May 4, 2012 - 1:48 pm
With the arrival of Jodi Rudoren as correspondent, New York Times coverage of Israel and related issues has now gone to a new level of ridiculous bias, especially after a predecessor who really did try to be fair.
What is most impressive about Rudoren’s record so far is that there is no attempt to give the faintest appearance of balance. She probably doesn’t understand what that concept means. And she certainly knows that the editors and ombudsman won’t hold her accountable.
We in Israel have grown used to media prejudice and, given our low expectations, probably accept more of it without complaint than anyone else in the world.
Yet the following lead was the absolute last straw for me, in an article titled “Palestinians Go Hungry to Make Their Voices Heard“:
The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons.
This is not news coverage but revolutionary romanticism. And consider the implications:
– The article does not tell us that they are in prison for a reason. These are overwhelmingly people who have murdered or tried to murder civilians during a period, by the way, when their supposed governmental representative, the Palestinian Authority, was not at war with Israel.
– They were in fact “burly young men…wielding automatic weapons” when thrown into prison after trials. Most of them admit — indeed brag about — their crimes and make it clear that they would continue such deeds if released.
– Consequently, these people are not heroes to Palestinians, a macho society generally, because they are pitiful, gaunt, and starving but because they were heroes of an armed struggle defined in genocidal terms.
– The Palestinian Authority and Hamas hold these people as role models to young people so that they will be inspired to grow up to kill more Israelis.
– “Gaunt adults, wrists in chains” seems pulled from the nineteenth century novels of Victor Hugo.
– Remember, these are the people still in prison because of the bloodiness of their crimes after Israel has released hundreds of others in prisoner exchanges or amnesties designed to indicate good will and promote negotiations. They are still in jail not out of cruelty or even out of a sense of justice and self-defense, but because they generally are the most merciless in deliberately slaying those who are weak and helpless.
– The author’s goal is to make readers say, “Those horrible Israelis are so mean and repressive, mistreating those poor people! We must do something!” And it is to make Jewish readers say, “We must distance ourselves from this evil country (or government) that so betrays basic Jewish principles of mercy and justice.” The former call for pressuring Israel in order to hurt it; the latter urge pressuring Israel for its own good and talk about a crisis of Zionism in producing such a terrible system.
In other words, this is not a news article but a work of political propaganda that could have been produced by a Palestinian public relations firm or an American Jewish group that acts as a Palestinian public relations firm. The purpose of this article is not to report or explain what is happening but to elicit sympathy and support for — shall I say it? well, it happens to be true — terrorist murderers or would-be murderers who were foiled despite their best efforts.
Let me again add that there is nothing “liberal” or “conservative” about these facts. Nothing at all. Pretending otherwise is another propagandistic thought-control effort to get people to deny reality in the guise of opposing horrible right-wingers. It comes from the type of people who can ignore the persecution of Christians in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, and other places in the Middle East while fabricating and highlighting claims that Israel is making Palestinian Christians flee.
Recently the Columbia Journalism Review, a publication I revered in my youth, published an article claiming that Israel had more journalists in prison per size of population than any other country in the world. This was totally false and the name of no actual journalist imprisoned was mentioned because there are none. Meanwhile, next door, the world has ignored the Palestinian Authority’s public campaign of suppressing and arresting journalists.
To its credit, after considerable criticism, the Columbia Journalism Review apologized for the article and criticized it. And do you know who wrote that cogent response? An editor who had experienced real repression of journalism in the home country, Iran.
At times we seem to be living in the updated version of Ignazio Silone’s remark, “The final conflict will be between the Communists and the ex-Communists.” All too often, we cannot depend on Western-trained intellectuals in positions of power who either buy into leftist ideology or tremble in fear of being called racists or Islamophobes. This highlights the importance of dissident Muslims and refugees from Middle Eastern tyrannies who have some immunity on those two points. Unfortunately, of course, they are outnumbered by the apologists and the conscious radicals sowing disinformation.
As for the Western world itself today, there seem to be two remaining groups: those who believe whatever they are fed in this manner and those who are so disgusted by such crimes against proper and honorable journalism that they respond by cancelling their subscriptions.
Though Mr. Obama now takes credit for sanctions, his Administration fought Congress tooth-and-nail on sanctioning Iran's central bank. The President only reluctantly signed the sanctions into law as part of a larger defense bill. His aides also worked to stop legislation to cut off Iran from making financial transactions via the Swift banking consortium.
As for military strikes, senior Administration officials have repeatedly sounded as if their top priority is deterring Israel, rather than stopping Iran from getting a bomb.
As recently as November, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said a military strike would have "unintended consequences" and wouldn't necessarily result in "deterring Iran from what they want to do." In the last two weeks, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said an Israeli strike would be "destabilizing," while Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that the Iranians haven't decided to build a bomb. Little wonder the Israelis are nervous about U.S. resolve.
It's welcome news if Mr. Obama is now trying to put those fears to rest, but he is also more outspoken than ever in trying to avert Israel from acting on its own. "Do we want a distraction in which Iran can portray itself as a victim, and deflect attention from what has to be the core issue, which is their pursuit of nuclear weapons?" Mr. Obama told Mr. Goldberg—the "distraction" here meaning an Israeli attack.
If the President's contention is that an Israeli strike would be less effective and have more unpredictable consequences than an American strike, he's right—and few Israelis would disagree. Israelis don't have the same military resources as the U.S.
The question Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli leaders have to ponder is whether Mr. Obama now means what he says. The President has built up an immense trust deficit with Israel that can't be easily dispensed in a week. All the more so when Israelis know that this is an election year when Mr. Obama needs to appear more pro-Israel than he would if he is re-elected.
It's good to hear Mr. Obama finally sounding serious about stopping a nuclear Iran. But if he now finds himself pleading with Israel not to take matters in its own hands, he should know his Administration's vacillation and mixed signals have done much to force Jerusalem's hand. More fundamentally, a President who says he doesn't "bluff" had better be prepared to act if his bluff is called.
Another NPR Hit Piece on Israel - Ira Stoll
National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on the NPR website Thursday included the lead story: "In Israel, No Welcome Mat for African Migrants," accusing Israel of being inhospitable to refugees. There's no mention of Israel's welcoming 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union or tens of thousands of Jews from Ethiopia, which, last I checked, was in Africa. Nor is there any mention of whether any other countries are laying out welcome mats for refugees. It seems likely that the NPR piece is afflicted by a certain confusion between a "refugee" and an "illegal immigrant." One could argue that holding Israel to a higher standard of behavior represents a certain sort of philo-Semitism, but from National Public Radio I'd settle for mere accuracy. (Commentary)
Israeli Forest Fire Singes Washington Post Feature
A Dec. 27 Washington Post feature by Joel Greenberg on Israel's worst forest fire says, apropos of nothing, that "Jewish National Fund forests, some planted over the ruins of Palestinian villages emptied during Israel's war of independence, became popular picnic and recreation areas." In "Storm Socks East Coast" in the same edition, the Post did not write "flights were grounded at airports from the Carolinas to Boston, land largely emptied of its native American Indian population even before the U.S. War of Independence." The latter would be read instantly as irrelevant editorializing in a news story. What accounts for the former?
As for "Palestinian villages," early in the 20th century the term "Palestinian" applied usually to the Jews of that part of the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, it typically meant a Jewish inhabitant of British Mandatory Palestine. Arabs often shunned it as a synonym for Zionist, sometimes describing themselves as residents of greater Syria. And what portion - probably quite small - of JNF forests were planted over war-ruined Arab villages? How many of those villages were relatively new, built by Arabs attracted by Jewish economic development? Most of all, would any of them have been destroyed had not the Arabs rejected the UN's 1947 partition plan and started a war they lost? (CAMERA)Continuing media bias
Obama's Middle East policy collapses
By Jennifer Rubin
If President Obama's press conference meltdown were not enough for one day, reports now indicate that the U.S. has given up on trying to bribe induce Israel to resume a freeze on West Bank settlements. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu merely asked for the deal in writing. Alas, did the White House not support Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and negotiator George Mitchell's proposal to give Israel 20 F-35 fighters, veto future anti-Israel U.N. Security resolutions and provide additional security guarantees? That's one logical conclusion that could be drawn from this Associated Press report:
The Obama administration has abandoned attempts to convince Israel to slow West Bank settlement activity, dropping a demand that had been considered key to getting the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks, officials said Tuesday.
After months of trying to broker a formula under which Israel would put a new freeze in place in return for U.S. incentives, two American officials said the administration had concluded their efforts were not the best way to relaunch negotiations. Talks stalled in September, barely a month after they started.
Obama staked a huge amount of political capital on brokering a Middle East peace deal. But as Rep. Peter King (D-N.Y.), a consistent advocate for Israel, told me today, when it came to the settlements, "the president made more of an issue than it originally was. He created a problem both for the Israelis and Palestinians." The problem was so big, it could not be resolved.
Where does the administration go from here? If Obama were riding high, he might revive the idea of an American-imposed peace deal -- an idea floated and then reeled in earlier this year under a firestorm of opposition from supporters of Israel. But the president is without domestic support on much of anything these days so such a gambit seems all but impossible now. The failure of a prime foreign policy objective is quite simply an enormous defeat for the administration at the worst possible time.
Has the Obama Administration Failed Again?: No Freeze, No Talks, No Competence
By Barry Rubin
December 1, 2010
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While the outcome still isn't clear, it seems that a new example of failure and humiliation is unfolding for the Obama Administration's Middle East policy.
It appears increasingly unlikely that the president's high-profile effort to restart Israel-Palestinian talks will succeed during the remainder of 2010 or even well beyond that time.
This Administration has had a very clear idea of what it wanted to achieve:
1. A comprehensive Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli peace.
2. Getting rid of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the belief that this will reduce terrorism and strengthen US power in region and US interests.
3. Getting rid of the conflict to get Arab support on Iraq, Iran, and Aghanistan.
The embarrassment is taking place due to faulty assumptions about these goals and how to achieve them:
--That a high-profile effort would serve U.S. interests. By showing American engagement on the issue, the Administration thought it would please Arab and Muslim-majority countries so as to gain their support on other issues. This didn't work.
--That, at best, a high-profile campaign would be likely to succeed in bringing rapid progress toward comprehensive peace. That obviously isn't working.
--That , at minimum, they could at least get the two sides to sit down to pretend talks where nothing actually happened but at least it could be portrayed as a diplomatic achievement. Even that isn't working and that's really embarrassing.
Part of the problem is due to the Administration's additional wrong assumption that the Palestinians are eager to negotiate and get a state plus the belief that the current Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership could deliver a deal. In fact, both of these ideas are wrong, too. The PA leadership can't--and doesn't want to--deliver even on holding talks that go nowhere.
Most of the Palestinian leadership and the masses, too, are still locked into the belief that a combination of struggle and intransigence will bring them total victory some day in wiping Israel off the map. And even though they are more moderate than this, neither "President" Mahmoud Abbas nor Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are strong or determined enough even to attempt to change that orientation.
Another part of the problem is the Administration's mistaken view that it could pressure or bribe Israel and the PA into doing what it wants. Yet since neither side has faith in the Obama Administration, both know that it's weak, and Israel has seen that Washington doesn't keep commitments, their incentive for cooperation is reduced. In the PA's case at least, the United States doesn't even put on any pressure or criticism. In Israel's case the Administration has not put on the level of pressure that its more extreme officials (and outside supporters) would like to see, though that wouldn't work either.
But even that's not all. There's every indication that the Administration has incompetently handled the actual negotiations about holding negotiationsy. It focused on getting Israeli concessions without firming up the PA side, thus allowing the PA to demand more. The offer to Israel was presented in a confused manner and it still isn't clear what precisely is to be given in exchange for a three-month construction freeze.
Moreover, part of the package that led people to say that it was so "generous" that Israel was being "bribed" seems to consist of things that the United States has always provided, like support in the UN or maintaining Israel's strategic advantage over its enemies.
The whole thing has turned into a mess and this isn't the first time that's happened in Obama policy on the issue. To cite just four examples, there was:
--The raising of the construction freeze idea in the first place;
--The position that promises made by the Bush Administration would not be fulfilled by his successor;
--Praising Israel for a construction freeze that didn't include Jerusalem and then screaming when Israel fulfilled the agreed conditions;
--And announcing last year that intensive Israel-PA negotiations would begin in two months when no such agreement had been made by the PA.
Yet even that's not all. Why did the administration seek a three-month freeze (originally a two-month freeze) at all? What was the purpose of this clearly useless goal? After all, even if the Administration obtained the freeze there would only have been twelve weeks of stagnant conversation-purchased by the United States at a high price-followed by the break-down of the talks. As an election ploy the idea at least made sense but if that was the motive the whole frantic exercise is now useless.
So far the Obama Administration has achieved a remarkable record of failure on this issue. It is, of course, understandable that the U.S. government was unable to solve the long-standing conflict--though making over-optimistic claims over what might be achieved was a self-inflicted wound--but it actually succeeding in moving the diplomatic process backwards.
Has the Obama done much harm regarding Israel-Palestinian issues? Directly, not so much since there was never much chance for dramatic progress. Yet for the Obama Administration's own reputation and credibility in the region this has been disastrous. Finally and worst of all, it isn't clear that the current government has learned anything from the experience.
The above article could be taken as a highly critical bashing of the Obama Administration. But the sad thing is that it is totally accurate albeit not--in order to save time and to promote clarity--cloaked in bland language.
Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy
By Joshua Mitnick
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The latest "document dump" is a coup for Jewish State, giving proof that her Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies, share concerns
JEL AVIV — (TCSM) Wikileaks' publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations.
But instead, Wikileaks' release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.
"I don't see any damage. Quite the opposite,'' said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. "Maybe there's an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.''
CANDID ASSESSMENTS FROM ARAB STATES
Analysts and officials pointed to candid assessments from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that Iran posed the biggest strategic threat to regional stability. The assessments even stressed the need for considering conventional attacks on Tehran before its nuclear program becomes operational. Other officials pointed to a US diplomatic report in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is compared to Adolf Hitler.
The revelation of regional support for Israel's hard-line approach to Iran was seen as such a boon that Sever Plocker, a columnist for the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper, quipped, "If the WikiLeaks site did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.''
"The massive leak of American diplomatic telegrams indicates a single picture, sharp and clear," he added. "The entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.''
New details about Israel's Iran strategy and relations with Arab neighbors — such as Mossad chief Meir Dagan's plan for regime change in Iran, and repeated Israeli warnings about Tehran's looming nuclear weapons program — were played down by analysts and officials as unsurprising.
CABLES COULD WEAKEN US — AND THUS ISRAEL
But beyond the momentary public relations dividend, one Israeli veteran of diplomacy said the widespread fear of Iran among America's Arab allies does not bode well for the Obama administration's foreign policy — particularly its efforts to engage Iran diplomatically.
"When Obama decided on negotiating with Iran, he was doing exactly the opposite of what the American allies are thinking,'' says Shlomo Avineri, a political science professor at Hebrew University and a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Obama has made all of his friends nervous, and the Iranians are spitting in his face."
Other observers said the publication of classified US communiques weakens the international standing of Israel's most important ally — a trend that could hamper Arab-Israeli peace mediation efforts and ultimately weaken Israel, which relies heavily on the diplomatic and military weight of the United States.
"The superpower looks weakened,'' says Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "The fact that the US doesn't look good especially in the Middle East … lowers the chances for Israel to become an integral part of the region.'
Mon, Nov 22, 2010 15 Kislev, 5771
»Jerusalem Post Editors Notes: Didn’t we use to be on the same side?
By DAVID HOROVITZ
Before we can even get to grips with the complexities of dealing with the Palestinians, we find ourselves head-to-head with Washington.
Earlier this month, in an op-ed for The New York Times marking the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, former US president Bill Clinton told the tie story. Again. The story, often repeated, that shows a Rabin so focused on the important things of life, so “utterly without pretense” as Clinton put it, that he never quite came to terms with this merely decorative article of clothing.
“True to form, two weeks before his assassination,” Clinton wrote of Rabin, “he arrived in Washington at a black-tie event without the black tie. We borrowed one for him, and I still smile whenever I think about straightening it for him...”
The affection with which he retells the tie story is emblematic of Clinton’s tone in all of his writings and musings on Rabin. The president quite plainly adored our late prime minister – admired him, respected him, empathized with him, regarded him as a role model. As he wrote in the Times, loved him.
There is nothing comparably affectionate in George W. Bush’s new memoir about Ariel Sharon – the prime minister with whom Clinton’s presidential successor worked for crucial periods. But there is evidence of respect, admiration and a meeting of minds.
Bush recalls his first visit to Israel in 1998, and the helicopter tour he took with Sharon – “a bull of a man... who had served in all of Israel’s wars.” Sharon’s proud, “gruff” airborne commentary that day, his familiarity with “every inch of the land,” his observation that “Here our country was only nine miles wide,” undoubtedly shaped some of the then-Texas governor’s fundamental thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tour with Sharon, which constituted his “most striking memory” of that debut trip to the Holy Land, left Bush, as he writes, “struck by Israel’s vulnerability in a hostile neighborhood.”
Tellingly, too, Bush notes, it is with Sharon he speaks by telephone immediately before his first post-September 11 cabinet meeting – “a leader who understood what it meant to fight terror.”
Recognizing the personal and professional dimensions of these relationships between recent American presidents and Israeli prime ministers serves, bitterly, to underline how strikingly the climate – and, one fears, the essence – of our bilateral ties has chilled of late. The Clinton-Rabin alliance and, albeit to a much lesser personal extent, the Bush-Sharon interaction, were true partnerships in which all manner of fundamental shared values and interests were safely assumed, and served as the basis from which heartfelt mutual concern and commitment flowed. These were leadership pairings of profound trust, and of profound benefit to both countries.
Today, there is little echo of these personal meetings of minds to be found in the relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The notion that they loathe each other is almost certainly incorrect. For a start, loathing would require a passion it is unlikely either can muster for the other.
A more reasonable assessment is that, on a personal level, they get along okay, without any of the particular respect, admiration, never mind love, of the Clinton- Rabin team.
Much more troubling, however, is the growing sense in these past few weeks that the shared interests and values that constituted the basis for those earlier, heartfelt personal relationships is crumbling. As our two leaderships have haggled (and that, unfortunately, is the only word for it) over the terms of a new settlement freeze, our alliance seems to be shriveling into a cold, adversarial contest.
In the past, guiding the American-Israel approach to peacemaking with the Palestinians was a wealth of shared goodwill and historical precedent. We were partners, trying together to find the balance of carrots and sticks, to perfect the framework, that would finally draw the immensely, sometimes violently reluctant Palestinians into reducing their maximalist demands to viable terms we all could live with.
US-Israel relations were not an uninterrupted love fest down the decades. The Clinton- Rabin connection was exceptional. Some of the leadership pairings really did take a strong dislike to each other. There were always arguments and disagreements and stark policy differences.
But implicit in the partnership, underpinning it, was recognition of the fact that the Jewish state was revived in 1948 because its leadership unhappily accepted a partition of British Mandatory Palestine that left the most resonant places in Jewish history outside our sovereign borders, while an intended Arab entity was not established because the Arab leaderships preferred to try and strangle Israel. Implicit, too, was the fact that Israel, the world’s only Jewish state and the region’s only democracy, had been forced to fight war after war for its survival in the face of implacable enemies bent on its destruction, to endure unprecedented terrorist onslaughts, and to overcome relentless attempts at economic boycott and diplomatic sanction.
It was recognized that the territory Israel’s critics now asserted lay at the heart of the conflict – territory to which Israel has an incontrovertible historic claim, and which Israel captured when forced into war – was not even held by Israel between 1948 and 1967. Rather, that very territory was the launching point of Arab efforts to destroy the country.
Also implicit in the partnership was the awareness that, while some Israeli governments are more reluctant than others to trade land for peace, no Israeli government has balked at that equation when a credible, dependable Arab peace partner made an appearance. In fact, in recent years, all Israeli governments have shown a readiness to embrace that equation even when the ostensible Palestinian peace partner has fallen some distance short of credibility and dependability.
TODAY, THOUGH, that history, those fundamentals, that peacemaking context seem at risk of being forgotten.
Negotiating with the Palestinians has proven extraordinarily frustrating these past two decades – their leadership to date has been frequently disingenuous, often murderous and serially rejectionist. But we insist on trying afresh, because we need an accommodation to retain a Jewish, democratic Israel. We do not want to have to live by the sword. We nurture the faint hope that, along with its undoubted desire for statehood, the current Palestinian leadership can yet be persuaded of the virtues of reconciliation the benefits of a future, as Clinton put it in his Times op-ed, ³where cooperation triumphs over conflict."
But now, before we can even get to grips with the complexities of negotiating with the Palestinians, we find ourselves head-to-head with Washington, locked in tense negotiating sessions where previously we were often locked in step. Instead of working together to identify areas of leverage, pressure points and incentives for the Palestinians, we are looking for those same opportunities and vulnerabilities in each other.
Last Thursday in New York, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their respective advisory teams sat together for seven hours to try to find an agreed path toward resuming Israeli-Palestinian direct talks. The very fact of this marathon session, the news that our two sides had worked intensively for seven hours, was deemed by most analysts to be a good thing, evidence of substantive progress.
At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, what seems to have been overlooked here is that these were negotiations between Israel and the United States, not Israel and the Palestinians. These were negotiations, that is, between two parties that, until not very long ago, used to sit on the same side of the table - figuring out how best to entice the recalcitrant Palestinians toward peace. Now we are sitting across the table from each other. And the Palestinians, the people who used to be on the other side of the table, the people who walked out of the direct talks two months ago just as they have ultimately walked away from every serious Israeli peace offer are not even in the room. They are proceeding sedately toward statehood, with growing confidence that they can attain independence without the necessity of reconciliation.
MEANWHILE, FOR all the presumed wisdom of the various interlocutors, the ideas that are emerging from this alarming new Israel-American negotiating construct sound frankly ridiculous.
The "incentives" America is said to be offering Israel include the promise of a one-year US veto on Palestinian unilateralist actions toward statehood in the UN Security Council. Why on earth would that constitute an incentive? Why would the US, our partner, ever want to sanction a unilateral process that by definition resolves none of the core issues in dispute between us and the Palestinians?
Similarly, we are reportedly being promised various security guarantees that would reduce the military risk to Israel posed by a Palestinian state? Again, why would these be offered as an incentive, when surely it is a profound American interest that its sole dependable ally in this vicious region be secure?
Why, for that matter, would our prime minister be seeking to extract more and better such "incentives" to compel the administration into explicitly committing itself to all kinds of pledges and actions which, until now, we reasonably assumed would be forthcoming anyway should the need arise.
And why are these and other gifts, gestures, promises and guarantees being offered in the first place? In the service of an attempted 90-day freeze on settlement expansion, a second one-time-only freeze after the previous 10-month moratorium predictably failed to enable the finalizing of a peace accord. Does anybody honestly anticipate, after 17 years of Palestinian duplicity and evasion, that three months will yield a deal?
Worse, if nobody actually harbors any such expectation, and the ³best² we can hope for, as is being hinted, is major progress on just one core issue, that of the borders between Israel and "Palestine," why is that deemed potentially beneficial either? For surely, central to any viable accord is the refinement of the "land for peace" equation into the more specific "land for refugees" bargain.
If Israel is to ultimately partner the Palestinians to sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza, abandoning our hold on Judea and Samaria, then the Palestinians' side of the deal must be to abandon their demand for a "right of return" for their refugees and descendants to Israel. They will have to give up on the dream of overwhelming the Jewish state by weight of numbers, and belatedly integrate all their people into their new country, just as we integrated all of our scattered people into ours. A deal on borders alone would see Israel making its most wrenching concession, without the vital quid pro quo of the Palestinians making theirs.
IN A healthy American-Israel relationship, the type that plainly prevailed until not too long ago, the US would not have turned the settlement issue into what it has become, an appallingly counterproductive precondition for Palestinian consent to so much as talk to us. The US would have recognized that Israel has already dismantled the settlements in Gaza and a handful in northern Samaria, and has presented a series of peace proposals that would involve dismantling most of the settlements elsewhere in the West Bank.
In a healthy American-Israel relationship, the US would not have calculatedly inflated the unfortunate Ramat Shlomo dispute into a full-scale public bust up, complete with scorching denunciation of Israel by Hillary Clinton, who publicly described the dismally timed announcement of the building plans, during Vice President Biden's visit in March, as "insulting" and whose spokesman went so far as to declare in her name that it sent "a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship."
This public humbling of Israel told the Arab world that our alliance was far from the oft-asserted unshakeable and unbreakable, thus fueling our enemies' hopes that Israel can yet be fatally weakened, and it undermined Israelis' vital faith in the US as our ultra-dependable guarantor when we calculate the risks we dare take for peace.
In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, our prime minister would volunteer an open-ended freeze on the expansion of settlements outside those areas we anticipate retaining under a permanent accord. This would underline to the Palestinians and the international community Israel's genuine commitment to compromise and potentially ease the negotiating process. It would also demonstrate pragmatic self-interest. For why would the prime minister want to allocate further resources, and mislead more Israelis into making their homes, in areas where his declared support for Palestinian statehood will necessitate an eventual withdrawal?
In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, that freeze, freely offered, without demands for spurious "incentives," would be welcomed effusively by Washington, accurately presented as evidence of Israel¹s fierce imperative to reach an accommodation. It would be utilized to help ensure the US-supported and US-financed Palestinian leadership not only came to the negotiating table, but stayed there until it internalized its obligation to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state's existence and to champion conciliatory positions to its public.
As things stand, Palestinians are all too often imbibing, including via the PA's own media, an unmodified message of Israel as a nation born in sin, whose soldiers indiscriminately attack its people. Israel is depicted as a transient entity that is illegitimate within any borders, no matter how constricted. Our towns and cities are frequently misrepresented on PA television as Palestinian towns and cities. We are portrayed as a nation that, according to Na'aman Shahrour the guest speaker at this month's PA Ministry of Culture political conference in Tulkarm, held on the 93rd anniversary of the "cursed" Balfour Declaration was created so that Britain and Europe could be "rid of this burden called the Jews... even at the expense of a different nation." In such an atmosphere, no peace effort can take hold.
In a healthy American-Israeli relationship, finally, we would be working, on the same side of the table, to ensure that nothing distracted us from our critical joint focus on thwarting the would-be nuclear Iran. Here, too, it would worryingly seem, our red lines are being drawn in very different places.
Of all the dire potential consequences of our shifting partnership of the sorry drift since the days when an American president was working with an Israeli prime minister he loved, in a climate of instinctive cooperation there is none more dangerous than a dilution of the shared imperative to thwart Teheran's opportunistic, ruthless and genocidal regime.
Obama threatens israel's nuks from Jewishindy
By Moshe Dann
November 4, 2010
"I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal."
Pres. Barack Hussein Obama, June 4, 2009
As a policy statement, this means that America (or any other country) cannot deny the right of any country to WMD. It undercuts the reasons for America's attack in Iraq, assents to nuclear proliferation and precludes any action against Iran. It also turns the focus on Israel.
Amidst all of the distortions and inaccuracies of Pres Obama's speech in Cairo, this paragraph sends chills through Israel's intelligence community. His reference was not just to Iranian nuclear weapons, but "any nation" that has, or acquires them. That includes Israel.
Column One: The Scott Brown precedent and Israel
By CAROLINE B. GLICK
Israel must craft policies that maximize its advantage on Capitol Hill and minimize its vulnerability to the White House.
On Tuesday, US voters are set to repudiate President Barak Obama’s agenda for their country. Unfortunately, based on his behavior in the face of a similar repudiation last January, it is safe to assume that Obama will not abandon his course.
Last year, in an attempt to block Obama’s plan to nationalize healthcare, Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate. Brown was elected because he pledged to block Obamacare in the US Senate.
Rather than heed the voters’ message and abandon his plans, Obama abandoned the voters.
Instead of accepting his defeat, Obama changed the rules of the game and bypassed the Senate.
So it is safe to assume that for the next two years, Obama will do everything he can to bypass Congress and govern by executive orders and regulations. Although much can be done in this fashion, Congress’s control of the purse strings will check his domestic agenda.
In matters of foreign policy, however, Obama will be less burdened by – but not immune – to congressional oversight. We can therefore expect him to devote far more energy to foreign affairs in the next two years than he devoted in the last two years.
This bodes ill for Israel. Since entering office, Obama has shown that his primary foreign policy goal is to remake the US’s relationship with the Muslim world. He has also repeatedly demonstrated that compelling Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and empowering international institutions that seek to delegitimize Israel are his preferred means of advancing this goal.
To date, Obama’s demands on Israel have focused on blocking construction and delegitimizing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. And as far as he is concerned, Israel’s response to his demands to date has been unsatisfactory. In light of this, at a minimum we can expect that in the immediate aftermath of next Tuesday’s elections, Obama will deliberately provoke a new crisis in US relations with Israel over Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
But of course, this isn’t his only option. Indeed, he has nearly unlimited options for making life unpleasant for Israel. Obama doesn’t even have to be the one to provoke the next crisis. He can simply take advantage of crises that the Palestinians provoke.
THE PALESTINIANS are threatening to provoke two such crises in the next several months. First, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to ask the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines illegal and requiring the expulsion of the 450,000 Israeli Jews who live in them.
Second, the PA’s unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is threatening to declare independence without a treaty with Israel next summer.
Simply by not opposing these deeply aggressive initiatives against Israel, Obama can cause Israel enormous harm.
Other outlets for pressure include stepping up harassment of pro-Israel groups in the US, holding up the transfer of arms to Israel, pressing for the IDF to end its counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria, and expanding US financial and military support for the Palestinian army. All of these moves will doubtless be employed to varying degrees in the next two years.
This onslaught on Israel will be implemented against the backdrop of a dynamic regional strategic environment. The evolving threats that Israel faces include among other things, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal, and Iran’s takeover of Lebanon, Gaza and Syria. Israel also faces the likelihood that instability and fanaticism will engulf Egypt after President Hosni Mubarak dies and that Jordan will be destabilized after US forces vacate Iraq.
Over the next two years, Israel will be required to contend with these developing threats in profound ways. And over the next two years, all of Israel’s actions aimed at mitigating these threats will need to be taken with the certain knowledge that the country will be in and out of crises with the Obama administration throughout. Whatever military actions Israel will be required to take will have to be timed to coincide with lulls in Obama-provoked crises.
The one good thing about the challenge Obama presents to Israel is that it is a clear cut challenge. The Scott Brown precedent coupled with Obama’s track record on Israel demonstrate that Obama will not modify his anti-Israel agenda to align with political realities at home, and there is nothing that Israel can do that will neutralize Obama’s hostility.
By the same token, the massive support Israel enjoys among the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives is a significant resource. True, the Republicans will not enjoy the same power to check presidential power in foreign affairs as they will have in domestic policy. But their control over the House of Representatives will enable them to shape public perceptions of international affairs and mitigate administration pressure on Israel by opening up new outlets for discourse and defunding administration initiatives.
Against this backdrop, Israel must craft policies that maximize its advantage on Capitol Hill and minimize its vulnerability to the White House. Specifically, Israel should adopt three basic policy lines. First, Israel should request that US military assistance to the IDF be appropriated as part of the Defense Department’s budget instead of the State Department’s foreign aid budget where it is now allocated.
This change is important for two reasons. First, US military assistance to Israel is not welfare. Like US military assistance to South Korea, which is part of the Pentagon’s budget, US military assistance to Israel is a normal aspect of routine relations between the US and its strategic allies. Israel is one of the US’s most important strategic allies and it should be treated like the US’s other allies are treated and not placed in the same basket as impoverished states in Africa.
Second, this move is supported by the Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor, who will likely be elected Republican Majority Leader, has already stated his interest in moving military assistance to Israel to the Pentagon budget. The Republicans wish to move aid to Israel to the Pentagon’s budget because that assistance is the most popular item on the US foreign aid budget. Not wishing to harm Israel, Republicans have been forced to approve the foreign aid budget despite the fact that it includes aid to countries like Sudan and Yemen that they do not wish to support.
When the government announces its request, it should make clear that in light of Israel’s economic prosperity, Israel intends to end its receipt of military assistance from the US within five years (My Comment: I don’t agree with this). Given the Republicans’ commitment to fiscal responsibility, this is a politically sensible move. More importantly, it is a strategically critical move. Obama’s hostility demonstrates clearly that Israel must not be dependent on US resupply of military platforms in time of war.
The second policy direction Israel must adopt involves stepping up its efforts to discredit and check the Palestinian political war against it. Today the Palestinians are escalating their bid to delegitimize Israel by expanding their offensive against Israel in international organizations like the UN and the International Criminal Court and by expanding their operations in states like Britain that are hostile to Israel.
Israel must move aggressively to discredit all groups and individuals that participate in these actions, and cooperate with its allies who share its aim of weakening them. For instance, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to be elected chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been seeking to curtail US funding to UN organizations like UNRWA whose leaders support Hamas and whose organizational goal is Israel’s destruction.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers must lead the charge discrediting groups like UNRWA, the ICC and the UN Human Rights Council. Since the Obama administration seeks to empower all of these organizations, at a minimum, such an Israeli policy will embolden Obama’s political opponents to block his policies by curtailing US funding of these bodies.
The Palestinians’ threats to declare independence and define Israeli communities as illegal are clear attempts on their part to shape the post-peace process international landscape. Given their diplomatic strength and Israel’s diplomatic weakness, it is reasonable for the Palestinians to act as they are.
But two can play this game.
ISRAEL IS not without options. These options are rooted in its military control on the ground, Netanyahu’s political strength at home, and popular support for Israel in the US.
Israel should prepare its own unilateral actions aimed at shaping the post-Oslo international agenda. It should implement these actions the moment the Palestinians carry through on their threats. For instance, the day the UN Security Council votes on a resolution to declare Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and Israeli neighborhoods in Jerusalem illegal, Israel should announce it is applying Israeli law to either all of Judea and Samaria, or to the large Israeli population centers and to the Jordan Valley.
If properly timed and orchestrated, such a move by Israel could fundamentally reshape the international discourse on the Middle East in Israel’s favor. Certainly it will empower Israel’s allies in the US and throughout the world to rally to its side.
The challenge that Washington now poses to Israel is not unprecedented. Indeed for Netanyahu it is familiar.
During his first tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu faced a similar predicament with the Clinton administration. In October 1998, thenpresident Bill Clinton was about to be impeached. The Republicans stood poised to expand their control over the House of Representatives. Paralyzed domestically, Clinton turned to Israel. He placed enormous pressure on Netanyahu to agree to further land concessions to Yasser Arafat in Judea and Samaria. In what became the Wye Memorandum, Clinton forced Netanyahu to agree to massive concessions in exchange for which Clinton agreed to free Jonathan Pollard from prison.
At the time, Israel’s allies in Washington enjoined Netanyahu not to succumb to Clinton’s pressure. They argued that in his weakened state, Clinton had limited capacity to harm Netanyahu. Moreover, they warned that by caving to his pressure, Netanyahu would strengthen Clinton and guarantee that he would double down on Israel.
In the event, Netanyahu spurned Israel’s allies and bent to Clinton’s will. For his part, Clinton reneged on his pledge to release Pollard.
Netanyahu’s rightist coalition partners were appalled by his behavior. They bolted his coalition in protest and his government fell. Rather than stand by Netanyahu for his concessions, Clinton and the Israeli Left joined hands to defeat him in the 1999 elections.
The lesson Netanyahu learned from this experience was that he cannot trust the political Right to stand by him. While not unreasonable, this was not the main lesson from his experience. The larger point is that Netanyahu must not delude himself into believing that by falling into the arms of the Left he will win its support.
The post-election Obama administration will make the lives of Israel’s leaders unpleasant. But Netanyahu and his ministers are not powerless in the grip of circumstances. They have powerful allies and supporters in Washington and the confidence of the Israeli people. These are formidable assets.
Tablet Magazine is a project of Nextbook Inc.
