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Monday, September 30, 2013

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Look who's promoting tourism to Israel

Who'd a thunk it? BDS'er Joseph Dana is promoting tourism to Israel... via +972 magazine....
But it seems Dana has apparently “sold out” – by writing an EasyJet mag article promoting tourism & business in Israel (from p52-53).
A serious crime for a BDShole to be sure, brought to our attention by Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley.
Winstanley's tweets must be seen to be believed

By the way, for those who aren't flying EasyJet this month, Dana's article is here.


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Netanyahu's Likud rebels

A group of Likud MK's has banded together to stop our spineless Prime Minister from giving half the country away to a group of terrorists.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon on Sunday convened the heads of right-wing groups inside the Likud central committee he heads to plan strategies for blocking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from advancing an interim agreement with the PA.
The meeting was intended to counter-balance pressure to move the diplomatic process forward that Netanyahu is expected to encounter in Monday’s meeting with US President Barack Obama and over the next several months.
Danon stressed that the event was not an anti- Netanyahu meeting. He said the activists made a point of focusing their criticism on the head of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, repeatedly citing her speech to the J Street conference in Washington.
“We won’t sit silently while Livni cooks an unacceptable deal,” Danon said. “We can’t let there be industrial quiet.”
The activists decided to focus their pressure on the Likud’s top four ministers: Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan and Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom. The activists, who are close to the ministers, will push them to make public comments opposing an interim agreement with the Palestinians.
Some of the same central committee members were among the signatories of a full-page ad in Hebrew papers on Sunday that praised two ministers, four deputy ministers and four more MKs for statements they have made against giving up land. The ministers were Erdan and Transportation Minister Israel Katz.
Another full-page ad in the same papers called upon Sa’ar, Erdan, Ya’alon and Shalom to stop further releases of Palestinian terrorists.
The ad, which was taken out by families of terror victims, called upon the public to sign an online petition that has already been endorsed by more than 31,000 people.
Another campaign against concessions to the Palestinians will begin soon by the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The campaign will feature hawkish quotes by Netanyahu from his 1995 book, A Place Under the Sun.
 There needs to be lots of pressure like this on Netanyahu.

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France was ready to strike Syria, Obama decided to go to Congress instead

France was all ready to strike Syria. The strike had even been scheduled for August 31. But then, President Hussein Obama decided to go to Congress instead.
France was ready for a strike on chemical weapons facilities in Syria on the day US President Barack Obama decided to seek approval from Congress for the strike, French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur reported on Sunday.
Rafale fighter jets, armed with Scalp cruise missiles with a range of 250 km, were ready to fire at targets in western Syria, including Damascus, the paper reported. The jets were to attack while flying over international waters in the Mediterranean, avoiding Turkish airspace to prevent Syrian retaliation against its neighbor.
The strike was due to start at 3 a.m. on September 1, while everyone are asleep, to minimize civilian casualties, a government official told the paper.
After receiving indications from the Americans that the strike was imminent in the days leading up to the US president's announcement, Obama called Hollande on Saturday August 31 at 6:15 p.m., telling him he had decided to ask for Congress's approval before going ahead with the strike.
Hollande was stunned, the paper reported, and tried to convince Obama to reconsider, but was unsuccessful.
And you can bet that the next time that the US wants to enlist France in military action, the French will just be rarin' to go....

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Iranian spy arrested in Israel

Yes, yesterday was a travel day and I am somewhere in Europe today. I tried to post last night, but my internet connection crashed in the middle.

Israel's General Security Service has arrested a spy sent by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Among other things, he was scouting the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv. The man was arrested while trying to leave Israel on September 11.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said the 55-year-old suspect had been recruited by Iran’s Quds Force, the extraterritorial unit responsible for special operations, terrorism and subversion run by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The suspect was found with photographs of the US Embassy and Ben-Gurion Airport.
“During questioning, the suspect, Ali Mansouri, described entering Israel under a Belgian identity using the alias Alex Mans, as well as his recruitment and activation process by Iranian intelligence elements,” the Shin Bet said.
Mansouri is a Belgian citizen and a businessman of Iranian origin, who was instructed to arrive in Israel and set up a business network that would serve as a covert base of operations for the Iranian regime to act against Israeli and Western interests, the investigation revealed.
Iran offered him $1 million in exchange for his activities.
Mansouri answered directly to the Quds Force, which is led by Khamed Abdallahi and Majid Alawi, both of whom are subordinate to the unit’s notorious commander, Qassem Suleimani, the Shin Bet added.
He visited Israel in July 2012, January 2013 and, most recently, came on September 6, for a visit that ended in his arrest.
Security services found in his possession many photographs of sites in Israel, some of which are of interest to Iranian intelligence agencies, such as the US Embassy building in Tel Aviv.
During questioning, Mansouri divulged information about his handlers, including details about Haji Mustafa, a senior Quds Force headquarters operative, who met with Mansouri and received updates about his missions in Israel; Hajai Hamid Na’amti, a Quds Force liaison; and Mahdi Hanababai, Mansouri’s guide during his time in Israel.
Mansouri described how his handlers ordered him to cover up his flights to Iran, which he would take after his visits to Israel for debriefings and instructions.
 But under the 'moderate' Rohani, they love Israel..... Right....

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Change, American style

Heh. Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl.

