A7News: Obama May Lose the Vote but Win the Election

 

Tammuz 21, 5772 / Wednesday, Jul. 11 ’12

 

 

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Headlines

  1. 1.      Obama May Lose the Vote but Win the Election
  2. 2.      Winner: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank’
  3. 3.      Jewish Woman Rescued from Arab Village – after 28 Years
  4. 4.      Pro-Israel Lawmaker Shelley Berkley Facing Ethics Charges
  5. 5.      US Refuses to Reveal Details on Downed Turkish Jet
  6. 6.      Corruption Charges Fuel Move to Cut US Aid to PA
  7. 7.      Psychiatric Evaluation for Jewish School Firebomber
  8. 8.      Kenya Police: Iranians Shipped 100kg of Explosives

 

1. Obama May Lose the Vote but Win the Election

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The neck-and-neck polls look good for GOP candidate Mitt Romney but hide President Barack Obama’s electoral vote advantage.

The latest polls continue to show that more Americans are displeased with Obama as president than those who think he is doing a good job. Virtually all polls show potential voters evenly divided, with a small gap either way falling within the margin or error of polls.

But the America system of electoral votes – whereby even a one-vote win in any given state gives the winner all of the “electoral college” votes – shows President Obama with a decent lead.

The more populous the state, the more electoral votes it has. The system leaves several large states that are not solidly behind either candidate the “swing states” that could decide the election in November.

However, Obama is comfortably ahead in the “certain” states, with a lead of 242 to 150 among 538 electoral votes.

The missing 146 votes are in 12 “swing states,” of which Florida and Ohio are the largest. Romney needs to win almost all 12 to gain the needed 270 electoral votes to unlock the White House door.

President Obama leads Romney by a thin 2 percent margin in the 12 states, meaning that if elections were held today, Romney might be close to winning a majority of the popular vote, but the electoral college system for the time being leaves President Obama safely in the White House.

Two keys factors, besides any surprise events, could determine who wins: Iran and the unemployment vote.

Iran is a wild card, and the Obama administration clearly is trying to silence any furor over any imminent threat of an attack on its nuclear facilities or on the possibility that it may soon gain nuclear capability.

Unemployment is the overwhelming factor now. The U.S. economy is struggling to keep its ahead above recession level; and a worsening of the 8.2 percent jobless rate, which is reported every month, could be disastrous for him. On the other hand, an improvement could clinch a defeat for Romney.

 

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2. Winner: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank’

by Rachel Hirshfeld

Jewish-American author Nathan Englander’s short story collection titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” won the 2012 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

The panel of judges praised it as “powerful and resonant”, and said that they were impressed by “the seasoned maturity shown by the author in stories multilayered in meaning and written in an austere, contemporary idiom applied to ancient ethnic themes”.

“His prose, like the snow of good King Wenceslas, is deep and crisp and even, neither over-florid nor pedestrian,” said judge and poet James Harpur. “Nathan Englander’s stories are always well crafted, establishing a premise that has the promise of drama and tension: an upright citizen going to a peep show; a woman symbolically selling her child to a neighbour; the summer camp that begins to revive memories of a concentration camp; taking revenge on an antisemite bully.”

The story from which the collection takes its title is a homage to Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and portrays two Jewish couples playing “the Righteous Gentile game”, which necessitates discussing which of their acquaintances would protect them in the event of a Holocaust, The Guardian explains.

The collection of stories won out over collections by Israeli writer Etgar Keret, as well as Sarah Hall and Kevin Barry.

The prize is funded by Cork City Council and was established by the Munster Literature Centre in memory of renowned short story writer Frank O’Connor.

This year, Englander also teamed up with Jewish-American author Jonathan Safran Foer to publish the “New American Haggadah,” a more modern take on the traditional Passover Haggadah.

 

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3. Jewish Woman Rescued from Arab Village – after 28 Years

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

 

A dramatic rescue takes a Jewish woman and her two young children out of the clutches of a brutal Palestinian Authority Arab husband with whom she lived for 28 years.

The anti-missionary Yad L’Achim organization, which also works on behalf of Jewish women trapped in relationships with Arabs, revealed the extraordinary story, after “Dinah, the daughter of Leah,” was safely back among Jews.

Dinah was born in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod 48 years ago but became estranged from her family during an emotional crisis, which led her to a relationship with an Arab man.

Since then, she was declared as missing, and her family did not know whether she was dead or alive. At one point, Israeli authorities mistakenly thought they had identified her in a morgue.

She lived with her husband in a Palestinian Authority Arab village in the area of Tulkarm, east of Netanya. She said her husband traumatized her and once tied her to a tree for 13 hours, without food or water The husband said he wanted “everyone to see what will happen to you” if she were to leave the house with permission.

Three weeks ago, ties were suddenly re-established with her family, which finally had a sign that Dinah was still alive. They contacted Yad L’Achim officials, who were given her telephone number and other personal information that enabled them to go into action to rescue her.