Barack Obama courted American Jews as a candidate, but the relationship is on the rocks
By Pejman Yousefzadeh | Oct 26, 2010 7:00 AM
Even President Barack Obama’s fiercest detractors will admit that his term in office has been judged a consequential one. There is, of course, the landmark legislation that he has passed; a $787 billion stimulus package, health care reform, and financial services reform. There is the landmark legislation that he wants to get passed—including a cap-and-trade bill designed to combat global warming. In foreign policy, the president has made his mark, for better or worse, by having pulled some U.S. troops out of Iraq and setting a start date for the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
But presidencies are not judged on legislation alone. Obama’s status as the first African-American president will surely help shape his legacy. But an equally powerful, if less talked-about, aspect of what will be the historical judgment of the Obama presidency is his relationship with various American constituent groups—including American Jews. As a candidate, Barack Obama successfully courted much of the American Jewish community, in which concerns about the appearance of racism may have served to keep many American Jews in Obama’s camp. But upon becoming president—notwithstanding his success in garnering Jewish support—Obama undertook actions and implemented policies that run the risk of losing him significant Jewish support.
As a longtime resident of the Chicago area, and as a Jew, I have had the opportunity to see how Obama relates to the Jewish community here. My synagogue  is right across the street from the Obamas’ house, which helps in perceiving the nature of the president’s connection with the Jewish community. The president seems to feel close to our synagogue—or at the very least, he puts on a good show of feeling close to us. When my beloved rabbi—and a strong Obama backer —Arnold Jacob Wolf died, Obama sent a letter of condolence  to the synagogue. He did the same after the death of Leon Despres , the longtime dissident Chicago alderman during the reign of the first Richard Daley. During High Holiday services, our rabbi mentioned that she was recently on a conference call with the president, and with other Jewish religious leaders, in which the president spoke fondly of our congregation and of hearing the shofar emanating from our services while at his home. “Nice shout-out,” another conference call participant remarked to our rabbi, she told us.
Obama sought to win Jewish support for his political campaigns by joking that his name could have been “Baruch Obama,” a clever, if obvious, way to try to identify with the Jewish people. During the 2008 campaign, I saw any number of people with lapel buttons and yarmulkes with Barack Obama’s name spelled out in Hebrew. Rabbi Wolf’s enthusiastic support for Obama, and his strong standing in Chicago’s Jewish community, helped protect Obama from suspicion about his politics and policies in general and about his support for Israel in particular. All of this was essential in helping cement good and productive ties between Obama and American Jews.
Absent this political cover, there certainly was plenty in Obama’s record that might have caused American Jews to view him and his candidacy skeptically. There are, of course, various claims that Obama has been uncomfortably close (from a Jewish, pro-Zionist perspective) with figures  like Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi, and that his closeness to such figures said something negative about the level of Obama’s support for Israel. Whether these charges are fair or not is almost beside the point when contemplating the amount of damage that they might do to a political candidate in a city with a substantial and politically active Jewish population.
In addition to getting significant Jewish religious and political figures to vouch for him, Obama also sought, while plotting his political ascent, to back away from past positions and statements that would not be well-received by the Jewish community. Ali Abunimah , the Chicago-based founder of the Electronic Intifada , a website dedicated to advancing the political rights of Palestinians and detailing what it perceives to be Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, detailed  how Obama initially expressed strong sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people and deep aversion to Israeli policies toward the Palestinians but began to backtrack from his statements in 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois. “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race,” Abunimah says Obama told him when they saw each other while Obama was trying to capture the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat. Obama assured Abunimah that “when things calm down I can be more up front.” As Abunimah describes it, Obama was only doing what was necessary to ensure that he wouldn’t face electoral problems at the hands of a politically active American Jewish community.
Other actions on the part of the Obama campaign served to keep American Jews on board. Throughout the 2008 campaign, and indeed throughout the Obama presidency, there has been the not-so-subtle implication on the part of Obama supporters that a significant number of those who oppose the administration do so because they cannot stand the presence of an African-American president. We have seen the charge of racism regularly issued against members of the Tea Party movement, and while some in that movement have certainly expressed objectionable statements on the issue of race, it is unfair to ascribe those objectionable statements to the entire group, which seems to be mainly exercised by a more generalized anger about the failing economy. Nevertheless, supporters of the Obama Administration have shown little hesitation to accuse  detractors of racism , which causes constituent groups in American politics to carefully calibrate their actions in response. Since no one wants to be tarred as racist by a charismatic president who is a gifted orator, it makes sense to assume that opposition to the president and his administration might have been chilled in certain quarters, including among segments of the American Jewish community.
Having secured the support of American Jews in his quest for the White House—support that has traditionally been given to politicians from the Democratic party—the president went about implementing policies that seemed designed to lose that support as quickly as possible. Snubs great  and small  were dished out against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which served to needlessly alienate  the United States’ chief ally in the Middle East and damage America’s role as an honest broker in the Middle East peace process. While American and Israeli interests certainly diverge at times, and while friends must be prepared to speak fully and frankly with one another, the Obama Administration allowed its disputes with Israel to take on a public, melodramatic, soap-operaesque quality that did nothing to advance the cause of peace. While slamming Israel, the United States engaged in a renewal  of diplomatic ties with Syria—without any concessions on the part of the Syrian government, which is brutal toward its citizens and a consistent destabilizing force in the region.
It comes as no surprise that Democrats like Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a likely contender to lead the Senate Democrats if Harry Reid loses his re-election bid, has taken the White House to task  for its treatment of Israel, calling Obama’s Israel policy “counter-productive.” Schumer’s stance on this issue likely reflects the stance and beliefs of a great many American Jews in assessing the Obama Administration’s Mideast policy. While a significant case can be made that the administration’s policy concerning Israel and the Mideast peace process does not fundamentally differ from policies undertaken by past American administrations, the atmospherics of the administration’s actions appear to be causing a significant rift  with the American Jewish community.
The Obama Administration’s Iran policy does little to inspire confidence either. The administration does not appear to be willing or eager to use military force to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. To be sure, the Iranians have learned much from Israel’s 1982 attack on Iraq’s Osirak  nuclear power plant and have taken measures to prevent any military strike from halting, or even significantly slowing, their drive toward nuclear weapons, but the administration’s bark on the issue of Iran appears to be worse than its bite, which does little to reassure either Israel or American Jews with deep connections to Israel that an existential threat against the Jewish state is being effectively dealt with. Obama lauds as “unprecedented” the sanctions that his administration has sought to impose on Iran, but the Iranians are used to sanctions, and there is no evidence that economic pressure applied by America and its allies is doing anything to halt Iran’s effort to make itself a nuclear power.
The administration might have used the popular uprising against the Iranian government’s acts of electoral fraud in the country’s 2009 presidential elections, and the Iranian government’s subsequent and bloody violations of human rights, to push for the Iranian government’s ostracism in the international community, to pressure the Iranian government to reform and liberalize, to support the Iranian opposition movement, as many young Iranians called for, and to force significant concessions from the Iranian government as a price for helping Iran to once again be a member in good standing of the international community. Instead, Obama gave, at most, pro forma support to the Iranian opposition movement; issued, at most, pro forma condemnations of the actions of the Iranian government; and did nothing to isolate the Iranian regime or wring concessions from it in return for helping end the regime’s isolation.
The inability or unwillingness of the Obama Administration to forcefully speak out against instances of anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party should also be a cause for concern. The demagoguery of Democrats like Rep. James Moran, who has stated  that an “extraordinarily powerful” pro-Israel lobby—with “the strong support of the Jewish community”—was responsible for causing the United States to go to war with Iraq, is well known, but the Obama Administration has not decided to challenge him, or other Democrats like him, for seeking to profit politically from the popularization of anti-Semitic tropes. Nor has the administration taken on members of the liberal blogosphere for engaging in reflexive anti-Israel hatred  and general anti-Semitism and for potentially causing a serious rift between liberals and American Jews, a rift that would harm the president’s political prospects and the Democratic Party’s electoral future.
Some might say that a lone Congressman or a handful of lefty bloggers are beneath the attention of the president of the United States. But while no American president wants to engage in rhetorical overkill, there are disturbing trends developing within the base of the Democratic Party that ought to concern the president and certainly concern the American Jewish community. A shocking 2009 poll  revealed that 18.4 percent of Republicans blamed Jews for the recent financial crisis. That’s appalling enough, but even worse, the poll revealed that nearly a third of Democrats also blamed Jews for the near-collapse of the American economy. As the administrators of the poll wrote, this statistically significant difference was surprising “given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition.” It would be in the president’s interests to fight against anti-Semitism in the liberal community, if only to prevent the defection of American Jews from the Democratic Party. But he seems to be unwilling to do so. If American Jews are not alarmed by this lack of action on the president’s part, they should be.
Many Jews still support  the president despite his recent actions and those of his administration. Part of the reason likely has to do with the fact that whatever the shortcomings of the president and his administration on issues important to the American Jewish community, the longstanding ties between American Jews and the Democratic Party make it difficult for an abrupt break between the two to take place. The longstanding view of many Jewish Democrats is that the political philosophy of the Democratic Party is close to the philosophical teachings espoused by Jewish religious laws, and as a consequence, it would come as no surprise to find out that many American Jews believe that being Democrats is equivalent to being on the side of right and good, as right and good are defined by Jewish laws, customs, and teachings. But despite the longstanding ties between the American Jewish community and the Democratic Party the Obama Administration, through its policies, runs the risk of putting the relationship asunder.
As the midterm election approaches, Obama’s relationship with American Jews stands at a crossroads. It is entirely possible that the relationship may improve as the president and his political team prepare for his re-election effort in 2012 and seek to increase support and enthusiasm in the American Jewish community. But American Jews now have had time to take the measure of the 44th president and are now well-suited to make an informed decision as to whether he cares about issues that are of special concern to our community. Chances are that the American Jewish community will remain largely loyal to the Democratic Party. But no one should be surprised if, as a result of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices, the Democrats’ hold on the American Jewish component of its base is permanently damaged by an approach that evokes precious little of the enthusiasm that the community showed for him in 2008.
Pejman Yousefzadeh is an attorney and writer in Illinois. He blogs at A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days .
Middle East Chaos
Jennifer Rubin - 10.27.2010 - 12:04 PM
It is not simply that Iran is moving steadily toward membership in the nuclear powers’ club. It is not only that the UN is plotting to carve up Israel. No, these are symptoms of an underlying problem: the U.S.’s retreat from the Middle East and the decline of American influence. There are other signs as well.
The administration has been demonstrating abject weakness with Syria. It mounted no meaningful response to violations of UN Resolution 1701. It has attempted to confirm and redeploy an ambassador to Damascus. Back in March, Elliott Abrams reeled off the list of “engagement” moves that bore an uncanny resemblance to appeasement:
* High level envoys have been sent to Damascus: Under Secretary of State William Burns visited Syria in mid-February, the highest ranking U.S. official to set foot there in more than five years, and Middle East envoy George Mitchell has visited three times. High-ranking Central Command officers have been sent to Damascus to discuss cooperation against terrorism.
* President Obama has now nominated an ambassador to Damascus, the first since Margaret Scobey was withdrawn in 2005 after the murder of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in Lebanon (which was widely blamed on the Assad regime).
* The president has also removed the American block to Syria’s attempt to join the World Trade Organization.
* The United States has eased some export licenses for Syria, mostly in the area of aircraft.
* Syria’s deputy foreign minister was invited to Washington in October, the first such visit in several years.
So how’s that working out? As we’ve seen, Bashar al-Assad has moved ever closer to Iran (the opposite reaction intended by the Obama team), even as he displays his contempt for the U.S.:
Syria’s president has accused the United States of sowing chaos overseas, snubbing Washington’s efforts to improve ties with Damascus. Syrian President Bashar Assad told Al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published Tuesday that the US “created chaos in every place it entered.” “Is Afghanistan stable? Is Somalia stable? Did they bring stability to Lebanon in 1983?” Assad asked, referring to US intervention in Lebanon’s 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.
To this, the U.S. replied, “Are not.” In diplomatic terms: “Spokesman P.J. Crowley charged that Syria is destabilizing Lebanon by supplying arms to militants and issuing arrest warrants for Lebanese officials. ‘These activities by Syria directly undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and directly undermine Syria’s stated commitments to Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,’ Crowley said. ‘We believe we’re playing a constructive role in the region, and we believe that Syria is not.”’ This “tough retort,” according to the press account, is what passes for the administration’s Syria policy.
And speaking of Lebanon:
The Obama administration, already struggling to stave off a collapse of Middle East peace talks, is increasingly alarmed by unrest in Lebanon, whose own fragile peace is being threatened by militant opponents of a politically charged investigation into the killing in 2005 of a former Lebanese leader.
With an international tribunal expected to hand down indictments in the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in the coming months, the Hezbollah militia is maneuvering furiously to halt the investigation, or failing that, to unseat Lebanon’s government, which backs it.
The New York Times helpfully offers that the Obama team has, contrary to appearances, really (honestly!) not been obsessed with the failed Palestinian-Israeli non-peace talks. It has instead been focused on this looming crisis:
The administration’s worries go beyond Lebanon itself, and help explain why it, and not the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, has been the major preoccupation of American foreign policy officials for the last few weeks. The diplomatic activity follows a splashy tour of Lebanon by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who got an ecstatic reception from members of Hezbollah, the Shiite movement financed and equipped by Iran. American officials were particularly struck by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s trip to a small town a few miles north of the Israeli border, where he called for the “Zionists to be wiped out.”
With unintended comedic effect, the dispatched U.S. envoy, Jeffrey D. Feltman, proclaims: “You don’t want the perception of a vacuum. … You don’t want the perception that Ahmadinejad is the only game in town.” Umm, it’s a little late for that realization, isn’t it? And if that’s the problem, then throwing ourselves at the mullahs’ feet in order to restart the charade of nuclear talks is hardly going to improve matters
US lies About Israel at UN
U.S. State Department's Duplicity at the U.N. Human Rights Council
October 21, 2010 7:30 AM
As the American midterm election campaigns head to the finish line, the Obama administration is trying to convince Jewish voters that its treatment of Israel is not as hostile as it appears. In fact, it’s worse. The U.S. State Department has now adopted a practice honed by Israel’s Arab negotiating partners – saying different things to different audiences. The State Department is distributing for American consumption speeches that it claims were delivered in Israel’s defense at the recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. But the remarks American diplomats actually delivered to the U.N. audience, which President Obama so desperately seeks to impress, were strikingly different.
The foreign policy deception involves the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the president decided to join soon after taking office. At the beginning of October the Human Rights Council concluded its fifteenth session, marking the end of a full year of American membership on the U.N.’s lead human rights body. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe marked the occasion by declaring that the Human Rights Council had “made historic progress…in advancing the rights of human rights defenders throughout the world.” But her claim turns on the virtue of legitimizing the demonization of Israel in favor of other people’s human rights.
At this latest session, the Human Rights Council had before it two extraordinarily ugly reports condemning Israel. One was aimed at keeping alive last year’s Goldstone Report, a modern-day blood libel alleging that the 2009 Gaza war was not fought in self-defense but was a deliberate move by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians. The new report, produced for this session, repeats the odious claim that Israel engaged in “violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy” and goes on to criticize Israel’s legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for “officials at the highest levels.” Referring to the Hamas internal “investigation,” which repeatedly exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, the U.N.’s team could only conclude that it “is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions.” It was produced by a committee chaired by German lawyer Christian Tomuschat, who once provided legal advice to Yasser Arafat’s PLO.
When it came time for the Human Rights Council to take up the report the Obama administration sought to manufacture a middle ground. Knowing that the committee’s mandate was to implement the infamous conclusions of the Goldstone Report, Ambassador Donahoe told the Human Rights Council on September 27: “We appreciate that the Tomuschat Committee did not jump to conclusions…” She also praised the committee on the grounds that it “did not recommend any further UN action,” despite the fact that the report was written so that it would guarantee the committee’s reappointment. Indeed, the Tomuschat committee was reappointed together “with all administrative, technical and logistic assistance” they could dream of, shortly thereafter.
Then Ambassador Donahoe varied her speech from the version now gracing the State Department website. She dropped these words: “Because Israel has the right and the demonstrated ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, further follow-up of the Goldstone Report by UN bodies is unnecessary and unwarranted.”
This was not a one-off occurrence. The second Israel-bashing report before the Human Rights Council had been commissioned last June following the flotilla incident, in which 9 Turkish-backed extremists died after they tried to ram an Israeli blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. The Human Rights Council “investigation,” created within 48 hours of the incident, was carried out by a carefully selected three-person group that included one Desmond de Silva. De Silva had jointly headed a British law office with a Palestinian legal advisor, and their law practice had hosted the legal team supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. De Silva was unabashed about his predilection to grease legal wheels for terrorists. He told the Human Rights Council on September 28: “[E]ven if Bin Laden himself was on board the Mavi Marmara” – the vessel on which the deaths occurred – “it wouldn’t have made the blockade legal.”
The flotilla investigative group that included de Silva said it couldn’t trust Israeli video evidence of the incident, and called the thugs who nearly murdered Israeli soldiers “persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism.” These “experts” couldn’t think of a single “military advantage” for the Israeli blockade – a key test in determining whether Israel’s action was legal – though the blockade obviously prevents the creation of an Iranian weapons depot on the Mediterranean a few miles from Israeli population centers. Instead, they produced the usual U.N. laundry list of wild accusations and demands, such as prosecuting Israelis for torture. Hamas immediately "hailed the contents of the report…on the massacre perpetrated by the Zionist forces against international activists on board the fleet of freedom.”
When this despicable report came to the Human Rights Council for discussion, the State Department website claims Ambassador Donahoe delivered a speech, saying: “We have received the lengthy report of the fact-finding mission. We are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.” But on September 28 what she actually said to the Council was this: “On an initial reading, we are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.”
And again on September 27, the State Department gave the U.N. a Donahoe speech to post on the U.N. website which includes an important defense of Israel – all of which was omitted from her actual delivery:
In contrast to the unbalanced mechanisms adopted under this agenda item, Israel has been conducting its own process of credible investigations, and Israeli officials have been actively engaged in scrutinizing doctrinal issues. Israel has also established an independent public commission to examine the Israeli mechanism for investigating complaints and claims raised in relation to violations of the laws of armed conflict. This commission is headed by respected Israeli jurist Yaakov Turkel and includes two international observers: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble and former Canadian Judge Advocate General Kenneth Watkin. This commission, along with the ongoing inquiries and changes in combat doctrine demonstrate Israel's ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, and we urge this Council to consider these factors as it deliberates.
A few days later, on September 29, the Human Rights Council voted to approve the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla reports. Widespread repugnance in America and Israel over the Goldstone report made it impossible for the administration to support a report following it up. But on the flotilla episode, the administration rejected the Human Rights Council’s flotilla investigation only to bind Israel to an investigation created by the U.N. secretary general. The president pressured Israel to accept – for the first time in Israel’s history – oversight of the Israel Defense Forces by the U.N. The Turkel commission, Nobel laureates and all, were disposable. Of course, if President Obama were ever to agree to put the American armed forces under a similar knife, his presidency would be doomed.
As a result, some acrobatics were required at the Human Rights Council when the Obama administration had to explain its position for and against U.N. investigations of Israel. So on the Goldstone-Tomuschat resolution, Donahoe said: “…we did not support international oversight of domestic legal processes absent an indication that they are manifestly failing to deal seriously with alleged abuses…Extension of the committee of experts at this point is unnecessary and unhelpful.” And on the flotilla resolution Donahoe said: “the Secretary-General’s…panel is the primary method for the international community to review the incident.” Following these contradictory explanations, which inspired no support from the other Human Rights Council members, the U.S. voted against in both cases. The resolutions passed handily.
At the conclusion of this session, the Human Rights Council’s demonization of Israel stood at an all-time high. With the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla resolutions, the Human Rights Council maintained its record of having adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined. The Human Rights Council had spent as much time attacking Israel than it did on its one agenda item for “human-rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else in the world.
But for the Obama administration this was an “historic” session advancing human rights. On October 1, Ambassador Donahoe pointed to the creation of a new investigator on the theme of freedom of association and assembly and a new working group to monitor “discrimination against women in law and practice.” The firm Obama storyline on the Council was articulated by Ambassador Donahoe in an op-ed in the New York Times on September 13: “I have been very pleased by several developments that confirm U.S. participation was the correct decision.”
So. as President Obama would say, let us be clear. This administration’s message is that demonizing Israelis is a price worth paying for the sake of other people’s human rights. “Several developments” for anybody else trump several losses for the Jewish state. Legitimizing the Human Rights Council with American membership and financial support is justified regardless of the threat that it poses to the safety and security of the Jewish people. The Obama administration ought to know better. Equality and human dignity cannot be built on the inequality of the few.
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
The Nexus between Barack Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States
Eric Voogd - BibiReport.blogspot.com, September 21st, 2010
[Editor's Note: Please be sure to download the following two PDFs in connection with this VERY important article by Eric Voogd - The Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC has provided UCI with a one page the FAQ which sums up Shariah Law and the dangers to US Constitutional Law. A comprehensive (177 page) report has also been issued by CFSP (must read!) - “Shariah: The Threat to America” Share these very important documents with your friends, please. Time is of the essence.]
Since the events of 11 September 2001, Chicago has increasingly become a convergence point for annual meetings held by national Islamic organizations in the United States. Most recently in April 2010 in downtown Chicago, the 6th annual Council on American Islamic Relations event featured keynote speaker Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna. Previously in January 2010, the administration of Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton approved lifting visa ban on Ramadan to enter the United States. Ramadan is truly a charlatan selling snake oil, as he projects a smooth, sophisticated image intended to calm fears about Islamic jihad by duplicitously pretending it’s a figment of our imagination.
Tariq Ramadan is the face of Stealth Jihad. His methods lure the unwary, the uneducated into the spider's web of the Muslim Brotherhood. But, he is the Muslim Brotherhood, to the core, and espouses precisely the same ultimate objectives as Al Qaeda regarding the establishment of the Caliphate and imposition of Sharia law on us all. Al Qaeda does it by violence, while Ramadan does it by stealth and taqiyya. The objectives are exactly the same; only the timing and tactics are different. Our current national security has been so thoroughly penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood enemy that they are no longer capable of making solid decisions to defend United States national security – this is one example, exactly the intended outcome.
At the end of September 2010, Chicago will become a destination point for the international community’s top Islamic representation which includes the entire top leadership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) together with the top leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. HYPERLINK “http://www.oicun.org/9/20100727101615770.html” http://www.oicun.org/9/20100727101615770.html In a post 11 September 2001 world, the red flag warning should be most clear that the Muslim Brotherhood is a high level national security concern for both Israel and the United States. The leadership of the OIC, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Brotherhood are meeting at the American Islamic College in Chicago on the 28 to 30th of September 2010.
The notable who’s who in attendance list includes the full panoply of OIC leadership, the Obama Administration’s OIC liaisons Sada Cumber from the Bush Administration, and Rashad Hussain from the current administration, Dalia Mogahed and Farah Pandith from State Department, as well as Siraj Wahhaj, Ahmed Rehab of CAIR, etc. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is not mentioned as attending; however, the upcoming conference features the Gallup group that he worked with previously. Nevertheless, Rauf could well attend quietly. This is a major meeting and initiative between the administration of Barack Hussein Obama, the Muslim Brotherhood here in the United States and the OIC. This international conference in Chicago has received virtually no attention by the main stream media in the United States. WHY?
Throughout Illinois and across the United States, the Muslim Brotherhood is growing in its strength and numbers under the current administration of Barack Hussein Obama. On Monday, 13 September 2010, the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC issued a report “Shariah: The Threat to America” written by the Team ‘B’ II. As noted within the preface of this 177 page report which is An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, “This study is the result of months of analysis, discussion and drafting by a group of top security policy experts concerned with the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time: the legal-political-military doctrine known within Islam as “shariah.” It is designed to provide a comprehensive and articulate “second opinion” on the official characterizations and assessments of this threat as put forth by the United States government.” By answering the following questions, we are able to soundly defeat the Muslim Brotherhood through a comprehensive action plan; however, this requires collective efforts of private citizens, local law enforcement, think tanks, state and federal government, and national security.
1. WHO is the Muslim Brotherhood?
2. WHAT do they target?
3. WHY do they target us?
4. HOW do they operate?
5. HOW do we counter, mitigate and respond?
Integral to examining and answering these questions, individuals must be cognizant of both Understanding and Explaining this comprehensive action plan for addressing the Muslim Brotherhood is as a War of Ideas, a War of Intelligence and a War of Education. From the US Government Exhibit 003-0085; 3:04-CR-240-G; US v. Holy Land Foundation, et al, the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood is clearly defined as the following:
“The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
The Muslim Brotherhood was established in 1928 in Egypt. In 1963, the Muslim Brotherhood established a base in the United States. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood is a collection of some 70 national organizations of competing interests and desires. The inherent threat from radical, militant Islam is a clear and present danger to the Jewish and Christian community in the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist organization. Thus, all individuals gathering at this conference in Chicago at the Islamic College of America at the end of September 2010 must understand the ramifications of the legal consequences outlined in 18 U.S.C 2339A-B:
(a) Prohibited Activities.— (1) Unlawful conduct.— Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
The administration and legal team of Barack Hussein Obama surely must be aware of this federal statute.
The threat to the United States from radical Islamic jihad and Sharia is an ever present reality. The fact that the administration of Barack Hussein Obama is allowing this conference to take place in Chicago at the end of September 2010 signals red flag warnings at multiple levels. In order to soundly defeat the Muslim Brotherhood, this requires fully exposing the Muslim Brotherhood’s modus operandi in the United States. This effort calls upon private citizens, local law enforcement, think tanks, state and federal government officials, and the national security apparatus to jointly work together. Failure to act NOW creates conditions which allows for another attack on the magnitude of, or greater, witnessed on 11 September 2001 to happen yet again on United States soil. The Muslim Brotherhood and its acting agents have no place in the United States!
Ehud Barak: History Will Judge Obama on Nuclear Iran
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Follow Israel news on and .
“History will judge this [Obama] administration when it comes to the end of its term whether Iran has nuclear weapons or not,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fox News in an interview. He also said sanctions are not enough to stop Iran from reaching nuclear capability.
Speaking in an interview while visiting officials in Washington, the Defense Minister added, “We are not frightened by [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s statements, but we have to take seriously that a nuclear Iran” would begin an arms race in the Middle East and “encourage global jihad and intimidation. We have to consider what follows sanctions, which will not suffice.”
Barak estimated that Iran “technically” may be able to possess a nuclear weapon within a year and a half “if they break all the rules.” He explained the major problem is that Iran may “become immune” to a military strike by building several sites and protecting them by burying them deep underground.
APRIL 17, 2010
FOR THE 62ND YOM HA'ATZMAUT
RABBI MITCHELL WOHLBERG
I must begin by telling you that I was uncomfortable writing
this sermon. I wondered whether it was too harsh or not harsh enough.
I asked myself if I should be delivering it or if I should have
delivered it two years ago. So I’ll leave it to you to decide.
This week Israel celebrates the 62nd anniversary of its rebirth … the
greatest event in modern Jewish history. You know by now how much
Israel means to me. From my perspective, an Israel comes around once
every 2000 years and it is to be cherished, protected and loved. In
two weeks I will make my annual visit to that beautiful country,
taking along my entire family, which means that for my oldest
granddaughter – who is 7 years old – this will be her fourth visit.
Israel is at the very heart of my family’s existence.
It was with this feeling uppermost in my mind that I chose not to vote
for Barack Obama for President. Although I felt he offered a measure
of hope for our country, and although I felt the election of a black
man as President of the United States would be one of the most
positive and remarkable events to take place during my lifetime, and
although I agreed with many parts of his domestic policies … it was
his foreign policy views that concerned me and proved decisive. I
have a much more hawkish view than he does on foreign policy. I have
always considered myself what is called a “Jackson Democrat” and I was
genuinely concerned about Obama’s perspective on Israel. My feeling
was based on something he had said and something he didn’t say.
What he said was said in February of 2008 in a meeting with a hundred
Cleveland Jewish leaders. Here is what he said: “I think there is a
strain within the pro-Israel community that says: unless you adopt an
unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, that you are anti-Israel and
that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel. If we cannot
have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then
we’re not going to make progress … because of the pressure that Israel
is under, I think the U.S. pro-Israel community is sometimes a little
more protective or concerned about opening up that conversation.”
What he said was not so terrible and I have to tell you that I
respected him for having said it. He was very honest about his
feelings. What he was basically saying was that he does not agree
with the policies of a Likud government and that American Jews should
be more prepared to debate those policies. Now, Mr. Obama is entitled
to his opinion. It just is not my opinion! Does that make him an
anti-Semite? Absolutely not! We have got to stop that kind of
foolish talk. There are many Israeli Jews who agree with what he said
… there are many American Jews who agree with what he said! But I’m
not one of them! And knowing that after years of Hezbollah and Hamas
and suicide bombings and kidnappings and rocket attacks, a majority of
Israeli voters don’t agree with his perspective, it seemed obvious to
me that if he were elected President, there would be a clash between
his policies and Israel’s policies. Sad to say, I was right.
But as events have unfolded, even sadder to say that
unfortunately I think I was right in my concern about what Mr. Obama
had not said. For 20 years he went to a church whose minister, Rev.
Jeremiah Wright, spoke in terms that were both critical of America and
of Israel. And Mr. Obama had never raised his voice in protest. He
not only should have, he could have! Let me tell you about a man who,
in similar circumstances, did! His name is Abraham Foxman, and he is
the head of the Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Foxman was a member of a
prominent Orthodox synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey but he found
himself in an uncomfortable position … the rabbi of his synagogue is
known to have very strong right-wing views when it comes to Israel;
views so extreme that the rabbi not only criticizes the position of
the American government, he was one of the severest critics of the
position of the Rabin government, urging his congregants in one of his
letters not to listen to “the blatherings of the Rabin judenrat.” A
judenrat was a Jewish council set up by the Nazis to preside over
Jewish ghettos early in World War II. Mr. Foxman found such a
comparison unacceptable and he left his synagogue. In his words, “I
tried to have my rabbi change his views. I went to fellow congregants
to see if they could have an impact on him. Only at a point in time
where that didn’t happen I resigned.” And he went on to say, “It was
a wrenching decision, this was a synagogue where my son was Bar
Mitzvahed, this was a synagogue where every happy event and every sad
event I celebrated … this was my religious home.” But he got up and
left! And when Rev. Wright’s words came out into the open, I asked
myself: why didn’t Mr. Obama do the same? And it wasn’t just a matter
of Rev. Wright’s words and it wasn’t just a matter of Mr. Obama’s
close relationship with him … it was a matter of the whole church
being enveloped with a “liberation theology” with it’s Bulletin
reprinting pro-Hamas articles. Wouldn’t all this have had an effect
on Mr. Obama’s thinking, I asked myself. James Tisch, the Manhattan
billionaire and Chief Executive of Loews Corp. and long time activist
in Jewish causes and philanthropies, thinks it did! In light of
everything that has now been unfolding, Mr. Tisch recently said, “I
think the President comes to this from Jeremiah Wright’s church and
there is no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright’s church the
Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as
terrorists.” In light of Mr. Obama finding the time to visit Saudi
Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, but not Israel … in light of his refusing to
take a picture with Prime Minister Netanyahu after their recent
meeting … in light of so much emphasis being placed on the settlements
… in light of the recent resurrection of Zbignew Brezinski … in light
of new talk about an imposed settlement … in light of all this and
more, I have to agree with Mr. Tisch.
I don’t like what is happening, but that, in and of itself, is
nothing new. There have always been conflicts between the United
States and Israel. In 1956 the Eisenhower administration forced
Israel to withdraw from captured territories despite Egypt’s
belligerency. In 1967 President Johnson warned Israel not to go to
war and became the first American administration to condemn Israel’s
settlement activities. The Nixon administration tried to impose the
Rogers Plan, forcing Israel back to the 1949 Armistice lines. Jimmy
Carter … well, Jimmy Carter was, is and will always be Jimmy Carter.
Ronald Regan was a friend but he was a friend who withheld weapons
from Israel in punishment for its attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. I
could go on and on … there have always been conflicts; there have
always been disagreements. And one has to expect that! America is a
global superpower … Israel is a country of seven million people.
America’s view is of the woods and Israel’s is just one of the trees!
So, disagreements are to be expected amongst friends. But the
disagreements that are now taking place between America and Israel are
different than the disagreements in the past. They are different on
First, for the first time that I can think of, Israel is being
accused of being the one that is the hindrance to peace. That’s never
happened before! Despite all the disagreements between the two
countries, it was always understood that after all is said and done,
it is the Arabs and Palestinians who have resisted making peace. The
Ford and the first Bush administration refused to negotiate with the
PLO. Bill Clinton clearly stated that it was the Palestinians fault
that Camp David fell apart. Bush the Second refused to even talk to
Yassir Arafat, saying he was an impediment to peace. Now? Now Mr.
Obama goes to Cairo and says the first step toward making peace
possible is freezing the settlements. The Palestinians refuse to even
negotiate, but its Israel’s fault! And then when the clash erupts
over the Jerusalem housing, Secretary of State Clinton and the others
insist that Israel do certain things to show it is committed to making
peace. Mr. Obama calls on Israel to take “bold steps” for peace.
Israel should show that it is committed to making peace? Israel
should take “bold steps?” What was Camp David, which the Palestinians
rejected? What was the Gaza withdrawal, which the Palestinians
responded to with rocket attacks? What were the Olmert concessions to
Abbas, which only led to the Palestinians refusing to negotiate? What
was Mr. Netanyahu’s accepting a two-state solution and a partial
freeze of settlements? And what was the removal of most of the
check-points in the West Bank? And what were the “bold steps” the
Palestinians took besides refusing to even indirectly negotiate,
insisting on the right of return, refusing to accept a demilitarized
state, refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state, refusing to
recognize any Jewish historic claims to Jerusalem … all they really
seem to have agreed to do is to name more of their streets and squares
after terrorists and suicide bombers. And Israel should show that it
is committed to peace? Sen. John Carrey goes to Damascus and
proclaims that Syria is committed to the peace process. Really? But
with Israel there’s a question?
I don’t like what’s happening. This has never happened
before! And to make matters worse, Israel is not only now being
blamed for hindering peace with the Palestinians, talk has started to
boil to the surface that Israel is to be blamed for the death of
American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a libel … this is
a blood libel. We’ve heard these accusations before, but they always
came from the extreme fringes; from the Pat Buchanans and others of
his ilk. Now the talk is becoming more mainstream. The Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was quoted as saying
that Israel’s stubbornness makes the U.S. appear impotent. In a
statement later denied, Vice President Biden was quoted as telling
Prime Minister Netanyahu, “What you are doing here undermines the
security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and
Pakistan.” U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus sends a
statement to the Pentagon with a stark warning: “America’s
relationship with Israel is important but not as important as the
lives of American soldiers.” A member of the administration is quoted
as accusing Dennis Ross of having a dual loyalty. And we’re told that
it’s all misunderstood or misquoted … it doesn’t mean anything. Well,
I could read you quotes from the Palestinian Chronicle and from the
Jordan Times and from the Middle East Online and many other
pro-Palestinian papers that have taken these words very seriously and
are emboldened by them. Indeed, I don’t have to quote from Arab
sources, let me just read you the headline of a recent editorial in
USA Today: “Our view on the Middle East: Israeli Settlement Push Hurts
U.S. Interests, Peace Process” … with the editorial including these
frightening words: “… if Americans whose own family member’s lives are
at risk every day in Iraq and Afghanistan come to believe that
Israel’s action needlessly increase that risk, support would be
jeopardized.” Those words are correct, you know. You know why our
country has supported Israel these last 62 years? It’s not because of
Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives; it is because of
the American people. Every survey shows an overwhelming majority of
American people supporting Israel, even during oil embargos and that
support is there because there is something about the American people
that are able to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad,
terrorists from innocent civilians and democracy from tyranny. The
only thing that could change the feelings of Americans would be if
their service men and women were dying because of Israel. And a mood
is emanating from Washington that could lead people to believe just
I know that some of my words are going to bother some of you,
but please understand if I didn’t say them it would bother me even
more! The fact of the matter is, this administration has from day one
made improved relations with the Muslim world – a primary goal, going
as fare as to ban the use of words like “Jihad” and “Islamic
terrorism.” It is unfortunate that to date, America’s outreach of a
friendly hand has not been reciprocated, which leads some to blame it
all on Israel. If Israel would only give up what it is entitled to,
the women of Al Qaeda would take off their burqas and join the
Daughters of the American Revolution, the Taliban would sing Hava
Negilah around the campfire, Hezbollah and Hamas would join Hadassah
and the Shiites and Sunis in the Middle East would say: our 1400 years
of hatred is over! It’s just little Israel that is standing in the
way of all this!
Well, let me tell you: the Jews have always been in the way!
Look in the Bible … every time Babylonia or Syria wanted to invade
Egypt, little Judea was in the middle. The Jews developed a unique
set of rituals and beliefs; they couldn’t offer sacrifices to the
images of Roman emperors, they wouldn’t work on the Sabbath and to the
Greeks and the Romans, they stood in the way of world domination. And
then came another religion whose followers proclaimed that it was the
fulfillment of the one the Jews practiced, but the Jews refused to go
along. And so our people were portrayed as being the devil who were
to be eternally dammed. And then came Islam … Mohammed was eager to
win over the Jews. After all, he was a monotheist … why couldn’t the
Jews go along? And if they had, Mohammed would have a solid base from
which to operate. But the Jews refused to go along. And so they were
portrayed as being monkeys. In modern Europe, the Jews were in the
way of middle-class Frenchmen and Germans who were seeking their jobs.
The Communists found them in the way because Jews didn’t fit into
simple class categories. Eventually, Hitler came along and decided to
once and for all eliminate this universal inconvenience. It didn’t
happen then and it’s not going to happen now!
Meir Dagan is the head of Israel’s Mossad. Under his
directorship the Mossad, in recent years, has rebuilt its reputation
for lethal and successful operations. What motivates Mr. Dagan may
become obvious to a visitor to his modest office in Tel Aviv, where on
the wall there is a picture of an old Jew standing on the edge of a
trench … an SS officer is aiming his rifle at the old man’s head.
“This old Jew was my grandfather,” Dagan tells visitors. The picture
reflects his philosophy for Israel’s survival. In his words, “We
should be strong, use our brain and defend ourselves to that the
Holocaust will never be repeated.”
I don’t fear that the Holocaust will be repeated. This is not
1938 all over again. In 1938 there was no Israel Defense Forces; now
there is a mighty and majestic one. That makes all the difference in
the world. But in some ways, it is 1948 all over again, when there
were leaders in the upper most echelons of the American government
including the Secretary of State, who urged the President not to
recognize Israel, saying that such recognition would stand in the way
of Arab friendship with our country. President Truman didn’t listen
to them. Instead, he listened to the words of his advisor, Clark
Clifford, who told him, “In an area as unstable as the Middle East,
where there is not now and never has been any tradition of democratic
government, it is important for the long range security of our country
– and indeed the world – that a nation committed to the democratic
system be established there; one on which we can rely. The new Jewish
state can be such a place.” That’s just what the new Jewish state has
been for the past 62 years. I must tell you that I’m not sure who
President Obama is listening to. But this I know: not every Israeli
soldier acts like a saint, and not every Israeli policy is an act of
genius. There is certainly room for criticism but that should not
blind anyone to the fact that despite all the provocations and
incitements, despite Palestinians using their children as human
shields and their wives as suicide bombers, despite acts of barbarism
and terrorism … despite all this there is no country on earth more
desirous of peace, more willing to compromise for peace than the
people of Israel. And this too I know: that as American Jews we
should take Meir Dagan’s words to heart: “We should be strong and use
our brains …” and one thing more. We dare not despair. We dare not
Barack Obama entitled his memoir “The Audacity of Hope” – a
title he got from Rev. Wright. The truth of the matter is the history
of the Jewish people could be entitled, “The Audacity of Hope,” as
expressed in Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah, meaning “the
hope.” Its author, Naphtali Herz Imber, once said, “Kings, earls,
cardinals will all pass away … but I and Hatikvah will remain
He was right! The hope remains forever …“L’hiyot am chofshi
b’artzeinu b’eretz tziyon v’Yerushalayim” – to be a free people in our
land, in the land of Zion and Jerusalem. Amen.
Why do 24% of USA think Obama is a Muslim?
Is Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim? Ben Shapiro
But there's a reason 24 percent of Americans believe President Obama is a
Muslim: Obama spends an inordinate amount of time stumping for Islam.
Obama's not Muslim. But he proselytizes for Islamic goals and dreams like a
member of the faithful.
He routinely cites his background to establish his Islamic bona fides with
the Muslim world. "I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family
that includes generations of Muslims," he told a Muslim audience in Cairo.
"As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the
azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. ... I have known Islam on
three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed."
This is language that falls short of embracing Islam as a believer, but is
geared toward telling the Muslim world, "I am on your side." Acknowledging
his Muslim parentage on Muslim soil, speaking of Islam's "revelation,"
talking about living in a Muslim country -- that sort of rhetoric has a
Obama's first interview after his election was with Al-Arabiya. In that
interview, he proclaimed that the United States had to "start by listening,
because all too often the United States starts by dictating." He then
followed up this blatant pandering and pathetic apologetics with the
explanation that his job was to "communicate the fact that the United States
has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use
has to be a language of respect."
In Cairo, Obama said his job as president of the United States is to "fight
against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." That's
certainly not the job of the president of the United States. It is not even
the job of the most ardently tolerant Christian. Is it any wonder that so
many people believe Obama to be an emissary of Islam?
Obama's bow to the Saudi king reinforced American perceptions that he was in
bed with Islamism. American leaders do not bow before foreign leaders.
Period. But not only did Obama bow, he specifically bowed to the leader of
the Muslim country where Mecca lies. Then the White House ridiculously
attempted to claim that the bow never happened in the first place.
Obama has consistently sided with Muslims against American allies. He has
thrown Israel under the bus by requiring concessions on "settlements" even
as he does nothing about Palestinian violence. He has endorsed the idea of a
"contiguous" Palestinian state, which by definition would mean splitting
Israel in half. He has barred Israel from taking action against Iran even as
Iran goes nuclear. He has backed a UN resolution condemning Israel's nuclear
weapons and ignoring Iran's. He has supported Raila Odinga, a radical Muslim
politician in Kenya who has pledged to rewrite Kenya's Constitution to
recognize Shariah as the only true law and establish Shariah courts in every
Kenyan divisional headquarters. He has abandoned Salah Uddin Shoaib
Choudhury, an anti-Islamist in Bangladesh who has been imprisoned and
prosecuted for supporting Israel's right to exist. He has endorsed the
mosque two blocks from Ground Zero despite the fact that the imam of the
proposed "bridge-building" mosque is a radical Islamist who refuses to
condemn Hamas and believes that the United States is responsible for 9/11.
Obama administration officials also act as though they're members of the
Saudi public relations staff. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in an
interview with Al Jazeera that his "foremost" mission was to "find a way to
reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim
nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science
... and math and engineering." Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan
calls Jerusalem "al-Quds."
It bears repeating: Obama's not a Muslim. But there are only two possible
reasons why he would draw himself this close to the Muslim world in speech
and deed. First, he could be duping the Muslim world, keeping his friends
close and his enemies closer. This seems utterly unlikely as his most
sincere statements seem to come with regard to the Muslim world. Second, he
could feel true kinship with the Muslim world based on his childhood
experiences and his Marxist multiculturalism. This rings true.
For the last time: Obama's not a Muslim. He's a sellout to the radical
Muslim world. If a swath of the American people mistakes a president who
sells out to Islamism for a Muslim president, there's only one person to
blame: Obama himself.
Dear American Jews,
I write to you as a charter member of the tribe. I'm not only Jewish, I'm
religious. I'm married to an Israeli girl (she'll receive her citizenship
next year and she is a proud soon-to-be American). I go to synagogue
regularly, keep kosher, keep the Sabbath.
American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your
I mean that in all sincerity. Your continued support for Democrats and an
administration that is openly anti-Semitic is a disgrace. Your embrace of a
party that seeks to hamstring Israel in the name of a wholly fictitious
Middle East peace process is contemptible. Your loyalty to a president who
consistently sides with Palestinian and Iranian mass murder-supporters is
Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the
worst anti-Semites America has to offer-Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi
(former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan ("I don't like the
way [Jews] leech on us"), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few-is
nothing short of reprehensible.
Rahm Emanuel's presence in the Obama cabinet doesn't ameliorate Obama's
anti-Semitism-it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly
called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell "house negroes"; Emanuel is a kapo.
Even as you continue to buttress a president who seeks the destruction of
your co-religionists, you demonstrate your myopia by rejecting the tea party
movement and evangelical Christian Israel-supporters.
The tea party movement is your ally for three important reasons. First, it
supports capitalism against the forces of socialism-and capitalism keeps
America strong enough to provide Israel with a hand against its evil
adversaries. Second, American Jews are, by far, the highest-earning
religious group in the United States-the tea party fights for your right to
keep your money. Third, the tea party stands against government
overreach-and in an era when government overreach promotes anti-religious
secularism, Jews must stand with the tea party.
Your rejection of evangelical Christians is even more idiotic. Evangelical
Christians are the only major voting bloc preventing President Obama from
breaking ties with Israel.
When Janet Porter, an evangelical Florida talk show host, heard about
Obama's anti-Israel tyranny, she responded by asking her listeners to buy
dozens of yellow roses to send to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office
as a show of support. The price per dozen: $19.48, in honor of the year of
Israel's founding (1948). Over 14,000 flowers were delivered.
Meanwhile, Adm. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser and the man
who brought Jew-hater Zbigniew Brzezinski into Obama's inner circle, was
busy telling anti-Semitic jokes before the Washington Institute for Near
"But they want to convert us!" many American Jews shout. Not all Christians
do. But for the rest-so what? Would you sacrifice the support of millions of
good-hearted Christians because they want to discuss Jesus with you? If your
own belief system is so fragile, the weakness is yours, not theirs. While
you expend energy whining about Jehovah's Witnesses who show up at your door
with a Bible, Obama supports radical Muslims who would show up at your door
with a gun-or, as in the case of Daniel Pearl, a butcher's knife.
Now, I understand, American Jews, that most of you don't care about Israel.
I understand that you're more concerned about a woman's unconditional right
to abort her unborn child (which Judaism rejects) than you are about Israel.
Fine. Understand that you have removed yourself from the vast river of
Jewish history in favor of a chimerical morality that values libertinism
I understand that many of you-all of you above age 70 -- still think FDR is
alive. He isn't, but Jimmy Carter is.
I understand that some of you still think that conservatives and Republicans
are the same folks they were during the 1950s, when they banned you from
country clubs. They aren't.
The simple fact is this: There is only one mainstream political ideology in
this country that asks you to check your principles and cultural history at
the door in the name of the greater good-leftism, the same ideology that
virtually exterminated Judaism in Russia and Europe.
While the left exploits your adherence to bagel-and-lox Judaism by appealing
to your watered-down and perverted "tikkun olam" sensibilities, you are
enabling your own destruction. The same people who urge you to reach out to
terrorists will be the first to sacrifice you to those terrorists' tender
mercies. The same people who urge you to worry about same-sex marriage
rather than religious freedom will be the first to take your religious
I love you, my brothers and sisters. That's why I'm writing to you. Time is
running out; the clock is winding down. Pick a side.
Has U.S. Policy on Israel Changed
Since the July 6 Obama-Netanyahu Summit?
* President Obama came into office with strong preconceptions about foreign policy and especially about the Arab-Israeli conflict. In Obama's view, the parameters of a future peace settlement were already clear. All that was necessary was to convince the Arab world that America was not in Israel's pocket.
* To prove it was not following Israel's lead, the Obama administration decided to force Israel to halt any construction over the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice Line), including within Jerusalem neighborhoods, taking a relatively peripheral issue and making it a decisive element in U.S.-Israel relations. There had been no settlement freeze in the Oslo Agreements, and the U.S. and Israel had reached bilateral understandings during the last decade that allowed Israel to address the needs of its citizens in the settlements without taking additional land in the process.
* The main result of the administration's new policy was to encourage the Palestinians to take more hard-line positions. Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas began to insist on preconditions for direct negotiations which never existed before. Palestinian leaders hoped that the Obama administration would lay its own plan on the table, which they expected would be closer to their positions than to those of Israel, and asked themselves: Why should we negotiate with Israel if the Obama administration might impose a peace settlement anyway?
* On Iran, the Obama administration felt that progress on the peace process would set the stage for an effective regional coalition against Tehran. The Israeli approach was the exact opposite, stressing that if Iran's nuclear program were neutralized, then that would set the stage for a real peace process, since that would weaken the most radicalized elements in the Arab world who sought to actively undermine any prospects for peace, especially Hamas, Hizbullah, and Syria.
* The Obama administration now appears to have concluded that the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government were self-defeating. But it is premature to establish that it has revised its overall strategic outlook.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used to say, "What you see from here, you don't see from there" - meaning that there is a difference between how you understand the Middle East before you are in a position of power and how you perceive it when you are in office. Apparently, this truism also could be applied to the Obama administration.
President Obama came into office with strong preconceptions about foreign policy and especially about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Generally, he sought to be a transformative president in all areas: he wanted to transform America internally as well as America's relations with the world, even if it meant that in doing so he would create tensions with its traditional allies, like Britain and Israel. In his address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, he spoke about the need for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."
As with every new administration, Obama wanted to distinguish himself from his predecessor. He was going to stop what was, in his mind, the "imperial policy" of George W. Bush, based on global confrontation and unilateralism. His alternative was based on diplomatic engagement, even with America's worst enemies. The U.S. was going to rely more heavily on the UN and on operating multilaterally. This was more than just a shift in policy to define the Obama presidency differently from that of Bush. Obama's approach was part of his ideological world view through which he and his senior advisors hoped to redesign America's global strategy.
A key part of this strategy was emphasizing the prevention of nuclear proliferation in the world. In September 2009, Obama was the first president to chair a meeting of the UN Security Council which dealt with this very issue. Yet he is now learning how severe the problem is becoming. For example, not only Iran is making great strides in seeking nuclear weapons, but also Syria has not given up on this same quest, with the aid of North Korea. If the Iranian race for nuclear weapons will not be halted, it is now clear that the other states of the Middle East will aspire to obtain a nuclear military capability.
Obama and the Palestinian Issue
Unlike Clinton and Bush, Obama was determined to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue right from the start of his administration. He raised it in his major speeches in Ankara, Cairo, and in his first address to the UN General Assembly. In Obama's view, the parameters of a future peace settlement were already clear. All that was necessary was to convince the Arab world that America was not in Israel's pocket. He still made references to Bush-era diplomatic initiatives, like the 2003 Roadmap and the 2007 Annapolis Conference. But he refused to acknowledge the 2004 U.S. letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, even though it had won bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. The first active step that the Obama administration decided to take to prove that it was not following Israel's lead on these issues was to force Israel to halt any construction over the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice Line), including within Jerusalem neighborhoods.
These new demands created difficulties within the Israeli and U.S. political systems. But they mainly involved taking a relatively peripheral issue and making it a decisive element in U.S.-Israel relations. It should be remembered that there was no settlement freeze in the Oslo Agreements and, nonetheless, they were signed by the PLO. The Quartet Roadmap of 2003 did include a freeze on natural growth of settlements, but the U.S. and Israel nonetheless reached bilateral understandings that allowed Israel to address the needs of its citizens in the settlements without taking additional land in the process.
The entire U.S.-Israel discussion about settlements in the past focused on the West Bank (and the Gaza Strip before 2005, when Israel pulled out). The U.S. did not insist on a settlement freeze in Jerusalem. Now it was demanding that Israel halt construction of Jewish homes not only in the West Bank, but in the eastern parts of Jerusalem as well. The freeze that the U.S. was demanding represented a sharp break from the past.
The main result of the administration's new policy was to encourage the Palestinian side to take more hard-line positions than in the past both with respect to Israel and the U.S. The Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, began to insist on preconditions for direct negotiations which never existed before. Nor did Obama obtain credit in the wider Arab world for his new policy. Pragmatic Arab leaders wanted a forceful American policy against Iran, which was their primary preoccupation. They were not ready to make gestures to Israel themselves. For example, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was not prepared to provide Obama with a quid pro quo from the Arab world in the event that Israel agreed to a settlement freeze. Worse still, the enemies of the U.S. in the Arab world viewed the new policy coming out of Washington as an indication of weakness.
The main purpose of Palestinian diplomacy, under these conditions, was to spark a U.S.-Israel crisis by entering into proximity talks with the Netanyahu government and have them end in failure. As a result, the Palestinian leaders hoped that the Obama administration would lay its own plan on the table, which they expected, not without reason, would be closer to their positions than to those of Israel. The Palestinians asked themselves: Why should we negotiate with Israel if the Obama administration might impose a peace settlement anyway?
As U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict failed to produce positive results, leading commentators began to question whether the stress the administration placed on resolving the conflict was misplaced. Aaron David Miller, who was involved in the peace process for two decades in the State Department, questioned in Foreign Policy if this was still a core issue.1 Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and formerly head of policy planning in the State Department, also argued, "it is easy to exaggerate how central the Israel-Palestinian issue is."2
Why, nonetheless, has the Obama administration stressed the Palestinian issue so much? The answer appears to be a combination of Obama's own ideological proclivities and his own reading of the U.S. national interest. Thus, in April 2010, he declared that conflicts like the one in the Middle East end up "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." He appeared to be making a link between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America's war against radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While this harsh statement may have reflected the inner thinking of the administration, it eventually concluded that these tactics didn't work. There were internal political pressures in the U.S. to soften the tone on Israel, especially with the November 2010 mid-term elections coming up.
Obama and Iran
To many observers, it seems that the Obama administration's policy is really changing on the subject of Iran. On June 9, 2010, at long last, the U.S. reached a consensus in the UN Security Council and pushed through the adoption of new sanctions in UN Security Council Resolution 1929. On July 1, President Obama signed a bill imposing tough new U.S. sanctions against Iran that targeted exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Tehran. It also banned U.S. banks from doing business with foreign banks providing services to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Obama's diplomatic contacts also appeared to yield real results. Shortly after Resolution 1929 was adopted, the EU adopted new measures against Iran on July 26. Norway, Canada, Australia, and Japan all announced new steps against Iran, as well. The U.S. and Israel previously had real differences on Iran as the Israeli government was skeptical about engagement. It felt that new Western sanctions should have been put in place already in September 2009. Still, the Netanyahu government greeted the new U.S.-led actions positively.
One of the great U.S.-Israel differences was far more strategic. The Obama administration felt that progress on the peace process would set the stage for an effective regional coalition against Iran. The Israeli approach was the exact opposite: in Jerusalem, government officials often stressed that if Iran's nuclear program were neutralized, then that would set the stage for a real peace process, since that would weaken the most radicalized elements in the Arab world who sought to actively undermine any prospects for peace, especially Hamas, Hizbullah, and Syria. However, the U.S. and Israel never resolved their differences over regional strategic priorities.
Has the U.S. Administration Changed?
Speaking to a group of rabbis on May 13, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel frankly admitted that the White House had "screwed up the messaging" on Israel.3 In another statement expressing regret about administration policy towards Israel, President Obama himself admitted he got "some toes blown off" making missteps in sensitive U.S.-Israel relations, when speaking with Jewish Democratic members of Congress at a closed-door meeting.4
There have been some indications that the administration had learned some lessons from its almost obsessive focus on settlements. On July 7, a day after his summit meeting with Netanyahu at the White House, Obama gave an interview to Yonit Levy of Israel Channel 2 television, who tried to bring up the settlement issue:5
Question: Will you, by the way, extend - request that Israel extends that settlement freeze after September?
President Obama: You know, what I want is for us to get into direct talks. As I said yesterday, I think that if you have direct talks between Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), Netanyahu, their teams, that builds trust. And trust then allows for both sides to not be so jumpy or paranoid about every single move that's being made, whether it's related to Jerusalem or any of the other issues that have to be dealt with, because people feel as if there's a forum in which conflicts can get resolved.
Obama did not say that if the Israeli government refused to extend its ten-month settlement freeze, the U.S. would react harshly. He seemed to chastise the Palestinians for becoming paranoid "about every single move that's being made." His priority was to get to direct talks. But that did not mean that the administration's policy on construction in the settlements had changed. He also did not signal whether he was pulling back on his insistence on a freeze in construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of the eastern part of Jerusalem.
In short, the U.S. and Israel still have significant differences over the peace process and the issue of Iran. The Obama administration appears to have learned that the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government were self-defeating. But it is premature to establish that it has revised its overall strategic outlook. President Obama's prioritization of an American effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to continue because he believes that it can transform the difficult relationship between America and the Islamic world that became sharper after 9/11. This approach by the administration is not a question of tactics, but rather a matter of world view. And it is likely to accompany the U.S.-Israel relationship in the months and perhaps years ahead.
* * *
1. Aaron David Miller, "The False Religion of Mideast Peace," Foreign Policy, May-June 2010, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/19/the_false_religion_of_mideast_peace
2. Richard N. Haass, "The Palestine Peace Distraction," Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704448304575196312204524930.html
3. Herb Keinon, "Emanuel to Rabbis: U.S. ‘Screwed Up'," Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2010, http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=175654
4. S.A. Miller, "Obama: Israel My 'Land Mine'," New York Post, May 19, 2010,
5. "Interview of the President by Yonit Levi, Israeli TV," White House, July 7, 2010, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/interview-president-yonit-levi-israeli-tv
* * *
Zalman Shoval, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000. A veteran member of Israel's Knesset (1970-1981, 1988-1990), Ambassador Shoval was a senior aide to the late Moshe Dayan during his tenure as foreign minister in the Begin government, including during the first Camp David conference.
Obama behind Cameron's attack on Israel
By Pamela Geller - The Daily Caller 2:38 PM 07/29/2010 (2:38 PM) Speaking in Turkey on Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron slammed Israel and called Gaza a “prison camp.” (Apparently Gaza is the first prison camp with luxury shopping malls.) The British Foreign Office has been taking the blame for this betrayal of Israel, but they’re claiming they were as surprised as anyone. Now, a high-placed and knowledgeable source has informed me that it was Obama’s people who put the slamming of Israel into Cameron’s speech.
Cameron also said that “the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable.” He didn’t mention the ties of the Turkish-backed IHH “activists” on the flotilla to global jihad terror groups. He didn’t mention that the “activists” on the Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, were chanting, “Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return” – a chant that refers to Muhammad’s massacre of the Jews at the Arabian oasis of Khaibar.
And now we learn that it was the Obama camp that put Cameron up to this. It comes as no surprise. Obama himself termed Israel’s defensive action against the jihad flotilla “tragic.”
Just as Blair was Bush’s “puppy,” Cameron is Obama’s lapdog.
Obama’s use of Cameron as his sock puppet points once again to Obama’s obsession with destroying the Jewish state. Obama is doing nothing less than warring against Israel. When Sean Hannity asked me on his show Tuesday night if I thought Obama was an anti-semite, I said yes. He is. It sounds harsh. But the evidence is clear and extensive: it’s all meticulously researched and set out in my book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America, which is just out this week.
In the book I profile Obama’s many, many anti-Israel playmates: not just Jeremiah Wright, but also Rashid Khalidi (who is also tied to the jihad flotillas and just named a new one after Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope) and William Ayers: in the book also I expose the blatant Judeophobia of the terrorist couple Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn in their book Prairie Fire.
It is increasingly clear that the Islamic anti-Semitism taught in the Koranic classes of Obama’s youth in Indonesia and the subsequent adult years he spent with the likes of demagogues and Jew-haters like Wright, Ayers, and Louis Farrakhan have made him the man he is.
Now that Obama is in the White House, he is taking this Jew-hatred to a whole new level, bringing it to the international stage. In the book I give the details of a little-noticed but pivotal Obama speech that former UN Ambassador John Bolton called “the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any president making.”
Obama’s advisers and appointments as president are consistent with this: Robert Malley, Samantha Power, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Susan Rice, Rosa Brooks, Chuck Hagel… One anti-Semitic appointment may be an accident, but five and counting is a trend – and Obama has surrounded himself with Jew-haters.
Then there is Obama himself. In The Post-American Presidency I give the shocking details of how, during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama’s website, Organizing for America, hosted a series of vile anti-American, Jew-hating posts and pieces.
The anti-Semitic onslaught was overwhelming. It included numerous, heinous calls for Jewish genocide and incitement to hatred. And it continued after the election, into the fall of 2009 – on the official website of the man who supposedly is the leader of the free world, and who has editorial control over the website.
And now Obama’s relentless persecution of the Jews by way of an anti-Semitic approach to Israel has now reached a fever pitch with the lines he has fed to his willing stooge David Cameron.
One Israeli intelligence official summed up Obama’s policy toward his country in a nutshell: “Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and until now the worst enemies of the United States. Under this policy, we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”
An obstacle … but to what goal?
It will only get worse for the tiny Jewish state. And as I show in The Post-American Presidency, everyone who voted for Obama should have seen all this coming. The warnings were clear. They were ignored. The price will be high.
Pamela Geller is the founder, editor, and publisher of the widely popular and award-winning website www.AtlasShrugs.com, which has broken numerous important political stories. Geller and Robert Spencer have a new book out this week, “The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America.”
Article emailed from The Daily Caller – Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment: http://dailycaller.com
URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2010/07/29/obama-behind-cameron%e2%80%99s-attack-on-israel/
what do you think of this?
Will Obama enforce the law or was his claimed commitment to Israel a feint
Los Angeles Times headline, circa April: Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/10/nation/na-obamamideast10
The column went on to detail Barack Obama’s praise for his friend Rashid Khalidi for educating him about the Middle East and clearing up his blind spots and biases. Hmm..I may be wrong about this..but I doubt Khalidi delivered a pro-Israel message (Khalidi is now the Edward Said Professor at Columbia university-that cockpit of anti-Israel campus activism).
Now Khalidi is involved in efforts to crash through Israel’s blockade against Hamas. This is against US law. Will Barack Obama and his other pal, Attorney General Holder, enforce the law?
Khalidi’s Audacity of Hope
Will Obama enforce the law or was his claimed commitment to Israel a feint?
Earlier this month, hosting Benjamin Netanyahu — the Israeli prime minister he had humiliated back in March — President Obama was at pains to prove he is not hostile to the Jewish state. In fact, he took umbrage at a reporter’s suggestion that his administration is not committed to what he called the “special bond,” America’s relationship with Israel.
Well, here’s his chance to prove that he was serious, that he wasn’t engaged in Alinskyite misdirection.
Obama’s close friend, the rabidly anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi, is back in the news. The former PLO spokesman has signed an appeal for funds to outfit a ship that would join yet another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. In the last such attempt several weeks back — a contingent of Islamists and radical leftists, perversely identifying themselves as the “peace flotilla” and armed for hand-to-hand combat — carried out a premeditated attack on the Israeli defense force that denied them passage.
Evacuated by Israel in 2005, the Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas, the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is pledged, by charter, to the violent destruction of Israel. The jihadist organization has been formally designated as an international terrorist under U.S. law since the mid-nineties. Several people have been convicted and imprisoned for coming to its aid, because providing material support to terrorist organizations is a serious crime.
Hamas remains at war with Israel and has continued firing rockets at Israeli civilians. The blockade is thus a legitimate national-defense measure. Still, Israel does not bar humanitarian assistance, which is permitted entry into Gaza after inspection. The blockade prevents material aid to Hamas. It is necessary because Hamas will not renounce terrorism and is incorrigible in its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist.
In this regard, Hamas merely echoes Khalidi, a consummate propagandist who frames Israel as an illegitimate, racist, apartheid state. Khalidi has long contended that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal. He has a right to be wrong about that, of course. But the Columbia academic has no right to violate American law in the service of his political agenda.
With his insider’s understanding of Obama’s views, Khalidi is betting that he will be immune from any legal consequences for his actions. Indeed, if that weren’t clear enough already, Khalidi and other architects of the Gaza gambit plan to call their vessel The Audacity of Hope. That is the title of Barack Obama’s second autobiographical book — a title inspired by Obama’s former pastor of 20 years, the radical black-liberation theologian Jeremiah Wright (whose vitriol, like Khalidi’s, is copiously spewed at Israel).
Khalidi is not alone in his optimism. In addition to his wife, Mona (who is the president of the Arab American Action Network, which Khalidi cofounded), others who’ve signed the statement urging financial contributions to the Gaza voyage include Medea Benjamin (the founder of Code Pink), Angela Davis (the communist professor and former Black Panther Party member), Michael Ratner (head of the leftist Center for Constitutional Rights, which has coordinated representation for jihadists held at Guantanamo Bay and thus worked in league with many lawyers now serving in the Obama Justice Department), Abdeen Jabara (who, along with Lynne Stewart, represented the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, leader of the terror cell that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993), and many other luminaries representative of the leftist-Islamist connection about which I write in The Grand Jihad.
There is no question that these radicals are conspiring to furnish a ship for the purpose of challenging Israel’s blockade. The statement they have issued is clear: “In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” they write, there has been “increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.” Gaza, they insist, “is still under siege,” reduced to an “open-air prison under a U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.” Because of this,
We are planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East due to set sail in September/October of this year. . . . Citizens around the world have responded to the plight of the Palestinian people and are taking action to help break the blockade[.] . . . We in the United States must do our part.
It is an imperative of American law to prevent individual citizens from imperiling the rest of us, and from souring our foreign relations, by conducting their own foreign policy — particularly when it subverts actual U.S. policy or provokes friendly nations. Consequently, the brazen declaration by Khalidi & Co. ought to put several provisions of the federal penal code into play.
For example, Section 962 makes it a crime to furnish or fit out a vessel in the service of any foreign entity “to cruise, or commit hostilities” against a nation with which the U.S. is at peace. Israel is an American ally and the planned voyage is intended for the benefit of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Challenging a blockade — regardless of whether one thinks the blockade complies with the shifting sands of international law — is a hostile act. The boat needn’t embark in order for Khalidi to violate the law; it is a crime to conspire or attempt such a voyage. That is, the law is being violated now.
So, very likely, is the Logan Act, Section 953 of the penal code. This prohibits American citizens (Khalidi was born in New York City) from carrying on “any correspondence or intercourse” with any foreign government with the intent to influence the “measures or conduct of any foreign government” regarding “disputes or controversies with the United States,” or to “defeat the measures of the United States.”
It would require Justice Department investigation to determine exactly what communications Khalidi and his friends have had with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Yet, given Khalidi’s history of close relations with Yasser Arafat and his successors, as well as the clamor by Islamists and leftists to include Hamas in what Turkey eerily calls the “final solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there has undoubtedly been significant contact between Palestinian officials and Audacity of Hope planners. Beyond that, it could not be plainer that the planners are seeking to influence the behavior of both Israel and Hamas. Moreover, it cannot be gainsaid that the United States is enmeshed in the controversy over the blockade; indeed, Khalidi and his confederates expressly allege that the blockade is “U.S.-backed.” And wholly apart from the blockade, the planned stunt will strengthen the hand of Hamas and make Israel’s defense more uncertain. Since it is American policy to weaken Hamas and protect Israel, the flotilla aims to defeat measures of the United States.
Finally, the Gaza voyage would manifestly benefit Hamas. Its specific purpose is to eradicate a national-defense measure by which Israel secures itself from the terrorist organization’s attacks. It would make supplying Hamas with money, weaponry, and other assets far easier. The Islamists and leftists behind the flotilla know this only too well — they refuse to acknowledge that Palestinian brutality against Israel (particularly, against the Israeli government) is “terrorism,” portraying it instead as legitimate “resistance” against an illegitimate occupying power. For them, facilitating this sort of aid would be a welcome result.
But our law does not permit it. Section 2339B makes providing material support to a terrorist organization a felony punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment. The organizers may claim that they are not planning to supply Hamas directly with any prohibited assets, but our law also forbids conspiring in, or aiding and abetting, the material-support activities of others. The organizers know that if they succeed in breaking the blockade, others will be able to supply Hamas freely. That is the purpose of the exercise. In fact, the statement signed by Khalidi & Co. says the point of defeating the blockade is to enable the flow of goods in and out of Gaza. An agreement the purpose of which is to abet the importation of goods that would then necessarily be placed at the service of Hamas is a conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization.
So, was President Obama being sincere when he claimed, with Prime Minister Netanyahu by his side, to be “unwavering” in our commitment to Israel and its security? A concrete demonstration that this claim was a product of good faith rather than hot air would be, very simply, to enforce the law.
Rashid Khalidi and his cohorts have been very forthright. They want the world to know that they are conspiring, right now, to furnish a ship that will challenge Israel’s naval forces, to conduct their own foreign policy to the detriment of our ally, and to provide material support to the Hamas terrorist organization. What are the president and his Justice Department planning to do about that?
Nothing to Show for It
Jennifer Rubin - 07.19.2010 - 7:22 AM
The walls are closing in on Obama’s Middle East policy. He flattered and cajoled the Palestinians while bullying the Israelis. He insisted on unilateral concessions from Bibi. He urged proximity talks to spare Fatah the trouble of getting in the room with the Israelis — and giving up both terrorism and the dream of a one-state solution (i.e., the right of Palestinians to return and demographically swamp Israel). None of it worked to move the parties closer to a peace deal.
Now signs abound that proximity talks will not lead to direct negotiations (which Obama said during Bibi’s visit were the next step in the “peace process”) but to a dead end. Since Obama’s declared preference for direct talks, Palestinian figures have thrown out a variety of new preconditions. The Egyptian foreign minister says the parties are “too far apart.” (I suppose ignoring Mubarak’s political crackdown and plying him with billions in new aid didn’t transform him into a helpful promoter of the “peace process.”)
In sum, Obama has invested enormous time and prestige and done immense damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship with nothing to show for it. There is no peace deal, and not even direct talks are on the horizon. And all this has diverted attention from (intentionally, one might conclude) his failure to derail Iran’s nuclear program. There, too, his engagement policy and pursuit of consensus (the lowest common denominator sanctions minus any gasoline sanctions) have also failed. Rather, his efforts have emboldened the mullahs and encouraged their junior partners in Damascus and Ankara to step up their anti-Israel behavior.
Along the way he’s frightened and angered American Jews, raised and then dashed Palestinians’ expectations, and undermined human rights and democracy activists in the Muslim World. It is what critics warned would happen. The Obami said they knew best. Turned out they didn’t.
The Region: Behind the praise
By BARRY RUBIN
The recent meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was as good as it’s going to get.
At the recent meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the president could not have been more effusive. They had an “excellent” discussion, Netanyahu’s statement was “wonderful,” and the USIsrael relationship is “extraordinary.”
Hard to believe this is the same Obama.
The US president wants to improve relations with Israel for several reasons.
Obviously, he doesn’t want to be bashing Israel in the period leading up to the November elections. Polls show that for Americans, his administration’s relative hostility toward Israel is its least popular policy...
AS I’VE pointed out before, once Israel concluded that there would be no Western commitment for overthrowing the Hamas regime, it might as well go to a containment strategy. This Western policy is terrible but Israel is merely recognizing the real situation and making the best of it...
OBAMA PRAISED Netanyahu just as much on the “peace process.” The president said: “I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace.”
Remember that quote when Obama turns on Netanyahu again after the November elections. As for risks, we’ve had enough of those, thank you very much.
DOES ISRAEL’S government trust Obama? Of course not. Israelis in general are under no illusions about Obama’s view of their country, his willingness to battle revolutionary Islamists, or his general reliability and toughness...
There is a possibility of Obama turning to a much tougher stance on Israel after the congressional elections are over. Yet with a plummeting popularity at home and many domestic problems, perhaps Obama will have more on his mind than playing Middle East peacemaker.
The Palestinian Authority is so uneager for a peace agreement that anything Israel says on the subject is most unlikely ever to be implemented. And it seems that the Obama administration has at least some sense that it isn’t going to get an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement so it doesn’t want to look foolish in making this a high priority and then failing.
Thus, Israel’s strategy is as follows: try very hard to get along with the administration, seek to keep it happy, and avoid confrontation without making any major irreversible concessions or taking serious risks. Have no illusions, but keep the US government focused on Iran as much as possible.
The next Congress will be more likely to constrain the president and who knows what will happen in future. A building freeze might be ended on strong grounds the next time. It is quite possible that Iran, Syria, and other radical forces will so assault the United States and trample on its interests that Obama will be forced to alter course. And there’s always the 2012 presidential election.This, then, is the best policy for Israel to follow considering the more unattractive options. And for the foreseeable future, Obama will play along.
It isn’t neat but it is real world international politics.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs and Turkish Studies. He blogs at www.rubinreports.blogspot.com
Gee—do you think sharing technology regarding aeronautics might have dual –use capabilities (such as teaching people how to design and launch missiles)?
Does the absurdity ever end?