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90 years ago today, 78% of 'Palestine' was given to the Hashemites

90 years ago today, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate for 'Palestine.' As part of that approval, 78% of the country's territory was turned over to Britain's ally, the Hashemite family of Jordan.
The British Mandate for Palestine, or simply the Mandate for Palestine, was a legal commission for the administration of the territory that had formerly constituted the Ottoman Sanjaks of Nablus, Acre, the Southern portion of the Beirut Vilayet, and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, prior to the Armistice of Mudros. The draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, amended via the 16 September 1922 Transjordan memorandum[1][2] and which came into effect on 29 September 1923[1] following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne.[3][4] The mandate ended at midnight on 14 May 1948.
The document was based on the principles contained in Article 22 of the draft Covenant of the League of Nations and the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 by the principal Allied and associated powers after the First World War.[1] The mandate formalised British rule in the southern part of Ottoman Syria from 1923–1948.
The formal objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone."[5] The mandate document formalised the division of the British protectorates - Palestine, to include a national home for the Jewish people, under direct British rule, and Transjordan, an Emirate governed semi-autonomously from Britain under the rule of the Hashemite family.[1]
Note that Wikipedia has done some clever editing above. They have changed what the document said to make it sound like 'Palestine' would include a national home for the Jewish people. But this is what the preamble to the mandate said:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[28]
Note - no mention of 'Palestine' 'including' a national home for the Jewish people.

Learn some history: Read the whole thing

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'Are we wild animals?'

Benny Weinthal reports from a Turkish camp full of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
The Jerusalem Post interviewed dozens of Syrian refugees at the Kilis refugee camp in Turkey, at another border crossing roughly a 90-minute drive from Jarabulus.
“All of the international community is working against us. Are we all wild animals?” asked a middle-aged Syrian man.
More than 200 Syrians, most of them families with young children, live in a trash-infested lot across from the refugee camp. Their names cannot be disclosed because of fear of retribution against family members still in Syria.
Converted shipping containers, enough to hold up to 12,000 refugees, provide crammed living quarters.
The real number of refugees in the camp, which is run by the Turkish government and the UN high commissioner for refugees, is thought to be between 15,000 and 17,000.
The Turkish authorities are slated to open a second camp in Kilis to provide shelter to refugees living outside the existing one. The newly arrived refugees, who arrived between six weeks and 10 days ago, have endured a grueling existence outside the camp. One asked that a “message be sent to the Turkish government to find a way to help us.”
Of course, if they were 'Palestinian refugees' being cared for by UNRWA, they would be able to be refugees for the next four generations or  more, and get millions of dollars in international assistance. Alas, no one gives a damn when Muslims kill or displace Muslims.

The world may yet live to regret this. I would bet that eventually some Islamic 'charitable' organization (along the lines of Hezbullah - the IHH would be perfect for this in Turkey) will eventually assist these people outside of the international and government NGO frameworks - and turn them into radical Islamists if they are not such already.

What could go wrong? 

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US Postal Service issues commemorative stamps for Obamacare rollout

Many more here (Hat Tip: Jack W).

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How the EU funds settlements in occupied territory

The European Union funds settlements in occupied territory - just not the occupied territory that you had in mind. The European Union funds settlements in the occupied territory of Northern Cyprus. That territory is occupied by Turkey. This is from Eugene Kontorovich.
Yet it turns out that despite the guidelines, the EU still knowingly and purposefully provides substantial direct financial assistance to settlements in occupied territory – in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, that is. So the EU funds the occupation of an EU member state. Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974 was condemned the UN Security Council, and the EU’s official policy is that the Turkish occupation is illegitimate, and Turkey must completely withdraw. The EU does not recognize the Turkish government in Northern Cyprus.

Nonetheless, the EU maintains an entire separate program to direct funds to Northern Cyprus.

They even put out a nice, colorful brochure last year.

The grants are pursuant to a 2006 regulation adopted by the EU to “end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community,” and allocated 259 million euros over five years, and now operates on an annual 28 million euro allocation (a sum that amounts to roughly 0.8 percent of Northern Cyprus[‘s GDP).

Projects include study abroad scholarships for students at the numerous Northern Cyprus universities (imagine such funding for students at Ariel University!); developing and diversifying the private sector through grants to small and medium- sized businesses; various kinds of infrastructure improvements (telecom upgrades, traffic safety, waste disposal); community development grants, funding to upgrade “cultural heritage” sites, and so forth. They even put on a concert.

The program basically gives grants to the Turkish business and private entities, and builds the infrastructure of the occupying government. The EU is doing exactly what its claims, in the settlement guidelines, international law prohibits.

The relevant EU resolutions and reports make no mention of any international legal question about such funding.
Read the whole thing. I'm sure you'll all be shocked to learn that the Europeans are hypocrites and anti-Semites.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

CNN translates Obama's call with Rohani


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Now that he has a bomb, Rohani talks to Obama

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

After the Sabbath started here in Israel, US President Hussein Obama had a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rohani. Here's the transcript of a White House press briefing about the phone call, which I received by email.

From: "White House Press Office" 

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release        September 27, 2013


Via Conference Call

4:34 P.M. EDT

     MS. HAYDEN:  Hi, everyone.  Happy Friday afternoon.  Thanks for joining us on this call.  We just wanted to talk to you a bit about the announcement the President made earlier, his phone call with President Rouhani of Iran.  We have a senior administration official, so this call is on background.  There’s no embargo.  This call is attributable to a senior administration official.

     And with that, I'll turn it over to our senior administration official.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, everybody.  We just wanted to give you some background on today’s phone call between President Obama and President Rouhani.  First of all, I'd note that today we had two significant developments underway in terms of our foreign policy -- frankly, neither of which could have been foreseen a month ago, and both of which hold out the prospect of significant progress on issues that are hugely important to the United States and the international community.

     The first, of course, is our efforts to reach an agreement on a U.N. Security Council resolution, the significant breakthrough that was made last night with Russia, and the opportunity that we now have to have a strong binding U.N. Security Council resolution that puts Syrian chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroys them. 

