Taliban Put New Light on Strategic Alliances
WITH RISE OF TALIBAN, US-ISRAEL ALLIANCE MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER: US Jewish organizations were following closely as the drama was unfolding. Even before Thursday’s terror attack, it was already clear that the Afghanistan withdrawal will overshadow the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. But the deadly attack near the Kabul airport made it clear that the administration’s attention is currently elsewhere, as the President and his close staff monitored the developments from the situation room, postponing the meeting to a later timing.
William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, told The Jerusalem Post that “as we watch the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the alliance and partnership between the United States and the State of Israel is more critical than ever.” Speaking about the meeting, Daroff said that he expected the two new administrations “to make significant progress on issues of mutual and fundamental importance to all Americans and Israelis during Prime Minister Bennett’s first US trip to Washington since assuming office — the first opportunity for the two leaders to meet face-to-face during their many years in public service.” “These priorities include sharing knowledge and resources to counter the COVID-19 virus and its variants, how best to deter Iranian aggression and hold its nuclear program accountable and in check, and defending and promoting Israel’s security, peace, and stability,” he said. Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, told the Post that with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and all of the strategic uncertainty that it has unleashed, “events would hopefully dictate a further closing of the ranks between Washington and Jerusalem on Iran and the Palestinian issue.” “This is clearly no time for risk-taking with Iran, including sanctions relief, especially given the election of Ebrahim Raisi, Tehran’s ratcheting up enrichment and other aspects of its nuclear program, and its malign behavior throughout the region,” said Mariaschin. (JPost / VFI News)
BENNETT-BIDEN MEETING DELAYED BY KABUL ATTACK: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with US President Joe Biden was postponed a day, in light of the suicide bombings in Afghanistan that killed at least 12 US Marines and soldiers last week.
“The President’s bilateral meeting with H.E. Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, has been rescheduled for tomorrow,” the White House announced Thursday evening. The bombing took place an hour before the leaders were set to meet for the first time in the White House. Israeli journalists, who had already gathered in the Brady Press Room, were asked to leave the White House. Following the delay, Bennett and his delegation remained in Washington until after Shabbat, departing on Saturday night or Sunday. Sunday’s cabinet meeting in Jerusalem was postponed. Bennett’s visit to Washington was finalized days after the Afghanistan pullout crisis began. His staff and Biden administration officials said the timing was important due to developments on the Iranian nuclear front. However, the crisis in Kabul overshadowed the trip from its start on Tuesday. (JPost / VFI News)
ISIS CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR BOMBINGS IN KABUL: At least 72 Afghans and 13 US servicemen were killed in the suicide bombing carried out by ISIS at the Kabul airport last week, US officials confirmed.
The terror group ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the deadly double attack. President Joe Biden, showing emotion, vowed the United States would hunt down those responsible for twin explosions at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan and said he asked the Pentagon to develop plans to strike back at them. Biden spoke hours after the blasts killed at least a dozen American troops and scores of civilians, the worst day of casualties for US forces there in a decade. “We will not forgive, we will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “I have also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership, and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time, at the place we choose and the moment of our choosing,” Biden said. Biden appeared to be fighting back tears and his voice cracked with emotion as he talked about the American “heroes” who died. “It’s been a tough day,” he said. The president said he had told the US military that he would grant additional force if they needed it: “Whatever they need, if they need additional force, I will grant it.” CENTCOM Chief Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. said that while saddened by the deaths, the US will continue conducting evacuations from Kabul. “ISIS will not deter the US from carrying out the mission.” He estimated that some 1,000 Americans are still in Afghanistan. Furthermore, McKenzie expressed that he expects ISIS attacks to continue. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN A THREAT TO ISRAEL BUT US IS COMMITTED TO ISRAEL SECURITY: The meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Bennett and US President Biden on Friday was a “chance for the Prime Minister to hear directly from the President his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and self-defense, and supporting Israel’s defense needs,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters ahead of the meeting.
