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Israel, and its neighbors
Topic: Israel, and its neighbors (Read 325505 times)
Reply #750 on:
January 14, 2010, 11:27:06 AM »
Israel plans to ask Germany to sell a sixth discounted Dolphin-class diesel submarine when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit Berlin on Jan. 18, Reuters reported Jan. 14, citing officials. While Dolphins cost $700 million, the ones currently in Israel’s fleet were sold at a deep discount.
Turkey has accepted Israel’s apology in the diplomatic friction between Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, a resolution in which Israeli President Shimon Peres played a large part, Ynet reported Jan. 14, citing Turkish Foreign Ministry sources. One source called Peres the wisest man in the Middle East, a reference to his appeal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to secure an apology.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Lebanon this week that Israel could be planning an attack, Haaretz reported Jan. 14, citing a report in the London-based Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat. The daily, citing Lebanese sources, reported that Erdogan warned Lebanese leaders about a potential Israeli attack on Lebanon.
Haiti: Woman gives birth in IDF emergency field hospital
Reply #751 on:
January 17, 2010, 08:24:47 PM »
Haiti: Woman gives birth in IDF emergency field hospital
Jan. 18, 2010
E. B. SOLOMONT, jpost correspondent in PORT-AU-PRINCE , THE JERUSALEM POST
The IDF's field hospital in the Haitian capital worked at full capacity throughout Sunday, treating a relentless stream of victims from what a senior IDF medical officer described as "the war outside."
Overnight Saturday, in what staff described as one of the most fulfilling moments of their work, the Israeli doctors delivered a baby boy, whose mother, Gubilande Jean Michel, promptly declared would be named "Israel."
Meanwhile, the IDF's rescue teams continued to play their vital role in the international race against time to find survivors from last Tuesday's quake. Team members saved the life of a customs clerk who had been trapped in his office by debris, and then sent him for treatment in the field hospital.
Israeli officials noted that, from their experience, it is reasonable to believe survivors can yet be located and extricated five or six days after a disaster of this kind, but very rarely beyond that time period.
With most medical facilities here out of commission, the Israeli hospital has drawn a constant throng of locals needing urgent medical care.
More than 100 survivors have been treated, with three in 10 in serious condition and 50 percent moderately injured. Children comprise more than half of the injured, most with limb injuries and bone fractures. Nearly a dozen lifesaving operations have been performed.
Set up in an industrial park, and staffed with 40 doctors, 40 nurses and medics, the hospital has been constantly treating patients since Saturday.
"There is no hospital around, so the ambulances started bringing patients here," said Col. Carmi Bar-Tal, the deputy head of the IDF emergency and medical unit. "There is a war outside," he said, gesturing to the compound's gates where a crowd was awaiting help.
Inside, the army tents house orthopedic, emergency and surgical units. Doctors are equipped to handle pediatric and adult emergency care. There are two operating beds, X-ray facilities and a laboratory. "We know that what we are giving them is the only thing they have," Bar-Tal said. "We discharge patients but don't know what awaits them afterwards. At least we gave them a chance to live."
Newly born Israel's mother Gubilande, who is 24, arrived by ambulance on Saturday night, accompanied by a cousin. She had left her three other children with her parents. Her husband has been missing since the quake.
Bar-Tal noted that the IDF's participation in 10 previous relief missions in catastrophic situations had given it vital experience for coping in this environment. "We have the capacity to help," he said. "We know how to bring medicine to the field."
Virgine Géré, 36, was brought in with a gunshot wound in her right shoulder.
Her boss accidentally shot her and the bullet penetrated her chest. On Sunday, she lay in a cot with tubes running straight from her chest. "For now, she is stable," said Dr. Noam Zeller Lion.
Besides the urgent need for medical care in Port-au-Prince, Haitians are desperate for water and food. Communication is spotty and fuel supplies are depleting. Some Haitians are crossing to the Dominican Republic to purchase supplies.
In Port-au-Prince, throngs of people lined up at gas stations to buy gasoline at $10 per gallon.
Throughout Sunday, crews worked to clear rubble from the streets. People picked through collapsed homes searching for victims. Nearly everyone here is living outside, since few structures are safe. The sprawling tent cities reek of desperation.
The Israeli rescuers have been well received by the Haitians. TV cameramen photographed survivors applauding and singing next to an IDF search and rescue team after they pulled someone out of a collapsed building. "Good job, Israel," the crowds sang over and over.
IsraAID has sent a medical team to the Port-au-Prince hospital, while ZAKA International has continued to search for survivors.
"The scenes in the hospitals were horrendous. Everywhere on the floors of the building and outside, there are people with amputations and bone-deep wounds, hundreds of them," said Sheve Cohen, a nurse from the Negev.
"The size of the catastrophe is unbelievable. All of
the injured were being treated, until we came by, by one local doctor. We were the first foreign backup team to operate in the hospital."
IsraAID is trying to expand its operation and additional teams will be sent next week.
This article can also be read at
The Gaza quagmire
Reply #752 on:
January 19, 2010, 08:14:34 PM »
The Gaza quagmire
Jan. 18, 2010
, THE JERUSALEM POST
Since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, and violently seized power in Gaza a year later, Israel has been seeking to expedite the Islamist group's demise without resorting to an all-out effort at military victory. The hope is that Hamas will continue to be denied international legitimacy and will gradually lose its capacity to run Gaza, and that an organization overtly committed to Israel's destruction will be replaced by more moderate leadership.
Hence the Israeli government chose not to order the IDF to oust Hamas from Gaza during Operation Cast Lead a year ago, and is instead maintaining an economic blockade on the Strip.
Now, on its side of the border, Egypt is tightening its siege on Hamas, constructing an underground barrier that aims to cut off the arms- and goods-smuggling tunnels that serve as a lifeline for the Hamas quasi-state.
Plainly, Hamas is worried by the potential impact on its capacity to proceed with its campaign of jihad against Israel, and its capacity to meet the needs of the Gaza populace. It orchestrated violent protests at the border earlier this month, including a gunfight in which an Egyptian soldier was killed, betraying the depth of its concern.
But despite protests against the Egyptian barrier elsewhere in the region too, Egypt has remained unmoved. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a perennial threat to the Mubarak government, and Cairo has evidently decided that Hamas's smuggling activities and the threat of increased Hamas influence in the Sinai Peninsula represent a challenge to Egyptian sovereignty.
At this point, there are few signs that the Hamas regime in Gaza is truly shaking. Indeed, Hamas proved all-too capable of restoring its rule even in the aftermath of the devastating impact of Cast Lead.
But were Hamas to begin to lose its grip, it is far from clear that the joint Israeli and Egyptian hope, of the return of secular Fatah rule to Gaza, enabling a new stability, is well-founded.
AMONG THE alternative Gaza succession scenarios, indeed, is the prospect of the flourishing of the Al-Qaida-inspired global jihadi camp.
This camp has been trying to establish a foothold in Gaza for years, so far with only limited success. It learned the hard way last year that its presence may be tolerated by Hamas only if it does not pose an open challenge.
Thus, when Sheikh Abdel-Latif Moussa used a Friday afternoon sermon at his Rafah mosque last August to declare southern Gaza to be an Islamic emirate - a first step in the process toward the al-Qaida goal of an Islamic caliphate - the Hamas response was brutal. Hundreds of Hamas gunmen stormed the mosque, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the building, killing or injuring nearly everyone inside.
Global jihadis in Gaza have been licking their wounds ever since, trying to rebuild their forces without aggravating Hamas again.
According to one recent study, they have also attempted to solicit the support and recognition of the "official" al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.
The study, carried out by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and co-authored by former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) deputy director-general Yoram Cohen, said al-Qaida is proving reluctant to provide the would-be holy warriors in Gaza with its seal of approval… for the time being.
Although al-Qaida has long chastised Hamas for failing to look beyond Israel and link up with bin Laden's global war, it is also skeptical over the survivability and ideological commitment of global jihadis in Gaza, the study said. The jihadis remain hopeful, however, and claim to be plotting large-scale attacks in a bid to earn al-Qaida's approval.
Al-Qaida has proven its ability to move into the vacuum left behind by failed states, and convert territories with no sovereignty into bases for global jihad. For now, Hamas retains a firm grip on Gaza, and the prospect of its replacement by an even more radical entity, made up of a coalition of al-Qaida-affiliated organizations dedicated to bin Laden's global war, is remote.
But the ambition is certainly there. And the existence of so dark a scenario only underlines the escalated complexity of attempting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when the Palestinian people are divided into two distinct, mutually hostile, geographic and political entities.
This article can also be read at
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Copyright 1995- 2010
WaPo: Hezbollah's rocket relocations
Reply #753 on:
January 25, 2010, 11:13:12 AM »
Hezbollah's relocation of rocket sites to Lebanon's interior poses wider threat
By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, January 23, 2010
BEIRUT -- Hezbollah has dispersed its long-range-rocket sites deep into northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, a move that analysts say threatens to broaden any future conflict between the Islamist movement and Israel into a war between the two countries.
More than 10,000 U.N. troops now patrol traditional Hezbollah territory in southern Lebanon along the Israeli border, and several thousand Lebanese armed forces personnel also have moved into the area. A cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas in summer 2006 triggered a month-long war that prompted the United Nations to deploy its force as part of a cease-fire.
The United Nations is confident that the dense presence of its troops in the comparatively small area is helping lower the risk of conflict and minimizing Hezbollah's ability to move weapons across southern Lebanon, but analysts in Lebanon and Israel say the U.N. mission is almost beside the point.
Hezbollah's redeployment and rearmament indicate that its next clash with Israel is unlikely to focus on the border, instead moving farther into Lebanon and challenging both the military and the government. The situation is important for U.S. efforts in the region, whether aimed at curbing the influence of Hezbollah's patrons in Iran or at persuading Syria to moderate its stance toward Israel and its neighbors.
Hezbollah "learned their lesson" in 2006, when vital intelligence enabled the Israel Defense Forces to destroy the group's long-range launch sites in the first days of the conflict, said reserve Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, a former head of IDF intelligence. In effect, he said, "the 'border' is now the Litani River," with Hezbollah's rocket sites possibly extending north of Beirut.
In a December briefing, Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the IDF head of operations, said some Hezbollah rockets now have a range of more than 150 miles -- making Tel Aviv reachable from as far away as Beirut. The Islamist group has talked openly of its efforts to rebuild, and Israel estimates that Hezbollah has about 40,000 projectiles, most of them shorter-range rockets and mortar shells.
The group "has been fortifying lots of different areas," said Judith Palmer Harik, a Hezbollah scholar in Beirut. With U.N. and Lebanese forces "packed along the border," she said, "we are looking at a much more expanded battle in all senses of the word."
Just a matter of time?
The border has been relatively quiet since the 2006 war, a fact that officials with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon attribute at least partly to the 400 or so patrols they send out each day to search for weapons stores and prevent border violations.
Armored U.N. vehicles sit at the entrance to southern Lebanon, alongside Lebanese army and intelligence checkpoints; blue-flagged U.N. troops occupy mountaintop posts that Hezbollah used as firing sites in 2006.
"We are covering every square inch," said Maj. S.K. Misra, a spokesman for the battalion of India's 3/11 Gurkha Rifles corps that patrols southeastern Lebanon. "It's impossible for anything to move."
At the same time, debate is raging in political and military circles between those who argue that the damage to each side in 2006 has created a sort of respectful deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah and those who say it is only a matter of time before violence erupts again.
Hezbollah lost hundreds of fighters in the conflict and was put on the defensive in Lebanon, where some questioned whether the group's vow to continue "resistance" against Israel was worth letting an unregulated paramilitary organization effectively make decisions about war and peace.
With Iran backing and supplying Hezbollah and the United States backing and supplying Israel, "the battlefield is Lebanon," said Marwan Hamadeh, a Lebanese member of parliament and supporter of a government coalition that is trying to curb Hezbollah's arms and limit Syrian and Iranian influence in the country. "This is where the Iranian missiles sit, and this is where the Israeli air force can reach."
Israel, meanwhile, lost more than 100 troops and uncharacteristically large numbers of tanks, helicopters and other equipment -- prompting it to rewrite its war doctrine and adjust its perception of Hezbollah's militia. Military analysts now see Hezbollah not as primarily a guerrilla force but as an organization that practices "hybrid war," mixing classic guerrilla tactics with the strategy, equipment and capability of a standing army.
In a 2008 report for the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, analysts Stephen D. Biddle and Jeffrey A. Friedman concluded that Hezbollah had performed more effectively in 2006 than any of the Arab armies from Egypt, Syria or Jordan that had fought conventional wars with Israel over the years, and better in some ways than the Iraqi army in its two wars with the United States.
In Beirut, politicians and analysts agree that the group has only grown stronger since 2006. As they hear Hezbollah's secretary general, Hasan Nasrallah, speak of a conflict that will "change the face of the region," many assume that the IDF will not allow the organization to rearm, recruit and train much longer before striking.
In Israel, Hezbollah is seen as part of a wider struggle for regional influence between Iran and U.S.-allied moderate Arab states, given the group's ties to Iran and Syria and arms supplies assumed to run through both countries.
There is no reason the current calm cannot continue, said retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser who is now a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. But if a conflict does break out, "Israel will not contain that war against Hezbollah," Eiland said. "We cannot." Given Hezbollah's capabilities, he said, "the only way to deter the other side and prevent the next round -- or if it happens, to win -- is to have a military confrontation with the state of Lebanon."
From Crete with hate
Reply #754 on:
January 26, 2010, 09:33:00 PM »
Fom Crete with hate
By JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL
Anti-Israelism has given our foes a pretext to obfuscate their motives.
The Etz Hayim Synagogue on Crete was struck by arsonists on January 5 and again - more devastatingly- on January 16. Over the weekend, Greek police arrested four men described as bouncers and waiters for perpetrating the attacks, saying they were motivated by a dislike of Jews.
Attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions are up throughout Europe, attributable, say experts, to fury by extremist rightists, leftists and Muslims over last year's war against Hamas in Gaza.
As the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism - which comprises Israeli government offices, the Jewish Agency and Diaspora organizations - reported, the uptick in attacks reflects a further blurring of boundaries between Israel, Zionism and Judaism.
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant cited Etz Hayim's director, listed elsewhere as Nikolas Stavroulakis, as saying the attackers had not done their homework: The synagogue is a multi-faith institution which includes Muslim and Christian members and "many of the Jews who worship there are opposed to Israel's settler program and frequent incursions into Gaza."
Stavroulakis has devoted himself to memorializing Jewish life on the island, which dates back to biblical days. Today about 10 Jews live there. Yet Stavroulakis's comments reveal a certain naiveté - as if dissociating from Israeli policies, or embracing non-Zionist, even anti-Zionist positions, would inoculate a Jewish person or institution against anti-Semitic battering.
WITH President Shimon Peres scheduled to address the German parliament Wednesday for International Holocaust Memorial Day, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu concurrently in Poland to mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, this is a good time to consider the distinctions between those who revile Jews; those who oppose the right of Jews to self-determination by denying Jewish peoplehood; and those who oppose particular Israeli policies.
In the West, vulgar Jew-hatred and Holocaust-denial meet with strong censure in the public square. No reputable voices would condone attacks on synagogues or holding Jews to standards gentiles are not expected to meet.
On the other hand, urbane anti-Israelism is all-too often treated as justifiable - even chic. While some of Israel's foes in academia, diplomacy and the punditocracy put their cards on the table, others hypocritically hide behind abstract assertions of support for Israel's right to exist and to self-defense based on preposterously impractical criteria. Thus anti-Israelism flirts with anti-Semitism when the Jewish state is held to a yardstick no other country is expected to meet on the grounds that "after all, you call yourselves the 'chosen people.'"
No one questions whether right-wing louts who burn Jewish houses of worship, beat up people who "look Jewish" or desecrate Holocaust memorials are anti-Semites. But those who reject the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, or who deny that Jews are a people, engage in a more subtle form of contempt. That some practitioners of anti-Israelism are themselves of Jewish ancestry matters not a whit. Anti-Israelism is further characterized by calls to boycott the Jewish state (aping the Arab League-instigated embargo which began decades before the first West Bank settlement was erected) and by the cynical manipulation of symbols and semantics - such as "apartheid," "genocide," and "Nazi" - to delegitimize Israel.
In these endeavors, ostensibly progressives are the strange bedfellows of fanatics and reactionaries - Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
WHAT ABOUT those who simply object to particular Israeli policies?
The late US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said famously that he could not define "hard-core pornography" but "I know it when I see it."
Similarly, Israelis have a knack for distinguishing between genuine friends who earnestly oppose this or that policy, and others who profess closeness yet whose counsel, if heeded, would place the country in mortal jeopardy.
Israelis engage in strident debates over settlements, religion and socioeconomic issues. We hardly expect outsiders - whether Jewish or not - to unthinkingly embrace government policies as a sign of fidelity. To suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous.
FROM the first pogrom in 38 BCE to the liberation of Auschwitz, haters have as a rule been candid about their motivations. In the 21st century, however, anti-Israelism has given our foes a pretext to obfuscate their motives. But we Israelis see them for what they are - morally no better than the hooligans who set the Etz Haim Synagogue ablaze.
The ‘Goldstoning’ of Israel
Reply #755 on:
February 02, 2010, 08:23:59 PM »
Photo by: AP
The ‘Goldstoning’ of Israel
BY JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL STAFF
Report was born in bias and matured into a full-fledged miscarriage of justice.
On Friday, Jerusalem presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with its initial rebuttal of Judge Richard Goldstone’s bill of particulars on the way Israel fought in Gaza between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009.
A more comprehensive, point-by-point refutation is in the works.
“Gaza Operation Investigations: An Update” acknowledges that Israeli shells unintentionally hit the UNRWA compound in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood while gunning for Hamas forces positioned alongside the facility.
The update revealed that the IDF had disciplined a brigadier-general and a colonel for exceeding their authority, because they employed white phosphorus shells in a comparatively confined area where civilians could be jeopardized. In fact, three innocent people were wounded.
