Trump invites Putin to Washington: Zio-Watch, April 20, 2018

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, told an Israeli-American group that it must strive to preserve bipartisan support for Israel.

“If we don’t have bipartisan support for Israel, if Israel becomes the domain of one party or another, Israel will lose,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday at a luncheon at the Library of Congress organized by the Israeli American Council. The luncheon marked Israel’s 70th birthday this week.

Pro-Israel groups are grappling with diminishing support among Democrats for Israel. Younger liberals are increasingly sympathetic toward the Palestinians, and Democrats perceive that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his government disdain the left. Also, Netanyahu has an unabashed closeness to President Donald Trump.

“The U.S.-Israel relationship is – and must always be – rooted in bipartisanship,” Israeli American Council Chairman Adam Milstein said at the luncheon, which drew 60 lawmakers, including congressional leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader in the Senate and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Trayon White Sr. at a meeting of the D.C. Council in Washington, March 20, 2018. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Washington, D.C., councilman who suggested on Facebook that rich Jews control the weather visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and left halfway through the 90-minute tour.

Trayon White Sr. did not goodbye to his hosts, the Washington Post reported. Rabbi Batya Glazer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, who accompanied White on Wednesday’s tour, texted him to ask his whereabouts. White wrote back that he hoped to see her outside the museum but he had to leave soon for an event in the 8th Ward, which he represents.

White was standing alone on the sidewalk outside the museum by the time the tour was over. Glazer said she found his behavior “confusing.”
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WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump’s top Middle East envoy affirmed the right of Palestinians “to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances” in the Gaza Strip adding that they should do so at a safe distance from Israel’s border with the strip and with no violence.

“Palestinians in Gaza have the right to protest their dire humanitarian circumstances,” Jason Greenblatt said on Twitter late Thursday. “Organizers & leaders should focus on that message, not stoke the potential for more violence with firebombs & flaming kites, and must keep a safe distance from the border.” He referred to reports of violent provocateurs among the protesters.

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In this image released by the US Department of Defense, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on targets in Syria on April 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
In this image released by the US Department of Defense, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on targets in Syria on April 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Syria has handed over to Russia two unexploded cruise missiles it discovered in the aftermath of the recent attack by the United States, Britain and France, Syrian sources say.

“Two cruise missiles that did not detonate during the US missile strike on Syria overnight on April 14 were found by the Syrian military. Both are in rather good condition. These missiles were handed over to Russian officer the day before yesterday (April 17),” a source in the Syrian Defense Ministry told Russia’s TASS news agency on Thursday.

The Syrian military sent the missiles over on board a plane on Wednesday, the source added. The Russian Defense Ministry had yet to confirm the report.

On April 14, US President Donald Trump along with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Theresa May authorized a joint missile attack against alleged chemical weapons manufacturing sites inside Syria.

The attack, carried out in response to what the US and its allies insisted was a chemical attack by the Syrian government, saw 105 cruise missiles being fired at targets in Damascus and Homs.

It was not clear whether the discovered missiles were American Tomahawks or Scalp/Storm Shadow, codenames for a cruise missile jointly developed by France and the UK.
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The photo shows damaged buildings in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital city of Damascus, on April 16, 2018. (By AP)
The photo shows damaged buildings in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital city of Damascus, on April 16, 2018. (By AP)

The Syrian army has reportedly given a 48-hours ultimatum to Takfiri Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups to agree to withdraw from areas south of the capital, Damascus, or face a major counter-terrorism operation in the area.

“If they refuse, the army and supporting forces are ready to launch a military operation to end the presence of the organization in the area,” Syrian newspaper al-Watan reported on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Syrian army began shelling the militant-held enclave in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp and the nearby al-Hajar al-Aswad area prior to the planned military campaign that would target the Daesh and the al-Nusra Front terror groups.

Yarmouk, some 8 kilometers south of Damascus, hosted Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee community before the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011. Most of Yarmouk residents have already fled the area, but the UN says several thousand still remain in the camp.

