Category: Democracy

Finally, Iran Meets Resistance: Four Comments On Trump's Decision

Iranian Flag On Broken Wall And Half Usa United States Of America Flag

Note both the US and its controversial decision to pull out of the Iran deal – and Syria and the repetitive military blows that Iran must absorb in recent months.

Note these two developments and realize that something important had changed: Iran, after a long period of relative calm and easy choices, faces tough opposition from the US and Israel.

Iran has to reconsider the benefit and the possible cost of its actions. On Tuesday – Trump drew a diplomatic red line. The status quo is to be, and the ball is now in Iran’s court.

1. The Middle East suddenly looks different. On Tuesday night, hours after Trump made his announcements, sites near Damascus were bombed again. Another red line was reemphasized: Israel would not permit significant Iranian presence in Syria. The sites bombed were reportedly the sites from which Iran was ready to launch an attack on Israel. So the status quo of Iranian presence in Syria is also challenged.

Trump’s presented Iran with a choice: Resist and bear possibly grim consequences, or renegotiate a deal with which the US is ready to live. Syria’s limited skirmishes present Iran with a choice: Insist and bear possibly grim consequences, or give up on your Syrian dream.

2. In February 2015, when Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel was about to speak about Iran before Congress, I pleaded with him to reconsider his speech. “Speaking up next month before the United States Congress”, I wrote, “would not serve Israel’s interests. Instead of being an opportunity to seriously address the risks of Iran’s nuclear program, such a speech would scuttle the discussion”.

Is now the time to say that he was right and I was wrong? I am not yet sure about that, but I think it is time to consider the possibility that he, indeed, was right. Yes, his speech was enraging to the administration. But at that point in time, Netanyahu correctly assessed that Obama and Kerry had crossed a point of no return concerning the agreement. They were going to sign it no matter what. Yes – Netanyahu also enraged Democratic legislators. It is still a problem for Israel that the Iran deal is perceived in the US (much less so in Israel) as a partisan issue. But at that point in time Netanyahu was ready to pay a political price with the Democratic Party to scuttle a deal he perceive as highly dangerous for Israel.

Did he achieve what he wanted? At the time of the speech he did not. A deal was signed. Israel was ignored. Netanyahu was ridiculed for his speech. Yet a seed was planted. His speech did establish Israel's

In My Opinion: The Flawed Iranian Deal

” …From now to November you have time to test every candidate for the House and the Senate. Only give your vote in November to the candidates who will stand unequivocally for Israel's safety and security as well as ours here in the USA … “

Johnstem BridgeThe Iranian Deal was flawed before it was ever signed by the signatories. Kerry made it out to be nuclear containment thereby misleading the past administration. As a result, when asked why Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and destabilization of the Middle East the world was not included in the negotiations, President Obama responded with Kerry's line; this is only to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes. In the end, the US did not prevent Iran from its terrorist sponsorship or from obtaining complete nuclear capabilities in just a few years. In addition,Iran out negotiated and won against all other five nations.

It received $150 billion plus another 1.5 billion in cash. Both were unrestricted that it could use to sponsor terrorism, to develop and test long range missiles. Heavy sanctions were removed and allowed it to sell oil and generate an additional 3 billion monthly income that it uses to supplement insurrection where ever it can. Also some of that money is being given as a reward to Hamas, the Palestinians, and Hezbollah when they murder an Israeli man, woman or child.

I don't know what you are going to do with your vote in the elections this fall, but I will NOT be voting for candidates for the House and the Senate, who knowingly chose to support this flawed deal. If your Senator or Congressman voted for it as well, I hope you will decide now not to reward them with your vote this November. Prime Minister Netanyahu twice warned joint sessions of both houses of Congress the dangers of this deal and they turned deaf ears to his warnings.

Mike Pompeo Travels To North Korea To Lay Ground For Trump's Summit With Kim Jong Un

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has traveled to North Korea to lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un. 

Mike Pompeo - Kim Jong Un - Trump

While there, Pompeo says he will raise the plight of the three Christian Americans detained by North Korea, but has no commitments for their release. 

Pompeo said he hopes North Korea will “do the right thing” by releasing the three Americans. U.S. officials have told ABC News they expect them to be released before the Trump-Kim meeting.

“We've been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months. We'll talk about it again. It'd be a great gesture if they'd agree to do so,” Pompeo added, speaking to reporters.

The trip – Pompeo's second to the highly secretive country – is a sign of the Trump administration accelerating the diplomatic opening with North Korea, as it pushes for Kim to relinquish his nuclear missile program. Pompeo left Monday night in secret, stopping in Alaska and Japan, and onward to Pyongyang.

President Donald Trump revealed Pompeo's trip as he announced the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. 

“Today’s action sends a critical message: The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un,” Trump said.

The U.S. does not know exactly who Pompeo will meet, but he said, “We're prepared to meet anyone who can speak on behalf of the North Korean government and give us solid answers so we're prepared,” to pool reporters traveling with him.

On his first trip, he met with Kim himself,

Views of American democracy based on internet search data

The analysis of Google search trends has increased in recent yearsDemocracy is under attack in the United States and around the world. For example, recent elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy featured far-right candidates with explicitly nationalist agendas, and many of their parties gained record numbers of seats in their respective parliaments. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom meanwhile signaled a desire among some voters to elevate domestic interests over global ones. Nations such as Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, and Hungary have eroded basic civil liberties and shifted toward more authoritarian rule.

In the United States, there also are significant challenges facing democracy. Critics complain that President Donald Trump has eroded democracy by violating norms of civility and undermining news organizations by accusing them of being purveyors of “fake news.” Yale Law Professor Amy Chua has noted the rise of political tribalism that pits group against group and erodes common bonds.[1] Brookings scholar William Galston has analyzed populist threats to democracy based on economic anxiety and cultural divisions.[2] Harvard Professor Yascha Mounk talks about the dangers that arise when social media divide people and large moneyed interests gain disproportionate influence over the political process.[3] And in the most chilling interpretation, professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have a book describing how democracies can die a slow death through weak institutions and voter mistrust.[4]

In this paper, we look at views of U.S. democracy using internet search data. We examine public interest in democracy, fake news, money in politics, ethics concerns, the rule of law, and major political institutions in order to gauge how Americans are reacting to recent developments. This report is the second in a series of big data analysis that charts long-term trends in online search activity. Our first report focused on views about Donald Trump in his first year as president.[5]

The current analysis reveals several important results on views about American democracy:

  • Searches for democracy fluctuated throughout the Trump administration, but were especially high around the Charlottesville, Va., protests and the chief executive’s false equivalence of college protesters and white supremacists.
  • Trump’s accusations that news media are reporting inaccurate stories about him drove many searches for fake news, culminating in a peak around his “Fake News Awards” given out in January 2018.
  • Money and politics is a recurring concern in American democracy, and our analysis found that interest in billionaires peaked around the release of the “Paradise Papers” documenting the offshore financial holdings of wealthy individuals and high income concentration in the United States.
  • Ethical concerns drove public interest in emoluments, presidential conflicts of interest, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump conduct.
  • Searches for rule of law, accountability, and conflict of interest reached high points when Trump flouted norms of presidential behavior, such as in the cases of his firing FBI Director James Comey and pardoning the controversial Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
  • Searches for president, Congress, and the Supreme Court dovetailed with Trump’s inauguration address and with special elections.

Internet search queries:

Digital media platforms represent a lens through which to study contemporary politics. Tools like Google and Bing searches, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and Instagram sharing reveal important clues about what is happening today. For example, the topics on which people search show what is of interest to them and how that interest changes over time. Facebook likes and sharing behavior help people understand how others engage with important topics and how those reactions change over time. People’s reactions to tweets in terms of retweets and likes represent a form of engagement that measure type and intensity of reaction. Instagram sharing behavior reveals what people like and what images engage them.

The analysis of Google search trends has increased in recent years

UCI Exclusive: Israel And The US – A Dynamic Partnership: An Interview With Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Israel-and-the-U.S.-PLEASE-SHARE-THIS-VIDEO

Israel and the U.S. – A Dynamic Partnership

FULL TRANSCRIPT of our exclusive interview with Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger:

Founder and CEO of the Unity Coalition for Israel, Esther Levens, interviews Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger, a leading Israeli consultant to members of Israel’s Cabinet and Knesset. He regularly briefs US legislators and their staff on Israel’s contribution to vital US interests, on the root causes of international terrorism and on other issues of bilateral concern.

Esther Levens, CEO and Founder, Unity Coalition for Israel:

The Unity Coalition for Israel has long been a fan of the work of Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger. He is an author and columnist and has served as Ambassador and Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel's Embassy in Washington D.C. He is an internationally respected insider on US-Israel relations, Mideast politics and overseas investments in Israel's high tech arena.

CEO and Founder of the Unity Coalition for Israel spoke with Ambassador Ettinger on the wisdom of US investments in Israel which return many more times the monetary and security value to the United States than US taxpayers pay out. Following is a transcript of the Ambassador expounding on the topic which presents Israel in a most positive light not often seen in the mainstream media.

Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger:

Thank you. I view it as a privilege to communicate with the Unity Coalition for Israel in general, but especially with Esther Levens who I’ve known for many years and highly respected and admired for your contribution for enhanced US-Israel relations. You have made a difference for which I’m grateful.

When it comes to US – Israel relations, there is the reality  

None of Us Are Truly Free

Julie Fisher

This week I am preparing for Passover, a joyous holiday in which we commemorate our people’s journey from bondage to freedom.

Freedom is a theme that resonates for me, not simply as a philosophical topic for discussion at an upcoming seder, but as a down-to-earth ideal that motivates my daily actions.

These days, I spend my time working with a group of people who have tasted the bitterness of slavery, torture, and hardship, and who long for freedom, the African asylum-seeking community in Israel.

Seven years ago, when I moved to Israel with my three daughters and my husband, who served as United States Ambassador to Israel, I could never have imagined what my life would be like. As a spouse of a diplomat, I worked to foster the relationship between America and Israel through cultural programs and outreach visits to schools and hospitals.

Though our lives were filled with diplomatic responsibilities, I felt that something was missing. Doing my small part to repair the world, tikkun olam, was a value I learned early on from my parents. As a teenager in NFTY (Reform Jewish Youth Movement), I traveled with my best friend, Ann Kaner-Roth, z”l, to Washington, D.C., and met powerful role models, including Rabbi David Saperstein, who inspired us to turn our Jewish learning into action.

My oldest daughter and I began to volunteer each week in a dark and dingy gan (childcare center) filled to the brim with the children of asylum-seekers in South Tel Aviv. We were stunned that just 20 minutes from our fancy residence in Herzliya, young children spent their days in overcrowded, unsafe centers. It wasn’t unusual to see 50 children in one small room with one caregiver. We read stories and sang songs with the kids. We held the babies, who would otherwise lay in their cribs for hours on end with no human contact.

Soon I recruited others from the diplomatic and international community. After a tragic winter, when five babies died due to malnutrition and neglect, our focus shifted to humanitarian needs. We started an initiative, Invisible Kids, to provide food, diapers, and infant formula for children at risk.

The journey from bondage to freedom for our people, the Jewish people, took place centuries ago, but for the people I work with each day, the journey is still fresh in their minds. I hear about the pain and fear they carry with them from the

President Trump Delivers the State of the Union Address

“To every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.  If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.”

“Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants.  And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.”

– President Donald J. Trump

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This course connects the proverbial dots, drawing on a wealth of publicly available data and first-hand accounts to present a picture that has, for over a decade, been obscured, denied and suppressed; that America faces, in addition to the threat of violent jihad, another even more toxic danger – a stealthy and pre-violent form of warfare aimed at destroying our constitutional form of democratic government and free society. The Muslim Brotherhood is the prime-mover behind this seditious campaign, which it calls “civilization jihad.”  

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