     This would, frankly, go beyond achieving the objective that we were contemplating with military action, which was to deter the use of chemical weapons, by achieving the destruction of those chemical weapons stockpiles within Syria through a process of transfer to international control and ultimately destruction.

     But to focus on the call with the Iranian President, I'll say a few words to open and then take your questions.  You, no doubt, saw the President’s comments.

     The call between the two leaders took place this afternoon at roughly 2:30 p.m.  The length of the call was roughly 15 minutes.  President Obama opened by congratulating President Rouhani on his election as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He noted the history of mistrust between our two nations, but also noted the constructive statements that President Rouhani had made since his election, including over the last several days in New York.

     The President indicated that we have an opportunity to make progress on resolving the nuclear issue and that we should work together, the United States and Iran, together with the P5-plus-1, to seize that opportunity. 

     The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear issue.  The two leaders agreed that their teams should work expeditiously to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue, again, in consultation with the P5-plus-1.  They both directed their foreign ministers  -- Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif -- to continue leading that effort for our respective governments; noted the importance of the upcoming P5-plus-1 plus Iran meeting in October, which will be the next milestone in our efforts to continue the discussions that began yesterday in New York and that went quite constructively at both the political and technical level.

     The two leaders noted the importance of building trust through this process, and President Obama underscored that we need to build trust in a way that pursues an agreement that is meaningful, transparent, as well as verifiable.

     President Obama also noted that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could open the door to a deeper relationship between the United States and Iran, which would be in our mutual interests and also in the interest of the region and the world.

     I’d also just note that, in addition to the nuclear issue and the discussion of the broader relationship between the United States and Iran, President Obama also noted our concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran -- Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini, and Amir Hekmati -- and noted our interest in seeing those Americans reunited with their families.

     With that, I’d be happy to take questions.

     Q    Thanks very much.  Can you tell us a little bit more about how this call came to pass, what interactions led to it,  and whether or not you think these two men will stay in touch going forward as well?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  First, Jeff, before I answer your question, I just want to clarify one thing that I just said.  Obviously, Mr. Abedini and Hekmati we know to be held in Iran.  Mr. Levinson has been missing, but we’ve been urging Iran for some time to help us locate him and reunite him with his family.  So I just want to clarify that.

     On your question, as you know, earlier this week when we were at the U.N. General Assembly, we indicated to the Iranians that President Obama was willing to have a discussion with President Rouhani.  That discussion could not come about in New York when the two leaders were there; as we said at the time, that proved too complicated to set up with the Iranians.  However, ours was a standing offer of engagement for the two Presidents. 

And then what happened is we learned earlier today from the Iranians that President Rouhani would speak -- would want to speak with President Obama on the phone before he left New York. So that led us to set up the phone call.  So we had indicated earlier in the week our openness to a discussion, and earlier today we heard from the Iranians that President Rouhani could speak by phone and wanted to speak by phone before he left for Iran.

     Q    Can you tell us more about sort of the dynamic between the two?  How would you describe the conversation?  And any sort of color that you can give us to reflect the atmosphere of the call?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  It was quite cordial in tone.  Again, the President was able to open by congratulating President Rouhani on his election.  I think that both leaders expressed the determination to try to resolve this issue peacefully and expeditiously.  So it was very much a call focused on giving further momentum to the efforts that are underway, on the nuclear issue in particular, and I think both leaders expressed that sense of urgency and the importance of trying to resolve our differences on the nuclear issue. 

So it was cordial, and the leaders were able to have several exchanges over the course of the call.  I’d note that also at the conclusion of the call, President Obama was able to say goodbye in Farsi, even after President Rouhani expressed that he wanted President Obama to have a nice day in English.  My Farsi is not that good, so I won’t make an effort to repeat what the President said, but I think that that was appreciated on the Iranian side.

     So altogether, roughly 15 minutes; a cordial tone between the two leaders; a determination to try to seize this opportunity, both noting the constructive comments that the other side had expressed, but also noting the differences that remain between our governments. 

And I realize I didn’t answer Jeff’s earlier question about whether this channel would remain open.  I think the fact of the matter is that the substance of this negotiation is going to take place through the P5-plus-1, both because there’s a political effort there with foreign ministers and political directors, but also there’s a lot of technical discussion that has to take place on the nuclear issues, and so there are technical teams that can work through these specific issues. 

So this is not a negotiation that we expect to take place at the presidential level.  We expect it to take place at the foreign minister and political director level through the P5-plus-1, with the support of a technical team.

     Again, however, the President’s view since 2007 has been that he’s willing to engage if he believes that it can help advance our interests and our objectives, and we felt like this conversation was able to add further momentum and direction to the respective U.S. and Iranian teams that will be working this through the P5-plus-1 process.

     Q    I’m just wondering -- I don’t know if you noticed, but it looked like Rouhani kind of tweeted about this call right before the announcement.  And I’m just wondering what you sort of make of those kinds of style points, and if you see those things as sort of another of these signs in terms of how he’s operating differently and -- using social media, reaching out to different groups.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  To answer your question, yes, we did notice President Rouhani’s Twitter feed, and frankly, we’ve watched him use social media to communicate over the course of the last several weeks.  And again, I think it’s a welcome development.  I think that President Rouhani’s efforts to reach out to people in the United States and around the world, including through social media, is a positive and constructive step.  President Obama also has a Twitter account, so we’ll be making use of that as well.

The only thing I’d note is one of the issues that we [have] also raised with respect to Iran is we’d like to see that Iranians have access to Facebook and Twitter, because, in the past, what we’ve noticed is Iran, like many other countries, has a youthful population that very much enjoys getting on and expressing their views through social media, so we believe that that’s a positive means for not just free expression, but communication.