Compiled by the Foreign Ministry, the update also debunks a number of scurrilous war crimes charges leveled by Goldstone, saying:
• Israel did not purposefully bomb wells in Jabalya to deprive the people there of fresh drinking water. In fact, the wells were situated within a Hamas compound.
• Israel did not deliberately attack the wastewater treatment plant in Gaza City. But there is a good chance the plant was damaged by Hamas to hamper the movement of IDF soldiers.
• Israel did not blow up the Bader flour factory to create a bread shortage in Gaza. But the site was a strategic high point in a Hamas-fortified zone. It was not the IDF that set the plant ablaze.
• The destroyed Abu Askar family house was used to store Grad rockets. The family was telephoned and urged to leave before the house was shelled.
These are just some of the findings in the Foreign Ministry report, which says that the army has investigated or is currently investigating more than 150 separate incidents – not easy considering that the forensic scene is in enemy hands.
So far, 36 files have been referred to the Military Advocate-General Corps for criminal investigation.
We do not assert that our army made no tragic mistakes; what we do emphatically reiterate – based on Israel’s initial submission to the UN – is that no army engaged on multiple fronts against irregular forces, embedded among a supportive enemy population, is more ethical or takes greater care to avoid harming innocents than the IDF.
THE Goldstone Report was born in bias and matured into a full-fledged miscarriage of justice. So the inclination of mainstream Israelis is to dismiss its author as man who, perhaps not unwittingly, allowed his Jewish ancestry to serve as a cloak for a UN body predisposed to besmirch Israel. Israelis further resent the report’s dammed-if-you-do-dammed-if-you-don’t stipulation for an Israeli commission to examine IDF behavior during the Gaza war: If Israel refuses, Goldstone threatens further “lawfare” at the International Court of Justice in The Hague; if Israel does establish an inquiry commission it might imply Goldstone’s complaints have validity.
One option being weighed is to impanel a judicial review board that would examine how well the army has done in policing itself. Alternatively, the government could establish a formal investigative body. Or, lastly, a commission of inquiry could be established headed perhaps by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak.
We worry that the latter two approaches could undermine army morale and inhibit split-second tactical decision-making necessary to protect Israel’s home front and citizen army. Our preference is that the Foreign Ministry’s forthcoming comprehensive rebuttal serve as Israel’s official – “case closed” – response to the Goldstone Report.
If Goldstone’s parameters for fighting terrorism are affirmed by the civilized world, other democracies would also be severely constrained in defending themselves against terrorist organizations specializing in anti-civilian warfare. Quarantining enemy territory; imprisoning captured terrorists; using sophisticated weapons against a less well-armed terror infrastructure; and bringing non-lethal pressure to bear on non-military targets to hasten the end of a conflict would all be considered “war crimes.”
As is Goldstone provides Hamas and Hizbullah with a legal alibi to fight from behind civilian populations.
WHILE Israel has been forced to justify what should be its inalienable right to stop Hamas from hurling thousands of flying bombs into its territory and traumatizing its civilian population, no UN-body has called to investigate the Palestinian leadership for culpability in the murders of 1,184 Israelis and the wounding of 8,000 others since September 2000.
Children's Cartoons From Hamas
Reply #756 on:
February 03, 2010, 08:22:04 PM »
JP: War by assassination
Reply #757 on:
February 13, 2010, 07:46:57 PM »
Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski 'Israel waging war of assassinations'
BY JPOST.COM STAFF
UK paper: Israel targets Hamas, Hizbullah men all across the Middle East.
Israel is conducting a “secret war,” assassinating top officials in Hamas and Hizbullah in order to hamper the terror groups’ communications with their backer Iran, the London-based Times reported Saturday.
“There has been growing co-operation between Gaza and Iran. Israel can read the writing on the wall and they know that with the help of Iran, the Hamas government in Gaza will become stronger and will fight better. But Israel is overstepping their boundaries. Other countries don’t want to become a killing field for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the paper quotes an unnamed Palestinian official in Ramallah as saying.
The official was referring to the assassination of Mahmoud el Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official who was liquidated in a Dubai hotel last month. Hamas has accused Israel of killing him.
The paper also cites an incident where a bus carrying Iranian officials and Hamas members exploded near Damascus, an attack on a meeting between Hizbullah and Hamas officials in the Hizbullah-controlled Dahiya district of Beirut and the killing of Hizbullah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008.
The Times quotes Arab diplomats saying they are aware that covert Israeli operations had increased. “We watch their comings and goings; we are aware that there is more activity both on our ground and other countries in the region,” an Egyptian diplomat told the paper. “They are trying to embroil us all in their conflict.”
The incidents are often attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, which has seen a surge in reputation since Meir Dagan was appointed to lead the agency in 2002 by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Israeli officials never admitted that the Mossad was involved in any of the killings.
Dagan’s tenure has been extended twice by Sharon’s successor Ehud Olmert and again by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Dagan received praise recently from an unexpected source when he was described in an opinion piece in a leading Egyptian daily paper as "the Superman of Israel."
Irish hit on Hamas?!?
Reply #758 on:
February 15, 2010, 04:56:52 PM »
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 9:29 PM on 15th February 2010
Claims that British and Irish passport holders are among an alleged 11-man hit squad wanted in Dubai for the apparent assassination of a Hamas commander are tonight being investigated by London and Dublin.
Dubai police say the main suspect is Peter Elvinger, 49, who holds a French passport. He was the gang’s logistical co-ordinator and the one who booked room 237 in Al Bustan Rotana, down the corridor from the victim’s room – 230.
The other suspects were identified as Irish nationals Gail Folliard, Kevin Daveron and Evan Dennings; British nationals Paul John Keely, Stephen Daniel Hodes, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Jonathan Louis Graham, James Leonard Clarke and Michael Lawrence Barney. Also wanted is Michael Bodenheimer, a German national.
The hit squad was responsible for killing Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room last month in a slaying that has brought vows of revenge from the Palestinian militant group, Dubai's police chief said.
The details given by Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim are the most comprehensive accusations by Dubai authorities since the body of al-Mabhouh was found on January 20 in his luxury hotel room near Dubai's international airport.
Tamim told reporters the alleged assassination team was made up of six British passport holders, three Irish and one each from France and Germany.
But he did not directly implicate Israel - as Hamas has done. The group has accused Israel's Mossad secret service of carrying out the killing and has pledged to strike back.
Tamim said it was possible that ‘leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill’ al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing. Israeli officials have accused him of helping smuggle rockets into Gaza.
He said forensic tests indicate al-Mabhouh died of suffocation, but lab analyses are still under way to pinpoint possible other factors in his death.
Top Hamas figures have denied reports that al-Mabhouh was en route to Iran, which is a major Hamas backer. But the group has not given clear reasons for his presence in Dubai.
Tamim sketched out a highly organized operation in the hours before the killing.
He showed a news conference surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights to Dubai the day before al-Mabhouh was found dead. The suspects checked into separate hotels.
They paid for all expenses in cash and used different mobile phone cards to avoid traces, he added.
At least two suspected members of the hit squad watched al-Mabhouh check in at his hotel and later booked a room across from the Hamas commander, Tamim said.
He added that there was ‘serious penetration into al-Mabhouh's security prior to his arrival’ in Dubai, but that it appeared al-Mabhouh was travelling alone.
‘Hamas did not tell us who he was. He was walking around alone,’ said Tamim. ‘If he was such an important leader, why didn't he have people escorting him?’
Tamim said there was at least one unsuccessful attempt to break into al-Mabhouh's hotel room. It was unclear whether he opened the door to his killers or if the room was forcibly entered.
The killing took place about five hours after al-Mabhouh arrived at the hotel and all 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals, he added.
Tamim said the suspects left some evidence, but he declined to elaborate. He urged the countries linked to the alleged killers to co- operate with the investigation.
Earlier this month, Hamas said it launched floating explosives into the Mediterranean Sea to drift toward Israeli beaches to avenge al-Mabhouh's death.
Israeli authorities discovered at least two explosives-rigged barrels and carried out an intensive search for other bombs, closing miles of beaches and deploying robotic bomb squads.
A Hamas statement last month acknowledged al-Mabhouh was involved in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and said he was still playing a ‘continuous role in supporting his brothers in the resistance inside the occupied homeland’ at the time of his death.
More than 2,000 mourners attended al-Mabhouh's funeral and burial at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, near Damascus, Syria.
Britain's Foreign Office declined to comment today on the allegations while officials seek more information on the case and the individuals named by Tamim.
Hamas initially claimed al-Mabhouh was poisoned and electrocuted. But Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas leader, has given a somewhat different account, saying al-Mabhouh was ambushed by Mossad agents who were waiting for him in his hotel room.
Nazzal said earlier this month that no poison was involved. But he gave no evidence to back up his charge of Mossad involvement.
Top Hamas figures have denied reports that al-Mabhouh was en route to Iran, which is a major Hamas backer. But the group has not given clear reasons for his presence in Dubai.
Many little oddities
Reply #759 on:
February 16, 2010, 01:53:51 PM »
Many little oddities here , , ,
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #760 on:
February 17, 2010, 04:49:47 AM »
Looks like some country's covert action acted. I wonder if the "lesser known" contact for the deal have dissappeared? If that is the case I would be a very nervous weapons dealer/ producer.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #761 on:
March 14, 2010, 03:30:58 PM »
While stuck in NE traffic today Aaron Klein (sp?) had on his radio show Mr Yousef. He worked as a spy for Israel because he wanted to save not just Jewish lives but Palestinian lives. This is the key for him:
“The problem is not Hamas, the problem is not people. The root of the problem is Islam itself as an idea,” he added. He said he saw no chance for Israel and the PA to make peace."
He converted to Christianity because he feels the God of Islam is the root cause of the problems with the Muslims. He quotes from the Koran how it is a command from their God that all infidels, Jews, Christains, and others should be sought out and killed. He states this is a false God. Those that have this in their heart can never make peace, they will never let go with their hatred, and will end up killing themselves as well as others. He also could not accept how Hamas would torture and murder anyone it suspected of "collaborating" with Israel. He came to the conclusion that torture at the hands of Hamas is as bad as torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers or anyone else for that matter. He also agrees his father would have to wnat him killed in order to restore his honor.
It was an amazing interview.
Are you listening Barack Hussain Obama?
**** Published: 02/24/10, 5:33 PM / Last Update: 02/24/10, 6:06 PM
Son of Hamas Leader was Top Spy for Israel
by Gil Ronen
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(IsraelNN.com) Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of jailed Hamas terrorist leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, operated undercover in the service of Israel's intelligence agency for a decade. Yousef reveals this information in an upcoming book, and in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz to be published this weekend.
According to the newspaper, the intelligence Yousef supplied led to the arrests of several high-ranking terrorists including Ibrahim Hamid, a Hamas terror commander in Judea and Samaria, as well as Fatah strongman Marwan Barghouti and Hamas bomb-maker Abdullah Barghouti.
Mosab Hassan Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to the U.S. in 2007, where the book he co-wrote, Son of Hamas, is due to be published shortly. He said that after he converted to Christianity, he decided he had to escape and "live my life away from violence, because I couldn't coexist with that situation as a Christian."
"He provided very important information [as did] hundreds of others fighting against terror," MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima), formerly deputy chief of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), told BBC World Service.
Haaretz said that Yousef “was considered Shin Bet's most reliable source in the Hamas leadership.”
"The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money," said his ISA handler, who is named in the book as "Captain Loai.”
Yousef's father, who has great influence within Hamas, was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 from his prison cell.
Appalled by Torture
Yousef has said that from an early age he was appalled by the brutality of the Hamas movement. "Hamas, they are using civilians' lives, they are using children, they are using the suffering of people every day to achieve their goals. And this is what I hate," he said.
In an interview with Fox News in 2008, Yousef said that when he was 18 years old, he was arrested and placed in an Israeli jail. “Hamas had control of its members inside the jail and I saw their torture; [they were] torturing people in a very, very bad way... Hamas leaders that we see on TV now, and big leaders, [were] responsible for torturing their own members. They didn't torture me, but that was a shock for me, to see them torturing people: putting needles under their nails, burning their bodies. And they killed lots of them... I was a witness for about a year for this torture. So that was a huge change in my life.”
"Islam is the Problem"
“The problem is not Hamas, the problem is not people. The root of the problem is Islam itself as an idea,” he added. He said he saw no chance for Israel and the PA to make peace.****
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #762 on:
March 16, 2010, 09:54:42 AM »
I remember the uproar from the American Jewish "community when James Baker came out with some remarks that hinted at subtle anti-semitic tone. Now the phoney one is doing it many Jews are silent. Indeed we have Time Magazine's Tom Friedman on cable criticizing Israel. As I've said many liberal Jews are more interested in the Dem party. The settlement thing is now being exaggerated into a "crises" and I believe it is an excuse to start Bama's real plan to withdraw support for Israel. I recall the picture of him at the Western Wall, yamukah on. It appeared he was not comfortable playing Jew. And of course the Americal lib Jews were so fast to point to this as evidence of his commitment to Israel. What a joke. This guy sat in an anti semite's church for a quarter of a century and to no one's knowledge ever spoke up about it.
He uses Jews to further his political career. And we have Farrakan claiming it is the White Right and the Jews who are going to try to make him a one term Pres. Why, without a doubt, if it where not for the support and help ful strategizing by Jews who supported the phoney one - he would never have ever become President. How ironic. He treats Israel (do as I say or else) like he treats Americans.
****Obama runs out of patience with Israel
Settlement issue provokes 'biggest crisis in relations for 35 years'
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem and Hugh MacLeod in Doha
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addresses the Knesset in Jerusalem yesterday. He rejected a total freeze on the building of Israeli settlements
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday strongly defended Jewish settlement construction in East Jerusalem in the face of US pressure and what one of his own top diplomats described as the worst crisis in relations with Washington for more than three decades.
A defiant Mr Netanyahu appeared to be digging in despite clear indications that the Obama administration is now demanding the scrapping of plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes, whose announcement overshadowed last week's visit to Israel by the US Vice-President Joe Biden. Mr Netanyahu's stance appeared to guarantee, after a highly charged week, the protraction of a stand-off in which a full-scale diplomatic row blew up at the start of Mr Biden's visit and appeared to abate at the end of it. But it was then reignited by demands from Hillary Clinton and an angry White House that Israel make amends for the "insulting" announcement just as indirect negotiations with the Palestinians had finally been arranged.
The US is now said to be demanding substantive concessions from Israel after a warning by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he would not take part in talks if the plan to expand the mainly ultra-orthodox Ramat Shlomo settlement went ahead. The row has appeared finally to bring to a head the year-long tensions between the two governments since Barack Obama tried in vain to persuade the Israeli Prime Minister to agree to a total settlement freeze. He was thwarted by Mr Netanyahu who agreed only to a partial 10-month freeze, which did not include East Jerusalem.
Rupert Cornwell: There's no sign that Obama will punish his ally
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The Israeli Prime Minister insisted yesterday that construction would continue "in the same way as has been customary over the last 42 years". He added: "The building of those Jewish neighbourhoods in no way hurt the Arabs of East Jerusalem and did not come at their expense."
But a prominent Fatah figure and former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, told The Independent that the prospect of talks resuming had been sabotaged by Israel's action. Speaking in Qatar yesterday ahead of reconciliation talks with Hamas, which governs Gaza, he added: "The speed at which Jerusalem is being Judaised and de-Arabised has surpassed any period in the history of the peace process and is so alarming that we cannot possibly continue giving cover to Mr Netanyahu that we are still negotiating while he is doing this."
Mr Netanyahu avoided direct reference to the plans at the heart of the row for expanding the Ramat Shlomo settlement. But the Prime Minister, who has apologised for the timing of last week's announcement, showed no sign of abandoning it altogether.
There was no official confirmation of reports in the Israeli press that the US was also demanding other measures, including an early release of Palestinian prisoners and a clear Israeli promise that talks, if and when they begin, would genuinely deal with the core issues between the two sides: borders, Palestinian refugees, and the future of Jerusalem. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Israeli Army Radio reported meanwhile that in a conference call with Israeli consuls across the US on Saturday night, Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to Washington, said that the crisis was one of "historic proportions". Summoned to the State Department on Friday, he reportedly urged the consuls, on instructions "from the highest level", to lobby Congress, Jewish community groups and the media to make Israel's case. Mr Oren, a historian, apparently recalled a previous stand-off in 1975 between Henry Kissinger and the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin over US demands in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war for a partial withdrawal from the Sinai.
One explanation canvassed in Israel for Washington's tough stance is that pressure is being exerted by the US military for early progress in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as means of reducing Muslim hostility to the US. During the height of the row last week, Mr Biden was reported by Yedhiot Ahronot to have told Mr Netanyahu: "What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace."
Asked on Sunday whether Israeli "intransigence" was putting US "troops' lives at risk", David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr Obama, said "that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region so I'm not going to put it in those terms". But he then added that it "was absolutely imperative" not only for "the security of Israel and the Palestinian people2 but "for our own security that ... we resolve this very difficult issue".
Mr Netanyahu can at least expect a warm reception in Washington when next week he addresses the annual conference of AIPAC, the staunchly right-of-centre pro-Israel lobby group which is trying to mobilise opposition to the stance taken by Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama.
Jerusalem remained tense yesterday, with hundreds of police deployed around the Old City for a fourth day in case of Palestinian unrest, including a possible protest against the rededication of a synagogue in the Jewish Quarter destroyed in the 1948 war. A closure of the West Bank to prevent most Palestinians reaching the city was also still in force.
Dozens of young men burned tyres and threw stones at Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem. Palestinian medics said one Palestinian youth was shot in the jaw and another in the chest as troops dispersed protesters.*****
Groups to White House: What about Palestinian incitement?
Reply #763 on:
March 16, 2010, 10:06:35 PM »
Groups to White House: What about Palestinian incitement?
By Ami Eden · March 16, 2010
NEW YORK (JTA) -- In response to the Obama administration’s stepped-up criticism of Israeli building plans in Jerusalem, Jewish groups are slamming the White House for failing to speak out more against Palestinian incitement.
