Mr Sarkozy is being questioned as part of an investigation into “irregularities” in election campaign financing, a French court source told Reuters.
Two ex-State Department officials who have spent decades – under both Democratic and Republican presidents – pressuring Israel, will be among the featured speakers at the American Zionist Movement’s national conference later this month. An interesting choice, to say the least.
The AZM’s three-day conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 15 to 17, will include many impressive pro-Israel speakers. Yet it will also feature Aaron Miller and Dennis Ross, whose records of criticizing and pressuring Israel are long and troubling.
Miller was a senior Middle East adviser to Secretary of State James Baker. He helped write Baker’s speeches and helped shape his policies concerning Israel, which are widely considered to have been the most unfriendly American policies toward Israel in our country’s history. And Miller was still defending Baker many years later, declaring in the Los Angeles Times in 2008 that “Baker was tough on Israel when he needed to be, but he was no anti-Semite.” Those who remember Baker’s infamous “[Expletive] the Jews” remark might disagree with Miller’s assessment.
Writing in the journal SAIS Review in 1987, Miller praised Yasir Arafat as “pragmatic,” “conservative” and “moderate.” (Note the year – it was before Arafat was even pretending to recognize Israel’s right to exist.) The term “Palestinian terrorists” did not come easily to Miller’s lips. In that article, he called them “Palestinian fighters,” and described the PLO’s terrorist attacks as “Palestinian operations against Israel.” Indeed.
The following year, Miller helped engineer the first U.S. recognition of Arafat and the PLO. But when a PLO faction tried to launch an “operation” to slaughter Israelis on the Tel Aviv beach and seize the nearby U.S. embassy, the U.S. was forced to cancel its recognition of Arafat. It should have cost Miller his job.
Instead, Miller became a senior Mideast policymaker in the Clinton administration, where he pushed the line that Palestinian violations of the Oslo accords were unimportant, and that Arafat should continue receiving $500-million in U.S. aid each year, regardless of his actual behavior. It was Miller who came up with the idea to remake Arafat’s image by having him visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Brilliant.
In recent years, Miller has spent a lot of time dishing out his “expert opinions” on television talk shows and op-ed pages. He endorsed the Iran nuclear agreement, insisting that “in a galaxy far away, a better deal might have been possible, but not here on planet Earth and not under these circumstances.” He opposed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying such a move “puts America’s interests last” and would “signal – no matter how it’s explained – that the U.S. is validating Israel’s claims to the entire city of Jerusalem.” Heaven forbid!
Miller also has harshly mocked supporters of Israel, writing in his book: “American Jews committed to Israel worry for a living – I call this the ‘cosmic oy vey’ syndrome, the tendency to worry about everything combined with an inability to distinguish what is really worth worrying about from what isn’t.” I wonder what the delegates to the American Zionist Movement conference think of that assertion.
Miller’s close colleague, Dennis Ross, played an active role in shaping the same policies – pushing for U.S. recognition of Arafat, downplaying Palestinian violations of the accords and, of course, constantly pressuring Israel behind the scenes to make more concessions.
As a senior aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ross pressured Israel to let Hamas bring concrete into Gaza. Here’s how Ross recalled it: “I argued with Israeli leaders and security officials, telling them they needed to allow more construction materials, including cement, into Gaza so that housing, schools and basic infrastructure could be built. They countered that Hamas would misuse it, and they were right.” That admission came six years too late.
Thanks to Ross’s pressure, Hamas built “a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets,” as Ross acknowledged. They built the tunnels with “an estimated 600,000 tons of cement,” some of which was “diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza.” (Washington Post, Aug. 8, 2014)
During the past year, Ross has repeatedly pressed Israel to make significant concessions, in exchange for easily reversible rhetorical gestures by the Palestinians. In op-eds in the Washington Post and The New York Times, Ross demanded that Israel halt all Jewish construction in 92 percent of Judea-Samaria. In exchange, he argued, the PA should agree to “normalizing Israeli-Palestinian contacts.” Evidently Ross forgot the PA already agreed to have normal relations with Israel, in the 1993 Oslo accords. Why should Israel have to make more concessions to get something the PA was supposed to have been doing for the past 24 years?