So, again, noticed President Rouhani’s tweets; they certainly reflected the tone of the conversation between the two leaders; and we’ll continue to watch his Twitter feed.

We’ll take the next question.

Q    Could you talk a little bit more to why -- what you understand changed with Rouhani -- why he changed his mind since the no-handshake stance of the other day?  Also, did he speak through an interpreter, or did he speak English the whole time?  Did you guys call Israel or Congress before making the call to him?  And I’ve got one more -- did Carter ever call the Shah in 1979 before he fell?  Is this the first call between the U.S. and Iranian heads of state since when -- just since ’79, or since before?  Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Margaret. I’m just trying to make sure I get all of these.  In terms of what changed, I don’t know, I couldn’t speak for the Iranians.  I guess what I would say is that even when we reached out and had discussions with them in New York there was an openness to a discussion; they just could not make it work in New York.  It seemed to be too complicated for them at that time. 

In terms of what changed, again, I can’t speak for them.  I can speculate that there were meetings yesterday of the P5-plus-1; Secretary Kerry was able to speak with Foreign Minister Zarif in the context of that meeting. And all accounts were that meeting went quite well and there was a constructive discussion, a shared sense of urgency.  So I think, frankly, that the positive developments at the meeting yesterday further created an environment where it made sense for the two Presidents to talk. 

Similarly, I think President Obama made very clear in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly that he wanted to pursue this opening and opportunity to achieve a diplomatic resolution with Iran.  I’m sure that was similarly noted in Iran as well, and that led to the call today.

They did speak through an interpreter.  So the President communicated through an interpreter, as is common practice on foreign leader calls for the President.

We have been in touch with other governments.  I don’t have a list for you, but I do know that we have been in touch with the Israeli government, since you specifically asked about them.  And there have been calls made to leaders in Congress to update them on this call. 

So throughout this process, as the President noted, we’re going to continue to be in consultation with P5-plus-1 partners, but also regional partners like Israel, like our Gulf partners.  And of course, given the interest of members of Congress, their support for the sanctions regime has helped bring us to where we are today by applying that pressure on Iran, we’ll certainly continue to consult with Congress going forward as well.

We’ll take the next question.

Q    Do you think that one of the reasons this happened today is that there was, because of Iranian political sensitivities, a desire to have this communication before Rouhani got back to Iran, and that is another reason why there probably won’t be a lot of presidential calls in the future and this will be carried out at the foreign ministerial level and the P5-plus-1?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Major.  I realize I didn’t answer Margaret’s last question about Carter.  I don’t know off the top of my head, Margaret.  We’ll have to check the exact history for you.  But clearly, as the President indicated, there have not been discussions between the U.S. and Iranian Presidents since the revolution, as there were today, again, consistent with what President Obama has said since he was a candidate in 2007 that he’d be willing to engage the leader of Iran if he felt like it could advance our interests.

In terms of Major's question, again, I can't speak for the Iranians, Major.  I guess I would say that President Rouhani I think made a pretty concerted effort to communicate to the American people while he was here.  He was on a number of your networks.  He obviously spoke at the U.N. General Assembly.  There was the P5-plus-1 meeting yesterday that included the Iranian Foreign Minister -- again, a very high-level meeting for the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran already. 

So I think that that environment suggested that this was a part of his attendance at the U.N. General Assembly.  So without speaking for him, it takes place in the context of his trip to New York, his communications to the Iranian -- to the American people and the P5-plus-1 meeting yesterday.  

In terms of going forward, I don’t know that -- I certainly don’t expect that there will be regular interaction, for the reason that I said, which is that the center of gravity here is going to be through the P5-plus-1, through the foreign ministers, political directors and technical working groups. 

But I think the President's view is that if it can be helpful in advancing our interests and advancing a resolution to the nuclear issues, he certainly stands ready to engage President Rouhani, as he has through an exchange of letters and through this phone call today.  So it's something we're open to should it make sense and advance this effort going forward. 

We'll take another question.

Q    Can you talk about what changed between now and earlier in the week at the United Nations where they couldn’t have this meeting and it couldn’t happen, and why then the phone call could happen three days later?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Nedra, I'd just say -- I mentioned this -- I think that while I cannot speak for the Iranians, what we know changed is there was a constructive meeting yesterday at the foreign minister level, including Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif through the P5-plus-1. And similarly, I think President Obama's speech made clear his openness to pursuing diplomacy with the Iranian government to resolve this issue.  President Rouhani spoke to a number of audiences in New York.  So I think all of that contributed to an environment where this phone call went forward today. 

     Q    On Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming to the White House, and his government has been very critical of the way this opening from Iran has been received around the world.  How will the President sort of try and reassure Netanyahu about his intentions? 

And it also seems that there’s -- the red lines, if you like, for the Israelis are much more stringent than those of the President for Iran’s nuclear program and what they would have to do seemed to be more stringent than what the President has laid out.  How will they reconcile that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure thing, Steve.  First of all, as the President said today in his remarks, we’ll continue to keep the Israeli government updated on the progress of this diplomatic effort, along with other allies and partners around the world and in the region, to include for instance, our Gulf partners.

     In terms of the Israeli government’s skepticism, look, the Israeli government has every right to be skeptical of the Iranian government, given the statements that have come out of Iran in the past -- extraordinarily inflammatory statements about Israel, threats towards Israel’s existence -- given that history, I think it is entirely understandable and appropriate for the Israeli government to be deeply skeptical.

