen himself was welcome.

Aladeen is a flamboyant dictator whose dress, manner and spirit are a twisted homage to the late Libyan tyrant Moammar Gadhafi. In a statement on the website of the Republic of Wadiya, the fictional kingdom ruled by the dictator, Aladeen blamed the “Zionists” for the ban.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Israeli water company to work with Ohio city

Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, will set up shop in the U.S. to work on innovations in water system security, treatment and distribution, as well as waste water collection and expanded energy sources.

The company is sending WaTech, an Entrepreneurship and Partnership Center for Water Technologies Program under Mekorot control, to Akron, Ohio, to assist the city in water infrastructure development, and to develop related business and economic initiatives. 

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, who recently visited Israel, said that “not only did we come back with a deal with Mekorot WaTech, but we also were introduced to other energy related businesses who are now interested in introducing their technologies to the United States, specifically to Akron,” according to Israel National News. 

—JointMedia News Service

U.S. to increase defense against Iran in Persian Gulf

The Pentagon is increasing defense and surveillance technology in the Persian Gulf as a way to prevent Iran from closing the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has repeatedly threatened to take this step if the relationship between the country and Western nations were to escalate.

The U.S. military plans to roll out new mine detection and clearing equipment, expand surveillance capabilities, as well as modify ship weapons so they could be effective against Iranian fast-attack boats and shore-launched cruise missiles.

“When the enemy shows more signs of capability, we ask what we can do to checkmate it,” a U.S. military officer said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “They ought to know we take steps to make sure we are ready.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on February 27, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..