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On Monday, June 14, Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed Freedom Day from Monday, June 21 to Monday, July 19.

Quelle surprise!

Although the data for hospitalisations and deaths look better than ever thanks to the vaccine rollout, SAGE modelling shows that if figures of cases — positive tests — continue to increase ‘exponentially’, then we could be in for a big problem:

However, the reality is more like this:

Incredibly, Britons support the delay:

Protest at Downing Street

Earlier in the afternoon, when it became clear that Boris was going to delay England’s reopening, a protest took place outside of Downing Street.

The BBC’s Nick Watt got caught up in it on his way to the mid-afternoon press briefing for journalists. I have no idea why the crowd harassed him, but the Metropolitan Police did not seem bothered:

Coronavirus briefing

Boris held his televised coronavirus briefing at 6 p.m.

Boris should have had Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, go to Parliament first to make this announcement, then give his press conference. Hancock poled up in the House of Commons two hours after Boris’s press conference. More on that below.

At the coronavirus briefing, Boris was accompanied by Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty. Here are the highlights:

Sure, just as he announced June 21 would be a few months ago. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Some restrictions have been lifted for weddings and funerals:

The delay is partly because of the Delta variant from India:

Sure thing, Chris. By July, there could be another variant:

Even though Boris is trying to keep us hopeful, there is no way we would open in two weeks’ time instead of four:

This is because — as has been explained at previous coronavirus briefings — it takes four weeks for a full cycle of effects to complete before a decision can be made: cases, hospitalisations, deaths.

Keep in mind that our vaccination programme has been wildly successful. The elderly and vulnerable have had their second shot and 18-24 year olds are now invited to get their first inoculation.

The vaccines used thus far — AstraZeneca and Pfizer — are said to be highly effective against the virus, especially after two injections:

One of the three men said that we would have to ‘learn to live with this virus’. We know that, fellas, so open up.

We know that people are going to die, just as they do from flu:

That’s exactly what they said in April.

Labour are quite happy with an extension of restrictions. No surprise there:

Matt Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons

Matt Hancock announced the delay in the Commons that evening at 8:30.

Once again, the Government evaded going to Parliament first, followed by the media and public.

The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, was not happy. This is not the first time Hoyle has reprimanded Hancock:

Sir Lindsay said that he is ready to arrange a private meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss these continuing evasions of Parliament:

Hancock said:

That tweet is spot on. In March 2020, it was about ‘squashing the sombrero’ of hospital admissions, as Boris put it.

Then we had the rest of the list in that tweet.

Now it seems to be about zero COVID.

That’s quite a leap.

Hancock’s statement and the subsequent debate are available on Hansard. Excerpts follow. All MPs below are Conservative.

Jeremy Hunt MP, the chair of the Health and Social Care Committee and former Health Secretary, said (emphases mine):

May I start by saying that I totally agree with your expression of disappointment, Mr Speaker, that in a parliamentary democracy Parliament heard about this news after the media, and much as I respect my right hon. Friend it should be the Prime Minister who is here this evening?

I happen to support these measures and the caution the Government are showing, but may I suggest to my right hon. Friend that one of the reasons for the disappointment many people feel is the use of words like “irreversible”? Tonight, Sir Patrick Vallance said that we will be living with covid for the rest of our lives. If there is a vaccine-busting variant that threatens another 100,000 lives, these measures will not be irreversible, and we have a duty to be completely honest with people about the bumpiness of the road ahead. So may I urge the Health Secretary to be as cautious with the language we use as he rightly is with NHS bed capacity?

Mark Harper is one of the few MPs who wants England to open up now. He said:

Before I ask the Secretary of State my question, I should just say—as a former Government Chief Whip, it does not give me any great pleasure to do so—that I wholly associate myself with your remarks earlier, Mr Speaker. This statement should have been made to this House by the Prime Minister before it was made to the media. I hope that we do not see a recurrence of it and I wish you well in your meeting with him.

The Secretary of State has set out that it is not the Government’s policy to get to zero covid—indeed, that is not possible. Can he say whether it is the Government’s policy to maintain a low prevalence of this virus? If it is not, can he confirm the Prime Minister’s sentiments today that 19 July is a terminus date, and can he rule out bringing back restrictions in the autumn and winter when we see an inevitable rise in what is a respiratory virus?

Hancock replied:

Well, it is not inevitable—I do not think it is inevitable. It may happen, but it is not inevitable because we also have the planned booster programme to strengthen further the vaccination response. But it is absolutely clear, based on all the clinical advice that I have seen, that a goal of eradication of this virus is impossible. Indeed, there is one part of this country that tried it for a bit in the summer and found it to be impossible. Therefore, we must learn to live with this virus and we must learn how we can live our normal lives with this virus, so I reflect the Prime Minister’s words, which, of course, I concur with entirely, on 19 July. Our goal is to make sure that we get as much vaccination done between now and then—especially those second doses—to make sure that we can open up safely, even if there is a rise in cases, by protecting people from hospitalisation and especially from dying of this awful disease.

Steve Brine was, rightly, unhappy:

Last week, the Secretary of State told me:

“Our goal…is not a covid-free world…the goal is to live with covid”.—[Official Report, 7 June 2021; Vol. 696, c. 678.]

Well, you could have fooled me, and many of our constituents. There is dismay out there tonight. The reopening of the wedding industry is not a meaningful reopening and I think it is cruel the way some are being misled. The Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend have been very clear today that 19 July is not a new “not before” date but an end to all this, so will the Secretary of State tell the country his assessment of risk and personal responsibility and whether he feels that as a country we remotely have that right at this time?

Hancock replied (in part):

Once we have the offer of a vaccine to everybody, and once we have protected and mitigated the large part of that risk, we do need to move back to a world based on personal responsibility. That is right, and that is where we intend to go. I think that we have made steps already in that direction in steps 1, 2 and 3. This country is freer than almost any other in Europe in terms of our economy and of our society. That is partly because of the very rapid vaccination effort here, but I hope that my hon. Friend can take from that the direction we intend to go.

Peter Bone made excellent points on the Government’s disrespect for the Commons:

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that the Secretary of State for Health heard what you said at the beginning of this statement. May I ask the Secretary of State how we got ourselves into this position? He has been very good at coming to the House and making statements on covid, but on the biggest, most important day, the press were given an embargoed statement at 3 o’clock and the Prime Minister had a big showy press conference at 6, yet he could not be bothered to turn up until 8.30. This is a clear breach of the ministerial code. How did it happen? Who thought it was a good idea, and who actually broke the ministerial code?

Hancock had little to say in response but said he would continue answering questions.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown asked on what basis the decision to delay was made. Hancock said:

Central to the judgment today is the fact that we are seeing a rise in hospitalisations, especially over the past week, and especially among those who are unvaccinated or have just had a single jab. Those people are not largely those who are unvaccinated out of choice; it is those who are unvaccinated because they have not yet had the opportunity because they are younger.

Until about a week ago, hospitalisations were basically flat. We thought that the link might have been completely broken between cases and hospitalisations or that it might be a lag. Sadly, hospitalisations then started to rise. For deaths, we have not yet seen that rise, which I am very pleased about; hopefully they will never rise, in which case the future will be much easier. It may still be that there is an element of it that is a lag, and we will be looking out for that very carefully over the couple of weeks ahead, but nevertheless our goal is to get those vaccines done in the five weeks between now and 19 July in order to make sure that this country is safe. I will commit to publishing anything further that we can that underpinned the decision, but I can honestly say to my hon. Friend that most of it is already in the public domain.