     I think what we would say is we’re trying to achieve an objective that we believe could serve the interests of the United States, Israel and the world, which is a resolution that involves Iran coming in line with its obligations, not developing a nuclear weapon.  And again, I think that that would advance our security; it would also advance Israel’s security if we can achieve a meaningful, transparent, verifiable agreement. 

     And again, Israel will be skeptical, and what we’d say is we’ve expressed skepticism.  We’ve made clear that words need to be followed by actions, and ultimately it’s going to be the actions of the Iranian government through this diplomatic process that is going to make the difference.  And so when we consider things like potential sanctions relief, we’re going to need to see a meaningful agreement and meaningful actions by the Iranian government before the pressure that's in place can be relieved.

     And again, we’re only where we are today because of that pressure and because of that comprehensive international sanctions regime, which has significantly impacted the Iranian economy.

     In terms of their discussions, I’m sure that the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu will focus on the subject of Iran and this ongoing process on red lines.  They’ve had a significant amount of conversation about this issue over the course of the last several years.  I think you saw them express earlier this year, when the President was in Israel, a common view of the question of red lines.  The bottom line for us is that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.  And as the President said, they can access peaceful nuclear energy -- we’ll have to determine that they’re in line with their international obligations, though, as a part of any agreement.

     Q    I was just looking ahead a little bit.  It feels like there’s kind of a buildup on the diplomatic side.  The next sort of concrete meeting will be in Geneva.  I guess I’m trying to get a sense, is there any thought now of upgrading that from the political level to having Secretary Kerry attend?  And when you look ahead, besides the P5-plus-1 track, are there other tracks you’re sort of considering now that this rapprochement with Iran seems to be gaining some steam?  I know there is a lot of talk about engaging Iran more directly in the Geneva II process to end the Syrian conflict.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  With respect to the meetings in Geneva at the P5-plus-1 level, I’ll let my State Department colleagues speak to that.  The expectation is that there will be representation at certainly the political director level from here.  I do understand that Cathy Ashton will be there, representing the European Union, and I believe that the Iranians have confirmed that Foreign Minister Zarif will be attending as their lead negotiator.  I don’t have any further updates in terms of the level that will be there other than certainly the political director level.

     In terms of other tracks, I would just also note that there will be significant technical discussions around these meetings. So many of these issues have to be resolved that involve transparency, verification, and understanding of Iranian nuclear capabilities -- involve significant technological expertise.  So that will be a track that accompanies the political discussions through the P5-plus-1. 

That’s really the main event and the center of gravity in terms of the negotiations.  As we’ve said, we’re open to -- in the past, we’ve been open to have the P5-plus-1, bilateral discussions as necessary, but this time we don’t have anything concrete in that regard.

     In terms of other contacts with the Iranians, I think that the Geneva II process -- the President has made clear that the chemical weapons progress can be a catalyst for progress on the political track.  I think the fact of the matter is the Iranians themselves have not expressed support for the Geneva agreement to date, so that would continue to be obviously necessary for further exploration of their participation through that process.

As a general matter -- and not as a concrete change in our posture -- but as a general matter, President Obama said at the U.N. that we welcome the influence of all nations to resolve the situation in Syria through a political process.  And I think he expressly indicated that Russia and Iran have a particular influence on the Assad regime.  So that’s a dynamic that I think could be important to the resolution of the Syrian conflict.

Q    Did Iran come up at the discussion when the President met the Prime Minister this morning?  And what was discussed if this came up?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for the question.  The President had extensive discussions with Prime Minister Singh on both security, political, and economic issues.  The subject of Iran comes up in that context.  I will say that we actually did not have this call scheduled until after the bilateral meeting between the President and Prime Minister Singh.  It was scheduled rather quickly after we received word from the Iranian government that they were interested in having a discussion before President Obama -- before President Rouhani left New York.

As a general matter, India has been a partner in our sanctions effort, and we realize that that has been a difficult step for the Indian government to take, given their energy relationship with Iran.  And that’s involved a lot of work by both us and India. 

I also have noted in the past that India has been supportive of resolving these types of issues diplomatically, so, certainly, I think it's a type of issue on which we can have continued contact and constructive discussions with India.

Q    I just wanted to circle back to see if you could add any more clarity to who initiated the call; I know we tried to ask and I know we've asked a couple of different ways.  And also, did you speak to the Israelis or anyone representing the government before or after the call?  And was any sort of timeline discussed?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Again, just to be clear on this, we indicated to the Iranians in New York, when we were there, that we were open to discussions between the two leaders on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly.  A meeting, an encounter did not come to fruition in New York.  But that was an open offer from the President given that he wants to pursue any type of discussion that can advance this objective of achieving a resolution to the nuclear issue.

     The Iranians reached out to us today to express an interest in having this call before President Rouhani left for Iran.  So, in some respects, it was both sides -- our initial indication of an interest in discussions earlier this week, and then today the Iranians indicating that President Rouhani wanted to have a call before he left to go back to Iran.

     On the issue of the Israelis, we were able to notify the Israeli government of the call.  I don’t want to get into the exact specific channel.  We’ve already been having discussions with Israel anyway, given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.  So we’ve had steady with communications and were therefore able to update them on this development. 

     The last question was on the timeframe.  And look, I think that what I’d say on the timeframe is that we want to move expeditiously and with a sense of urgency. We don’t want to set a hard a timeline, frankly, on these negotiations given that they’re very difficult issues.  We have significant differences in our negotiating positions, and that’s normal.  You don’t agree on the front end of a negotiation -- you have to work through these issues.

     But I think both leaders did express the need to move with a sense of urgency, and they both agreed to direct their teams to move forward with a sense of urgency to resolve this issue given the importance to us and the importance to Iran in terms of achieving a peaceful resolution.

