Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Does This Matter?"

Arlene Kushner

To me it matters a lot:

It's being reported that French president Nicholas Sarkozy thinks Obama's position on Iran is "utterly immature" and comprised of "formulations empty of all content."

Sarkozy hasn't said so publicly, only in closed forum, but as these things go, his words have been carried and are being reported here in Israel, notably by Haaretz. Sarkozy is no right-winger, and the fact that he's this disturbed carries weight. At least in private forum, if reports are accurate, he's mincing no words. This ought, at very least, to give serious pause. According to the senior Israeli source cited by Haaretz, Sarkozy fears that Obama might "arrogantly" ignore the other members of [the united front against Iran] and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions. Sarkozy met with Obama in July and expressed disappointment that Obama's policies on Iran were "not crystallized, and therefore many issues remain open." Apparently Sarkozy advisors who participated in meetings came away with the same impression.

(I will add here, by the way, that Haaretz is a far left paper, undoubtedly with an Obama tilt, and would never carry something like this for anti-Obama propaganda value.)


Some foolish policies can be rectified after the fact. A tax plan isn't working? It's possible to present a new tax plan. But where Iran is concerned, there may be no way to rectify a bad move, and that bad move might be disastrous.

It thus seems to me essential to be confident that Obama's got what it takes before voting him into office. I confess readily enough on a person level that my concern about this is keeping me up at night.

If this information about Sarkozy also puts knots of fear in your stomach, share his words with others, please! The American people need to understand the implications of Obama's positions.


Actually, an enormous amount of material comes into my in-box with regard to Obama. Much I pass by because it feels too "far out" even if perhaps it is true. I aim to be taken seriously. But there is much that merits serious consideration.

Michael Freund has just done a piece entitled: "Look Who's Rooting for Obama." It begins:

"What do Iran's ayatollahs, Hamas terrorists, Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi have in common? They are all pulling for Barack Obama to win the US presidential election. When Israel's disparate foes manage to rally behind a single candidate, it should set off alarm bells for anyone who cares about the Jewish state."

Assuring his readers that this is not simply Republican "scaremongering," he provides evidence for each name he cites. For example, Freund reports that "Last week, Ali Larijani, the hard-line speaker of the Iranian parliament, told a press conference in Bahrain, that 'we re leaning more in favor of Barack Obama because he is more flexible and rational.'" More flexible?


Lastly here I cite Daniel Pipes, who is director of the Middle East Forum -- and very much an academic and a serious man. He has just done a piece in Front Page Magazine entitled, "Would Obama Pass a Standard Security Clearance?" After detailing Obama's connection with a host of unsavory individuals with a distinctly anti-American bias, Pipes concludes:

"...Obama's multiple links to anti-Americans and subversives mean he would fail the standard security clearance process for Federal employees.

"Islamic aggression represents America's strategic enemy; Obama's many insalubrious connections raise grave doubts about his fitness to serve as America's commander-in-chief."


On now to politics here in Israel...

The date that seems to be coalescing as the one for our national elections is February 10, although this is not written in stone. Apparently, the Knesset is not going to be dissolved yet.

It has been reported that some members of Labor suggested that Labor and Kadima join forces before the election in the hopes of garnering jointly more seats than Likud. Makes sense that this would come from Labor, which is expected to take a major hit in the elections. Kadima has rejected the bid.


I'd like to share the highlights of opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu's speech in the Knesset yesterday. He says a government he headed would support:

-- Defensible borders with the Jordan River as Israel's eastern border.

-- A united Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty over holy sites.

-- Cooperation with Jordan and Egypt over final status questions.

-- Complete dismantling of all terror infrastructure.

-- Resolution of the refugee issue by dismantling the refugee camps and rehabilitating their inhabitants -- and not bringing a single refugee to Israel.


These are major long-term positions with vast ramifications. For example, he's looking, I would say, at some autonomy for the Palestinians that falls short of a full state (that's what he once told me he favored when I questioned him on this) and some cooperation or federation of the Palestinian autonomous enclaves with Egypt in Gaza and Jordan in Judea and Samaria. The Jordan River as our eastern border rules out a Palestinian state.

Dear G-d, he should really mean it, stand by it, and win soundly so that he has the opportunity to show us what he can do. That's asking a lot, but it beats by many-fold what we've got now. There is solid reason to believe that the coalition negotiations between Kadima and Shas collapsed because Shas was demanding a promise that there will be no negotiations on Jerusalem, and Tzipi said she could not promise this. Her position is premised on moving in the direction of dividing Jerusalem, which is why chief PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei says he trusts her.


MK Yossi Beilin, former head of the left wing Meretz, has announced that he is retiring from politics and going into business.


A court decision today I thought I'd never see: right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel have been granted permission to hold a protest march with Israeli flags (and nothing other than flags) in the Israeli Arab city of Umm El-Fahm, in the north, which is the stronghold of the more radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israel.

Said Marzel: "We will teach democracy to the Arabs of Umm el-Fahm, and we will mainly teach them that in this country it is permissible to march with Israeli flags everywhere."

The march, which will take place after November 11 municipal elections; even though permission was given to march in the center of the city, it will be done in the suburbs.

Fully do I understand the motivation for this. The Islamic Movement of Israel is blatantly anti-Israel. One gets very weary of the attempts of these Israeli citizens to build their own enclaves from within which they seek to undermine the State of Israel. Just recently the Islamic Movement's office was shut down because of Hamas affiliations.

And yet I recognize that those marching in Umm el-Fahm will be taking their lives in their hands. Said the Islamic Movement attorney: "...the Arab sector will not bear responsibility for the consequences, whatever they may be."

Earlier this week, IDF personnel at the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza found military fatigues intended for a Hamas terror operation hidden among humanitarian supplies on a truck that Israel had given permission to pass. Unfortunately, such stunts are not unusual. While Palestinians rant at us for not allowing sufficient supplies into Gaza (a fallacious charge), they make use of our gestures for their purposes.

Similar to this is the issue of concrete, which UNRWA insisted it needed in Gaza some while ago, in order to do construction of schools or whatever. Some of it has found its way (what a surprise!) into Hamas hands and is being used now for building rocket bunkers, Hezbollah-style.


With all of the worrisome happenings we face these days, it was a pleasure this morning to actually hear some good news. This was from Dr. Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE)and director of the Jewish Virtual Library, including on-line Myths and Facts. (It pays to see and utilize this at:

Dr. Bard, speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, described successful efforts at combating ignorance about Israel and anti-Israel bias (often promoted by Saudi Arabia, which endows chairs in Middle Eastern studies). Some 27 chairs in major US universities are now endowed for Israeli studies, and in other universities visiting Israeli professors are teaching. All of this is making a difference in the university climate. Incredibly, on many campuses there are no classes on Israel offered at all. The attempt is to not only deal honestly with the political and defense issues, but to show Israel as a proud and well-rounded nation in which we foster literature and dance and much more.


Other good news: It's pouring as I write this. The second day of rain we've had. This is no small matter in this drought-ridden country, and it seems we're beginning the rainy season vigorously. This is a bracha, a blessing.

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