When they first got in touch with Dinah, she begged them, “Get me back to my homeland.”

With the help of Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the IDF, special permits were prepared for Dinah and her children to cross the checkpoint near Tulkarm after the rescue, which was carried out in strict secrecy.

This past Sunday evening, her husband gave Dinah 12 shekels to travel with her two children in a taxi to a clinic for medical care Monday morning.

In a pre-arranged scheme, she and her children got out of the cab shortly after it left the village and hurriedly got into a rescue vehicle that Yad Latham sent, with advance permission from a senior IDF officer. Soldiers at the checkpoint had been alerted to allow the vehicle to enter the Palestinian Authority for the rescue operation.

During the journey of nearly an hour to the checkpoint, Yad L’Achim instructed its workers to stop what they were doing and say Psalms for the safe return of Dinah.

The rescue vehicle returned to the checkpoint, and the soldiers confirmed they saw the mother and her two children in the rescue vehicle.

Once past the checkpoint, the vehicle stopped, and Dinah burst into tears, along with the soldiers.

The children begged her, “Mommy, promise us you never will go back there again.”

One of Dinah’s first actions was to take off her Muslim garb and tell Yad L’Achim officials, “Throw them in the trash can.”

The organizations’ social workers are treating her and she is staying at a secret location in central Israel, after having made contact with her family.

She filed a complaint with police against her Arab husband’s brutality. Police said they doubted that Palestinian Authority police would take any action against her but added that if he steps one foot beyond the checkpoint, he will be arrested.

 

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4. Pro-Israel Lawmaker Shelley Berkley Facing Ethics Charges

by Rachel Hirshfeld

The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into US Representative Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), an ardent supporter of Israel in Congress. The investigation may complicate her bid for a seat in the US Senate.

Berkley has been widely seen as a formidable threat to the future of Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller.

The investigation, backed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans on the committee, will focus on allegations that Berkley’s championing of kidney care benefited the interests of her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, a leading kidney specialist in Nevada.

Over the last five years, Berkley allegedly pushed legislation in an effort to pursue an agenda that is aligned with the business interests of her husband.

“The Committee noted that the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” said a statement from the Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives.

Berkley’s office said she was “pleased with the committee’s decision to conduct a full and fair investigation, which will ensure all the facts are reviewed.”

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin writes that, “Any opportunity to knock off a GOP incumbent is a matter of life for the Democrats’ hopes of keeping at least half of Congress in their possession. That has made the battle for Nevada’s Senate seat one of the most watched races in the country, especially because challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley has been widely seen as a formidable threat to the future of Republican incumbent Dean Heller.”

While Berkley and her husband may have profited from her actions, “there was no criminal conspiracy or criminal intent,” Tobin writes.

“Those eager to make political hay about this should remember that being the champion of doctors who serve kidney patients in need is not quite the same thing as throwing your weight around on behalf of some oil contractor or other special interest,” he adds.

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5. US Refuses to Reveal Details on Downed Turkish Jet

by Rachel Hirshfeld

U.S. officials claim they know the details regarding the Turkish jet downed by Syria last month, but refuse to reveal them to the public.

“Those in the American government who need to know [details] know them,” a U.S. Foreign Affairs official told Hurriyet Daily. “But we will make no statements about the topics in question.”

Declining to explain why a Pentagon official leaked rumors to the Washington Post claiming that the jet was over Syrian waters when it was shot down, the official, requesting anonymity, said the details were inconsequential to the American government.

“Whether the jet was shot over Syrian territory or over international waters, or what it was shot with, what difference does it make? What matters to us is that it was downed,” the official said, according to Hurriyet.

“Turkey thought the louder its statements were, the more believable they would be,” the official said. “I guess that was why the prime minister made those statements. It’s like an American shouting to someone who doesn’t speak English. We, however, will not say anything on the matter.”

Turkey and U.S. are “90 percent” on the same page on the crisis in Syria, the official said, citing Turkey’s “more interventionist” attitude as a difference between the countries’ views.

There have been speculations in Turkey as to why President Barack Obama did not call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately following the downing of the jet, when the two leaders were known to have exchanged 13 phone calls in the last year.

Providing a possible reason for the lack of contact, the official said, “There are elections in the U.S. this year. And when foreign affairs are discussed during American elections, the only thing that matters is Israel’s security. That should be taken into consideration in the progress of relations.”

“We clearly don’t want to intervene in Syria,” the official said. “But we cannot say that is a direct reason [for Obama not to call].”

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6. Corruption Charges Fuel Move to Cut US Aid to PA

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The Palestinian Authority said the Obama administration has warned it will cut aid if it goes to the United Nations again for recognition. In Congress, opposition to aiding the Palestinian Authority was fueled by charges that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has “lined his pockets.”

Khaled Mesmar, a Palestinian Authority official of the Political Committee of the Palestinian National Council, admitted on Tuesday that the United States has “threatened to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington if the Palestinian leadership submitted another membership bid to the United Nations.”

He said the threat was delivered through official channels during a recent visit to Ramallah by an American envoy.

Mesmar said that the PA took the threats seriously but has not yet decided to go ahead with another appeal to the United Nations Security Council for membership, which would entail recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent country based on its own definition of borders.

Abbas dropped a bid last year when it was clear he would lose, although by one vote.

Mesmar also said that the Obama administration threatened to cut off aid unless it drops all pre-conditions for talking directly with Israel over the status and borders of the PA. Abbas has said “negotiations” with Israel can begin if Jerusalem stops all building for Jews in areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority. It wants the talks based on a foregone conclusion that it be granted its self-defined territorial borders.

Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a subcommittee hearing Tuesday under the unwieldy name of “Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment.”

In testimony posted live on its website, committee chairman Steve Chabot, a Ohio Republican, asserted that the West is making a mistake by looking at “the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, but instead of highlighting the ways that the Hamas terrorist leadership mismanages the local economy or gives Israel justifiable cause for concern, we are told that an Israeli blockade is to blame.

“Similarly, instead of calling attention to the omnipresent and insidious corruption within the PLO and Fatah leadership in the West Bank, we are told that Israeli settlements, many of which will surely not be a part of any future Palestinian state, are the true problem.”

He charged that reports indicate Abbas “line[s] his own pockets as well as those of his cohort of cronies, including his sons…who have enriched themselves with U.S. taxpayer money.”

Elliott Abrams, former advisor to President George E. Bush and now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the subcommittee, “Listen to the words of the man who was charged with rooting out public corruption, Fathi Shabaneh, and who resigned in 2010:

‘In his pre-election platform, President Abbas promised to end financial corruption and implement major reforms, but he hasn’t done much since then. Unfortunately, Abbas has surrounded himself with many of the thieves and officials who were involved in theft of public funds and who became icons of financial corruption.’”

Abrams warned, “If we turn a blind eye to corruption, and to persecution of those who expose it, we are in a very real way contributing to the problem and undermining those Palestinians who wish to build public integrity into their system.”

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7. Psychiatric Evaluation for Jewish School Firebomber

by Rachel Hirshfeld

Omar Bulphred, the man found guilty of firebombing a Jewish boys school in Montreal in 2006, has been ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation after being arrested on new charges.

Bulphred, 27, was arrested Friday just a month after he completed his sentence on June 11 and is facing charges of breaching his release conditions, loitering and uttering death threats.

Bulphred was schedule to appear in court for a bail hearing Monday, but instead his lawyer asked that his client undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Pinel Institute, noted CBC News.

He was incarcerated for firebombing the Skver-Toldos Jewish Boys School in the Outremont neighborhood of Montreal in September 2006 and attempting to bomb the YM-YWHA Ben Weider Jewish Community Center the following April.

In 2009, Bulphred admitted to writing letters claiming the crimes were committed in the name of Islamic Jihad.

“I’m sorry to the Jewish community. My actions were cowardly,” Bulphred told the court.

In February 2009, Judge Louise Bourdeau sentenced Bulphred, who was 21 at the time, for pleading guilty to three counts of arson and two of uttering threats. He served a seven-year sentence.

Bulphred will be back in court on August 13.

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8. Kenya Police: Iranians Shipped 100kg of Explosives

by Rachel Hirshfeld

Two Iranians, suspected of being members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force, an elite and secretive unit that acts against foreign interests, have been accused of planning attacks on Israeli, American, British or Saudi Arabian interests in the country.

They allegedly shipped more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of powerful explosive into the East African country, most of which has not yet been recovered, a police officer told a court Tuesday.

Iranian nationals Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi are charged with preparing to commit acts intended to cause grievous harm after they were arrested last month and led officials to a 15-kilogram (33-pound) stash of the explosive RDX, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Police Sgt. Erick Opagal, an investigator with Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, asked the court to deny the two suspects bail because more than 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of the explosive authorities say was shipped into Kenya has not been found.

“The police have information that the applicants (suspects) have a vast network in the country meant to execute explosive attacks against government installations, public gatherings and foreign establishments,” Opagal said in an affidavit, telling the court that granting bail would allow the suspects to continue planning attacks.

Iranian agents are suspected of perpetrating several successful or thwarted attacks, especially against Israeli interests, around the world over the last year.

In 2002, terrorists bombed an Israeli-owned luxury hotel near the coastal city of Mombasa, killing 13 people. The perpetrators also tried to shoot down an Israeli airliner at the same time. An al-Qaida operative was linked to those attacks.

One of the Iranian’s lawyers, David Kirimi, said Tuesday the prosecution was “blowing the matter out of proportion” and claimed that his clients were sickly men, one with a liver condition and the other a heart ailment, and that their detention was further damaging their health, according to the AP.

Prosecutor Daniel Musangi urged the court to deny bail, due to the fact that the two were in Kenya on tourist visas and argued that they were released, they would likely flee the country.

Magistrate Paul Biwott said he would rule on the bail application on Monday.

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