President Obama speaking yesterday at the White House on Foreign Policy: —On Iran Talks: “Second, John [Kerry] updated me on the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Over the last six months, Iran has met its commitments under the interim deal we reached last year — halting the progress of its nuclear program, allowing more inspections and rolling back its more dangerous stockpile of nuclear material. Meanwhile, we are working with our P5-plus-1 partners and Iran to reach a comprehensive agreement that assures us that Iran’s program will, in fact, be peaceful and that they won’t obtain a nuclear weapon.
“Based on consultations with Sec. Kerry and my national security team, it’s clear to me that we have made real progress in several areas and that we have a credible way forward. But as we approach a deadline of July 20th under the interim deal, there are still some significant gaps between the international community and Iran, and we have more work to do. So over the next few days, we’ll continue consulting with Congress — and our team will continue discussions with Iran and our partners –- as we determine whether additional time is necessary to extend our negotiations.
On the Middle East: “Third, we continue to support diplomatic efforts to end the violence between Israel and Hamas. As I’ve said repeatedly, Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people. There is no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets. And I’m proud that the Iron Dome system that Americans helped Israel develop and fund has saved many Israeli lives. But over the past two weeks, we’ve all been heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza —- men, women and children who were caught in the crossfire. That’s why we have been working with our partners in the region to pursue a cease-fire — to protect civilians on both sides. Yesterday, Israel did agree to a cease-fire. Unfortunately, Hamas continued to fire rockets at civilians, thereby prolonging the conflict.
“But the Israeli people and the Palestinian people don’t want to live like this. They deserve to live in peace and security, free from fear. And that’s why we are going to continue to encourage diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire, and we support Egypt’s continued efforts to bring this about. Over the next 24 hours we’ll continue to stay in close contact with our friends and parties in the region, and we will use all of our diplomatic resources and relationships to support efforts of closing a deal on a cease-fire. In the meantime, we’re going to continue to stress the need to protect civilians — in Gaza and in Israel –- and to avoid further escalation.” [Full Transcript/Video]
REUTERS: “Israeli-Palestinian clash echoed on University of California council” by Jennifer Chaussee: “A student with strong ties to Israel was appointed to the governing council of the University of California Wednesday amid debate similar to that which arose last year after the Board of Regents chose a Muslim student active in Palestinian causes. Abrahem “Avi” Oved, a 21-year-old economics major at UCLA who will replace Sadia Saifuddin, a UC Berkeley student who is the board’s first Muslim student member as student regent, said he would work with all students and represent them on the board… emails appear to show that the activist, Adam Milstein, contributed funds for use by students running for campus government positions at UCLA who described themselves as pro-Israel. “This obviously is a continuing effort to harass and intimidate students who are pro-Israel,” Milstein said Wednesday.” [Reuters]
NEW BATTLEFRONT: “Israelis and Hamas Talk — On Twitter” by Uri Blau for Mashable:“While fighting between Israel and Hamas continues into its second week, the social media network provides an interesting window through which to look at the, at times, darkly comic exchanges between the two sides. “QassamHebrew, I need a wake up call at 08:30 AM. Can you aim the sirens to that time? It will be very convenient,”Shy Halatzi from Tel Aviv tweeted to @QassamHebrew, the Twitter account operated by the military wing of Hamas in Hebrew to communicate with Israelis in their own language… The government of Israel, for its part, also uses Twitter to approach Palestinians in Gaza — and to spread its message to the rest of the world. The Israeli Defense Forces operates Twitter accounts in several languages, including Arabic.” [Mashable]
—Pando Goes After Israel’s Vocativ: “Vocativ’s ridiculous ISIS story fails to mention the company’s deep links to Israeli intelligence” by Gary Brecher. [PandoDaily]