Particularly galling, several Jewish organizational leaders said, is that the administration has ratcheted up its criticism of Israel while failing to utter a word about the decision of the Palestinian Authority to go through with plans to name a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who led a 1978 bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were killed.
In the middle of last week, pro-Israel organizations, including the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch, pointed out that the official naming ceremony -- timed to coincide with the anniversary of the terrorist attack -- was set to take place March 11, during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. It was quickly announced that the ceremony would be canceled, but a scaled-down version of the event did end up taking place that day, with the youth division of Fatah, the faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, playing a lead role.
The White House and left-wing Jewish groups say they are as concerned with Palestinian actions that undermine the peace process, especially the issue of anti-Israel incitement, as they are with Israeli settlement policies. But several centrist and right-wing pro-Israel groups have pointed out that U.S. criticism in recent days has been focused exclusively on Israel.
“This monstrous spectacle” -- the ceremony for Mughrabi -- “took place while Vice President Biden was visiting the region,” said the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, in a statement echoing the sentiments of several Jewish organizations, including the Zionist Organization of America, the Orthodox Union and the National Council of Young Israel. “Unfortunately, we have not heard a single word of condemnation from the U.S. administration.
"While the administration has focused its ire on Israel for clearly misguided steps taken by the Ministry of the Interior, and later apologized for by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the glorification of this terrorist sends a clear signal that Fatah, conventionally regarded as a moderate party, has no serious commitment to securing a peaceful resolution of the conflict."
J Street, which supports the Obama administration's recent criticisms of Israel, also issued a statement condemning the decision to memorialize Mughrabi.
In addition to the flurry of statements from Jewish groups, the Israeli government also is promising to launch an official effort to monitor Palestinian incitement. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about his plans, promising regular reports on the issue.
"We will set parameters by which to measure the level of incitement," Netanyahu told the committee, according to Haaretz. "People must know exactly what is happening on this issue because for a peace agreement, education toward peace and acceptance of Israel are needed."
The issue has taken on added urgency in recent days, and not just because of the unrelenting U.S. criticism of Israeli building plans in Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, Palestinians rioted in Jerusalem as part of a "day of rage" declared by Hamas, in part to protest the rededication Monday night of the ancient Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. But the Israeli decision to rededicate the synagogue also was seized on by PA officials with ties to Fatah, who attempted to portray it as part of a plot against Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount.
Khatem Abd el-Kader, the Fatah official responsible for Jerusalem, encouraged Palestinians to “converge on al Aksa to save it” from “Israeli attempts to destroy the mosque and replace it with the [Jewish] temple.” He called the synagogue rededication a “provocation,” cautioning that Israel is “playing with fire.”
The unfinished Hurva Synagogue, whose name means ruins, was destroyed in an Arab riot in 1721. It was rebuilt in the 1860s, but destroyed again after Jordan took control of the area in the 1948 war.
“At this very moment, 3,000 Israeli security officials are protecting Jerusalem because extremist Arabs are using the re-dedication of the Hurva Synagogue as an excuse to incite violence,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of The Israel Project, said in a statement. “Not once did we hear Biden ‘condemn’ the fact that Palestinians were planning -- during his trip there -- to honor a terrorist by dedicating a town square in her name.”
On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley did use part of his daily media briefing to criticize Palestinian leaders over their comments regarding the Hurva Synagogue.
"We’re deeply disturbed by statements made by several Palestinian officials mischaracterizing the event in question, which can only serve to heighten the tensions that we see. And we call upon Palestinian officials to put an end to such incitement," Crowley said, without prompting.
In answer to a subsequent question, he said the concerns had been conveyed to Palestinian officials but declined to offer more details.
The briefing appeared to validate at least one administration lament -- that its efforts to focus attention on perceived Palestinian misdeeds are often ignored by the media. Reporters appeared to have trouble comprehending that the State Department's concerns related to the Palestinian reactions, not the Israeli decision to rededicate the synagogue.
When it finally became clear that this is what Crowley was saying, reporters went back to asking about U.S. upset with Israel, but only after one accused Crowley of trying to head off criticism of the Obama administration by balancing out things with a complaint about the Palestinians.
Crowley brushed off questions about whether Israeli or Palestinian actions were most problematic.
"We’re not trying to achieve any kind of comparability here," he said. "Anytime we have concerns about actions being taken on either side, we will not hesitate to say so."
Analysis: Settlements or us
Reply #764 on:
March 16, 2010, 10:24:59 PM »
Analysis: Settlements or us
By DAVID HOROVITZ
The US sees an opportunity in the Ramat Shlomo crisis to convey to the unloved Netanyahu the fateful, urgent choice he faces.
Binyamin Netanyahu had thought that the crisis was over.
The prime minister had apologized. He had sworn that the bureaucratic approval for 1,600 new homes at Ramat Shlomo last Tuesday had not been deliberately timed to humiliate visiting Vice President Joe Biden. He had vowed to institute an oversight process so that the same kind of discomfiting incident could not recur. He had assured Biden that the new construction at Ramat Shlomo – an area of Jerusalem over the Green Line, but certain to remain under Israeli control in any accommodation with the Palestinians – would not start for years.
And the vice president had indicated that he was largely mollified.
Biden’s comments in his visit’s main speech, at Tel Aviv University, reiterated his condemnation of the decision to build more homes, but also included his appreciation of Netanyahu’s subsequent steps to defuse the issue. He also restated that powerful assertion that “there is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to security.”
Speaking to Reuters on his plane on Friday, Biden even went so far as to vouch for Netanyahu’s peacemaking intentions. Asked whether he thought the prime minister was sincere about negotiating peace with the Palestinians, he replied, “Yes, I do.”
And there the matter might have rested. There, Jerusalem believed, the matter would rest.
But then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Netanyahu. She called, for three-quarters of an hour on Friday, to “berate,” “rebuke,” “warn” and “condemn” Israel – depending on your newspaper of choice – for the “insult to the United States,” and for sending, in the words of her spokesman, “a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship.”
If Washington’s decision to escalate the dispute was shocking to the prime minister, then the bitter thrust of the secretary’s language was even more so. She was choosing to blame Israel not merely for words and deeds that the US deems counterproductive to Israel’s interests, but for conduct unbecoming of an ally, for harming the relationship with America and, by extension, harming America and its interests as well.
Even with the fullest cognizance of the Obama administration’s strategic effort to remake its relations with the Arab world, and its frustrations with Netanyahu for failing to fully share its optimism about the “willing partners” Biden referenced on the Palestinian side, this is strikingly harsh and heavy stuff.
The United States has, for so long and so often, been Israel’s chief defender against concerted international diplomatic attack. Its unstinting moral and practical support has been central, too, to Israel’s deterrent capability in this most hostile and ruthless of regions.
It knows full well the impact its secretary of state’s words will have in these contexts – liberating Israel’s critics to drastically escalate their diplomatic, legal and economic assaults, and potentially emboldening military enemies. Words in this neck of the woods have consequences – real, life-and-death consequences.
“You shouldn’t think that President Obama is your enemy, and I hope to goodness you know that Hillary is not,” former president Bill Clinton told the Saban Forum in Jerusalem four months ago. And yet she escalated a crisis that Biden, her superior in the administration hierarchy, had indicated was resolved.
It was self-evident that Netanyahu’s “stupidity not malice” explanation for Ramat Shlomo was accurate. Just days earlier, he had moved effectively to shut down Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s incendiary plan to demolish dozens of Arab homes in Silwan.
And yet, acting doubtless on the orders of her president, she resorted to what the ADL – no hysterical critic of the Obama administration – termed “gross overreaction.”
As Israel well knows, the US does not support
building for Jews over the Green Line – even within the boundaries of Israeli-claimed sovereign Jerusalem. Plainly the administration was enraged not only by the timing of the construction announcement, but by its essence – a maintenance of an Israeli policy that defies the US government’s assessment of where both Israeli and American interests lie.
But perhaps, too, the Obama administration has recognized an opportunity in the Ramat Shlomo crisis, an opportunity that required deepening rather than defusing the dispute – an opportunity to convey to the unloved Netanyahu, more starkly than ever before, the fateful choice he faces and the urgency of making it.
Does he want to expand home-building for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, maintain the support of the domestic political Right, offer less than the Americans would wish him to offer at the peace table should direct talks ever resume, and watch Israel’s ties to the United States falter even as Iran closes in on the bomb?
Or is he prepared to halt such building, marginalize the local hardliners, work to create a climate conducive to negotiated progress with the Palestinians, and bolster the partnership with the US, the better to ensure an effective response to the Iranian threat?
Washington may well bet that Netanyahu, being Netanyahu, will even now try desperately to please everyone – somehow bidding to square circles via a mixture of half-steps and articulacy, in order to keep the local hawks on board and at once try to heal the fractures with Washington.
But it may also be aiming to make that task unfeasible. Likud hard-liner Danny Danon asserted on Sunday that Israel is “not a client state” of the US and needs to follow its own policies as it sees fit.
But many Israelis think differently, and regard Israel, especially amid the current global battle against Iranian-spearheaded Islamic extremism, indeed to be a client state – to be existentially dependent on its relationship with the United States. Many Israelis, Washington may also gauge, would rather reconsider their prime minister than their ties to the US.
With Labor starting to mutter about deadlines for diplomatic progress, and with the Israeli public perceived to be deeply invested in the best possible relationship with the US, Clinton, and more pertinently, her president, may believe they have Netanyahu cornered: Settlements or us.
How can one reconcile the bitter, accusatory, public dressing-down – which will be seized upon so delightedly and exploited so effectively not merely by those who oppose Netanyahu, but by those who seek to damage Israel – with the insistent assurances, from Obama on down, including Biden last week, that the US commitment to Israel is unbreakable, that the partnership is unshakable, that the relationship, as Biden put it, is “impervious to any shifts in either country and either country’s partisan politics. No matter what challenges we face, this bond will endure”?
How do you reconcile that, even if you accept that the Obama White House is convinced that Israel, through its building beyond the Green Line, is badly harming itself, undermining the battle to thwart Iran, and damaging America’s interests in the region?
It’s not easy. It’s not easy, no matter how persuasively it can be argued that Netanyahu brought this on himself.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #765 on:
March 17, 2010, 05:44:50 AM »
Israel is relying the David vs. Goliath myth to the point of making it a bit thread bare? I understood Osiriak, and Lebanon and the tit for tat with the missile launches/ helo strikes. That is basically the status quo, but when an ally starts showing disrespect by violating a treaty negotiation point on the eve of some brokered talks? That is crap Iran an acknowledge foe pulls, isn't it? The berating was earned, but I do agree that Israel needs to be maintained from a Modern Secular State standpoint that also happens to be a democracy. It is an example and dampener of a lot of totalitarian abuse that we would otherwise be seeing witgout its presence and example.
Turkey and Egypt are in similar positions geopolitically, I hope both can remain modern if not entirely free.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #766 on:
March 17, 2010, 06:39:22 AM »
At no point did Israel agree not to build in Jerusalem. There was a 10 month temporary freeze on settlement building not including Jerusalem. This was not what the US wanted but what Israel agreed to. What eve of negotiations? There was not going to be any negotiations. The Palestians were not going to come to the table. You don't find this a little distracting from the actual problem of a Nuclear Iran.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #767 on:
March 17, 2010, 10:25:21 AM »
"The US sees an opportunity in the Ramat Shlomo crisis to convey to the unloved Netanyahu the fateful, urgent choice he faces."
This echoes my thought:
"The settlement thing is now being exaggerated into a "crises" and I believe it is an excuse to start Bama's real plan to withdraw support for Israel."
The WH is jumping all over this building of 1200 homes as an excuse to stick it to Netanyahu.
It is clear the US will not be there militarily for Israel when push comes to shove. It is decided that miliatry force will not be used under any circumstances. If Israel is going to attack Iran they will have to do it alone.
As an American I am not sure I could argue that it is really in the interests of the US to start a war with Iran to a degree worth the risks and consequences. The benefits are far more for Israel then to us. Even with claims of a nuclear Iran is a menace to the world acknowledged and agreed to by me.
As a Jew it is also clear Iran means what it says when the Mullahs have plans to murder all the Jews into the ocean.
And therefore as a Jew it is a fight for our lives.
Shame on American Jews who have turned their backs on their bretheren for political idealogy - and support of a person who has an obvious agenda that is NOT in Israel's best interests. I don't know if the liberal Jews who STILL support the phoney one are in denial, or are still duped, or simply prefer to put American interests including their radical liberal agenda ahead of Israel. I guess it is a combination. How can they believe the Phoney One is really commited to protecting Israel? Or are they duped into thinking a policy of containment can work here?
I have not heard any credible threats on our part pointed directly to the Mullahs that if they use nucs on Israel We will respond in kind but 100 fold. THAT is the concept of "mutually assured destruction" that worked in the US-Soviet cold war.
Vague mentions that "no opiton(s)" are taken off the table are not clear and definitive as a threat to Iran.
If the phone ONE was clear about his intention of protecting Israel, that is the least he could do. Send a clear message to the Persians that if you use any weapons of mass destruction on Israel they will pay dearly with many lives.
But alas he is only playing the American Jews for their votes.
Ham Fisted Machinations?
Reply #768 on:
March 17, 2010, 04:36:51 PM »
The Crisis: Was Obama's confrontation with Israel premeditated?
The New Republic ^ | 3/16/2010 | Yossi Klein Halevi
Was Obama's confrontation with Israel premeditated?
JERUSALEM—Suddenly, my city feels again like a war zone. Since the suicide bombings ended in 2005, life in Jerusalem has been for the most part relatively calm. The worst disruptions have been the traffic jams resulting from construction of a light rail, just like in a normal city. But now, again, there are clusters of helmeted border police near the gates of the Old City, black smoke from burning tires in the Arab village across from my porch, young men marching with green Islamist flags toward my neighborhood, ambulances parked at strategic places ready for this city's ultimate nightmare.
The return of menace to Jerusalem is not because a mid-level bureaucrat announced stage four of a seven-stage process in the eventual construction of 1,600 apartments in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood in northeast Jerusalem. Such announcements and building projects have become so routine over the years that Palestinians have scarcely responded, let alone violently. In negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, the permanence of Ramat Shlomo, and other Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, has been a given. Ramat Shlomo, located between the Jewish neighborhoods of French Hill and Ramot, will remain within the boundaries of Israeli Jerusalem according to every peace plan. Unlike the small Jewish enclaves inserted into Arab neighborhoods, on which Israelis are strongly divided, building in the established Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem defines the national consensus.
Why, then, the outbreak of violence now? Why Hamas's "day of rage" over Jerusalem and the Palestinian Authority's call to gather on the Temple Mount to "save" the Dome of the Rock from non-existent plans to build the Third Temple? Why the sudden outrage over rebuilding a synagogue, destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948, in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, when dozens of synagogues and yeshivas have been built in the quarter without incident?
The answer lies not in Jerusalem but in Washington. By placing the issue of building in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem at the center of the peace process, President Obama has inadvertently challenged the Palestinians to do no less.
Astonishingly, Obama is repeating the key tactical mistake of his failed efforts to restart Middle East peace talks over the last year. Though Obama's insistence on a settlement freeze to help restart negotiations was legitimate, he went a step too far by including building in East Jerusalem. Every Israeli government over the last four decades has built in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; no government, let alone one headed by the Likud, could possibly agree to a freeze there. Obama made resumption of negotiations hostage to a demand that could not be met. The result was that Palestinian leaders were forced to adjust their demands accordingly.
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 in the West Bank, they now refused to sit down with the first Israeli government to actually agree to a suspension of building. Obama's demand for a building freeze in Jerusalem led to a freeze in negotiations.
Finally, after intensive efforts, the administration produced the pathetic achievement of "proximity talks"—setting Palestinian-Israeli negotiations back a generation, to the time when Palestinian leaders refused to sit at the same table with Israelis.
That Obama could be guilty of such amateurishness was perhaps forgivable because he was, after all, an amateur. But he has now taken his failed policy and intensified it. By demanding that Israel stop building in Ramat Shlomo and elsewhere in East Jerusalem—and placing that demand at the center of American-Israeli relations—he's ensured that the Palestinians won't show up even to proximity talks. This is no longer amateurishness; it is pique disguised as policy.
Initially, when the announcement about building in Ramat Shlomo was made, Israelis shared Vice President Biden's humiliation and were outraged at their government's incompetence. The widespread sense here was that Netanyahu deserved the administration's condemnation, not because of what he did but because of what he didn't do: He failed to convey to all parts of his government the need for caution during Biden's visit, symptomatic of his chaotic style of governing generally.
But not even the opposition accused Netanyahu of a deliberate provocation. These are not the days of Yitzhak Shamir, the former Israeli prime minister who used to greet a visit from Secretary of State James Baker with an announcement of the creation of another West Bank settlement. Netanyahu has placed the need for strategic cooperation with the U.S. on the Iranian threat ahead of the right-wing political agenda. That's why he included the Labor Party into his coalition, and why he accepted a two-state solution—an historic achievement that set the Likud, however reluctantly, within the mainstream consensus supporting Palestinian statehood. The last thing Netanyahu wanted was to embarrass Biden during his goodwill visit and trigger a clash with Obama over an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.
Nor is it likely that there was a deliberate provocation from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which runs the interior ministry that oversees building procedures. Shas, which supports peace talks and territorial compromise, is not a nationalist party. Its interest is providing housing for its constituents, like the future residents of Ramat Shlomo; provoking international incidents is not its style.
Finally, the very ordinariness of the building procedure—the fact that construction in Jewish East Jerusalem is considered by Israelis routine—is perhaps the best proof that there was no intentional ambush of Biden. Apparently no one in the interior ministry could imagine that a long-term plan over Ramat Shlomo would sabotage a state visit.
In turning an incident into a crisis, Obama has convinced many Israelis that he was merely seeking a pretext to pick a fight with Israel. Netanyahu was inadvertently shabby; Obama, deliberately so.
According to a banner headline in the newspaper Ma'ariv, senior Likud officials believe that Obama's goal is to topple the Netanyahu government, by encouraging those in the Labor Party who want to quit the coalition.
