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Bibi’s speech, Obama’s answer, and a Republican theater

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

My uncle J. Zel Lurie has been a journalist, and activist for peace in Israel for over 80 years. At 101 he is mostly retired, but continues to write a monthly column in his field of expertise,  Israel and peace between Arabs and Jews.

“The issue of how to arrive at two states for two peoples far outmatches fear of Iran. On March 17th the Israeli voters will decide on the next priorities of the next government. “

Column for Jewish Journal for 3-11-15

Bibi’s speech, Obama’s answer, and a Republican theater

By J. Zel Lurie


As advertized, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress with a Republican show conceived by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with the avid cooperation of Speaker John Boehner.

For Bibi, it was a powerful campaign speech for the Israeli elections on March 17th. He is lagging in recent polls behind Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.

Bibi delivered a powerful speech. The sight of the most powerful lawmakers in the world repeatedly bobbing up and down in standing ovations must have impressed the Israeli voter. Whether it will gain any seats for Likud remains to be seen on March 17th.

His slogan, “no deal is better than a bad deal” delivered with intense emotion actually has no validity.No deal means that Iran would not be hampered in running on the fast track towards the bomb.

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi could be seen on TV as this slogan was delivered. She was visibly agitated. She issued a statement later saying that she was almost moved to tears. She was “saddened by the insult to the United States Intelligence”.

A member of the minority, a Democratic senator who boycotted the speech, said that it put Bibi on the same level as the President of the Untied States. At a press conference after the speech, President Obama said that he was meeting with European leaders on Ukraine while Netanyahu was speaking, but he had scanned a transcript of the speech. He said that there was nothing new in the speech and that Netanyahu had not presented a viable alternative.

Bibi denied this on his return to Israel. He issued a statement at Ben-Gurion Airport in which he outlined several improvements on the negotiations in Geneva between the Foreign Minister of Iran and Secretary of State John Kerry who represents the six powers negotiationg the treaty. On the day before Bibi’s speech, Kerry and the Iranian had talked for ten hours before adjourning until March 15th.

J Street received much more news coverage from Bibi’s speech to Congress than AIPAC than AiPAC had gotten from his annual conference which Bibi had addressed the day before. Jeremy Ben-Ami’s statement was widely quoted. He quoted President Obama that the United States will see to it that Iran will never be able to build a bomb.

Never has since been modified to ten years if I read the reports on the Geneva talks correctly.

As for the reaction to the speech in Israel, let me quote Stav Shaffir, the youngest member of the Knesset (she is 29), who is number three on the Zionist Union list after Herzog and Livni. She sent me the following e-mail: “Though Netanyahu may be deaf to the needs and hopes of most of our citizenry, we have faith that we can build a different Israel…We are neither impressed nor intimidated by Netanyahu’s scare tactics or Sheldon Adelson’s billions. We are encouraged and moved to know that we have partners across the ocean who share our vision for a more egalitarian society – one that is more just and more united. And if the circumstances we find ourselves in today succeed in generating a stronger bond between us and generate an emerging alliance, then at least we know that something good has come out of Netanyahu’s cynical move.” Shaffir was a leader in the 2011 summer protest movements in which almost half a million Israeli citizens put up tents in public places to protest the high cost of housing and rentals.

Netanyahu’s government paid no attention and continued to build settlements instead of housing for Israelis. A recent report published by the comptroller is devastating. Polls show that the high cost of housing and the high cost of living are at the top of the list of concerns by Israeli voters. The issue of how to arrive at two states for two peoples far outmatches fear of Iran. On March 17th the Israeli voters will decide on the next priorities of the next government.


J. Zel LurieDelray Beach, FL 33483

Delray Beach, FL 33483

Palast wins Sidney Prize for Exposing New Threat to Voters of Color

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


NEW YORK – Greg Palast wins the December Sidney Award for “Jim Crow Returns,” and “Challenging Crosscheck,” a two-part Al Jazeera America exposé that shows how millions of innocent people were flagged as suspected vote fraudsters just because they have the same first and last name as someone in another state.