The morning after with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer and guests

On Tuesday, June 15, Israel ditched its mask mandate:

They vaccinated quicker than the UK, which they could do as a much smaller country:

TalkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer interviewed three interesting guests, whose videos are all worth watching.

Clearly frustrated by this delay, she asked her audience about their mood:

She opened her show with an editorial on selfishness, because many people say that her civil liberties stance is ‘selfish’. She turned the tables on her accusers:

She interviewed David Paton, the Professor of Industrial Economics Nottingham University Business School. He has been running his own models and studying the national statistics since the early days of the pandemic last year.

This is his take. He observes that we are doing much better than SAGE models suggest:

He also told Julia that we are doing much better than the SAGE models purport:

Next up was Hugh Osmond, the founder of the Punch Taverns chain. He said that the medical experts wanted to remove all joy from our lives. He also pointed out that hundreds of pubs have closed because of the government’s handling of the pandemic and that if the pub summer season is short this year, hundreds more will go to the wall by the end of 2021:

Julia’s next guest was Mark Harper MP, chairman of the parliamentary Covid Recovery Group, quoted in the aforementioned Hansard excerpt. I agree with him in that these restrictions might never end:

He cannot understand why the Government is not more positive about the success of the vaccine rollout. He also discussed the negative fear-mongering from the media. Note the reply tweet which is spot on re the G7 get-togethers:

Julia’s third guest in her coronavirus segment was barrister Francis Hoar, who has been anti-lockdown from the start:

Before his interview, he reiterated his concern about increased government control via a (Chinese style) social credit system:

He also retweeted the following:

This appears to be a quote from Sir Charles Walker MP (Conservative), who is also against lockdowns:

It is hard to disagree with him as the Government keeps moving the goalposts:

Francis Hoar told Julia Hartley-Brewer that Boris looked as if he had been taken hostage at last night’s coronavirus briefing and that he is deeply concerned about the future of young people today because of continuing restrictions. He is very much a supporter of having our personal freedoms restored yesterday:

Conclusion

I really do hope that England reopens on July 19. I wanted the nation to reopen on June 21.

However, if it does not, then it is unlikely to reopen until Spring 2022. That could be June 2022.

My reasoning is as follows. September is the month when schools reopen, so that is a risk factor. Then comes flu season when coronavirus will worsen. The experts and the Government will say that we shouldn’t have big Christmas celebrations at home, in the pub or in a restaurant because it’s just too risky. Winter is always a bad time for illness, and we don’t want to overburden the NHS, so we have to wait until sometime during the springtime.

Therefore, if reopening does not take place on July 21, 2021, then the next possible date is between mid-March (after the Cheltenham Festival, likely to be a ‘pilot’ event) and June 2022.

I hope I am wrong. I truly do.

So far, Israel, the UK and the United States (President Trump) have had the greatest success in procuring and distributing coronavirus vaccines.

This must have been painful for a German newspaper to publish:

Guido Fawkes has more from the article that appeared in Bild and additional commentary about Germany (emphases in the original):

The loss of German confidence was not helped when the first German vaccinated was vaccinated in England. This humiliation is reconfirmed in the breathless copy of Peter Wilke, Bild’s UK reporter, exclaiming that whilst he had not received a vaccination appointment in his home town of Mühlheim, he was shocked to get an SMS text from the NHS, “Suddenly I got a vaccination appointment in England!”

Guido has not seen any British media reporting of the Kremlin’s statement that on a call this week between Putin and Merkel “Cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was discussed , with particular attention to the possible prospects for joint vaccine production”.  Desperate times make allies of necessity…

Here’s the message that the Bild‘s journalist received for a vaccination (and a response):

Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.

Kelsall, by the way, is in Cheshire, in the north-West of England.

United States

President Trump’s business acumen and America First policies made vaccine procurement and distribution to individual states a given.

Unfortunately, not all states are rolling out their vaccines as quickly as they should be. Massachusetts, despite its Republican governor Charlie Baker, is among them. Baker, incidentally, is an anti-Trump RINO, which explains a myriad of things, including his lockdown and mask policies.

Never let it be said that President Trump did not do the right thing. From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, he made sure states had funding and equipment as soon as it was available. Every nation suffered from a PPE shortage until after the first wave. After that, it was — rightly — up to the governors to make sure their states used the distributions responsibly and promptly.

Israel

Israel also puts its own people first, and rightly so.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his vaccine strategy with those attending Davos virtually:

Netanyahu adopted practical policies, including telling his ‘bureaucrats’ (his word) to ‘cut the c—‘ (which he was at pains to leave unspoken) and get on with it. Pricing, supply, efficacy and payment were all part of what has turned out to be a truly world-beating strategy:

As Guido Fawkes commented:

Essentially, pay up, move fast. Whereas the EU haggled about the price, moved slow and did not sign contracts. Political vanity which will cost European lives…

Guido is referring to the EU, which is now trying to interfere with the UK’s long-agreed upon supplies from Belgium, although a Belgian lawyer disputes that move:

Fernand Keuleneer, Brussels attorney, tweets…

“From the published contract between the EU Commission and AstraZeneca I cannot conclude that the Commission has the contract and therefore the right on its side. Rather the opposite.”

More here, from Guido.

United Kingdom

Being halfway out the door of the EU in 2020 made a huge difference to the United Kingdom’s ability to procure and distribute vaccines.

Although I am deeply dismayed with Boris Johnson’s and Matt Hancock’s handling of coronavirus restrictions, one cannot fault the Conservatives for seizing the opportunity to be independent of EU policies and become self-sufficient.

James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator, wrote an excellent article for The Times, dated January 28: ‘Covid has taught the UK the importance of self sufficiency’.

An excerpt about the British strategy towards coronavirus follows (emphases mine):

The last year has shown that even in this globalised age the nation state trumps the market. You could see this in the scramble for personal protective equipment (PPE) last spring when countries stopped firms from honouring contracts until they were sure their domestic needs had been met. The same dynamic is beginning to assert itself on vaccines.

Just look at how the German government is pushing for EU export controls on vaccines. Today the EU will set out how companies must provide notification before exporting vaccine out of the bloc. It is expected that these rules will allow exports to be blocked in certain, supposedly rare circumstances. The British government remains confident there will still be vaccine deliveries from the Pfizer factory in Belgium.

These new headwinds pose a particular risk for Brexit Britain, a country stuck between two large economies with protectionist tendencies, the United States and the European Union.

When Oxford came to the government last year to make sure it was happy with arrangements for production of its vaccine, Whitehall said it wanted the NHS to have first access. But when ministers saw Oxford’s proposed contract with a non-UK pharmaceutical firm they saw it went little further than promising best efforts. Alok Sharma, the business secretary, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, insisted on a legally binding promise to serve Britain first. They eventually received such a pledge from the UK-headquartered AstraZeneca.

