White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tells the media Monday that President Obama has strengthened relations between the U.S. and Israel amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial visit to Washington, D.C.
Nearly twice as many Americans view Israel’s leader favorably as unfavorably. Over age 50, support has risen by 20 percentage points.
A Gallup poll has found that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “favorable” rating among Americans has risen 10 points in the past three years. The poll was taken on Feb. 8-11, just as the controversy over Netanyahu’s speech in Congress was heating up.
The poll shows that 45% of the public see Netanyahu favorably, a statistical tie with his highest Gallup rating, back in 1998. Just over half that amount, 24%, view him unfavorably. Approval for him among Republicans, and in general, improved by 10 percentage points since 2012.
While Netanyahu’s favorable score has varied slightly over the years, his unfavorable score has been relatively stable, ranging from 20% to 28%.
Another Gallup finding from the same poll shows that Americans in all age groups have grown more partial to Israel in the Israel-Arab conflict over the past 15 years, but those aged 50 and older have grown particularly likely to sympathize with the Jewish state. Support for Israel among Americans aged 18-29 has grown only from 50% to 56%, while support among the over-50 group has soared from some 50% to nearly 70%.
The Palestinians are set to lodge their first complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes at the International Criminal Court on April 1, a senior official told AFP on Monday.
“One of the first important steps will be filing a complaint against Israel at the ICC on April 1 over the  Gaza war, and settlement activity,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
On January 2, the Palestinians moved to formally join the Hague-based court in a process which is due to take effect on April 1, setting the scene for potential legal action against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.
The Justice Department will soon release a report condemning the Ferguson, Mo., police department for actions that helped to foster bitterness within the city’s black community ahead of last year’s high-profile shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer, according to The New York Times.
The report will point a finger at police for targeting black residents during traffic stops and using those fines to make up a significant portion of the budget, the newspaper reported. The Times reports that the Justice Department could release those findings this week. If the department doesn’t make clear strides to change its policies, it could face a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Racial tension in Ferguson came to a head last summer after then-officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in an altercation. A grand jury declined to charge Wilson, finding his use of force was justified. But many civil rights activists and others in the black community believe Wilson overreacted and that Brown didn’t pose a true threat to him.
A cursory glance at the official painting of President Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery would easily miss an ode to the lowest point of his presidency — Monica Lewinsky.
But it’s there, the artist revealed in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. Philadelphia area painter Nelson Shanks cunningly included a shadow over the fireplace cast from a blue dress on a mannequin.
Shanks said painting Clinton was his hardest assignment because “he is probably the most famous liar of all time.” So he added the nod to the Lewinsky scandal because it had cast a shadow over Clinton’s presidency.
“He and his administration did some very good things, of course,” Shanks said, “but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind, and it is subtly incorporated in the painting.” He told the Daily News:
“If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things. t actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there. It is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him.”
So does he. Politico captured the vice president joking about that now-infamous moment, telling an audience, “I just want you to know that I will not be offended if you don’t want to, but I’m gonna be in that room if anybody wants a photograph.”
A statue honoring murdered United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was unveiled Saturday at the now re-named Brian Terry Patrol Station in Bisbee, Arizona.
“That iconic image of Brian carrying his BordTac team member on his shoulders represents everything good about Brian, his strength, his determination, his attention to detail, his love for the Border Patrol and his love for his fellow agents,” Terry’s cousin, Robert Heyer, said.
Terry’s family established the Brian Terry Foundation to honor his memory and create a legacy in his name. The foundation provides emotional and financial assistance for U.S. Border Patrol agents and their families.
Terry was killed in a 2010 gun fight between border patrol agents and members of a gang attempting to steal marijuana from smugglers. Authorities later determined that the gang’s weapons were part of the Justice Department’s botched “gun-walking” program Operation Fast and Furious.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu rocked the house at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee mega-conference in Washington this morning, teasing his speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow to focus on his rift with the administration over “the best way to prevent Iran from developing those weapons.”
Netanyahu received a standing ovation from the crowd at the mere mention of his name by AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr, who introduced the prime minister.
And he received thunderous applause, cheers, and an extended standing ovation befitting a rock star when he finally took the stage before the packed crowd of 16,000.
“As prime minister of Israel I have a moral obligation to speak out about these dangers while there’s still time to avert them,” he said of Iran, which “envelops the entire world with its tentacles of terror.”
“The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over,” Netanyahu said, garnering a massive ovation. “Tomorrow as prime minister of the one and only Jewish state I plan to use that voice.”
Hillary Clinton and her close advisers are telling Democratic donors that she will enter the presidential race sooner than expected, likely in April, a move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising.
Clinton aides have spoken of the earlier timetable in private meetings, according to people engaged in recent discussions about the presumed Democratic front-runner’s emerging 2016 campaign. Many within her camp have advocated her staying out of the fray until the summer.
Jumping in sooner would help the Democratic field take shape, reassuring party leaders and donors that the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is running. A super PAC loyal to Mrs. Clinton has faced hesitation from donors who don’t want to make big pledges until she is a candidate. Such concerns would evaporate after she announces.
MSNBC: And let’s talk a little about that, congresswoman, because the fact is, as you said on this hearing you attended just last week there are very real threats, terrorist threats against Americans, and even right here in the homeland. How concerned are you about that reality in our future?
SJL: Jose, I have — I call it a privilege. It certainly was a tragic privilege of serving on the homeland security committee since the heinous acts of 9/11. Many of us were there on the first opening day gavel of this committee. I had the onerous responsibility of visiting ground zero in those early, early days. I would say to you that we are now at a stark moment in history, the convergence of the ISIS, the ISIL approach, to establishing a state, its commitment to franchise terrorism, its direction that says, if you cannot come to be a foreign fighter, then stay at home and create havoc. That means that all of the world is facing a new phenomena of terrorism. The United States has been very fortunate. But the homeland security department, I must say, in the new legislative initiatives and pressures, to ensure there is communication on intelligence, which did not occur in the way it should have pre-9/11 that there’s is communication now that all of the agencies are talking,
Now, let me turn to aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership that get far less attention. What the United States is doing every day to combat anti-semitism around the world and to have Israel’s back at the United Nations. We are living in an era where anti-semitism is surging by every measure. Reported harassment, polling data, violent attacks, and we should all be extremely disturbed by it.
The kicker: Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made this claim as he was meeting with John Kerry.
Geneva (AP) – Iran’s foreign minister has accused the West of fueling Islamic extremism by failing to protect the rights of Muslim immigrants.
Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that “a sizeable number” of those joining the Islamic State group and others were second-generation immigrants in western democracies.
He noted that some of those “beheading innocent civilians speak European languages with native accents” — a veiled reference to “Jihadi John,” who appeared in several IS propaganda videos showing the execution of the group’s prisoners.
“Jihadi John” was revealed last week to be Mohammed Emwazi, a young man raised in London.
Zarif also repeated his country’s previous claim that western efforts to promote human rights in the Mideast have destabilized existing regimes and benefited extremist groups.