Former US President George W. Bush leveled rare words of sharp public criticism against his successor, President Barack Obama, accusing him of being naive regarding Iran's nuclear intentions and of losing the war against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
Bush's statements were made in a closed-door meeting on Saturday night at a Republican Jewish Coalition session at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which was attended by hotel owner Sheldon Adelson, said to be a key supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
One of the attendants transcribed parts of Bush's comments, which were published by Bloomberg View.
In his statements, Bush slammed Obama for being on "retreat" in terms of American policy worldwide, and for misreading the Islamic regime of Iran by pushing for a nuclear deal that would remove sanctions while leaving them with all their nuclear facilities and allow them to continue enriching uranium.
Bush said of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, "he's smooth. And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?"
The former president also criticized Obama's "snap back" plan threatening to return sanctions if Iran is found to be violating the deal as implausible, given that detection will be difficult - particularly given Iranian insistence not to allow inspection of its nuclear sites.
“You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal," Bush remarked of the nuclear deal being formed with Iran ahead of a June 30 deadline.
"You gotta kill 'em"
Turning his attention to ISIS, Bush said the group is merely a continuation of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization he led the fight against during his presidency.
He noted that Al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to the brutal beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured while he led America and was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
"Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they're doing it on TV," he said of the way ISIS is beheading victims with relative impunity under Obama's watch.
Bush added that Obama lacked a plan of action in fulfilling his stated mission to "degrade and destroy" ISIS.
"In order to be an effective president...when you say something you have to mean it,” Bush said. “You gotta kill 'em.”
The ex-president then spoke about several other subjects, starting with Russian President Vladimir Putin who he noted is rich, divorced, and loves power. He said Putin's popularity in Russia is due to his media control, saying "hell, I'd be popular, too, if I owned NBC News."
Bush's brother Jeb, a former Florida governor, is in the Republican race for president. The former president acknowledged his family ties may harm Jeb given that Americans don't like dynasties.
He urged Republican candidates to have the "courage" to tackle foreign policy and not get stuck on isolationist home front issues.
As for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Bush said she would either have to oppose or support Obama's policies. If she defends them she's admitting failure, Bush said, but if she opposes them it would be tantamount to blaming Obama.
Rescue crews of the Israeli insurance agency Harel succeeded on Monday in locating and rescuing four Israeli tourists who were stuck at high altitudes in the Nepalese mountains near Mount Everest following Saturday's disastrous earthquake.
The four were defined as being in healthy condition, and were transported to the town of Lukla in India after being located with satellite coordinates and extracted from the mountains via helicopter.
The Everest area was hard hit by an avalanche at the time of the quake that was caught on film in dramatic video footage.
On Monday, Foreign Ministry Director-General Nissim Ben-Shitrit met with the families of Israeli tourists still stranded in Nepal.
At the end of the meeting, Sharon Shavit, the mother of Shahar who is stuck in the area of Nepal's frozen lakes, said "we as parents are really worried, and would like to thank the Foreign Ministry for its actions for our children."
Shavit explained that they are not pressing the Foreign Ministry, but rather the Nepalese government to allow helicopters in to save their children.
She describe how she received a text message from her daughter, reading "we have with us someone wounded in the head, whose wound is starting to get infected."
"We can't stay here, there are cliffs on all sides and all the time there are avalanches, every few minutes. It's impossible to stay here, it's very dangerous. We can't move, all of the paths are blocked," read the message.
A source in the Foreign Ministry said that roughly 100 Israelis are currently still defined as being out of contact, meaning they have yet to be accounted for.
The number of people killed in the earthquake has already risen to over 3,726, as bodies continue to be found amid the massive rubble.
Saturday's earthquake measured a whopping 7.6 on the Richter scale, and since it struck no less than 83 aftershocks measuring at least 4 on the scale had ravaged the country of 28 million people by Monday morning.
One aftershock reached as high as 6.9 on Sunday afternoon, with over 200 minor tremors under 4 on the scale giving expression to the great tectonic unrest in the region.
A French Muslim woman who joined the Islamic State jihadist group (ISIS) in Syria has reportedly fled to Turkey with her young son, after Kurdish fighters help smuggle her to safety from Islamist-held territory.
The as-yet unconfirmed report was revealed by an anti-ISIS Syrian activist operating inside the terror group's self-proclaimed "caliphate" state.
"Abu Ward Al-Raqqawi" posted a picture of the unnamed woman and her child on Sunday. The image is emblazoned with the logo of the Raqqa Revolutionaries' Brigade (Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa in Arabic), a rebel group currently believed to be taking part in a clandestine insurgency against ISIS.
The woman is seen holding a piece of paper thanking the Brigade "for saving me from ISIS." She was reportedly transported from ISIS territory into the Kurdish autonomous region in Syria, and from there taken across the Turkish border with the aid of the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG), which itself is fighting a bloody war against ISIS.