Hancock’s worry was over waiting for imports, which raised the prospect of delay, even expropriation. There was particular concern about Trump invoking the Defence Production Act to secure all the vaccine supply for the US. This was why billions were spent helping various British-based companies to buy the facilities needed to mass-produce vaccines.

There are only a few dozen large-scale bioreactors in the world. Six are now based here, which is what is allowing vaccines to be made at such pace.

At the time it was a bet: huge sums were being spent on a vaccine that had not been approved. Even more was being spent to protect Britain against the theoretical risk of vaccine nationalism. But both bets paid off.

Too often in modern British history industrial strategy has meant trying to keep a dying industry or company going for a few more years. Even in this crisis the government’s attempt to develop a contact tracing app that didn’t use Google or Apple technology failed spectacularly.

Nor has the £22 billion test and trace scheme been a resounding success. But the vaccine was an example of the government successfully bringing together academia and business and using taxpayers’ money to help seed a new industry in Britain.

In the same way that the Second World War left politicians with a desire for food security, the Covid crisis has prompted a desire for self-sufficiency in medical supplies. Already around two thirds of PPE is being manufactured domestically; a dramatic change from the situation pre-pandemic when only 1 per cent was produced here.

And another UK vaccine is on its way, albeit somewhat delayed. Nonetheless, there is every reason to be happy:

Guido Fawkes has more:

A clearly delighted Kate Bingham, chair of the UK’s vaccine task force, appeared on the Today programme this morning following last night’s brilliant news of a new vaccine from Novavax showing 90% efficacy against the new Kent variant; the UK having ordered 60 million doses, all of which will be made in Teesside.

While there’s lots to be excited about, government sources emphasised to Guido last night that the jab will not roll out until the latter half of the year, with MHRA approval set to take weeks. Bingham explained to Today listeners that scale-up is already underway in Teesside and going well “but it just takes time, we are growing up mammalian cells from low volumes up to the high thousand-litre volumes and it’s very complicated”.

Novavax, a single-dose vaccine, is made by America’s Johnson & Johnson in the US, but Janssen handles European production in Belgium. The UK has already purchased doses:

Furthermore, Livingston, Scotland, has opened a new vaccine production facility for the international pharmaceutical company Valneva that Boris visited on January 29 (start at 1:08):

Conclusion

Self sufficiency is the way forward.

No nation — including an EU nation — can fully rely on another to supply its needs in a time of crisis.

Well done to the three countries who put their own people first. Long may it continue.

Earlier this month, a schoolboy found a coin dating from the New Testament era whilst on a class trip in Israel.

On January 27, 2019, The Times of Israel reported:

A boy found a 2,000-year-old coin from the Second Temple-era rule of Herod Agrippa, the last king of Judea, during a hike last week in the northern West Bank.

The rare piece was uncovered in the Shilo stream during a school trip, according to a Sunday statement from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli body that administers civilian matters in the West Bank under the Defense Ministry.

The coin features three stalks of grain on one side, and a royal canopy surrounded by an engraving reading “King Agrippa” on the other side.

The boy notified his tour guide, who, in turn, contacted an employee of the Archaeology Unit at COGAT’s Civil Administration. The boy gave the employee the coin, which was duly analysed.

The coin will soon join the Israel Antiquities Authority’s collection of National Treasures.

I was excited to see this article, even happier when the journalist carefully identified the Herod involved:

Herod Agrippa ruled Judea from 41 CE until his death three years later. He was the grandson of Herod the Great and the father of Herod Agrippa II, the last king of the Herodian Dynasty. He ruled the territory to the satisfaction of the Jews, and was hailed at the time as “Agrippa the Great,” according to Josephus.

In Acts 12, St Luke — the author of Acts — wrote of how Agrippa had James (John’s brother, the sons of Zebedee) beheaded, put Peter in prison and not long afterwards, after an angel of the Lord released Peter from prison, he received a divine judgement: death by worms, which ate him alive.

The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that it took five days for the worms to consume his body.

I am amazed by the ancient finds that continue to turn up.

In London, as the exciting new Crossrail line is being built, archaeologists are still examining sets of skulls unearthed during construction a few years ago. The skulls date to around 100-110 AD, so, during the Roman rule of Britain — and not that long, relatively speaking, after Herod Agrippa I’s death. But I digress.

In closing, when I get to Acts 26 in my Forbidden Bible Verses series, I will be writing about St Paul’s encounter with Herod Agrippa II.

Although the new US embassy opened in Jerusalem a fortnight ago, I did not have time to sort through links and tweets of the event until now.

Background

During his presidency, Bill Clinton pledged to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Subsequent presidents did, too, but only President Donald Trump actually followed through.

On December 5, The Conservative Treehouse posted on this historic move (emphases mine below):

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring the movement of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The act said that Jerusalem should be undivided and be recognized as the capital of Israel. The legislation passed 93-5 in the Senate, and 374-37 in the House of Representatives. (link)

Following passage, all subsequent Presidents never carried through with the law; each signing national security waivers to delay moving the U.S. Embassy.

The most recent waiver lapsed at midnight last night; President Trump did not extend another waiver. It is now reported that President Trump has been in discussions with various mid-east leaders to notify them of his plan to follow through on the Jerusalem Embassy Act with a six month phase-in. President Trump will deliver a speech tomorrow outlining the plans …

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) applauded the move. Note how long ago the move was to have taken place:

Trump met with a lot of opposition, the rationale being that a move to Jerusalem would exacerbate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The pope publicly expressed his ‘deep worry’.

On December 6, President Trump held a press conference to say, in part:

Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

Promises made, promises kept:

On December 18, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have nullified Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She said, in part:

I have been the proud Representative of the United States at the United Nations for nearly a year now. This is the first time I have exercised the American right to veto a resolution in the Security Council. The exercise of the veto is not something the United States does often. We have not done it in more than six years. We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance …

It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President’s position to serve their own agendas.

What is troublesome to some people is not that the United States has harmed the peace process – we have, in fact, done no such thing. Rather, what is troublesome to some people is that the United States had the courage and honesty to recognize a fundamental reality. Jerusalem has been the political, cultural, and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years. They have had no other capital city. But the United States’ recognition of the obvious – that Jerusalem is the capital and seat of the modern Israeli government – is too much for some.

On December 21, a vote came up before the UN General Assembly. Only eight countries stood with the United States: 128 nations voted against. Haley said, in part:

When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected …

The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

On Christmas Eve, Guatemala decided to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

On December 27, The Daily Caller reported that a proposed new railway station in Jerusalem might be named after Trump:

The nation’s transportation minister Israel Katz said Wednesday that the station, if approved and built, will be a thank you to Trump for his “courageous and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.”

The run-up to the new embassy

In April, Trump congratulated Israel on her 70th anniversary as a nation:

On April 24, he said:

Trump did not attend. First Lady Melania Trump underwent a previously scheduled procedure on her kidney on Monday, May 14, the day of the embassy’s opening. He also rescheduled a fundraiser which was to have taken place that day.

One week earlier, the White House announced the delegation headed to Jerusalem. The Washington Free Beacon reported:

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will lead the delegation to Jerusalem for the May 14 events.

Joining Sullivan will be Ambassador David Friedman, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not attend.

Meanwhile, in Israel that day:

The excitement continued. By May 10, Israelis showed their enthusiasm for Trump:

A commemorative coin went on sale, marking Israel’s 70th anniversary and the embassy’s move. It compares President Trump to King Cyrus.