I’m often asked, “Are we de-prioritizing the Middle East and our friends in the Middle East?” And nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, in the Biden administration, we are not pursuing, unachievable goals,” the official continued. “We’re not trying to transform the Middle East,” the official argued. “We’re not trying to overthrow regimes. We are pursuing a very steady course, centered on achievable aims; alignment of ends and means; and, first and foremost, support to our partners, and, of course, Israel being second to none.” Speaking about Iran, the official said that “Iran will be a big topic of discussion because Iran is a threat to Israel, and we are 100 percent committed to the security of Israel – no ifs, ands, or buts.” “We, of course, committed to a diplomatic path,” the official noted. “We think that is the best way to put a ceiling on the program and roll back the gains that Iran has made over recent years on the nuclear side.” The official also noted, however, that “if that doesn’t work, there are other avenues to pursue.”
IRAN GOV’T APPOINTS 2 SUSPECTED IN 1994 BOMBING OF BUENOS AIRES JEWISH CENTER: Iran’s new government includes two men who have been implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
On Wednesday, August 25, the parliament approved Ahmad Vahidi as interior minister and Mohsen Rezai as vice president of economic affairs among the 19 nominations by President Ebrahim Raisi. In its investigation of the bombing, which also injured 300, Argentina has said Vahidi and Rezai played key roles. Both are listed by Interpol with red alerts, meaning they are wanted for arrest internationally. Since 2010, Vahidi has been the subject of sanctions by the United States, which seek to freeze any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction. He headed the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, at the time of the 1994 attack, and was Iran’s Defense Minister between 2009 and 2013. Jewish institutions in Argentina and Israel, as well as the Argentine government, criticized the Vahidi nomination. “This decision once again exposes the Iranian government’s contempt for Argentine Justice and the victims of terrorism,” DAIA, the Argentine Jewish umbrella, said when Vahidi was nominated for the cabinet position two weeks ago. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN’S RAISI NAMES WANTED MASS MURDERER AS VP FOR ECONOMICS: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s newly appointed vice president for economic affairs minister Mohsen Rezaei is wanted by the International Criminal Police Organization for the 1994 mass murder of 85 Argentinians at the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires.
The Iranian regime-controlled Tehran Times reported on Wednesday, August 25, that “According to a decree by the president, Rezaei has also been appointed as the secretary of the Supreme Economic Coordination Council and the head of the government’s Economic Headquarters. Rezaei was the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for 16 years and also held office as the secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council.” The US government sanctioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Toby Dershowitz, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Strategy at the US-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post that “Iranian president [Ebrahim] Raisi has named Interpol red notice holder Mohsen Rezaei – wanted in connection with the murder of 85 Argentinians – as the Islamic Republic’s VP for Economic Affairs. “Recently, Ahmad Vahidi, also wanted for the AMIA murders, was named the IRI’s Interior Minister. Iran’s cabinet is shaping up to be a ‘who’s who’ of men meant to serve jail time rather than serving the people of Iran.” Dershowitz, who is a long-time analyst of the 1994 AMIA bombing, added that “Iran is clearly seeking to normalize mass murder and is testing the will of the international community.” (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAELI TECH JOB OPENINGS RISE 300% AS INVESTMENT SOARS: As Israel’s hi-tech sector skyrockets in 2021, investment platform OurCrowd said Thursday, August 26, that job openings at its portfolio companies more than tripled over the past year.
The number of vacant positions advertised by OurCrowd startups rose from a peak of 836 in the second quarter of 2020 to 2,628 at the end of June 2021, as advertised by 148 of OurCrowd’s nearly 300 portfolio companies, according to its hi-tech jobs index published Thursday. Israel’s hi-tech sector has been growing at a frenzied pace in 2021, with more than $15 billion raised in the first eight months of the year. Many companies are now flushed with cash for hiring top talent, and there are concerns that there are not enough workers in Israel to meet their demand. “Even though we are still deep into the pandemic and its social costs, there is something different happening on the tech front, where there is a massive digital transformation sweeping over the world, driving tech investment to record highs and creating an abundance of jobs,” OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved said. Software engineers remain the most in-demand category at tech companies, representing 18% of all openings. Business development staff were a close second with 15%. Salary-wise, 35% of entry-level sales and business development staff earn NIS 12-16K/month in Israel, with roughly equal numbers making either more or less, the report said. Over 51% of mid-level sales and business development staff earn more than NIS 20K/month. Three-quarters of senior executives earn more than NIS 24K. (JPost / VFI News)
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Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff