U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power explained U.S. policy on Israel. Speaking at the HaartezQ conference on December 13, Power noted that the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel under President Barack Obama "remains unrivaled, and has never been greater ... from our commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge, to the exceptional access Israel enjoys to advanced U.S. military equipment, such as the F-35 fighters, to our joint funding and development of Iron Dome, ARROW, and David's Sling missile defense systems."
Remember when our Republican friends criticized President Obama's decision to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council? Power pointed out that "since the U.S. has became a member of the Human Rights Council, we've helped cut the proportion of Israel-focused resolutions in half."
What is the point? I wrote this last year, but I could have written it yesterday: Those of us who support a two-state solution must recognize Israel's legitimate security concerns and advocate for a two-state solution in terms of Israel's best interests. This is about doing what is best for Israel, not taking the Palestinian side against Israel.
President Obama addressed the conference via a three-minute video.
Congress blocked funding for UNESCO. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dropped his opposition to funding the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and AIPAC did not lobby against funding. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress appear to have succeeded in continuing the ban imposed when UNESCO recognized Palestine as a state.
Derek Davison explains that "UNESCO's admission of Palestine has no practical impact on Israel or the state of the Israel-Palestine peace process, if one even exists anymore. Yet a pair of laws over two decades old is preventing the United States from funding an agency that could have a material impact on the Islamic State's ability to finance its activities throughout the Islamic world."
The administration did not push hard for this -- it's only $80 million -- but now Republicans can crow about a foreign policy victory buried in a 2009-page $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, sort of a consolation prize for their failed partisan attempt to block the Iran deal.
The Iran deal is moving forward. The International Atomic Energy Agency's report contained no surprises. Iran lied about its past activities. Robert Einhorn explains that "While a truthful confession would be valuable, it is not necessary for a sound agreement. More important than hearing Iran's version of the past is having confidence that nuclear weapons will not be pursued in the future."
The IAEA report confirmed the administration's assessment that until 2003, Iran had a formal nuclear weapons program, and that some activities occurred between 2003 and 2009. This is why a diplomatic solution is so important. We now have unprecedented access and transparency into Iran's nuclear program. We have 24/7 access to all known sites, and we can inspect any site within 24 days (the IAEA had to wait 10 years to get to Parchin).
Iran's ballistic missile tests violate U.N. Security Resolution 1929. They do not violate the Iran deal, and we must respond appropriately without overreacting. Thanks to the Iran deal, those ballistic missiles will not have nuclear warheads.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) misled the Republican Jewish Coalition. Rubio claimed that he pioneered a national effort to divest at the state level from companies linked to Iran. But the Tampa Bay Times reports that "Rubio had nothing to do with the creation of the legislation."
"If pioneering means allowing a bill that I wrote and passed through the Florida Senate to come to the floor for a vote in the House, then I guess you could say he's a pioneer," then-state Sen.Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Boca Raton who now serves in the U.S. House, told the Tampa Bay Times when asked about Rubio's boast before the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Why has the Republican Jewish Coalition remained silent about Donald Trump's bigotry? The Republican Jewish Coalition claims in its mission statement that it works "to sensitize Republican leadership in government and the Party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community."
Every major stream of American Judaism has condemned Trump. Why has the RJC remained silent? Do they really think that Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment ("thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans") trumps the first ten? Or do they agree with Trump?
Did you miss the GOP presidential debate? It was a two-hour commercial for Hillary Clinton. Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, explains that when it comes to foreign policy, the GOP candidates for president are either "ignorant or insane."