Obama’s new mission for NASA: Reach out to Muslim world
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
07/05/10 2:50 AM EDT
In a far-reaching restatement of goals for the nation’s space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: to “re-inspire children” to study science and math, to “expand our international relationships,” and to “reach out to the Muslim world.” Of those three goals, Bolden said in a recent interview with al-Jazeera, the mission to reach out to Muslims is “perhaps foremost,” because it will help Islamic nations “feel good” about their scientific accomplishments.
In the same interview, Bolden also said the United States, which first sent men to the moon in 1969, is no longer capable of reaching beyond low earth orbit without help from other nations.
Bolden made the statements during a recent trip to the Middle East. He told al-Jazeera that in the wake of the president’s speech in Cairo last year, the American space agency is now pursuing “a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.” Then:
When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.
Later in the interview, Bolden discussed NASA’s goal of greater international cooperation in space exploration. He said the United States, more than 40 years after the first moon mission, cannot reach beyond earth’s orbit today without assistance from abroad:
In his message in Cairo, [Obama] talked about expanding our international outreach, expanding our international involvement. We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can’t do it, China can’t do it — no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.
Bolden’s trip included a June 15 speech at the American University in Cairo. In that speech, he said in the past NASA worked mostly with countries that are capable of space exploration. But that, too, has changed in light of Obama’s Cairo initiative. “He asked NASA to change…by reaching out to ‘non-traditional’ partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations,” Bolden said. “NASA has embraced this charge.”
“NASA is not only a space exploration agency,” Bolden concluded, “but also an earth improvement agency.”
Why are we selling weapons to Saudis when they want to wipe Israel off the map?
from the daily alert July 1
Despite the differences of opinion, the report said Washington and Riyadh were in talks towards the signing of an extensive weapons deal, in which the Saudis are to purchase two squadrons of F-15 fighter jets, as well as maintenance and development services for similar products acquired in the past, at a cost of $20 billion. (Ynet News)
See also Report: Saudi King Abdullah Wants to Wipe Israel and Iran Off the Map - David Kenner
On June 5, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah reportedly told French Defense Minister Herve Morin that "There are two countries in the world that do not deserve to exist: Iran and Israel." Georges Malbrunot, a French journalist with Le Figaro, said two sources have confirmed the story. (Foreign Policy)
How Obama is legitimizing Hammas
By BARRY RUBIN
The White House’s June 20 statement on the Gaza blockade shows that the Obama administration has abandoned all strategic concepts in its approach to the matter.
The White House’s June 20 statement on Gaza is immensely revealing of the shortcomings in US policy. It isn’t at all just a matter of policy toward Israel but of a failure to consider the broader US national interest.
Here’s the real issue: Does the US want the long-term existence of a revolutionary Islamist mini-state on the Mediterranean, spreading terrorism and anti-Semitism, eager to go to war with Israel again, working hard to block any Israel-Palestinian peace, expelling Christians, oppressing women and subverting moderate Arab states? It begins: “The president has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and has made clear that it demands fundamental change.”
One would expect the words “unsustainable” and “demands fundamental change” to mean the president demands the overthrow of the Hamas regime. In fact, it signifies the exact opposite: He demands that regime’s stabilization.
The statement continues by describing Obama’s plan to give roughly $200 million to Gaza as “a down payment on the US commitment to the people of Gaza, who deserve a chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank.”
Just think of that paragraph’s implications: a “down payment” on a “US commitment,” that is, not an act of generosity for which the US must get something in return. Rather, the phrasing makes it seem the US owes them the money.
Moreover, such aid retards rather than advances building a Palestinian state by shoring up a Hamas government which is against the Palestinian Authority, against peace with Israel and against a two-state solution.
Note, too, that Hamas is put on an equal plane with the PA. And couldn’t the administration have said that the state must be built in the context of the Oslo Accords or under the PA’s leadership? There is no mention of even the Quartet conditions: Nothing is said about Hamas abandoning terrorism or accepting Israel’s existence or submitting to the PA as the legitimate government.
The statement is absolutely unconditional. Only the “humanitarian” consideration counts, as if the US government is a community organizer building a welfare program.
THIS ABDICATION of strategy and politics would be like the US making a commitment to help the people of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War or North Korea during the Korean War by pouring in money and goods unconditionally, saying this would help lead to a moderate unified state.
Don’t those who govern the Gaza Strip as a dictatorship (an anti-Semitic, anti-American, terrorist, revolutionary Islamist, would-be genocidal, Christian-expelling, women-repressing and allied to Iran dictatorship at that) matter one bit? The announcement continued by welcoming Israel’s new policy as something that “should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, while preventing the entry of weapons.”
In other words, the US has no problem with Hamas ruling Gaza as long as weapons are kept out. There is absolutely no strategic concept in the US approach.
Meanwhile, the White House makes clear that Israel’s concessions aren’t sufficient. Blandly but incredibly, the statement continues: “We will work...
to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including greater freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza and the West Bank.”
Now while it is true that this could mean PA supporters go to Gaza and subvert the regime’s power, it’s more likely that the practical implication would be that Hamas militants, bomb-makers and agitators would get into the West Bank. When Israel restricts the passage between the two areas, would it then be accused of inhibiting Palestinian “freedom of movement?” Did anyone in the administration think of conditioning the easing of the embargo and the US aid on Gilad Schalit’s release or some other Hamas concession? Of course not.
And the statement ends: “We urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. There is no need for unnecessary confrontations.”
Of course, all of this won’t discourage ships sailing and pro-Hamas militants seeking confrontation. After all, Western policy teaches them that confrontation means massive victories in demonizing Israel and gaining concessions. Why should anyone dismiss them as “unnecessary”? In this statement there is not one word criticizing Hamas. And there is no hint that any thought has been given to the strategic implications of accepting a Hamas regime and allowing it to normalize the economic situation even while it is creating a nightmare political and social situation for Gazans.
Let’s assume the administration had the same goals but went about it with different rhetoric. It would condemn Hamas extensively but then say that, of course, it should not be able to hold the people in Gaza as hostages and that they should not suffer just because they are ruled by a terrible dictatorship.
The statement could look forward to the day when they are liberated from these extremist, repressive rulers. I’m not saying this is my preferred policy, but it is a way for the Obama administration to implement its policy without abandoning any strategic interest in weakening Iran-backed revolutionary Islamism and terrorism.
In other words, the administration could have said: Hamas is our enemy; the people of Gaza are our friends. We don’t want you to suffer. We want you to get rid of Hamas, join with the PA and make a lasting peace with Israel. If you are moderate and abandon terrorism, you will be better off and get your own state through negotiations with Israel.
But that was not the strategic line taken.
In this bland little White House statement we see the current US government’s massive strategic failure.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs and Turkish Studies. He blogs at
Obama Can’t Decide Whether to Stand with Israel
Jennifer Rubin - 06.26.2010 - 8:00 AM
Josh Rogin reports: “The Obama administration is still not saying what it will do if and when the U.N. calls for another international investigation into the Gaza flotilla incident.” You see, Obama is supportive of the Israeli investigation; he just won’t say whether he’ll defend Israel’s right to conduct its own investigation and rebuff UN attempts to set up an international kangaroo court. Rogin tells us:
The uncertainty is whether the Obama administration is willing to actively oppose a new investigation. This uncertainty is compounded by the mixed messages coming from senior officials like Jones, as well as the Obama team’s apparent unwillingness to brush Secretary-General Ban off the plate.
This lack of resolve and maddening squishiness should no longer shock us. While other American presidents would leave no “uncertainty” and would make clear that the U.S. would not countenance such an action from the UN, this president is different (to use Michal Oren’s description). His attitude toward the U.S.-Israel relationship is unlike his predecessor’s. For Obama, the highest foreign-policy priorities are getting along with the “international community,” accommodating our foes (i.e., “engagement”), and reorienting the U.S. toward the “Muslim World.” If those aims come in conflict with Israel’s security needs (which they inevitably do) and its efforts to hold back the assaults on the Jewish state’s legitimacy, Israel may well have to fend for itself.
Unfortunately, the uncertainty in and of itself is harmful both to Israel’s security and America’s international standing. Most immediately, the hemming and hawing demonstrates less than “rock-solid” (Hillary’s description) support for the Jewish state, serving as another sign of daylight between this administration and the Israeli government. This will only encourage more attacks on Israel (diplomatic or otherwise). As for our own standing, once again, we display what a fickle and unreliable ally we are. Uncertainty is not what allies expect – or what keeps foes at bay.
It’s not hard to figure out why the world is getting more dangerous: “The United States and its allies have all the tools at their disposal to defeat our shared enemies. Success will depend on three basic commitments: American leadership, a stronger Europe, and a common transatlantic vision. Unfortunately, we have recently been witnessing the opposite: an internationally reluctant American president, a Europe which is mired in its own problems, and an eroded Atlantic bond. … Today, the growing perception among European elites is that the U.S. president is not interested in Europe at all. Many of those elites instead believe that, as president, Obama is mainly concerned with improving America’s image in the Muslim world.” It took Obama to make European elites seem sane.
The Obama team can never utter anything positive about Israel or U.S Israel relations other than that we are committed to their security. The rest of the time, we get mush, or carefully worded statements, designed not to offend Arabs or Muslim nations, or outright criticism of Israel. When an Israeli bureaucrat announces approval of step 3 or 4 of a 7 step process for a new housing complex in Jerusalem, all hell breaks lose, and some in the Obama administration describe it as the most serious breach in the relationship in decades. As I said before, under Obama, America has switched sides in the conflict. The P.A is our protected ally, Israel is an annoyance and a problem. On the other hand, if you are an Arab or Muslim nation, there will never be any criticism from this Administration. Turkey's provocation with the armed flotilla ,and its no vote on the Iran sanctions at the Security Council is not criticized, but excused. Nor is Brazil criticized for its no vote. Syria can stiff us every day, but we keep claiming we are trying to move them away from Iran.
b. James Jones at the NSC seems to be the major Administration figure who has been pushing for allowing international tribunals to examine the flotilla incident. Now why may that be? His deputy for multi- lateral organizations is none other than Israel hating Samantha Power, often described as Obama's closest advisor on foreign policy. Ed Lasky and I wrote about what a horror Power was with regard to Israel during the 2008 campaign. Nobody who was carrying water for Obama in the "pro-Israel community" at the time seemed to care. There is little difference in international perspective in having Power in the White House or Reverend Wright.
Day by day evidence accumulates that the Obama administration is weakening
its support for Israel. When will this stop?Day by day evidence accumulates that the Obama administration is weakening
its support for Israel. When will this stop?
Sources: Obama Administration to Support Anti-Israel Resolution at UN Next
BY William Kristol
June 11, 2010 10:41 AM
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials
have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to
support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent
commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza
flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns fro=
elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling
out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the
world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be
one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on
Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigation=
of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct
our own war on terror.
While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role
in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one
official stressed, of course the president's. The government of Israel has
been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative
panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include
respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the
Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a =93kosher panel=94 is=
good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White Hous=
Obama’s Iran Policy in Shambles
Jennifer Rubin - 06.09.2010 - 9:34 AM
The Obama team keeps telling us that its foreign-policy gurus have successfully “isolated” Iran and are proceeding with serious sanctions. Neither is true. The Washington Post reports:
A year ago, Iran was on its way to becoming a pariah state. Dozens of governments accused Iranian leaders of stealing the presidential election and condemned the brutal crackdown on protesters that followed. The country faced sanctions and international scorn over its controversial nuclear program.
Now, even as the U.N. Security Council prepares to impose its fourth round of sanctions on Iran with a vote slated for Wednesday, Tehran is demonstrating remarkable resilience, insulating some of its most crucial industries from U.S.-backed financial restrictions and building a formidable diplomatic network that should help it withstand some of the pressure from the West. Iranian leaders are meeting politicians in world capitals from Tokyo to Brussels. They are also signing game-changing energy deals, increasing their economic self-sufficiency and even gaining seats on international bodies.
As for those sanctions, the Post reveals just how ineffective they are:
But in another sign of the fragile nature of Washington’s anti-Iran alliance, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran convened a regional security summit Tuesday to emphasize the realignment of military power in the region. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who backs U.N. sanctions, said the measures should not “be excessive” or impose undue hardship on the Iranian leadership or the Iranian people.
The new U.S.-backed measures have been watered down enough that Tehran’s crucial oil sector will probably be spared, and Russia’s and China’s business dealings with Iran will go largely untouched.
Meanwhile, members of Congress shuffle their collective feet, Jewish groups remain mum, and the Obama administration congratulates itself on its “success.” Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, says the administration’s moves won’t hobble Iran’s nuclear ambitions. (”The horse is out of the stable.”) At every turn — engagement, “reset” with Russia, quietude on the June 12 uprising, downplaying the Qom revelation, fashioning anemic sanctions, and abusing our ally Israel — the Obama team has made fundamental errors. This leaves two options: Israeli military action or a nuclear-armed Iran. The former is undesirable, but the latter is catastrophic. That we face this dilemma is solely the result of Obama’s grievous errors. History will not be kind.
»Back to Contentions
Obama and Hamas
By Ted Belman
Pres Obama is not letting the flotilla crisis go to waste. He is using
it as a springboard to change US policy regarding Hamas.
uttered in a recent interview by Larry King, �Time to move forward
and break out of the impasse� and �the status quo is
unsustainable.� Totally aside from whether it is really
unsustainable, one need not wonder how he intends to break out of the
impass. He will bring Hamas in from the cold.
It was recently disclosed by Aaron Klein
�The group behind the Gaza flotilla that engaged in deadly clashes
with Israeli commandos today counts among its top supporters the
friends and associates of President Barack Obama, namely the founders
of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, William Ayers and
Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of the radical
activist organization Code Pink.�
Barack Obama should be included in this cast of characters.
went so far as to report:
�A top adviser to President Obama, (John O Brennan), is the contact
person within the White House for communications with the Free Gaza
Movement over plans to challenge Israel�s blockade of the terrorist
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, according to a reputable source close to
the Netanyahu government.
The anti blockade movement was promoted by a Turkish �charity�
IHH which has been designated as a supporter of Hamas by both Israel
and the US. One of the backers of this �charity� is Tariq Ramadan
who had been banned from entering the US due to his financial support
of Hamas. Yet Obama believes that �Turkey can have a positive voice
in this whole process.�
In April of this year, Obama�s administration lifted the ban on
Ramadan. A week ago, the Guardian reported �Hamas leader says
American envoys making contact, but not openly.� And this was before
But the Obama-Hamas connection goes way back.
Two years ago
�From BizzyBlog comes evidence that Obama�s church not only has
anti-white, anti-American feelings, but may also have a pro-Hamas
The July 22, 2007 Trinity United Church of Christ bulletin reprinted
an article written by Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy of the political
bureau of Hamas. Originally printed in the LA Times as �Hamas�
stand�, Pastor Wright added a new title, �A Fresh View of the
Palestinian Struggle�. The Times was criticized for giving a
�Platform To Genocidal Terrorist.� Where does that leave Obama�s
church? Marzook is a known terrorist and created an extensive Hamas
network in the United States.�
Indeed, where does that leave Obama himself?
During Obama�s election campaign he was aided by Hamas-controlled
Palestinians manning a phone bank from Gaza. Al Jazeera reported on
Seven days later, on January 27/09, Obama allocated
$20.3 million for Palestinian migration and refugee assistance. Quite
a reward. Why was he bringing Hamas terrorists to the US?
But his gratitude didn�t end there. One month later, in the middle
of a great economic crunch, Obama sent $900 million
to Gazans or should I say Hamas.
So how does Obama intend to end the impass? An indication may be in
Pres Carter�s written initiative
, which he delivered to Hamas a year ago. In it, he proposed talks
between the Islamist group and the U.S. without Hamas having to accept
all conditions previously laid out for dialogue by the American
After the Hamas take over of Gaza three years ago, the US and Israel
decided to impose a blockade on Gaza to bring Hamas down. Hamas
started firing rockets at Israel over the next few years to force a
change in this policy. This resulted in Cast Lead in which the IDF
attacked Hamas and delivered a major blow. Israel shocked everyone by
ending the operation before Hamas was annihilated. It was reported
that she did so at the request of President-elect Obama who was about
to be inaugurated.
For the time being, the rockets being fired by Hamas are few and far
between perhaps because Hamas has a friend in the White House.
Instead, Hamas has been planning, along with friends of Obama above
mentioned and Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland
security and counterterrorism, to break the siege with a flotilla. And
to make sure to create a sufficient crises to enable Obama to chart
another course more favorable to them, they planned a violent
�Ending the impass�, means lifting the blockade. Netanyahu in a
recent speech gave Israel�s bottom line saying, �Israel cannot
permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers
from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem�. The same, I am sure, goes for an
airport in Gaza.
Let�s see how Obama squares the circle. No doubt he will propose
some international inspection of cargo, certainly arriving from the
Mediterranean and possibly from Egypt. But Israel need look no farther
than UNSC Res 1701 which ended Lebanon War II. That resolution was to
put a stop to the rearming of Hezbollah. It failed miserably. Why
should better results be expected in Gaza.
Ed Lasky-On how Israel was treated by the administration over the flotilla (despite volumes of intelligence; despite videos; despite testimony; etc):
Consider Obama's presidential record on judging events. When lawyer Obama heard only scant details of Professor Gates' arrest, he didn't bat an eyelash before publicly declaring that the police "acted stupidly." When President Obama learned of Chávez-wannabe Zelaya being exiled from Honduras, he took the side of Zelaya without even the slightest hesitation, and he even threw the weight of the entire U.S. government against the tiny, struggling Honduran democracy. When Eric Holder announced that he intended to grant the 9/11 terrorists civilian trials in the heart of NYC, President Obama needed no time to study the issue, gather all the facts, or hold any public investigations on the matter. President Obama seems to have no difficulty whatsoever taking sides.
Yet whenever the president is confronted with events in which Jews or Muslims are concerned, we encounter an altogether different Obama persona. We see the dodger. We see the presumed thinker. We see the lawyer calling for all the facts, all the wider ramifications, all the possible contingencies. In every instance of terrorist killing or foiled killing since taking office, President Obama has dodged the one word that fits: "Muslim." He has removed every mention of Islam from all intelligence material on terrorism. Since day one of his presidency, we have seen a man seemingly going out of his way to soothe the hurt feelings of Muslims, all the while publicly insulting and humiliating the Jewish Prime Minister of Israel. Now, with clear film showing soldiers mercilessly beaten by a savage gang and firing in self-defense, the president dithers, joins an immoral U.N. condemnation of the Israelis, and continues to "gather facts."
Remembering the fears of my Jewish friend, I must now ask whether Barack Obama is signaling to the entire Muslim world that Israel is theirs for the taking, that America will stand aside and twiddle our collective thumbs while Iran and her Muslim neighbors finally get to carry out Holocaust II.
Obama actually undermining Israel on flotilla
BY Jamie M. Fly
On Tuesday, the day after Israeli commandos prevented a flotilla from breaking the naval blockade of Gaza, ABC News reported the (supposedly) definitive U.S. position. Under the headline, “Official: U.S. Will Stand with Israel,” Jake Tapper wrote, “I’m told there won’t be any daylight between the US and Israel in the aftermath of the incident on the flotilla yesterday.”
Stirring stuff, but unfortunately, little more than a day later, daylight began appearing all over the place.
First, as Elliott Abrams pointed out in this space yesterday, the Obama administration wasn’t even willing to block a “Presidential Statement” from coming out of the United Nations Security Council that many in the world quickly interpreted as a condemnation of Israel.
Then, the State Department made a point of making it known on Wednesday that it had called on Israel to use “caution and restraint” towards the flotilla prior to the Israeli operation. As none other than Vice President Joe Biden told Charlie Rose, "You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not."
Now, this morning, Doyle McManus writes in the Los Angeles Times that “Obama aides hope that backing Israel now will pay off on issues that are more important than the immediate controversy, and the administration has already begun using its support to press a broader agenda.”
What exactly is that agenda? According to McManus:
The first, short-term goal is to contain the diplomatic damage from the ferry debacle and to make sure the next boat that tries to run the blockade doesn't prompt another round of gunfire.
The second is to persuade Israel to relax the Gaza blockade, something the administration has been demanding for months. Right now, Israel allows food and medicine into Gaza (although aid agencies charge not enough) but bars most building material and industrial supplies, crippling the area's economy. The aim was to hurt Hamas, but instead it is Israel that has been blamed.
The third goal is to induce Netanyahu to be more forthcoming in peace talks with the Palestinians, the administration's main aim all along.
So, over the course of two days, “no daylight” has essentially become “we told you so,” “perhaps you shouldn’t have done that,” and “we plan to use this to our advantage to further our agenda.”
It’s no wonder that ally after ally feels slighted by the Obama administration, because even when this White House says they are standing with you, they are simultaneously undermining you.
BACKSTABS iSRAEL ON NUCLEAR
Dismally, what the US’s vote in favor of the NPT review conference’s final anti-Israel (and by default pro-Iranian) resolution makes clear is that under Obama, the US is no longer Israel’s reliable ally. Indeed, what the US’s vote shows is that the Obama administration’s ideological preferences place it on the side of the red-green alliance. No amount of backpedalling by the Obama administration can make up the damage caused by its act of belligerence.
If Israel’s leaders were better informed, they would have recognized a number of things in the lead-up to the conference. They would have realized that Obama’s anti-nuclear conference in April, his commitment to a nuclear-free world, as well as his general ambivalence – at best – to US global leadership rendered it all but inevitable that he would turn on Israel. The truth is that Egypt’s call for the denuclearization of Israel jibes with Obama’s own repeatedly statedviews both regarding Israel and the US’s own nuclear arsenal. Armed with this basic understanding of Obama’s inclinations, Israel should have taken for granted that the NPT conference would target it. Consequently, in months preceding the conference, it should have stated loudly and consistently that as currently constituted, the NPT serves as the chief enabler of nuclear proliferation rather than the central instrument for preventing nuclear proliferation. North Korea exploited its status as an NPT signatory to develop its nuclear arsenal. Today Iran exploits its status as an NPT signatory to develop nuclear weapons. Unless the NPT is fundamentally revised, it will continue to serve as the primary instrument for nuclear proliferation.
Had this been Israel’s position, it would have been able to undercut US arguments in favor of signing onto the final resolution. So too, such a position would have prepared Israel to cogently explain its rejection of the final resolution.
Obama after 16 months scorecard
fter 16 months of effort, there is now the possibility of weak sanctions that will be passed by the U.N Security Council to address Iran's nuclear program. Some new Congressional sanctions will follow, though for now they are being delayed by the Administration until the U.N has acted , so Obama can first bask in his multilateral triumph, achieved by bribes to Russia, and lowering the bar on what was achieved. In essence, the Iranian nuclear problem remains alive, kicking and expanding. The threat to Israel from Iran's principal proxy army- Hezbollah, and its 40,000 rockets, has become more severe, and soon Hezbollah may have Iran's nuclear umbrella to back its provocations. . Syria has slammed back the Obama outreach effort, and the Palestinians , while waiting for Obama to deliver Israel concessions, continue to take pot shots at Israel in every international venue. Even the supposedly moderate Salam Fayyad worked overtime to keep Israel from accession to the OECD.
You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses. In addition to John
Brennan, there is Samantha Power, Zbignew Brzezinski, Rashid Khalidi, and
many, many more.
Top Obama advisor John Brennan talks about his love for "al-Quds."
"I did spend time with classmates at the American University in Cairo in the
1970's. And, time spent with classmates from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine from
around the world who taught me that whatever our differences in nationality,
or race, or religion, or lan guage, there are certain aspirations that we
all share. To get an education. To provide for our family. To practice our
faith freely (huh?). To live in peace and security. And in a 25 year career
in government, I was privileged to serve in positions across the Middle
East. In Saudi Arabia, I saw how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as
custodians of the two holy mosques at Mecca and Medina. I marveled at the
majesty of the Hajj and the devotion of those who fulfilled their duty as
Muslims by making that pilgrimage. And, in all my travels the city I have
come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem where three great faiths come
By all means, see
OBAMA joins shunned anti Israel group
U.S. to Join Advisory Group Once Shunned - Matthew Lee
The Obama administration is preparing to begin a formal relationship with the Alliance of Civilizations, an international advisory group that the U.S. has largely shunned due to fears it would adopt anti-Israeli and anti-Western stances, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The five-year-old, UN-backed organization aims to ease strains between societies and cultures, particularly the West and Islam.
The Bush administration boycotted the group when it was founded in 2005, and its concerns were magnified a year later when the alliance released a report that identified Israel's "disproportionate retaliatory actions in Gaza and Lebanon" as a main cause of Muslim-Western tension. U.S. officials said the administration had been assured by the group's current leader, former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, that it would take a "more positive" approach to its work. (AP)
Exclusive - Wiesel To Obama: Pressure On Israel Is Not The Way
Elie Wiesel leaves White House on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
In exclusive Jewish Week interview, Nobel laureate says Israel susceptible to ‘seduction.’
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Editor and Publisher
Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel says that in his private lunch meeting with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday, the president “wanted me to understand” his commitment to Israel. And the Holocaust survivor and memoirist wanted to share with his host (also a Nobel Peace Prize winner) how important Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, is to the Jewish people.
“I had a good feeling” about the long lunch, Wiesel, 81, told The Jewish Week the next day in the first one-on-one interview he granted since the lunch. “There was no small talk; it was all substance,” he said of the meeting, with just the two men in the room. “I spoke about what Jerusalem means to me. I said the Muslims have Mecca, and we have Jerusalem.”
He said that when he pointed out that Israel cannot sustain another catastrophe, the president “reiterated his total commitment to Israel and its security.”
The meeting was widely described in the media as part of the president’s effort to alleviate the concerns of, if not woo back, the pro-Israel community here, as well as the government in Jerusalem. Israeli officials are said to be distrustful of Obama after the very public criticism it received for announcing the building of new homes in east Jerusalem during Vice President Biden’s visit to the region in early March.
Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to discuss the upcoming proximity talks with the Palestinians, and several high-level administration officials addressed national Jewish organizations this week.
But Wiesel said the timing of his private lunch with the president was proposed several months ago, and that the two men have had a very respectful relationship for several years.
Obama invited Wiesel to accompany him to the Buchenwald concentration camp last June 5, and the Holocaust survivor recalled that he was touched when the president asked him to “have the last word” that day. He spoke extemporaneously of his father’s death when they were together at Buchenwald, and Wiesel was just a teenager.
In The Jewish Week interview, Wiesel expressed disappointment with those in the Jewish community accusing Obama of anti-Israel sentiments. But he said he tries to distance himself from partisan politics.
“I am a free man,” he said several times, adding at one point: “I don’t like to be used.”
He said he is not afraid to speak out, noting that he criticized President Reagan to his face, publicly, 25 years ago, urging him not to visit Bitburg, a German cemetery that contained Nazi graves.
Wiesel said his recent full-page ad in several major newspapers here and in Israel extolling Jerusalem was written as “a declaration of love.” In the ad, he wrote that “for me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics.
“I felt the need,” he said, adding that he was not asked to compose the ad, and did not coordinate it with anyone else. (Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, published full-page ads in some of the same newspapers that week critical of Obama’s recent treatment of Israel.)
Wiesel pointed out that his Jerusalem statement was “not a letter to, or against, the president, and was not a political act” but rather a personal tribute to the history of the holy city and its deep ties to the Jewish people.
But the letter asserted that “pressure will not produce a solution” and that it would be a mistake to “tackle” the future of Jerusalem first in peace talks. “Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue,” he wrote, for a time when some trust had been established between the Israeli and Palestinian people?
Wiesel said he wrote that because he had heard, while visiting Israel during Passover, that the U.S. planned to have the two parties deal with Jerusalem first when they resumed talks.
“It worked,” he said with a smile, saying the White House reassured him that would not be the case.
While Wiesel downplayed his role as a diplomat — “Who am I to influence high-level negotiations?” — he said his advice for Obama was not to push Israel, suggesting that Israelis know how to resist pressure but may be more susceptible to “seduction.”
As for advice for the Palestinian Authority? “Change the textbooks” that demonize Israel and Jews, he said.
Wiesel said he is familiar with the criticism of his Jerusalem statement, including a full-page ad by former Israeli cabinet minister Yossi Sarid, sponsored by the J Street Education Fund, but he had no public response.
Sarid’s tone was somewhat mocking, portraying Wiesel as naïve.
He charged that Wiesel had not taken into account the negative treatment of Arabs in Jerusalem, and wrote that “nothing in our world is above politics” and that Wiesel’s description of Jerusalem “confuse(s) fundamental issues and confound(s) the reader.”
In response, Wiesel said only that Sarid “had a right to say what he said.”
Describing the state of Jewish life today, Wiesel said it was “unique in Jewish history,” with its combination of “hope, power and anguish,” a time when Israel is both flourishing economically and vulnerable existentially.
He repeated his assertion that Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who threatens to annihilate Israel, should be arrested and tried at The Hague for crimes against humanity.
“Maybe there was a time like this after the Churban,” he said, referring to the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem,” but perhaps not since then.
“We carry our memories,” he said, “into every minute of our being.”
<b>Another Taliban trained guy tries to blow up Times Square but Obama does not to use words about militant Islam
Not all terrorism: Obama tries to change subject
By MATT APUZZO – Apr 7, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's advisers plan to remove terms such as "Islamic radicalism" from a document outlining national security strategy and will use the new version to emphasize that the U.S. does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terrorism, counterterrorism officials say.
The change would be a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. It currently states, "The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century."
The officials described the changes on condition of anonymity because the document is still being written and is unlikely to be released for weeks, and the White House would not discuss it. But rewriting the strategy document is the latest example of Obama putting his stamp on U.S. foreign policy, as with his promises to dismantle nuclear weapons and limit the situations in which they can be used.
The revisions are part of a larger effort about which the White House talks openly, one that seeks to change not just how the U.S. talks to Muslim nations, but also what it talks to them about, from health care and science to business startups and education.
That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo and promised a "new beginning" in the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world. The White House believes the previous administration based that relationship entirely on fighting terrorism and winning the war of ideas.
But for all the protestations by the left of Jewish support for pressure on Israel, it has to be obvious that the White House doesn’t buy it. If they were as confident as J Street that their Jewish Democratic base liked what they were doing, then why would they have spent so much time in the last month trying to back away from a fight with Israel that they had picked in the first place. Why shlep Elie Wiesel to the White House yesterday for a private audience with the president after he published an ad in several newspapers warning Obama that Jerusalem was the “heart of our heart and the soul of our soul” if the administration wasn’t convinced that the famed Holocaust survivor’s concerns weren’t far more representative of public opinion than the partisan natterings of J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami?
While the charm offensive may not do much more than calm some panicky Jewish Democrats who are willing to believe Obama’s new promises just as they swallowed his campaign pledges, it does prove one thing: the White House knows that an open feud with Israel and its friends is political poison.
Indeed, the best the Times could do to support its thesis that Ben-Ami is right is to gather a few members of a Secular Humanist Temple in suburban Detroit to find a some Jews who are willing to attack Israel’s government. While the members of that tiny slice of Jewish demography are as entitled to their opinions as anyone else, the notion that this small splinter group of Jews who eschew religious faith in favor of a secular ethnicity is representative of American Jewry is absurd. But even there, among members of a Temple who cannot help but be far more liberal than the average Jewish congregation, the Times still discovered that there were some who were concerned about those who unfairly blame Israel for the conflict. As 87-year-old Rosetta Creed stated: “It makes me angry that the Israelis are always blamed for the problems and asked to make concessions,” Ms. Creed said. “You know, the Israelis are not the ones launching rockets and placing fighters in houses with children inside.”
Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber drew the camera flashes at the White House Correspondents dinner, but foreign policy geeks took closer note of the TPM table, where National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough -- probably the most powerful foreign policy staffer in the administration -- was seated with the two grand old men of "realist politics," former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Also at the table, New America's Steve Clemons, who qualified that he and the others are "progressive realists" and added that the table also included "Sex and the City" creator Darren Starr and TPM founder Josh Marshall, the host.
Scowcroft and Brzezinski have been vying for influence in the Obama White House since Obama introduced the latter in Iowa, then distanced himself from him over Israel. They're currently central to the efforts to persuade Obama to advance his own Mideast peace plan.
McDonough, who came up on the process-oriented Hill, tends to keep his own broader views on foreign policy close to the vest.Dangerous inflences
He is now talking about a
nuclear free Middle East - sounds nice doesn't it?
The undeclared Israeli nuclear capability was Israel's ace in the hole
against overwhelming Arab conventional superiority in numbers. He now wants
Israel to give that up. See this article in the Jerusalem Post.
My opinion, if Obama gives Israel an ultimatum and says either give up your
nukes or a total embargo on U.S. arms shipments will be put in force, I
think Israel would be far better off keeping her nukes and forfeiting US
Maybe Obama just wants to be in a position to blame Israel when Iran gets
Who is actually going to enforce a nuclear free middle east when dictatorial
regimes can find ways of hiding their arsenal? Will any European country -
or even Obama's America - actually dare and confront a dictatorial regime
that is producing nuclear weapons in violation of a signed agreement? I
Linkage Has Officially Jumped the Shark
Noah Pollak - 05.02.2010 - 9:00 AM
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is in talks with Egypt, aimed at making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. This is a little like the drunk searching for his keys under the street lamp because it’s the only place where there is light. If the administration wants to prevent proliferation and/or an arms race in the region, there is only one place on which it needs to focus its attention: Iran.
But since the administration refuses to turn up the heat on the regime, it has gotten nowhere in confronting the actual nuclear threat in the Middle East. So, instead, it is inventing a new threat and dealing with that one. In this case, we’re back to the laughable idea that the United States can extract good behavior from bad regimes by setting an inspiring example of self-abnegation, especially one in which we refuse to show any “favoritism” to our allies.
But perhaps the richest part of this new gambit is the administration’s belief — but of course — that even this far-flung ambition depends on the success of the peace process.
“We’ve made a proposal to them that goes beyond what the US has been willing to do before,” one [administration] official reportedly said. Others added that progress would have to be made on the Israeli-Palestinian track before such an agreement could be made.
“We are concerned that the conditions are not right unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan which is accepted,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Ellen Tauscher, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, as saying.
Perhaps this week we’ll learn that the administration cannot deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unless Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks commence immediately, or that cap-and-trade is doomed until there is a Palestinian state, or that the election crisis in Iraq, and Sunni-Shia tensions generally, will remain unresolved so long as Jewish housing projects move forward in Jerusalem. Or perhaps what’s really going on here is that the administration is simply inventing forums in which Israel can be isolated and castigated. All Obama is accomplishing through this increasingly bizarre obsession is guaranteeing himself more failure
Obama’s Anti-Israel Bullying Continues
Jennifer Rubin - 05.01.2010 - 3:16 PM
The New York Times reports on the opening of the proximity talks, with two nuggets of news confirming that for all its “charm,” the Obami’s anti-Israel assault is going full steam ahead.
First, the Times — presumably with some sourcing — pronounces that “many experts agree that the chances of a breakthrough are minuscule, and some say the whole exercise is simply a warm-up before Mr. Obama puts forward his own proposals for ending decades of conflict.” Some say? But the president and Hillary Clinton of late have been promising they won’t “impose” any peace deal. Are we to believe that’s just spin? Yes, we’re shocked, shocked to find there’s duplicity going on in the Obami’s Israel policy. We are, no doubt, going to hear that they gave the parties every chance to work things out among themselves, but, by gosh, now it’s time to get serious and — voila! — here’s the Obama plan. But they promised not to pull this, you say? Well, they also say a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable,” so don’t take them too literally.
But the real news comes with this glimpse into the bully-boyism that now characterizes the Obami’s treatment of our ally. We learn:
The Arab League is expected to endorse the decision of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to return to the bargaining table, when the organization meets on Saturday in Cairo. Mr. Abbas’s change of heart, administration officials said, came after reassurances from the United States, including a letter from Mr. Obama prodding the Palestinian leader to re-enter talks with Israel. Separately, these officials said, Mr. Mitchell’s deputy, David Hale, indicated to the Palestinians that if Israel proceeded with the construction of 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, the United States would abstain from, rather than veto, a resolution in the United Nations Security Council condemning the move.
