‘PBS NewsHour’ correspondent set for talk in Arkansas’ capital city

Nick Schifrin, a special correspondent for PBS NewsHour, will speak at a Little Rock event Wednesday about the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Schifrin is in his second year of a fellowship at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. He has served as National Public Radio’s Jerusalem correspondent, ABC News’ Afghanistan/Pakistan correspondent, and Al Jazeera America’s Middle East correspondent. He will speak at the Clinton School’s Sturgis Hall, 1200 President Clinton Ave., at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Seats for the free event can be reserved by emailing [email protected] or calling (501) 683-5239. The event also will be live streamed on the school’s website. Continue Reading

Protests Erupt Against Trump After Jerusalem Recognized As Israel’s Capital [PHOTOS]

President Donald Trump’s speech Wednesday in which he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel resulted in massive protests and condemnation from multiple regions around the world.  In his speech, the president told the State Department to start the process of shifting the American Embassy from the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move which he called "a step to advance the peace process" between Israel and Palestine. The President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that the U.S. was making a "declaration of withdrawal" from the peace process between the two nations.  Here are some of the photos of the protests which took place around the world after Trump's speech.  Indonesian protesters raise their fists as others step on an Israeli flag during a protest in Solo, Central Java province against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Dec. 8, 2017. Photo: Anwar Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images Indonesian protesters shout slogans during a protest in front of the US consulate general in Surabaya, East Java province against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Dec. 8, 2017. Photo: Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images Thousands of Malaysian Muslims protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The protests were marked with chants of "Long live Islam" and "Destroy Zionists." There were also banners which said, "Free Palestine" and "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine." The protests were led by Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who said, "Mr. President [Donald Trump], this is an illegal announcement. Jerusalem is an occupied territory. You must not even set foot in Jerusalem... The world will rise against the United States." Muslims carry an effigy of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration against the US President's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Continue Reading

Iran recognizes Jerusalem as the capital city of the Palestinians

In a symbolic pushback to President Donald Trump’s declaration on the status of Jerusalem, Iranian lawmakers on Wednesday voted to recognize the contested city as the capital of the Palestinians.The Iranian parliament voted in favor of a bill that recognized the city as the Palestinian capital, or the capital of the “State of Palestine,” the entity recognized by the United Nations as a member state. Of 290 lawmakers, 207 voted in favor of the bill.Ali Larijani, speaker of the Parliament of Iran, said that the bill’s timing was “important,” given Trump’s December 6 announcement that he had ordered the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, upending decades of U.S. foreign policy in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Keep up with this story and more “It comes in response to the recent U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in hopes of dealing a blow to Muslims,” he said, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of any future state. It is the location of Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, for Muslims, and is the third-holiest site in Islam. It is a place contested by both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Trump angered Arab leaders from Jordan to Iraq with his Jerusalem announcement, ignoring their warnings that acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would set off a wave of anger across the Muslim world. The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which Iran backs, has called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising.Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met on Wednesday and discussed the status of Jerusalem and their support of the Palestinians.While the right-wing Israeli government has lauded Trump, and even made plans to name a train station after him, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Continue Reading

Varvel: Why this evangelical agrees with Trump, Jerusalem is Israel’s capital

“…Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name.” 2 Chronicles 12:13Leave it to President Trump to acknowledge the elephant in the room by stating: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.”  But Trump didn't stop there. He did what Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush promised to do when campaigning but never accomplished in the Oval Office. He ordered that the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv be relocated to Jerusalem.Congress passed and Clinton signed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which said “The United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” But no president until Trump followed through with the order. More: Varvel: Why Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose fell More: Varvel: A Christian case for the Mike Pence rule More: Sign up for 'Views from the Right' newsletter Many evangelicals have celebrated Trump's announcement, but others are concerned. Those who are concerned fear that Trump’s directive will be viewed as demeaning to the Palestinian people.Just as “God so loved the world…," evangelicals are committed to love all people equally, including Israelis and their neighbors. So rejoicing at the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could be viewed as unloving to Palestinians.Those who rejoiced saw this event as a fulfillment of the Bible's promises to the Jewish people. According to a new LifeWay Research study, 80 percent of evangelicals believe that God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants are for all time. Although the study doesn’t specifically address Jerusalem as the capital city, 69 percent of Christians say Israel has a historic right to the land.   Why? There are many verses like Genesis 28:13 where God speaks to Jacob and says, “I am Continue Reading

President Trump arrives in city he once called a ‘hellhole’ to meet with EU, NATO leaders

