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Obama: America’s Mideast focus is on Iran, peace talks

In an address to the United Nations, President Obama said U.S. focus in the Middle East will keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace.


The two issues “have been a major source of instability for far too long,” Obama said Monday at the world body’s General Assembly in New York.

He expressed openness to engaging with Iran in the wake of such calls by its newly elected president, Hassan Rohani, but also emphasized in unusually explicit terms that the United States was ready to use military force to defend its interests and allies in the Middle East.

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“The United States of America is willing to use all elements of our power, including the use of military force, to ensure our foreign interests in the region,” he said.

“When it is necessary to defend the United States against terrorist attacks, we will take direct action,” Obama said. “We will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction.”


Obama said Israelis had a right to live peacefully in the region and with the recognition of member U.N. states, including Arab nations, but cautioned that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was corrosive.

 

Italian cyclist recognized  as righteous gentile

Yad Vashem posthumously has recognized the Italian cycling champion Gino Bartali as Righteous Among the Nations.

The Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem said in a statement Monday that during the German occupation of Italy beginning in September 1943, “Bartali, a devout Catholic, was part of a rescue network spearheaded by Rabbi Nathan Cassuto of Florence together with the Archbishop of Florence Cardinal Elia Angelo Dalla Costa,” who has been recognized as a righteous gentile.

The Jewish-Christian network, Yad Vashem said, “saved hundreds of local Jews and Jewish refugees from territories which had previously been under Italian control, mostly in France and Yugoslavia.”

Bartali, who died in 2000 at 85, had acted as a courier for the network, according to Yad Vashem, “secreting forged documents and papers in his bicycle and transporting them between cities, all under the guise of training.”

It added, “Knowingly risking his life to rescue Jews, Bartali transferred falsified documents to various contacts, among them Rabbi Cassuto.”

—JTA News and Features

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