So much for defending Israel in international institutions, and so much for past promises by the U.S. to leave disposition of Jerusalem to final-status talks. A knowledgeable source reminds me that the Bush administration regularly vetoed anti-Israel UN resolutions, the sole exception being an abstention in January 2009, which called for a ceasefire in the Gaza War. But the notion that we would threaten prospectively to permit a condemnation of the Jewish state by the UN Israel-bashers is frankly shocking. We’ll abstain no matter what the UN says? As the source tells me, “Resolutions are vetoed one by one; language counts.” So the Obami are either making a promise to the Palestinians that can’t be relied upon, or the Obami are giving Israel’s UN foes a blank check to bash, condemn, and vilify Israel to their heart’s content.
Once again, one asks, where are the mainstream Jewish organizations? Do they find Obama’s platitudinous assurances and pretty letters so irresistible that they can’t bestir themselves to discern the true nature of Obama’s Middle East policy? The evidence continues to mount that Obama will keep turning the screws on the Jewish state and will countenance, if not encourage, the UN’s crusade to delegitimize Israel and impose a “peace” on an unwilling ally. American Jewish “leaders” better rouse themselves from their slumber before it too late to knock the Obami off their desired course. Or maybe it already is
Obama hurts Israel
WJD May 3 U.S. President Barack Obama has promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. will help isolate Israel at the United Nations by not vetoing a future measure condemning Israel for building in East Jerusalem, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The U.S. president has also promised the Palestinians an independent, contiguous state, a pledge made in a letter presented by U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell last week.
The U.S. pledge to allow a U.N. resolution condemning Israel reverses decades of U.S. policy. The Journal reports the promise was made to woo the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Withholding a veto from a U.N. resolution critical of Israel—though there is none now before the Security Council—would be a significant reversal of decades of U.S. policy of largely unwavering support for Israel in the body.
The U.S. has vetoed more than 40 U.N. resolutions critical of Israel since 1972—at least three of them explicit condemnations of Israeli construction activity in East Jerusalem. There is no resolution before the Security Council at this time to condemn Israel for such construction.
American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your posteriors.”
By Ben Shapiro
April 28, 2010hhij
Dear American Jews,
I write to you as a charter member of the tribe. I’m not only Jewish, I’m religious. I’m married to an Israeli girl (she’ll receive her citizenship next year and she is a proud soon-to-be American). I go to synagogue regularly, keep kosher, keep the Sabbath.
American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your posteriors.
I mean that in all sincerity. Your continued support for Democrats and an administration that is openly anti-Semitic is a disgrace. Your embrace of a party that seeks to hamstring Israel in the name of a wholly fictitious Middle East peace process is contemptible. Your loyalty to a president who consistently sides with Palestinian and Iranian mass murder-supporters is disgusting.
Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the worst anti-Semites America has to offer — Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi (former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan (“I don’t like the way [Jews] leech on us”), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few — is nothing short of reprehensible. Rahm Emanuel’s presence in the Obama cabinet doesn’t ameliorate Obama’s anti-Semitism — it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell “house negroes”; Emanuel is a kapo.
Even as you continue to buttress a president who seeks the destruction of your co-religionists, you demonstrate your myopia by rejecting the tea party movement and evangelical Christian Israel-supporters.
The tea party movement is your ally for three important reasons. First, it supports capitalism against the forces of socialism — and capitalism keeps America strong enough to provide Israel with a hand against its evil adversaries. Second, American Jews are, by far, the highest-earning religious group in the United States — the tea party fights for your right to keep your money. Third, the tea party stands against government overreach — and in an era when government overreach promotes anti-religious secularism, Jews must stand with the tea party.
Your rejection of evangelical Christians is even more idiotic. Evangelical Christians are the only major voting bloc preventing President Obama from breaking ties with Israel. When Janet Porter, an evangelical Florida talk show host, heard about Obama’s anti-Israel tyranny, she responded by asking her listeners to buy dozens of yellow roses to send to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as a show of support. The price per dozen: $19.48, in honor of the year of Israel’s founding (1948). Over 14,000 flowers were delivered. Meanwhile, Adm. James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser and the man who brought Jew-hater Zbigniew Brzezinski into Obama’s inner circle, was busy telling anti-Semitic jokes before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“But they want to convert us!” many American Jews shout. Not all Christians do. But for the rest — so what? Would you sacrifice the support of millions of good-hearted Christians because they want to discuss Jesus with you? If your own belief system is so fragile, the weakness is yours, not theirs. While you expend energy whining about Jehovah’s Witnesses who show up at your door with a Bible, Obama supports radical Muslims who would show up at your door with a gun — or, as in the case of Daniel Pearl, a butcher’s knife.
Now, I understand, American Jews, that most of you don’t care about Israel.
I understand that you’re more concerned about a woman’s unconditional right to abort her unborn child (which Judaism rejects) than you are about Israel. Fine. Understand that you have removed yourself from the vast river of Jewish history in favor of a chimerical morality that values libertinism over liberty.
I understand that many of you — all of you above age 70 — still think FDR is alive. He isn’t, but Jimmy Carter is.
I understand that some of you still think that conservatives and Republicans are the same folks they were during the 1950s, when they banned you from country clubs. They aren’t.
The simple fact is this: There is only one mainstream political ideology in this country that asks you to check your principles and cultural history at the door in the name of the greater good — leftism, the same ideology that virtually exterminated Judaism in Russia and Europe. While the left exploits your adherence to bagel-and-lox Judaism by appealing to your watered-down and perverted “tikkun olam” sensibilities, you are enabling your own destruction. The same people who urge you to reach out to terrorists will be the first to sacrifice you to those terrorists’ tender mercies. The same people who urge you to worry about same-sex marriage rather than religious freedom will be the first to take your religious freedoms away.
I love you, my brothers and sisters. That’s why I’m writing to you. Time is running out; the clock is winding down. Pick a side.
Obama is the one softening sanctions
White House seeks to soften Iran sanctions
The Obama administration is pressing Congress to provide an exemption from Iran sanctions to companies based in "cooperating countries," a move that likely would exempt Chinese and Russian concerns from penalties meant to discourage investment in Iran.
The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act is in a House-Senate conference committee and is expected to reach President Obama's desk by Memorial Day.
"It's incredible the administration is asking for exemptions, under the table and winking and nodding, before the legislation is signed into law," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and a conference committee member, said in an interview. A White House official confirmed Wednesday that the administration was pushing the conference committee to adopt the exemption of "cooperating countries" in the legislation.
Neither the House nor Senate version of the bill includes a "cooperating countries" provision even though the administration asked the leading sponsors of the Senate version of the bill nearly six months ago to include one.
Platitudes and no rebuttal to Schumer
To: email@example.comRE: Chuck Schumer Breaks with Obama on Israel
Jennifer Rubin - 04.23.2010 - 2:49 PM
So what is the White House response to the blast from the man who may be the next Senate majority (or minority) leader? Not very much:
Asked by the Huffington Post about the remarks during the morning’s gaggle, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs replied: “I don’t think it is a stretch to say we don’t agree with what Senator Schumer said.” …
“We have an unwavering commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people,” he said. “You heard General Jones speak about that earlier in the week. We have said that from the beginning of the administration.”
(My comment: yes..they sure have said a great deal)
This is fairly typical for the White House. Presented with a list of particulars — their settlement-freeze demand was a mistake, they are encouraging Palestinian rejectionism by demanding more Israeli concessions, they reneged on prior agreements on Jerusalem and blew up a routine incident, etc. — they retreat into platitudes. Their “unwavering commitment” — if they have one — is not reflected in their public pronouncements (e.g., condemning Israel) or their diplomatic conduct.
One third of Americans approve of how President Obama is handling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a new poll.
Washington (CNN) - Only a third of Americans approve of the way President Obama's handling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a new national poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning indicates that 35 percent of the public gives the president a thumbs up on how he's dealing with the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, with 44 percent saying they disapprove, and just over one in five unsure.
This stands in contrast with how Americans feel about Obama's overall handling of foreign policy, with 48 percent approving and 42 percent saying they disapprove.
According to the poll, two-thirds of Jewish voters disapprove of how the president's handling Israeli-Palestinian relations, with 28 percent saying they approve. Jewish voters were big backers of Obama in the 2008 presidential election, with exit polls indicating that nearly eight of ten backed the Democratic candidate.
Two-thirds of people questioned in the survey say that the president should be a strong supporter of Israel but, by a 42 percent to 34 percent margin, voters say Obama's not a strong supporter of Israel.
Relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and the Obama administration have soured in recent months over Israel's continued housing construction in East Jerusalem. and Jews think Obama handles Israel; badly
Why are Jews deserting Obama? from Richard Baehr
this Presidents's attachment to the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community are two fold- to suck up campaign contributions, and to win the votes of loyal liberal Jews, who think their left hand would fall off if they voted Republican. Israel does not move him, but is rather an obstacle to his new overriding strategy of linking the U.S more closely with the Muslim world. The Obama policies have driven the Palestinians away from even indirect peace talks with Israel , giving the PA an excuse that Israel is not accepting the Obama framework to begin talks. The Administration has signaled it will do nothing to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and is preparing for a containment strategy for the time when Iran becomes a nuclear power due to our dithering and fecklessness. Containment worked between the U.S and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Soviets were our enemy, but also a rational nuclear power. It is, I think, too much to expect Israel to accept that Iran will also be a rational member if they join the nuclear club.
Obama advisor is terrorist supporter
Meet the pollster who works behind the scenes with radical Islamist groups to enhance their standing in the presidential council's activities
By Steven Emerson
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Few American Islamists receive the kind of glowing media coverage given to Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, who is sometimes described as the "most influential person" shaping the Obama Administration's Middle East message.
Mogahed, who claims to have played an important role in the drafting of President Obama's historic Cairo speech to the Muslim world, was appointed to serve on the President's Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The council released its final recommendations last month.
When European Islamist Tariq Ramadan kicked off his U.S. tour earlier this month at Cooper Union in New York City, Mogahed and two journalists joined him for a panel discussion. Her remarks emphasized polling data showing that Muslim Americans are more affluent and socially content than their European counterparts.
Muslim Americans are no more likely to support political violence than the rest of the nation, Mogahed said. The minority of Muslim Americans who do support attacks on civilians base this position on politics, not religion.
It's a message that Mogahed attempts to drive home at every opportunity.
She routinely is depicted as a scholarly analyst monitoring public opinion on subjects like anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States or global Muslim attitudes toward America. On other occasions, she is treated as a pioneering Muslim celebrity or portrayed as a victim of anti-Muslim "smears."
But the reality is much more complicated. Mogahed is not some apolitical social scientist chronicling political trends in the manner of George Gallup, founder of the parent organization for her polling center. While Gallup strived to maintain his objectivity, Mogahed has followed a very different course. As we will explain in more detail below, she works behind the scenes with radical Islamist groups to enhance their standing in the presidential council's activities.
Obama's dangerous radical shifty in US foreign policy vis-a-vis israel It is dangerous, and false,
"It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them, and that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure" President Barack Obama April 13, 2010
America’s top military officer wouldn’t rule the possibility today of U.S. forces firing on Israeli jets, if Israel launched a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
In a town hall on the campus of the University of West Virginia, a young Air Force ROTC cadet asked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen to respond to a “rumor.” If Israel decided to attack Iran, the speculation went, those jet would need to fly through Iraqi airspace to reach their targets. That airspace is considered a “no-fly” zone by the American military. So might U.S. troops shoot down the Israeli jets, the airmen asked the chairman, if they breached that airspace?
Mullen tried to sidestep the question. “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel. I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly,” he said. “I am hopeful that this will be resolved in a way where we never have to answer a question like that.”
The cadet followed-up: “Would an airmen like me ever be ordered to fire on an Israeli – aircraft or personnel?”
Mullen’s second answer was much the same as his first. “Again, I wouldn’t move out into the future very far from here. They’re an extraordinarily close ally, have been for a long time, and will be in the future,” the admiral said.
Does this represent a shift in American policy towards Israel? Some signal that the U.S. would stop an Israeli first strike at the final moment? Probably not. I’d guess this is Mullen trying not to wade further into treacherous waters. But it was interesting to hear America’s top military officer decline to knock down the idea that U.S. troops might fire on America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/top-officer-iraq-no-fly-zone-applies-to-israeli-jets/#ixzz0lnL5Rnf9
.com US won't rule out shooting down Israeli planes
Obama tries to stifle free speech
U.S. officials slam pro-Israel Jerusalem ad
By Barak Ravid
United States administration officials have voiced harsh criticism over advertisements in favor of Israel's position on Jerusalem that appeared in the U.S. press with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's encouragement. The authors of the most recent such advertisements were president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. "All these advertisements are not a wise move," one senior American official told Haaretz.
Jewish World Review April 20, 2010 / 6 Iyar 5770
Why this rabbi didn't vote for Obama — and why I made the correct decision
By Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I must begin by telling you that I was uncomfortable writing this sermon. I wondered whether it was too harsh or not harsh enough. I asked myself if I should be delivering it or if I should have delivered it two years ago. So I'll leave it to you to decide.
This week Israel celebrates the 62nd anniversary of its rebirth … the greatest event in modern Jewish history. You know by now how much Israel means to me. From my perspective, an Israel comes along once every 2000 years so it is to be cherished, protected and loved. In two weeks I will make my annual visit to that beautiful country, taking along my entire family, which means that for my oldest granddaughter — who is 7 years old — this will be her fourth visit but for my youngest granddaughter it will be her first. We are all excited for her! Israel is at the very heart of my family's existence.
It was with this feeling uppermost in my mind that I chose not to vote for Barack Obama for President. Although I felt he offered a measure of hope for our country, and although I felt the election of a black man as President of the United States would be one of the most positive and remarkable events to take place during my lifetime, and although I agreed with many parts of his domestic policies … it was his foreign policy views that concerned me and proved decisive. I have a much more hawkish view than he does on foreign policy. I have always considered myself what is called a "Jackson Democrat" and I was genuinely concerned about Obama's perspective on Israel. My feeling was based on something he had said and something he didn't say.
What he said was said in February of 2008 in a meeting with a hundred Cleveland Jewish leaders. Here are his words: "I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says: unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, that you are anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel. If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we're not going to make progress … because of the pressure that Israel is under, I think the U.S. pro-Israel community is sometimes a little more protective or concerned about opening up that conversation."
What he said was not so terrible and I have to tell you that I respected him for having said it. He was very honest about his feelings. What he was basically saying was that he does not agree with the policies of a Likud government and that American Jews should be more prepared to debate those policies. Now, Mr. Obama is entitled to his opinion. It is just not my opinion! Does that make him an anti-Semite? Absolutely not! We have got to stop that kind of foolish talk. There are many Israeli Jews who agree with what he said … there are many American Jews who agree with what he said! But I'm not one of them! And knowing that after years of Hezbollah and Hamas and suicide bombings and kidnappings and rocket attacks, a majority of Israeli voters don't agree with his perspective, it seemed obvious to me that if he were elected President, there would be a clash between his policies and Israel's policies. Sad to say, I was right.
But as events have unfolded, even sadder to say unfortunately I think I was right in my concern about what Mr. Obama had not said. For 20 years he went to a church whose minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, spoke in terms that were both critical of America and of Israel. And Mr. Obama had never raised his voice in protest. He not only should have, he could have! Let me tell you about a man who, in similar circumstances, did! His name is Abraham Foxman, and he is the head of the Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Foxman was a member of a prominent synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey but he found himself in a similar position. And he left his synagogue.
In his words, "I tried to have my rabbi change his views. I went to fellow congregants to see if they could have an impact on him. Only at a point in time where that didn't happen I resigned." And he went on to say, "It was a wrenching decision, this was a synagogue where my son was Bar Mitzvahed, this was a synagogue where every happy event and every sad event I celebrated … this was my religious home." But he got up and left!
And when Rev. Wright's words came out into the open, I asked myself: why didn't Mr. Obama do the same? And it wasn't just a matter of Rev. Wright's words and it wasn't just a matter of Mr. Obama's close relationship with him … it was a matter of the whole church being enveloped with a "liberation theology" with it's Bulletin reprinting pro-Hamas articles. Wouldn't all this have had an effect on Mr. Obama's thinking? I asked myself.
James Tisch, the Manhattan billionaire and Chief Executive of Loews Corp. and long time activist in Jewish causes and philanthropies, thinks it did! In light of everything that has now been unfolding, Mr. Tisch recently said, "I think the President comes to this from Jeremiah Wright's church and there is no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright's church the Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as terrorists." In light of Mr. Obama finding the time to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, but not Israel … in light of his refusing to take a picture with Prime Minister Netanyahu after their recent meeting … in light of so much emphasis being placed on the settlements … in light of the recent resurrection of Zbignew Brezinski … in light of new talk about an imposed settlement … in light of all this and more, I have to agree with Mr. Tisch.
THE OBAMA DIFFERENCE
I don't like what is happening, but that, in and of itself, is nothing new. There have always been conflicts between the United States and Israel. In 1956 the Eisenhower administration forced Israel to withdraw from captured territories despite Egypt's belligerency. In 1967 President Johnson warned Israel not to go to war and became the first American administration to condemn Israel's settlement activities. The Nixon administration tried to impose the Rogers Plan, forcing Israel back to the 1949 Armistice lines. Jimmy Carter … well, Jimmy Carter was, is and will always be Jimmy Carter. Ronald Regan was a friend but he was a friend who withheld weapons from Israel in punishment for its attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor. I could go on and on … there have always been conflicts; there have always been disagreements.
And one has to expect that! America is a global superpower … Israel is a country of seven million people. America's view is of the woods and Israel's is just one of the trees! So, disagreements are to be expected amongst friends. But the disagreements that are now taking place between America and Israel are different than the disagreements in the past. They are different on two levels.
First, for the first time that I can think of, Israel is being accused of being the one that is the hindrance to peace. That's never happened before! Despite all the disagreements between Israel and the United States, it was always understood that after all is said and done, it is the Arabs and Palestinians who have resisted making peace. The Ford and the first Bush administration refused to negotiate with the PLO. Bill Clinton clearly stated that it was the Palestinians fault that Camp David fell apart. Bush the Second refused to even talk to Yassir Arafat, saying he was an impediment to peace. Now? Now Mr. Obama goes to Cairo and says the first step toward making peace possible is freezing the Israeli settlements. He asks nothing tangible from the Palestinians. The Palestinians refuse to even negotiate, but its Israel's fault! And then when the clash erupts over the Jerusalem housing, Secretary of State Clinton and the others insist that Israel has to do certain things to show it is committed to making peace. Mr. Obama calls on Israel to take "bold steps" for peace but again, nothing tangible is asked from the Palestinians! Israel should show that it is committed to making peace? Israel should take "bold steps?"
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What was Camp David, which the Palestinians rejected? What was the Gaza withdrawal, which the Palestinians responded to with rocket attacks? What were the Olmert concessions to Abbas, which only led to the Palestinians refusing to negotiate? What was Mr. Netanyahu's accepting a two-state solution and a partial freeze of settlements? And what was the removal of most of the check-points in the West Bank? And what were the "bold steps" the Palestinians took besides refusing to even indirectly negotiate, refusing to compromise on the right of return, refusing to accept a demilitarized state, refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state, refusing to recognize any Jewish historic claims to Jerusalem … All they really seem to have agreed to do is to name more of their streets and squares after terrorists and suicide bombers. And Israel should show that it is committed to peace? Sen. John Kerry goes to Damascus and proclaims that Syria is committed to the peace process. Really? But with Israel there's a question?
I don't like what's happening. This has never happened before! And to make matters worse, Israel is not only now being blamed for hindering peace with the Palestinians, talk has started to boil to the surface that Israel is to be blamed for the death of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a libel … this is a blood libel! We've heard these accusations before, but they always came from the extreme fringes; from the Pat Buchanans and others of his ilk. Now the talk is becoming more mainstream. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was quoted as saying that Israel's stubbornness makes the U.S. appear impotent. In a statement later denied, Vice President Biden was quoted as telling Prime Minister Netanyahu, "What you are doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan." U.S. Central Command General David Petraeus sends a statement to the Pentagon with a stark warning: "America's relationship with Israel is important but not as important as the lives of American soldiers."
A member of the administration is quoted as accusing Dennis Ross of having a dual loyalty. And we're told that it's all "misunderstood" or "misquoted" … it "doesn't mean anything." Well, I could read you quotes from the Palestinian Chronicle and from the Jordan Times and from the Middle East Online, Beirut's Daily Star and many other pro-Palestinian papers that have taken these words very seriously and are emboldened by them.
In fact, I don't have to quote from Arab sources, let me just read you the headline of a recent editorial in USA Today: "Our view on the Middle East: Israeli Settlement Push Hurts U.S. Interests, Peace Process" … with the editorial including these frightening words: " … if Americans whose own family member's lives are at risk every day in Iraq and Afghanistan come to believe that Israel's action needlessly increase that risk, support would be jeopardized." Those words are true, you know. You know why our country has supported Israel these last 62 years? It's not because of Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives; it is because of the American people. Every survey shows an overwhelming majority of American people supporting Israel, even during oil embargos, and that support is there because there is something about the American people that are able to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, terrorists from innocent civilians and democracy from tyranny. The only thing that could change the feelings of Americans would be if our country's service men and women were dying because of Israel. And a mood is emanating from Washington that could lead people to believe just that! What else is one to make of Mr. Obama's statement this week that the Middle East conflict was "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." What a horrible thing to say! The truth is, the Middle East conflict is affecting the blood and treasure of Israeli boys — not Americans. No American blood has been shed for Israel but plenty of Jewish blood has been! A real friend would not say this is Israel's fault.
TIME TO CONFRONT THE HARD, SAD TRUTH
I know that some of my words are going to bother some of you, but please understand if I didn't say them it would bother me even more! The fact of the matter is, this administration has from day one made improved relations with the Muslim world a primary goal, going as far as to ban the use of words like "Jihad" and "Islamic terrorism." It is unfortunate that to date, America's outreach of a friendly hand has not been reciprocated, which leads some to blame it all on Israel. If Israel would only give up what it is entitled to, the women of Al Qaeda would take off their burqas and join the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Taliban would sing Hava Negilah around the campfire, Hezbollah and Hamas would join Hadassah and the Shiites and Sunis in the Middle East would say: after 1400 years of killing each other, let's co-sponsor a Kiddush at Beth Tfiloh! It's just little Israel that is standing in the way of all this!
Well, let me tell you: it has been pointed out that the Jews have always been in the way! Look in the Bible … every time Babylonia or Syria wanted to invade Egypt, little Judea was in the middle. The Jews developed a unique set of rituals and beliefs; they couldn't offer sacrifices to the images of Roman emperors, they wouldn't work on the Sabbath and so to the Greeks and the Romans, they stood in the way of world domination. And then came another religion whose followers proclaimed that it was the fulfillment of the one the Jews practiced, but the Jews refused to go along. And so our people were portrayed as being the devil who were to be eternally dammed. And then came Islam … Mohammed was eager to win over the Jews. After all, he was a monotheist … why couldn't the Jews go along? And if they had, Mohammed would have a solid base from which to operate. But the Jews refused to go along. And so we were portrayed as being monkeys. In modern Europe, the Jews were in the way of middle-class Frenchmen and Germans who were seeking their jobs. The Communists found them in the way because Jews didn't fit into simple class categories. Eventually, Hitler came along and decided to once and for all eliminate this universal inconvenience. It didn't happen then and it's not going to happen now!
Meir Dagan is the head of Israel's Mossad. Under his directorship the Mossad, in recent years, has rebuilt its reputation for lethal and successful operations. What motivates Mr. Dagan may become obvious to a visitor to his office in Tel Aviv, where on the wall there is a picture of an old Jew standing on the edge of a trench … an SS officer is aiming his rifle at the old man's head. "This old Jew was my grandfather," Dagan tells visitors. The picture reflects his philosophy for Israel's survival. In his words, "We should be strong, use our brain and defend ourselves so that the Holocaust will never be repeated."
I don't fear that the Holocaust will be repeated. This is not 1938 all over again. But in some ways, it is 1948 all over again, when there were leaders in the upper most echelons of the American government including the Secretary of State, who urged the President not to recognize Israel, saying that such recognition would stand in the way of Arab friendship with our country. President Truman didn't listen to them. Instead, he listened to the words of his advisor, Clark Clifford, who told him, "In an area as unstable as the Middle East, where there is not now and never has been any tradition of democratic government, it is important for the long range security of our country — and indeed the world — that a nation committed to the democratic system be established there; one on which we can rely. The new Jewish state can be such a place." That's just what the new Jewish state has been for the past 62 years.
Sure, not every Israeli soldier acts like a saint, and not every Israeli policy is an act of genius. There is certainly room for criticism but that should not blind anyone to the fact that despite all the provocations and incitements, despite Palestinians using their children as human shields and their wives as suicide bombers, despite acts of barbarism and terrorism … despite all this there is no country on earth more desirous of peace, more willing to compromise for peace than the people of Israel. And this too I know: that as American Jews we should take Meir Dagan's words to heart: "We should be strong and use our brains …" And one thing more. We dare not despair. We dare not lose hope.
Barack Obama entitled his book "The Audacity of Hope" — a title he got from Rev. Wright. The truth of the matter is the history of the Jewish people could be entitled, "The Audacity of Hope," as expressed in Israel's national anthem, the Hatikvah, meaning "the hope."
Its author, Naphtali Herz Imber, once said, "Kings, Earls, Cardinals will all pass away … but I and Hatikvah will remain forever."
He was right! The hope remains forever …" to be a free people in our land, in the land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Why Israel is anxious about the Obama Administration.
Imagine that you're an Israeli perusing the past week's headlines. Senior U.S. military officials have told Congress that Iran may be a year away from producing a bomb's worth of fissile material. Efforts to sanction Iran are again bogged down at the U.N., even as the sanctions are watered down to insignificance. And senior Israeli officials now say that Syria has supplied Hezbollah with Scud-D missiles that can hit every city in Israel with a one-ton warhead to an accuracy of 50 meters.
Oh, and now the Obama Administration seems increasingly of the view that Israel is the primary cause of instability in the Middle East. In a press conference last week, President Obama said the U.S. had a "vital national security interest" in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the theory that "when conflict breaks out . . . that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure."
The remark, which echoes previous comments by senior Administration and Pentagon officials, is being widely interpreted as presaging a concerted Administration effort to press even harder for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement over territory. After the recent flap over Jewish settlements north of Jerusalem, concern is growing that the U.S. wants Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. At their narrowest, those borders give Israel a nine-mile margin between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel could conceivably withdraw to something close to that border if it had credible assurances that a future Palestinian state would be peaceful, stable and well-governed. But the Palestinian reality today is that it is riven politically and geographically between two camps, one of which (Hamas) is armed by Iran and sworn to Israel's destruction.
As for Israel's other neighbors, Syria has further entrenched its alliance with Iran, despite repeated entreaties by the Administration and its allies in Congress; Egypt is entering a period of political transition; and Turkey has gone from being an Israeli ally to an adversary under its Islamist government. None of this can inspire much confidence among Israelis that the time is ripe to withdraw from the West Bank.
Nor will Israel's fears be assuaged by paper guarantees of its security in some future settlement. In 2006, a senior Bush State Department official gave us similar assurances that the Security Council's resolution that brought the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah to a close would seal the Lebanese border at least to "heavy weapons" from Syria and Iran. The resolution even provided for a beefed-up international security force to enforce the resolution's terms. So much for that, and so much for the results of the solicitous visits to Syria in recent years by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry.
As for Iran, yesterday brought reports of a secret memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House arguing that the Administration lacks a strategy for coping with Iran's drive to gain a nuclear weapon. We're not sure why this memo is secret, since it merely says what has been obvious to the world for months. Everyone in the Middle East has begun to assess how its interests and strategic calculations will change once Iran gets the bomb.
For all the current talk about Israel costing America lives and treasure, the striking fact is that the U.S. has never had to go to war to defend the Jewish state. This is more than can be said for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo and the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. That's because for 62 years Israelis have provided for their own defense, in an alliance with the U.S. that has reflected American values and—in both the Cold War and the war on terror—advanced American interests.
The Obama Administration seems not to grasp this point, which is why these are anxious days for Israel and its American friends.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/us/politics/19muslim.html?pagewanted=print full story
Reaching Out Quietly to Muslims in America
By ANDREA ELLIOTT
When President Obama took the stage in Cairo last June, promising a new relationship with the Islamic world, Muslims in America wondered only half-jokingly whether the overture included them. After all, Mr. Obama had kept his distance during the campaign, never visiting an American mosque and describing the false claim that he was Muslim as a “smear” on his Web site.
Nearly a year later, Mr. Obama has yet to set foot in an American mosque. And he still has not met with Muslim and Arab-American leaders. But less publicly, his administration has reached out to this politically isolated constituency in a sustained and widening effort that has left even skeptics surprised.
Muslim and Arab-American advocates have participated in policy discussions and received briefings from top White House aides and other officials on health care legislation, foreign policy, the economy, immigration and national security. They have met privately with a senior White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to discuss civil liberties concerns and counterterrorism strategy. reach oujt to us Muslims
ADL criticizes Obama's approach
The ADL releases the following statement from Abe Foxman concerning Obama’s new approach to Israel:
The significant shift in U.S. policy toward Israel and the peace process, which has been evident in comments from various members of the Obama Administration and has now been confirmed by the president himself in his press conference at the Nuclear Security Summit, is deeply distressing. Saying that the absence of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict undermines U.S. interests in the broader Middle East and the larger issue of resolving other conflicts is a faulty strategy. It is an incorrect approach on which to base America’s foreign policy in the Middle East and its relationship with its longtime friend and ally, Israel.
ADL has long expressed its concern from the very beginning of the Obama Administration about advisers to the president who see the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a major impediment to achieving the administration’s foreign policy and military goals in the wider region. The net effect of this dangerous thinking is to shift responsibility for success of American foreign policy away from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and directly onto Israel. It is particularly disturbing in light of the blatantly disproportionate number and the nature of statements issued by this administration criticizing Israel as compared to what has been said about the Palestinians.
WJC Lauder Takes on Obama
Jennifer Rubin - 04.15.2010 - 12:32 PM
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, has taken out ads in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to lambast the president’s Israel policy. It reads, in part:
Jews around the world are concerned today. We are concerned about the nuclear ambitions of an Iranian regime that brags about its genocidal intentions against Israel. We are concerned that the Jewish state is being isolated and delegitimized.
Mr. President, we are concerned about the dramatic deterioration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel.
The Israeli housing bureaucracy made a poorly timed announcement and your Administration branded it an “insult.” This diplomatic faux pas was over the fourth stage of a seven stage planning permission process – a plan to build homes years from now in a Jewish area of Jerusalem that under any peace agreement would remain an integral part of Israel.
Our concern grows to alarm as we consider some disturbing questions. Why does the thrust of this Administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate.
Israel has made unprecedented concessions. It has enacted the most far reaching West Bank settlement moratorium in Israeli history.
Israel has publicly declared support for a two-state solution. Conversely, many Palestinians continue their refusal to even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
The conflict’s root cause has always been the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Every American President who has tried to broker a peace agreement has collided with that Palestinian intransigence, sooner or later. Recall President Clinton’s anguish when his peace proposals were bluntly rejected by the Palestinians in 2000. Settlements were not the key issue then.
They are not the key issue now.
Another important question is this: what is the Administration’s position on Israel’s borders in any final status agreement? Ambiguity on this matter has provoked a wave of rumors and anxiety. Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel? Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?
There are significant moves from the Palestinian side to use those indefensible borders as the basis for a future unilateral declaration of independence. How would the United States respond to such a reckless course of action?
And what are America’s strategic ambitions in the broader Middle East? The Administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.
And what about the most dangerous player in the region? Shouldn’t the United States remain focused on the single biggest threat that confronts the world today? That threat is a nuclear armed Iran. Israel is not only America’s closest ally in the Middle East, it is the one most committed to this Administration’s declared aim of ensuring Iran does not get nuclear weapons.
He closes by asking Obama to take into “consideration the concerns expressed above.” As others have observed, Lauder revealed to the New York Times that he discussed the letter with Bibi and received support before running the ad.
There are several noteworthy points here. First, this is by far the most detailed and pointed objection from a prominent Jewish leader to the series of moves by the president to shift from the U.S.-Israel alliance, which has remained dominant in the Middle East, to something different. Unlike Democratic lawmakers who tend to skate by with generalities, Lauder makes his case with some detail. Second, I suspect this may unleash similarly candid responses. The sentiments Lauder expresses are not uncommon among Jewish activists, who may wonder why it is that their own organizations are being less forthright than Lauder’s. In other words, Lauder may well open up the floodgates for a new, frankly less genial relationship between the official Jewish community and the administration.
And finally, it remains to be seen what impact — if any — this has on the administration (which cares little for public opinion in general) and on Jewish support, be it electorally or financially, for Obama and his party. Given that Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from Obama both on the Palestinian-Israel conflict and on Iran, it may be that there is little impact in the near-run. But 2012 is another story. Obama’s ability to maintain the facade that he is a great friend of Israel and of the American Jewish community may be coming to an end. If he is to pursue this course of action, he may well have to do it over increasing opposition from those who have been among his most loyal supporters
Obama now making Support for Israel against US National Interests
World Jewsh Daily today:
Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.
It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.
Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Posted By Jennifer Rubin On April 15, 2010 @ 9:00 AM In Contentions
Now Obama sees resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as a “vital national security interest of the United States.”
Iran and its proxies object to the existence of Israel, not its current borders. Al-Qaeda will not cease from killing Americans if there are “proximity talks” or even a final resolution of the dispute. And frankly, it’s a dumb thing to peg American national security to an issue that plainly is not resolvable any time soon and that is a distraction from the real, vital national security interest — Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But it is the sort of thing pseudo-sophisticated foreign policy types say, and now Obama is spouting it too...
The shift is Obama’s effort to reorient the U.S. away from Israel and ingratiate himself with the “Muslim World.” Among American Jewish groups, there is alarm about the administration’s new direction. On Tuesday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee publicized letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, signed by 76 senators and 333 House members, that implored the administration to defuse tensions. In an open letter to Mr.Obama from the World Jewish Congress, the organization’s president, Ronald S. Lauder, asked, “Why does the thrust of this administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks?”
But the Times makes no effort to examine the very strong, indeed inescapable evidence that Obama is not simply on some high-minded effort to resolve the Palestinian dispute but rather an intentional mission to put daylight between the two countries, which is what he told a group of Jewish leaders last year. The Times bothers not at all with the Cairo Speech — an invocation of Palestinian victimology and an infamous analogy equating Palestinians to enslaved African Americans. Nor is there mention of the serial snubbing of Bibi, the “condemnation” of our ally (there’s a break from the past if they were looking for an example), and the contrived fuss over Jerusalem housing.
But the facts are the facts: the Obami are quite evidently taking a wrecking ball to the U.S.-Israeli relationship. One would have to be blind — or write for the New York Times — to miss what is going on."
Key point-once a US president declares resolution of an irresolvable issue in the US national interest, it sets the table for abandonment-Israel's failure to agree to whatever Obama thinks is right will mean Israel acts AGAINST US national interests.
What is wrong with an Obama imposed plan?
“You have to look at both the psychology and the substance; each element is important,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “On the psychology level, the announcement of such a plan at this particular moment could easily be read as a further attempt to accentuate the gap between Israel and the U.S. That would be problematic, especially in Israel.”
Harris said the Palestinians would “see the American proposal as the starting point for escalating demands,” while Israel would “presumably view the American plan as the endpoint. We saw that played out with the settlement issue last year, when suddenly the Palestinians adopted the American position as a precondition for starting talks, which they hadn’t been before.”
The deepening distrust of Obama’s intentions among the Israeli public, Harris said, also means political support for any new U.S. plan would be minimal.
“If I were a political choreographer, my first step would be to restore the traditional sense of trust between Washington and Jerusalem,” he said.
And Hamas’ continued rule over Gaza remains an indigestible mouthful for administration policymakers, he said.
In all of this, the Obami have set themselves apart from every prior administration, both in the degree to which they would willingly damage the U.S.-Israel relationship and in the inanity of their diplomatic efforts. It is proof positive that dramatic, even “historic” change can be a very dangerous thing.
Balance from home page article by Koch
From the top of Masada, you
can still see the remains of the Roman fortifications and garrisons, and th=
stones and earth of the Roman siege ramp that was used to reach Masada. The
Jews of Masada committed suicide rather than let themselves be taken captiv=
by the Romans.
