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Top US General Grilled on Iran Strike

By IsraelNationalNews.com

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on Tuesday told a Senate panel he did not counsel Israel against attacking Iran over its nuclear program. "We've had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time," Dempsey said, referring to his visit to Israel a month ago.

Grilled during a Senate Budget Committee meeting, Dempsey also defended his comment that Iran was a rational actor from Sen. Lindsey Graham. "We can't afford to underestimate our potential adversaries by writing them off as irrational," Dempsey said.

Asked pointedly by Graham if a military strike by the US was off the table, Dempsey responded, "Absolutely not." He stressed the danger of nuclear weapons reaching terrorist groups and the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East involving countries threatened by Iran. Observers say Graham's decision to corner Dempsey in committee and on the record on Israel and Iran wasn't surprising.

Earlier this month, Dempsey said in a CNN interview that an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be imprudent, destabilizing and would not achieve Israel's long-term objectives. Those comments led Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to charge Dempsey as being "unwilling to aid Israel" in ensuring Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu said Dempsey's comments "served Iran." Within hours Graham and fellow Senator John McCain, who had just met with Netanyahu, took Dempsey to task. Graham told reporters that, while he respected Dempsey, "Obviously it's not helpful if there is a well-publicized tension between the US and Israel. We would like to see the United States and Israel agree on a course of action that will lead us toward a goal we both share."

"People are giving Israel a lot of advice here lately from America," Graham said. "I just want to tell our Israeli friends that my advice to you is never lose control of your destiny. Never allow a situation to develop that would destroy the Jewish state," he added.

Standing next to Graham, McCain said, "There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat. Unfortunately there clearly is some." Over the weekend, McCain lashed out at the Obama administration's handling of rising tensions between Israel and Iran.

McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" that the administration intentionally leaked to the media the reason for the US national security adviser's trip to Israel – to try to persuade the country not to attack Iran. "The prime minister has every reason to be upset," McCain said. "I can understand why relations are in very bad shape right now."

In recent months Obama administration officials have leaked secret strategy meetings with Mossad chief Tamir Pardo on Iran, as well as Israel's theoretical timetable for an Iran strike. They have also taken the unprecedented step of siding with Iran in accusing Israel of supporting the People's Mujahadeen of Iran in an assassination campaign targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.


Top Iran Official: Enemies will Face 'Rainy Day' Weapons in Case of Attack

By Ha'aretz

Iran is prepared with hidden "rainy day" military capabilities it is saving for when it is attacked, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Tuesday, warning potential enemies of a "new environment" created by Iran's developing arms industry.

Earlier Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions between top Israeli officials and Pentagon counterparts said that Israel indicated it would not warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.

Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel's potential attack.

Referring to the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, the country's defense minister warned possible perpetrators of Iran's secret weapons capabilities, saying that the "Islamic Republic of Iran has many hidden capabilities which are kept for rainy days. We have not yet revealed all our capabilities," Vahidi told the semi-official Fars news agency, stressing the added value of Iran's independently run and operated military industry.

"Undoubtedly, since our defense is an independent and defensive one based on our own defensive policies, special defense doctrines and our own indigenous defense and internal capabilities, the U.S. will face a completely new environment when gets involved with the new issues that Iran is pursuing and it will be obliged to think of this new environment," Vahidi said

The top Iranian official also spoke of what he said was the United States' inability to influence Iran's military progress; saying that, "naturally, they cannot reach this point since we have not displayed all our capabilities and capacities. These days Americans badly fear that an incident happens in the region and they can't stand against the Islamic Republic's firm positions vis-à-vis that given event," Vahidi told Fars.


WikiLeaks: Russia Gave Israel Iranian System's Codes

By YnetNews.com

WikiLeaks has released an email exchange between employees of Stratfor, the US-based global intelligence company, which reveals Israel and Russia made a deal to swap access codes for defense and surveillance equipment. According to the leaked document, Israel gave Russia the "data link codes" for unmanned aerial vehicles that the Jewish state sold to Georgia, and in return, Russia gave Israel the codes for Tor-M1 missile defense systems that Russia sold Iran.

In a document by a Stratfor employee dated February 2009 she says that she had met with a "Mexican source/friend" who told her that Israel and Russia had contracted a deal several years ago as part of which Israel provided Russia with codes of UAVs it had sold to Georgia. In exchange Moscow provided the Israelis with the codes for Iran's Tor-M1 aerial defense systems.

The document suggests that the deal was signed before the Russia-Georgia war of August 2008 during which Russian forces invaded Georgia. At the time it was reported that Georgia was using Israel-made weapons. It can also be understood from the document that the Georgians had at one point realized that their UAVs were compromised and were looking for a replacement for the Israeli made drones.

The Mexican source also addressed the S-300 aerial defense systems which Israel and the West have spent years trying to dissuade Russia from handing over to Tehran. The source said that Israel and Turkey were collaborating very closely in regards to the system and that since Russia sold them to Greece – Turkey's longtime rival – Ankara has been busy trying to crack their codes. He added that Ankara shared intelligence with Israel to make sure it has an edge over Iran should it get the systems from Russia.


Texas Schools Tell Jews to Play on Sabbath or Forfeit

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Freedom of religion in Texas – for Christians: No school basketball games on Sunday but Saturday game goes on despite Jewish protest. Texas schools do not allow sports competition on the Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, but they have ruled against a Jewish school scheduled to play a semi-finals championship game in Dallas on the Jewish Sabbath.

Houston's orthodox Beren Academy chose to forfeit the game instead of violating the Jewish Sabbath by playing what was supposed to be its first-ever game in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state tournament. Beren asked TAPPS to reschedule the game from Friday night, after the Jewish Sabbath begins, and allow it to play earlier in the day, but officials ruled against the school.

The league is made up of mostly religious institutions, noted an opinion writer in the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise. The writer commented, "Unfortunately, religious freedom is a one-way street here in Texas. Beren previously was able to reschedule two of its playoff games, to Saturday night, after the Jewish Sabbath ends, and to noon Friday, before it begins, but its appeal to change the starting time of the semi-finals was rejected.

TAPPS does not allow sports to be played on Sundays, the day Christians traditionally go to church. For Jews, the Sabbath is different. "Orthodox Jews take Saturday off, observing the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. And by "taking off," they do nothing. No electricity, no opening, no closing, no nothing," noted the Enterprise. "The sacred mission will trump excellence in the secular world," Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren's head of school, told The New York Times. TAPPS argued that it told Beren officials years ago that their joining the organized games could make it problematic for them to play on the Jewish Sabbath.


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