On Friday, May 11, Trump tweeted:

That day, the State Department issued a statement about the dedication ceremony, adding:

While in Jerusalem as the Head of Delegation, Deputy Secretary Sullivan will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Yuval Rotem, and members of both our Embassy and Consulate General staff.

Preparations in Jerusalem continued:

Fox News’s Judge Jeanine Pirro went to Jerusalem and interviewed locals and tourists. Most were overwhelmingly pro-Trump. One man said:

He’s a strong man. He knows what he’s doing.

Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was annoyed with CNN’s criticism of the embassy move:

Ivanka Trump said:

.: “With great joy, I am returning to Jerusalem. I am honored to join the distinguished delegation representing President Trump, at this momentous ceremony commemorating the opening of our new US Embassy in , Israel.”

Sunday, May 13, was Jerusalem Day:

The American delegation arrived:

Before streets shut down:

This video has more on the Israeli bikers.

Excitement continued to build:

May 14, 2018 — opening day of the new embassy

The new — albeit temporary — embassy opened on Monday, May 14.

The ceremony was in the afternoon, Jerusalem time, 9 a.m. EST in the US.

The Jerusalem Post‘s front page is memorable. The paper’s poll said that two-thirds of Israeli Jews support the move. Also read their editorial ‘NO HOLDS BARRED: Jerusalem on fire with gratitude to President Trump’.

The White House issued a statement about the new embassy.

Reporters and guests gathered:

Below are tweets from the dedication ceremony (full video here):

Pastor Hagee delivered the Benediction. Pastor Robert Jeffress also offered a prayer:

Trump appeared via video link:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is standing next to Ivanka Trump:

That evening, other commemorative events and speeches took place:

The vice president gave a speech via video link:

In closing, this is what Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Missouri) had to say:

It is probably the one time he has ever truly agreed with Trump. (Why can’t Trump get more appointees through? Mitch is stalling!)

President Donald Trump attended his first Davos meeting, arriving in the Swiss resort on Thursday, January 25.

Only a few media outlets have reported that his attendance is thanks to President Emmanuel Macron of France. On Thursday, the London Evening Standard reported:

It emerged that Mr Macron was instrumental in Mr Trump’s decision to attend a gathering to which he was never invited when a businessman.

Mr Macron told RTS that he had “strongly recommended” that Mr Trump attend during a recent phone conversation “because I think it’s a good thing for president Trump to explain his strategy for the US and the world here in Davos. And that he encounters some form of confrontation and dialogue.”

Recall that Macron couldn’t let go of his new buddy — daddy? — when the Trumps were ready to leave Paris on Bastille Day 2017.

I heard soundbites of Macron’s address to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and he said pretty much the same thing about France as Trump did about the US. Essentially, France is open for business.

By the way, there was a lot of snow in Davos, which begs the question about global warming. Oh, silly me, it’s climate change. Hmm. Snow during winter. Who would have expected that?

Trump arrives

Here is a video of Trump’s arrival:

Everywhere in the media — including the Evening Standard — journalists and pundits predicted a huge flop for the ‘America First’ president. Although protests took place about a variety of issues, including Trump, the reality inside was very different:

(I wonder if Macron saw that tweet. 😉 )

The evil Soros was his usual antagonistic self in his address to the WEF, accusing Trump of setting the United States on the course for nuclear war:

Anyone who thinks Soros is a good guy should read more about the man. He has meddled in US politics for ages and is now targeting at state level with huge donations to pro-Democrat groups and causes:

But I digress.

That evening, the American delegation had dinner with the heads of 15 European companies.

The head of SAP paid President Trump great compliments on what he accomplished in his first year:

The White House has a transcript of President Trump’s conversation with his guests.

Trump’s ideas catching on in Western Europe

Earlier that day, Ireland’s finance minister said Trump was making an excellent case for lower taxes:

The CNBC article says (emphases mine):

Asked if he believed Trump was setting an example on tax policy, Donohoe was positive.

Do I believe the mood is changing on corporate tax globally? The answer is yes,” he said.

You have to look at what President Trump has done, you have to look at the state of the U.K., you have to look at what President Macron said earlier in the week,” he said, referencing the French president’s Davos speech in which he proposed cutting some of France’s infamously high taxes.

In late December, a Republican-led U.S. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs act, overhauling the U.S. tax system and slashing corporate taxes from 35 to 21 percent. The move, Donohoe said, was making European leaders think again about their own corporate tax propositions.

Bilateral meetings

Trump held a number of bi-lateral meetings.

On Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May:

I know a lot of Trump supporters are angry with Theresa May. Similarly, a lot of Britons loathe Donald Trump. Both groups should read the following.

To my fellow Britons, Trump did not know about the Britain First group. He gave an interview to Piers Morgan, co-host (and friend from Celebrity Apprentice) on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday:

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Trump said he had known nothing about the organisation when he made the social media postings.

He told interviewer Piers Morgan that he believed the videos showed “radical Islamic terror”, but if it was the case that they had been produced by “horrible racist people”, then he “would certainly apologise” …

Pressed by Morgan about the Britain First tweets during his first international TV interview since becoming president, Mr Trump said: “I knew nothing about them and I know nothing about them today other than I read a little bit.

“Perhaps it was a big story in Britain , perhaps it was a big story in the UK, but in the United States it wasn’t a big story.

“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”

He said he had made the retweets because he was concerned about the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists.

“They had a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror. It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror,” he said.

Now, for my American readers, Trump told Morgan that he and May get on very well:

On his relations with Mrs May, he told Good Morning Britain: “We actually have a very good relationship, although a lot of people think we don’t.

“I support her, I support a lot of what she does and a lot of what she says.”

The White House has a transcript of their meeting with the media following their discussion.

My message to both sides: stop the hate! Now!

Good things came out of the meeting (same link):

During their 40-minute meeting in Davos, Mrs May also raised the issue of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, which has a major plant in Northern Ireland and is at the centre of a US trade dispute.

The trade dispute with Bombardier was resolved during that meeting. The Press Association reported early Friday morning:

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier has won its case against United States proposals to impose massive tariffs on the import of its jets in a ruling which should safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said rival manufacturer Boeing did not suffer injury from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines’ order of Bombardier’s C Series passenger jets.

The ruling means tariffs of 292% duties will not be imposed on the jets’ import to America.

The move could safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast, where the C Series wings are produced, and unions said workers would be “breathing a huge sigh of relief” at the news.

The decision comes after Theresa May raised the issue with US president Donald Trump during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

He met with his friend Bibi Netanyahu afterwards:

The White House’s statement says, in part:

The two leaders reviewed their ongoing cooperation across a range of issues and stressed their goal of countering Iran’s malign influence and threatening behavior in the region. They also discussed prospects for achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

On Friday morning, Trump held a short press briefing:

His first meeting that day was with President Alain Berset of the Swiss Federation (i.e. Switzerland):

Excerpts from the White House transcript of their public remarks made beforehand:

PRESIDENT BERSET: So I want to welcome President Trump and his delegation here to Davos. It’s the first time that President Trump visits Davos and Switzerland. And it has been 18 years since the last visit from a U.S. President here.