In Rome itself, I have seen the Arch of Titus with the sculpture showing
enslaved Jews and the treasures of the Jewish Temple of Solomon with the
Menorah, the symbol of the Jewish state, being carted away as booty during
the sacking of Jerusalem.
Oh, you may say, that is a far fetched analogy. Please hear me out.
The most recent sacking of the old city of Jerusalem - its Jewish quarter -
took place under the Jordanians in 1948 in the first war between the Jews
and the Arabs, with at least five Muslim states - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon,
Syria and Iraq - seeking to destroy the Jewish state. At that time, Jordan
conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank and expelled every Jew living in
the Jewish quarter of the old city, destroying every building, including th=
synagogues in the old quarter and expelling from every part of Judea and
Samaria every Jew living there so that for the first time in thousands of
years, the old walled city of Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank were
"Judenrein" -- a term used by the Nazis to indicate the forced removal or
murder of all Jews..
Jews had lived for centuries in Hebron, the city where Abraham, the first
Jew, pitched his tent and where he now lies buried, it is believed, in a
tomb with his wife, Sarah, as well as other ancient Jewish patriarchs and
matriarchs. I have visited that tomb and at the time asked an Israeli
soldier guarding it - so that it was open to all pilgrims, Christians,
Muslims and Jews -- "where is the seventh step leading to the tomb of
Abraham and Sarah," which was the furthest entry for Jews when the Muslims
were the authority controlling the holy place? He replied, "When we retook
and reunited the whole city of Jerusalem and conquered the West Bank in
1967, we removed the steps, so now everyone can enter," whereas when Muslim=
were in charge of the tomb, no Jew could enter it. And I did.
I am not a religious person. I am comfortable in a synagogue, but generally
attend only twice a year, on the high holidays. When I entered the tomb of
Abraham and Sarah, as I recall, I felt connected with my past and the
traditions of my people. One is a Jew first by birth and then by religion.
Those who leave their religion, remain Jews forever by virtue of their
birth. If they don't think so, let them ask their neighbors, who will remin=
them. I recall the words of the columnist Robert Novak, who was for most of
his life hostile to the Jewish state of Israel in an interview with a
reporter stating that while he had converted to Catholicism, he was still a
cultural Jew. I remain with pride a Jew both by religion and culture.
My support for the Jewish state has been long and steadfast. Never have I
thought that I would leave the U.S. to go and live in Israel. My loyalty an=
love is first to the U.S. which has given me, the son of Polish Jewish
immigrants, so much. But, I have also long been cognizant of the fact that
every night when I went to sleep in peace and safety, there were Jewish
communities around the world in danger. And there was one country, Israel,
that would give them sanctuary and would send its soldiers to fight for the=
and deliver them from evil, as Israel did at Entebbe in 1976.
I weep today because my president, Barack Obama, in a few weeks has changed
the relationship between the U.S. and Israel from that of closest of allies
to one in which there is an absence of trust on both sides. The contrast
between how the president and his administration deals with Israel and how
it has decided to deal with the Karzai administration in Afghanistan is
The Karzai administration, which operates a corrupt and opium-producing
state, refuses to change its corrupt ways - the president's own brother is
believed by many to run the drug traffic taking place in Afghanistan - and
shows the utmost contempt for the U.S. is being hailed by the Obama
administration as an ally and publicly treated with dignity. Karzai recentl=
even threatened to join the Taliban if we don't stop making demands on him.
Nevertheless, Karzai is receiving a gracious thank-you letter from Presiden=
Obama. The New York Times of April 10th reported, "...that Mr. Obama had
sent Mr. Karzai a thank-you note expressing gratitude to the Afghan leader
for dinner in Kabul. =91It was a respectful letter,' General Jones said."
On the other hand, our closest ally - the one with the special relationship
with the U.S., has been demeaned and slandered, held responsible by the
administration for our problems in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in th=
Middle East. The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish
state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an
American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel's
needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch.
I believe President Obama's policy is to create a whole new relationship
with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a
counter to Iran - The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are no=
prepared to see in possession of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under
the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.
I am shocked by the lack of outrage on the part of Israel's most ardent
supporters. The members of AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel lobbying organizatio=
in Washington, gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a standing ovation
after she had carried out the instructions of President Obama and, in a
43-minute telephone call, angrily hectored Prime Minister Benjamin
Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have made pitifully weak
statements against Obama's mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all.
The Democratic members, in particular, are weak. They are simply afraid to
criticize President Obama.
What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by
community leaders - Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil
rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with
and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish
leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in
1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King's memorable speech was
given? His reply was "Fifty people might come." Remember the 1930s? Few
stood up. They were silent. Remember the most insightful statement of one o=
our greatest teachers, Rabbi Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who is for me=
And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"
We have indeed stood up for everyone else. When will we stand up for our
brothers and sisters living in the Jewish state of Israel?
If Obama is seeking to build a siege ramp around Israel, the Jews of modern
Israel will not commit suicide. They are willing to negotiate a settlement
with the Palestinians, but they will not allow themselves to be bullied int=
following self-destructive policies.
To those who call me an alarmist, I reply that I'll be happy to apologize i=
I am proven wrong. But those who stand silently by and watch the Obama
Balance of article on is Obama selling out Israel from the home page
"Iran is physically threatening the extermination of the Jewish State while America wants to restart talks for Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution. One has little to do with the other unless the Administration has an overall policy of reconciling the Christian West with the Islamic world whereby specific pawns in the chess game may need to be sacrificed to ensure universal stability. In the post-WWII world the West as a general rule stood together and rallied around the Atlantic Alliance believing democracy and western values were best implemented world wide. Israel was not allowed to fully join that club until after the 1967 Six Day War when most became convinced of her national state viability. The US began to view the Jewish State as a strategic asset. All this is in jeopardy today, the present administration does not view the Western alliance as the pillar of its foreign policy. This is made clear through the Obama Administration's overtures to the Muslim/Arab world (Cairo speech) and the de-emphasis on western and central Europe. One can call it a response to the needs of the 21st century's emerging global village.
Obama clearly sees the need to stitch the "seam line" between the West and the Muslim Middle East as a first step in establishing global harmony. The Americans seek reconciliation with moderate Muslims while battling the more extreme forces (which are no longer to be spoken about in terms of "Jihad" or radical Islam). To close the gap both the Middle East and West must make concessions. In order to solve the more localized Arab-Israel conflict over the years the Americans have objected to Israeli settlement activity and any territorial solution not based on the 1949-67 Armistice lines. America never made Israel's existence conditional upon the acceptance of this policy objective or any other American policy
Jewish independence was seen as a moral imperative, a "right" similar to that of any other nation. Strategically, Israel was an asset in the Western camp. Today it appears Jewish independence is negotiable and conditional. Israel may be considered legitimate but its independence may be considered too costly (a reminder of the British newspaper "Guardian" editorial of about a decade ago). Worse yet, Jewish sovereignty may not be considered a right in itself, after all even Anwar Sadat admitted that theoretically he did not believe the Jews had a right to independence but came to conflict resolution as pragmatic need. Should this Palestinian-Iranian linkage prove accurate the moral ethical commitment to Jewish national existence may now be over ridden by practical need, similar to Sadat's reasoning (but rather its flip side) of why he signed the 1978-79 Camp David Accords.
The issue is that Israel is seen as more of a liability than an asset to the West, especially in the attempt to stitch the seam line and encourage "moderate/secular" Muslims to participate alongside the Americans in restraining extremism. For Obama the seam line physically falls on the permanent status borders to be established between Israel and a future Palestinian State. This means a full Israeli withdrawal with land swaps and a divided Jerusalem. Obama has promised to reveal the full extent of this plan for an enforced solution in September. Bridging gaps and sowing together this part of the world fabric is considered so essential that the US is willing to cast into doubt Israel's right to exist should she not cooperate. Taken in its harshest terms, the demise of the Jewish State for blatant non-cooperation can be seen as a setback for certain western understandings but would remove an obstacle in facilitating a policy of tying the seam line together and enhancing American influence in the intermediate and long term future.
The Administration is weighing the need to resolve issues between the Muslim/Arab world (pop. 1.6 billion) and the West vs. what they can see as a recalcitrant Israel with world Jewish support (pop. 13 million). Israel is being reduced to its "true size" and influence in relation to American global policies. For America to continue supporting Israel, she must fall into line.
Israelis and concerned Jews around the world are delving into side issues of little strategic importance when arguing over territories, settlements, Jerusalem, etc. Whether one is Left, Right, Center, religious or secular none of these issues are of any great importance should Israel be devoid of international support when facing a possible Iranian nuclear onslaught with Hezbollah and Hamas in supporting roles. By highlighting all these negotiable matters we are dealing in distractions, exactly what the Administration and the Israeli government could hope for. The discussion now revolves around Israel's right to exist depending on adherence to the grand American foreign policy objectives and strategy – stitching the seam line and ensuring stability. Jewish independence can be compromised and if so once, the question must be asked, whether this does not set a precedent even should the Jewish State acquiesce to all American demands?
Implications of such a seam line policy validate the foreign policy claim by much of the Muslim world who consider Jewish independence a humiliating affront with which they cannot continue to live – even within the 1967 borders. Should this force Israel to abdicate sovereignty even if to do so would be considered neither moral, ethical nor legal?
But it gets more problematic – What other ally/patron exists besides Washington? It appears that Israel really has very few options in the grand sense. As far as one can see, the clash with Iran is here as they ratchet up their nuclear potential and continue speaking of Israeli extermination.
In an interview VP Joe Biden inferred Israel's right to defend itself, even with preemptive action. Later Pres. Obama contradicted that stance. Does Israel have the right to defend itself – after attacked? Most likely the Americans would have to agree, but what damage will be caused to the Jewish State by absorbing the Iranian first strike? And at what level would Israel be allowed to strike back in a battle for the survival of the Jewish State? Will there be American support for an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in the absence of even an interim agreement with the Palestinians? And will America support Israel against an Iranian (plus Hezbollah and Hamas) onslaught if there is still no agreement at all with the Palestinians? What will America deem as enough progress to allow for an American go-ahead on the two above questions?
The Palestinians are now brought in as arbiters in US-Israeli relations vis-à-vis the Iranians should the lack of a Palestinian-Israeli accord be understood by them to result in a weakening of American support for Israel when facing a life and death challenge by Iran. Like it or not, many Palestinians want to see Israel disappear completely.
Our best bet is in keeping with the continuity of policy determined through the Bush "Road Map" (2003), accepted by Ariel Sharon at the time and PM Netanyahu at present (including his Bar Ilan speech, June 2009). It is time to move to Stage II and the "demilitarized" Palestinian State with non-permanent borders on the way to the two-state solution. Keeping American support is of the essence as is disentangling from the Palestinians. Such a move will re-enlist American support and give Israel the time necessary to deal with the Iranian crisis to remove the existential threat. The international relations deck of cards will be reshuffled in the event of an Israeli success. With Khomeinist Iran out of the way or severely curtailed, Israel may regain its relevance in American foreign policy. After all from the American perspective, the Arab Gulf oil producing states will no longer be under threat. Such a move will reinstate Israel as a strategic ally, even if we can forget about sentiment for the next few years.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Aipac responds to Obama's anti Israel proclivity
AIPAC hits White House
The pro-Israel group AIPAC, which had been at pains for much of President Obama's term to downplay tensions between his administration and Benjamin Netanyahu's, is criticizing Obama in the sharpest terms to date after a series of administration officials sharply reprimanded Netanyahu for the announcement of new housing units in East Jerusalem during Joe Biden's trip.
"The Obama Administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State," says the unsigned statement sent out by spokesman Josh Block. "The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests."
The statement criticizes the administration's "escalated rhetoric" as "a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors."
"We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments," the statement says.
The statement reflects a defiant stance from the Israeli government and its American allies. They're confident on the one hand in Obama's unpopularity in Israel and in the popularity of Netanyahu's refusal to compromise on Jerusalem. It's also a gamble that, politically, Obama has nothing to gain from escalating a battle with a key ally as his domestic agenda hangs in the balance and his regional agenda appears to have stalled.
The statement also calls into question any American expectation that Netanyahu -- whose initial reaction was to blame domestic political foes for the announcement -- will move this week to calm tensions.
Full statement after the jump.
Statement from AIPAC:
The Obama Administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.
Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in America's fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region. Those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish State, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.
The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.
The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.
We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.
As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel, "Progress in the Middle East occurs when there is no daylight between the United States and Israel."
Posted by truth seeker at 8:21 AM 0 comments
our enemies get courted our friends get the squeeze
Turn against Israel? This has been going on for a long time and would have been clear to anyone back in 2008 or earlier—if they did not wear rose-colored glasses.
The Israelis are never going to trust this administration-nor should they.
Obama's Turn Against Israel
The U.S. makes a diplomatic crisis out of a blunder.
In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has endorsed "healthy relations" between Iran and Syria, mildly rebuked Syrian President Bashar Assad for accusing the U.S. of "colonialism," and publicly apologized to Moammar Gadhafi for treating him with less than appropriate deference after the Libyan called for "a jihad" against Switzerland.
When it comes to Israel, however, the Administration has no trouble rising to a high pitch of public indignation. On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden condemned an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage—the fourth out of seven required—for the construction of 1,600 housing units in north Jerusalem. Assuming final approval, no ground will be broken on the project for at least three years.
But neither that nor repeated apologies from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—at what White House sources ostentatiously said was the personal direction of President Obama—from calling the announcement "an insult to the United States." White House political chief David Axelrod got in his licks on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday, lambasting Israel for what he described as "an affront."
Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it's difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Mr. Biden's visit was intended to reassure Israelis that the Administration remained fully committed to Israeli security and legitimacy. In a speech at Tel Aviv University two days after the Israeli announcement, Mr. Biden publicly thanked Mr. Netanyahu for "putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence" of similar incidents.
The subsequent escalation by Mrs. Clinton was clearly intended as a highly public rebuke to the Israelis, but its political and strategic logic is puzzling. The U.S. needs Israel's acquiescence in the Obama Administration's increasingly drawn-out efforts to halt Iran's nuclear bid through diplomacy or sanctions. But Israel's restraint is measured in direct proportion to its sense that U.S. security guarantees are good. If Israel senses that the Administration is looking for any pretext to blow up relations, it will care much less how the U.S. might react to a military strike on Iran.
As for the West Bank settlements, it is increasingly difficult to argue that their existence is the key obstacle to a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel withdrew all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, only to see the Strip transform itself into a Hamas statelet and a base for continuous rocket fire against Israeli civilians.
Israeli anxieties about America's role as an honest broker in any diplomacy won't be assuaged by the Administration's neuralgia over this particular housing project, which falls within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries and can only be described as a "settlement" in the maximalist terms defined by the Palestinians. Any realistic peace deal will have to include a readjustment of the 1967 borders and an exchange of territory, a point formally recognized by the Bush Administration prior to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. If the Obama Administration opts to transform itself, as the Europeans have, into another set of lawyers for the Palestinians, it will find Israeli concessions increasingly hard to come by.
That may be the preferred outcome for Israel's enemies, both in the Arab world and the West, since it allows them to paint Israel as the intransigent party standing in the way of "peace." Why an Administration that repeatedly avers its friendship with Israel would want that is another question.
Then again, this episode does fit Mr. Obama's foreign policy pattern to date: Our enemies get courted; our friends get the squeeze. It has happened to Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Colombia. Now it's Israel's turn
Posted by truth seeker at 8:17 AM 0 comments
Obama deservesd anti peace prize
ADL chief: Flawed U.S. policy is undermining Mideast peace
Abraham Foxman has headed the Anti-Defamation League since the 1980s, serving often as an unofficial spokesman for the American Jewish community on issues of anti-Semitism and other affairs.
Who is to blame for the current crisis in the U.S.-Israeli relationship?
In the short term Israel is, but in the long term - the U.S. This is a flawed policy that we are seeing in the Middle East, that we were very much concerned about in the beginning of this administration, and that is to what extent this linkage will play in the policy and in the strategy of this administration. There are a lot of people in this administration who had advocated linkage - that all you have to do to resolve all the problems in the Arab Middle East is to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And it's a fantasy and an illusion that has been out there for a long time. But this administration has bought into this concept - even [Vice President Joe] Biden's language, that if we don't resolve this conflict American soldiers will die - that's the worst of that fallacy. When the secretary of state then says that it harms the bilateral relationship - what happens between the Palestinians and Israelis impacts American security. The solution of the problem is in Baghdad, Kabul, Tehran, maybe in Riyadh and Cairo. Not in Jerusalem.
The continuation of the crisis is the fault of the U.S. Whatever happened, the prime minister apologized publicly and privately, issued a statement, the interior minister issued a statement, Israel did an al-het, [Biden] even accepted it. And then to wake up in the morning and to find [State Department spokesman P.J.] Crowley saying these terrible words - and this is not only the secretary of state, this is the president - and what's worse, - with this linkage is also a belief that you can appease the Arabs, that all you must do is to placate them by giving them settlements.
Do you believe that if Netanyahu, as Martin Indyk suggested, announces a stop to all provocative actions in East Jerusalem, it will repair the damage?
So what's the next price? The belief that you can bring peace by placating the Arab position is wrong. Whatever you give, the answer is "no, come back with more." If freezing settlements is not enough, now it's Jerusalem. And then what? I don't understand why the U.S. doesn't say to the Palestinians: "Isn't peace in your interest? Why does Israel have to pay the price for the proximity talks?" Isn't talking to Israel in [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas'] interest so he can see what can or cannot be done?"
It's not the first time Israel's right wing government has embarrassed American officials.
But what troubles me is that the U.S. is sophisticated enough to understand political bureaucracy, the non-functional elements in Israeli democracy. How come they understand it in Pakistan, Egypt - and they don't understand it in Israel? Everybody thought the issue was resolved.
Do you believe with the current level of mistrust between the U.S. and Israel can still effectively coordinate on the Iranian nuclear program issue?
I believe that can be separated, because when we talk about American and Israeli security there are a lot of things that we share and the intelligence world and the military world understand how close that link is. I think there is more trust and understanding in this part of the bilateral relationship than the political. I am not sure that the U.S. and Israel stand on the same page in this issue, but there are some sincere and respectful differences.
The question whether the U.S. will actually do anything in its power to prevent Iran from going nuclear - that's the issue today. That's part of the discussion, and it's not becoming a political issue in this country as well. I do believe that at the end of the day the way to repair is to go back to the bipartisan approach that worked for years. I am concerned that it might become a political football ... I hope it's a temporary crisis."
Some American analysts state that the settlements policy gradually distances the American Jewish community from Israel.
I don't think it's true. The majority of the American Jewish community is not happy with settlements. But it also isn't happy when the U.S. president tells the Israeli prime minister what to do. I think that in the beginning the president received advice that if you take the settlements issue public you don't have anything to lose, because the American Jews don't like settlements, and the Israelis as well, and this is a win-win. But the American Jews don't like the American administration dictating to Israel what it should or shouldn't do. And now it was the U.S. to raise the issue of Jerusalem, and not Israel. The U.S. raised the stakes on Jerusalem. And that's where we are now, and the Palestinians detect weakness in the hope of separating Israel.
During the previous crisis the U.S. administration finally retracted on the settlements issue, and as some described it, left Abu-Mazen out on a limb.
I hope it will happen this time as well. The irony is that if the U.S. wants Israel to make compromises, to take political risks, it needs to be closer to Israel, not to distance itself from Israel. Be careful what you ask for - Biden went [to Israel] because a lot of American Jews pressed this administration that the President must go to Israel and talk directly to the Israeli people. This administration compromised and sent the Vice President. On the one hand the speech is wonderful - but on the other hand what happened on Friday has totally undone all the good work. Because Amr Musa dictated to Abu Mazen to withdraw from the proximity talks and I don't know why the U.S. didn't tell Abu Mazen: "We are your friends and we believe that it is in the interest of the Palestinians, the Americans and the Israelis - rather than go to Israel and say, "You've got to give him something."
I am also disturbed that in this whole year there hasn't been one specific condemnation by the American administration about anything that the Palestinian Authority leadership has done or said. Not once! And how many times was Israel publicly criticized, condemned, in all kinds of places? I found this very troubling, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority goes with the torch to burn Israeli food products, and the American administration doesn't say boo? The president of the Palestinian Authority threatens with religious war - and the states doesn't say boo. They dedicate a stage to the suicide bomber - and the U.S. doesn't say boo, because they believe placating will work - but it doesn't work. They wait for Israel to compromise, to take risks - but the U.S. continues to be the closest friend and ally. And what happened in the last 48 hours put it in a big question."
So do you think Biden is a true friend of Israel?
Yes. I think President Obama is a friend of Israel too. But I think it's a mistaken and counterproductive strategy and flawed analysis of what is in the best interest of the U.S. Support of Israel has served the U.S. interests more than supporting anyone else in the world.
Should Obama visit Israel himself in the near future?
I don't think we should count too much on that. When we made too much of it we got the vice president, and look what happened.
I've heard one analyst suggesting Israelis don't like Obama because of his color and middle name.
I think Israelis are not happy with him because of his policy. I think it has nothing to do with his name or his color.
Posted by truth seeker at 8:12 AM 0 comments
Palestinian terrorists happy with Obama
The Palestinian Authority Walks Out of Talks with a Big Smile on Its Face
By Barry Rubin*
March 15, 2010
In 1994, Israel asserted, and the PLO accepted, that construction would continue on existing Jewish settlements. For the next 15 years, negotiations were never stopped by that building.
In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA) stopped negotiations because Hamas attacked Israel from the Gaza Strip and Israel defended itself. Of course, Hamas is also the PA's enemy and the PA would be delighted if Israel destroyed that group. But for public relations' purposes, the PA had to pretend inter-Palestinian solidarity.
Then came President Barack Obama who demanded a stop to all construction on settlements in 2009. Israel finally complied but announced that it would keep building in east Jerusalem. The United States accepted that arrangement and even highly praised Israel's policy as a major concession.
But the PA refused to return to negotiations. Why, because the construction offended it? No, because the PA's radical forces don't want to make a peace deal because they believe they can win total victory and destroy Israel. The more moderate forces are too weak to make a deal because of Hamas and their own radicals, though they also have some problems with mutual compromise.
In September 2009, Obama announced that within two months there would be full and final peace negotiations in Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "yes": PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said "no."
No Western media outlet said that the PA refusal to negotiate for-as of today-about 15 months shows that the PA doesn't want peace. Yet they had no hesitation about saying that Israel doesn't want peace (or at least maybe doesn't) because Israel announced the building of apartments on the basis of a policy it has followed for 16 years, without serious complaint for most of that time.
Abbas seized on the opportunity to declare that he wasn't going to negotiate. Is he indignant? Upset? Does he feel betrayed? No, he's delighted to have an excuse to do what he wants to do anyway: Not negotiate with Israel!
Just like the famous scene in the film Casablanca when the police inspector, Renault, who regularly gambles at Rick's Place decided to shut down the nightclub:
Rick: How can you close me down? On what grounds?
Renault: "I am shocked shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
The croupier comes out of the gambling room and up to Renault. He hands him a roll of bills. Croupier: "Your winnings, sir."
Renault: "Oh thank you very much. [He turns to the crowd] Everybody out at once!"
And so he gets to close down talks, keep his winnings, and blame it on Israel. While Abbas and the PA don't agree with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on much, they do agree on one point: They claim that the West is abandoning Israel so why should they not just wait for it either to be destroyed (in Ahmadinejad's case) or until the West gives the Palestinians a state on a silver platter with no concessions on their part (Abbas's case).
Just as Obama killed the chance for negotiations with his demand for a full freeze, he and Vice-President Joe Biden may have done so again for indirect talks. But isn't it Israel's fault in the latter case for a stupid bureaucratic case of bad timing? Absolutely, yes. Yet the U.S. handling of the issue turned an annoying problem into an even worse problem for itself.
[Note: U.S. officials are claiming that talks will still take place, saying that reports of Abbas walking out are untrue. I don't believe this but if so I will correct this article accordingly.]
Even those in the West who mistrust or hate Israel, or at least the current government, have created a monumental paradox for themselves. They say (wrongly, I should point out) that Israel (or Netanyahu) doesn't want to negotiate or make a deal. If so, however, why are they "punishing" Israel by letting negotiations be killed? One of the many knots one gets into if there's no understanding of Middle East politics and realities.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org.
Posted by truth seeker at 8:11 AM 0 com
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Netanyahu right to boycott sandbagging with Obama
Republicans welcome Netanyahu's US trip cancellation
American press expresses interest in prime minister's decision not to attend NPT conference in Washington; some believe PM avoiding providing President Obama with answers on peace process
Published: 04.09.10, 11:24 / Israel News
WASHINGTON - The news of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's canceled trip to Washington was warmly welcomed by some republicans in the United States on Thursday. Liz Cheney's announcement of Netanyahu's cancellation was met with a round of applause in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
Cheney, daughter of former US Vice President Richard Cheney, opened the conference with a verbal attack against the Obama administration and noted the cold reception the president gave the prime minister during his last Washington visit.
Israel right to avoid Netanyahu sandbagging
"President Obama is playing a reckless game of continuing down the path of diminishing America's ties to Israel," she said deeming the world safer when there is "no daylight" between the two countries.
Netanyahu decided to cancel his Washington trip after learning that several Muslim nations were planning to raise the fact that Israel is a not a member of the Non Proliferation Treaty during the conference.
"In the last 24 hours we received reports about the intention of various states that will be present at the Washington conference to go beyond the issue of preventing nuclear terror," a senior source in Jerusalem said.
Posted by truth seeker at 5:07 AM 0 comments
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Palestinian murderers still send missiles
Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
* Palestinian Rocket Fired from Gaza Kills Thai Worker in Israel - Shmulik Hadad
A 30-year-old Thai foreign worker was killed Thursday after a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit a greenhouse compound in Netiv Ha'asara in Israel in the third such attack in the last 24 hours.
Posted by truth seeker at 12:11 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
treating Israel terribly
Ramat Shlomo and Obama's Latest Snit?
The Jerusalem municipal planning commission announced the approval of a plan, and the American administration went ballistic.
Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist who writes what Americans like to read, regardless of the merit of his analysis, suggested that Vice President Biden should have gone straight to the airport. Apparently Mr Friedman thinks international diplomacy should be handled the way teenagers react to being told they can't have the car.
It strikes me that, viewed a little more objectively than from the pages of the New York Times, the incident might be appraised differently.
First, Let's bear in mind that the decision to build in Ramat Shlomo is not a deviation from Israel's express policy, a policy of which the Obama administration is well aware, and that Secretary of State Clinton recently praised as an unprecedented step toward advancing the peace process. And let us not forget that Ramat Shlomo is a Jewish neighborhood in a Jewish area of Jerusalem.
So, a municipal planning commission made an announcement that it had approved a plan that is entirely in keeping with declared government policy -- a policy which the US administration has praised, but of which it does not entirely approve due to its traditional refusal to accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem (in defiance of Congress). This happens when the Vice President is in town.
This can be seen as a little embarrassing, since it might have put Mr Biden in a slightly awkward position, but it was clearly not an orchestrated attempt to insult. Surely it was not like, say, inviting the Dalai Lama to the White House, which President Obama clearly did with wilful premeditation, intending to smack the Chinese in the teeth, knowing full well that no previous President had extended such an invitation.
It wasn't even as embarrassing or as nasty as say a Congressional committee declaring that a NATO ally -- Turkey -- committed genocide, after Turkey made it clear to the President that such a declaration might prompt a break in diplomatic relations.
This was just a case comparable to Ehud Barak being told by the TSA to take his shoes off at Dulles International Airport, or Shaul Mofaz being told he couldn't have a visa to the US because he was born in Iran. A little embarrassing. maybe a little dumb, and to be treated accordingly.
So, how did the US react to the discovery that the Prime Minister doesn't have absolute control over municipal planning commissions?
The Vice President showed up an hour late to a state dinner with Israel's Prime Minister -- a petulant, childish act intended solely as a personal insult to the PM. The protocol in such cases is, I believe, to tell the guest: "I'm sorry, you are late. The PM is no longer available. He has a tight schedule..." That is probably how Mr Biden would have been treated by any other PM of any other country. But Mr Netanyahu decided to overlook the insult.
But rest assured, Mr Biden would never have even considered showing up two seconds late to dinner with the PM of England, Canada, France, Russia or even Fiji.
Then, Mrs Clinton called PM Netanyahu to upbraid him. Again, as a matter of proper protocol, Mr Netanyahu should probably have told Mrs Clinton that if the President wished to speak with him, he had the phone number, and then he should have hung up. The unelected advisors of the President have no business telling off the heads of foreign governments. If the President wishes to do so, he may. The Secretary of State can call in Israel's ambassador to Washington to express her displeasure. She even might go as far as calling the Foreign Minister to discuss a matter of concern with him, while showing the respect and deference due a minister of a foreign government, but she has no business calling the Prime Minister of Israel to speak her mind. Rest assured, she would not allow herself that liberty with the PM of any other country.
So, I think maybe the US administration has taken a little gaffe that should have been overlooked, and deliberately used it with a heavy hand to show that it really really isn't Israel's friend, that it holds Israel in utter contempt and does not owe its government the minimal respect it would show to any other state.
I truly hope that that was what was intended, because the alternative is that the foreign policy of the United States is currently in the hands of people who think that the best way to handle a diplomatic setback is to stomp up the stairs and slam the door.
Posted by truth seeker at 8:49 AM 0 comments
Chrisitans condemn Obama
Christians United for Israel is not usually in the business of issuing press releases. But these are no ordinary times. In a written statement, the group declares that it is “deeply concerned about the Obama Administration’s escalating rhetoric,” and continues:
CUFI concurs with statements made by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and other Israeli leaders that this announcement was ill-timed. And CUFI notes repeated press reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu neither knew about this announcement in advance nor hesitated to apologize for it after the fact.
We are therefore surprised that the Administration has chosen to continue to escalate a conflict with one of our closest allies that could have been quickly resolved.
Timing aside, the fact remains that the Israeli policy behind this announcement — to continue building in existing Jewish neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem — is not new. When it comes to Israel’s bargaining position, nothing has changed. It is therefore difficult to understand why this long-standing disagreement over policy — which has never been a barrier to negotiations with the Palestinians– is now the source of such tension with the US.
We remind the Administration that Israel has been a committed partner for peace and has taken repeated risks for peace in recent years. We further note that the Netanyahu government has made important gestures to the Palestinians, including an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction and repeated calls for the resumption of direct negotiations. The Palestinians, on the other hand, continue to refuse direct negotiations.
So the ADL and CUFI, Steve Israel and Eric Cantor, and a host of other organizations and politicians along the political spectrum are telling the Obami: bullying Israel will garner no support and quite a lot of domestic opposition. The administration may not be pro-Israel in any meaningful way, but clearly Americans are
Posted by truth seeker at 7:54 AM 0 comments
WhY Obama wants to hurt Israel
Explaining the U.S.-Israel Crisis
By Barry Rubin*
March 16, 2010
It is important to understand that the current controversy over construction in east Jerusalem is neither a public relations' problem nor a bilateral policy dispute. It arises because of things having nothing directly to do with this specific point.
What are the real issues involved:
1. The U.S. and most European governments are determined not to criticize the Palestinian Authority's (PA) sabotage of the peace process. The facts are clear: The PA rejects negotiations for fourteen months. No reaction. The PA makes President Barack Obama look foolish by destroying his September 2009 initiative saying there would be talks within two months. The PA broke its promise to Obama not to sponsor the Goldstone report. In the end, the PA still won't talk directly. Yet during fourteen months in office the Obama administration has not criticized the PA once. The point is clear: The U.S. government will never criticize the PA no matter what it does. (We'll talk about why this is so in a moment.)
2. Same thing regarding Syria. Dictator Bashar al-Assad supports terrorists who kill the United States in Iraq; kills Lebanese politicians; openly laughs at U.S. policy; and invites Iran's president immediately after a major U.S. concession. Yet the Obama Administration makes no criticism and in fact offers more concessions.
3. The United States will criticize Iran but will not take a tough and vigorous stand against it. Now it is mid-March and no higher sanctions. Indeed, the administration's sanctions' campaign is falling apart.
4. On whom can the Administration's failures be blamed? Answer: Israel. Since it is a friend of the United States and to some degree dependent on it, no matter what the Obama Administration does to Israel that country has no wish or way to retaliate. It is safe to beat up on Israel.
5. By doing so, the Administration gets Europeans to go alone easily and can say to Arabs and Muslims: See we are tough on Israel so you should be nice to us.
6. What does the U.S. government want? A lot of things. An easier withdrawal from Iraq; popularity; quiet; nobody attacking it verbally or materially (at least not so its constituents will hear the attacks); an ability to claim success or at least claim it would have been successful on the peace process if not for Israel; supposedly, Arab support for its doing something on Iran; hopefully, less terrorism; and so on.
7. There is also an ideological aspect given the Administration's general worldview, which need not be repeated here at length. But large elements in the government apparently have so accepted the manifestly untrue idea that everything in the region is linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict that high-level officials have reportedly remarked that the construction of apartments in east Jerusalem jeopardize the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or that Arab states won't cooperate with the United States because of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
The argument that U.S.-Arab relations rests on U.S.-Israel relations has been repeated for a half-century and repeatedly proven wrong. American attempts to resolve the conflict have rarely received help from the Arab world, and often been bitterly opposed. At the same time, Arab states have repetedly functioned on the basis of their own interests to seek U.S. help because they recognized American power: to convoy tankers and deter Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, to reverse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, to protect them from Iran and revolutionary Islamists today, and in dozens of other cases. They may say that everything depends on Israel but that is propaganda.
By the same token, if the Arab world--that is the relative moderates--isn't being helpful to the United States now, this is due to the fact that such action is often against the interests of states and precisely because they do not view America as a strong and reliable power today. That is the result of Administration policies.
No matter what the Administration does to Israel, these things won't change. In short, the Administration is falling for the oldest trick, the most venerable con-game, in the Middle East book: Move away from Israel, pressure Israel, solve the conflict, and all the Arab governments will love America and do what it wants them to do.
What makes this even more ridiculous is that now the United States is focusing on Iran and Afghanistan, places where Israel-Palestinian issues clearly have zero effect on events. Sunni and Shia Iraqis aren't in conflict because of Israel; Sunni insurgents aren't attacking American troops because of Israel. Al-Qaida and the Taliban aren't fighting to seize power in Afghanistan and Pakistan because of Israel. And al-Qaida isn't seeking to overturn all Arab regimes, create an Islamist government, and destroy any Western role in the Middle East because of Israel.
And even if the Israel issue may be one factor affecting the attitudes of Arabs toward revolutionary Islamism it is only a single factor among many. The people prone to supporting revolutionary Islamism won't interpret an American conflict with Israel as showing the goodness of Obama but the weakness of Obama and the coming triumph of Iran in the region.
8. The handling of this issue is also counterproductive because it ensures Israel-Palestinian talks won't get going again. After all, if the United States is so angry at Israel why should the PA and Arab states defuse the crisis? They will raise their demands because they win either way: If the United States forces Israel to make more concessions then they get something for nothing. But if Israel doesn't make those concessions then it gets blamed for the impasse and the Arab side profits from reduced U.S. support for Israel. As for the radical forces--Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah--they aren't going to become pro-American or support a real peace process no matter what happens.
Consequently, just as with the original demand for a freeze on construction, the Administration has once gain shot itself in the foot. The chances for even indirect talks in 2010 has gone to virtually zero as a result. Israel didn't do it; the U.S. government did. Ironically, the United States will end up losing more from this than Israel because nothing much is going to be altered regarding Israel-Palestinian issues but a great deal is changing in the larger regional situation.
Why is this all not more worrisome for Israel? This is so for several reasons. First, the Administration is not going to do much or anything against Israel in material terms. It is not a tough government and doesn't want confrontations. Its goal is not to injure Israel but to make itself look good. Moreover, it knows that pushing harder won't bring any reward since Israel won't yield and the peace process is going nowhere.
Second, Israel is protected by a very strongly favorable American public opinion and by Congress. At this point, Congress is no longer cowed by Obama. Indeed, the Democrats are angry with him for endangering their survival by the unpopular actions he is pressing on them. They know that the November elections look very bad for them. Taking on Israel will make things even worse. And they also have a better understanding of the radical forces in the region and the threat they pose. In other words, they are not so far left as is the White House. After the November elections, the Administration will be on even weaker political ground, especially vis-à-vis Israel.