The Yarmouk district’s liberation would give the Syrian government full control over the capital for the first time since 2012.

Over the past few months, Syrian forces have made sweeping gains against Takfiri terrorists who have lately increased their acts of violence across the country following a series of defeats on the ground.
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The 11-year-old Abdulrahman Noufel was shot in the left leg after Israeli snipers targeted him in al-Awdah refugee camp east of Rafah city on April 18, 2018.
The 11-year-old Abdulrahman Noufel was shot in the left leg after Israeli snipers targeted him in al-Awdah refugee camp east of Rafah city on April 18, 2018.

A wounded Palestinian teenager in the besieged Gaza Strip has lost his leg after Israel refused him entry to the occupied West Bank for medical treatment.

The 11-year-old Abdulrahman Noufel had been shot in the left leg after Israeli snipers targeted him in al-Awdah refugee camp east of Rafah city on Wednesday, local media reported.

His father had the permission to move Abdulrahman to the West Bank for treatment due to shortages of essential medicines and equipment caused by the Israeli blockade on Gaza, but they were prevented from leaving the coastal enclave.

Separately, Israeli forces fired at Palestinian farmers in al-Farahin area east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces also opened fire at a group of Palestinian fishing boats in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Tensions have been spiraling out of control in the besieged coastal enclave since Palestinians began staging anti-occupation protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, late last month.
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A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement in the House of Commons in central London on April 16, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement in the House of Commons in central London on April 16, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The UK participated in recent attack on Syria because it was the right thing to do and because US President Donald Trump asked us to, says British Prime Minister Theresa May.

May made the remarks while addressing parliament on Monday, where she stressed that the strikes were carried out to “further prevent the use of chemical weapons.”

“We have not done this because President Trump asked us to do so,” she added.

Early on Saturday, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack against Douma. Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the suspected assault.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegation, calling on Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission for investigations.

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(JTA) — Nearly two-thirds of Barnard College’s student body voted to ask the administration to divest from eight companies doing business with Israel.

In the results of the vote announced Wednesday, 64 percent of students want the Student Government Association to write the administration a letter asking the college, which is affiliated with Columbia University, to divest from Israel, the Columbia Spectator reported.

The question was included on the ballot for the annual student government elections. Turnout was almost 50 percent, the Spectator reported, the highest ever for a vote. The vote does not bind the student government to write the letter.

The government will meet on April 23 to consider whether to write the letter.
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A wounded Palestinian protestor is evacuated near the border fence with occupied lands, in Rafah in southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
A wounded Palestinian protestor is evacuated near the border fence with occupied lands, in Rafah in southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

At least two Palestinians have lost their lives and more than four dozen others sustained injuries during clashes with Israeli soldiers as anti-occupation protests along the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied territories continue unabated.

The spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a statement that 25-year-old Nabil Abu Aqel was critically injured in his head east of Jabalia, located 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of Gaza City, before Friday noon.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his grave gunshot wounds.

Shortly afterward, another Palestinian man, identified as 24-year-old Ahmed Rashad al-Athamna, was fatally shot.

Qidra further noted that 40 Palestinian protesters were injured by Israeli gunfire and suffered tear gas inhalation as well.

Protests along the Gaza border since March 30 have led to clashes with Israeli forces in which at least 34 Palestinians have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries.
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Putin Has Prepared His Civilians for WW III-What’s Your Government Done for You?


Putin has told his people to store food. 40 Million Russians practice seeking shelter inside of mountains. What is your government doing for you as we approach WW III?


The food supply is the first casualty of war. Prepare for what’s coming…



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Putin tops popularity rating with almost 50 percent support, latest poll shows

According to a poll conducted by the Russian state-run public opinion research center VTSIOM in mid-April, the number of people who trust Vladimir Putin in making crucial decisions for the nation is 48.4 percent, down from 55.3 percent on March 17.