On the eve of the 2014 elections, officials had begun to purge voters based upon Interstate Crosscheck, voter fraud prevention software. More than 40,000 voters were dropped from the rolls in Virginia alone.

Read The Backstory, our Q&A with Greg Palast.

The Crosscheck program, used in 28 states, is ostensibly designed to prevent voter fraud by identifying people who voted in different states in the same election.  CONTINUED 


Action Alert—Defense Bill Loaded With Public Land Give Aways

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

defensebill_actionalertThe Defense Bill soon headed to the Senate after passage in the House has been loaded with damaging provisions to public land, Wilderness, and our bedrock environmental laws. Once again, “must-pass” legislation is being used as a vehicle for harmful public-land riders that include:

• terrible public land giveaways
• an exchange of federal land sacred to the Apache to a foreign-owned mining company
• a rewrite of livestock-grazing laws that gives ranchers even more freedom to despoil public land
• a giveaway of 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest to Sealaska Corporation, notorious for scorched-earth logging practices, and
• provisions harmful to the integrity of Wilderness. 

The few gains for Parks and Wilderness in the bill are far outstripped by provisions that would have negative, long-term impact on public land protections.

This is a Defense Bill—yet 449 pages of it are dedicated to actions that will give away, sell off, weaken protections on, or facilitate development of public lands. Wilderness proposals in the bill would allow for helicopter use and habitat manipulation in Wilderness. Others would be worthy of support as stand-alone bills, but not as part of kitchen-sink legislation that harms our natural heritage.

Call, email, or fax your Senators as soon as you can: tell them to remove Title 30 (public lands’ provisions) from the Defense Bill. This is no way to pass major public land legislation. The bill will likely be voted on Thursday, so please contact your Senators TODAY! Thank you.

To help us continue to fight for Wilderness, make a donation today: donate_new.jpg

WILDERNESS WATCH is America’s is leading organization dedicated to defending and keeping wild the nation’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. Our work is guided by the visionary 1964 Wilderness Act.

CONTACT Wilderness Watch



The Secret Lists that Swiped the Senate

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

d64d30c9-e93b-4769-a1e0-ab828f77295cBy Greg Palast
Tuesday, 18. November, 2014

Statistics guru Nate Silver simply can’t understand why every single legitimate poll indicated that Democrats should have gotten 4% more votes in the midterm elections than appeared in the final count.

The answer, Nate, is “Crosscheck.”

No question, Republicans trounced Democrats in the Midterm elections. But, if not for the boost of this voter-roll purge system used in 23 Republican-controlled states, the GOP could not have taken the US Senate.

It took the Palast investigations team six months to get our hands on the raw files, fighting against every official trick to keep them hidden.

The Secret Lists that Swiped the Senate.

GOP-led Purge Threat to 3.5 Million Voters

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Zach D RobertsBy Greg Palast for Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voter rolls, especially targeting minority voters.

Al Jazeera America has obtained 2.1 million names from the target lists, kept confidential until now. Experts reviewing the lists conclude it is suspiciously over-weighted with Black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

The targeted voters have been tagged as “potential duplicate voters,” suspected of voting twice in the same election, in two different states, a felony crime punishable by 2-10 years in prison.

Until now, state officials conducting the purge have refused to turn over their lists on grounds that these voters are all subjects of a criminal investigation.

…So far, no case has been made against a single one of the accused double-voters on the lists, though tens of thousands have already lost their right to vote based on inclusion in the lists.

Read the full exposé
Watch the Trailer for the 2-part TV report
on Al Jazeera America Tonight,
tonight & Thursday night at 9pm ET
(check your local channel guide)

Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Fight Back Against Dark Money- Letter From Common Cause

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Fight Back Against Dark Mone

Dear Common Cause Member,

$1 billion. That’s what dark money groups are on target to spend in this election.