The popular assumption is that Obama is seeking to prove his resolve as a leader by getting tough with Israel. Given his ineffectiveness against Iran and his tendency to violate his own self-imposed deadlines for sanctions, the Israeli public is not likely to be impressed. Indeed, Israelis' initial anger at Netanyahu has turned to anger against Obama. According to an Israel Radio poll on March 16, 62 percent of Israelis blame the Obama administration for the crisis, while 20 percent blame Netanyahu. (Another 17 percent blame Shas leader Eli Yishai.)
In the last year, the administration has not once publicly condemned the Palestinians for lack of good faith—even though the Palestinian Authority media has, for example, been waging a months-long campaign denying the Jews' historic roots in Jerusalem. Just after Biden left Ramallah, Palestinian officials held a ceremony naming a square in the city after a terrorist responsible for the massacre of 38 Israeli civilians. (To its credit, yesterday, the administration did condemn the Palestinian Authority for inciting violence in Jerusalem.)
Obama's one-sided public pressure against Israel could intensify the atmosphere of "open season" against Israel internationally. Indeed, the European Union has reaffirmed it is linking improved economic relations with Israel to the resumption of the peace process—as if it's Israel rather than the Palestinians that has refused to come to the table.
If the administration's main tactical error in Middle East negotiating was emphasizing building in Jerusalem, its main strategic error was assuming that a two-state solution was within easy reach. Shortly after Obama took office, Rahm Emanuel was quoted in the Israeli press insisting that a Palestinian state would be created within Obama's first term. Instead, a year later, we are in the era of suspended proximity talks. Now the administration is demanding that Israel negotiate over final status issues in proximity talks as a way of convincing the Palestinians to agree to those talks--as if Israelis would agree to discuss the future of Jerusalem when Palestinian leaders refuse to even sit with them.
To insist on the imminent possibility of a two-state solution requires amnesia. Biden's plea to Israelis to consider a withdrawal to an approximation of the 1967 borders in exchange for peace ignored the fact that Israel made that offer twice in the last decade: first, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak accepted the Clinton Proposals of December 2000, and then more recently when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert renewed the offer to Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, says Olmert, never replied.
The reason for Palestinian rejection of a two-state solution is because a deal would require Palestinians to confine the return of the descendants of the 1948 refugees to Palestine rather than to Israel. That would prevent a two-state solution from devolving into a bi-national, one-state solution. Israel's insistence on survival remains the obstacle to peace.
To achieve eventual peace, the international community needs to pressure Palestinian leaders to forgo their claim to Haifa and Jaffa and confine their people's right of return to a future Palestinian state—just as the Jews will need to forgo their claim to Hebron and Bethlehem and confine their people's right of return to the state of Israel. That is the only possible deal: conceding my right of return to Greater Israel in exchange for your right of return to Greater Palestine. A majority of Israelis—along with the political system—has accepted that principle. On the Palestinian side, the political system has rejected it.
In the absence of Palestinian willingness to compromise on the right of return, negotiations should not focus on a two-state solution but on more limited goals.
There have been positive signs of change on the Palestinian side in the last few years. The rise of Hamas has created panic within Fatah, and the result is, for the first time, genuine security cooperation with Israel. Also, the emergence of Salam Fayyad as Palestinian prime minister marks a shift from ideological to pragmatic leadership (though Fayyad still lacks a power base). Finally, the West Bank economy is growing, thanks in part to Israel's removal of dozens of roadblocks. The goal of negotiations at this point in the conflict should be to encourage those trends.
But by focusing on building in Jerusalem, Obama has undermined that possibility too. To the fictitious notion of a peace process, Obama has now added the fiction of an intransigent Israel blocking the peace process.
The administration, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedito Aharonot, is making an even more insidious accusation against Israel. During his visit, wrote Yediot Aharanot, Biden told Israeli leaders that their policies are endangering American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. The report has been denied in the White House. Whether or not the remark was made, what is clear today in Jerusalem is that Obama's recklessness is endangering Israeli--and Palestinian--lives. As I listen to police sirens outside my window, Obama's political intifada against Netanyahu seems to be turning into a third intifada over Jerusalem.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor of The New Republic.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #769 on:
March 18, 2010, 04:15:17 AM »
"obama will use this as an excuse to withdraw support from Israel"
THAT is something I hope is false, because that will cause SO many strategic problems for the USA across the board............
No, I have not lost sight of the Nukes, I mentioned Osiriack didn't I. If Israel did something similar, I would sit still for it if I was in the hot seat. All I was saying is Israel needs to get less disingenuous when it come to obvious "tension raisers" when it comes to discussion times. I think the palestinians blew it years ago when they turned down that deal during the early Clinton administration. If they had taken that, their negotiation for the final bits would have ben massively more favorable. Now they are looking more like a bunch of "tribe oriented on personage" than any real government able to take care of its people.
That does NOT mean that Israel should be continuing with these games that make negotiations meaningless (or looking meaningless)
Last Edit: March 21, 2010, 09:37:16 PM by Rarick
Editor's Notes: Crime and punishment
Reply #770 on:
March 21, 2010, 07:19:29 AM »
Editor's Notes: Crime and punishment
By DAVID HOROVITZ
By deliberately inflating the Ramat Shlomo issue into a public crisis of faith in its ally, the Obama administration has given encouragement to Israel’s enemies, turned more of Israel’s dwindling ranks of friends against us, and potentially put every Israeli’s life in a little more danger.
The original Ramat Shlomo sin was Binyamin Netanyahu’s. And it was serious.
Not the “sin” of pursuing an Israeli government policy to build in Jerusalem. Agree with it or not, assert that it is Israel’s sovereign imperative or foolishly antagonistic, but either way it’s Israel’s decision.
No, the sin lay in announcing that you’re expanding a Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhood on the very day that one of your very best friends in the problematic administration of your most important strategic ally is in town for a goodwill visit. The sin lay in announcing the move when you know it runs counter to American policy, announcing it without warning, having assured the administration that you won’t surprise it with controversial actions as it struggles to mediate a resumption of the negotiations you seek with the Palestinians. And the sin was exacerbated because you’d already made exactly the same blunder before – releasing plans for the expansion of Gilo immediately after meeting with the president four months ago – and when you’d promised the president, after that screw-up, that you’d taken steps to prevent a recurrence.
Only those who lack so much as a passing familiarity with the running of the current Israeli government would question the authenticity of the embarrassed prime minister’s apology to Joe Biden, and his pleading assurance that he’d had no idea, ahead of time, that the Interior Ministry’s local planning committee was formally approving the construction of 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo at the very height of the Biden visit. Only those who lack so much as that passing familiarity find it impossible to believe that Eli Yishai, the interior minister, was not routinely alerted to such sensitive decisions in advance, and that Netanyahu had himself failed to put the appropriate warning systems into place, even after the November precedent. Of course such foolish incompetence is plausible. It can happen in some of the most efficient and best-run hierarchies, and few would describe the Israeli government as one of those.
Only those who insistently think the worst of Netanyahu, furthermore, could so much as contemplate that he would have done this deliberately. The last thing he would have wanted to do is embarrass Biden.
The last thing he would have wanted to do is provoke a major controversy over construction in east Jerusalem, having resisted US pressure to halt all building there, and being thoroughly aware of the incendiary nature of the issue. He’s not a pyromaniac. Only days before, he had telephoned Nir Barkat to quash the mayor’s plans for a controversial redevelopment plan in Silwan, just outside the Old City, that would have involved the demolition of dozens of illegally built Arab homes: “Drop it, Nir, it’s the last thing we need right now,” he essentially told the mayor in a telephone call shortly before Barkat was to address a press conference announcing the project.
The last thing he would have wanted to do was draw presidential and international attention to Ramat Shlomo, a neighborhood founded by the would-be peacemaking Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 that hardly anyone outside Israel had even heard of before last week, where 20,000 Israeli Jews had made their homes, hitherto headline-free.
All previous prime ministers in recent decades have built in east Jerusalem, Netanyahu noted accurately in the Knesset earlier this week, in a plaintive attempt at defense that amounted to an inadvertent admission of incompetence: Yes, all previous prime ministers had built in east Jerusalem – without incurring the incandescent fury of Israel’s best ally, without bringing the roof down. And you, Mr. Netanyahu, who merely wanted to add more homes to an existing, large, thriving neighborhood – in an area of the city, between French Hill and Ramot, that Mahmoud Abbas would never have contemplated coming under Palestinian control – managed through spectacular ineptitude to bring that long-term enterprise to a juddering halt.
There are those who are calling on Netanyahu to fire Yishai, the interior minister under whose watch this happened, an ultra-Orthodox political leader, but one who claims to have the wider interests of Israel at heart and who used Shas’s electoral weight to ensure he was also named a deputy prime minister. Go to Shas’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, explain the situation, and facilitate a dignified reshuffle, some are urging. In so doing, you send a message to that highly aggrieved Washington that you have internalized the seriousness of the fiasco.
But dismissing Yishai wouldn’t actually be fair. For principal blame for the initial Ramat Shlomo dispute rests not with Yishai’s lower-level committee and not even with the minister himself. It lies with Netanyahu. And nobody expects the prime minister to fire himself.
SO MUCH, however, for the original sin. For all its gravity, it is the reaction, the staggering overreaction, of the Obama administration, and most certainly and centrally of the president himself, that is the more shocking, counterproductive and potentially dangerous aspect of this crisis.
Biden was furious when he heard about Ramat Shlomo, condemned the decision in coordination with Obama, investigated and clarified and demanded answers... and moved on. He and his team rewrote his Tel Aviv University speech, in which he repeated his condemnation. But he went on to note that he appreciated the prime minister’s subsequent response. He said he was gratified to learn that new building in the neighborhood was potentially years away, which would hopefully give time for negotiations to supersede marginal decisions on where to build by resolving Jerusalem’s status altogether. And he got back to his visit’s primary purpose: reassuring Israel, and making plain to the Palestinians, the Arab world and the international community, that the United States stood firmly with the Jewish state.
And there the matter could have rested. Except that the president evidently decided that it should and could not. Hence Hillary Clinton’s 43-minute telephone call to Netanyahu last Friday, with its accusations that Israel had insulted America, threatened to undermine the very essence of the bilateral relationship, and needed to demonstrate afresh its commitment to that relationship. Hence senior White House adviser David Axelrod’s salvoes against Israel on America’s Sunday political talk shows.
THE US was angry. Israel gets it. Netanyahu didn’t want to freeze building in Jerusalem last year, and he doesn’t want to this year, and Washington saw an opportunity to now force him to do so.
The US is impatient. We get that too. While many, perhaps most Israelis, truly believe that prime ministers Rabin, Barak and Olmert traveled a great deal more than half way down the road in their efforts to reach a viable peaceful accommodation with the Palestinians, and that those efforts foundered, to the misfortune of all sides, on the rock of abiding Palestinian rejection of our very legitimacy here, the Obama presidency evidently feels differently. It is wrong and it ought to know better, but this administration apparently still believes that Israel had the capacity to go further, to offer even more than Olmert’s spurned West Bank-relinquishing, Jerusalem-dividing terms, and to win the Palestinians over.
The US, and most notably its president, do not trust Netanyahu. We can certainly understand that, in the light of the one-two Gilo and Ramat Shlomo public disputes, which probably merely confirmed warnings the Clinton administration had provided about the difficulties of dealing with him.
The US is not convinced that Netanyahu is serious about peacemaking, about the two-state solution he has publicly endorsed. Plenty of Israelis share precisely those concerns. Plenty of Israelis doubt that Netanyahu has chosen to truly commit himself to dramatic territorial compromise in the cause of an accommodation, at the expense of alienating the traditional Right, at the expense of his own settlement-championing ideology. Plenty of Israelis see him as a prime minister impossibly trying to keep everybody on whom he thinks he depends happy or at least happy-ish – the hawks, the settlers, the Labor Party, the Americans. Plenty of Israelis wonder whether he is capable of prioritizing properly – whether he has internalized that, if Iran is the key strategic threat to Israel’s very existence and a strong relationship with Washington is central to grappling with that threat, then he needs to ensure that nothing, but nothing, he does or allows to be done undermines that relationship.
And the US cannot afford to be humiliated by its allies. That, too, we appreciate. It cannot allow itself to be exposed as soft and incapable of imposing its will. How seriously can its enemies take an America that allows even tiny, dependent Israel to run rings around it?
ALL OF this we understand. And none of it merits the deliberate, disproportionate escalation by the Obama presidency of the Ramat Shlomo dispute, after Biden had left our country, and its counterproductive consequences for all – consequences that can, at best, only be partly and temporarily alleviated by the disingenuous “no crisis” tone adopted by the president and the administration in the last few days.
For one thing, the public bitterness of the American response shoves Abbas all the way back up his maximalist tree again. If America has turned on Israel, and is making demands on Israel that impact on core issues like Jerusalem, why would he volunteer compromise?
For another, it emboldens Palestinian and wider Arab extremism. If America publicly brands Israel worthy of such bitter condemnation, then the worst of the extremists can confidently expect their violence against Israel to be granted still more indulgence internationally than it already, terribly enjoys. Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran could well figure that Israel may not even get backing from the United States when it moves to try and control the next bloody onslaught, the seeds of which were already sprouting this week in Gaza, the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Old City.
Furthermore, when professions of absolute, “no space,” shoulder-to-shoulder solidarity – as expressed by Biden in his Tel Aviv speech – are rapidly followed by a public avalanche of criticism and allegations of disloyalty to the US interest, as expressed by the White House and State Department, how much weight can Israel henceforth afford to attach to such warm rhetorical assurances? If, on Tuesday, America stands side-by-side with Israel, Ramat Shlomo fiasco notwithstanding, how is it that by the weekend, when nothing substantive has changed, Israel can find itself buried under a global welter of headline accusations of near-betrayal, including talk of American soldiers’ lives at risk? And how comforted is Israel expected to be by the backtracking of a few days later, and the revived insistence that the bilateral bonds are unbreakable and unshakeable?
The issue of American soldiers’ well-being is among the most problematic aspect of the entire dreadful affair. Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, stated: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR [Centcom’s Area Of Responsibility]. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizbullah and Hamas.”
Petraeus delivered a careful, soldierly assessment. But if part of the Obama administration’s fury with Israel stems from a hugely problematic interpretation of that kind of assessment, then the strategic relationship between Israel and at least this American leadership is in more trouble than most of us had previously considered possible.
Yes, indeed, Israel’s refusal to curl up and disappear – its refusal to allow itself to be defeated in conventional warfare, or by strategic terrorist onslaught, or via missile attacks on its civilian population, or through untenably dangerous territorial, demographic and security concessions at the negotiating table – rankles with the Arab world. Even the moderate Arab states, even those that have formally made peace with Israel, would much rather we were not here.
Israel’s insistence on defending itself is most certainly an irritant. It most certainly pushes ruthless regimes and proxy armies and terrorist organizations into devising new and more callous methods to try to harm us. And those who are hostile to Israel relentlessly seek to undermine the partnership Israel enjoys with its principal defender, the United States.
But it is precisely because Washington has understood that Israel – with its historic rights, its moral legitimacy, its determined upholding of democracy, its shared values and interests with the freedom-furthering West – must not be abandoned in the face of relentless military and diplomatic attack, that the US has for so long dependably stood by Israel against its enemies, even when other so-called friends have cut off military assistance and abandoned diplomatic solidarity in moments of real crisis.
It is because of America’s heroic international commitment to upholding and protecting free world values that US troops are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while Europe, in its weak, short-term misjudgment of self-interest, is too often prepared to capitulate to rapacious Islamic fundamentalism, America has thought and acted differently in those war zones and where Israel is concerned. America has recognized that Israel is on the front line of the free world’s battle against the bleak, murderous, tyrannical forces of Islamic extremism. And yes, in defense of its own interests, America has been ready to stand firm alongside Israel’s battling soldiers and embattled civilians.
Siding with Israel has galvanized anger and violence against the US, in our region and beyond. Well of course it has. But siding with Israel is siding with the values that are the essence of America. And abandoning Israel is abandoning those values.
Incidentally, nobody should have any delusions: Murderous Islamist hostility to the West in general and the US in particular would not be defused by the elimination of Israel. The purported imperative to destroy the Zionist enterprise is a convenient pretext for galvanizing the masses. If Israel were brought down, however, the fundamentalists would simply move onto the next spurious example of ostensible Western decadence to justify the assault.
THE RAMAT Shlomo affair was an extremely unfortunate but eminently containable dispute – indeed, it had been contained.
By inflating that issue into a public crisis of faith in its ally, the administration has given encouragement to Israel’s adversaries and turned more of Israel’s dwindling ranks of friends against us – another lost slice of the international community and, significantly, a potentially sizable chunk of the American public, notably including a proportion of the overwhelmingly Democratic-voting American Jewish public.
This is not a case of a frustrated administration helping Israel toward what it regards as necessary compromise via tough love. And its repercussions have gone far beyond teaching the mistrusted Netanyahu a lesson in correct behavior toward crucial allies.
It was a crisis, a coldly reignited crisis, and it remains a crisis even as it is being downplayed. It has emboldened our enemies and thus risked putting each and every Israeli citizen in more danger than they were a few days ago. It has rendered our country more vulnerable to those plentiful forces – forces antithetical to Israeli and to American values and interests – that want to see us wiped out.
Israel’s dysfunctional government slapped Joe Biden and the American government in the face. What the administration has done in return is far more sinister.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #771 on:
March 21, 2010, 02:00:55 PM »
THE US was angry. Israel gets it. Netanyahu didn’t want to freeze building in Jerusalem last year, and he doesn’t want to this year, and Washington saw an opportunity to now force him to do so."
This is what I think. This was an opportunity for Bama to stick it to Israel. Someone was on Zakaria today opposing Mort Zuckerman and complaining that Netanyahu is not serious about peace with the Palestinians and is putting the Iranian threat ahead of peace. Really? Well I can't think of a single reason why he might do that if true? Can anyone think of why he might consider Iran a bigger threat at this time?