     And, frankly, part of the point of the call I think was to provide that push and that momentum from the presidential level to the negotiations, so that now when there are discussions in Geneva next month, I think the clear direction from President Obama and President Rouhani will be to our respective teams in the P5-plus-1 to work aggressively in pursuit of a deal.  We don’t expect to achieve that in any one meeting, but we do believe it can be achieved, that there’s a basis for a resolution given the statements out of the Iranian government about not pursuing nuclear weapons, given the statements by President Obama about respecting the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.

     And this is something that we have an obligation to test.  If we can resolve this issue diplomatically, I think that would far and away be our preference and the preference of the international community.  It’s the President’s expressed preference from 2007 when he was a candidate, and 2009 when he came into office and said we would be willing to extend a hand if there was an unclenched fist.  And what we’ve seen is an unclenching, hopefully, of that fist and an opportunity to pursue diplomacy.  But those words and gestures towards diplomacy that have been undertaken here over the last several days are going to have to be followed by actions in order for us to achieve an agreement.

     Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call.

     MS. HAYDEN:  Just a reminder that this call was on background.  Our speaker was a senior administration officials.  Thanks, guys.

                             END                5:04 P.M. EDT
Rohani deleted the tweets mentioned in the briefing. Rohani's car was stoned and egged, and met by demonstrators shouting death to America and Israel on his return to Iran, so someone there is obviously unhappy about this. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered his ministers not to comment on the call. 

But perhaps most significantly, the reason that Rohani did this call is because it doesn't really matter any more. Within two months, reported Israel's Channel 2 on Friday, Iran will have enough uranium for a nuclear weapon. In fact, one of Israel's largest daily newspapers reported on Friday that Iran already has a nuclear weapon.
Ehud Yaari, the veteran analyst of Israel’s top-rated Channel 2 TV News, added that Iran also had more sophisticated centrifuges becoming available soon that could cut that time down to just “two or three weeks.”
On the same program, military analyst Roni Daniel derided the possibility of the “weak” US President Barack Obama holding firm in the face of the charm offensive mounted by new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani during his first foray onto the global stage at the UN General Assembly this week. Israel retained the capability to thwart Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons, Daniel said.
Rouhani has made plain this week that Iran seeks to have economic sanctions lifted. Yaari said Friday that Rouhani wants to freeze the nuclear program at a level that would enable it to break out to the bomb within weeks if it so chose.
Earlier Friday, the Maariv daily quoted government analysts saying that the Islamic Republic already possesses at least one bomb.
The paper’s Shalom Yerushalmi wrote that “government security sources up to date on development in Iran,” told him recently that Tehran has crossed all points of no return and already has its first nuclear weapon, and maybe more.
That report marked the first time a government official had been quoted saying Iran already has a nuclear weapon. No sources in the piece were named.
The information, if true, would mark a major shift in international relations and would be a game changer in terms of a regional power balance.
“It’s too late for Israel [to prevent an Iranian bomb]. Iran has crossed all the borders and all the constraints, and it has a first nuclear bomb in its possession, and maybe more than that,” Yerushalmi wrote, basing himself on what he says is the assessment he heard this week from state security sources. ”We are facing a historic change in the strategic balance of forces in the region.”
He then quoted a source who he says is deeply familiar with what he calls the relentless war against the Iranians. “This is no longer about how to prevent a bomb,” the source was quoted saying, “but about how to prevent its being launched, and what to do if and when.”
What could go wrong?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Turkey whines that Israel hasn't done enough yet

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is whining again that Israel has not done enough to deserve to have full diplomatic relations with his country restored (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's 68th meeting in New York, where he travelled with President Abdullah Gül and a high-level delegation, Davutoğlu noted that out of the three important conditions Turkey set, only one of them has been met by Israel.
In order to end a major crisis in ties between the two former allies, as part of a US-brokered rapprochement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March offered an apology to Turkey for the [Mavi Marmara] incident.
An apology was one of three demands Ankara made of Tel Aviv. The other two were compensation for the families of the passengers killed on the ship and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. 
Davutoğlu said Turkey's demand for an Israeli apology had been fulfilled, that there had been progress on the second condition of compensation and that the negotiations were still going on over the issue. 
"We hope this will be concluded," said Davutoğlu. 
Referring to the third condition of the ending of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Davutoğlu said that Turkey is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza, following recent developments in Egypt.
As I have reported before, what is holding up the compensation issue is a Turkish insistence on an Israeli admission of guilt, which was not part of the deal brokered by President Obama when he was here last March. There is no way Israel would agree to admit guilt for the Mavi Marmara incident. 

As to the third condition, it too was not part of the deal brokered by President Obama between Israel and Turkey, and frankly, it's none of Turkey's business. 

Israel should stop prostrating itself in front of Turkey. Enough is enough. 

Shabbat Shalom everyone.  

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Religion of what?

The images of the Westgate mall terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya, are simply horrific.
Soldiers told of the horrific torture meted out by terrorists in the Nairobi mall massacre yesterday with claims hostages were dismembered, had their eyes gouged out and were left hanging from hooks in the ceiling.

Men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed with pliers before being blinded and hanged.

Children were found dead in the food court fridges with knives still embedded in their bodies, it was claimed.


Yesterday, soldiers and doctors who were among the first people into the mall after it was reclaimed on Tuesday, spoke of the horrifying scenes inside.

‘You find people with hooks hanging from the roof,’ said one Kenyan doctor, who asked not to be named.

‘They removed eyes, ears, nose. They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood.

‘They drive knives inside a child’s body.

'Actually if you look at all the bodies, unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are ripped by pliers. Here it was pain.’