And we appreciate the significance of the gesture, Mr. President. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being here

Switzerland and the U.S. — that’s a longstanding, excellent relationship. We share a deep, historic commitment to freedom, to democracy, to human rights, to free markets. And there is one more point I want to highlight to you, one aspect: our mutual economic footprints.

We have very strong economic relations. They are very strong, and they are growing very fastly. This is really interesting: More than 500 Swiss firms in United States and more than 3,500 business locations with a (inaudible) — creation of a half a million jobs.

And I think, I believe, we can even deepen these relations to strengthen our economies, and to build up, together, solutions to global issues

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mr. President, it is a great honor to be with you. Davos has been exciting. And in addition to that, I think we’re bringing a lot of things back to our country, including tremendous goodwill.

I yesterday and last night — dinner with some of the great business leaders of the world, as you know. And it was very interesting to see and hear. They’re very happy with what’s happening in the United States …

But I just want to thank you for honoring us. We have tremendous respect for you — and congratulations on the election — and tremendous respect for your country. And it’s an honor to be here. Thank you.

He then met with President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda:

The White House has a transcript of their remarks afterwards. President Kagame said, in part:

Rwanda has benefitted tremendously from the support of the United States. In many areas where there is (inaudible) support operations we have carried out in different parts of the world, we had the United States, on our side, supporting us.

You have supported our economy, with trade, investment. We see a lot of tourists from United States to visit us — coming to Rwanda.

And, President, I wanted to thank you for the support we have received from you, personal, and your administration. And we’re looking forward to also working with the United States at the level of the African Union, where we are tightening out reforms of the African Union, so that we get our act together to do the right things. That helps — in cooperating with the United States, it would be more beneficial when we are organized, to know what we want from the United States —

Trump’s Davos address

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for, Trump’s address to the WEF:

The day before, CNBC’s Joe Kernen interviewed Trump.

The two men have known each other for several years. The transcript gives a flavour of what Trump wanted to communicate in his address. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So when I decided to come to Davos I didn’t think in terms of elitists or globalists. I think I thought in terms of lots of people that want to invest lots of money, and they’re all coming back to the United States, they’re coming back to America. And I thought of it much more in those terms. After I said that I was going there were massive stories about the elite, and the globalists, and the planes flying in, and everything else. It’s not about that. It’s about coming to America, investing your money, creating jobs, companies coming in. We’re setting records every week, every day we’re setting records …

KERNEN: Yes. You’ve moved a little towards the center. But so Macron’s saying that globalism doesn’t solve problems. Suddenly other countries are saying, you know, “We need to take care of, you know, our own country to some extent.” So it’s almost like the differences between America First and Davos. I think there’s plenty of room for you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s a lot of room. And we love global, but we love home. We have to take care of our home.

KERNEN: Right. It’s not usually exclusive.

Now back to Friday, before his address:

This was Trump’s message in a nutshell — please note the teal blue box:

The president spoke for around 17 minutes:

The White House has a transcript, excerpts of which follow:

America is the place to do business. So come to America, where you can innovate, create, and build. I believe in America. As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also.

But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs all around the globe, and the drive for excellence, creativity, and innovation in the U.S. has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and far healthier lives.

As the United States pursues domestic reforms to unleash jobs and growth, we are also working to reform the international trading system so that it promotes broadly shared prosperity and rewards to those who play by the rules.

We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all

Represented in this room are some of the remarkable citizens from all over the world. You are national leaders, business titans, industry giants, and many of the brightest minds in many fields.

Each of you has the power to change hearts, transform lives, and shape your countries’ destinies. With this power comes an obligation, however — a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, and customers who have made you who you are.

So together, let us resolve to use our power, our resources, and our voices, not just for ourselves, but for our people — to lift their burdens, to raise their hopes, and to empower their dreams; to protect their families, their communities, their histories, and their futures.

That’s what we’re doing in America, and the results are totally unmistakable. It’s why new businesses and investment are flooding in. It’s why our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in so many decades. It’s why America’s future has never been brighter.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Even CNN had to acknowledge it as a win:

CNN’s Chris Cilizza had to admit he was wrong. He expected Trump to go in all guns blazing (sigh):

More broadly — aside from any specific piece of rhetoric — Trump’s framing and tone in the speech was more kumbaya than confrontational.

No kidding. As if a successful businessman is going to berate other successful businessmen.

These media people are all the same — terrible, disingenuous and dim.

Trump’s cabinet

Members of Trump’s cabinet arrived a day ahead to participate in meetings regarding the economy and trade. They included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Secretary for Transport Elaine Chao.

The Conservative Treehouse noted that, on Wednesday, January 24:

… we saw U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commanding around 80% of panelist discussion, and factually 100% of all questions and attention from the Davos audienceTeam U.S.A. is the epicenter of the economic universe and Secretary Ross was well prepared for the severity of attention.

On Thursday, Steven Mnuchin participated in a panel discussion, The Remaking of Global Finance. The Conservative Treehouse (same link) says:

If the dollar is strategically lowered by policy, the U.S. can suck money directly out of China (or any large economic multinational) because their vaults hold dollars as an outcome of trade surpluses with the U.S.  The globalists are scared shitless that POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin will start crushing their global goals by utilizing this inherent trade leverage.

There is a potential for POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin to weaponize the U.S. reserve currency if they don’t get the deals they want.  That looming threat exists and is an existential threat to the entire construct and worldview of ideological globalists.

The globalists, multinational corporations and banks, and those who gain by exporting U.S. economic wealth, always want a high dollar valuation.  They spend billions on lobbying efforts because they are used to controlling U.S. policy by influencing DC politicians; and using Wall Street finance constructs to purchase influence on U.S. monetary policy.

Probably why Soros was talking about Trump and nuclear war. Anything to obfuscate the reality.

Prior to Trump’s arrival, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave an eloquent answer to someone objecting to Trump’s and his cabinet’s presence at Davos. The video clip does not include the question, and the answer was not aggressive as the tweet below suggests. Essentially, Chao said — politely and calmly — that those who do not wish to hear what they have to say can leave. She said that Davos is a forum where different ideas and perspectives are discussed. Worth watching to hear her words:

Melania Trump

Meanwhile, amidst salacious accusations, which have been debunked

… First Lady Melania Trump visited the Holocaust Museum on Thursday, January 25, just before Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Saturday, January 27:

January 25 was also the Trumps’ wedding anniversary.

Mrs Trump is garnering empathy from the American public. Here is a reply to her communications director, Stephanie Grisham:

I couldn’t agree more.

Back home on schedule

The president planned to be back mid-evening on Friday, January 26:

And duly was (if you cannot get the video from the tweet, click on the Periscope link — in the tweet — to see the landing):

I hope that the Trumps were able to finally enjoy a belated presidential anniversary and wedding anniversary celebration at the weekend!

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for Mar a Lago on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Earlier that day:

Crowds welcomed him upon his arrival in Florida:

On December 24, the Trumps fielded telephone calls from American children eager for the arrival of Father Christmas. The Daily Mail has a report with spectacular photos:

… the first couple surprised kids who had called in to NORAD to find out where Santa Claus is.

The president and first lady were patched in to a handful of NORAD’s expected 150,000 Christmas Eve calls from the living room at Mar-a-Lago where the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in office.