Al-Raqqawi is the pseudonym for one of the founders of the "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently" activist collective. The group - named after the once overwhelmingly secular de-facto capital of Islamic State, Raqqa - has taken up the perilous task of documenting and exposing ISIS crimes.
In February for example, the group revealed that ISIS had held public screenings of the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot.
They have also produced several hidden camera documentaries of life under harsh Islamic rule.
Scores of European Muslim women - some of them recent converts - have traveled to Syria to become "jihadi brides" for ISIS fighters. They are part of the influx of thousands of Muslims from western countries who have joined the group.
But a growing number of reports suggest many ISIS recruits are looking for a way out, having realized the harsh and brutal reality of life in the Islamist terror group stands in sharp contrast to the romanticized portrayals of it on social media and in the group's own slick propaganda.
However, most of those who attempt to leave the group are not as fortunate as this French recruit. Suspected deserters are routinely executed, usually after having been branded as spies for foreign intelligence agencies or for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
That is what relatives of an Israeli Arab man executed by ISIS claim happened to him.
19-year-old Mohammed Said Ismail Musallam's videotaped execution was released in March of this year, after the group accused him of being a Mossad spy. His family say he simply got cold feet and had been caught attempting to return home
A Jordanian columnist is extremely concerned that Arab countries have turned their backs on the kingdom, pushing it straight into Israel's lap.
In the April 12 edition of the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, columnist Maher Abu Tair sheds light on what he calls the "sad" contemporary situation in which the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan finds itself.
He accuses Arab countries of turning their backs on Jordan and abandoning it, pushing Jordan totally into Israel's economic and political lap. Abu Tair calls strongly for a major change that will enable Jordan to find an alternative to relying on Israel.
MEMRI, the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media and Research Institute, translated and publicized excerpts of the column, most of which are reproduced here:
"It is very saddening that Jordan has grown so weak that it has completely thrown itself into the lap of Israel, contrary to public sentiment and [at the expense of] its honor... This is the unfortunate reality, and those who follow events can see Jordan's headlong rush towards Israel and the overlap of [their] political and economic interests…
"Jordan has grown weak to the point of total reliance on Israel, as part of which Israel will sell us the Palestinian natural gas [it has] stolen as an alternative to the Egyptian natural gas that is denied [to us] by the mujahideen [i.e. jihadists] of the [Sinai] desert.
"[Also as part of this reliance, Jordan and Israel have agreed on] the massive Two Seas Canal project and [the issue of] the Aqaba Airport [referring to the issue of the Ramon Airport that Israel is building near Eilat]. In the past, Jordan threatened to oppose [the building of the Israeli airport] but now it has withdrawn its objection on the condition that takeoffs and landings be coordinated [with the Aqaba Airport]...
"The naked truth is that Jordan no longer has any Arab allies, and today its only ally against the entire Arab east is Israel. If the Arabs had wanted a strong Jordan that did not throw itself at Israel, they would not have abandoned it economically and besieged it politically to the point that its foreign policy became fickle. [Nowadays] we go to bed supporting Tehran and wake up opposing it in Yemen."
"Israel holds the regional keys"
MEMRI explained that early this year, Jordan and Iran began growing closer after eight years of disconnect. However, on March 26, immediately after Saudi Arabia launched Operation Decisive Storm against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Jordan aligned itself with Saudi Arabia.
"At other times [the Al-Dustour column continued] we are against Istanbul and with Tehran. We go to bed with [the PA in] Ramallah but wake up with Hamas...
"Our relations with our Arab and Islamic neighbors have become based on variables, while those with Israel are based on constants. The relations with Israel are longstanding, and currently take a new, friendlier form in terms of economics, agriculture, and coordination on all levels. It is as if Jordan is saying that it knows who holds the secret key to the regional gates and is turning directly to those who hold the keys to ensuring its existence, namely Israel.
"This correspondence between [our relations] with Israel and Jordan's existence is dangerous, unsafe, and full of [unpleasant] surprises. We cannot rely on it, even if some in Amman believe that relations with Israel could provide protection against Washington's and the Arabs' betrayal.
"Today more than ever in Jordanian history, the relations with Israel are overt, on all levels. There are many reasons for this, but we must find a different formula to protect our existence. Even if all the equations around us are unstable and dangerous, and even if Amman instinctively feels that Israel is its only option, we must find another solution that ensures our ongoing existence but does not entail agreeing to pay Israel the price...
"It is saddening to see that Jordan's only option today is [the country] to its West [meaning Israel]. We don't know who to blame [for this]. Should we blame ourselves, for desiring it despite our stated objections? Or the [situation], because the Arabs have left us no other option or because recent history is rife with dangers and turmoil, forcing us to defend ourselves even at the price of dealing with the devil?! The question is open for debate."
A Conservative Party local election candidate has been suspended for an anti-Semitic Facebook post in which she said she would never support "the Jew", referring to Labor leader Ed Miliband.
Gulzabeen Afsar made the comments in an exchange on her social media page, which ended with her stating: "never ever will I drop that low and support the Al Yahud [Arabic for "Jew" - ed.]! Lol"
A spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council was quick to condemn the comments.
"This is clearly unacceptable and the relevant authorities should investigate this matter swiftly," Jay Stoll told the Jewish News.
Responding to the anti-Semitic slur, a Conservative Party spokesman had acknowledged that "Her comment was offensive and wrong. She has removed it and apologised."
That response was criticized as unsatisfactory, but now the party has suspended Afsar indefinitely - though it has yet to expel her altogether.
The scandal comes less than two weeks ahead of Britain's general elections, scheduled for May 7, and as a recent poll showed UK Jews - concerned over growing anti-Semitism and the aggressive anti-Israel sentiment of the British Left - would be voting overwhelmingly for the center-right Conservatives.
The controversy surrounding Afsar, who was a minor candidate standing for local council elections, is unlikely to change that significantly, but it will raise fears among British Jews of the spread of anti-Semitism, which has often emanated from the UK's sizable Muslim community.
Two of the four Arab terrorists who were eliminated by the IDF on Sunday night as they placed an explosive on the Golan Heights border with Syria are the sons of an Israeli Druze terrorist, according to a new report.
The Hebrew-language Channel 10 reports that it learned two of the terrorists were the sons of Walid Mahmoud from the Druze village of Majdal Shams, one of several Druze towns in the Golan that have retained loyalty to Syria.
Mahmoud was a security prisoner in Israel after having been jailed for terrorist activity.
Upon being released in the 1980s he fled to Syria, where he took up residence in the Syrian Druze village Hadar, located adjacent to the border with Israel.
The report indicated that a mourning tent will be set up in the Israeli Druze village of Majdal Shams for the two Arab terrorists, as the family still remaining in the town will mourn their deaths.
Regarding the attack which occurred last night around 9:30 p.m., a senior officer in the IDF said that it is still not clear if the four-man terror cell was affiliated with an official terrorist organization, and if so which group they belonged to.
The source added that it isn't clear either whether they launched the attack from Israeli territory to the east of the security barrier, or from a Syrian military post located adjacent to Majdal Shams on Syrian territory.
Highlighting the problematic nature of Majdal Shams's loyalty to Syria was an incident last month, in which a Druze resident of the town was arrested for spying against Israel for the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Unlike most other Israeli Druze, who are loyal to the State of Israel and largely serve in the IDF, many Druze residents of the Golan maintain loyalty to the Syrian regime.
A disturbing incident occurred on Sunday in the coastal city of Holon, as police officers physically assaulted an IDF soldier in uniform.
The incident occurred in Holon's poverty-stricken Jesse Cohen neighborhood, where police closed a street to passersby claiming that a suspicious object was found, reports Channel 10.
An IDF soldier with a bicycle, identified only as D, was trying to return home when he came across the officers who refused to let him pass.
After the soldier continued to request that he be let pass, the officers began to beat him and knocked him to the ground. He was brought in to the police station and put in a cell for "striking officers."
The exchange was caught on a security camera; the shocking footage can be viewed below.
Israeli Police issued a statement in response to the incident, saying that the behavior of the officers does not reflect the values of the police force.
The main offending officer was suspended and an investigation has been launched.
The first planeload of Israeli surrogate babies stranded in Nepal after Saturday's devastating earthquake has arrived back in Israel Monday morning.
The IDF military plane, which touched down at the Nevatim airbase in the early hours of the morning, was carrying three young babies and eight other family members.
Immediately after arriving two passengers - a father and his infant child, and a 24-year-old man who was injured in the earthquake - were transported on to Soroka hospital in Be'er Sheva for medical checks.
Watch: IDF plane touches down with evacuated babies
An additional airplane carrying more of the Israeli babies and their families stranded in Nepal is expected to land this afternoon in Israel.
Despite the successful evacuations, the military says a number of premature Israeli babies still remain in Nepal in serious condition, and require urgent evacuation and medical treatment.
Nahshon Squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel "Ron", who led the operation to bring the babies and their families home, said the IDF had flown a total of seven doctors to Nepal to help treat those effected by the disaster, as well to aid in the evacuation of the stranded infants.
This morning, a 90-strong Israeli emergency relief team departed for Nepal aboard the IDF's new Hercules C-130J "Shimshon" air transport - the plane's first active service since being acquired by the Israeli army.
At 12:00 p.m. an additional IDF plane will also depart for Nepal.