A soldier, who took pictures at a bread counter and at the ArtCaffe, said he was so traumatised by what he saw he has had to seek counselling.

Bomb disposal experts with sniffer dogs were yesterday painstakingly combing the part of the building still standing for explosives before clearing forensic officers, police and troops to search for bodies.


The first pictures taken inside the site show a gaping hole in the mall's roof after three storeys collapsed when Kenyan soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades inside the complex, knocking out a support column, a government official said.

Children's buggies are left abandoned just metres from the yawning pit, as cars hang precariously over the edge. Beneath many more vehicles lie on top of each other, smashed to pieces.

The collapse happened on Monday when government troops launched a massive assault on the mall where up to 150 people are thought to have been killed.

During the firefight, hostages reportedly had their throats slashed from ear to ear and were thrown screaming from third-floor balconies as the siege came to a bloody end. Forensics teams, still sifting through the mountains of rubble, fear many more bodies are yet to be found.

Shell-shocked Kenyan troops said the inside of the Israeli-run mall resembled a ‘scene from a horror movie’ with blood spattered everywhere and dead bodies strewn across the floor.

Let's go to the videotape.

Images, video and much more here. Islam seems permanently stuck in the 8th century, and it makes wars the way they were made in the 8th century. There is no justification for this type of behavior. None at all.

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Religion of rape celebrates a 'sex jihad'

Tunisian girls have been sent to Syria to have sex with opposition jihadis. And no, this doesn't have anything to do with love. It's a sex jihad.
Last Thursday, during an address to the National Constituent Assembly, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddo announced that Tunisian girls who had traveled to Syria to perform “sex jihad” had returned after being sexually “swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts [from pregnancies to diseases] in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent, doing nothing and standing idle.”
Several video interviews with Tunisian females who went to the sex jihad further testify to the veracity of this phenomenon.
For example, 19-year-old Lamia, upon returning, confessed how she was made to have sex with countless men—including Pakistanis, Afghanis, Libyans, Tunisians, Iraqis, Saudis, Somalis, and a Yemeni, all in the context of the “sex jihad, and that she and many other women were abused, beaten, and forced to do things “that contradict all sense of human worth.”
Now back in Tunisia, Lamia has been to a doctor finding that she is five months pregnant. Both she and her unborn are carrying the Aids virus (read her whole story).
Other interviewed women have told of how they were “fooled,” or how their husbands (they being one of four wives) divorced and sent them to Syria for the sex jihad, with assurances that they would be guaranteed paradise in the afterlife.  One 16-year-old explained how her father ordered her to have sex with several jihadi “liberators.”
Due to the severity of this matter, since March, 6,000 Tunisians were banned from travelling to Syria; 86 individuals suspected of forming “cells” to send Tunisian youth to Syria have been arrested.
Back in April, Sheikh Othman Battikh, former Mufti of Tunisia, said before reporters that, “For Jihad in Syria, they are now pushing girls to go there. 13 young girls have been sent for sexual jihad. What is this? This is called prostitution. It is moral educational corruption.”
He was dismissed from his position as Mufti of Tunisia days later.
It actually gets worse. Read the whole thing. What a despicable 'religion.'

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It's about time: French 'diplomat' who struck soldier to be expelled from Israel

Remember Marion Castaing, the French 'diplomat' who punched an Israeli soldier in the face? You will be pleased to hear that she is going to be expelled.
The French diplomat who was involved in a physical clash with Border Police personnel in the Jordan Valley last Friday will be expelled from Israel.
Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, will leave Israel before the end of the year.
A video of the incident near Khirbet al-Makhul last Friday shows Fesneau-Caistaing striking a Border Police officer in the face.
Israel filed a complaint with France about the incident. The two countries decided to handle the matter while "maintaining Israel-France relations," as an Israeli official put it.
End of the year? They should have given her 48 hours to leave.

In other news involving the French diplomatic corps, a chauffeur for the Jerusalem consulate was caught trying to smuggle 152 kilos of gold bars, 500 kilos of tobacco, hundreds of new cel phones, and $2 million in checks across the border to Jordan (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

Sounds like the French need to do a little diplomatic training....

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The real Naqba of 1948

Yes, this is the real Nakba of 1948. Tell that to Abu Mazen.


One for your reading list

The New York Times' Ethan Bronner reviews Yossi Klein HaLevi's Like Dreamers. This is from the first link.
Mr. Halevi, an American immigrant who has worked as a journalist and analyst in Jerusalem for 30 years, has created a textured, beautifully written narrative by focusing on seven men — and they are all men — Mr. Porat among them, who served in the paratroop brigade that conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The seven took distinct paths, a few becoming settler leaders, others active on the left, and in the arts and music. One sought common cause with Palestinian revolutionaries and, after a trip to Damascus, ended up in an Israeli prison for 12 years. By accompanying these men across the decades we gain a close understanding of many of the country’s internal debates. 
[T]he men Mr. Halevi has chosen are compelling. One is Arik Achmon, a secular liberal from a kibbutz who helped transform Israel’s failing statist economy into a thriving capitalist one. Mr. Achmon helped found the first private domestic airline in Israel. The story of how he stood down the once-powerful Histadrut trade union federation to keep his company alive illustrates the enormous changes that Israeli society has undergone in the past three decades. A second character, Avital Geva, one of the country’s leading conceptual artists who represented Israel in the 1993 Venice Biennale with a fully functioning kibbutz greenhouse, also illustrates a crucial sector of a dynamic society.
But the story’s real strength derives from Mr. Halevi’s portraits of three settler leaders: Mr. Porat, Yoel Bin-Nun and Yisrael Harel. Their movement has been central to contemporary Israel, yet little understood abroad. Settlers are mostly portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures. Their actions violate the world’s hope for a Palestinian state on the land they are taking, and their ideology does not lend itself easily to rational discourse. It is hard to know how to negotiate with someone like Mr. Bin-Nun who, as described in the book, believed that the “Torah was a blueprint for God’s relationship with a holy nation living in a holy land,” or with Mr. Porat, who saw “no contradiction between conquering the land and creating peace, because the return of the holy people to the holy land was a precondition for world peace.”
Yet Mr. Halevi, a religiously observant Jew with centrist politics by the standards of today’s Israel, brings us into these men’s lives and thoughts, taking us along on their journeys and making of them fully realized characters. We are with them not only for their internal meetings and personal struggles but also for their interactions with Israeli officials, who often claimed to reject settlements while legitimizing them. It is clear that if the government had wanted to stop them — if officials had seen the settlement project as an existential danger rather than as a way to expand narrow borders, send defiant messages and win close elections — it could have.
I would read this one.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