PEW POLL: “How Americans Feel About Religious Groups: Jews, Catholics & Evangelicals Rated Warmly, Atheists and Muslims More Coldly”: The survey of 3,217 adults conducted in June asked respondents to rate their feelings toward various religious groups on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being coldest, 100 warmest and 50 meaning they have neither positive nor negative feelings. Some highlights: “Jews are the most popular religious group in America… Jews rated Evangelicals negatively but Evangelicals rated Jews highly… Jews receive their most positive ratings from whites but were also rated favorably by blacks and Hispanics. 61% of Americans say they know someone who is Jewish. Those who know someone that’s Jewish gave Jews a rating of 69, compared to 55 for those who don’t know anyone Jewish… Both Democrats & Republicans view Jews favorably but Republicans gave a higher rating. Jews are the only non-Christian group to receive a higher rating from Republicans than they do from Democrats.” [Pew]
HAPPENING TODAY: At 11:45am, the Foreign Policy Initiative, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Bipartisan Policy Center will host a public forum titled “High Standards and High Stakes: Defining Terms of an Acceptable Iran Nuclear Deal” at the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902. Members of Congress expected to speak: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA). [FPI]… From 12-1pm,the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of GW will hold a solidarity rally for Israel at Farragut Square in DC… At 7pm, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerrywill participate in an event as part of the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture Series at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in DC… At 7pm, Norpac will host a fundraiser for Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) at the home of Ben & Esther Chouake. Other hosts include Moshael & Zehava Straus, Mort Katz, and Rabbi Menachem Genack.
NEXT BIG THING? “Countable Wants To Make Politics A ‘Continual Conversation” – Political Peeps Check This Out: “Countable, available for iOS and coming to Android soon, presents a succinct summary of each piece of legislation Congress is considering, along with a short one-sentence argument in favor of the bill or against it. You are then able to vote “yay” or “nay.” When you are logged in through Facebook, Countable can automatically generate a message and send it to your representatives based on your location. Countable also keeps track of how the lawmakers vote and then informs you how your representatives’ votes stack up to your own, generating “compatibility rankings”… The app could also gain profits by becoming white label platform, where advocacy groups could pay to push constituents to a specific policy or policymaker.” [TechCrunch]
OOPS: “Arizona Jewish Congressional Candidate Mistakes YMCA Campers For Migrant Children” by Brahm Resnik for AZ Central: “Republican congressional candidate and state legislator Adam Kwasman had just raced up to Phoenix Tuesday morning from the Oracle protest over the expected arrival of dozens of migrant children at a shelter. He had tweeted from the scene, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.” He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus. Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces…. This is not compassion,” he said. But there was a problem with Kwasman’s story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren’t the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA’s Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon.”[AZ-Central]
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REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: Zuckerberg Accused by Land Developer of Not Honoring Deal:“Developer Mircea Voskerician says he gave the executive a 40 percent discount on the $4.3 million property in 2012 because he was promised introductions and referrals to boost his business that never materialized. He sued Zuckerberg to get the house back, claiming fraud, breach of contract and misrepresentation.” [Bloomberg] — Ghermezian family plans for Glenora mansion expansion halted by appeal board [EdmontonJournal]
STARTUP NATION: Israel to expand tax breaks to boost investments in start-ups: “Israel’s government plans to expand tax breaks to investors funding early stage start-ups as part of its strategy of promoting economic growth through innovation, the finance and economy ministries said on Wednesday…. To encourage more seed stage investment in the wake of a lack of funding from venture capital funds, the ministries have proposed simpler criteria for tax incentives such as deducting the amount invested from taxes owed. Under the new track, investment would need to be in start-ups that are less than three years old, earn no more than 1.5 million shekels in annual revenue and incur expenses up to 3 million shekels.” [Reuters] — Israel’s JFrog Raises $7M to Remake Software Development and Distribution [WSJ] — Israel payment technology provider Zooz raises $12M [Reuters]
