September 19, 2018

Bolton Threatens Sanctions Against ICC

National Security Adviser John Bolton discusses "Protecting American Constitutionalism and Sovereignty from International Threats," at a forum hosted by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies in Washington, U.S. September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

John Bolton, President Trump’s National Security Adviser, threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday in response to the entity’s potential investigation into the United States for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

At a Federalist Society luncheon, Bolton declared that the court has no jurisdiction over the United States and its allies and called the ICC “illegitimate.”

The International Criminal Court unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests,” Bolton said.

Bolton added, “If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly.”

The ICC called Bolton’s statement “shocking” and said they would be “undeterred” by it.

I think what the U.S. is promoting is a sense of the ‘righteousness’ and being above the law,” ICC representative Amal Nasser told the Chicago Tribune in an email.

Israel recently protested against the ICC for launching an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians; the Palestinian Authority is a member of the ICC despite not being an official state. The United States U.S and Israel are among the countries that do not recognize the ICC as a legitimate body.

Trump Names John Bolton As His New National Security Adviser

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S. February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

President Trump announced on Twitter on Mar. 22 that former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton would be his new national security adviser.

Trump tweeted that Bolton would be instated on April 9:

 

 

The New York Times originally broke the news, reporting that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Trump had been discussing him leaving the job for awhile now but the timing was accelerated to end the speculation and to ensure that Trump had the security team he wanted before he meets with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

McMaster and Trump have been clashing for quite some time.

“General McMaster’s serious, somber style and preference for order made him an uncomfortable fit with a president whose style is looser, and who has little patience for the detail and nuance of complex national security issues,” the Times reported. “They had differed on policy, with General McMaster cautioning against ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran without a strategy for what would come next, and tangling with Mr. Trump over the strategy for American forces in Afghanistan.”

McMaster also seemed to be less of a friend to Israel and softer on radical Islam than Trump, as McMaster had reportedly viewed Israel as “an occupying power” and screamed at the Israelis for their concerns over Hezbollah.

Bolton, on the other hand, is as pro-Israel as it gets. In November, he wrote an op-ed for Fox News calling for the American embassy to be moved to Jerusalem as soon as possible and in May, Bolton told the Jerusalem Post, “I don’t think the two-state solution is viable anymore.” Bolton argued that Judea and Samaria should be divided between Israel and Jordan and the Gaza Strip should be given to Egypt. When Bolton was assistant secretary of state from 1989-1993, “he coordinated the effort to rescind the United Nations resolution from the 1970s that equated Zionism with racism,” according to Hank Berrien of the Daily Wire.

The former U.N. ambassador has also detailed a lengthy exit strategy for leaving the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting that there is an increased likelihood that Trump will pull out from the deal altogether. Bolton has also been a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed in February titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

Briefs: Olmert numbers rise after mystery Syria raid, Bolton backs Iran attack

Poll: Olmert Boosted by Syria Raid

According to Tuesday’s Yediot Achronot survey, 35 percent of Israelis rate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert performance as “good” following the reported Sept. 6 strike against a strategic military target in northern Syria. Sixty-three percent called Olmert’s performance “not good,” while 2 percent had no response. The pollster, Dahaf, noted that a similar survey two weeks ago found 25 percent supporting Olmert and 70 percent opposing the embattled prime minister.

Olmert has been at pains to shore up his popularity since last year’s Lebanon war, whose setbacks many Israelis blamed on government incompetence and media leaks. Jerusalem has declined all comment on the Syria incident, which U.S. officials have speculated targeted a nuclear facility supplied by North Korea. If this indeed was the case, 78 percent of Israelis polled by Dahaf said they supported the operation, 10 percent were opposed and 12 percent had no response. Fifty-one percent of respondents said the incident had not affected the chances of Israel going to war with Syria, despite Damascus’s pledges to retaliate.

Thirty-two percent saw an increased chance of war, 13 percent a decreased chance of war and 4 percent had no reponse. The survey had 441 Jewish Israeli respondents and a 4 percent margin of error.

