U.S. Briefs 3-13-12

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Following rocket barrage, U.S. says Israel has right to defend itself

“Israel has a right to defend itself,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told opposition leader Tzipi Livni in New York while Israel’s southern cities dealt with a barrage of rockets and missiles from Gaza.

Livni, who along with Clinton was attending Newsweek’s Women in the World conference, thanked Clinton for her support and said, “The international community must present a sharp and clear front in opposition to terrorism against citizens in the south, and Israel must continue its work to stop Qassam rocket launches.”

A total of 166 rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza (while 56 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome), sending residents of Israel’s southern cities running to bomb shelters and prompting the cancelation of classes, holiday events and large gatherings.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Report: U.S. offers Israel weapons in exchange for delaying attack on Iran until after election

The U.S. offered to give Israel weapons if it agrees to put off a pre-emptive attack on a perceived nuclear Iran, according to reports.

Various media outlets said President Barack Obama promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes in exchange for Israel’s assurance that it will not attack Iran until at least 2013—after the U.S. presidential elections. The White House, however, denied these reports.

—JointMedia News Service

13 Israelis make Forbes annual list of ‘The World’s Billionaires’

Forbes magazine’s recently released annual list of “The World’s Billionaires” includes 13 Israelis.

Among the 1,226 people listed, Idan Ofer, son of the late shipping tycoon Sammy Ofer who died in June of last year, topped the list of Israeli billionaires, coming in at the 161st spot with a net worth of $6.2 billion. Trailing not far behind Ofer in the 169th spot is Beny Steinmetz, who made his fortune in diamonds and real estate, and has an estimated net value of $5.9 billion. Sammy Ofer’s second son, Eyal Ofer, who has a net worth of $5.8 billion, ranks third among the Israeli billionaires and 173rd on the Forbes overall list.

Stef Wertheimer, who sold his industrial cutting tool manufacturer company Iscar to Warren Buffett in 2006 and, together with his family, has an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion was ranked 255th on the list.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Jewish leaders appeal to Pope for Gross release

Click photo to download. Caption: Alan Gross with his wife, Judy, in Jerusalem. Credit: Gross family.Leaders of more than 40 Jewish organizations wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI requesting intervention on behalf of American contractor Alan Gross, who is being held as a prisoner in Cuba for trying to set up the country’s Jews with Internet access.

Gross was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. “Since his arrest two years ago, his health has deteriorated. He suffers from diabetes and has lost a great deal of weight. Moreover, his mother and daughter were diagnosed with cancer and the family is in financial straits,” the letter reads.

The Pope “has been an outspoken advocate for human rights and his voice carries great authority and significance,” said Richard Stone, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

—JointMedia News Service

New third in command at DOJ defended man who colluded with al Qaeda

Tony West—a lawyer who defended John Walker Lindh, convicted of colluding with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and taking up arms against U.S. troops—on Monday formally began his role as acting associate attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

President Barack Obama’s appointment of West as DOJ’s third-ranking employee did not require Senate confirmation. West’s job includes “litigating national security cases, such as habeas corpus petitions brought by detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” according to the DOJ.

“In any other Justice Department, in any other administration, representing the enemies of the United States would have been a disqualifier for a job inside DOJ setting detainee policy,” J. Christian Adams, a former DOJ official in the department’s civil rights division, told the Washington Free Beacon. “But in [Attorney General] Eric Holder’s DOJ, it seems to be the chief prerequisite.”

—JointMedia News News Service

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow named AIPAC’s top campus ally

Ido Adulamy, the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow to Hillel at the University of Southern California, was honored at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference as the “AIPAC Ally of the Year.”

Adulamy is one of 50 Israel Fellows working with Hillel on college campuses across North America. Campuses “are a central battleground for the global campaign to delegitimize Israel,” the Jewish Agency said in a press release.

This marked the second consecutive year AIPAC chose a Jewish Agency fellow as its top campus ally. The Jewish Agency plans to increase its number of Israel Fellows to 100.

“By dramatically expanding this program, as we have done and will continue to do, the Jewish Agency is providing students across North America with the tools to understand and articulate the importance of Israel to the Jewish people,” Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said in a statement.

—JointMedia News Service

American musicians boycott Israel

Click photo to download. Caption: Sting. Credit: Lionel Urman.Several musicians have recently cited human rights violations as the reason for canceling concerts in Israel. Some maintain connections with actual human rights violators from other countries around the world, while others are suspected of ulterior financial motives.

Grammy-winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson recently canceled a concert in Israel due to pressure from Palestinian activists. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart canceled their Israeli concert for the same reason. In both cases, the musicians either refused to give a full refund or went on to book a more lucrative show in another country.

American music icon Sting is an “ambassador” for Amnesty International, an organization known for condemning what it calls Israeli human rights violations. This has not stopped the singer from taking pictures with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator whose government is now killing innocent civilians all over the country. For a large fee, Sting has also performed in countries such as Uzbekistan, whose dictators are notorious for brutally suppressing opposition.

—JointMedia News Service

Daytona 500 car sponsored by joint U.S.-Israel team

Those who watched last month’s Daytona 500—‘‘The Great American Race’’—might not have noticed the Israeli national flag painted on the No. 49 Robinson-Blakeney Toyota driven by J.J. Yeley.

The car was sponsored by America-Israel Racing, a non-profit organization that looks ‘‘to promote awareness of and support by Americans for Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East’’ and seeks ‘‘to educate Americans on the importance [of] the United States’ relationship with Israel through exposure provided by one of the largest spectator sports in the world.’’ 

In addition to the Star of David, the American national flag of the United States and a bald eagle with an olive branch in its beak were painted on the car.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on March 12, 2012 and filed under Briefs, U.S..