And like he does every week Zakaria thanks everyone for coming on his show and essentially, as always comes down as supporting the Bama'a decidedly biased anti-Israel's slant.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #772 on:
March 28, 2010, 11:41:08 AM »
Quote from: G M on November 07, 2008, 10:28:47 AM
Some Americans will. I do.
As goes Israel, so goes the free world. I'm not sure Israel will survive Obama's tenure as president.
Hostility to Israel Plays out
Jennifer Rubin - 03.28.2010 - 8:00 AM
Given the Obami’s assault on Israel’s building in its eternal capital, this should come as no surprise:
The chief of the Arab League warned Saturday that Israel’s actions could bring about a final end to the Middle East peace process. Amr Moussa urged an Arab leadership summit in Libya on Saturday to forge a new strategy to pressure Israel, saying the peace process could not be “an open ended process.”
“We must prepare for the possibility that the peace process will be a complete failure,” Moussa said. “This is the time to stand up to Israel. We must find alternative options, because the situation appears to have reached a turning point.”
Speaking at the event, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be no peace agreement without ending the occupation of Palestinian land, first and foremost east Jerusalem. He accused Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to create a de facto situation in Jerusalem that would torpedo any future peace settlement.
Then the increasingly Islamic-tilting Turkish government gets into the act:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, said in his speech that the Israeli “violation” of peace in Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites was unacceptable. Erdogan said that the Israeli position defining the whole of Jerusalem as its united capital was “madness.” Israeli construction in east Jerusalem was completely unjustified, he said
The UN, of course, can’t be left out of the Israel bash-a-thon. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pipes up:
Ban called for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip which has created an “unacceptable and unsustainable” situation on the ground.Ban reiterated his condemnation of settlement activity in east Jerusalem, describing the settlements as “illegal.” “Like all of you, I was deeply dismayed when Israel advanced planning to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. There are several other recent unilateral actions as well,” Ban said noting Israel’’s recent announcement of plans to construct another 20 dwellings and tensions surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque, among others.
This is not only predictable; it is frankly by design — the Obami’s bully-boy pressure tactics encourage others to pile on. Obama thereby endears (he supposes) the U.S. administration to the “international community” — which, of course, seeks not a secure and peaceful Israel but a hamstrung and delegitimized (if not entirely eradicated) one.
As Bill Kristol explains, the Obami’s anti-Israel bent is no accident but part of his larger approach, which seeks realignment in Middle East policy as Obama becomes not the leader of a single nation or even of the alliance of democracies but the wise mediator for all humanity:
And there’s no better way to be a leader of humanity than to show disapproval of the Jewish state. Sure, Obama’s turn against Israel will make it less likely that Palestinians will negotiate seriously with her. Sure, it will embolden radical Arabs and Muslims against those who would like their nations to take a different, more responsible, course. Sure, it’s a distraction from the real challenge of Iran. But the turn against Israel is ultimately a key part of what Obamaism is all about. That’s why there’s been so little attempt by the administration to reassure friends of Israel that Obama has been acting more in sorrow than in anger. Obama’s proud of his anger at the stiff-necked Jewish state. It puts him in sync with the rest of the world.
In this, we see the intersection of Obama’s multilateralism, his aversion to American exceptionalism, his fetish with his own international popularity, his obsession with engaging despots, his disinterest in promoting human rights, and his hostility toward the Jewish state. They are interlocking pieces in the greater Obama vision — each reenforces the other and makes more precarious the security of not only Israel but also the United States. Obama may suppose he is making America more popular or reducing conflict with rogue states, but instead, he is fueling the ambitions of aggressive despots and frittering away America’s moral standing. We are abetting an international free-for-all as the world’s bullies look for openings to assert themselves and to show just how dangerous it is to be a small democratic ally of the U.S.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #773 on:
March 28, 2010, 06:21:22 PM »
Editor's Notes: At the root of the rift
Reply #774 on:
March 28, 2010, 07:32:45 PM »
Editor's Notes: At the root of the rift
By DAVID HOROVITZ
One of the few areas of continuity the Obama administration has with its predecessor is the belief that an accord with the PA beckons. For the Israeli leadership this is unfathomable
WASHINGTON – “Last June at Bar-Ilan University, Prime Minister Netanyahu put his country on the path to peace,” Hillary Clinton declared at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Monday. “President Abbas has put the Palestinians on that path as well.”
For all its honey coating, the secretary of state’s speech was replete with advice and demands that rang awkwardly, and worse, in the Israeli prime minister’s circle. She lectured on the untenability of the status quo, as though this was news to Israel. She urged Israelis, like their ancestors leaving Egypt, to take risks and seek new avenues to peace, as though Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert had not sought compromise and been rebuffed. She disingenuously misidentified Hamas, rather than Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, as the prime force behind the honoring of the perpetrator of the Coastal Road massacre with a square in al-Bireh.
But it was the two sentences on those ostensibly shared Netanyahu and Abbas “paths” that fell flattest of all.
If only, was the bitter response to the top American diplomat’s assertion that Abbas had placed the Palestinians firmly on that peaceful route. In Binyamin Netanyahu’s view, underlined by his public comments during this fraught visit to the US, the Palestinians haven’t shown the slightest readiness to progress.
The Israel-US dispute may have exploded over 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, it may be rumbling on viciously around the incendiary wider issue of any and all Israeli building in east Jerusalem, but it is essentially rooted in this stark difference of perception between Jerusalem and Washington as to the Palestinian Authority’s peace-making readiness and intentions.
Succinctly put, the thrust of Clinton’s speech, and of the succession of Netanyahu’s meetings with the secretary, with Vice President Joe Biden and, most crucially and problematically with President Barack Obama, reflected Washington’s contention that Abbas wants a deal, that he is ready to make the compromises necessary to forge one, and that Israel’s vital interests mandate that it does all that it possibly can to ensure the deal is done. Ironically, for an administration so starkly hostile to most everything it inherited from the Bush administration, one of the very few channels of continuity is the insistent belief that an accord with the Palestinian Authority beckons.
For the Israeli leadership – encompassing not just Netanyahu but Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well – this assessment is unfathomable.
In Washington’s eyes, Abbas can be forgiven for spurning Olmert’s “take it all” offer because the outgoing prime minister was a lame duck, and who knew whether a successor Israeli government would honor any hurriedly signed principles of an accord? In the contrary view of the now-very-tight Netanyahu-Barak partnership, an Abbas who truly wanted a deal would have been begging for the opportunity to put his name alongside Olmert’s, desperate to sign on to the unprecedented territorial offer, ready to challenge the next Israel coalition to honor the terms, and poised to run to the international community in injured protest if such a successor tried to evade the prior commitments.
Before the Obama-Netanyahu meetings on Tuesday night, signs were that both sides were making some efforts to acknowledge and try to find a way to move on from their Jerusalem arguments and their conflicting assessments over Abbas’s viability as a peace partner. Netanyahu planned his trip to AIPAC without knowing for certain that he would be meeting with Clinton, Biden or Obama, and wound up spending extensive time, separately, with all of them.
And yet Netanyahu headed home Thursday the near-ostracized victim of what he regards as the Obama administration’s wrongheadedness, and more deeply aware than ever of the extent of the rift. He left behind an administration, and most especially a president, angry and frustrated by what it regards as his stubbornness and misplaced priorities.
In a strikingly critical piece in The Washington Post on Thursday, Jackson Diehl, the paper’s former Jerusalem correspondent, accused Obama of adding “more poison to a US-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow nonofficial 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.”
The divide seems almost impossible to bridge: For all the current Israeli political hysteria, and for all Netanyahu’s deep dismay over the administration’s treatment of him, he is not about to dump the more hawkish wing of his coalition, and try to draw in Kadima, in order to meet American demands he both opposes ideologically and regards as counter-productive in practice.
And with that yawning US-Israel divide comes the exacerbation of Israel’s international pariah status, an accompanying boost to Israel’s enemies and reinforcement for the cooling of ties by former friends. Would Britain have responded quite so publicly to its ostensible evidence of Israeli passport fakery, would other affected countries be investigating quite so assiduously, if it were publicly clear that the US and Israel stood shoulder-to-shoulder today as they did in the recent past?
The Israeli government blames the administration’s overreach – its centerpiece demand for a halt to all building for Jews in east Jerusalem – for the failure to start proximity talks, much less resume direct negotiations with Abbas. The Palestinian leader, they say, has no need to come and bargain at the negotiating table when the US is doing his bargaining for him. The administration, in turn, regards Israel’s provocative expansion of Jewish building over the Green Line as the prime obstacle to rapid progress.
While the Americans and the Israelis intensified their dialogue of the deaf, 2009 came and went without any direct Israeli-Palestinian talks – the first such barren year in 17, as an Israeli veteran of past peacemaking dialogues with the Palestinians observed here this week. At the rate we’re all going, he went on, 2010, at the very best, will be no more productive.
In fact, it looks certain to be a whole lot worse than that.
The 7,800-strong turnout for AIPAC’s Gala Dinner on Monday night represented a record. It also constituted a security nightmare.
The stringent checks necessitated by the presence of Netanyahu, other Israeli leaders, hundreds of members of Congress, ambassadors et al, produced huge lines at the entrance to the main hall of the Washington Convention Center. Senators and other dignitaries had to be rescued from the largely well-behaved, but very slow-moving melee. Painstaking and thorough was clearly the security order of the day.
And yet, as Netanyahu gathered momentum in his address, it became plain that security had been breached. A protester jumped onto a table perhaps 40 yards from the prime minister’s podium, unfurled a pink banner protesting his settlement policies and screamed at him to “lift the siege of Gaza.”
As it happened, the heckler struck just as the prime minister was reaching the section of his speech where he highlighted the baseless abuse hurled at the Jews over the centuries – slanders against the Jewish people, he said, that had “always preceded the physical assaults against them and were used to justify them.”
Netanyahu’s remarks, or at least a good part of them, sounded like a calculated riposte, and a fairly blunt one at that, to some of Clinton’s.
The secretary had urged Israel to “take risks, even a leap of faith,” for peace. The prime minister said dryly that Israel was “prepared to take risks for peace, but we will not be reckless with the lives of our people and the life of the one and only Jewish state.”
The secretary had asserted that Abbas was a potential peace partner. The prime minister wondered, by way of derisive retort, “What has the Palestinian Authority done for peace? Well, they have placed preconditions on peace talks, waged a relentless international campaign to undermine Israel’s legitimacy, and promoted the notorious Goldstone Report that falsely accuses Israel of war crimes.”
The secretary had warned that “new construction in east Jerusalem” undermined mutual trust, endangered the proximity talks, exposed daylight between Israel and the United States “that others in the region could hope to exploit” and undermined America’s unique ability to play an essential role in the peace process. Netanyahu slammed back that “The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.
“Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital... Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the city’s Jewish population, live in neighborhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines. All these neighborhoods are within a five-minute drive from the Knesset. They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem. Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.”
Signing his dramatic health care reform bill the next day, Obama declared triumphantly that America is a country “that shapes our own destiny.”
Netanyahu was saying much the same thing.
Yet the prime minister’s ripostes paled by comparison to the ferocious defense of Israel mounted earlier that same evening by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. A colonel in the US Air Force Reserves who has served briefly in noncombat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fiery Graham garnered arguably the night’s loudest applause with a rhetorical salvo that began with a shouted “Israel... Congress has your back. We won’t let you down!”
He continued with, “Republicans and Democrats... It’s good to be here to celebrate something we all agree on: Our best friend in the world, the State of Israel!”
That was followed with a wry overture to Abbas so different from Clinton’s tone: “To the Palestinians I say, I share your hopes and dreams. All I ask is that you recognize Israel has a place on the planet.”
Next, he directly challenged the administration. “Friends disagree,” he allowed. But, he urged, “disagree quietly – so that those who wish you ill, who do not have your interests at heart, are not empowered.”
Turning to the matter of Iran, he asserted, “It is better to go to war than to allow the Holocaust to develop a second time. I hope and pray that other options will work...”
And for his big finish, voice resonating through the vast hall, he recalled that when people would query Ronald Reagan as to how the Cold War would end, Reagan would reply: “We win. They lose.”
Asked Graham: “How does the war on terror end? We win. They lose! And by ‘we,’ I mean moderate Muslims, Jews, agnostics, Buddhists, vegetarians...”
And then he was gone, the applause ringing in his ears. Netanyahu was a pussycat by comparison.
Will Barack Obama Ignite the Third Intifada?
Reply #775 on:
March 28, 2010, 07:33:53 PM »
Will Barack Obama Ignite the Third Intifada?
A Jerusalem Post Column
March 26, 2010
Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End has recently received a 2009 National Jewish Book Award.
Mar. 26, 2010
DANIEL GORDIS , THE JERUSALEM POST
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.
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Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #776 on:
March 29, 2010, 08:23:18 AM »
"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."
**It's not a blunder by Obama. It's his intentional act.**
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #777 on:
March 30, 2010, 02:36:58 AM »
The ‘Obama Intifada’ Begins in Israel
This Passover season the struggle for Jewish survival persists as a modern-day Pharaoh, with a hardened heart, sits in the White House. (Also read Phyllis Chesler: A Passover Greeting)
March 29, 2010 - by Abraham H. Miller This Passover, as in every previous Passover, the struggle for Jewish survival continues.
We now face an administration that has turned a bureaucratic flap over an incomplete building permit into a diplomatic crisis with Israel.
Ramat Shlomo is a Jewish neighborhood. The Arabs never protested building there because the Arabs never envisioned that Ramat Shlomo would be turned over to them in a final peace accord.
Twelve years ago, major construction began in Ramat Shlomo without a stone being thrown.
Today, a fourth stage of a seven-stage building permit and the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s central synagogue, malevolently and illegally destroyed under the Jordanian occupation, creates an Intifada, the Obama Intafada.
Obama has created negotiation positions for the Palestinians they themselves knew were unrealistic. But no Palestinian leader can afford to demand less for the Palestinians than the Americans are willing to demand for them.
First there was the demand for a settlement freeze as a prelude to negotiations. But negotiations took place all the time while settlements were being built. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never asked for a freeze as a precondition, but once Obama carved out that position, Abbas had to fall into line. Can the Palestinian president be more accommodating to the Israelis than the Americans are?
Then, of course, the Obama administration put the building freeze in Jerusalem on the table. Abbas never asked for a freeze in Jerusalem until after the administration took the lead. Does the Obama administration believe they can make Jerusalem Judenrein (“Jew free”)?
Building in Ramat Shlomo, and the reopening of the central synagogue, the Huvra, transformed into rallying cries for a new Intifada, about which the administration remains mute. Whenever Jews choose to return to where they lived before the Jordanians evicted them, they are met with outcries from the international community. This is the same international community that chose to be blind and mute about Jews being evicted from their homes and cut off from their holy places during the Jordanian occupation.
Obama wants to be the American president who created a Palestinian state, and his vision is clear: Israel returns to the ‘67 boundaries and large segments of Jewish Jerusalem are given over to the Palestinians for a capital.
There are two problems with that offer. First, it has been rejected by two Palestinian leaders, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. Second, the refugee problem now overshadows the issue of territory. No Palestinian leader has ever said that the return of the territories is a sufficient or even a necessary condition for peace. Yet all forays into the “peace process” behave as if territory will solve everything.
This is the view of the vacuous liberal elements of the Jewish community, who seem to suffer from a terminal case of battered wife syndrome: Just give them more land and they won’t blow themselves up. They are really nice people when they are not teaching their children jihad or celebrating the deaths of their “martyrs.”
The Palestinians want three generations of Jew-hating refugees settled within Israel’s borders, a demand designed to topple the Jewish state. That is not going to happen, but there are options in terms of compensation, if only the Palestinians were serious about negotiations.
To date, the Obama administration has exceeded the demands of the Palestinians. The administration’s public face has hyped the proximity talks, a throwback to 1992 before there were direct negotiations, and the administration has refrained from making a single demand on the Palestinians for concessions, not even for direct negotiations.
We already know what a Palestinian state will bring Israel. Gaza is the laboratory for that. The Israelis withdrew from Gaza. Jewish philanthropists bought the settlers’ greenhouses and donated them to the Palestinians, hoping to give the Palestinians an economic livelihood. Instead, the Palestinians vandalized the greenhouses, tearing them apart for the value of their scrap copper and tubing. This was followed by an escalation of Kassam rockets and subsequently by Iranian-supplied Grad missiles. Gaza became a launching pad for attacks on Israel.
And so, too, will become the Judean Hills above Ben Gurion Airport. The airport will become the next Sderot.
What my liberal Jewish friends forget is that the Palestinians do not even have to fight the next war; all they have to do is position themselves so as to make life in Israel miserable, so that those Israelis who can leave will leave.
The Palestinians have repeatedly shown that they are interested in pseudo negotiations about a “peace process,” but they never have shown any real interest in peace through deeds. No Palestinian leader has ever suggested that the return to the 1967 boundaries, what Abba Eban called “the Auschwitz borders,” will lead to peace.
What our liberal American Jewish community has done and continues to do is to mindlessly embrace this administration and project the community’s own values on to the Palestinians. We are engaged in mirror imaging and are playing recklessly with the lives of over six million Israeli Jews.
The real chance for peace will come from strength, as Ronald Reagan showed with regard to the Soviets. Only by defeating this administration at the polls will there be a prospect for peace. To follow this administration blindly into the Palestinian abyss by weakening Israel means the end of the Jewish state.
This Passover season the struggle for Jewish survival persists as a modern-day Pharaoh, with a hardened heart, sits in the White House, deluded by his own narcissism and worshiped by liberal Jews who slavishly follow him.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #778 on:
March 30, 2010, 06:22:27 AM »
Ohhh! purple prose. These are always interesting, Israel is THE ONLY really free country in the area. These family quarrels can be very entertaining, as long as Obama doesn't go overboard and expose himself for what he is.........A closet authoritarian.
Double Standard Watch: The conflict between the US and Israel must end now!