BRUSSELS — Visiting a city he once called a "hellhole" to meet with the leaders of one alliance he threatened to abandon and another whose weakening he cheered, President Trump will address a continent Thursday still reeling from his election and anxious about his support. Trump traveled Thursday morning to the European Union headquarters in Brussels for meetings with Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and other EU officials. Trump appeared to be greeted warmly by the leaders, despite his past comments publicly cheering the United Kingdom's vote to leave the EU last summer and slamming the alliance during his transition as "a vehicle for Germany." Trump has taken a less combative tone since taking office, praising the alliance as "wonderful" and saying a strong Europe is very important to him and the United States. Later in the day, Trump is slated to meet with France's new president and attend his first meeting of NATO, the decades-long partnership that has become intrinsic to safeguarding the West but has been rattled by the new president's wavering on honoring its bonds. Trump has mused about pulling out of the pact because he believed other countries were not paying their fair share and he has so far refused to commit to abiding by Article 5, in which member nations vow to come to each other's defense. But the European capitals that have been shaken by Trump's doubts may soon find a degree of reassurance. Just like his position on the EU, the president has recently shifted gears, praising NATO's necessity. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that "of course" the United States supports Article 5, though Trump still wants other nations to meet their obligation to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. "I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them, saying, 'Look the U.S. is spending 4 percent. We're doing a lot,'" Continue Reading

Readers sound off on the bag fee, sanctuary cities and the price of iced tea

Albany, bag this burdensome fee Far Rockaway: The authors of “Hands off NYC’s shopping bag fee” (Op-Ed, Jan. 26), state that city residents use more than 10 billion plastic bags a year, a majority of them ending up as litter dirtying our streets, parks etc. That is a gross misrepresentation. In my residence of 600 units, the bags are used primarily for the proper disposal of garbage. Either we purchase commercial bags or use the ones from the grocery store. The end result is no plastic bag use is reduced. Hence, what does a fee accomplish? Sr. Mary Lou Tressy Forest Hills: Voicer Murray Lantner berates state Sen. Simcha Felder for opposing the five-cent fee on plastic supermarket bags that litter his neighborhood. If I may, a suggestion to Mr. Lantner: convince the people in his neighborhood to take the unused bags to a supermarket for recycling, instead of throwing them away on the streets. I often see half-eaten bananas on the sidewalks. I suspect his neighbors will, after paying the five cents, still throw them away on the streets. You shouldn’t try to teach some pigs to sing: It cannot be done and it annoys the pigs. John Szalkay A better answer Valley Stream, L.I.: How come when there were bottles and cans all over the streets, the big guys imposed a deposit on them, which enabled those who paid the price a chance to redeem their money and keep the streets clean at the same time? If really needed, why not impose a deposit on the bags, too? This way, they can be reused if in good shape, and the flimsy torn bags can be returned for redemption, just like the cans. Everybody wins, the streets are cleaner and people save money for shopping. John Esposito The colors of the wind Manhattan: With our new President and corporate Congress eager to build more polluting pipelines, I was heartened to hear that Gov. Cuomo and the Long Island Power Authority took a momentous step toward clean, renewable energy, by moving ahead with an offshore Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s secret appearance at right-leaning pro-Israel lobby angered liberal Jewish supporters

Mayor de Blasio's secret appearance before the hard-line American Israel Public Affairs Committee touched off a behind-the-scenes backlash among his liberal Jewish supporters, private emails obtained by the Daily News show. “I am actually getting as many angry messages from Jewish non-AIPAC folks (Pro Israel, J Street and Peace Now Supporters) than I did on the east side snow problems,” State Sen. Liz Krueger wrote to de Blasio’s senior aide Emma Wolfe on Jan. 30. “I think BDB needs a broader education on NY Jewish/Israel issues to avoid future blow ups,” wrote Krueger, according to emails obtained by The News under a Freedom of Information Request. Wolfe acknowledged the blow-back, replying: “Yup we are trying to figure it out.” De Blasio’s Jan. 23 appearance before AIPAC was not listed on his public schedule. But the web site Capital New York obtained a recording of the speech and wrote about it. In the speech, de Blasio offered unqualified support to the fiercely pro-Israel group. “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC,” he said. “When you need me to stand by you in Washington or elsewhere, I will answer the call and answer it happily.” Liberal Jews who back de Blasio were upset to learn the mayor had positioned himself squarely with the hard-line group. I think BDB needs a broader education on NY Jewish/Israel issues to avoid future blow ups. Team de Blasio said it did not list the speech on his schedule at the request of AIPAC. But the anger in the emails to City Hall after the event suggests it made sense politically, too. For example, on Jan. 31, a board member of the liberal Jewish group J Street, Victor Kovner, emailed City Hall asking to speak personally with de Blasio to give him another viewpoint on the Middle East. “I thought you had made clear that Saturday or Sunday would be work for the Mayor,” he wrote to Avi Fink, Continue Reading