Bolton: U.S. Backs Israeli Pre-Emption

The United States would stand behind any pre-emptive attack by Israel on neighboring countries believed to have nuclear weapons programs, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said in an interview published Tuesday in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot. Bolton’s remarks following Israel’s alleged air raid Sept. 6 in Syria is consistent with longstanding U.S. suspicions that Damascus had received nuclear material from North Korea. Israel has not formally commented on the incident, which has stirred speculation that a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could be next. Bolton said such actions would find support in Washington.

“The greatest concern is to prevent Iran and other countries in the region from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Bolton said. “We’re talking about a clear message to Iran — Israel has the right to self-defense –and that includes offensive operations against WMD facilities that pose a threat to Israel. The United States would justify such attacks.”

Jordan, U.S. Sign Nuclear Agreement

A memorandum of understanding, signed Sunday in Vienna, commits Jordan and the United States to work together to develop “appropriate power reactors, fuel service arrangements, civilian training, nuclear safety, energy technology and other related areas,” according to a statement posted on the Web site of the U.S. embassy in Amman. The agreement is part of the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, an effort to promote clean energy while preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons. Jordan, like a number of other Arab nations, has suggested that it would consider a nuclear weapons program should Iran achieve one.

Hamas: Conference Will Fail

Terrorist group Hamas said an upcoming peace conference between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will fail.

“The fall conference will be a failure and needs no one to thwart or abort it,” the terrorist faction said in a statement Monday on the U.S.-sponsored gathering. “It appears that this has driven the two sides to seek weak excuses.”

Hamas appeared to be referring to efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who are due to convene in Washington in November, to lower expectations of a breakthrough. Abbas, who broke with Hamas after its June coup in the Gaza Strip, has tried to prod Olmert into making concrete diplomatic concessions on a future Palestinian state. But Olmert instead seems to be aiming for a less binding statement of principles with Abbas. Unnamed Abbas aides told Israeli media this week that the Palestinian Authority may withdraw from the conference.

Holocaust Denier’s Sentence Upheld

The German Federal High Court confirmed Monday that it has upheld the 68-year-old Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel’s five-year prison sentence. On Sept. 12, the court rejected a 600-page proposed revision in the sentence, according to German news reports. After a yearlong trial Zundel, one of the world’s most active Holocaust deniers, was sentenced Feb. 15 by the Mannheim district court on charges of denying the Holocaust on his Canada and U.S.-based Internet site.

In justifying the sentence, the presiding judge, Ulrich Meinerzhagen, had described Zundel as an “extreme anti-Semite” and “committed National Socialist” who sought to glamorize Hitler and make him seem harmless. Zundel, a German native, was arrested in Canada in February 2003 and deported to Germany two years later. Reportedly he is one of the first right-wing extremists to use the Internet to spread hate material worldwide.

Peres, Madonna Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Madonna, in Israel for Rosh Hashanah with fellow Kabbalah devotees, traveled secretly to Jerusalem Saturday evening for an audience with Israeli president Shimon Peres.

“I can’t believe I’m celebrating the new year in the Land of Israel together with you,” the pop idol was quoted as telling the elder statesman. “This is a dream come true.”

According to media reports, Madonna and Peres spent an hour and a half discussing current affairs and the need to promote peace.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

News Briefs

John Bolton’s tough pro-Israel rhetoric at the United Nations during Israel’s recent crisis has galvanized Jewish support for the once-embattled nominee — and may have helped secure his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key Jewish opponent of Bolton a year ago, said he now is undecided, principally because of the Israel issue.

“I’m assessing it,” Schumer said on CNN last weekend. “A lot of Democrats are deciding, weighing the positive of Bolton that he’s been for Israel and negative that he has almost an antagonistic, ‘go at it alone’ attitude to the nations of the world, which we need with us to fight a war on terror.”

Bolton has been steadfast in supporting Israel in its crisis in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

Last year, Democrats had the minimum 41 votes in the Senate to block Bolton. This year, Schumer said on CNN, he doubts his party has the numbers for a similar filibuster.

That could be due partly to enthusiastic Jewish lobbying this time around. The American Jewish Committee reversed its policy of not weighing in on nominations, and sent a letter to all 100 U.S. senators urging them to vote yes.

Similar endorsements have rolled in from the Anti-Defamation League, Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, Zionist Organization of America and Republican Jewish Coalition.

Aryan Leaders Convicted

The two top bosses of the Aryan Brotherhood nationwide prison gang were convicted Friday of murder and racketeering by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana. Barry “The Baron” Mills and Tyler “The Hulk” Bingham were found guilty of ordering dozen of bloody prison attacks, mainly on suspected informers and black inmates, from the their maximum security cellblocks. In the penalty phase of the trial, starting Aug. 15, jurors will decide whether the two men will be executed or spend life in prison.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Mandatory Christian Studies in Ukraine Irk Jewish Leaders

Jewish leaders in Ukraine are criticizing a decision to introduce Christian ethics studies into the nation’s public school curriculum.

Ukraine’s Education and Science Ministry last month made ethics a mandatory subject starting this school year, which begins Sept. 1. The ministry said the move is an attempt to teach middle-school students spiritual and moral values.According to the ministry, students will choose one of three tracks: Christian ethics, philosophical ethics or the foundation of religious ethics. The last means that any major faith may propose a course on its own ethics.

Jewish leaders have yet to propose an alternative for Jewish students — and say it would be better if no religious ethics were taught at public schools.”A chance to decide between the three options is better than just having one option, Christian ethics,” said Josef Zissels, head of the Ukrainian Va’ad, a Jewish umbrella organization.

Australian Police Probe Synagogue Attack

Police in Sydney, Australia, are searching for 10 men who attacked a synagogue in the city’s suburbs. Rabbi Yossi Wernick, 32, who came to Sydney a year ago from New York, was at home with his family when the attack took place. The house, adjacent to the Parramatta synagogue, was also attacked with bricks and lumps of concrete that damaged doors, windows and the rabbi’s car. No one was hurt in the incident, believed to be the work of men of Middle Eastern origin. Wernick told media that it was a “shame to bring the current conflict here.”

Jewish Students Send Petition to Annan

A pro-Israel student petition was delivered to Kofi Annan on Monday. The petition, which garnered more than 43,000 signatures, was organized by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. The document asks the U.N. secretary-general to “join us in clearly and immediately reaffirming the right of Israel to defend its citizens and ensure its security in the face of relentless attacks, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah.”

Poet, Scholar Fleischer Dies in Jerusalem

Ezra Fleischer, a poet and scholar who shed new light on the history of Jewish prayer, died July 25 in Jerusalem. Fleischer, who taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, showed that modern Jewish prayer developed after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. He helped to study the Cairo Genizah, a medieval set of documents found in the late 1800s. Born in 1928 in what is now Romania, he was imprisoned for his Zionist activities after World War II, where he wrote a poem, “Massa Gog,” that won the Israel Prize in 1959. He immigrated to Israel in 1960.

Former Chief Rabbi of Romania Dies at 95

Alexander Safran, the former chief rabbi of Romania who tried to save Romanian Jews during World War II has died. He was 95. Safran tried to prevent Romania’s pro-Nazi regime from deporting Jews to concentration camps. He was later the chief rabbi of Geneva and a professor of philosophy.

Australian TV Regrets Program

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation apologized for anti-Israel content on a children’s televison show.

In a letter to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the broadcasting company said the “Behind the News” program, which described Hezbollah fighters as “soldiers” and “refugees” whose “land was taken by Israel,” was biased.

Shabbat in Cambodia

Some 25 people attended a rare Shabbat service in Cambodia. The July 28 event was hosted by two Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Motti Seligson and Levi Kotlarsky, who are part of the Chabad Summer Peace Corps.

The corps sends more than 200 young rabbis around the world to make Judaism accessible to Jews in exotic locales.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency