Obama: ‘Terror Is No Match for Freedom’

A pen rests next to a message written by President Barack Obama in a condolences book during a visit to the French Embassy in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A pen rests next to a message written by President Barack Obama in a condolences book during a visit to the French Embassy in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In the wake of the horrific shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine’s offices in Paris, upon returning to the Washington, D.C. last evening on Marine One, President Obama walked not to the White House but rather to his motorcade to go to the French Embassy.

The French ambassador, Gerard Araudq, escorted the President into the embassy to sign the condolence book:

On behalf of all Americans, I extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the people of France following the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. As allies across the centuries, we stand united with our French brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. We go forward together knowing that terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for — ideals that light the world.

Vive la France!

[Read more…]

Terrorists Murder 12 in Response to Muhammad Cartoons

Three Muslim terrorists killed 12 people and injured 11 others in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, in the most deadly terrorist attack in France in many years.

Charlie Hebdo had received numerous death threats in recent years, and their offices were fire-bombed in November 2011. The magazine was under police protection since then.

The terrorists shouted “Allah huwa acbar,” “God is the greatest,” adding, “We have exacted vengeance for the prophet Mohammad,” as they fled the scene of the crime.

The victims included:

  • Charlie Hebdo editor and cartoonist, Stéphane Charbonnier, known under the pen name “Charb”;
  • Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Georges Wolinski, 80 years old, who was with Charlie Hebdo since it was published monthly in 1960 under the name Hara-Kiri;

    This is the last cartoon Wolinski drew for Paris Match.

    This is the last cartoon Wolinski drew for Paris Match.

  • Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Jean Cabut, known under the pen name “Cabu,” another of the paper’s founders whose work was central to Charlie Hebdo’s participation in the 2006 Mohammed cartoon controversy, and whose son, the French singer Emmanuel “Mano” Cabut, died in 2010;
  • Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Verlhac, known under the pen name “Tignous.” an active member of Cartooning for Peace and Clowns Without Borders;
  • French Economist Bernard Maris, known as “Tonton Bernard” (Uncle Bernard) to the readers of Charlie Hebdo;
  • Michel Renaud, who was visiting Charlie Hebdo to organize a cultural event, “Carnet de Voyage,” in central France to honor Jean Cabut;
  • police officer Franck Brinsolaro, member of the special protection service and part of Charb’s protection team;
  • police officer Ahmed Merabet;
  • Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Honoré;
  • Charlie Hebdo copy editor Moustapha Ourrad; and
  • Charlie Hebdo janitor Frédéric Boisseau.

According to DEBKA, the French police have identified two of the gunmen:

Two of the three gunmen on the loose after murdering 12 people at the French satirical magazine Wednesday have been identified as Paris-born brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, French nationals of Algerian origin aged 34 and 32. Cherif was part of an Iraqi jihadi network dismantled in Paris and sentenced to three years in prison on terror charges in May 2008. The two returned from Syria in summer. The third terrorist, Hamyd Mourad, 18, is of no fixed abode or known nationality. Last year, he reportedly was enrolled in a lycée in Charleville-Mezières around 50 miles from the Champagne capital of Reims, northeastern France.

This is one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that the ISIS terrorists thought justified murder. Translation: Mohammed overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. "It is tough being loved by idiots."

This is one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that the ISIS terrorists thought justified murder. Translation: Mohammed overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. “It is tough being loved by idiots.”

Israeli Hospital Saves Terrorist’s Life

2012-01-emergencyMed

The Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine.

— by Barbara Sofer

Outside the Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine (CEM) at Hadassah’s hospital in Jerusalem, TV cameramen were waiting for the sirens of the ambulance. A young man who had been stabbed by a terrorist was already there.

The terrorist, allegedly associated with Islamic jihad, had driven his vehicle into a bus stop, running over 26-year-old Dalia Lemkus. When his minivan hit an obstruction, he jumped out and began stabbing her and others before a security guard shot him. The terrorist ran away after being shot, but the guard pursued him and shot him again. The terrorist was coming in the second ambulance.

The ambulance parked near the entrance of the CEM. Medics hurried around the back and carried a swarthy, bloodied man on a stretcher into the trauma center. “The terrorist,” a woman in the waiting room near ambulatory care whispered. “It must be the terrorist.”

Doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff, soldiers and policemen crowded into the trauma room. Prominent trauma surgeon Avi Rivkind, internationally recognized for handling terror treatment, was orchestrating the care.

The trauma unit was built in the wake of the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, when about half of the terror victims in the country were treated in Hadassah’s hospitals. A team of 10 medics, eight Jews and two Arab, was struggling together to save the lives of these patients.

The terrorist was placed in the far left bay; the man he had stabbed to the right. They received the same treatment.

The victim needed a CAT scan. The terrorist, identified as Maher Hadi a-Hashalmoun from Hebron, was suspected to have a bullet in his heart. Imaging technicians and a cardio-thoracic surgeon were summoned, and a senior orthopedic surgeon stood by.

A group of physicians hovered over the computer to interpret the tests. Would the terrorist need heart surgery? The hospital’s director phoned in a request to have operating room number eight readied, just in case.

The terror victim’s stab wounds were evaluated. One of the doctors said that the first CAT scan was different from the second.

Meanwhile, news of another possible stabbing and an injury from a stoning arrived. The empty bays of the trauma center did not need to be readied — they are always ready.

Eighteen physicians, among them Hadassah’s most experienced, surrounded the terrorist as the cardiothoracic surgeon read the test results: The bullet did not hit the terrorist’s heart. The terrorist was wheeled out as specialists began to leave.

The media reported that the terrorist’s other victim, Dalia Lemkus, died of her wounds at the site.

The TV cameras had moved to the atrium of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower. It was too cold and dark outside. The deputy’s director, Dr. Ashi Salmon, spoke before TV cameras. Patients from three other attacks are still at the hospital, he told them.

Patients were waiting for care at the ER walk-in service. Some were wearing kefiyyas, others streimels, still-others were bare-headed. Arab and Jew, religious and secular, and even terror victim and terrorist are treated the same.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Reaches Out to Jewish Community

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today met with Jewish community leaders from across the nation at the White House to underscore the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) commitment to partnering with faith-based communities to prevent, prepare for and respond to threats and announce the expansion of DHS’ “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign to the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Security Community Network (SCN).

More after the jump.
“Homeland security begins with hometown security, and our nation’s faith-based organizations play a critical role in keeping our communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Expanding the ‘If You See Something, Say Something™’ campaign to national Jewish groups, the first faith-based partnership for the campaign, is an important step in the Department’s ongoing effort to engage the American public in our nation’s security efforts.”
In the meeting, Secretary Napolitano joined White House Office of Public Engagement Director John Carson to highlight the vital role of faith-based leadership in providing guidance and assistance to their organizations and institutions regarding ways to protect against terrorism and other threats. The launch of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America and SCN will feature print and social media materials distributed to the thousands of centers and organizations that the associations reach.

“The American Jewish community and the places we gather are, unfortunately, often targets for terrorists,” said Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America. “This new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security will empower us to counter this threat as we become more actively involved in our own protection.”

Secretary Napolitano also highlighted the Department’s continued efforts to strengthen collaboration with members of the Jewish community through platforms such as SCN-a mechanism for information sharing with faith- and community-based organizations designed to quickly improve overall security awareness in a crisis situation-and discussed ways to expand and enhance current initiatives and partnerships.

The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign-originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign-is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

Partnerships with the “If You See Something, Say Something ™” campaign have recently been launched with the Indianapolis 500, Washington State Ferries, the City of Los Angeles, AEG Worldwide, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), as well as in Colorado, Minnesota and New Jersey, more than 9,000 federal buildings nationwide, Walmart, Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the general aviation industry, and state and local fusion centers across the country. Secretary Napolitano also previously released an “If You See Something, Say Something ™” public awareness video, available here.

In the coming months, DHS will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something ™” campaign nationally to help America’s business, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.

Sec’y of Defense Robert Gates on Strength of US-Israel Relationship

— David Streeter

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveled to Israel and held a high level meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The two have met multiple times over the last two years and their latest meeting underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to Israel’s security in the face of a changing Middle East.

During the post-meeting press conference, Barak praises Gates’ personal commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship:

I would like to welcome Secretary Gates in his visit here to Israel, and a leading American and a leading friend of the whole region and of Israel as well.  I would like to draw our attention once again to the pivotal role of the relationship and the unique relation between the United States and Israel in shaping our security, the qualitative military edge of Israel, and the stability of the whole region.

I would like to thank you, Secretary Gates, for your friendship, for your personal and institutional contribution to making our security-related exchanges more profound, more substantial than ever in the past.  We highly appreciate this, and we wish you all the best in this visit all around the region and back home.  Thank you.

Gates spoke on the current state of U.S.-Israel relations during his prepared remarks:

I would start by joining President Obama in condemning yesterday’s terrorist bomb attack in Jerusalem, as well as the rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in recent days and even today.  The thoughts and condolences of the American government and the American people are with the victims and their families.  We underscore that Israel, like all nations, has the right to self-defense and to bring justice to the perpetrators of these repugnant acts.

In my meeting today with Minister Barak, in addition to discussing these attacks, we discussed a range of important defense issues both in our bilateral relationship and across the region, including the dramatic political shifts taking place in the Middle East and the implications those changes hold for the future; Iran’s nuclear program; the security environment on Israel’s borders, including southern Lebanon and the Palestinian territories; and the ongoing military operation over Libya.

Our bilateral relationship and this dialogue is so critical because, as Minister Barak once said, Israel lives at the focal point of some of the biggest security challenges facing the free world:  violent extremism, the proliferation of nuclear technologies, and the dilemmas posed by adversarial and failed states.  And I think it important, especially at a time of such dramatic change in the region, to reaffirm once more America’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.

Indeed, I cannot recall a time during my public life when our two countries have had a closer defense relationship.  The U.S. and Israel are cooperating closely in areas such as missile defense technology, the Joint Strike Fighter, and in training exercises such as Juniper Stallion-cooperation and support that ensures that Israel will continue to maintain its qualitative military edge.

And during an exchange with a reporter Gates said:

President Obama is the eighth American president I’ve worked for.  And I don’t believe that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has ever been stronger than it is right now.  And the steps that we have taken in the last two years in terms of, just as one example, collaborating together on missile defense, I think are without precedent.  I see no change in prospect for that relationship.

Gates concluded his prepared remarks by affirming the U.S.-Israel relationship:

Every time I visit Israel, I’m reminded of the extraordinary challenges the Jewish people have overcome throughout their history, the tremendous accomplishment that the state of Israel represents and the importance of our alliance to ensuring Israel’s security.

Full transcript follows the jump.
Joint Press Conference with Secretary Gates and Minister Barak from Tel Aviv, Israel

MIN. BARAK:  Good afternoon.  I will make a short statement in English, then a few words in Hebrew and then will yield to the secretary.  And then we’ll answer one question on each side, with your permission.

           I would like to welcome Secretary Gates in his visit here to Israel, and a leading American and a leading friend of the whole region and of Israel as well.  I would like to draw our attention once again to the pivotal role of the relationship and the unique relation between the United States and Israel in shaping our security, the qualitative military edge of Israel, and the stability of the whole region.

           We share with the United States a common set of values, and the main topic that we discussed is the developments in the region and the need to keep fighting against terror and the sources of radical behavior.

           Just in the recent hour, once again a rocket hit Ashdod and probably another one even north of Ashdod, and that’s part of an escalation which takes part in the last several days.  I would like to reemphasize that Israel will not tolerate these terror attacks, and we will not allow terror to rise once again.

           The Israel Defense Forces are our main guarantee for deterrence, consultation and even for the backing of our efforts to pursue peace in the region, which we continuously keep doing.

           And once again, I would like to thank you, Secretary Gates, for your friendship, for your personal and institutional contribution to making our security-related exchanges more profound, more substantial than ever in the past.  We highly appreciate this, and we wish you all the best in this visit all around the region and back home.  Thank you.

           (Continues in Hebrew.)

           SEC. GATES:  It’s a pleasure to be back in Israel and to have this opportunity to visit with my friend Ehud Barak, a true warrior-statesman and someone I’ve known and respected and worked with for over 20 years.

           I would start by joining President Obama in condemning yesterday’s terrorist bomb attack in Jerusalem, as well as the rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in recent days and even today.  The thoughts and condolences of the American government and the American people are with the victims and their families.  We underscore that Israel, like all nations, has the right to self-defense and to bring justice to the perpetrators of these repugnant acts.

           In my meeting today with Minister Barak, in addition to discussing these attacks, we discussed a range of important defense issues both in our bilateral relationship and across the region, including the dramatic political shifts taking place in the Middle East and the implications those changes hold for the future; Iran’s nuclear program; the security environment on Israel’s borders, including southern Lebanon and the Palestinian territories; and the ongoing military operation over Libya.

           Our bilateral relationship and this dialogue is so critical because, as Minister Barak once said, Israel lives at the focal point of some of the biggest security challenges facing the free world:  violent extremism, the proliferation of nuclear technologies, and the dilemmas posed by adversarial and failed states.  And I think it important, especially at a time of such dramatic change in the region, to reaffirm once more America’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.

           Indeed, I cannot recall a time during my public life when our two countries have had a closer defense relationship.  The U.S. and Israel are cooperating closely in areas such as missile defense technology, the Joint Strike Fighter, and in training exercises such as Juniper Stallion — cooperation and support that ensures that Israel will continue to maintain its qualitative military edge.

           As you know, I have a full agenda here during my visit.  Later today, I will see President Peres.  Tomorrow, I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss our defense relationship and the prospects for a two-state solution, and I will then have discussions with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.

           I know there may be a temptation during this time of great uncertainty in the region to be more cautious about pursuing the peace process, but in my meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, I carry a different message:  that there is a need and an opportunity for bold action to move toward a two-state solution.  And as the parties move forward, the United States stands ready to support them in any way we can.

           In closing, every time I visit Israel, I’m reminded of the extraordinary challenges the Jewish people have overcome throughout their history, the tremendous accomplishment that the state of Israel represents and the importance of our alliance to ensuring Israel’s security.

           Thank you, Ehud, for hosting us, and I look forward to seeing you again at dinnertime.

           STAFF:  Thank you.  Thank you both.

           Now two questions.  We start with an American question, then an Israeli question.

           STAFF:  (Off mic.)

           Q:  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon.  This is a question for both Minister Barak and Secretary Gates.  What is your opinion of the upheaval that has now reached Syria by all accounts?  Is this something that Israel’s encouraged by?  Perhaps not, given calls by yourself at times to approach the Assad government for peace.  I’d also like to deepen that question and ask whether Israel sees potentially a Syrian connection to the flare-up in Gaza.  It’s no secret that Islamic Jihad, Hamas have their headquarters in Syria.  Perhaps there’s an outside interest in opening up that front?

           SEC. GATES:  Well, first of all, I would say that what the Syrian government is confronting is, in fact, the same challenge that faces so many governments across the region, and that is the unmet political and economic grievances of their people, in some of these countries — Libya is an example, Syria is another example — where authoritarian regimes have suppressed their people and have been willing to use violence against them. Of course, the other example is the Iranian government prepared to use force against its own people.

           And so I think that what we see is the opening to the future that’s occurring in virtually all of these countries.  Some of them are dealing with it better than others.  I’ve just come from Egypt, where the Egyptian army stood on the sidelines and allowed people to demonstrate, and in fact, empowered a revolution.  The Syrians might take a lesson from that.

           MIN. BARAK:  First of all, I do not pretend to know exactly what happens now in Syria.  We learn it through a low-visibility kind of filters.  But if our — and I’m — I think that we are lucky enough to be at the center or the focal point of this internal (inaudible) Syria.  But if I would have to advise them, I would join the advice of the secretary, saying that we prefer the Egyptian model of behavior rather than the Libyan one to be adopted by our neighbors.

           In regard to the peace opportunities, once again, we cannot — we cannot pass a judgment right now whether it’s good or not, whether the situation really is right or not.  But in time, the Syrian government will decide that they are open to consider negotiating with us.  We will be open.  But it’s up to them.  It’s their decision.  We cannot pass a judgment.  I think that this difficult situation creates not just sweat and challenges but also opportunities.  And we have be — have to be alert to be able to see those opportunities the moment they emerge rather than let them slip out of our fingers and face the uncertainties of a deeper chaos in the Middle East.

           SEC. GATES:  Phil.

           Q:  Thank you.  And this is a question for both of you.  Do you believe a heavy-handed Israeli response to yesterday’s bombing and today’s rocket attacks would play into the hands of those in the region who want to sever peace talks?  And what path should Israel pursue in regards to peace?

           MIN. BARAK:  Can you repeat the question?  I’m not (inaudible).

