Netanyahu slams deputy minister’s digs at US Jewry

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely
Updated 23 November 2017
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Netanyahu slams deputy minister’s digs at US Jewry

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rapped his deputy foreign minister for “offensive” remarks in which she said US Jews were too “comfortable” to understand threats to Israel.
In an interview on Tel Aviv-based i24 TV news channel, Tzipi Hotovely of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party was quizzed Wednesday on the growing gulf between Israel and US Jewry, particularly youth.
“Maybe they’re too young to remember how it feels to be a Jewish person without a Jewish homeland, without a Jewish state,” she said in English, adding that US Jewry “never send their children to fight for their country.”
“Most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the marines, going to Afghanistan or to Iraq,” she said.
“Most of them are having quite a convenient life, they don’t feel how it feels to be attacked by rockets.”
US-educated Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, described his deputy’s comments as offensive.
“There is no place for such attacks, and her remarks do not reflect the position of the State of Israel,” an English-language government statement quoted him as saying.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns Tzipi Hotovely’s offensive remarks regarding the American Jewish community,” it added.
The left-leaning Haaretz newspaper challenged Hotovely on the facts, pointing out that the head of the US Air Force, Gen. David Lee Goldfein is Jewish, along with others “in the highest ranks.”
“Around 200,000 US Jews live in Israel, with many young people serving in its military,” it said.
The Israeli Army and local media frequently air interviews with “lone soldiers” from the US; young men and women who have left their families at home and come to Israel for the express purpose of volunteering for army service, including combat units.
Divisions between Israel and the US Jewish community have grown lately over Netanyahu’s refusal to implement a deal allowing women and men to pray together at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
In Israel, Jewish religious observance is governed by Orthodox practice, while in the US the more flexible reform and Conservative streams are prevalent.
Netanyahu’s government is also sensitive to the demands of ultra-Orthodox political parties which sit in his coalition and provide vital support for its slender parliamentary majority.
Under pressure from them, Netanyahu in June froze indefinitely a previous commitment to allow egalitarian prayer at the wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
In accordance with strict Orthodox tradition, there are currently separate prayer sections for women and men at the wall, one of the last remnants of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 AD.


Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

An intended visit to Tehran was canceled and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Abadi faces US wrath at U-turn on Iran sanctions

  • Iran has maintained close ties to Iraq's government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, Tehran's archenemy
  • The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its alleged support for international terrorism

BAGHDAD: Failure by Iraq to comply fully with tough new US economic sanctions against Iran would be insane, analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi risked incurring US wrath after contradicting himself in the space of a few hours over whether his country would comply.
Amid diplomatic maneuvers, as he negotiates for a second term in office after divisive and contested elections, Abadi offended both Tehran and Washington with conflicting statements on the US sanctions, which were reimposed last week.
First, the prime minister said that while Iraq disapproved of the new sanctions, it would reluctantly comply. “We don’t support the sanctions because they are a strategic error, but we will comply with them,” he said.
“Our economic situation is also difficult and we sympathize with Iran. But. at the same time, I will not make grand slogans that destroy my people and my country just to make certain people happy.”
His position provoked anger in Iran. An intended visit to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the issue was canceled, and Abadi’s office denied that the visit had even been planned.
There was also criticism inside Iraq, especially from groups close to Tehran, such as the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr paramilitary movements.
Within hours, however, Abadi had reversed his position. “I did not say we abide by the sanctions, I said we abide by not using dollars in transactions. We have no other choice,” Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad.
Asked if Baghdad would stop imports of commodities, appliances and equipment by government companies from Iran, he said the matter was still being reviewed. “We honestly have not made any decision regarding this issue until now,” he said.
Michael Knights, the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “Iraq can’t afford to be cut off from the dollar-based global financial system, so it makes sense to avoid sanctioned Iranian financial entities. Iraq should also protect its dollar reserves.
“These are the only sane options for a country that desperately needs international investment.”
Iraq is the second-largest purchaser of Iranian non-oil exports, and bought about $6 billion worth of goods in 2017. It also buys Iranian-generated electricity to deal with chronic power cuts that have been a key factor sparking mass protests in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, the British renewable energy investor Quercus became the latest major company to pull out of Iran as a result of the new sanctions.
It halted construction of $570 million solar power plant in Iran, which would have been the sixth-largest in the world.