The U.S. ambassador to Israel was astounded when he peered into a tunnel for terrorists dug from the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip into the Jewish state.
"Even though I have seen the photos of the tunnel in the [news]papers, the truth is I was shocked by what I saw," Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro told reporters.
Mr. Shapiro toured the tunnel last week with Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, commander of the Gaza Division of the Israel Defense Forces. Israeli soldiers discovered the milelong tunnel, which was booby-trapped, on Oct 7.
"It is clear that this tunnel has only one purpose: to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, Mr. Shapiro said.
"The U.S. condemns terrorist tunnels, supports Israel's right and ability to self-defense and is focused on advancing negotiations for peace."
The United States is trying to broker peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank. But the Gaza Strip is controlled by the terrorist group, Hamas, which has vowed to destroy Israel.
Irish-Americans, even those who voted for President Obama, are angry with the president for failing to appoint an ambassador to Ireland nearly a year after the previous U.S. envoy left Dublin. Some even feel betrayed.
"This is an insult to those many Irish-Americans who were so much in support of Barack Obama and now have every reason to feel betrayed," Brian O'Dwyer, head of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, complained to IrishCentral.com.
Mr. O'Dwyer, a prominent New York lawyer, added that the lack of an ambassador to Ireland is an "absolute disgrace."
Mr. Obama's failure to even nominated an envoy to replace former Ambassador Dan Rooney shows "total disrespect" to Irish-Americans.
Mr. Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, resigned as ambassador in December.
Stella O'Leary, president of the Washington-based Irish American Democrats, noted that the Senate confirmation process could take until March if a nominee were named today.
"It's very puzzling that we do not have an ambassador. There is no shortage of qualified Irish-Americans for the job," she said.
Bill Daley, a former White House chief of staff, and Mark H. Tuohey, a Washington lawyer, have been mentioned as possible nominees.
CHRISTIAN ENVOY QUITS
Politically active Christians are urging President Obama to name a tough-minded envoy to replace the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, who reportedly resigned last week as U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
Many activists have complained that Mrs. Cook was ineffective, especially as Christians throughout the Middle East suffered from increased discrimination.
Mark Silk, professor of religious studies at Trinity College, complained that her "only discernible qualification for the job was founding an organization for female faith leaders from around the world."
"What she had was the right political connections," he added on his Spiritual Politics blog.
Mrs. Cook, a former pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York, founded the Wisdom Women Worldwide Center to promote female Christian leaders. She was the first woman and first black to hold the position.
Mrs. Cook, who was appointed in June 2010, stepped down last week, according to the Religion News Service.
Her resignation "provides a dramatic opportunity for the Obama administration to adopt an aggressive, effective strategy of advancing religious freedom abroad," Thomas Farr, a former State Department religious freedom officer, told the Christianity Today news site.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @EmbassyRow.
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