On the same page as Ahmadinejad, but knows how to talk to westerners

What's the difference between Hassan Rohani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Well, they've both been President of Iran, one wears a turban and the other doesn't. One has a thicker beard and glasses. Other than that, there don't seem to be any differences. Jonathan Tobin:
By demonstrating that he isn’t a cheap date but must instead be wooed by the West with concessions, Rouhani gave us a good idea of the course of the next round of negotiations that the United States is about to embark upon with Iran. Instead of being eager to embrace Obama in order to prove their desire for diplomacy and to avert the threat of Western force being employed to end their nuclear dreams, the Iranians know that Obama has already swallowed the bait. This wasn’t the first time Rouhani had humiliated the West since he is a veteran of past deceptive diplomatic encounters, but we also know it won’t be the last.

The White House’s disappointment at Rouhani being unwilling to shake hands with the president was absurd enough. But even the New York Times was unable to spin the Iranian’s speech to the GA as anything but a disappointment to those who have invested so heavily in the notion that he represents an opportunity for genuine change in Iran.
Rouhani’s address can only be seen as “moderate” when compared to the wacky rants of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He didn’t deny the Holocaust nor openly threaten Israel with destruction. But he gave little satisfaction to those expecting him to inaugurate a new age of understanding with a lengthy litany of complaints about the West as well as an almost impenetrable barrage of double talk about Syria, nukes, and terrorism.
Rouhani’s appeal for “tolerance” rang false, coming as it did from a government that persecutes religious minorities and continues to be a font of anti-Semitic incitement aimed at Israel and its supporters. The same can be said of his denunciation of terrorism, coming as it did from an official of a government that is the leading state sponsor of terror in the world.
And more Jonathan Tobin:
The West’s favorite “moderate” mullah met with a gaggle of liberal mainstream media types Wednesday morning for a mostly off-the-record gathering and, despite being unwilling to pander much to their sensibilities, still left them thinking, in the words of New Yorker editor David Remnick, “That at least on the surface this is somebody who above all is interested in reversing the really consequential damage to the economy that sanctions have wrought over time.”
I’ve no doubt that is true, as the conceit of Rouhani’s mission is apparently to persuade the West that because he isn’t a raving lunatic like his predecessor Ahmadinejad, that should be enough to earn Iran the world’s trust. And the chief proof of this is his willingness to say that it was a bad thing that the Nazis killed Jews. At Remnick’s prodding, Rouhani said as much today. As Politico reports:
Toward the end of the meeting, Remnick, who had sparred with Ahmadinejad in past meetings, demanded to know if Rouhani would unequivocally reject his predecessor’s denial of the Holocaust.
Through an interpreter, Rouhani told Remnick and the other journalists that he condemned the “massacre” of Jews that took place during World War II but would leave it to historians to decide how many Jews had been killed.
While stopping short of condemning the Holocaust outright, Rouhani left Remnick with the impression that he was serious about improving Iran’s relationship with the West.
That’s nice and no doubt Rouhani’s dignified manner and trademark white turban are a big improvement over Ahmadinejad’s MAD magazine style charm, but if we’re really interested in the question of repudiating Holocaust denial, Rouhani’s response doesn’t quite cut it. Nor does his equally cagey answer to a similar question posed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in which he segued from a pro-forma condemnation of the “taking of human life, whether that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim” into saying his non-support of Nazi genocide shouldn’t be interpreted as being willing to recognize living Jews have rights, since that “does not mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crimes against a group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it.” The point is, if you are agnostic about the scale of the Holocaust, you are, in effect, a denier. If you are against killing Jews but unwilling to grant that they may have rights to a country or the right to defend it, your supposedly moderate good intentions are meaningless.
But then the Iranians claimed that Rohani's words were mistranslated (by a translator hired by the Iranian government).
It turns out that Rouhani’s so-called condemnation of the Holocaust is even flimsier than we thought. After CNN broadcast its interview with Rouhani conducted by Christiane Amanpour, the FARS News Agency condemned their translation of his remarks about the Holocaust as largely a fabrication. The official organ of the Iranian government provided an exact translation of what he said and matched it with what CNN broadcast and then published on their website. When the two are compared it is clear that the network expanded on what he said to help convey the impression that he was condemning Holocaust denial when it is clear that he did no such thing.
While the two have similarities, there is no doubt that the news outlet airbrushed Rouhani’s comments to the point where they are far more acceptable for a Western audience. The actual remarks make it clear that Rouhani is as much of an agnostic about the extent of the Holocaust as Ahmadinejad. After all, Rouhani’s predecessor never said that no Jews were killed but said it was vastly exaggerated, the false argument that all Holocaust deniers try to make.
 Hope and change anyone?

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