Third, the Obama Administration's strategy won't work. The radicals will become more aggressive; the more moderate Arabs know that the Administration won't credibly defend them. Sensing blood (albeit mistakenly) the PA will raise its demands higher. The PA could only exploit the opportunity if it demanded final status talks-something it would never do-and try to get the best possible peace agreement with U.S. support. But since they won't deliver for the Administration, they won't collect much from it.
Eventually, the extremism of Iran, Syria, the Iraqi insurgents, Hamas, Hizballah, Libya, and to a lesser degree the PA will force a shift in U.S. strategy. Either the Obama Administration will adjust accordingly-at least partly-or will not survive its own electoral test. (This is not to underrate economic factors, which remain the highest priority for Americans, but it is unlikely that these will "save" the Administration, quite the contrary. A continuing economic mess plus foreign policy disasters would make its situation worse.)
This current crisis will blow over when the Administration grows tired of it and has wrung all the benefits it can from the issue, and not before.
Optional notes: This is not to underrate the importance of the bad timing by an Israeli ministry, letting the PA pretend that Israel wrecked a negotiating opportunity. The one thing a politician can never forgive is someone else making him look bad. Unfortunately, this Administration is only concerned about friends making it look bad, letting enemies get away with it repeatedly.
But a more serious U.S. government would not have let that game happen and would have been more even-handed in attributing blame. Such a government would have seized on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology, asked that the building be postponed, and pushed the two sides together to talk. Instead, the Obama Administration just accepted the PA walk out as if it were powerless to do anything.
I have been informed that on a number of occasions that my criticisms of the Obama Administration have led to my being denied certain opportunities regarding projects and writing venues. I can only repeat that my criticism is a response to the government's policies. I'd be far happier if they had a better policy and more competent implementation so that it would be possible to praise the government of the United States rather than have to criticize it.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org.
Posted by truth seeker at 6:33 AM 0 comments
Monday, March 15, 2010
J Street aids enemies of Israel
Posted by truth seeker at 10:14 AM 0 comments
How Obama endangers America as he fights with Israel
Are America and Israel Drifting Apart? (Washington Post)
Elliott Abrams: Poll data show that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans. Strategically we face the same enemies - such as terrorism and the Iranian regime - a fact that is not lost on Americans who know we have one single reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East. On settlements, the Obama administration demanded a 100% construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, something never required before even by the Palestinians as a precondition for negotiations. This stance cornered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who could demand no less, and led the U.S. administration last week to "condemn" the announcement of plans for Israeli construction that is years away. The verb "condemn" is customarily reserved by U.S. officials for acts of murder and terrorism - not acts of housing.
Danielle Pletka: It might have been hoped that after Sept. 11, 2001, and the revelation that Israel is of little interest to Islamist extremists, the U.S. foreign policy establishment would understand that the bankruptcy of leadership in the Arab world is a more pressing problem for America than the transgressions of a few million Jews, but it has always been easier to blame Israel than to sell reform to tyrants. Ultimately, the more serious problem for the United States is not a distancing between us and Israel but a failure to grasp that the shared threats to both nations - the Islamist totalitarianism that has flourished in the oxygen-free environment of the Arab world and the rise of the Revolutionary Guard class in Iran - will not be mitigated with the resolution of the Palestinians' fate.
Idiocies of an Obama imposed solution on Israel
The Idea of the Obama Administration Supporting an "Imposed Solution" on the Israel-Palestinian Issue Takes a Big Step Forward
By Barry Rubin*
April 9, 2010
Is the U.S. government going to present its own comprehensive peace plan on the Israel-Palestinian issue? There is growing evidence it is thinking of doing such a thing, though that is by no means certain. If the Obama Administration does move in this direction, however, I predict that it will be a major failure and humiliation for that government.
The latest development is an apparently well-informed New York Times article about a meeting chaired by National Security Advisor James Jones, known for being hostile to Israel, and including former national security advisors, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft-also known for being anti-Israel-and Samuel Berger. All three (it should be mentioned that none of this trio covered himself with glory when in office and are not exactly foreign policy geniuses) reportedly favor the idea. Former national security advisor Colin Powell disagreed, but he's a Republican (though a pro-Obama one) and probably less influential. Oh, and President Obama dropped in to hear the discussion.
One might ask a lot of people who voted for Obama if they are happy having Brzezinski and Scowcroft as top advisors on Middle East policy. Again, though, it should be clear no decision has been made and such an initiative might never happen, assuming clearer heads triumph.
But, the reporter writes:
"Still, for all of that, a consensus appears to be growing, both within the administration and among outside advisers to the White House, that Mr. Obama will have to consider suggesting a solution to get the two sides moving." This might happen also if indirect talks fail.
Let us pause a moment to consider that this whole approach is the opposite of being brilliant. First, the administration has just signaled to the Palestinians that they want to make the indirect talks fail, since then the U.S. government will make an "imposed" offer that will adopt almost all of their demands. After all, if it doesn't, they can sabotage the proposal, knowing that the Obama administration will never punish or criticize them. Since the government desperately wants to succeed, it is giving the Palestinian Authority all the leverage.
Of course, Israel is going to reject this idea, which then lets them sit back and enjoy more U.S.-Israel conflict. Thus, the whole strategy in advance is doomed to fail.
In addition, the strategy is deeply against diplomatic norms. U.S. policy has always been to insist that the two parties will decide on the issues. For many years, Israel has been making concessions based on an understanding that there would be no attempt at an imposed solution.
This, then, would be the third commitment from past years that the Obama administration would break.
The first was that any diplomatic solution could include Israel keeping some areas-settlement blocs-across the pre-1967 borders (though a State Department note back in October 2009 hinted that would be possible). The second was agreeing that Israel could build in east Jerusalem if it stopped building in the West Bank, a promise noisily and insultingly broken recently. Why, then, should Israel trust any promise in future made by this government?
The agreement outlined in the article is that there would be no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel and the 1967 borders with possibly some modifications. There would be U.S. or NATO security guarantees for Israel, and possibly troops along the Jordan River. And finally, that Arab states would recognize Israel.
Leaving aside the problems that such a proposal would bring for Israel, on its face the idea is absurd and doomed to defeat. To start with, there is no consideration of a little problem called the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas and would never accept this plan. Then there is the fact that Arab states would not recognize Israel for a variety of reasons, including the question of Syria's interests in the Golan Heights.
The sole expert quoted by the Times, by the way, is Robert Malley who, of course favors it though he stresses it won't be easy. Malley is very close to the PA and very far away from Israel. His influence with the administration seems to be growing and he has been seen closely advising Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leading naïve person on these issues. I could write a great deal about Mr. Malley but suffice it to say that Israel's survival is not a major concern for him.
There are many factors here but let me cite just two. First, high-ranking administration officials are not exactly deeply understanding of the issues at stake. Any plan presented by them will be full of holes and dangerous errors. Second, the notion that they can solve this issue and the whole Middle East will fall into place is absurd. See here, for example.
Yet the outcome would be the exact opposite of what they expect on the regional level. Islamists and many others in the Arab world will present any plan as treason, proof that America is against them. Obama would become less popular, attacks on the United States (both verbal and terrorist) would increase, as the radicals would do everything possible to sabotage any deal. If PA leaders accepted it-which they won't-or even appeared sympathetic, opposition to them within Fatah would increase.
It would be nice if those favoring or reporting on current policy mentioned these problems and tried to refute them in some way. Instead, they are usually just ignored. How can you write about an imposed solution and not even mention that little detail regarding Hamas! At least the Washington Post version--which as usual is superior to the Times reporting from Washington--says something about Gaza. But neither points out how this is a reversal of all previous American promises.
In reality, the United States would gain nothing and lose a great deal through such a strategy. What happens after the Obama Administration makes such an approach and it fails miserably? Where will its credibility in the region and its prestige at home be then?
After the British technical victory at the battle of Bunker Hill during the American revolution, suffering very heavy losses, a British officer wrote home: One more victory like this and there will be no one left to report it.
With the Obama Administration, having mishandled both Israel-Palestinian issues and sanctions against Iran (one could mention a few other foreign policy issues in this context), it could be said: One more initiative like this and there will be no one left in office. Even the New York Times editorial board won't be able to protect them. Can you say: One-term president?
Finally, one reason why I'd prefer that the administration did something right on foreign policy is so I could stop writing articles like this and find some good things to say about them. After all, the fact that the United States is doing so poorly in the world is bad for all freedom-loving peoples as well as the American people themselves. I beg the administration to stop being "one-sidedly" wrong so I can stop being "one-sidedly" critical. But I'm not holding my breath.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org.
Posted by truth seeker at 2:28 PM 0 comments
Now Obama let's in terrorists once barred
A University of Oxford professor once barred from entering the U.S. by the Bush administration for funding Hamas is back in New York, the Associated Press reports.
Tariq Ramadan, whose visa was revoked in 2004 as he prepared to take a tenured teaching position at the University of Notre Dame, will speak in several major U.S. cities after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed orders allowing his re-entry.
Posted by truth seeker at 5:41 AM 0 comments
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Obama’s Diplomatic War on Israel Is Just Getting Started
Obama’s Diplomatic War on Israel Is Just Getting Started
Jonathan Tobin - 04.07.2010 - 5:36 PM
Apparently, David Ignatius of the Washington Post isn’t the only recipient of White House leaks about an Obama peace plan. Helen Cooper of the New York Times chimed in with her own piece this afternoon about the president’s desire to jump into the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to Cooper, the trigger for this latest instance of administration hubris was a recent gathering of former national-security advisers including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Samuel Berger, and Colin Powell, who were called in to consult with the president and his adviser General James L. Jones. The consensus (only Powell seems to have dissented) was that Obama must put forward his own scheme that would state exactly what the parameters of a peace deal would be. The idea is that peace can only be obtained by the United States imposing it on the parties. The plan is, of course, along the lines of past Israeli peace offers rejected by the Palestinians, plus extra Israeli concessions. The Palestinians give up their “right of return,” and Israel “would return to its 1967 borders,” including the one that divided Jerusalem, with only “a few negotiated settlements” as an exception. The supposed sweetener for Israel is that the United States or NATO, whose troops would be stationed along the Jordan River, would guarantee Israeli security.
Cheering from the sidelines is former Clinton staffer Robert Malley, who advised Obama on Middle East issues during the 2008 campaign until he was put aside to reassure Jewish voters worried about the Democrats having a man on staff who had served as an apologist for Yasser Arafat in the aftermath of the 2000 Camp David talks. For Malley, the logic of an American diktat is simple: “It’s not rocket science. If the U.S. wants it done, it will have to do it.”
This fits in with the messianic self-confidence of the president, and with the vision of his presidency that his staffers exude. They are not interested in the fact that such attempts have always failed because of Palestinian intransigence, or that such attempts have ultimately led to more, not less, violence. It isn’t clear whether they truly believe that weak figures like Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad can sign any peace deal that recognizes Israel’s existence within any borders. But the administration’s simmering resentment against Israel seems to be driving this development more than anything else. Even if such a plan failed, as it surely would, the mere exercise of attempting to shove it down a reluctant Israel’s throat would appear to be deeply satisfying to figures like Brzezinski and Malley and perhaps Obama, whose predilection for trumped-up bitter disputes with the Jewish state and its leaders is now an established fact.
The effort to leak this story to multiple outlets appears to be a continuation of Obama’s feud with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Having failed to make Netanyahu bend to his will on the building of homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama is now raising the stakes by pointedly holding out the possibility that he will impose his own partition on Israel’s capital after the certain failure of the so-called “proximity talks” — so named because the Palestinians will not even sit in the same room to talk peace with Israelis.
It goes without saying that such a plan from Obama would, itself, constitute the baseline of future Arab demands on Israel because, as even Cooper points out, “once Mr. Obama puts American parameters on the table, the Palestinians will refuse to accept anything less.”
All this again raises the question of what Jewish Democrats think about all this. Some may have thought that Obama’s rage at Netanyahu and the histrionics that the president and his staff have engaged in during the last month was just a passing phase, to be forgotten as they moved on to other issues. But apparently, Obama’s anger at Israel and his desire to bring down Bibi and to force the Jewish state to surrender on Jerusalem has not diminished. Obama’s diplomatic war on Israel seems to be just beginning
Posted by truth seeker at 4:04 PM 0 comments
Palestinian terror, Obama encourages
How Do You Impose Peace?
Jennifer Rubin - 04.08.2010 - 8:45 AM
This report explains the latest Palestinian celebration of terrorism:
The future Palestinian Authority presidential compound will be built along a street named for an infamous Hamas arch-terrorist, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.
The Ramallah street was named for notorious Hamas suicide bomb mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” who was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.
Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.
Last time, the Palestinians pulled this – naming a square in Ramallah for terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis — Hillary Clinton tried to pass it off as the doing of Hamas, despite ample evidence that the PA joined in the festivities. It’s going to be even harder for the Obami to make excuses for the PA this time:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the naming, saying it was an “outrageous glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority.”
“Right next to a Presidential compound in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority has named a street after a terrorist who murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli men, women and children,” the statement said, adding that “the world must forcefully condemn this official Palestinian incitement for terrorism and against peace.”
So does the Obama team manage to get out a simple declaratory sentence this time — “We condemn this behavior,” for example? But more important, given this is the behavior and mentality of the PA — the supposedly reasonable Palestinian party to negotiations — how do the Obami intend to impose a peace deal? If one party is still caught in the grip of the cult of death, what reason is there to suppose that it is prepared to sign and then live up to an agreement by which they disarm and renounce terrorism?
At the AIPAC conference, Tony Blair laid out the challenge:
Until the year 2000, and with the heroic attempts of President Clinton, we attempted to achieve an agreement first and then shape reality around it. But it was not to be. After that came the Intifada. Thousands died. Then came the withdrawal from Gaza. Israel got out. It took 7000 settlers with it. In Israeli eyes, it received violence and terror in return.
The occupation deepened. Gaza was isolated. Faith in peace collapsed.
Ten years on, that faith has to be restored.
It can’t be done in a summit.
It has to be done patiently, and over time on the ground.
It can’t only be negotiated top-down.
It has also to be built bottom up.
Peace now will not come simply through an agreement negotiated; it must come through a reality created and sustained.
It means building institutions of Palestinian Government: not just well equipped, loyal security forces, but civil police, courts, prisons, prosecutors, the whole infrastructure of the rule of law.
It means treating those who commit acts of terror not only as enemies of Israel but enemies of Palestine.
Obviously, we are not remotely at that juncture – a point utterly lost or ignored by the Obami. So they imagine a pristine paper agreement will create peace — a notion so divorced from experience and so blind to the realities occurring daily that one is tempted to conclude, “They can’t be serious!” Blair got it when he declared: “The mentality has to move from resistance to governance. There can be no ambiguity, no wavering, no half heart towards terrorism. It is totally and completely without justification and we will never compromise in our opposition to it or those that practice it.” The Obami don’t.
It therefore follows that the Obami’s indifference to that fundamental requirement for peace disqualifies them as competent interlocutors. They are neither “honest” nor “brokering” — they have become henchmen for the Palestinians who await deliverance of the Jewish state — or what remains of it — without need to root out and renounce violence, without cultivation of the Palestinian institutions that can sustain peace. Israel and its supporters should be clear: there is no role for this administration in any peace process — they are, in fact merely, establishing incentives for violence and Palestinian rejectionism
Posted by truth seeker at 4:03 PM 0 comments
How Obama ignores past agreements and encourages Palestinian negativity
Peace Plan No. 6
Rick Richman - 04.08.2010 - 11:09 AM
Asked about the Washington Post story in which it was reported that the administration is considering its own Middle East peace plan, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a non-denial/denial yesterday, in which the operative words were “at this point”:
I would steer you away from the idea that we are — we’re going to try to, at this point, impose a particular view on the parties … our focus right now is getting them into the proximity talks, into negotiations, and then we’ll see what happens after that. [Emphasis added]
The “peace process” has not suffered from an insufficient number of plans. In the past decade, we have had five of them: (1) the Israeli two-state plan presented at Camp David in July 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (2) the Clinton Parameters presented in December 2000 — rejected by the Palestinians; (3) the 2003 Roadmap, calling for the dismantlement of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups as Phase I — ignored by the Palestinians; (4) the 2005 Gaza disengagement, giving the Palestinians a Judenrein Gaza to start their state — which produced a rocket war on Israeli civilians; and (5) the 2007-08 Annapolis Process, a plan for year-long final-status negotiations resulting in still another Israeli offer of a state — rejected by the Palestinians.
Even a casual observer can spot the problem here, and it is not the absence of a plan.
The Gaza disengagement was the result of a deal in which Israel withdrew every soldier and settler from Gaza (and dismantled four settlements in the West Bank to demonstrate it would be Gaza first, not Gaza last) in exchange for explicit American promises about the future of the peace process. The first of those promises was that the U.S. would neither impose its own plan nor allow others to do so.
The U.S. letter memorializing the deal assured Israel that the U.S. would do its utmost to “prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan” than the Roadmap (emphasis added). Sharon was concerned that Israel might eventually be pressured to accept something like the Geneva Accord (then being touted by Jimmy Carter), pushing Israel back to the indefensible 1967 borders. The second promise was a reiteration of the “steadfast commitment” by the U.S. to “defensible borders” for Israel.
The coming U.S. plan will violate both of those promises, and the prospect of such a plan will eliminate any incentive for the Palestinians to do anything other than wait for it — secure in the knowledge that the current U.S. administration does not feel bound by any prior commitments to Israel
Posted by truth seeker at 4:01 PM 0 comments
Obama plan will undermine Israel
Pres. Obama Trial balloon of Obama's Mideast plan rejected by Israel, criticized by experts
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke out:
Israel will not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it by external forces.
The idea of a U.S.-imposed peace plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict raised an immediate outcry from pro-Israel commentators.
Elliott Abrams, writing at the Weekly Standard, lays the problems out clearly:
The inability of Israelis and Palestinians to get to the negotiating table is, in this administration, an iatrogenic disease: Our diplomatic doctors have caused it. The astonishing incompetence of Obama and special envoy George Mitchell has now twice blown up talks-direct talks last year, and proximity talks more recently-by making Israeli construction plans a major world crisis, thereby forcing Palestinian leaders to back away from engagement with the Israelis. So the administration will, in the fall, just do it the simpler way. Why bother with Israelis and Palestinians, in whom the president apparently does not have "growing confidence," when you can just have your own brilliant team draw up the terms? As Ignatius's sources, "two top administration officials," tell him, "everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal."
This is false and dangerous. First, if indeed everyone has known the terms for nearly 20 years (since Oslo) yet agreement has never been reached, is it not obvious that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing and able to accept those terms? Does their embrace by an ambitious American president make them any more palatable to the people who will have to live with them? Second, the conclusion that all the terms are known is quite wrong. Is the fate of Jerusalem's Old City agreed? Do Palestinians accept that Israel will keep every major settlement bloc? Do Israelis and Palestinians agree on the terms needed to guarantee Israel's security once the IDF must leave the West Bank? (Examples: Is it agreed that Israel will control the air space and electromagnetic spectrum? Is it agreed that Israel can keep troops in the West Bank for some years? Do Palestinians accept that Israel can control the Jordan Valley and patrol the border with Jordan?) This is nonsense. One of Ignatius's sources says the Obama plan will "take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security." After 14 months of harassment by Obama and his team, will any Israeli risk his nation's safety on that assurance?
A tell-tale: One of the demands that Obama is said to have made of Prime Minister Netanyahu is withdrawal to the pre-intifada (September 2000) IDF lines in the West Bank. This is striking, for the demand apparently is not to promise a future withdrawal, or a staged withdrawal as and when conditions permit, but simply to pull back now. This means ignoring security conditions on the ground and the current capabilities of Palestinian forces to keep order and stop terrorism, or it means assuming that the Palestinian forces are adequate. If they are not, well, so what, there will be a few acts of terror, and then we'll see that maybe they pulled back too far too fast. Everyone makes mistakes. These are the kinds of calculations that persuade Israelis the administration is cavalier about their security, despite the occasional repetition of campaign pledges to the contrary.
Jen Rubin at Commentary:
This is poppycock, of course. The Obami can't come up with an effective Iran approach. And now they want to add to their overwhelmed and underperforming foreign-policy apparatus by imposing a Middle East plan? It is apparent that the latter is an excuse and diversion from doing anything about the former. It is also very dangerous.
First, high-ranking administration officials are not exactly deeply understanding of the issues at stake. Any plan presented by them will be full of holes and dangerous errors. Second, the notion that they can solve this issue and the whole Middle East will fall into place is absurd.
Dennis Glick and Daniel Mariaschin:
The harsh language, unfair demands, and collateral damage the administration has engaged in over these last few weeks sends the wrong message to the wrong people: That the ties that bind the U.S.-Israel friendship are fraying. In the rush to achieve a solution within 24 months, as some administration leaders have proposed, we must avoid inviting further instability in the region. The administration's impatience, in the form of its harsh criticism and unilateral demands, is misdirected. An incomplete and ill-conceived peace plan will whet the appetites of those whose interests are inimical to peace.
The Orthodox Union writes a letter of solidarity to Prime Minister Netanyahu
AND YET, OBAMA'S JEWISH APOLOGISTS AT J STREET EGG HIM ON:
If there is any lesson from the last 20 years of Middle East peacemaking (or the last year of the Israelis and Palestinians talking about possibly talking about talks, for that matter), it is that the parties themselves are incapable of resolving this decades-long conflict on their own. They will need a strong American presence at the table, suggesting bridging proposals to resolve impasses and providing the political support for the hard choices that will be necessary. And as the window for achieving a two-state solution grows ever smaller, there is no time to lose.
Posted by truth seeker at 3:56 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
ok with nuclear iran
Obama: A nuclear Iran inevitable
By HERB KEINON AND JPOST.COM STAFF
US President said "current course would provide them with nuclear capabilities."
It is inevitable that Iran will produce nuclear weapons, as things stand, US President Barack Obama said on Monday, in an interview with The New York Times. Seeming to indicate his administration was now resigned to a future including a nuclear-armed Iran.
President Obama stated he was now convinced that “the current course they’re on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities,” though he gave no timeline.
He dodged when asked whether he shared Israel’s view that a “nuclear capable” Iran was as dangerous as one that actually possessed weapons.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Obma and NYT team up by Barry Rubin
But again what has happened to make the question Netanyahu's ability or willingness to make a peace deal. Here are the total charges against him: The announcement of building a set of apartments, for which he apologized, and another regarding 20 additional apartments.
It's not as if he and his colleagues daily broadcast incitement to murder people on the other side through schools, sermons, and speeches. It's not as if they refused to negotiate at all month after month. It's not as if they released or did not incarcerate extremists who murdered civilians on the other side. (Actually they did release prisoners who murdered civilians but they were Palestinian prisoners who murdered Israelis.) It's not as if they don't even control half the territory for which they purport to bargain.
Those are all characteristics of the PA, things the Times does not even mention. And if the administration or the Times wanted to take offense at anti-peace actions they could mention that at the time of Biden's visit the PA dedicated a major square to a terrorist who murdered a score of Israeli civilians and Gail Rubin, a U.S. citizen and niece of then Senator Abraham Ribicoff. Not only did the Administration not protest this action but Clinton mistakenly attributed it to Hamas in her AIPAC speech.
Consequently, this editorial is not merely slanted; it is so profoundly dishonest, distorting both the Palestinian and the Obama Administration role, as to be suitable to that published in a state-controlled newspaper in a dictatorship.
Once--and perhaps again in the not-distant future--the U.S.-Israel link was called a "special relationship" because it was so close. Now it is still distinctive in a special way: Israel is the only country in the world--a list that includes none of those countries sponsoring anti-American terror or trying to destroy U.S. interests--that this administration, perhaps only temporarily, wants to intimidate and defeat.
But is this all about Israel or is it about the desperation to defend an administration which has failed so badly and acted so erratically in foreign policy?
By so misrepresenting the facts and situation, some media can go on defending Obama's policies and actions. But that's no way to defend America and its interests, quite the contrary.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
Posted by truth seeker at 12:08 PM 0 comments
Monday, March 29, 2010
Obama is causing a third intifafda
Where did the “education” take place?
Will Barack Obama Ignite the Third Intifada?
Posted by Daniel Gordis in Featured Articles on March 26, 2010 | 37 responses
As I was departing the United States following a brief visit last week, the news being broadcast in the airport was preoccupied with Prime Minister Binyamin’s Netanyahu’s recent and apparently inadvertent snub of Vice President Joe Biden. Some 11 hours later, when I’d landed in Tel Aviv and was listening to the radio in the taxi on the way to Jerusalem, the news was of rioting in Jerusalem, the numbers of police officers injured, and the number of protesters detained during Hamas’s “Day of Rage.” On the American news, Hillary Clinton was calling for more than an apology, demanding “concrete steps” towards peace on Israel’s part. And in Israel, the fluent-Hebrew-speaking Arab protester interviewed on the radio was calling for armed resistance to Israel’s “assault on Jerusalem,” insisting that the time for a third intifada had now arrived.
The radical difference between the broadcasts is an apt metaphor for the wholly different ways in which the current crisis in Israeli-American relations is perceived on the two sides of the ocean. The Americans are quite right to be incensed at the way Biden was treated. Whether Netanyahu was sandbagged by Interior Minister Eli Yishai, or whether this was simply another example of Israeli bureaucratic incompetence is not yet entirely clear. But it should never have happened.
Having said that, however, it is also clear that in the context of a generally positive relationship, Israel’s insult to Biden would have been unfortunate, but it would have blown over almost immediately. The snub has had such massive repercussions because the relationship between the American and Israeli administrations is frayed, and wholly devoid of trust. The important question is why that is the case.
WHILE ISRAEL has obviously made some serious gaffes since Obama entered office, the real cause for this nadir in Washington-Jerusalem relations is the fact that Barack Obama seems to have little comprehension of the region on which he seeks to impose peace. The president’s ignorance of the world in which he is operating is apparent on at least three levels. He seems unaware of how profoundly troubled Israelis are by his indiscriminate use of the word “settlement,” he appears to have little comprehension of the history of Palestinian recalcitrance, and he has apparently learned little from decades of American involvement in the Middle East peace process.
First, there is the issue of the word “settlements.” To the Israeli ear, anyone who would use the same noun for both a small city with tens of thousands of inhabitants and for a tiny hilltop outpost consisting of a trailer and a portable generator simply does not understand the terrain. Gilo, to Israelis, is not a settlement. It is a huge neighborhood of Jerusalem, a part of the capital city. When Obama called Gilo a settlement after Israel announced new housing units there in November, Israelis drew the conclusion that the president of the United States is wholly out of his element.
Similarly, Obama’s demands for an absolute freeze on settlement construction strike Israelis as either foolish or unfair. Why, they ask, did all construction have to cease? Israelis who had planned to add a bedroom to their home for recently married children, who had already poured a foundation and ripped out the back wall of their home, were now told that nothing could proceed. When the president, who does not seem to know a city from an outpost, insists that houses remain open to the elements during the cold Israeli winter because of his desire to appease the very Palestinians who have never been serious about peace efforts, he does not win friends.
Nor, Israelis have noted, did Obama demand any similarly concrete concessions from the Palestinians or their puppet-president. That, too, has served Obama poorly in this country. And despite all this, Israelis believe the world has forgotten, Netanyahu acceded to Obama’s demands for a freeze, at no small political cost.
Thus, when the Americans decided to make the undeniably ill-timed announcement of the Ramat Shlomo housing plans into a cause célèbre, Israelis were hard-pressed to feel contrite about anything beyond the personal hurt caused to Biden. Ramat Shlomo is an enormous neighborhood that is already home to some 20,000 people, and which is situated between the even larger neighborhoods of Ramot and Sanhedria. Ramat Shlomo is Jerusalem, period. Building there may be wise or unwise for a whole array of reasons, but for the Americans to seize on this as a “settlement construction” issue only further confirmed Israeli suspicions that Obama couldn’t locate the neighborhood on a map.
THE SECOND major element that Obama appears not to understand is that the Palestinians’ current refusal to conduct face-to-face negotiations has a long history; their recalcitrance has nothing at all to do with the settlements. The settlements, like the refugee problem (on which Israel will never compromise), and the division of Jerusalem (where some accommodation will almost certainly be forced on Israel), will be addressed when the Israelis and Palestinians sit down for face-to-face negotiations.
But Abbas has agreed only to mediated talks because he is unwilling to countenance the concessions that direct talks might ultimately require of him. The Palestinians have balked at every attempt to sign a substantive agreement with Israel. There remains virtually no Israeli political Left, not because of the Israeli Right, but because Yasser Arafat unleashed the Second Intifada when Ehud Barak called his bluff and offered him just about everything he could have expected, proving beyond any doubt that the Palestinian leadership had no interest in “land for peace.”
For the Obama administration to suggest that the Palestinians cannot negotiate now because of settlement construction strikes Israelis as either hopelessly naïve, or worse, fundamentally hostile to the Jewish state.
And finally, despite his appreciable intellectual capacities, Barack Obama seems to have no appreciation of what America can and cannot do in the Middle East. He believes so deeply in the power of his own rhetoric that he imagines that he can evoke the passions of Grant Park on Election Day, or the Washington Mall on Inauguration Day, in a Muslim world that has disdain for the very democratic values that brought him to power. This is hubris at its most dangerous. Obama’s Cairo speech was rhetorically brilliant, but the president has been snubbed. Iran has yet to grasp Obama’s outstretched hand, and instead, proceeds apace in its quest for a nuclear weapon. The Palestinians have not budged. Yet Obama continues to believe that his eloquence will win the day.
Does Obama really not understand that this conflict has a long and consistent history? The Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan in 1947, and refused a treaty at the end of Israel’s War of Independence in 1949. After their defeat in June 1967, they gathered in Khartoum and declared “no peace, no recognition and no negotiations.” Arafat said “no” at Camp David in 2000, and Abbas continues in that tradition. Why the American administration cannot or will not acknowledge that is one of the great wonders of this most recent train wreck.
WITH HIS laser focus on the settlements, Obama is ignoring the fact that Abbas wouldn’t negotiate even if not a single settlement existed. In so doing, Obama has not only not moved the process forward, but he has afforded Abbas a refuge from responsibility, and he has given those who would like to ignite a third intifada an empty but symbolically powerful excuse for doing just that. A third intifada remains unlikely at present (though, it’s worth noting, the IAF attacked Gaza targets this week and the IDF killed a Palestinian teenager during a scuffle – precisely the sort of innocuous events that could one day be seen as the first events of the third intifada), but should it happen, it will be, first and foremost, the product of Washington’s naïveté.
Obama would be well-served to recognize that the history of this region is clear. Peace emerges when the two primary sides do the work themselves, with the United States entering late in the process to iron out stubborn details. Sadat went to Jerusalem without American urging, and though Jimmy Carter ultimately brought the two sides together to conclude the deal, the bulk of the work had been done by Sadat and Begin long before Carter entered the picture. The Nobel Committee, which once exercised much more subtle judgment, essentially acknowledged that fact by having Sadat and Begin split the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize, without including Carter.
The same was true with Rabin and Hussein, who worked on the Israeli-Jordanian peace deal. Clinton orchestrated the ceremony; but the principals had done most of the work without him.
And history suggests that only Israeli right-wingers can forge a deal. Israelis do not trust the Left to be security-conscious, and a left-wing government always has a right-wing flank blocking it. Obama may bristle at Netanyahu’s hawkish rhetoric, but the more Obama weakens this prime minister, the less likely a deal will become. The US cannot wish democracy on Iraq, or peace on the Middle East. There will be a settlement of this conflict when the Palestinians are ready, not when Barack Obama decides to impose one.
SO, WHERE do we go from here? To begin to pull out of the present nose-dive, each of the parties will need to shift gears.
The Palestinians have to decide if they will take risks for peace, and if they can elect a president who is more than a figurehead. Last week’s “Day of Rage,” it should be noted, was called by Hamas – yet it unfolded not in Hamas’ Gaza, but in Fatah’s Jerusalem. Fatah needs a genuine leader, perhaps someone like Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is now saying that the Palestinians should first build the trappings of statehood, and only then declare independence down the road. It is no surprise that Shimon Peres recently compared Fayyad to David Ben-Gurion, the creator of the modern State of Israel.
The Israelis need to learn to play in the major leagues. When the American vice president visits, you need to have your act together. If Israeli leaders continue to act as if they run a banana republic, they will deservedly be so treated. But much more significantly, Netanyahu needs to apprise Israelis of his vision. Does he favor a two-state solution? What are his plans for Jerusalem? For the settlements? Let him tell us, and then we can decide. If we approve, he’ll stay in office. And if we don’t, he’ll be gone. But we deserve to know what our prime minister has in mind.
In some respects, though, Barack Obama has the hardest job, at least in the short term. When he took office, there was no love lost between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Gaza was still smoldering from the recently concluded Operation Cast Lead. But there was reasonable quiet on the West Bank and in Jerusalem, and a renewed Intifada was nowhere on our radar screen. Obama’s blunderings have now restored the region’s previous tinderbox qualities.
The president needs to back down from his relentless and fruitless focus on settlements, and concentrate more on what he doesn’t yet know than on the power of his rhetoric. Should another intifada erupt, it will have had its seeds in a Washington more interested in the magic of its words than in the painful lessons of a century of history.
Posted by truth seeker at 7:45 AM 0 comments
Obama declared diplomatic war on Israel
Has the Obama Administration, Against U.S. Interests, Declared Diplomatic War on Israel?
By Barry Rubin*
March 29, 2010
Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?
Up to now my view has been that the U.S. government didn't want a crisis but merely sought to get indirect negotiations going between Israel and Palestinians in order to look good.
Even assuming this limited goal, the technique was to keep getting concessions from Israel without asking the PA to do or give anything has been foolish, but at least it was a generally rational strategy.
But now it has become reasonable to ask whether the Obama White House is running amuck on Israel, whether it is pushing friction so far out of proportion that it is starting to seem a vendetta based on hostility and ideology. And if that's true, there is little Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any Israeli leader can do to fix the problem.
A partial explanation of such behavior can be called, to borrow a phrase from the health law debate, a "single-payer option" as its Middle East strategy. That is, the administration seems to envision Israel paying for everything: supposedly to get the Palestinian Authority (PA) to talks, do away with any Islamist desire to carry out terrorism or revolution, keep Iraq quiet, make Afghanistan stable, and solve just about any other global problem.
What makes this U.S. tactic even more absurd is doing so at the very moment when it is coddling Syria and losing the battle for anything but the most minimal sanctions on Iran.
During his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to defuse the tension. His partners in government, we should never forget, are Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labour Party, and President Shimon Peres, who has done more to promote Middle East peace than any other living Israeli leader.
But according to reliable sources, Obama went out of his way to be personally hostile, treating Netanyahu like some colonial minion who could be ordered around.
It is not entirely clear what demands the White House has made on Israel. Those most often mentioned are the release of more Palestinian prisoners, the permanent end of construction in the West Bank, and the permanent end to construction in parts of Jerusalem over the pre-1967 border.
Palestinian prisoners: It is ironic, given U.S. statements that Israel must "prove" its commitment to peace, that there have been so many prisoner releases in the past. Thus, Washington is not giving Israel credit for these. Moreover, many of those arrested have committed terrorism against Israeli civilians in the past and may well do so in future. Finally, releasing prisoners will not bring any gratitude from the PA or increased willingness to negotiate. If such a release is forced, the PA will merely assume that it doesn't matter if Palestinians attrack or kill Israelis because Washington will secure the release of those captured in future without the PA having to do anything.
West Bank and Jerusalem Construction: Only five months ago, the U.S. government agreed to a temporary halt to construction and Israel's government agreed. If this did not prove Israel's commitment to peace--and the White House broke the deal--why should Israel assume that it will get any credit for this step either? What is its incentive for such a big concession? Such construction should give the PA an incentive to make a deal faster. But, again, if this goal is achieved by U.S. pressure, why shouldn't the PA presume that all settlements will be removed in future by a similar mechanism without its having to make full peace and any concessions?
I won't take space here to restate all the arguments regarding Israel's claims to areas of Jerusalem under Jordanian rule before 1967. Note that President Clinton, in the Camp David and Clinton plan proposals in 2000, supported Israeli rule over much--though definitely not all--of east Jerusalem.