They want to trick ordinary citizens out of exercising their voting rights and change election outcomes to favor their bottom line. One county official in Virginia said of AFP, “It’s outrageous what they do. Most of their information is wrong. They know it’s wrong, and they don’t care.”

It’s an astonishing sum, made more so because the shadowy groups spending all that money aren’t required to disclose where any of it came from.

The Koch Brothers Don't Own Our DemocracyCommon Cause is fighting the influence of big money in elections, and working to make sure voting remains accessible and convenient for every eligible voter. But with the midterm election just three weeks away, we need your contribution of today to combat the influence of wealthy, secretive donors seeking to rig the game in their favor. The billionaire Koch brothers are behind a vast network of the biggest-spending groups. By Labor Day, Koch-backed groups had financed a mind-blowing 44,000 ads. And since most campaign spending takes place after Labor Day, that’s just a fraction of the final tally. In addition to flooding the airwaves, Koch-backed groups are engaging in a sinister campaign to block our votes. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), their flagship group, is under investigation in North Carolina for sending misleading mailers with false information designed to confuse and discourage voters from participating in this year’s election.

Read More Common Cause.

Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror –

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Mustafa Akyol Author…The Kurds were not angry at Turkey because they were innately prone to violence. They were angry because Turkey had done something grievously wrong to them. And a peace agreement became possible only when the Turkish public and the state acknowledged this fact.

If Israel is ever going to achieve peace, Israelis will have to overcome their own self-righteous hawkishness as well — and abandon the intellectually lazy reflex that explains Palestinian militancy as the natural product of Arab and Islamic culture’s supposedly violent nature.

It’s true that Hamas is a violent group and that it must stop firing rockets into Israel and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. The ugliness of anti-Semitism in Palestine and the Arab world (and even in Turkey) must also be confronted. But these phenomena didn’t occur in a vacuum. They were created — and are kept alive — in part by Israel’s continued oppression of Palestinians….

via Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror –

Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

koch-industries“The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with “business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society.” The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri….

Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum, directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. The goal, the group said flatly, was to turn young people into “liberty-advancing agents” before they went to college, where they might learn “harmful” liberal ideas.

…In recent years, through private charitable foundations, the Koch brothers have funneled tens of millions of dollars to colleges and universities — most recently, a $25 million donation to the United Negro College Fund. They are also funding advocacy groups that are waging a widespread campaign to fight the Common Core State Standards, a set of benchmarks for public K-12 education adopted by most states. But YE is the most direct example of their growing imprint on American classrooms.

…Koch-funded think tanks provide many of YE’s course materials. Teachers are trained at Koch Industries headquarters and are required to read Charles Koch’s book The Science of Success.
The focus on high school students is a key part of the Kochs’ long-term effort to create a libertarian-minded society from the ground up.
…platform proposed a drastic revision of the American education system: “We advocate the complete separation of education and state. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be”

via Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students.

Obama Gets Real — Climate Science Jokes –

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

President Obama-snapshotWASHINGTON — President Barack Obama lampooned congressional skepticism over climate change on Wednesday, saying that lawmakers who balk at tackling air pollution are either blind to science or cowed by extremists.

“In most communities and work places, et cetera, when you talk to folks, they may not know how big a problem, they may not know exactly how it works, they may doubt that we can do something about it, but generally they don’t just say, no, I don’t believe anything scientists say,” he said, to laughter.

via Congress the Butt of Obama’s Climate Science Jokes –


Key Supreme Court Decisions in 2014 –

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Supreme Court Justices 2014Key Supreme Court Decisions in 2014

The Supreme Court on Thursday released two key decisions—one on abortion protests, and one on presidential recess appointments. Below, how the justices decided on these and other major cases this term and the implications of their decisions. UPDATED June 26, 2014…