Reply #779 on:
April 01, 2010, 10:08:47 PM »
Israel certainly needs all the friends it can get but comparing Obama to Pharaoh just makes Obama look good. Last time I checked he was not using Jewish babies as mortar and bricking them into walls. That kind of extremist speech doesn't help Israel.
Would and Marc like to make a bet on Israel still existing January 20,2013? I can think of some great charities that could use the help when you are forced to eat your words.
The apparently escalating conflict between the US and Israel did not have to occur. It must be resolved now, before it does irreparable harm to prospects for peace.
The conflict was largely contrived by people with agendas. The initial impetus for the brouhaha was an ill-timed announcement that permits had been issued for building 1,600 additional residences in a part of Jerusalem that had been captured by Israel in the 1967 war. The Netanyahu government had been praised by President Obama for agreeing to a freeze on building permits on the West Bank, despite the fact that the freeze did not extend to any part of Jerusalem. Thus the announcement of new building permits did not violate any agreement by Israel. Nonetheless, the timing of the announcement embarrassed Vice President Joe Biden, who was in Israel at the time.
The timing was neither an accident nor was it purposely done by Prime Minister Netanyahu to embarrass Biden. Many believe that the announcement was purposely timed by opponents of the peace process in order to embarrass Netanyahu. Whatever the motivation, the announcement deserved a rebuke from Vice President Biden. It also warranted an apology and explanation from the Israeli government, and Netanyahu immediately issued one. That should have ended the contretemps. But some in the Obama administration apparently decided that they too had an agenda beyond responding to the ill-timed announcement, and decided to take advantage of Israel's gaffe. They began to pile on - and on, and on. Instead of it being a one-day story, the controversy continues to escalate and harden positions on all sides to this day, and perhaps beyond. The real victim is the peace process, and the winners are those - like Iran, Hamas and extremist Israelis - who oppose the two-state solution.
The building permits themselves were for residences not in east Jerusalem, but rather in north Jerusalem, and not in an Arab section, but rather in an entirely Jewish neighborhood. This neighborhood, Ramat Shlomo, is part of the area that everybody acknowledges should and will remain part of Israel even if an agreement for a two-state solution and the division of Jerusalem is eventually reached. In that respect, it is much like the ancient Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, which was illegally captured from the Jewish residents by the Jordanian army in the 1948 war. The Jordanians then desecrated Jewish holy places during its illegal occupation, and the Israelis legally recaptured it during the defensive war of 1967. No one in their right mind believes that Israel has any obligation to give up the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in the world, despite the fact that it was recaptured during the 1967 war.
Because the Palestinians understand and acknowledge that these entirely Jewish areas of Jerusalem will remain part of the Jewish state even after an agreement, the ill-timed announcement of building permits during the Biden visit generated a relatively mild and routine complaint, rather than a bellicose response, from the Palestinian Authority leadership. The bellicose response came from the American leadership, which refused to let the issue go. Once this piling-on occurred, the Palestinian leadership had no choice but to join the chorus of condemnation, lest they be perceived as being less pro-Palestinian than the Obama administration.
Now positions have hardened on both sides, due largely to the public and persistent nature of the American condemnation. This rebuke culminated in the very public dissing of Prime Minister Netanyahu by President Obama during their recent White House meeting. Obama treated Netanyahu far worse than he treated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is corrupt to the core and who had invited Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver an anti-American tirade inside Afghanistan's presidential palace. According to a high-ranking Afghan source, Karzai "invited Ahmadinejad to spite the Americans." Nonetheless, President Obama flew to Afghanistan and had a very public dinner with Karzai, according him the red carpet treatment, thus granting him legitimacy following his fraudulent re-election.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, has been treated with disrespect in what many Israelis see as an effort to delegitimize him in the eyes of Israeli voters who know how important the US-Israeli relationship is in the Jewish state.
The shabby treatment accorded Israel's duly elected leader has also stimulated an ugly campaign by some of Israel's enemies to delegitimize the US-Israeli strategic relationship, and indeed the Jewish nation itself, in the eyes of American voters. The newest, and most dangerous, argument being offered by those who seek to damage the US-Israel alliance is that Israeli actions, such as issuing building permits in Jerusalem, endanger the lives of American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This phony argument - originally attributed to Vice President Biden and General David Petraeus but categorically denied by both of them - has now taken on a life of its own in the media. A CNN headline on the Rick Sanchez Show blared: "Israel a danger to US Troops." Other headlines conveyed a similar message: "US Tells Israel: 'You're undermining America, endangering troops.'" Variations on this dangerous and false argument have been picked up by commentators such as Joe Klein in Time Magazine, Roger Cohen in The New York Times, DeWayne Wickham in USA Today and, not surprisingly, Patrick Buchanan and Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.
It is a dangerous and false argument. It is dangerous because its goal is to reduce support for Israel among mainstream Americans who understandably worry about our troops fighting abroad. This is ironic since the major pillar of Israel's policy with regard to US troops is that Israel never wants to endanger our troops. That's why it has never asked US soldiers to fight for Israel, as other allies have asked our soldiers to fight for them. By seeking to scapegoat Israel for the death of American troops at the hands of Islamic terrorists, this argument blames those who love America for deaths caused by those who hate America.
Most of all, it is an entirely false argument. There is absolutely no correlation between Israeli actions and the safety of American troops - none.
No one has ever shown any relationship between what Israel does and the rate of American casualties, because there is no such relationship - none
Consider two significant time periods. The first is the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001, when Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything they could have wanted: a state on 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 97% of the West Bank, a capital in a divided Jerusalem and a $35 billion reparation package for refugees. Virtually the entire Arab world urged Arafat to accept this generous offer, but he declined it. During the very months that Israel was doing everything possible to promote peace with the Palestinians, al-Qaida was planning its devastating attack on the World Trade Center. No correlation between Israeli actions and American casualties.
Then consider the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 when Israel was engaged in Operation Cast Lead, which caused significant Palestinian casualties. During that difficult period, there was no increase in American casualties. Again, no correlation.
Those offering up this phony empirical argument have an obligation to present evidence in support of this fallacious correlation, or else to stop making this bigoted argument.
The reason there is no correlation is because extremist Muslims who kill American troops are not outraged at what Israel does, but rather at what Israel is - a secular Jewish, democratic state. As long as Israel exists, there will be Islamic extremists who regard that fact as a provocation. The same is true of the United States: as long we continue to exist as a secular democracy with equal rights for women, Christians and Jews, the Osama Bin Ladens of the world will seek our destruction. Certainly as long as American troops remain in any part of the Arab world - whether it be Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan - Muslim fanatics will try to kill our soldiers. Blame for the murder of American troops should be placed on those who kill them, rather than on those who stand for the same values of democracy and equality as America does.
In considering the relationship between the United States and Israel, several points must be kept in mind. First and foremost, the US and Israel are on the same side in the continuing struggle against Islamic extremists who endanger the lives of American troops and American civilians. Second, Israel is one of America's most important strategic allies, providing us with essential intelligence, research and development and other important assets. Third, there is nothing that Israel or the United States can do that will turn these extremist enemies into friends. It is what we are, rather than what we do, that enrages those who wish to turn the entire world into an Islamic caliphate and subject us all to Islamic sharia law. Fourth, any weakening of the alliance between the United States and Israel will make it far less likely that Israelis - who get to vote on these matters - will take significant risks for peace. Fifth, the Obama administration's public attacks on Israel will harden Palestinian demand and make it less likely that they will accept a compromise peace. Sixth, if Israel's enemies were to lay down their arms and stop terrorist and rocket attacks against Israel, there would be peace. Seventh, if Israel were to lay down its arms, there would be genocide. And eighth, when the Palestinian leadership and population want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state, there will be a two-state solution.
It is in the best interest of the United States, of the peace process and of Israel for disagreements between allies to be resolved quietly and constructively, so that progress can be made toward achieving a two-state solution that assures Israel's security and Palestinian statehood.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #780 on:
April 02, 2010, 06:18:20 AM »
"Would and Marc like to make a bet on Israel still existing January 20,2013? I can think of some great charities that could use the help when you are forced to eat your words."
Well, GM can ably speak for himself, so I limit my question to me:
What words would I be eating?
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #781 on:
April 02, 2010, 07:40:53 AM »
It is possible II misunderstood you. . You didn't provide quotes to what I agree
"Some Americans will. I do.
As goes Israel, so goes the free world. I'm not sure Israel will survive Obama's tenure as president."
This was followed by an article that I wouldn't have posted or written I agree after but I wouldn't have argued with it.
Crafty_Dog "I agree."
Were you agreeing with the article or the idea that Israel wouldn't survive Obama's tenure of President?
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #782 on:
April 02, 2010, 08:41:56 AM »
The article, though I also note that the quote in question ("not sure that") does not state an absolute prediction-- though it seems you are predicting that His Glibness will lose in 2012 (Yaweh be praised!). OTOH if His Glibness gets to continue on his merry way with us until 2016, then Israel's odds deteriorate even further.
To be perfectly clear, I think Israel will probably survive, but the odds of its destruction are far from insiginificant.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #783 on:
April 02, 2010, 08:52:39 AM »
I am seriously hoping that does not happen, I do not want the 2012 prediction to be an armmageddon one. Maybe a major change, but not of the nature that creates a bunch of radioactive holes in the middle east. (If I was being targeted like Israel at least one of my nukes would be aimed at the Kabbah. If the center of my religion was going to go, I would make sure the center of my opponent religion went as well.........) What a bloody mess, I would only hope the conflict would stay regional..........
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #784 on:
April 02, 2010, 01:34:54 PM »
"...Israel still existing January 20,2013?"
Placing my bet on Israel. In some ways better able to defend itself if they don't feel they need to clear their actions with their (former) ally. We may gain from what they may need to do for themselves in this crisis. Unlike most places receiving US aid over the previous decades, I don't think they squandered theirs. I imagine their intelligence, planning and strike capabilities are in pretty good shape, with high readiness. Opponents may have warheads but I question their accuracy.
I am pleased to read that Obamas will leave after one term.
At first it looked like they would stay 16 years, but I doubt Michelle will run if he is still eligible.
9% of Israeli Jews see Obama as pro-Israel. Is that just the margin of error or what is wrong with those people?
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #785 on:
April 02, 2010, 11:28:36 PM »
Are you shocked to find out that the Obama I warned you was immersed in leftist ant-semitism has turned out to be hostile to Israel? I don't be on things I don't want to be true, and if there is a smoking sheet of radioactive glass where Tel Aviv used to be, a wager is the last thing that'll be on any of our minds.
How's that outstretched hand to Iran working out? Compare and contrast to the clenched fist Israel is getting.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #786 on:
April 03, 2010, 02:02:44 PM »
March 29, 2010
Obama's Treatment of Israel is Shocking
By Ed Koch
President Obama's abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocking. In the Washington Post on March 24th, Jackson Diehl wrote, "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."
I have not heard or read statements criticizing the president by New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand or many other supporters of Israel for his blatantly hostile attitude toward Israel and his discourtesy displayed at the White House. President Obama orchestrated the hostile statements of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, voiced by Biden in Israel and by Clinton in a 43-minute telephone call to Bibi Netanyahu, and then invited the latter to the White House to further berate him. He then left Prime Minister Netanyahu to have dinner at the White House with his family, conveying he would only be available to meet again if Netanyahu had further information - read concessions - to impart.
It is unimaginable that the President would treat any of our NATO allies, large or small, in such a degrading fashion. That there are policy differences between the U.S. and the Netanyahu government is no excuse. Allies often disagree, but remain respectful.
In portraying Israel as the cause of the lack of progress in the peace process, President Obama ignores the numerous offers and concessions that Israel has made over the years for the sake of peace, and the Palestinians' repeated rejections of those offers. Not only have Israel's peace proposals, which include ceding virtually the entire West Bank and parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, been rejected, but each Israeli concession has been met with even greater demands, no reciprocity, and frequently horrific violence directed at Israeli civilians. Thus, Prime Minister Netanyahu's agreement to suspend construction on the West Bank - a move heralded by Secretary of State Clinton as unprecedented by an Israeli government - has now led to a demand that Israel also halt all construction in East Jerusalem, which is part of Israel's capital. Meanwhile, Palestinians are upping the ante, with violent protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere. And the Obama administration's request that our Arab allies make some conciliatory gesture towards Israel has fallen on deaf ears.
Prior American presidents, beginning with Truman who recognized the State of Israel in 1948, have valued Israel as a close ally and have often come to its rescue. For example, it was Richard Nixon during the 1973 war, who resupplied Israel with arms, making it possible for it to snatch victory from a potentially devastating defeat at the hands of a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt and Syria.
President George W. Bush made it a point of protecting Israel at the United Nations and the Security Council wielding the U.S. veto against the unfair actions and sanctions that Arab countries sought to impose to cripple and, if possible, destroy, the one Jewish nation in the world. Now, in my opinion, based on the actions and statements by President Obama and members of his administration, there is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that President Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did - protect our ally, Israel. The Arabs can lose countless wars and still come back because of their numbers. If Israel were to lose one, it would cease to exist.
To its credit, Congress, according to the Daily News, has acted differently towards Prime Minister Netanyahu than President Obama. Reporter Richard Sisk wrote on March 24th, "Congress put on a rare show of bipartisanship for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday - a sharp contrast to his chilly reception at the White House. ‘We in Congress stand by Israel,' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a beaming Netanyahu, who has refused to budge on White House and State Department demands to freeze settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank."
But Congress does not make foreign policy. It can prevent military arms from going to Israel, but cannot send them. Congress has no role in determining U.S. policy at the U.N. Security Council. The President of the United States determines our foreign policy - nearly unilaterally - under our Constitution. So those Congressional bipartisan wishes of support, while welcome, will not protect Israel in these areas, only the President can do that. Based on his actions to date, I have serious doubts.
In the 1930s, the Jewish community and its leadership, with few exceptions, were silent when their coreligionists were being attacked, hunted down, incarcerated and slaughtered. Ultimately 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. The feeling in the U.S. apparently was that Jews who criticized our country's actions and inactions that endangered the lives of other Jews would be considered disloyal, unpatriotic and displaying dual loyalty, so many Jews stayed mute. Never again should we allow that to occur. We have every right to be concerned about the fate of the only Jewish nation in the world, which if it had existed during the 1930s and thereafter, would have given sanctuary to any Jew escaping the Nazi holocaust and taken whatever military action it could to save Jews not yet in the clutches of the Nazis. We who have learned the lessons of silence, Jews and Christians alike, must speak up now before it is too late.
So I ask again, where are our Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand? And, where are the voices, not only of the 31 members of the House and 14 Senators who are Jewish, but the Christian members of the House and Senate who support the State of Israel? Where are the peoples' voices? Remember the words of Pastor Niemoller, so familiar that I will not recite them, except for the last line, "Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up."
Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama - 78 percent of the Jewish community did - believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover. It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel's enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote.
Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.
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at April 02, 2010 - 06:57:20 AM PDT
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #787 on:
April 03, 2010, 10:07:10 PM »
April 3, 2010
Obama Accepts a Nuclear Iran
By Greg Sheridan
US President Barack Obama has decided to abandon any serious effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He is determined instead to live with a nuclear Iran, by containment and, if possible, negotiation.
This is the shifting tectonic plate in the Middle East.
This is the giant story of the past few weeks which the world has largely missed, distracted by the theatre of the absurd of Obama's contrived and mock confrontation with Israel over 1600 apartments to be built in three years' time in a Jewish suburb in East Jerusalem.
Iran is the only semi-intelligible explanation for Obama's bizarre over-reaction against the Israelis.
In the Middle East, today, Iran is the story. It is the consideration behind all other considerations.
Obama has not explicitly announced his new position and he and his cabinet secretaries still make speeches saying they will try to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. But if you look at the statements closely you see a steady weakening of resolve, a steady removal of any threat of any consequence for Iran. Similarly, if you look at the actions of the administration, the sombre conclusion is inescapable.
Iran's missile program, which has no conceivable military use except to carry nuclear weapons, and which can now reach Europe and in due course will have a longer range, the fundamental change in US policy has global security consequences.
It has global security consequences in other ways, as well. It profoundly undermines American strategic credibility, which is the bedrock of whatever global order this troubled planet enjoys.
The troubling realisation that the Americans have given up, or are in the process of giving up, the fight to prevent Iran going nuclear is backed by the best informed security sources in Washington, London, Jerusalem and Canberra.
The bust-up between Washington and Israel only makes sense in this context. Last week, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Obama in the White House, and also met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department. On both occasions, all photographers and all TV cameras were banned. This was a studied humiliation of Netanyahu and all, ostensibly, because Israel announced that in three years' time 1600 apartments would be built in a Jewish neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Yet the 10-month moratorium on new residential building in the West Bank which Netanyahu had announced in October to effusive US praise had specifically exempted East Jerusalem.
It is inconceivable that Obama would have treated any Arab or Muslim leader with the same considered contempt that he showed to Netanyahu. I speculated last week that Obama engaged in his furious over-reaction in order to pursue personal popularity in the Muslim world, and perhaps to force Israel to make so many concessions that the Palestinians would come back to negotiations. Although these negotiations would not produce a comprehensive peace deal, at least Obama could claim the talks themselves as a victory of sorts.
I still think these were important considerations but there was a much bigger strategic purpose, as well. In 2008, Israel told Washington it was planning to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. Washington talked Jerusalem out of the move, not least by showing its own determination to stop the Iranians.
In those days, senior Americans from then-president George W. Bush down, often said that "all options are on the table" in their determination to stop Iran acquiring nukes. All options explicitly included an American military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. When Obama spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2008, he said he would use "all elements of American power to pressure Iran".
He won a tumultuous standing ovation by using a repetition of a key word to emphasise his determination. He said: "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything." That was Obama's equivalent to Bush's "all options".
Obama doesn't talk anything like that any more. In his message to Iran on the Iranian new year a few weeks ago, he reiterated his determination not to meddle in Iran's internal affairs and said the nuclear matter should still be negotiated.
