KURTENBACH: Pope Francis in the US and Benjamin Netanyahu

KURTENBACH: Pope Francis in the US and Benjamin Netanyahu

Postby Oscar » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:57 pm

Pope Francis in the U.S. and Benjamin Netanyahu

October 1, 2015

To the Editor,

It may be somewhat presumptuous for this aging peasant to make comments on the recent presentation by Pope Francis to a joint session of the U.S. Congress and the Senate a few days ago, by comparing it to a speech by Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, on March 3rd. 2015 to the same American political group.

However, it is necessary to observe that some U.S. politicians chose not to hear Netanyahu. But those American politicians that listened to Netanyahu speak on that day gave him 27 standing ovations!

It appears that many concerned people, besides Catholics or members of other faiths, even people without religious convictions, are impressed and encouraged by Pope Francis's message of hope: his concern for climate change, the need for all people to recognize the cause and effects of oppression and poverty, and certainly the need to eliminate nuclear weapons and armed conflicts.

For these words of wisdom and peace, the U.S. Congress and Senate gave Pope Francis enthusiastic support and some standing ovations.

Therefore, it is difficult to understand how some members of the Congress and the Senate could justify an award to the Prime Minister of Israel with 27 standing ovations, which took place about 7 months after Israeli's Army and Air Force invaded Gaza in 2014, killing over 2000 Palestinian men, women and children and injuring thousands more. Bombing by Israel's Air Force destroyed many Gazan homes, public buildings, including schools and hospitals.

The conflict between Gaza and Israel is caused by the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

It is quite obvious that a few American and Canadian politicians, and the manufacturers of the weapons of war prefer to settle differences using bombs and bullets.

However, it is wonderfully reassuring to know that millions of human beings were overjoyed to hear Pope Francis' message of love and peace.

There is hope for our troubled world.

Leo Kurtenbach
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Re: KURTENBACH: Pope Francis in the US and Benjamin Netanya

Postby Oscar » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:45 pm

Obama Wants to Stop Subsidizing Israel's Defense Industry

[ https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles ... e-industry ]

JUNE 22, 2016 3:54 PM EDT By Eli Lake

If you want to understand just how special the U.S.-Israel relationship really is, look no further than the annual aid package. Israel is not only the greatest beneficiary of U.S. defense assistance, but also the only one allowed to spend a portion of that assistance on weapons and equipment from its own industry. Everyone else has to buy American.

President Barack Obama is now looking to end this U.S. subsidy of Israel's defense sector, according to U.S. and Israeli officials. They say the "offshore procurement" provision, unique to Israel's aid package, is one of the last obstacles to completing an agreement to extend aid until 2029. Obama would like to phase out the agreement that allows Israel to spend 26 percent of U.S. annual aid at home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so far, disagrees.

In one respect this is surprising. Obama and his supporters like to tout U.S. military aid to Israel as an act of the president's unprecedented generosity. The U.S. has given Israel nearly $24 billion under Obama, more than any other U.S. president. As National Security Adviser Susan Rice said this month, "Even in these days of belt tightening, we are prepared to sign the single largest military assistance package -- with any country -- in American history," adding that it today comprises more than 50 percent of the total U.S. military aid budget.

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Like almost everything else in Israel, there is no consensus on whether Netanyahu should just accept the aid package as Obama proposes. Moshe Kahlon, Israel's finance minister and a former member of Netanyahu's Likud Party, called on the prime minister this week to take the deal as it is, even though he acknowledged it could be better. Meanwhile, a member of Kahlon's party, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren, has urged Netanyahu to go slow, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Elliott Abrams, who was a senior National Security Council official under President George W. Bush, told me he agrees with Oren. "If you do it this year, you will give Obama a talking point for why he is the best person for Israeli security, ever," he said. "And Obama will misuse that in his last months in office to produce his parameters for the peace talks."

Abrams has a point. Obama has been doing this since he came into office. He has boosted Israel's defense subsidy, as he has distanced America from Israel in both the Iran negotiations and on settlement growth in the West Bank. The lavish military aid was political cover for a foreign policy Israel's leaders opposed.

If Israel's leaders really want to deprive Obama and future U.S. presidents of this kind of political cover, there is an easy solution. They could negotiate a deal to wean the country, over time, off the military aid altogether. Indeed, an Israeli leader did just that when it came to U.S. economic assistance in the 1990s. His name was Benjamin Netanyahu.
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