Why should the administration believe that it can press Israel to make big concessions, a: with no PA concessions; b. with its U.S. ally showing itself so unreliable that it is unlikely to credit Israel with concessions it does make or to keep agreements based on Israeli concessions; and c. at a time when the U.S. government is not workin very hard to stop Iran's nuclear weapons campaign?
The one answer the administration gives is so factually inaccurate as to call into question--if I may coin a phrase--its analytical sanity.
Judging from the evidence, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's AIPAC speech, the administration thinks it can force Israel's government to give in because it knows better what Israelis want than do Netanyahu, Barak, and Peres.
Actually, a poll by the highly respected Smith Research company for the Jerusalem Post, found that only 9 percent of Israeli Jews considered the administration pro-Israel, while 48 percent said it was more pro-Palestinian. To understand these figures, you have to know that most Israelis are very reluctant to say anything critical of the United States, out of genuine respect, concern not to damage relations, and speaking on the basis of their hopes.
So does the administration want to resolve this issue or to break Israel's willpower? Is it going to keep piling on demands in hope of giving the PA so much that it will agree to talk about getting itself even more unilateral Israeli concessions? Is the goal to overthrow Netanyahu-which isn't going to happen-or turn him into a servant who will follow orders in future-which also isn't going to happen?
Doesn't this U.S. government understand that if it proves itself hostile that will destroy any incentive Israel has to enter negotiations with Obama as the mediator? If he's this much acting solely based on PA interests now, does any Israeli government want to make him the arbitor of the country's future, deciding on its borders, security guarantees, and other existential issues? Of course not.
By the same token, can't he comprehend that he is giving the PA every incentive to keep raising the price, especially since it doesn't want to talk any way?
Is there no real sense--probably not--that if this administration undermines Israel's trust in Washington it will push the whole country further to the right. If the U.S. government politely asks to stop building in east Jerusalem in exchange for some tangible benefit and for a limited time, lots of Israelis would be willing to agree. But if this happens in a framework of enmity and threat, with the "reward" being no benefit and even more concessions to follow, even doves will grow sharp beaks.
It seems as if the Obama Administration has chosen just one country in the world to try to pressure and intimidate. And it has picked the worst possible target in this respect, both because of how Israelis think and also given very strong domestic U.S. support for Israel (especially strong in Congress).
Won't it see that if it bashes Israel while ignoring the PA's commemoration of a major square in honor of a terrorist who murdered a score of Israeli civilians, with Clinton even claiming this was done by Hamas and not the PA? And as the administration betrays Israel's main priority-failing to put serious pressure on Iran to stop building nuclear weapons-why should Israel want to do big favors and take big risks for this president?
Finally, since this administration has already unilaterally abrogated two major U.S. promises-the previous president's recognition that settlement blocs could be absorbed by Israel as part of a peace agreement, and the Obama administration's own pledge to let Israel build in east Jerusalem if it stopped on the West Bank-why should it put its faith in some new set of promises?
So the Obama Administration will have to decide, and do so in the coming days.
Does it want to try to get some limited concessions from Israel to use as capital in trying to get talks started, using these to brag--futilely, of course--to Arabs and Muslims how they should be nicer to the administration in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Or does it want to live up to the negative stereotypes held by its worst enemies while simultaneously committing political suicide and destroying U.S. credibility in the Middle East. We will know the answer pretty soon.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org.
Posted by truth seeker at 7:43 AM 0 comments
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Obama's war against Israel
Barack Hussein Obama II?s War Against Israel
Posted By Pamela Geller On March 25, 2010 @ 4:43 pm In Featured Story, Hol=
ocaust, Israel, Obama | 225 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in the U.S. and met with Bar=
ack Obama in the White House, but you won?t find any photos of Netanyahu=
with Obama on the wire services. There aren?t any. Obama wouldn?t allow=
it. Politico reported:
But the meetings were shrouded in unusual secrecy, in part because U.S. of=
ficials, who just ten days earlier called the surprise announcement of new=
housing in East Jerusalem an ?insult? and an ?affront,? made sure to rewa=
rd Netanyahu with a series of small snubs: There were no photographs relea=
sed from the meeting, and no briefing for the press.
He bows to the Saudi king, he shakes hands warmly with his ?amigo? Chavez,=
but he won?t be seen with the leader of the only democracy in the Middle=
East, and our only reliable ally there.
And this comes after he has put unprecedented strain on the U.S./Israel al=
liance by pressuring Israel for allowing Jews to build homes on Jewish lan=
d, and blaming Israel for the conflict with the Palestinians Muslims.
Obama is not a passive, weak or naive player in the Muslim/Jewish conflict=
. He was wet-nursed on Jew-hatred. He grew up in a Muslim country and stud=
ied the Koran. He knows what is prescribed for the Jews in Islam. He knows=
that the Koran says that the Jews are the Muslims? worst enemies (5:82)=
and that ?ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found? (3:=
He knows that Islamic tradition records Muhammad saying:
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jew=
s and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves beh=
ind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the serv=
ant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gh=
arqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
He must know all this, and yet has never renounced it. On the contrary, he=
embraces it, calling upon us to ?respect? Islam.
I am staggered by the speed with which Obama has sought to undermine the=
Jewish people. But knowing what I know of him after my three years of inv=
estigation for the book I wrote with Robert Spencer, The Post-American Pre=
sidency: The Obama Administration?s War on America , I expected nothing=
different. In the summer of 2008, I trekked to Florida to warn the alter=
cockers who were seduced by the idea of Obama, but to no avail: my voice=
and the voices of those like me are kept neatly tucked away in the blog=
But now here we are. Jews may then have tried to avoid Obama?s anti-Semiti=
sm, but they cannot now avoid the consequences of avoiding Obama?s anti-Se=
mitism. He has unleashed an evil in this world the extent of which we are=
only now beginning to see. He has made the world safe for haters and kill=
ers. The post-World War II peace was no accident; it was a direct result=
of American hegemony. But now he is following the European lead and unrav=
eling it. Europe learned the wrong lessons from the war and the Holocaust.=
The lesson that Europe decided to take from Auschwitz was that everything=
was caused by nationalism. European leaders decided that therefore what=
they really needed was a European Union that would obviate their need for=
nationalism and prevent another Auschwitz.
They took all the wrong lessons from World War II and continue to apply th=
em, while ignoring the only lesson that?s really relevant from World War=
II, which is that you have to choose good and defend good, and fight with=
the intention of defeating evil. We have to be able and willing to make=
moral distinctions and stand up for the good and fight evil ? and that is=
something that both the Europeans and Obama refuse to do.
Nationalism isn?t evil. British nationalism hasn?t been evil. French natio=
nalism isn?t evil. Polish nationalism isn?t evil. American nationalism was=
n?t evil and has never been evil. Contrary to Obama?s actions, American ex=
ceptionalism  isn?t evil.
But what did the Jews learn from the Holocaust? What does ?never again? me=
an? Why does the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., cover up the crimes=
of the Muslim world and the Mufti of Jerusalem  in the execution of th=
e Holocaust? Why does the State of Israel not fight global anti-Semitism?=
Why is Islamic anti-Semitism not decried from the pulpits and the bimas=
of the shuls and Hebrew schools across the Jewish world? Why aren?t Rober=
t Spencer, Bat Ye?or, and Ibn Warraq mandatory reading in Jewish day schoo=
ls? How can we fight a mortal enemy that promises our annihilation when we=
dare not speak its name?
The Jewish people, both in Israel and the diaspora, seem to be suffering=
from the Stockholm Syndrome. There can be no logical reason why an Americ=
an Jew could intellectually excuse Obama?s twenty-year friendship and clos=
eness with the anti-Semitic Farrakhan acolyte Jeremiah Wright. There is no=
way an American Jew could explain away or rationalize Obama?s connections=
to Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and know=
about those connections without knowing what was coming. These Jews (and=
our history is plagued with them) love ideas, not people. They are so mar=
ried to their dogma, their ideology, that they cannot, will not, see what=
is right in front of them. They worship at the church of human secularism=
. That is their religion. They have no G-d. They are merely wearing a Jewi=
sh coat, but do not speak for Jews.
It is the curse of the Jewish people historically to be betrayed by our ow=
n. This is the deepest cut of all. The kinderlach, the mamas, the tatas,=
the bubbies and zadies, shvestas and bruders who were tortured and died=
unspeakable deaths are crying out to you. Are we so broken a people that=
they shall have died in vain, for nothing?
The six million looked like you, laughed like you, denied like you. The si=
x million loved their country ? some were war heroes for Germany in World=
War I. They too thought the fringe would stay relegated to the margins of=
The six million are cold in their graves, weeping for what awaits you.
The only difference between American Jews of the 2000s and the European Je=
ws of the 1930s is Israel. This is what separates you from the dehumanizat=
ion, the oven, the end. A Jewish homeland is the thin blue and white line=
between civilized men and bloodthirsty savages.
And look what Barack Obama is doing to the Jewish homeland. This is the sa=
me ?Stephen Wise ? Jewish mentality that sold us out and delivered us=
into the hands of the Third Reich during WWII. It was Wise who prevailed,=
not Peter Bergson .
Will the American diaspora repeat the same ghastly mistake again, while Sh=
oah victims still walk the earth?
Article printed from Big Journalism: http://bigjournalism.com
Posted by truth seeker at 5:48 AM 0 comments
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Dangers of Obama's failed Middle East policy
The Error-Ridden Obama Middle East Policy
Jennifer Rubin - 03.27.2010 - 8:00 AM
In a must-read analysis of the Obami assault on Israel, Elliott Abrams writes:
Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, 17 years of efforts under three American presidents and six Israeli prime ministers have taught five clear lessons. Each of them is being ignored by President Obama, which is why his own particular “peace process” has so greatly harmed real efforts at peace. Today the only factor uniting Palestinian, Israeli, and Arab leaders is distrust of the quality, sagacity, and reliability of American leadership in the region.
The lessons Abrams enumerates suggest that we are in for a dangerous and destabilizing period in which the U.S.-Israeli alliance is torn asunder. First in the list of grievous errors: rather than provide Israel with security and reassurance, the Obami are out to bludgeon the Jewish state to cough up concessions:
During the George W. Bush years, the leader of the Israeli right, Ariel Sharon, decided to abandon the idea of a “Greater Israel,” impose constraints on settlement construction in the West Bank (no new settlements, no outward expansion of settlement territory), and remove every settlement in Gaza and four small ones in the West Bank. His closest advisers say all of this was possible for him only in the context of unwavering American support for Israel’s security steps—including the targeting and killing of Hamas terrorists and the refusal to deal with a terrorist leader like Arafat. What was the turning point for Sharon? Bush’s June 24, 2002, speech, where he abandoned Arafat, denounced Palestinian terrorism, and said thorough reforms were the only possible basis for Palestinian statehood. Reassured, Sharon began to act.
Contrast this with the Obama administration, where Israel has been “condemned”—the toughest word in the diplomatic dictionary—for a housing project.
Second, the Obami have failed to hold the Palestinians accountable for their own behavior or make any demands that one would ordinarily place on a party to a negotiation:
Had there been early and regular insistence that incitement end, the Mughrabi incident would never have taken place. The price for such negligence is being paid in both Israeli and Palestinian society: Every such action and every vicious broadcast helps persuade Israelis that Palestinians do not truly seek peace and helps raise a new generation of Palestinians who see Jews as enemies to hate, not neighbors with whom to reach an accommodation. This infantilization of Palestinian society, moreover, moves it further from the responsibilities of statehood, for it holds harmless the most destructive elements of West Bank life and suggests that standards of decency are not necessarily part of progress toward “peace.”
Coupled with these errors is the inordinate fixation on the Palestinian conflict, as the Iran menace goes unchecked. (”Arab leaders want to know what we will do to stop Iran; they want to know if their ally in Washington is going to be the top power in the region. Israelis wonder where the “uh oh, this will make Islamic extremists angry” argument stops. Does anyone think al-Qaeda or the Taliban would be mollified by a settlement freeze?”) And then we see the obsession with what has surely become a counterproductive peace process: “First, it means we care more about getting Syria, Egypt, or others to endorse some negotiating plan than we do about their own internal situations. . . . Second, we use all our chips for the negotiating sessions, instead of applying them to the hard work of nation building. We ask Arab states to reach out to Israel (which they will not do) when we should be demanding that they reach out to the Palestinians (which they might).”
In assessing all of this, one can’t but conclude that the errors are too fundamental and too serious to be easily reversed. It is not as if the problem were a stray comment or a clumsy encounter or one misguided adviser. It is rather the confluence of all of the bad judgments and ill-conceived ideas, which Abrams sets forth, surely held near and dear by the president himself, that have brought about the current crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations. The fixation on fruitless peace processing is not unique to the Obama administration, but has become a far more dangerous endeavor in combination with the Obami’s infatuation with the Palestinian bargaining stance and their determination to muscle Israel into concessions. It’s one thing to have fruitless talks in which the Israelis need not fear the American interlocutors; it’s quite another to be dragged to the table fearing that the Obami have in a very real sense bought into the Palestinian victimology and have become their agent rather than the proverbial “honest broker.”
The results of the Obami’s error-ridden approach are becoming apparent with each passing day: more international attacks on the legitimacy of the Jewish state and its right to self defense (Obama does it, why shouldn’t they?), the reinforcement of the Palestinian rejectionist mentality, and the looming danger of a nuclear-armed Iran, to which the U.S. has no serious response. The Obami are not simply placing Israel at risk; they are marginalizing the U.S. as a bulwark against the terror-sponsoring states of Iran and Syria and against despotic regimes far from the Middle East (they too are watching the Obami’s conduct and drawing lessons). And along the way, we have forfeited that credibility which Clinton told AIPAC the U.S. was so concerned about.
What must friends and foes think, after all, when we abandon our ally, when we ignore violent provocations, when we water down to thin gruel any response to the mullahs, and when we ignore the human-rights atrocities throughout the Muslim World? They see, sadly, the reality of the Obama White House — an administration that is frittering away America’s standing in the world and fast losing its reputation as a defender of democracy, human rights, and freedom. Israel is the immediate victim, but the entire world will become more dangerous and less free as a result.
Posted by truth seeker at 12:46 PM 0 comments
Mitchell ok'd building in Jerusalem
It was only two months ago that George Mitchell had the following colloquy with Charlie Rose about the demand for a settlement freeze in Jerusalem:
GEORGE MITCHELL: … So what we got was a moratorium, ten months, far less than what was requested, but more significant than any action taken by any previous government of Israel for the 40 years that settlement enterprise has existed. …
CHARLIE ROSE: And you and Secretary Clinton praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for agreeing to that.
ROSE: It does not include East Jerusalem. There’ve been announcement in the last 48 hours of new settlement construction in East Jerusalem where the Palestinians want to make their capital.
ROSE: And it’s in the midst of Palestinians.
MITCHELL: … But for the Israelis, what they’re building in is in part of Israel.
Now, the others don’t see it that way. So you have these widely divergent perspectives on the subject. Our view is let’s get into negotiations. Let’s deal with the issues and come up with the solution to all of them including Jerusalem which will be exceedingly difficult but, in my judgment, possible.
The Israelis are not going to stop settlements in, or construction in East Jerusalem. They don’t regard that as a settlement because they think it’s part of Israel. …
ROSE: So you’re going to let them go ahead even though no one recognizes the annexation?
MITCHELL: You say “Let them go ahead.” It’s what they regard as their country. They don’t say they’re letting us go ahead when we build in Manhattan.
Posted by truth seeker at 5:32 AM 0 comments
Friday, March 26, 2010
Jewish Dems jumping ship on him
fer Rubin - 03.25.2010 - 4:56 PM
Here is evidence that Obama has gone a bit too far for some prominent Jewish activists. Writing in the Daily Beast, Lloyd Grove interviews a major political donor, James S. Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp.: (My Comment: Tisch gives to both democrats and Republicans)
“I don’t think he’s pro-Israel,” Tisch says, voicing the suspicions of many. “I think the president comes to this from Jeremiah Wright’s church, and there’s no doubt in my mind that in Jeremiah Wright’s church, the Palestinians were portrayed as freedom fighters and not as terrorists.”
Tisch adds the flap is bound to influence the traditionally Democratic Jewish electorate, nearly 80 percent of which voted for Obama in 2008. “Now for the first time, there are a significant number of people in the organized Jewish community that feel that the president has gone too far,” Tisch says. It will be interesting to watch “what happens to the president’s approval rating among Jewish voters. I think this could really be an important point of demarcation for Jewish public opinion of the president.”
Grove says Tisch is not alone:
“Obama has done zero favors for the Democratic candidates in 2010,” says a prominent Democratic fundraiser who, like most of Jewish activists who spoke for this story, was unwilling to go on the record. “I know a lot of historical Democrats who are big check-writers and even bundlers, who have told me that until things settle down they have no interest in helping any Democrats.”
Grove, not surprisingly, finds a number of prominent Jewish Democrats unwilling to criticize Obama, let alone stop funding him. So the question remains, do most liberal Jews continue to suppress or ignore whatever misgivings they have about Obama and keep on enabling the most aggressive anti-Israel president? Or do they consider Abe Foxman’s counsel: “The issue here, for 78 percent of the Jews who voted for Obama, is you condemn your ally and your friend. … But when Syria spits in the president’s face by continuing to back Hezbollah, we don’t say anything? I think it’s nuts.”
Well, nuts would be expressing shock and disdain for the president’s Israel policies but nevertheless writing a check “with shaking fingers.” After all, the check still cashes
Friday, March 26, 2010
Posted by truth seeker at 6:39 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
One of the very sharp Wash Post columnist: Jackson Riehl
Obama and Netanyahu: pointless poison
So it’s now been two weeks since President Obama chose to seize on a poorly-timed Israeli announcement about new Jewish housing in Jerusalem to launch another public confrontation with the government of Binyamin Netanyahu. The results, so far, are these:
Obama’s demand, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that Israel reverse its decision on the new neighborhood and freeze all other new construction in Jerusalem has been publicly rejected by Netanyahu. And the administration, for the second time in a year, has backed down. “Ultimately,” said State spokesman P.J. Crowley at his briefing Tuesday, “the future of Jerusalem can only be resolved through the direct negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] that we hope will get started as quickly as possible.” That, word for word, has been the Israeli position all along.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has adopted Obama’s original demand as his own: He’s saying he won’t begin even the indirect, “proximity” talks he previously agreed to until Israel accepts the Clinton terms on Jerusalem. How could he do otherwise? The Palestinian leader cannot be less pro-Palestinian than the White House. But Abbas cannot climb down from his position so easily -- which means that, for the second time in a year, the Middle East peace process has been stalled by a U.S.-engineered deadlock. U.S. and Israeli negotiators worked until 3 a.m. Wednesday in an attempt to come up with a formula that would allow the talks to go forward. They met again Wednesday morning. So far, no luck.
Finally, Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward. Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to. Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.
The White House’s explanations for Obama’s behavior keep shifting. At first spokesmen insisted that the president had to respond to the “insult” of the settlement announcement during a visit to Jerusalem by Vice President Biden -- even though the administration knew that, far from being a calculated snub, the decision by a local council had taken Netanyahu himself by surprise.
Next the administration argued that the scrap was a needed wake-up call for Netanyahu’s right-wing government, which, it was said, had been put on notice that its failure to move toward a settlement with Palestinians was endangering U.S. interests in the region. But -- assuming for the moment that the administration’s premise is correct -- Obama chose to challenge Netanyahu on a point that is not material to the creation of a Palestinian state. As the Israeli leader has pointed out, previous U.S. administrations and the Palestinians themselves have already accepted that Jewish neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem will be annexed to Israel in exchange for territory elsewhere.
U.S. pressure on Netanyahu will be needed if the peace process ever reaches the point where the genuinely contentious issues, like Palestinian refugees or the exact territorial tradeoffs, are on the table. But instead of waiting for that moment and pushing Netanyahu on a point where he might be vulnerable to domestic challenge, Obama picked a fight over something that virtually all Israelis agree on, and before serious discussions have even begun. As the veteran Middle East analyst Robert Malley put it to The Post’s Glenn Kessler, “U.S. pressure can work, but it needs to be at the right time, on the right issue and in the right political context. The administration is ready for a fight, but it realized the issue, timing and context were wrong.”
A new administration can be excused for making such a mistake in the treacherous and complex theater of Middle East diplomacy. That’s why Obama was given a pass by many when he made exactly the same mistake last year. The second time around, the president doesn’t look naive. He appears ideological -- and vindictive.
Posted by truth seeker at 3:07 PM 0 comments
Obama continues to fight Israel
After meeting, deafening silence
By: Laura Rozen and Ben Smith
March 23, 2010 11:51 PM EDT
The Obama administration shifted this week from red hot anger at Benjamin Netanyahu to an icier suspicion toward the Israeli Prime Minister, who made clear in a marathon of meetings with U.S. officials that he would give ground only grudgingly on their goal of stopping the continued construction of new Israeli housing units on disputed territory.
Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office Tuesday evening for an unexpectedly-long 89-minutes until about 7:00, then stayed to consult with his own staff in the Roosevelt Room, according to a source briefed on the meeting. The two then met again for 35 minutes at 8:20 at Netanyahu's request, the source said. But the meetings were shrouded in unusual secrecy, in part because U.S. officials, who just ten days earlier called the surprise announcement of new housing in East Jerusalem an “insult” and an “affront,” made sure to reward Netanyahu with a series of small snubs: There were no photographs released from the meeting, and no briefing for the press.
And as of late Tuesday evening, neither side had released the usual “readout” of the meetings’ content – a likely indicator of the distance between the sides.
But any impression that Netanyahu’s trip would mark a renewal of the troubled relationship between U.S. and Israeli leaders had faded by the time the men met. Netanyahu had spent the previous 24 hours of a U.S. visit lobbying allies in Congress to push back against public American criticism and to turn the focus to Iran, congressional sources said, and delivered a defiant speech to the pro-Israel group AIPAC, insisting on Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem.
He also complained to U.S. officials of his limited power over the housing construction, though he promised in meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden to do his best to avoid future unpleasant surprises, officials said.
The limits of Netanyahu’s promise became clear minutes before his scheduled meeting with Obama, when the Jerusalem municipality gave final approval to a settler group to proceed on a controversial development in the city, an announcement which prompted a lawmaker from one of Israeli’s liberal opposition parties to call the prime minister a “pyromaniac.”
“This is exactly what we expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to get control of,” a senior U.S. official told POLITICO Tuesday evening. “The current drip-drip-drip of projects in East Jerusalem impedes progress.”
The clearest sign of Netanyahu’s rift with the White House, however, may have been his intense focus on Congress, which has blunted the attempts of many of Obama’s predecessors to pressure the Jewish state.
“We in Congress stand by Israel,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, standing beside Netanyahu Tuesday. “In Congress, we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel.”
But while Congress was speaking publicly with one voice, behind the scenes Netanyahu seemed to be trying to drive a wedge between it and the White House.
The Israeli leader met separately with groups of congressmen and senators, finding support on both sides of the aisle, but particular warmth from Republicans.
In an interview with POLITICO after his meeting with Netanyahu, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican member of Congress, made it clear that he supports the Israeli government’s plans for new housing in East Jerusalem rather than what he described as the Obama administration’s overreaction in criticizing the move.
“None of us believe we ought to go back to the ’67 lines,” Cantor said. “That brings into question why in the world would some construction in Jerusalem that no one thinks would be part of a Palestinian state ... be an issue.”
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana was more critical. He called the White House stance on the Jewish state “absurd,” saying President Barack Obama needs to stop trying to “micromanage” Israel on settlement issues.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day that an American administration would denounce the Jewish state of Israel for rebuilding Jerusalem,” Pence told reporters.
While Republicans presented themselves as the more steadfast champions of Israel, Democrats were circumspect.
Asked about the Republican criticism, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) sounded as though he had not been talking to the same person as Cantor and Pence. “Well, that’s certainly not what [Prime Minister] Netanyahu’s message was to us today,” he said, adding, “it was a very positive, upbeat meeting.”
“I think that the Republicans are spending an enormous amount of time being critical and disparaging without offering any sort of alternatives to anything,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry.
In a meeting with Jewish members of Congress, Netanyahu did most of the talking and determinedly turned the subject from settlements to Iran, according to a Democratic Hill staffer who did not want to be quoted by name.
“He knows that this is something that is going to move members of Congress, even if they are angry about the expansion of Jewish housing, that they are going to respond to Iran as a threat,” the staffer said. “He connected Iran to just about every subject that was raised.”
Netanyahu, according to this account, pushed members to get a reconciled Iran sanctions bill to the president’s desk soon, even if there is collateral damage and that ordinary Iranian people would be hurt by the sanctions, not just the regime.
Netanyahu also complained that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is “not a partner; [he] won’t come to the table,” another Democratic Hill staffer said, summarizing. Netanyahu “made excuses for the complicated [housing] approval process ... the point being he had no idea what happened when Vice President Joe Biden was there.”
But with the special relationship between the two countries in a state of unusual ferment, Netanyahu’s tortured meetings with the series of Americans appeared anything but decisive.
Netanyahu “is too smart not to understand that Washington has changed,” veteran Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told POLITICO on Tuesday. “And that a potentially transformative president who is now king of the world for a day is facing off against Benjamin Netanyahu, king of Israel. And the fight between the two is not today. What we see now is positioning."
Posted by truth seeker at 9:35 AM 0 comments
Democrats blame Obama for hurting Israel
Monday, March 22, 2010 INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING
Koch on Obama and Israel: Why the trust is gone
By Ed Koch
I consider the Obama administration’s recent actions against the Israeli government to be outrageous and a breach of trust. I refer to the denunciations by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other administration officials The world knows what happened; nevertheless, I will try to put it into context. ShareThis
Vice President Joe Biden was in Jerusalem to convey to the Israelis and the world that the United States government is committed to protecting and assuring the security of Israel from attack. While he was there, an Israeli government minister announced that the Israeli government had authorized the construction of 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem to be occupied by Jews. Currently, 280,000 Jews live in East Jerusalem, and these apartments were to be added to an existing complex, built on land owned by Jews; about 250,000 Jews live on the West Bank outside of Jerusalem.
The timing of the Israeli government’s announcement was unfortunate and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for it, but it did not mark any change in the Israeli government’s policy. That policy is and has long been to allow construction of homes for Jews in East Jerusalem.
Posted by truth seeker at 9:06 AM 0 comments
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Obama's Israel bashing is screwing up peace chances
Was Obama's confrontation with Israel premeditated?
By Yossi Klein Halevi
Obama is directly responsible for one of the most absurd turns in the
history of Middle East negotiations. Though Palestinian leaders
negotiated with Israeli governments that built extensively
Posted by truth seeker at 8:47 PM 0 comments
Obama's war on Israel
March 21, 2010
Obama's War on Israel
By Caroline Glick
Why has President Barak Obama decided to foment a crisis in US relations with Israel?
Some commentators have claimed that it is Israel's fault. As they tell it, the news that Israel has not banned Jewish construction in Jerusalem - after repeatedly refusing to ban such construction - drove Obama into a fit of uncontrolled rage from which he has yet to recover.
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While popular, this claim makes no sense. Obama didn't come to be called "No drama Obama" for nothing. It is not credible to argue that Jerusalem's local planning board's decision to approve the construction of 1,600 housing units in Ramat Shlomo drove cool Obama into a fit of wild rage at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Obama himself claims that he has launched a political war against Israel in the interest of promoting peace. But this claim, too, does not stand up to scrutiny.
On Friday, Obama ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to present Netanyahu with a four-part ultimatum.
First, Israel must cancel the approval of the housing units in Ramat Shlomo.
Second, Israel must prohibit all construction for Jews in Jerusalem neighborhoods built since 1967.
Third, Israel must make a gesture to the Palestinians to show them we want peace. The US suggests releasing hundreds of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons.
Fourth, Israel must agree to negotiate all substantive issues, including the partition of Jerusalem (including the Jewish neighborhoods constructed since 1967 that are now home to more than a half million Israelis) and the immigration of millions of hostile foreign Arabs to Israel under the rubric of the so-called "right of return," in the course of indirect, Obama administration-mediated negotiations with the Palestinians. To date, Israel has maintained that substantive discussions can only be conducted in direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
If Israel does not accept all four US demands, then the Obama administration will boycott Netanyahu and his senior ministers. In the first instance, this means that if Netanyahu comes to Washington next week for the AIPAC conference, no senior administration official will meet with him.
Obama's ultimatum makes clear that mediating peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not a goal he is interested in achieving.
Obama's new demands follow the months of American pressure that eventually coerced Netanyahu into announcing both his support for a Palestinian state and a 10-month ban on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. No previous Israeli government had ever been asked to make the latter concession.
Netanyahu was led to believe that in return for these concessions Obama would begin behaving like the credible mediator his predecessors were. But instead of acting like his predecessors, Obama has behaved like the Palestinians. Rather than reward Netanyahu for taking a risk for peace, Obama has, in the model of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, pocketed Netanyahu's concessions and escalated his demands. This is not the behavior of a mediator. This is the behavior of an adversary.
With the US president treating Israel like an enemy, the Palestinians have no reason to agree to sit down and negotiate. Indeed, they have no choice but to declare war.
And so, in the wake of Obama's onslaught on Israel's right to Jerusalem, Palestinian incitement against Israel and Jews has risen to levels not seen since the outbreak of the last terror war in September 2000. And just as night follows day, that incitement has led to violence. This week's Arab riots from Jerusalem to Jaffa, and the renewed rocket offensive from Gaza are directly related to Obama's malicious attacks on Israel.
But if his campaign against Israel wasn't driven by a presidential temper tantrum, and it isn't aimed at promoting peace, what explains it? What is Obama trying to accomplish?
There are five explanations for Obama's behavior. And they are not mutually exclusive.
First, Obama's assault on Israel is likely related to the failure of his Iran policy. Over the past week, senior administration officials including Gen. David Petraeus have made viciously defamatory attacks on Israel, insinuating that the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem is a primary cause for bad behavior on the part of Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. By this line of thinking, if Israel simply returned to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, Iran's centrifuges would stop spinning, and Syria, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would all beat their swords into plowshares.
Second, even more important than its usefulness as a tool to divert the public's attention away from the failure of his Iran policy, Obama's assault against Israel may well be aimed at maintaining that failed policy. Specifically, he may be attacking Israel in a bid to coerce Netanyahu into agreeing to give Obama veto power over any Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations. That is, the anti-Israel campaign may be a means to force Israel to stand by as Obama allows Iran to build a nuclear arsenal.
For the past several months, an endless line of senior administration officials have descended on Jerusalem with the expressed aim of convincing Netanyahu to relinquish Israel's right to independently strike Iran's nuclear installations. All of these officials have returned to Washington empty-handed. Perhaps Obama has decided that since quiet pressure has failed to cow Netanyahu, it is time to launch a frontal attack against him.
This brings us to the third explanation for why Obama has decided to go to war with the democratically elected Israeli government. Obama's advisers told friendly reporters that Obama wants to bring down Netanyahu's government. By making demands Netanyahu and his coalition partners cannot accept, Obama hopes to either bring down the government and replace Netanyahu and Likud with the far-leftist Tzipi Livni and Kadima, or force Israel Beiteinu and Shas to bolt the coalition and compel Netanyahu to accept Livni as a co-prime minister. Livni, of course, won Obama's heart when in 2008 she opted for an election rather than accept Shas's demand that she protect the unity of Jerusalem.
The fourth explanation for Obama's behavior is that he seeks to realign US foreign policy away from Israel. Obama's constant attempts to cultivate relations with Iran's unelected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad's Arab lackey Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make clear that he views developing US relations with these anti-American regimes as a primary foreign policy goal.
Given that all of these leaders have demanded that in exchange for better relations Obama abandon Israel as a US ally, and in light of the professed anti-Israel positions of several of his senior foreign policy advisers, it is possible that Obama is seeking to downgrade US relations with Israel. His consistent castigation of Israel as obstructionist and defiant has led some surveys to claim that over the past year US popular support for Israel has dropped from 77 to 58 percent.
The more Obama fills newspaper headlines with allegations that Israel is responsible for everything from US combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran's nuclear program, the lower those numbers can be expected to fall. And the more popular American support for Israel falls, the easier it will be for Obama to engineer an open breach with the Jewish state.
The final explanation for Obama's behavior is that he is using his manufactured crisis to justify adopting an overtly anti-Israel position vis-à-vis the Palestinians. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that administration officials are considering having Obama present his own "peace plan." Given the administration's denial of Israel's right to Jerusalem, an "Obama plan," would doubtless require Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and expel some 700,000 Jews from their homes.
Likewise, the crisis Obama has manufactured with Israel could pave the way for him to recognize a Palestinian state if the Palestinians follow through on their threat to unilaterally declare statehood next year regardless of the status of negotiations with Israel. Such a US move could in turn lead to the deployment of US forces in Judea and Samaria to "protect" the unilaterally declared Palestinian state from Israel.
Both Obama's behavior and the policy goals it indicates make it clear that Netanyahu's current policy of trying to appease Obama by making concrete concessions is no longer justified. Obama is not interested in being won over. The question is, what should Netanyahu do?
One front in the war Obama has started is at home. Netanyahu must ensure that he maintains popular domestic support for his government to scuttle Obama's plan to overthrow his government. So far, in large part due to Obama's unprecedented nastiness, Netanyahu's domestic support has held steady. A poll conducted for IMRA news service this week by Maagar Mohot shows that fully 75% of Israeli Jews believe Obama's behavior toward Israel is unjustified. As for Netanyahu, 71% of Israeli Jews believe his refusal to accept Obama's demand to ban Jewish building in Jerusalem proves he is a strong leader. Similarly, a Shvakim Panorama poll for Israel Radio shows public support for Kadima has dropped by more than 30% since last year's election.
The other front in Obama's war is the American public. By blaming Israel for the state of the Middle East and launching personal barbs against Netanyahu, Obama seeks to drive down popular American support for Israel. In building a strategy to counter Obama's moves, Netanyahu has to keep two issues in mind.
First, no foreign leader can win a popularity contest against a sitting US president. Therefore, Netanyahu must continue to avoid any personal attacks on Obama. He must limit his counter-offensive to a defense of Israel's interests and his government's policies.
Second, Netanyahu must remember that Obama's hostility toward Israel is not shared by the majority of Americans. Netanyahu's goal must be to strengthen and increase the majority of Americans who support Israel. To this end, Netanyahu must go to Washington next week and speak at the annual AIPAC conference as planned, despite the administration's threat to boycott him.
While in Washington, Netanyahu should meet with every Congressman and Senator who wishes to meet with him as well as every administration member who seeks him out. Moreover, he should give interviews to as many television networks, newspapers and major radio programs as possible in order to bring his message directly to the American people.
Obama has made clear that he is not Israel's ally. And for the remainder of his term, he will do everything he can to downgrade US relations with Israel while maintaining his constant genuflection to the likes of Iran, Syria, the Palestinians and Turkey.
But like Israel, the US is a free country. And as long as popular support for Israel holds steady, Obama's options will be limited. Netanyahu's task is to maintain that support in the face of administration hostility as he implements policies toward Iran and the Arabs alike that are necessary to ensure Israel's long-term survival and prosperity.
Posted by truth seeker at 8:32 PM 0 comments
Obama picking on Israel as an excuse for failing in Iran
Jennifer Rubin - 03.23.2010 - 12:58 PM
Jonathan, the administration really needs to keep its excuses straight. Hillary at AIPAC said the Obami had to go nuts because Israel was showing “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel and because the housing announcement ”undermines America’s unique ability to play a role – an essential role, I might add — in the peace process. Our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don’t agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally.” Now from Hirsh we hear it’s because it makes Obama look less effective on Iran. (But kicking its allies in the shins will restore that effectiveness and credibility?)
Whatever the question, the answer for this crew is: it’s Israel’s fault.
And who sounds most determined in denying Iran a nuclear weapon? Compare this. Tony Blair:
Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear-weapons capability. They must know that we will do whatever it takes to stop them getting it. The danger is if they suspect for a moment we might allow such a thing. We cannot and will not.
We are working with our partners in the United Nations on new Security Council sanctions that will show Iran’s leaders that there are real consequences for their intransigence, that the only choice is to live up to their international obligations. Our aim is not incremental sanctions, but sanctions that will bite. It is taking time to produce these sanctions, and we believe that time is a worthwhile investment for winning the broadest possible support for our efforts. But we will not compromise our commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring these weapons.
It probably Israel’s fault Hillary gave such a weak speech.