Researchers noted that the rating started falling almost immediately after the election: on March 25 it was 53.6 percent, on April 1 it dropped to 51.3 percent, and by April 8, it was 49.3 percent.

However, the VTSIOM general director described the trend as perfectly normal. He explained that people in Russia as well as other countries usually feel more involved in the political process when election campaigns are in full swing, and lose interest in politics afterwards. The agency’s experts also noted that the ratings drop coincided with a string of negative events, like the tragic fire in the Kemerovo shopping mall, protests against landfills in Moscow Region, and new sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and its allies.

Other leaders of the public trust ratings are Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (17.2 percent), and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (17.4 percent). For both politicians, these figures are slightly lower than those registered in mid-March.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was fourth on the list with 14.7 percent.

A poll conducted by the independent public opinion research center Levada at the end of March showed that 81 percent of Russians approve of Vladimir Putin’s work as president, up from 76 percent in February. Those who approve of Dmitry Medvedev’s work as prime minister increased from 39 to 44 percent.

Another poll released by VTSIOM in early April showed that 45 percent of Russians expect significant changes in the country in the year following the recent election. Forty-eight percent said they did not anticipate any major changes in the next 12 months, while 7 percent could not answer the question.

Of those who think that Russia will face major changes in the near future, 87 percent expect that these changes will be for the better, while only 9 percent believe the opposite.

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Gessen: Putin wants a rhetorical war without too many coffins

Masha Gessen, author of “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” says a war of words between Russia and the West serves Vladimir Putin better than an actual war.

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In Retaliation for U.S.-led Strikes, Putin May Limit Israel’s Operations in Syria

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Kadyrov proposes nationwide referendum to give Putin additional presidential term

As long as our incumbent president is in good health we must not think about any other head of state. This is my personal opinion and I am not changing it. Right now there is no alternative to Putin,” Kadyrov said in a recent interview with Interfax news agency.

The head of the Chechen Republic went on to say that the constitutional norm that disallows the same person from being elected president of the Russian Federation for more than two terms in a row should be cancelled.

He noted that many other nations do well without this type of restriction. “Why can China do this and Germany can do this, but not us? If this is in the people’s interest, why can’t we make changes to the law?” he said.

We should not even ask Putin about this! The people, the Federation Council, the State Duma [Russian parliament], other state institutions, must initiate and pass this decision, collect signatures and hold a nationwide referendum,” Kadyrov told reporters.

I am confident that everyone would support this,” he said.

Currently, the Russian Constitution allows the same person to run for the presidency for an unlimited number of terms on one condition – there can be no more than two consecutive terms. In 1998, the issue was brought before the Russian Constitutional Court, which ruled that the third and fourth terms would be legal if there is a break between the second and third terms.

This is why Putin could not run for president in 2008 after winning in 2000 and 2004. In 2012, the condition regarding consecutive terms was not applicable, so Putin ran again and won.

Russian opposition activists have repeatedly questioned the legality of one person holding on to power for more than two terms even if these terms are not consecutive, prompting several court cases which have all ended in the rejection of the lawsuits on the basis of the 1998 ruling.

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Putin, Erdogan discuss Syria in phone call

The presidents of Russia and Turkey discussed the situation in Syria in a phone call on Thursday, media reports say, citing Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. A Turkish presidential source also said that Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin discussed recent developments in Syria during a telephone conversation. The source said that the two leaders agreed to remain in close contact on Syrian issues. Erdogan said earlier that he was going to speak with Putin after he had exchanged views on Syria with US President Donald Trump on the phone.

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Trump calls out Putin for backing 'Animal Assad' in Syria

President Trump blamed Russia and Iran for backing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after reports of further suffering for Syrian civilians at the hands of their own government — calling out Vladimir Putin specifically.

Trump delivered his critique of the Russian leader during a Sunday-morning tweetstorm that covered a variety of topics and struck out at more common targets of Trump’s anger, such as the U.S. news media and former President Barack Obama.

