A terror attack in the early hours Sunday morning took the lives of 49 people and left more than 50 injured at a popular LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida in what is beingdescribed as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and the most deadly terror attack since September 11. The terrorist, Omar Mateen, following a shootout with the police and taking hostages inside the nightclub, called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, speaking to reporters on Monday, said: “What happened in Orlando yesterday was a horrifying act, a horrifying act of evil and terror.”
Following the attack on Sunday, demonstrations of support rang out from across Israeli society and its government. Israel’s Mission to the UN tweeted: “we extend our deepest condolences over #Orlando attack.This week you stood with us, today we stand with you.” The tweet refers to the terror attack that took place at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market on Wednesday evening that left four Israelis dead and many others wounded. Expressing his support, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: “Orlando is thousands of miles from Israel, but the tragedy there has deeply saddened me. We Israelis feel your pain as if it were our own.” On Monday, at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, he said: “On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I would like to again express our condolences to the American people and the families at this especially difficult hour. This terror threatens the entire world and it is necessary – first of all – that the enlightened countries urgently unite to fight it. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people.” Israel’s opposition leader and head of the Zionist Union Party, Isaac Herzog, posted a statement that read: “The forces of hatred, violence and murder, as manifested in this heinous terror attack, must be fought against with all our might. Our two nations will continue to do so in close cooperation, based on our deep friendship, and shared values.” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, speaking to U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), stated: “Terror strikes everywhere, and it does not differentiate between Orlando and Tel Aviv…Unfortunately, the Israeli People know well the feeling of sadness and anger caused by such events, and we must join hands in the fight against global terrorism.”
Other expressions of solidarity took place throughout Israel. The city of Tel Aviv lit its city hall with the American flag and with the rainbow colors of the LGBT flag. The mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, tweeted that the city did this out of solidarity with Orlando. In Jerusalem, peoplegathered Sunday night to hold a vigil for the victims of the massacre. In Tel Aviv, another vigil was held at the LGBT center in Gan Meir.
Millions of pounds of British aid money to the Palestinian Authority were used to encourage terrorism and led to a spike in Palestinian violence, an independent inquiry found.
A £156.4 million ($222.5 million) aid project by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) designed to support Palestinian state-building instead led to public sector employees being “more likely” to engage in terrorism, the report by the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank, revealed. The five-year project allowed Palestinian civil servants to participate in “active conflict,” since their salaries were paid even if they were convicted of criminal or terrorist offenses. The convicted employees were also able to assume their old positions after finishing their jail sentences.
“Conflict, and therefore fatalities, are more likely when the opportunity cost of engaging in conflict is lowered,” the report explained. “For public sector employees, the opportunity cost of conflict is lowered as their employment will be kept open when they return from detention, and their family will continue to be paid their salary.”
The DFID funded the salaries of 5,000 Palestinian civil employees during the project’s duration. “An increase in public sector employment by one per cent is associated with an increase in fatalities by 0.6% over this time period,” the report noted.
The existence of the Overseas Development Institute’s report was revealed by The Telegraph on Sunday, a day before the British parliament was set to debate foreign aid spending.
“Sadly, the Palestinian Authority role has deteriorated to, at best, the cheerleader to acts of violence to, at worst, the operator of a revolving door policy for terrorists,” Sir Eric Pickles, the chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel and a former cabinet minister, told The Telegraph. “British taxpayers will be shocked to learn that we are helping to fund an equal opportunity employment policy for convicted terrorists.”
Joan Ryan, a member of parliament and the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, called for an independent probe to “ensure that taxpayers’ money assists the process of building peace and coexistence rather than ending up in the pockets of convicted terrorists.”
“This is an issue which has been put to the department repeatedly over recent years and which is has consistently and repeatedly failed to act on,” she added.
The British government launched its own probe last week into whether the PA is misusing aid money to pay salaries to convicted terrorists and incite violence against Israel. The results of that inquiry are expected by the fall.
The subject of payments to terrorists came to the fore in Britain this past March after The Mail on Sunday published an exposé showing that the PA paid generous salaries to a number of convicted Palestinian terrorists, despite its claims to the contrary. That report, as well as others such as one on Israel Radio, was based on research done by Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that has documented how the PA incentivizes terror since 2011.
