Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(NEWS) New US Security Chief Has Solid Pro-Israel Ties

"President Obama replaced his national security adviser with a longtime political operative who has close ties to the Jewish community.

Gen. Jim Jones will be succeeded by his deputy, Thomas Donilon, the White House announced last Friday.

Donilon, a former chief of staff for Clinton administration Secretary of State Warren Christopher, has solid ties with the pro-Israel community.

'Tom Donilon understand it’s a dangerous world,' Josh Block, the spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said in a statement. 'In every position he has held throughout his career in government, he has been a strong friend of the U.S.-Israel relationship.'

Donilon has been especially close to Vice President Joe Biden, considered the White House official with the warmest Jewish community ties. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill, and his brother, Michael, is a senior adviser to Biden.

'Tom Donilon has been my friend and adviser for nearly 25 years,' Biden said in a statement.

'These past two years, he has been at the heart of our foreign and national security policies. He brings to his new responsibilities a remarkable depth of knowledge about the challenges and opportunities our country faces around the world.'

Donilon also has served as a business lawyer. Among his clients was Penny Pritzker, the hotel magnate who is one of Obama’s longest-standing Jewish backers.

According to The New York Times, the decision to push out Jones was accelerated by White House anger at his apparent leaks to journalist Bob Woodward describing his disagreements with Obama’s political advisers.

Jones also was believed to be of the camp that set out Arab-Israeli peace as a necessary component to securing broader U.S. interests in the region.

Before assuming the job heading the National Security Council, Jones had led efforts under President Bush to bolster the Palestinian Authority through military training and economic assistance.

Obama and Jones reportedly clashed over a number of issues, including Jones’ more leisurely work pace.

Obama Waives Aid Restrictions for PA

President Obama issued a waiver allowing the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Obama’s waiver, published Oct. 7, sets aside recent laws requiring strict reporting requirements for any transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, in the final years of his presidency raised funding for the Palestinians from occasional spurts of $20 million to $400 million annually.

Obama has budgeted $500 million in assistance for the Palestinians. About half goes directly to the Palestinian Authority, with the rest directed to nonprofit groups.

Direct funding is usually required to undergo strict congressional oversight, according to the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.

Obama cited national security concerns in announcing the waiver, which did not reveal the amount or its purpose.

The Obama administration is pressing forward with direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, in part as a means toward containing Iran and radical groups in the region.

The waiver comes as the Palestinian Authority suspended the talks, demanding that Israel

Survivors’ Group, Cantor Repudiate GOP SS Re-Enactor

A Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group and a Republican leader rebuked a GOP congressional candidate for participating in Nazi re-enactments.

Rich Iott, a Toledo-area, Tea Party-backed candidate who is challenging incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur, belonged to Wiking from 2003 to 2007, The Atlantic reported last Friday. The group staged full-dress re-enactments of Nazi SS maneuvers.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants said in a statement Sunday that donning the SS uniform was 'profoundly disgraceful' and that Iott’s failure to apologize 'desecrates the memory of all victims of the Nazis, Jew and non-Jew.'

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the minority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, said he would 'absolutely repudiate that' when he was challenged on the issue by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a majority deputy whip. Cantor and Wasserman Schultz are Jewish.

In a statement on his website, Iott said he enjoyed a broad range of re-enactments, including playing U.S. soldiers from World War I and II.

'Never, in any of my re-enacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war, especially the Jewish community,' Iott said.

He would not apologize, instead blaming Kaptur for the revelations without showing evidence that her campaign had leaked the information.

The waiver comes as the Palestinian Authority suspended the talks, demanding that Israel extend a partial moratorium on West Bank settlement building.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that the Obama administration is offering the Palestinians incentives for staying in the talks, even if Israel does not extend the freeze." (source)

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