SPORTS BLINK: “David Blatt Gets Ready to Lead LeBron James and the Cavaliers” by Billy Witz on B12 of the NYTimes: “After establishing himself as one of international basketball’s best coaches, the Boston-bred, Princeton-educated, Hebrew-speaking Blatt is returning to the United States not as an end-of-the-bench assistant, as he had long envisioned, but as the first-year coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As such, he will be a central character in what is certain to be the N.B.A.’s most compelling story line next season: James’s decision to return home and try to win a title for Cleveland…
The Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, also saw in Blatt something of a kindred spirit. Beyond their Jewish roots and their ties to Israel, Gilbert and Blatt can be viewed as mavericks… “You’ve got to understand, I have a plethora of experiences where the expectations are higher than many of the teams that are here,” Blatt said. “At Maccabi Tel Aviv, if you lose a game, it’s a national story for a week. The idea of pressure and expectations? Man, I’m so far ahead of the game.” [NYTimes]
TOP-OPS: Natan Sharansky: “Marshaling the Web to Fight Tyrants: Western leaders often disappoint dissidents, but now regular citizens world-wide can help out” [WSJ] — David Horowitz: “Jon Stewart — so funny, so wrong on Israel-Gaza” [ToI] — Mark Levin: “Jon Stewart not funny on Israel”[Politico] — Ido Aharoni: “Israel Operation Goal Is Peace” [Bloomberg] — Jerry Seib: “Obama’s Impending Diplomatic Decisions On Iran and Israel” [WSJ] — Jennifer Rubin: “Leading from the front is… Israel” [WashPost] — David Suissa: “Israel needs an Irony Dome” [JewishJournal] — Consul-General DJ Schneeweiss: “Canada is Israel’s ‘most stalwart’ friend” [TorontoSun]
MSNBC Host Chris Matthews delivers strong defense of Israel (Hardball 07/15/14): “Israel went out and found the killers of the Palestinian boy. They arrested them. They charged them. They clearly mean business in punishing the guilty. Now, what about the other side? What about the Palestinians? What have they done to render justice? .. I have thought for a while about when we will have true peace between Israel and its neighbors. It’s when the Arabs are ready to punish an Arab for killing a Jew. That’s the day when the people of Israel will be ready to trust their neighbors, the day when they show the most primitive respect for the Jewish people. The respect for the right to their homeland, but even more to their right to life.” [Newsbusters]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “City of Miami Beach Defends Eruv, Atheists Compare Sticks and String To Sharia Law” by Michael Miller in the Miami New Times: “On Monday, Miami Beach city attorney Raul Aguila responded to complaints that an eruv in Pinetree park is unconstitutional. Aguila told the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) that the city-sanctioned eruv is “consistent” with U.S. court decisions. But the FFRF has shot back, arguing that “there is nothing secular” about the symbolic sticks and string structure. “What do you think the reaction would be if Miami Beach endorsed and even helped devout Muslims rope off an area in which to adhere to Sharia law?” wrote FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel.
“The religious freedom flap began two months ago when Miami Beach residents complained about an eruv that had popped up in Pinetree Park. The argument escalated last week when FFR got involved. The national atheist organization complained to the City of Miami Beach, arguing that the eruv was an unconstitutional merger of church and state…. In its July 10 letter, FFRF went so far as to suggest that the eruv had effectively roped Miami Beach’s non-orthodox residents into a religion, community, or even “family” without their knowledge or consent. In a letter dated the same day, city attorney Aguila answered that “The City of Miami has acted consistent with the decisions of various courts in the United States… that an Eruv does not violate the establishment clause, and can be legally permitted.”[MiamiNewTimes]
—NYTimes: “A Treasure House of Yiddish Prepares to Close” by Corey Kilgannon on page A18 in today’s New York Times. [NYTimes]
DESSERT: Must Watch – “Rabbi Rabbs on the Travel Channel’s Chow Masters” The crew visits Mexi Kosher in Los Angeles. [YouTube]
That’s all folks, have a great Thursday!
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