A 2014 report in The Telegraph showed that the PA used over $90 million in British foreign aid to pay convicted terrorists in 2013. This equaled around 16% of all foreign aid payments to the PA. (via TheTower.org)
On the rooftop of the Mishor Adumim industrial park in the desert between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, an acre of herbs and lettuces provide employment for about 20 people representing the entire Israeli mosaic: Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, Israeli-born and immigrants. “We all work together and value each other’s contribution,” says Bentsion Kabakov, a religious Russian immigrant who established the Aleinu Sustainable Aeroponic Greenhouse as a prototype six years ago. “We are convinced that no matter how harsh the political challenges are, there is always a basis for mutual respect and coexistence. At Aleinu, that’s our guiding line.” Women in hijabs chat easily with Ethiopian-Jewish women in the packing and labeling room. Everyone from pickers to technicians works in a comfortable, air-conditioned environment and goes home at a set time every day. In all its social, business and environmental aspects, this is truly a farm of the future. Though rooftop and urban agriculture are becoming more widespread as the world’s population centers shift to cities, the system created by Kabakov and fellow engineers from the former Soviet Union is one of a kind, explains Shelley Brinn of Tour Adumim, who brings groups to see, smell and taste the produce of Aleinu and learn about its social, ecological and educational facets. Based on the concept of aeroponics — growing plants in humid air rather than soil or water — Aleinu incorporates several proprietary technologies that bring an unprecedented level of automation and efficiency to the process while eliminating problems of conventional farming such as unpredictable weather, the expense of land and the need for long hours of outdoor toil by many workers. As a result, this aeroponic greenhouse yields 50 times more produce per square meter than does a traditional farm, while consuming 20 times less water. Compared with other aeroponic greenhouses, Aleinu’s harvest is three times more abundant, according to Kabakov. (via Israel21c)
Whoever said that truth always wins out hasn’t spent much time in Washington. In this town of majestic monuments and post-adolescent ambition-addicts, where the campaign never ends and only impotence is considered unseemly, truth is a butterfly in a mist of acid rain. It’s hard to catch, harder still to save.
Successful leaders have always been adept at deception, of course. To say politicians are liars is to state a truism and to ignore the unpleasant fact that sometimes one must deceive in order to achieve.
But in the last couple of years, something seems different, especially relating to the Obama administration’s signature policy initiative of its second term: The nuclear deal with Iran.
Two recent devastating profiles—one of President Barack Obama by Jeffrey Goldberg inThe Atlantic and the other of Obama’s communications chief Ben Rhodes by David Samuels in The New York Times Magazine—have revealed a kaleidoscope of mendacity so sophisticated, creative, consuming, and substantively boundless as to give rise to a sense that something essential has changed in the relationship between truth and falsehood, between the actual policies of an administration and its efforts to sell them.
At a deep level, spin displaced policy. Not only were key promises in the deal’s favor knowingly fabricated for the purpose of persuasion; not only were the scope and ambitions of the deal, the timeline of when talks began, the internal dynamics of the regime in Iran, and the priorities driving the American side during each stage willfully distorted; not only were journalists and experts whose entire reputations should have been at stake enlisted in the government’s sorcery; not only were official records doctored; but the process of decision-making within the administration appears to have been short-circuited as well.
Members of the cabinet had little if any input. Indeed, in some cases their presence was entirely intended to misdirect the public’s understanding of the worldview behind the policy. Implementation of the president’s intentions was delegated, instead, to a staffer with the portentous title of Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
The “deal” with Iran that was concluded in July 2015 was not even exactly a deal. Thedocument, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was never actually signed, even as the administration continued to insist that the deal was “not based on trust.” The version approved by the Iranian parliament, and the provisions described by Iran’s leaders, were different from those submitted to Congress and the American people. We were assured that Congress would be given a say, but the nature of the say included a truncated process, suppression of side deals, and a vote in which two-thirds of members were required to override a veto and stop the implementation, which is very different from the two-thirds of the Senate required to approve treaties.
To top it all off, in key parts of the document—where the administration’s long-promised “snap-back sanctions” purportedly appeared—the text actually included the Iranians’ express rejection of the concept, declaring that the entire deal would be off if sanctions were restored. Meaning “snap-back sanctions” were never agreed to. Meaning a central plank of the agreement wasn’t really part of the deal at all.
Taken together, this amounted to a grand deception, a Big Lie of astonishing proportions and complexity aimed at deceiving the public about both the intentions and dynamics of the foremost foreign policy initiative of the Obama presidency.
And yet, all the focus on the Big Lie that has emerged since the publication of these two essays risks obscuring something arguably more important: the decision to make the deal in the first place. What we ended up with, we have only now begun to understand, amounts to a massive shift in thinking about America’s role in the world, the ultimate aim of which was hidden from public view, as was the core philosophy that motivated it.
This too was kept secret, though nothing about the Iran deal makes sense without it.
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