A travel through time: History lives and breathes in Israel’s cities

Israel is a small country but its history is immense. In fact, as you travel from sea to desert, from isolated kibbutz to thriving metropolis, from biblical sites to gleaming superhighways, the past almost overwhelms the present.Tel Aviv, which is close to Ben-Gurion Airport. The more fast-paced of Israel'sDiaspora Museum (aka Beit Hatfutsot, on the Tel Aviv University campus) specializes in the history of the Jewish people. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Shaul Hamelech Blvd.) is the prime repository of Israeli art and a center for music, dance and film.Neve Tzedek was the first Jewish neighborhood (founded in 1887, it predates Tel Aviv by 22 years) outside the walls of the ancient port city of Jaffa, now incorporated into the city proper. The nabe has been yuppified but is still a haven for artists and writers, like the amazing Lea Majora Mintz, a dynamic 80-year-old sculptor/painter who works in her family's historical home, the Rokach House.Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre is also a major draw. And for an Israeli version of SoHo, check out Shabazi St., the once bohemian, now gentrified home to all manner of fun jewelry and clothing stores and quaint restaurants.Caesarea, a 2,000-year-old harbor city built by Herod the Great. Now a national park, it succinctly communicates Israel's multicultural heritage: Over the years Caesarea was ruled by Romans, the Byzantine Empire, Arabs and Crusaders.Haifa, the nation's third-largest city, on the slopes of Mount Carmel. The main attraction is the Bahai World Centre and its 19 elaborate terraced gardens which surround the Shrine of the Bab. The geometric cascade of terraces stretches one kilometer from base to summit of Mount Carmel and is linked by steps and flanked by twin streams of water.Carmel is one of the best.Galilee, home to Jesus and the great biblical prophet Elijah, is a short drive due east. Pilgrims from around the world who make this journey will stop in Nazareth, which is today Israel's largest Arab Continue Reading

Israel, U.S. lash Jimmy Carter’s Mideast ‘peace’ plan

JERUSALEM - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls it a breakthrough, but the White House and Israel call it the same old terrorist blather. Exiled Hamas terror leader Khaled Mashaal laid out Monday under what conditions he'd consider peace with Israelis - and all of them are positions that Israel has long rejected. Hamas demands Israel:   Dismantle all settlements.   Let Jerusalem become the capital city of a Palestinian state.   Withdraw from all lands won in the 1967 Six-Day War. "We agree to a [Palestinian] state on pre-'67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital ... without recognizing Israel," Mashaal said after meeting with Carter. Carter warned there would not be peace if Israel and the U.S. continue to shut out Hamas and its main backer, Syria. Mashaal is in exile in Damascus. The State Department dismissed Carter's unauthorized attempt at deal-making. "What is clear to us is that there certainly is no change in Hamas' position," said deputy spokesman Tom Casey. "It does not recognize Israel's right to exist; it has not eschewed or walked away from terrorism." Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and has shunned Carter because of his meetings with Mashaal. Hamas has been behind dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks that have killed some 250 Israelis. Israel says Carter's talks embolden Palestinian extremists and hurt moderate leader Mahmoud Abbas as he tries to make peace with the Jewish state. Abbas, who rules only the West Bank, is in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Save them from themselves: If Obama and Netanyahu don’t find a way to rebuild burned bridges, the U.S.-Israel alliance is going to a very dark place

It's time for an intervention. Friends of the U.S.-Israel relationship shouldn't let their leaders drive drunk on confidence. If they do, they may inadvertently steer a precious alliance right off the cliff. Yet right now, Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu are each empowered by a different kind of confidence. For the President, it is borne of the reality that he has fought (and won) his last campaign, that he will never again face the voters (and those "donors" to whom he accused Sen. Robert Menendez of kowtowing), and that he has a free hand in his final 20 months to leave a lasting imprint on American foreign policy. For the prime minister, on the heels of a sizable victory when many expected a narrow defeat, his confidence comes from a different source — apparent political invincibility at home, which makes him near certain to be a welcome guest at the White House long after the current incumbent has packed his bags and decamped for Chicago. Obama is leaving; Netanyahu is staying. As different as the realities are, they are both liberating. And with liberation, comes the potential for delusion. Reasonable people can disagree about the source of dysfunction between the two leaders. In a policy sense, my view is that the "original sin" was Obama's decision in his first days in office to do precisely that which Republican Sen. Tom Cotton so provocatively warned the Iranians the next President could do with an Iran nuclear accord not endorsed by Congress — namely, rip up a "non-binding" presidential agreement. In this case, Obama annulled an agreement between George W. Bush and then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon over West Bank settlement building. Instead, the President demanded a total Israeli settlement freeze, even extending to disputed neighborhoods of Israel's capital city, an idea that Israelis across the political spectrum rejected. It was a non-starter from which Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy never fully recovered. Continue Reading