‘What would you like more than anything?’ Trump was overheard asking a child named Casper from Virginia as members of the media briefly listened in.

Reporters were unable to hear Casper’s response, but the president gave the request away in his answer.

‘Building blocks. That’s what I’ve always liked too,’ said the president, who was a successful real estate developer before jumping into politics. ‘I always loved building blocks,’ Trump continued.

‘Well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks. So many you won’t be able to use them all,’ said the president, using his trademark bombastic language.

Speaking to another child, Trump was impressed by the boy’s Santa request.

‘So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital?’ Trump said. ‘That’s what your wish is?’

‘That’s great,’ the president continued. ‘That’s better than asking for some toy or something, that’s better right?’

He then assured the young boy that grandma would be alright.

‘So your grandma’s gonna be good, OK? She’s gonna be good,’ the president said.

At another moment he told a child, ‘When you’re in Washington, you’ll come and see me.’

In total, the president chatted with 11 kids, while the first lady talked to ten.

This video — trending at No. 27 on YouTube on December 28 — has the conversations:

Trump held a teleconference with various branches of the military to send Christmas greetings:

The US Navy and the crew of the USS Sampson tweeted their appreciation.

The military sent some exceptional tweets this year. I especially liked the Navy’s video. Open in new tab, if necessary:

Trump tweeted another seasonal message later on Christmas Eve:

His friend in Israel sent customary Christmas greetings to the American people. This year, however, is a special one for Benjamin Netanyahu:

The president and Mrs Trump attended the 10:30 p.m. service at the Episcopal church they go to, Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is just under a five-minute drive up the Atlantic Ocean from the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The historic sanctuary — it is the oldest Protestant church in the region — has played a major role in the first family’s lives: The president and first lady married there in 2005. Their son, Barron, was christened there the following year. And the couple, occasionally joined by other family members, have attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there.

When Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, first lady Melania Trump took Mrs. Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea. “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray,” the first lady said in a post on her @FLOTUS Instagram account accompanied by a photo of the church’s garden.

Security was tight:

Since his election, the president and first lady enter Bethesda-by-the-Sea from the south side of the building, a side entrance that allows more direct access to the seats set aside for them toward the front of the church.

The service was not on Trump’s schedule released to the media, and church officials have declined in the past to confirm whether Trump would attend.

But regular attendees are becoming familiar with the security practices put in place ahead of Trump’s arrival: Worshippers are ushered through metal detectors. Women’s purses are searched. Men in dark suits with earpieces walk the line of parishioners waiting to enter the 500-person capacity sanctuary.

Once inside:

The church was standing room only, but the Palm Beach Post article stated that a few people in the congregation managed to make contact with Trump:

During the greeting, several people gathered around the president to shake his hand. As Communion was offered, people who lined up next to Trump — who was seated on the center aisle — paused to say, “Merry Christmas,” offer words of encouragement or, as one woman did, mouth, “Thank you.”

The Gateway Pundit had a great write up with videos and tweets that I’ve used here, including one of the service. The article says that the choir’s version of Silent Night is ‘hauntingly beautiful’:

I won’t include any of the sermon, as it was the usual Social Justice Warrior material we have come to expect from a once-great denomination.

On December 25, Mrs Trump released a selfie:

Trump tweeted a brief video of the White House — along with a special greeting:

The Palm Beach Post reported:

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the entire world a very Merry Christmas,” Trump says in the video. 

Trump also quotes a verse from the bible in the book of Isaiah, noting what the celebration of Christmas is about.

Melania speaks about celebrating our blessings as Americans and “prays for peace all over the world.”

Fox News had more:

… the president and first lady Melania Trump released a video message, with Mrs. Trump saying “at this time of year, we see the best of American and the soul of the American people.” President Trump added his own remarks, calling on Americans to “renew the bonds of love and good will between our citizens —and most importantly we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.”

“For Christians we remember the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that began more than 2,000 years ago. As the book of Isaiah tells us, for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This good news is the greatest Christmas gift of all, the reason for our joy and the true source of our hope.”

Here is the YouTube version, which, even on December 28, is No. 8 in YouTube trends:

The same Fox News article also reported that Trump laid on a grand Christmas dinner for people often taken for granted:

… administration sources confirmed to Fox News that the president also provided and paid for hundreds of Christmas dinners served up to the U.S Secret Service agents and officers, military service members and Palm Beach County sheriff deputies who were working Christmas Day at Mar-a-Lago.

Described as a “Christmas feast,” served in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, the buffet meal included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and dessert. The buffet was offered from the early afternoon into the evening, in an effort to cover two of the shifts for security personnel working the holiday.

Christmas is a one-day celebration for President Trump:

The Trumps are still at Mar a Lago. On December 27, the president visited firefighters and first responders in West Palm Beach:

Meanwhile, although the president has to be the most people-oriented and transparent for generations, Trump Derangement Syndrome continues unabated.

And I’m still getting Christmas card messages from across the pond denigrating a man who truly loves his country!

What on earth is wrong with people?

After visiting Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump flew to Israel for two days of meetings on Monday and Tuesday, May 22 and 23, 2017.

For the most part, American media are ignoring this leg of his Middle Eastern-European trip, preferring to focus on impeachment and James Comey.

On Monday, May 22, Fox News interviewed the Saudi foreign minister, who was most pleased with the outcome of the Riyadh Summit. ‘Drain the swamp’ has also made it into his vocabulary:

The foreign minister also said that the summit was a promising start in fighting terrorism together:

That evening, a horrific suicide attack took place at a pop concert in Manchester, England. As I write earlier today — May 23 — 22 people are dead. Sebastian Gorka said that the explosion happened on the fourth anniversary of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s equally horrific murder in South London.

And, no, the world should not have to accept terrorism as a way of life, regardless of what the London mayor said in September 2016.

Another helpful possibility from the Saudi trip is that Trump might have an easier time getting a travel ban through the US courts. Remember, all he asked for earlier this year was a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries with poor security. Also, it was only going to last for 90 days. For that, Trump was labelled an Islamophobe. Wake up, everybody! Stop believing the media and left-wing judges.

Two items of news from the past 24 hours need to be cleared up.

The first is the reporting that Ivanka Trump personally raised $100m in Saudi Arabia for something called the Ivanka Fund, aimed at helping women. The Federalist, citing a Washington Post article, stated (emphases mine throughout):

As the Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold explained, though, “the first daughter would have no role in raising money for such a fund or deciding where its money would be spent, a Trump administration official said.” He noted that the idea for a fund for women entrepreneurs was Ivanka Trump’s, but that the World Bank and White House issued a statement that the fund would be managed by the World Bank.

The second item is that First Lady Melania Trump batted away her husband’s hand upon arrival in Israel.

In truth, as you can see from the Gateway Pundit article and video, Mrs Trump was too far at the edge of the red carpet, so she was signalling that she was back in position:

So now the media is scrutinizing POTUS and FLOTUS over what appears to be a ‘low five’. Every couple has their way of communicating but leave it to the hateful media to turn such a beautiful meeting with Israel into something negative.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli people were absolutely giddy to see the new US president land in Tel Aviv after eight dark years under Obama which is why the fake news is attacking them for NOTHING. Absolutely pathetic!

