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Just days before nuclear talks end, Iran seizes Yemen. U.S. evacuates, but Saudis & Arab coalition launch war to retake Yemen. Where will this lead?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 2:51 am
(source: Al-Arabiya)

(source: Al-Arabiya)

In just a few days, we will reach the March 31st deadline to complete nuclear negotiations with Iran.Yet rather than conclude a deal that would truly stop Iran from getting The Bomb and constrain Iranian aggression in the Middle East, consider the surreal events presently unfolding:

Please pray that this terrible deal with Iran will:

  • fall apart
  • by blocked by France or another country at the negotiating table
  • be blocked by Congress
  • be dramatically changed to become a good deal that blocks Iran from The Bomb

Time is running out. Former Ambassador John Bolton has written an op-ed for the New York Times that the negotiations have failed and the time has come to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Consider this excerpt: “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Clearly, the Obama administration is not going to attack Iran.

Might Israel and a Sunni Arab alliance?

Developing….

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Israeli Arabs voted in higher numbers this time than in the last election. This is good news. Here’s why.

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 10:46 am
Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

(Central Israel) — Arab citizens of Israel turned out to the polls on March 17th in significantly higher numbers than in the previous election, according to research published today by the Jerusalem Post. Indeed, some 444,000 Israeli Arabs voted last week, compared to only 349,000 last time.

As a new citizen of Israel, I’m encouraged by this. Arabs are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel. In this country, as in few others in the region, Arab citizens — along with Jewish citizens and all other citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion — have the legal right to vote and to be fully engaged in free and fair elections in every possible way.

This is good news. A democracy is healthier when everyone exercises their right not simply to vote, but also their right to speak out, to publish their views, to peaceably assemble, to choose their leaders and to influence public policy according to their own religious and political beliefs, morals and values.

True, the Israeli Arab parties are significantly out of the mainstream. Some of these parties advance Communist ideology, or Islamist views, or anti-Zionist nationalist views. Indeed, the Joint (Arab) List — which just won 13 seats in the Knesset — includes parties that advance each of these views. But that’s okay.

You don’t have to agree with their beliefs to support their right to hold and advance such views in a free and democratic society. Indeed, part of the beauty of truly free societies is that despite their various flaws, they respect and vigorously protect the right of people to hold and advance minority positions.

This isn’t happening in Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia. But it’s happening in Israel, and it should be celebrated.

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post article:

  • Israeli Arab voter turnout was 63.5 percent in the election compared to 56% in 2013, according to the Statnet research institute, which had predicted a 63.4% turnout prior to the election.
  • Yousef Makladeh, CEO of Statnet.co.il shared its research data and polling statistics prior to the election with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, which demonstrated that the polling company was surprisingly accurate in its pre-election polling.
  • Makledeh said that 82% of Israeli Arabs voted for Arab parties in the Joint (Arab) List compared to 77% who voted for Arab parties in 2013….
  • In 2013, the Arab parties together received 349,000 votes compared to 444,000 in this election, an increase of 27.3%….
  • The Joint List ended up with 13 seats in the Knesset.
  • Apart from the Joint List, Arab voters supported in descending order: the Zionist Union with 22.8% (25,806 votes), the Likud 15.3% (17,394), Yisrael Beytenu 13.7% (15,538), Kulanu 11.8% (13,432), Meretz 11.2% (12,752), Shas 8.8% (10,016), and Yesh Atid 4.1% (4,662).

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In meeting with Israeli Arab leaders, Netanyahu apologizes for comments that “hurt the Arab citizens.” Good. That was the right thing to do.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm
Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu-Arabs2(Central Israel) — During a meeting today with leaders from various Arab communities in Israel, newly-reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israeli Arab citizens for comments he made on Election Day.

“I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. I had no intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry if I did,” Netanyahu told the leaders. “My actions as prime minister, including the tremendous investment in minority sectors prove the opposite. I think, too, that we must never let anyone outside the state of Israel interfere with our democratic process….I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender. I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens.”

Good. That was the right thing to do. The PM was right to apologize. His remarks were insensitive and unhelpful. I would encourage him to be pro-active in the weeks and months to come in reaching out to Israeli Arab leaders, including them in his plans for the country, and continuing to invest in the economic growth, development and progress of Israeli Arab communities. As I noted yesterday on this blog, “Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our national culture and society. They are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel and they should be honored and protected by our leaders, whatever their religious or political views.”

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