           Q:  Sure.  Do you believe a heavy-handed Israeli response to yesterday’s bombing and today’s rocket attacks would play into the hands of those in the region who want to sever peace talks?  And what path should Israel pursue in regards to peace?

           MIN. BARAK:  I think that’s it not about giving a name or description to this response, though is a need to respond.  Every sovereign would have responded when its citizenry is — became a target for indiscriminate launching of rockets.  I do not know any government that would sit idle.  So we have to respond.

           Now, we do not want to become the — kind of the — kind of the victims of our own (inaudible).  So we keep the right to pass a judgment about how, when and in what kind of amount of firepower or ammunition to respond.  But we will respond.  We have to respond.  And we are determined to bring back tranquility to the region.  And unfortunately, this tough neighborhood, it cannot be done without the readiness and practice of using, from time to time, force.

           SEC. GATES:  I think the Israelis will have to make their own decision in terms of how to respond.  No sovereign state can tolerate having rockets fired at its — at its — at its people.

           I think one of the — one of the significant features of what is going on across the region is that as diverse as the countries are, where there is — where there are demonstrations and unrest, in virtually every case, the theme of those demonstrations has been directed inward at problems in those countries.  And I think we all just need to be mindful to keep that we don’t want to do anything that allows extremists or others to divert the narrative of reform that is going on in virtually all of the countries of the region.

           MIN. BARAK:  Please, last question for an Israeli reporter.

           Q:  Mr. Secretary, you’ve just emphasized the special relationship between the United States and Israel.  In light of the recent events in the Middle East, could you comment on Minister Barak’s suggestion that the United States will expand its military aid to Israel by $20 billion?  And Mr. Barak, regarding the shootings from Gaza, do you see Hamas as the only — only Hamas as responsible for this situation, or do you make a distinction between Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

           MIN. BARAK:  I would like to answer, sir, with your permission.  I raised the issue of 20 billion [dollars] as a part of a wider development; will Israel sign a peace agreement with a major neighbor, be it the Palestinians or the whole region or Syria or whatever.  It’s only within this context when we are taking extra mile of risks in order to stabilize the whole region that we can afford turning to the United States and ask them, in spite of all the circumstances therein, to try to help us to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation.

           In fact, that’s nothing new.  I talked about it 10 years ago with Clinton.  I talked about it five years ago with President Bush.  I already talked to him about it more than once at the Pentagon and the (inaudible) Americans.

           So it’s nothing new about it.  In order to make peace in this tough neighborhood where there is no mercy for the weak, no second opportunity for those who cannot defend themselves, Israel has to take further security risks for all potential development that could happen, as we see around there from time to time.  And that’s where we ask the United States to help us to upgrade our security capabilities by systems that sometimes they are the only one who produces (inaudible).  And we’ve sent in support for us in systems that only we know how to build and develop.

           In regarding to your other question, we see the Hamas as responsible because Hamas is basically not just a terrorist group.  It’s also the regime in Gaza.  And they have to enforce or impose their will upon — be it the Islamic Jihad or other dissident groups.  We cannot make this fine differentiation between different sources of rockets.  When the rockets come on the head of a family somewhere in Ashkelon or in Beersheba or in a small village or city around the Gaza Strip, it doesn’t matter for them whether it came from the — this gang or the other gang or from the Islamic Jihad or from the Hamas.  For us, Hamas is responsible for whatever comes from Gaza.

           SEC. GATES:  First of all, I understood the minister’s comment and in precisely the context that he described it.  And I would just restate what I said in my opening statement, that President Obama is the eighth American president I’ve worked for.  And I don’t believe that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has ever been stronger than it is right now.  And the steps that we have taken in the last two years in terms of, just as one example, collaborating together on missile defense, I think are without precedent.  I see no change in prospect for that relationship.

           David.

           Q:  Mr. Secretary, you’ve just come from Egypt.  And I wonder whether in your conversations with Field Marshal Tantawi and others you had any chance to think about whether Egypt will be as strong a partner as it has been in security issues — for example, in preventing smuggling of weapons to Gaza — and if you had any other questions or concerns after your visit.

           And Minister Barak, I’d be interested in your views about the new Egypt.  And also, as this revolution spreads, it seems now, to Syria, to lemon — to Yemen, to other countries, do you sometimes think —

           MIN. BARAK:  Well, not Iran.