Here’s the real news, folks! Our President and beautiful First Lady were all smiles after they landed in Israel.

On the topic of lies, last week, Caroline Glick wrote an incisive article for the Jerusalem Post on how the American Deep State has affected Israel over the years and is now attempting to damage the Trump presidency:

Trump and Israel – the twin targets of the US intelligence community’s felonious and injurious leaks.

The fact that Trump will be coming to Israel next week may be a bit of fortuitous timing. Given the stakes involved for Trump, for Israel and for US national security, perhaps Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can develop a method of fighting this cabal of faceless, lawless foes together.

How such a fight would look and what it would involve is not immediately apparent and anyways should never be openly discussed. But the fact is that working together, Israel and Trump may accomplish more than either can accomplish on their own. And with so much hanging in the balance, it makes sense to at least try.

Absolutely. That needs to be repeated time and time again.

Fortunately, the Netanyahus and the Trumps are good friends. The Kushners are also close to the Israeli prime minister and his wife.

Therefore, it was great to see Sara Netanyahu tell the Trumps at the airport that the Israelis like them a lot and are delighted about this trip:

It is a big deal:

In addition to the Netanyahus, Israeli president Reuven Rivlin also welcomed the Trumps. A reception ceremony and related speeches took place at Ben Gurion Airport:

Later that morning, the Trumps, Kushners and other members of their entourage visited the Western Wall. Trump is the first US president to make that visit:

The president placed a prayer request in the wall:

Supporters stood nearby:

The Trump ladies also paid their respects:

Mrs Trump was moved by the occasion:

Trump and his host held a joint press conference in the afternoon:

On brokering peace, Trump said:

It’s not easy, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually.

Netanyahu complimented his guest. From the Washington Examiner:

“The people of Israel applaud you” for visiting the Western Wall.

Afterwards:

Then:

Apparently, when greeting the Trumps, Netanyahu shared his customary wit in reference to Riyadh. I read anecdotally that he said, ‘Welcome to my palace. I had the walls painted for your visit.’ I hope that’s true. I’ve been chuckling all morning.

The Netanyahus hired a celebrity chef:

Here are two sets of good friends ready to break bread together:

Incidentally, in 2010, Avner Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, won the Jerusalem Bible Quiz in the Jerusalem Public School District. I’m not sure if he was the son the Trumps met before dinner. However, the Netanyahus gave the president a 150-year-old Bible as a gift. The text is in English.

Then, it was time to rest:

Tuesday’s front pages were positive:

Trump went to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday. He made reference in his speech to Manchester:

The first lady expressed her condolences on Twitter.

The Trumps and the Kushners went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial:

Amy Spiro from the Jerusalem Post reported:

Trump at Yad Vashem: “This place and this entire nation are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.”

Trump spoke with the sister of a Holocaust victim:

Earlier today, the Jerusalem Post reported:

US President Donald Trump concluded his lightening visit to Israel on Tuesday with a speech in which he did not mention moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, settlement construction or a Palestinian State.

It seems a bit too early for him to be able to say anything specific. As Amy Spiro tweeted:

Everything still remains to be seen.

Indeed. Patience and prayers are required. Rash speech and decisions never solved a long-standing issue.

The Trumps are now in Rome, where they will meet the Pope.

Over the past week, President Donald Trump welcomed Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the White House.

Japan

Before Trump welcomed Shinzo Abe and his wife to the United States last weekend, he already had a big fan club in Japan. This video was filmed on Inauguration Day:

The Abes were in Washington DC on Friday, February 10. Trump and Abe held a joint press conference, wherein Trump pledged ‘even closer’ relations with Japan, including reaffirming America’s security guarantee:

The two leaders met privately before posing for a photo op:

The Daily Mail reported that Mrs Trump did not guide Mrs Abe around Washington, because the latter already had plans for the day: a visit to Gallaudet University for the deaf and hard of hearing followed by a National Cherry Blossom Festival committee meeting at the Japanese Embassy. There is also a language barrier. Mrs Trump does not speak Japanese, and Mrs Abe does not speak English.

However, they rode together that afternoon to meet their husbands for a weekend at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach:

This video shows their arrival in Florida. Each leader had his own entourage. This was the roadside reception for Trump. Abe must have been impressed:

That evening, they had dinner with Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, Superbowl LI champions:

On Saturday, Trump and Abe discussed issues of the day over a round of golf:

Meanwhile, Melania Trump took Akie Abe for a tour of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, not far from Palm Beach, where the two couples spent the weekend.

Afterwards, the first lady took Mrs Abe to the Episcopal church where she and Trump got married, Bethesda-by-the-Sea:

A working dinner followed:

That evening, while the couples were having dinner, North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan. The two leaders made an impromptu joint statement:

Canada

Trump met with Justin Trudeau on Monday, February 13. This was a day trip.

Time reported:

The neighboring leaders, polar opposites in nearly every way, took up the thorny subjects of trade and immigration, with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.

At a joint press conference after a series of meetings, the two emphasized their shared goals. Trump pledged to work with Canada “in pursuit of our many shared interests.” Trudeau spoke of a special bond and the “deep abiding respect” between the two countries, though he also said that “relationships between neighbors are pretty complex.”

While the two leaders stressed shared interests, their contrasting views were also on display. Responding to questions from reporters, Trump defended his refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in.” Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness.”

Trudeau later noted that there have been times when the two countries “have differed in our approaches.” But he said “the last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”

Trudeau gave the president a photo. It was of Trump and Justin’s father, the late Pierre Trudeau, also a prime minister of Canada.

Trudeau also met legislators at Capitol Hill.

Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at the White House on Thursday, February 16.

This is their formal welcome to the White House, followed by friendly conversation — they met at Trump’s residence in Trump Tower after the election — and the official photo op:

This short video from Netanyahu’s Twitter encapsulates the highlights of the day:

Trump and Netanyahu held a joint press conference before their private meeting:

NPR has a transcript of the press conference. Topics included the usual concerns, primarily peace in Israel and in the Middle East:

While the two leaders met, their wives went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. This was apposite as February is Black History Month in the United States. Museum guides provided the two ladies with assistance in viewing important exhibits and interactive displays:

Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu was a sharp and welcome departure from the Israeli’s meeting with Obama in 2014. The Atlantic detailed the breakdown in the relationship, with one White House staffer calling Netanyahu a particularly vulgar word denoting a coward.

For that Obama staffer, if this is what a coward looks like, then I’m the pope. This is Bibi as a young man (courtesy of The_Donald):

As you can see below, Trump picked up on that at the time. Here’s a comparison between Obama and Netanyahu:

Here’s another:

Now back to the 2017 visit. The Daily Mail has a complete rundown, including photos, of the Netanyahu visit to Washington.

Melania Trump’s white suit is a Karl Lagerfeld creation.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, thought to be a prime mover in strengthening US-Israeli relations, attended the press conference. The Kushners also know the Netanyahus well.

That evening, the Trumps co-hosted a dinner for the Netanyahus. Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) and his wife Jeanette were the other co-hosts.

Joel Pollak wrote a good article on Breitbart, detailing five ways in which this visit will improve relations between the US and Israel, not to mention the Middle East with regard to terror.