Clinton, in her address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last week, spoke only briefly about Iran, repeating a pro-forma US determination to stop it going nuclear. But there was no mention of all options, everything the US could do, or all aspects of US power. Instead, she said that while sanctions were taking a long time to work out at the UN, it was time well spent, and they would show Iran that its actions had consequences.
But the bulk of her speech was all about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Presidential and Secretary of State speeches on subjects like this are given a level of attention that wouldn't be out of place in the preparation of a papal encyclical. The sub-text of Obama and Clinton's recent speeches can only be that they have decided that the battle against a nuclear-armed Iran is over.
One thing they are determined to do is to stop Israel from taking its own unilateral military action to stop or retard Iran's nuclear program. Israel has taken this type of action twice before. In 1981, it destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak. And in 2007, it bombed into obliteration a North Korean-supplied secret nuclear reactor in Syria.
It is impossible to know with absolute certainty what Israel's intentions were, or are, for the Iranian nuclear program. But for several years the most senior US officials would agree that a nuclear-armed Iran represented an existential threat to Israel. Iran's rulers, after all, not only deny the Holocaust but have made militant anti-Americanism, confrontation with Israel and even anti-Semitism, defining ideologies of the Iranian state. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Most analysts believe that for all their extremism, the Iranian rulers are rational actors and would not actually use nuclear weapons. But this is a slender analytical thread to ask Israelis to hang their very lives on. And the danger of Iran proliferating some element of nuclear material or technology to terrorists is much more plausible.
This is where the Obama-Israel dust-up comes in. By so isolating Israel, by irresponsibly unleashing a global wave of anti-Israel sentiment, especially in nations which normally support Israel, Obama has made the possibility of Israel considering unilateral action against Iran much more unlikely. The Israelis would weigh such action very carefully. There are many pluses and minuses. By creating the impression of Israel as a besieged, isolated and reckless nation, which the wildly disproportionate reaction to the East Jerusalem apartments accomplished, Obama has made the potential cost to Israel of action against Iran much greater.
Is it fair to conclude definitively that Obama has decided to give up, except for symbolic and meaningless actions, the fight against a nuclear-armed Iran?
Obama might still change his mind - he is nothing, after all, if not flexible - but that is the inescapable conclusion of his actions so far.
He has set so many deadlines for Iran. Each of them has passed and nothing ever happens. There are never bad consequences for the US's enemies in Obama world, it seems, only for its friends.
Remember, initially, that the Obama administration wanted to wait for the Iranian election in the middle of last year before it exhausted dialogue or went down the sanctions road? Remember then the deadline was September? Remember the proposal for Iran's uranium to go to Russia for enrichment? Remember the revelation of Iran's secret nuclear facility at Qom? Remember Iran's announcement that it intended to enrich uranium up to 20 per cent, a vast leap on the technological road to weapons? Did you notice a couple of weeks ago Iran's announcement that it would build new nuclear facilities?
And where are we today? Now it is April and Obama is still talking in his feckless way about possible UN sanctions. Anything that is passed by China and Russia at the UN Security Council will be weak and ineffective. A serious US administration would have built a critical mass of like-minded countries to impose crippling sanctions on Iran outside the Security Council.
The only explanation that fits with all the facts is that the US administration is no longer serious about stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. James Lindsay and Ray Takeyh, writing in this month's Foreign Affairs, declare that: "If Iran's nuclear program continues to progress at its current rate, Tehran could have the nuclear material needed to build a bomb before US President Barack Obama's current term in office expires." The Foreign Affairs article, After Iran Gets the Bomb, is important in another way. It demonstrates the drift in the serious discussion in the US. It is no longer a discussion of how to stop Iran getting the bomb, but how to cope with a nuclear-armed Iran.
Here's something else you should know about Iran. US General David Petraeus, in written testimony to congress, has revealed that Iran is co-operating with al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, facilitating the movement of its leaders. The Sunday Times of London recently carried interviews with Taliban leaders who were trained in Iran.
There is no chance Obama will produce a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in his first term in office, which is how he would like to be remembered by history. There is every chance history will remember him for something altogether different, as the American president on whose watch Iran became a nuclear-weapons state.
Greg Sheridan is the Foreign Editor of the Australian.
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at April 03, 2010 - 10:06:02 PM CDT
No kidding. Silence from the MSM as usual
Reply #788 on:
April 04, 2010, 01:16:31 PM »
"Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Most analysts believe that for all their extremism, the Iranian rulers are rational actors and would not actually use nuclear weapons"
Oh really? And which analysts might this be - would Fareed Zakaria be one?
Do they mean the same Iran who sent literally tens (or was it hundreds) of thousands of its OWN children to their deaths when they marched them across a no - man's land towards Saddam's troops in the early 1980's. Saddam's soldiers who themselves were horrified as they had to mow them down in a senseless slaughter except for the purpose of clearing a minefield.
So the analysts can tell Israel not to worry when Ahmadinejad says the Zionists time is coming, they are going to be driven into the sea and has his military clearly on a course for developing nuclear missles. They spent decades building gigantic hardened underground bunkers and obtaining nuclear materials and know how while their citizens are in economic turmoil and "most analysts" think they are NOT serious about what they say?
It ain't the phoney one's skinny little ass on the line.
Freedom and identity
Reply #789 on:
April 06, 2010, 09:52:44 PM »
This has some religious themes.
Freedom and identity
By DAVID BRINN
An exclusive interview with JA head and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.
Opposite the office of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, at the entrance to the organization’s conference room in its cavernous Jerusalem headquarters, are two oversized portraits – one featuring the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, and the other the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann. But the photo Sharansky sees from the chair behind his tidy desk, which he’s inhabited since taking over the chairmanship of the agency last June from Zeev Bielski, is one of Andrei Sakharov, the late founder of the human rights and dissident movement in the Soviet Union.
All three figures played prominent roles in molding Sharansky’s character and spiraling the young Russian computer scientist into the poster child of the struggle for Soviet Jewry and its ultimate victory over the dark powers of the Soviet authorities, with Herzl and Weizmann representing the quest for Jewish statehood – the ultimate realization of Jewish identity – and Sharansky’s mentor Sakharov representing the struggle for freedom.
And it’s the same solid foundation that the 62-year-old Sharansky has brought with him to the Jewish Agency, the latest stop for the celebrated immigrant who arrived in Israel an instant folk hero in 1986, and who went on to establish his own political party, Yisrael Ba’aliya, and serve as minister in three governments.
But it’s here, as the one responsible for Israel’s relationship with the Jewish world, that Sharansky finally feels most at ease – and most focused.
“I made a choice to leave government, and I chose to come here,” said the affable Sharansky, in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post ahead of Pessah.
“I feel that here is a very logical continuation of the subjects I’ve been dealing with all my life – Jewish identity, and the connection between struggles for our own interests and making the world a better place. I feel that from here, I can better influence the course of Jewish history.”
At a Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem in February, Sharansky ruffled some feathers when he said, “It can’t be our goal [just] to bring more Jewish people [to Israel].” Before aliya must come a strong Jewish identity, and with steely resolve, Sharansky set out to determine how to best invoke and strengthen a sense of Jewish identity where it’s been dormant.
It is a daunting task, but Sharansky has faced worse obstacles. Sitting across from the him, it’s easy to forget that the mild-mannered, plainly dressed, stocky figure endured severe hardships in a Soviet prison on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage for eight years, until an international campaign waged by his wife, Avital, culminated in his 1986 release. He arrived in Israel that same night.
In his final statement to the court in 1978 before his imprisonment, Sharansky concluded his appeal with the words: “For more that two thousand years the Jewish people, my people, have been dispersed. But wherever they are, wherever Jews are found, every year they have repeated, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ Now, when I am farther than ever from my people, from Avital, facing many arduous years of imprisonment, I say, turning to my people, my Avital, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’”
Who better – on this holiday of freedom – to put into perspective the concepts of peoplehood and identity than the person who, in our generation, was able to say “This year we are slaves, next year may we be free men” and have it come true?
A hundred years ago there was a commonly acknowledged unified Jewish community worldwide. Do you think that’s still true today?
I’m not sure if there was ever a common unified Jewish people. It may just look that way looking back on it. One hundred years ago, Theodor Herzl was discovering for himself the idea of Jewish community. Just as he discovered the need for Zionism and the need for saving Jews, he discovered the idea of Jewish community. He was an assimilated Jew; he didn’t feel himself belonging to any Jewish community.
I think the idea of Jewish community has meant different things to different Jews. At that point in time, in Russia, there were big struggles between the early Zionists and Bundists (secular Jewish socialists), and they all had a different understanding of what Jewish community was.
The American Jewish community felt that Palestine had nothing to do with them and nothing to do with their Jewish identity. In my last book, Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy, I included text from the Pittsburgh Platform [the pivotal 19th-century document on the history of the American Reform Movement adopted in 1885], and how the Reform Movement terminology changed over the years. You can see how the very principles of Jewish identity were changing – from American citizens of Jewish faith not interested in emphasizing Zionist ideals, to Jews true to American principles of democracy for whom Israel is the base of their identity.
Two things happened with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt – people who were slaves became free, and they became a people.
This connection between identity and freedom – which of course is my special interest over the last 20 years – was expressed so deeply and meaningfully in the Exodus from Egypt.
In fact, until this day, if you look historically on what basis people were coming back to the Jewish community or leaving the Jewish community, it was all about the debate over whether there is a connection between freedom and identity – whether one could live by the great Jewish universal ideals of equality, justice, tikkun olam.
I think, exactly as it was at the time of the biblical Exodus, those same conflicts were evident in the Soviet Union in the 1970s – the deep connection between the struggle for freedom and identity. And it remains true today.
Doesn’t teaching about Jewish identity differ depending on the country you’re talking to – whether it be the US, France, Russia, or even Israel?
Yes. In different countries, the way in which Jews got to the point they are at is very different. In Russia, it was absolute, total forced assimilation. As a result, the way to come back is to reconnect them to a basic knowledge of Judaism.
On the other hand, in America, the best way to fuel their Jewish identity is programs like Birthright or Masa or Lapid (the university and high-school study-in-Israel programs), or any other type of Israel experience.
In France, it’s strengthening the system of Zionist Jewish education, and so on.
But what is important that runs through every community is that strengthening Jewish identity is practically impossible without putting Israel in the center.
And no doubt, there is a big need to strengthen
Jewish identity in Israel. It’s interesting that Israelis who are involved in Partnership 2000 – the programs led by the Jewish Agency in which communities from abroad, mostly America, partner with Israeli communities – discover for themselves, for the first time, their Jewish dimensions which had been dormant for a long time. They didn’t even suspect that it was there; and these include the leaders of the programs.
They thought that to be Israeli is to be above being Jewish. A Jew was something that we were for thousands of years; now we are Israelis. We built the Jewish state, we defended the Jewish state, we are speaking Hebrew, we are living here – you can’t be more Jewish than that. But they’ve discovered what Jewish community means.
It’s one of the challenges and part of the new strategic plan of the Jewish Agency to develop courses for Israeli schools in the Jewish Diaspora. It’s a very high priority, and we currently have very good partners in the Education Ministry, with minister Gideon Sa’ar and director-general Shimshon Shoshani.
We’re also discussing the next steps, after programs like Masa and Birthright, in bringing together mutual groups of Israeli and Diaspora Jews, who through common experience will strengthen their mutual identity.
What are the changing priorities of the Jewish Agency – is it shifting away from aliya? At the same time, there have been some major changes in staffing with key positions being filled by people you’ve handpicked. Where does the Agency go now?
We’re in the process of holding strategic meetings to discuss what the priorities of the Jewish Agency should be – involving all 120 members of the board of governors.
In June, at the assembly, proposals will be brought to the table and hopefully approved, and in October, at our next meeting, the budget will be approved; and by 2011, we will be operating under the new priorities.
Of course, we are devoted to aliya, as we are devoted to education and to democracy. What you might call “aliya by choice” all depends on strengthening Jewish identity.
It’s a challenge for the Jews of the Diaspora who are facing assimilation, and Israelis who are embroiled in a struggle for legitimacy over the existence of the Jewish state, but the key to everything is developing, broadening, strengthening and defending this feeling of belonging to the Jewish family. That’s the moat around which we have all our discussions – what it means in terms of practical progress; how to translate these general ideas into programs and into budgets.
I reject the notion of the Agency shifting away from aliya. Aliya is the highest expression of strengthening Jewish identity. The aim of aliya and ingathering of exiles is still there. But what I’m saying is that the focus is shifting from escaping enemy countries or attempts to save hundreds of thousands of Jews to an aliya of choice.
I was speaking just a few days ago to a group of Americans, all religious, who made aliya in the last year. They asked me, how is it that you, who made such a difficult aliya and fought to come for so many years, are now shifting from a focus on aliya to Jewish identity.
I told them, “You know what, you know that the Kadosh baruch hu [God] gave the order – ‘lech lecha [Go].’” If there are Jews who don’t want to hear the voice of God, do you think that they will hear a shaliah [emissary] from the Jewish Agency telling them to make aliya?
It’s impossible to force our emissaries to compete with God and try to shout even louder than Him to make the message heard. You can’t be louder than God.
So what we have to do is help the Jews hear the voice of God. And how do we do that? By strengthening their feeling of Jewish connection, of Jewish pride and tradition, and their connection to Israel. That’s our function. Our function is not to impose on them what God doesn’t succeed in imposing, but to make them hear the voice.
What can you tell us about Jews in distress from countries around the world?
Each Jew who’s brought from Yemen is due to great cooperation with world Jewry. I don’t want to close any gates by mentioning some other countries. We have to be very careful. We’re watching the situations and we’re trying to think in advance about every Jew who can potentially find themselves in danger. We’re making a lot of effort to make sure we won’t be late.
Iranian Jews might be in the toughest spot right now. If I was one, I would think very seriously about why I’m still there. I don’t want to mention other countries because it makes it more difficult to help these Jews.
An essential part of the Jewish Agency’s work is like the army’s – to be ready, even if there is no war. We have to be ready to save Jews, even though these Jews aren’t even thinking yet about saving themselves. There’s spending for saving and spending for being ready for saving. There are many efforts that are far from public attention.
What kind of message would you like to give to the readers of the ‘Post’ on Pessah?
We’re increasing in a dramatic way our role in American camps and universities. People might say, “Why are we spending so much effort and money there?” I discovered a number of years ago that that’s a major battlefield of where the Jewish people is defined. And it goes back to what I started with.
The challenge for Jews for thousands of years was how to connect your desire to be free and those universal ideas of justice with your Jewishness and loyalty to your tribe. Usually, when Jews are convinced that they have to choose this or that, they always choose universal ways.
When I was spokesman of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group in the Soviet Union, with Sakharov, there were people that said you can’t be both – you have to choose.
I felt very strongly that I don’t want to choose; I cannot choose. Because all the strength to fight for freedom comes from my Jewish identity. Without it, it makes no sense to fight for those other things.
Today the battle which takes place on the campuses is one in which our enemies try to convince Jewish students that in order to be part of the world of justice and freedom, you have to disengage yourself from Israel and from your own identity. These attacks and double standards and slander result in the fact that many young Jews don’t want to have anything to do with their Jewish identity.
Our history, whether talking about 2,000 years ago, or the struggle of Soviet Jewry, or where it is today, you find this again and again. It’s something that we have to bring to every young Jew. If you want to be part of the world of freedom and justice and tikkun olam, your identity is your source of strength to fight for those things – your identity, which is based on your history, on your traditions and of course on your connection to Israel.
Was there something from the Pessah Seder that helped sustain you in prison?
I remember my first Seder in my life, when I was 25. It was in Moscow with Avital, who in a few months became my wife.
We were a big group of students studying Hebrew. We had three teachers who brought their pupils there. None of the teachers could read the whole Haggada, so each of them read a third.
There were a few songs that we learned, like “Dayenu.” And I remember that the phrase in the Seder, “This year we are slaves, next year may we be free men” was very moving to us.
Some years later, I was in a punishment cell on Seder night, and I was lonely. I decided that with bread, salt and hot water, I would have my own Seder. There was nothing else – salt was my maror [bitter herbs] and hot water was my haroset.
I tried to repeat the Haggada, but I couldn’t remember most of it. But that one phrase – “This year we are slaves, next year may we be free men” – was enough for me.
And I recalled the line, “In every generation, each individual should feel as if he or she had actually gone out from Egypt.” It was so easy to feel that’s true – that I am one of those in this generation that is keeping this torch of freedom. It was easy to feel yourself as part of this great, historical struggle, and that gave me a lot of strength.
Reply #790 on:
April 07, 2010, 09:09:01 AM »
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad derided Obama on Wednesday, depicting him as an ineffective leader influenced by Israel to target Iran more aggressively.
"American materialist politicians, whenever they are beaten by logic, immediately resort to their weapons like cowboys," Ahmadinejad said in a speech before a crowd of several thousand in northwestern Iran.
"Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer (to politics). Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put in front of you or repeat any statement recommended," Ahmadinejad said in the speech, aired live on state TV.
Ahmadinejad said Obama "is under the pressure of capitalists and the Zionists" and vowed Iran would not be pushed around. "(American officials) bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn't do a damn thing, let alone you," he said, addressing Obama.
The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iran, which says its nuclear program is intended only to generate electricity.
Washington is heading a push for the United Nations to impose new sanction on Iran over its refusal to suspect uranium enrichment, a process that can produce either fuel for a reactor or the material for a warhead. Iran says it has a right to enrichment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #791 on:
April 07, 2010, 11:04:40 PM »
"But he wore a kippah at AIPAC".
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #792 on:
April 09, 2010, 08:05:00 AM »
Catholic is catholic regardless of what country he is in, I hope the Jewish develop a similar sense. I think most Jews in America are jewish in the same sense. If I thought it would happen I would gladly welcome the entire population of Israel over here, they've earned their freedom and should not have to live with the fear they have to everyday. There are huge and multiple hurdles to cross tho' if that were ever to happen. I suspect we would get neighborhoods much like during the 1900 transitional Era with during the industrial revolution. There is land out there tho' the Dakotas are working the old homestead laws and there are lots of spaces in other states..........
I am wondering if they will do a modern trek or go down like the Carthaginians..........