           Q:  Well —

           MIN. BARAK:  We wish together that it will jump directly to Tehran, yeah.

           Q:  Include that in your answer.  But my question is whether you ever wonder whether the United States is — has been so supportive of change that perhaps it should think a bit more about stability in addition?

           SEC. GATES:  First of all, I was quite reassured by my conversations in Egypt, and in particular with Field Marshal Tantawi, about their commitment to the treaty with Israel and to their commitment to continuing a high-level dialogue on a routine basis between Israeli and Egyptian leaders.  They, too, are concerned about the smuggling problem.  And I offered our assistance to them, technical and otherwise, in terms of getting a handle on this.  But I came away persuaded that they take it seriously, and that they also take the relationship with Israel seriously.

           MIN. BARAK:  I think that the historic aspect that we see on the — all over — all around the Arab world is something unprecedented — we didn’t see such phenomena since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire some hundred years ago, almost hundred years ago, or the — or the demise of the French colonial empire some 60 or 50 — it depends how you count — years ago.

           And it’s really — historically speaking, it’s moving and inspiring phenomena; clearly promising for the future of the Arab people, for the young generation in the Arab world, for the right of women, for the right to self — express themselves and so on.

           But unfortunately, we are experienced (inaudible).  As the secretary mentioned today, you know, an optimist in the Middle East is a — a pessimist in the Middle East is an optimist with experience.  We have to follow historic experiences of similar revolutions.  Usually after a short period of elation from the romanticism and the idealism that spreads around the streets, there might come, and came in the past, a determined group, however small, who is ready to kill and be killed if necessary in order to come to power, and they come to power.

           So we have to look around us and make whatever we can.  We are extremely limited in our capacity to influence.  United States has more influence.  But the rest of the world should support the elements that provides or ensures stability in the short range and try to minimize the chances of extremist group to come to power.

           I believe that the basic process is good.  It’s true that the moderate (inaudible) leaders in the region, and I don’t count neither Libya or Iran among them, but the others who are extremely sensitive and responsible regarding to the stability issue and extremely sensitive to international commitments, including the Israeli-Egyptian peace.  So I feel that we have to be careful and open-eyed in the short term to minimize negative developments and minimize risk for stability, but in the long run it’s — it is an extremely positive phenomena.

           In regard to the Egyptian leadership, I know Field Marshal Tantawi for many years.  In fact, 35 years or so — 30 years ago, we fought each other.  We were both (inaudible) battalion commanders in the same — in the same sector when we crossed the Suez Canal.  He was protecting the Eastern Bank with his infantry battalion.  I came with my tank battalion.  When I talked to him after he took power, I told him we have an utmost responsibility to make sure that our younger generation will not find themselves in the same experiences we had been through.

           And I cannot quote him of course, but I have a reason to believe that as long as the Egyptian armed forces are in power, they’re a major pillar of stability within Egypt.  The peace agreement, as well as other Egyptian international commitments, will be respected and kept.

           Thank you once again, my friend, Bob Gates, and have a good stay here.  Thank you all.

Department of Homeland Security Allocates $19 Million for Nonprofit Security

— Rabbi Avi Shafran

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that non-profit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack and located in DHS-designated urban areas will receive $19 million in security grants to strengthen the physical security of their facilities – through video surveillance equipment, alarmed and reinforced doors and windows, security barriers, metal detectors, locks, gates, fences, personnel training and other improvements.  The allocation is part of a more than $1.8 billion Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Preparedness Grant for the current fiscal year.

Numerous Jewish institutions, including community centers, schools, places of worship, charitable organizations, social service agencies and other communal gathering places, will be receiving a share of the allocation.

“Threats, and actual incidents of violence, against Jewish targets in the United States and around the world point to the particular vulnerability of our community, and to the need for these funds, which will help to better ensure Americans’ safety and well-being,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Washington Director and Counsel of Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish group.  

Rabbi Cohen was one of the original and leading voices in promoting the creation of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in 2005 and in promoting subsequent appropriations and enhancements. Agudath Israel is a member-organization of a coalition, led by the Jewish Federations of North America, committed to keeping the program well-funded and viable.

“This is a very welcome development,” said Rabbi Cohen, “one that will bring needed improvement in security to, among others, Jewish institutions in the Orthodox community.”