In closing, this was the fourth state visit Trump has hosted within the past three weeks.

I am not sure when we had such great presidential optics online. Despite all the slings and arrows the new president continues to take, this one best sums up his inner serenity. From the Abe visit to Mar-A-Lago (note Mike Flynn standing in front of the statue):

The Trump meetings have terrific photos and videos. Long may they continue.

Pat Condell — a British atheist — asks why the West is so tolerant of the Palestinians. Why do we give them so much monetary aid and verbal cover when they are determined to destroy Israel?

Condell condends that Israel is the only buffer between civilisation and radical Islam.

This is a short film and, as always, Condell speaks his mind concisely and eloquently, yet politely:

Leftist Protestants, please take note.

Two stories today about our green and sceptred isle.

The first comes from Cranmer.  Two schools near Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire — home to the potteries — have decided to dispense with free New Testaments with Psalms from the Gideons.  What makes this even worse is that one of them is named after a clergyman: Abbot Beyne.

Wikipedia has this entry:

Abbot Beyne School began as a grammar school endowed by Abbot William George Arthur Beyne Jr. in the early 16th century, functioning by 1531. The boys’ grammar school moved to Winshill in 1957. It was administered by the County Borough of Burton upon Trent, known as The Grammar School with about 600 boys. The girls’ high school opened in 1928. From April 1974 it was administered by Staffordshire County Council …

In 1975 the school was merged with the Winshill Girls’ High School[1] and Ada Chadwick Secondary Modern School to become Abbot Beyne mixed Comprehensive School on Mill Hill Lane

Abbot Beyne boasts an array of sporting facilities, including; two gymnasiums, rugby pitches, two athletic tracks, two football pitches and numerous tennis courts.

It gets GCSE and A-level results above the England average, with the A-level results being slightly better than the GCSE results.

Okay, so we discover the kids can read and add up.  And who needs Holy Scripture when you’re into sport?  It’s, like, so much cooler.

The other school is Paget High School, located in Branston:

There are two schools in Branston, Rykneld Primary School and Paget High School.

Also a major part of Branston these days is the Centrum 100 Retail/Business Park, home to business such as Punch Taverns, Currys, McDonalds and shops like Morrisons and the Bannatyne Health Club.

Branston was the original home of Branston Pickle, before production moved to Bury St. Edmunds in 2004.

The parish church in Branston is St Saviour’s, part of the Diocese of Lichfield.

The name Branston is Old English and means an estate belonging to a man called Brant, a personal name of Scandinavian origin. The medieval village stood near the river, its position decided by its proximity to a ford.

In 942 King Edmund granted an estate at Branston to Wulfsige the Black, possibly an ancestor of Wulfric Spot, the founder of Burton Abbey, and in 1066 it was held by Godgifu (Lady Godiva), the widow of Leofric, Earl of Mercia.

I like the way Branston’s entry talks about banal shop and hospitality chains before actually getting to the town’s history, which is far more interesting. (Note to self: research Wulfric Spot.)  Perhaps that tells us something about the local mindset.  If so, more’s the pity.

Cranmer takes up the story (emphases mine):

It transpires that the head teachers of the Abbot Beyne School and Paget High School near Burton On Trent in Staffordshire have decided that the dispensing of God’s Word ‘may spark complaints from different faiths’. They have, of course, received none: once again, we have the over-zealous, politically-correct invocation of multicultural sensitivities intervening to prevent a distinctly remote possibility if not a highly unlikely probability.

Maggie Tate, deputy head teacher of Abbot Beyne, said: “The reason we stopped the Gideons coming in is that we are a comprehensive multi-faith school. We felt it was inappropriate to allow one faith group to distribute material in school.”

Cranmer responds:

Well, Ms Tate, His Grace has got a bit of news for you. This is not the United States of America: we have an Established Church. It is insufficient for you to be giving ‘moral-themed assemblies’ and your boast that your school has ‘the highest proportion of pupils in Staffordshire sitting GCSEs in religious education’ is irrelevant. The law (Educations Acts of 1944, 1988 and 2006) requires you hold a daily act of collective worship which is ‘broadly Christian’. While ‘moral-themed’ may indeed constitute that which is ‘broadly Christian’, your prohibitive edict on the Gideons suggests that your understanding of the law as it relates to Religious Education is flawed. You are required by statute to give primacy to the Christian faith in order ‘to reflect the history, traditions and majority make-up of the country’ (Education Acts of 1988, 1996 and 1998). By banning the free distribution of the New Testament, and by censoring the gospel message of the Gideons, your contempt for the history, traditions and majority make-up of the country is manifest.

As for Paget:

Don Smith, the head teacher of Paget High School, said: “As a non-denominational school we do not allow any religious groups to come in and give out literature. If we allowed the Gideons into school then we would have to allow other groups too. While we teach pupils about different religions, we do not want people coming in to the school and pushing their own religious views.

Wow — ‘pushing their own religious views’.  That from a head teacher (equivalent of a principal).

Cranmer points out:

no other religion is known for distributing free text books en masse to the nation’s schoolchildren … But what would it matter if other groups did bring in free literature? Why can’t such books and pamphlets constitute resources in the nation’s impoverished RE departments? Why can’t they be used to stimulate discussion and critical debate? Why not let the students ridicule, criticise, reflect, consider and decide for themselves what they want to send to Room 101, instead of instituting a draconian blanket ban upon everyone?

Agreed.  He adds:

But it’s perfectly in order for him to forge a ‘multicultural’ ethos and inculcate his staff to induct children into his personal spiritual worldview, despite the doctrine of state multiculturalism having been criticised by the Chairman of the Equalities Commission and condemned by the Prime Minister.

It is in the nation’s schools that the real battle is being waged for the nation’s soul. Our future depends upon our children. We cannot leave them entirely to secular-minded head teachers and left-leaning teachers, and neither can we devolve entirely control over the curriculum. There is a tension here, but the Church of England’s via media lights the way.

And long may it continue to do so.

The next story is from Israel Matzav about the Ahava cosmetics shop in Covent Garden.  Carl in Jerusalem writes:

Pro-‘Palestinian’ thugs have forced the Ahava cosmetics store to move out of London’s swanky Covent Garden neighborhood.

The owner of the shop, currently in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, is looking for other sites after owners of neighbouring stores complained to the landlord following protests.

A spokeswoman for Shaftesbury PLC, which owns the property as well as several others in the Seven Dials area, said: “When Ahava’s lease expires in September, we will not offer them a new one” …

Last week, four demonstrators stood trial for aggravated trespass after they chained themselves to a concrete block inside the store last year.

Colin George, manager of clothes shop The Loft, next door to Ahava, said: “I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. I’ve complained to the landlords, as has everyone here. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.

“Protesters are just going to follow them around, wherever they go. Maybe they should be an online business instead.”

Wow.  I bet if Ahava were affiliated with another world faith, Mr George would not have been so cavalier.  If this were so upsetting, why didn’t the other shopkeepers and the landlord confront all the protesters and ask them to leave?  No, it’s much easier to carp about Israel and how awful businesses who trade with the country are.  Pathetic.

I hope that Ahava find new and equally well-situated premises soon.

The common catalysts for stories like this are generally leftists.  See for yourself — if you haven’t already — as you read similar stories.

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