Ironically, the American Zionist Movement conference at which Miller and Ross are scheduled to speak is titled “Zionism Forward in the Spirit of Balfour.” The Balfour Declaration affirmed the Jewish right to the Land of Israel. Yet Miller and Ross have devoted much of their professional lives to undermining and restricting Israel’s rights to Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria.
Moreover, the Balfour Declaration promised a “Jewish national home” and said nothing about any Palestinian Arab state. Yet these two State Department veterans remain devoted to badgering Israel into accepting the creation of a Palestinian state. That would mean pushing Israel back to the indefensible 1967 borders, which would pose a grave danger to Israel’s very existence – precisely the opposite of the “Spirit of Balfour” the conference will celebrate.
Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica has been Suspended by Board
Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the heart of the data-mining scandal, has been suspended.
The company said in a statement: “The board of Cambridge Analytica has announced today that it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix with immediate effect pending a full, independent investigation.
“In the view of the board, Mr Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation.”
Cambridge Analytica said its chief data officer Alexander Tayler had been appointed acting chief executive while an investigation was carried out by Julian Malins QC whose findings they would “share publicly in due course”.
“The board will be monitoring the situation closely, working closely with Dr Tayler, to ensure that Cambridge Analytica, in all of its operations, represents the firm’s values and delivers the highest-quality service to its clients.”
Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrested over campaign financing
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is being held by police in connection to alleged campaign funding from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The amount would be more than double the legal spending limit in French elections at that time, which was €21m.
Alleged payments would also violate French laws on foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.
Mr Sarkozy and his campaign manager have repeatedly denied accepting money from Libya.
According to Le Monde, this is the first time Mr Sarkozy has been questioned in relation to this investigation, which was opened in April 2013.
He can be held for up to 48 hours and presented to a magistrates’ court for indictment if police seek charges.
Mr Sarkozy has already been ordered to stand trial in a separate case, concerning the financing of his 2012 re-election campaign, when he lost to Francois Hollande.
In March 2011, Saif al Islam Gaddafi, the late dictator’s son, told Euronews: “Sarkozy has to give back the money he accepted from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We financed his campaign and we have the proof…
“The first thing we’re demanding is that this clown gives back the money to the Libyan people.”
Netanyahu Aide Turns State Witness Against Him
An ex-aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signed a state witness deal in a corruption probe linked to his former boss, Israeli media reported Monday, dealing a new setback to the premier.
News of the agreement broke ahead of Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House later Monday.
The widely reported agreement between Israeli authorities and Nir Hefetz, a former spokesman for the Netanyahu family, comes as corruption investigations into the prime minister intensify.
Israeli police provided no details on the reported agreement. Hefetz would be the third Netanyahu associate to sign a state witness deal in recent months.
An aide to Netanyahu immediately denounced the reports and proclaimed the long-serving prime minister’s innocence.
“When there’s something there, it doesn’t take even one state witness,” the aide said.
“And now, even a thousand state witnesses will not help.”
On Sunday, an Israeli court released Hefetz and telecoms mogul Shaul Elovitch and put them under house arrest after 14 days in custody.
Hefetz is alleged to have acted as a messenger between Netanyahu, Elovitch’s telecoms group Bezeq and news website Walla!, media reports say.
Police suspect Bezeq was given regulatory breaks in return for Netanyahu receiving positive coverage on Walla!, a news website owned by the telecoms group.
Hefetz is also suspected of trying to bribe a retired judge to block a probe into the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, over alleged misuse of public funds, according to the reports.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Hefetz had agreed to hand over recordings of Netanyahu and his wife as part of the state witness deal.
Last month, Israeli police recommended Netanyahu’s indictment on two other cases of alleged bribery. The attorney general is now considering how to move forward in those cases.
In one case, Netanyahu and family members are suspected of receiving one million shekels ($285,000, 230,000 euros) in gifts, including luxury cigars, champagne and jewellery, from wealthy figures in exchange for financial or personal favours.
In the other case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot newspaper for more favourable coverage.
Israeli media reported that Hefetz could also provide testimony in those two investigations.
The building investigations into Netanyahu’s affairs have raised questions over whether the 68-year-old will eventually have to step down.
He has been prime minister for a total of around 12 years.
The probes have also led to speculation in the Israeli media that he may opt for early elections in the coming months in a bid to bolster his standing before a decision on indictments is made.