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #793 on:
April 09, 2010, 10:51:10 AM »
"or go down like the Carthaginians.........."
Perhaps a slightly different comparison is go down like the 300 Spartans.
And the Phoney Jew hating Obama is the local herder who led the Persians to the pass behind them that led to their fall and deaths.
What I can't believe is all these liberal Jews who still work for and support the One. What did any Jew expect this guy would do - who sat in Wright's pews for a quarter century?
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #794 on:
April 10, 2010, 04:38:52 AM »
The carthaginians caused the Romans plenty of grief on their way out, but they are gone nonetheless.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #795 on:
April 10, 2010, 09:30:24 AM »
And there are those who believe it is simply a matter of time the Israelis get "wiped out".
Certainly this President has helped rally world opinion against them.
Yet I see everyday liberal American Jews defending this President everyday. Why? Because he is a Democrat. No other reason. If he were a Republican they would be screaming about his anti-semitism.
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #796 on:
April 10, 2010, 11:49:28 PM »
Which is why I believe the current 2 party system developed over the industrial revolution is now broken. The republicans have become a different variety of power broker as well. It is going to get interesting. I am wondering if Iran/ Hezbollah is waiting for america to get distracted domestically, so they can move. If I was working their side of the street, I would have been rotating people thru the war zone for real world training. With that cadre you can build a pretty capable force..........
Then again every Israeli has been trained to shoot, and a nice chunk have military training...........
Some Jews are finally wisening up
Reply #797 on:
April 14, 2010, 11:35:45 AM »
Unfortunately, it seems more based on seniors concern about their health care benefits but not the socialist agenda or the 'one's' throwing Netenyahu under the bus (the latter which I must say is astounding to me).
When push comes to shove though most Jews will still vote the Dem party line. Look at "Toojay country" in Fla. wherein a demcorat won by huge margins in Wexler's old fraudulent seat. For God's sake Wexler didn't even live in the community he was representing. He was using a front address. And what do my fellow Jews do. Vote the next in line liberal crat right back in. Again to liberal Jews, Republicans are worse then Nazis. I had one Jewish patient complain to me the other day that Fox news was on the cable TV in the office waiting room. I didn't know it was on. I come in through the back door and never had any input to what station is on. Another patient must have put it on I guess. I share the office with another group. He used the opportunity to go after Bush, state that the health care bill was needed etc. If we didn't go into Iraq we would have plenty of cash to pay for health care etc etc.
I avoided confrontation and rarely discuss politics with patients. Occasionally pts do bring up topics I agree with and only then will say I do agree. We are surely a divided country - it seems to be getting worse not better.
****Obama struggling with Jews, but not on Israel
By Ron Kampeas · April 12, 2010
Photos 1 out of 1
This question, in the American Jewish Committee's new survey, asked: "Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama Administration's handling of the Iran nuclear issue?" (AJC) Related LinksSenate letter urging tensions tamp-down gets 76 signatures WASHINGTON (JTA) -- A new survey shows President Obama struggling with American Jews -- but not on Israel-related matters.
The American Jewish Committee poll of U.S. Jews found that Obama's approval rating is at 57 percent, with 38 percent disapproving. That's down from the stratospheric 79 percent approval rating among Jews that Obama enjoyed about a year ago, in May 2009. The AJC poll was conducted March 2-23 and surveyed 800 self-identifying Jewish respondents selected from a consumer mail panel.
Obama's advantage among Jews versus the rest of the population appears to be eroding. The latest Gallup polling shows Obama with a national approval rating of 48, nine points below Jewish polling. Last May, general polling earned him 63 percent approval, 16 points below Jewish polling.
Despite the drop -- and weeks of tensions with the Netanyahu government -- Obama still polls solidly on foreign policy, with a steady majority backing his handling of U.S.-Israel relations, according to the AJC poll.
It is on domestic issues that the president appears to be facing more unhappiness.
Jewish voters are statistically split on how Obama has handled health care reform, with 50 percent approving and 48 disapproving. On the economy he fares slightly better. Jewish voters who favor his policies stand at 55 percent, while 42 percent disapprove.
The last AJC poll on the views of American Jews, released last September, did not address domestic issues, so there's no measure to assess any change in support on the specific issues of health and the economy. Indeed, this is the first poll in at least 10 years in which the AJC has attempted to assess views on the economy and health care. However, Jewish voters in solid majorities describe themselves as Democrats and as liberal to moderate in their views, and traditionally list the economy and health care as their two top concerns in the voting booth.
Matt Brooks, who directs the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the relatively low score on domestic issues underscored what he said was a steady decline in Democratic support among Jewish voters.
"This indicates a serious erosion of support," he said. "It's a huge drop. There's no silver lining" for Democrats.
Ira Forman, the director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, countered that the poll did not account for Jewish voters who might be disappointed with
Obama from a more liberal perspective -- for instance, over his dropping from the reform bill of the so-called public option, which would have allowed for government-run health care.
Additionally, much of the AJC polling took place before Obama's come-from-behind victory on March 21, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reform, Forman said. Since then, Democrats have said they see a turnaround in the president's political fortunes. "The narrative was the president was in the tank," Forman said. "This was when it was thought his initiative was dead."
Obama fares strongly with Jews on homeland security, with 62 percent approving and 33 percent disapproving -- a sign that Republican attempts to cast Obama as weak on protecting the nation have had little impact in the Jewish community.
He also scores 55 percent approval on how he handles U.S.-Israel relations, which is virtually unchanged since last September, when his handling of the relationship scored 54 percent approval. At that juncture, the tensions between Washington and Jerusalem were kept at a low bubble and were confined to U.S. insistence on a total freeze of Israeli settlement, and the Netanyahu administration's reluctance to concede.
The latest questions, however, coincided almost exactly with the period when U.S. officials accused the Netanyahu government of "insulting" the United States by announcing a new building start in eastern Jerusalem while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting, and when the president refused to make public gestures of friendship during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's subsequent visit to Washington.
A question on Obama's handling of Iran's nuclear capability showed a statistical dead heat on the approval side between last September -- 49 percent -- and now, at 47 percent. However, disapproval ratings rose moderately, apparently borrowing from the "uncertain" column: Back in September 35 percent disapproved; now 42 percent give a thumbs down.
The marks compared favorably, however, with Bush administration figures. Bush scored 33 percent approval ratings on Iran in 2006, the most recent year that AJC asked the question.
Support for U.S. and Israeli attacks on Iran to keep it from making a nuclear bomb appeared to drop slightly. Asked about a U.S. strike, 53 percent said they would support one, and 42 percent were opposed, as opposed to 56 percent and 36 percent last September. On an Israeli strike, 62 percent supported and 33 percent opposed, as opposed to 66 and 28 percent in September.
The only other question in the most recent survey directly addressing Obama's foreign policy also showed strong support for the president: 62 percent of respondents agreed with Obama's decision to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. This contrasts with the consistently negative Jewish assessments of Bush's handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, except in the period immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Approval of Obama's foreign policies contrasts with increasing uneasiness in the Jewish establishment with the administration’s approach. Several influential pro-Israel organizations have spent months, to little avail, pleading with the administration to confine its disagreements to back rooms.
A handful of prominent Jewish backers of candidate Obama also appear to have had second thoughts. Most pointedly, in a New York Daily News column Monday, Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor and a supporter of Obama during the 2008 general election, said he was "weeping" because the president had "abandoned" Israel.
And Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), perhaps the most influential member of the Senate's Jewish caucus, on Sunday pointedly avoided answering a question on ABC's "This Week" about whether he agreed with a Netanyahu confidante who said Obama was a "strategic disaster" for Israel.
Brooks predicted a tide of defections. "You'll have a number of candidates" in areas with a strong Jewish presence "asking him not to campaign for them," he said.
David Harris, AJC's executive director, cautioned that low approval ratings did not necessarily translate into electoral losses.
Brooks said that he would advise GOP candidates to hammer Democrats hard on foreign policy, particularly in tight races in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida, where Jewish voters trended less liberal than on the coasts. "If Republican candidates are smart, they will make Democratic candidates in these races answerable to whether they support Obama's policies of pressuring Israel," the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition said.
Jewish Democrats are already preparing a response strategy of arguing that the relationship remains close on defense cooperation and other matters, despite heightened rhetoric on settlement differences.
Harris suggested that the polling showed that the American Jewish public would prefer to imagine a closeness rather than deal with tensions. Obama and Netanyahu scored similar solid majorities -- 55 percent and 57 percent, respectively -- on how they handled the relationship.
American Jews "don't want to be forced to choose," Harris said. "They would rather say a blessing on both your houses than a pox on both your houses."
According to the survey, 64 percent of Jews think Israel should, as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians, be willing to remove at least some of the settlements in the West Bank. But 61 percent rejected the idea that Israel should be willing to "compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction."
The poll had a margin of error of plus/minus 3 percentage points. Interviews were conducted by the firm Synovate, formerly Market Facts.****
Avram Grant, manager and metaphor
Reply #798 on:
April 16, 2010, 07:10:50 PM »
Avram Grant, manager and metaphor
By DAVID HOROVITZ
The vindication of Portsmouth’s Israeli boss resonates for our country.
He’s only a soccer coach, of course. But there’s something in the improbable vindication of Portsmouth’s Israeli boss that resonates for our much-maligned country as we turn 62.
With his hangdog features and bags beneath the eyes, Avram Grant can cut an uninspiring figure.
Even in victory, he sometimes manages to look solitary. After his cobbled-together team had defied all soccer logic to defeat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and secure a place in England’s FA Cup Final, for instance, Portsmouth manager Grant raised his hands to the sky in a heartfelt display of relief and delight at one of the most extraordinary achievements of his career. He embraced the opposing manager, Harry Redknapp, and several of his delirious players. But he then, somehow, quickly contrived to find himself alone on the Wembley turf.
His players had rushed to celebrate with the tens of thousands of jubilant Portsmouth supporters on the terraces. Shaking hands with one or two characters who happened to cross his path, Grant ambled a little uncertainly this way and that on the pitch – the man who should have been the center of attention looking a touch lost as the pandemonium played out nearby – before belatedly making his way over to the fans to enjoy their applause.
In defeat, and he has known plenty of it, Grant looks far worse. Two years ago, he led one of England’s elite teams, Chelsea, to the brink of success in three competitions, only to fail at the final hurdle in each. In the last, and most mortifying of these failures, his club captain John Terry slipped as he was taking the game’s critical penalty kick, miscued and so cost Chelsea the most prestigious of European club soccer titles, the Champions League.
As the rain poured down in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on that dark night in May 2008, Grant did his best to comfort his demoralized players, providing an avuncular shoulder for the miserable Terry in particular, and got himself soaked in the process. The forlorn Grant was a study in despair, strands of hair plastered to his pate, clothes dripping and wet through.
After four years in various coaching and managerial positions in England, Grant’s command of the language is still far from perfect. He almost visibly searches for words during press conferences, and none of his players has sought to describe him as an electrifying rhetorician, a manager whose articulacy and knack for the perfect motivational phrase has transformed the dressing-room.
That England career has also been bedeviled by media criticism. The near-constant assertion was that Grant was a foreign import incapable of doing the work he was being given, and that his very appointments, indeed, were a function of his behind-the-scenes friendships with powerful club owners, including Chelsea’s Russian billionaire backer Roman Abramovich. There was a whiff of anti-Semitism to some of the critiques, hints that some kind of Jewish conspiracy lay behind Grant’s otherwise ostensibly inexplicable capacity to obtain jobs for which his detractors argued he was unqualified. This misrepresentation became conventional wisdom even though Grant had been an extremely successful manager in Israel, taking the national team to the brink of the World Cup in 2006, when it was undefeated in a qualifying group led by France and Switzerland.
Making matters still worse for Grant in England was his embroilment in a minor scandal earlier this season, concerning his presence at an establishment of somewhat ill-repute.
And yet the purportedly inadequate Avram Grant has this week become one of the most popular soccer figures in England – indeed, one of the most popular figures in England, period, after that Sunday victory over Tottenham. Because, through it all, Grant retained his poise, his self-respect and his self-confidence. Because he battled on and never gave up, in the most unpromising of circumstances. But most of all because, ultimately, he won.
TO PORTSMOUTH’S fans, “Uncle Avram” is now veritably beloved as the manager who made the very best of the limited resources at his disposal, and prevailed – steering his team, against all odds, into next month’s cup final.
To Portsmouth’s financial administrator, trying to extricate the club from tens of millions of pounds of debts racked up by previous incompetent owners and management, Grant is central to the south coast club’s prospects of finding a new buyer.
To observers across soccer and beyond, he has suddenly been revealed as a figure of resilience – having stayed with the club even as its financial plight led to its inevitable relegation from English soccer’s Premier League. He is suddenly acknowledged as a reservoir of tenacity, wisdom and even inspiration – having given a much-depleted team, patently outmatched on paper by Tottenham’s superstars, both the self-belief and the practical strategy to outmaneuver its rival. He is recognized as a manager misjudged – the hitherto underestimated boss who, were it not for Terry’s penalty miss, would have led that Chelsea team two years ago to the European title it has still never captured.
Most touchingly, he is newly respected as a beacon of decency and quiet dignity. All of a sudden, Grant is a role model – the family man and the bereaved, respectful dignitary who in 2008 spoke at the March of the Living in memory of his Polish father Meir’s murdered parents, sisters and brothers; the good son who flew home to be with his father when he died here last October; the man with the Jewish soul who wore a black Holocaust Remembrance Day armband for Sunday’s game and flew promptly away from Portsmouth’s celebrations this week to again participate in the March of the Living. An honorable individual with a sense of perspective, a sense of what really matters in life.
In short, Avram Grant, the hapless import whom English soccer sneered at and despised, is now vindicated. Working at bankrupt Portsmouth, he became that most supported of English characters, the underdog. Sticking with pitiable Portsmouth, through months when wages weren’t paid and players were sold to keep the creditors at bay, he boosted his standing further. Winning with battered, unfancied Portsmouth, he has transformed himself into a veritable hero.
Even the fact that he’s an Israeli – in an England where, let’s simply say, that’s far from advantageous – hasn’t dented the new halo.
ISRAEL TURNS 62 this week. Its crises relate in large part to those very factors, that personal family background of suffering, that helped shape Avram Grant into the man of decency and perspective he is now more widely recognized to be. And though he’s only a soccer coach, of course, and his fortunes can quickly be reversed, there’s something in the improbable vindication of Portsmouth’s Israeli boss that resonates for our much-maligned country on its birthday.
As the former chief of staff and now Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon sadly asserts in a Yom Ha’atzmaut interview that will appear with Monday’s Jerusalem Post, the nation that was belatedly relegitimized in the wake of the Holocaust is still, more than six decades later, fighting its war of independence – battling for acceptance in a region abidingly and overwhelmingly unreconciled to the fact and legitimacy of our Jewish sovereign presence here.
The Israel turning 62 is widely disliked, underappreciated, unfairly criticized, misrepresented.
We have been trying to offer the hand of peace to our neighbors. We have attempted concessions and unilateralism and, though spurned, may do so again.
We have sought to act morally when facing ruthless enemy forces that cynically put their own civilians in harm’s way. When compelled to fight, we go to extraordinary lengths to fight fair, and engage in serious self-examination when the fighting is over.
Asked to explain our actions, we have often been ineffectual and inarticulate. Even our closest ally, the United States, no longer understands us as well as it did: It thinks it is pushing us to do what is best for both of us, where the Palestinians are concerned; we think it is undermining some of its own interests and ours, where both the Palestinians and Iran are concerned.
We have, certainly since 1982, been denied our justified underdog status – the status that, in many parts of the free world, would garner greater understanding and sympathy. From independence and through the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, we were regarded as brave, outnumbered, insistently democratic Israel, struggling valiantly to survive in a sea of Arab hostility. Israel as David. Since our invasion of Lebanon, our first truly self-initiated conflict, we have come to be viewed as a regional bully, the mighty Goliath pounding and suppressing our enemies. Insufficient account is taken of our enemies’ fundamental intolerance of our very presence, and of the malevolent skill with which those enemies have rendered our military strength less relevant through the adoption of terrorism and missile warfare against civilians. And next-to-no account is taken of the fact that, by any geographical and territorial assessment, we are indeed the David to the Arab Goliath.
Sneered and literally sniped at, unloved, our peccadilloes exaggerated and our admirable features minimized, we nonetheless continue to do our best to act decently and to make the most of our assets. We survive economically by maximizing the prime resources we have at our disposal – our own ingenuity and determination. We help others where we can, with Haiti only the most recent dramatic example. We strive for internal equality and insist on a free press, determinedly shouldering all the handicaps this presents in a region like ours.
Like Grant, we are not always lovely and we are not perfect. But our heart is emphatically in the right place. And we battle on. We have no alternative.
IN OUR 63rd year, we deserve to have our qualities more widely appreciated. And we don’t just deserve, but rather require, more practical support. The unfairly maligned, belatedly appreciated Avram Grant has been leading an embattled soccer club, seeking success on the field of play. We are an embattled nation, seeking survival.
But as the Grant saga exemplifies, the capacity to act honorably is not enough to reverse misperceptions. The ability to show resilience is not sufficient to woo new friends and regain old ones. In a world that is superficial, unfair, quick to oversimplify, misjudge, distort and misassign blame, what you have to do, ultimately, is to act honorably, to show resilience... and to win
Re: Israel, and its neighbors
Reply #799 on:
April 17, 2010, 09:30:35 AM »
Well no President in my lifetime has done more to hurt the image of Israel then the present guy.
Yes I remember a few anti semitic remarks from the likes of James Baker etc. He certainly is an anti-semite.
But it was never like this where the US policy gives the world an even greater opportunity to pour its disdain and dislike for the Jews of Israel.
There is simply no getting around it.
Israel is facing the threat of extermination now more than ever and Bama has done all he can to put the blame of lack of peace in the Middle East squarely on the Israelis.
Are you or anyone saying the Jews brought this on themselves because of some housing starts in some disputed lands??
Well that is what the Phoney one is saying.
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