According to Syrian medical groups, Assad’s government launched a chemical attack against civilians in the rebel-held town of Douma in eastern Ghouta late Saturday — killing dozens. The Syrian government denies the reports and claims the rebels are fabricating news.

Slideshow: Deadly gas attack in rebel-held Douma, in Syria’s eastern Ghouta >>>

In response, Trump coined a new nickname for the Syrian president, “Animal Assad,” and said Putin has a “big price to pay,” despite his well-known reluctance to criticize the Russian president.

Trump also condemned Obama for failing to take action to end the protracted Syrian civil war after drawing a proverbial “red line” over the use of chemical weapons.

In 2013, the Syrian military used chemical weapons against its own people — killing nearly 1,500 civilians. Critics said Obama’s controversial decision not to retaliate with the military humiliated the United States and emboldened Russian aggression in the region. His supporters, however, generally argue that avoiding further violence was the better choice of two bad options.

Trump’s penchant for demeaning nicknames and disparaging political enemies is well-known, but his refusal to criticize Putin has been a cause for concern for many Americans. Last month, Trump said that he congratulated Putin on his reelection during a “very good call” and expects to meet with him in the “not-to-distant future.”

In a statement on Sunday, Russia’s foreign ministry insisted that the Assad regime is legitimate and did not use chemical weapons. The ministry called the allegations to the contrary “provocations.”

“We must once more warn that a military intervention under far-fetched and fabricated pretexts in Syria, where there are Russian soldiers at the request of the legitimate Syrian government, is absolutely unacceptable and could have the most dire consequences,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

“The goal of this speculation,” the ministry continued, “is to cover for the terrorists and the radical opposition who are rejecting a political settlement.”

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Assad Turned Down a Putin Offer to Join Ankara Summit

image-Bashar Al-Assad - Hassan Rouhani - Vladimir Putin - Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Russia asked Syrian president, Dr. Bashar al-Assad if he would join the Ankara Summit along with Iranian president and hosted by no other than Turkish Erdogan, Assad reportedly turned down the offer for a number of realistic reasons.

Something Russian president Vladimir Putin should do, and he should do it immediately, is to replace whoever is advising him on Syria with a person more knowledgeable about the country, the people, their history, traditions, the way of thinking, what they aspire to, and above all what they despise.

Bashar Al-Assad - Hassan Rouhani - Vladimir Putin - Recep Tayyip Erdogan
From left to right: Syrian President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – Russian President Vladimir Putin – Turkish Thug Erdogan

Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper reported that a Russian source of a high level has confirmed the request, also confirmed Assad’s turning down the request for a number of objective reasons.

Turkey has repeatedly tried to approach Damascus in the past few months and to restore the relations with Syria at times Turkey invaded north of Syria and occupied a number of cities there with the assistance of designated terrorist groups under the guise of eradicating another terrorist group represented by the Kurdish militias.

The source has conveyed the reasons president Assad turned down the Russian request in its form and content. ‘Assad cannot visit Turkey, despite the Erdogan welcoming of this visit as confirmed by the Russians, while Turkey sponsors terrorist groups in northern Syria, continues its incursion inside Syrian territories and its occupation of the area from Jarabulus until Afrin through its illegal ‘Euphrates Shield’ and ‘Olive Branch’ operations’, until Turkey retreats from the Syrian land it occupies and ceases its breaching of Syria’s sovereignty.

Mr. Putin advisors on the region, especially on Syria, have proved over the past few years their failure to grasp the overall sentiment of the Syrian people, even in cases the Russians themselves wouldn’t accept. We all remember how the Beslan massacre ended when Mr. Putin rejected to negotiate with the terrorists there; pressuring Syria to continue to negotiate, on the ground and in international conferences, with terrorist groups committing horrific crimes all over the country and calling for a foreign invasion against the Syrian state is not accepted well among the vast majority of the Syrian people.

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