Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Where to Begin?"

On Sunday, a group of former Partisans (essentially, guerilla fighters against the Nazis) visited an Israeli Air Force Base, where they met with pilots and saw a pair of jets take off in a drill.

One woman, with numbers tattooed on her arm, asked an officer if his pilots could reach Iran.

"They can reach anywhere," he told her. Another woman, in a wheel chair, said, "What I ask of you is to make sure there will not be another Holocaust."


I now have a list of the nations who walked out on Ahmadinejad's speech yesterday in Geneva -- 23 EU nations and two others. They are listed at the bottom of this posting

I had indicated yesterday that they returned to continue participation. And, indeed, in the main they did, the French envoy, for example, claiming that dialogue is in and of itself valuable.

But the Czech Republic -- bravo! -- has left for good.


Much is being made of the fact that Ahmadinejad made an adjustment in his talk in Farsi yesterday, cutting out a denial of the Holocaust that had been in the print version distributed by the Iranian government.

Are we supposed to be satisfied that instead he "just" said that we used the Holocaust as a "pretext" for aggression again Palestinians and that ours was the “most cruel and racist regime,” which must be "eradicated"?

Representatives of the Vatican are saying they were able to remain through the talk, since there was no Holocaust denial, this apparently being their only red line. (Our relationship with the Vatican leaves a good deal to be desired right now.)


Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary General of Durban 2, while labeling Ahmadinejad's remarks "totally objectionable," defended his right to make them.

"...everybody has a right to speak, and more especially a head of state. And that was his right."

I find this fascinating. For one of the issues of contention within the preparatory meetings of the conference was that of free speech. The Arab/Muslim states are attempting to muzzle criticism of radical Islam, calling such criticism unacceptable Islamophobia. Their position, essentially, is that it is wrong to make any connection between Jihad/terrorism and dedication of the Jihadists/terrorists to Islam, in whose name they act.


As some of you reading this know, in response to the comment of one reader who told me things are even worse than what I described the other day with regard to Obama, I've been engaged in dialogue with a handful of people, seeking a broad and thoughtful picture of the situation.

Here, briefly, I summarize, acknowledging that the situation (or my perception of it) may well shift:

The biggest worry with regard to Obama is not what he'll do to Israel directly, but what he's doing to the US and generating in world dynamics. We here in Israel must learn to stand on our own feet and know when and how to say 'no.'

As would be expected, there is some difference of opinion regarding how effective Congress can and will be in blocking Obama, and there are different perspectives on the development of a grass roots protest movement -- a backlash, with the tea parties possibly the beginning.

At least one savvy and well-connected individual I communicated with believes that saner and wiser heads in the Democrat party rein in Obama from time to time -- convincing him, for example, not to attend Durban 2.

Another experienced activist made what I thought an astute observation: that "he is still so impressed with the way so much of the American public views him with adulation that he has the naive impression that he can win over our enemies, too, by the force of his personality!"

Obama's approval ratings are slowly dropping but, indeed, the majority of Americans are still for him, and seem to have no clue. They are not focused on the Middle East and are shockingly oblivious to the dangers of Iran.

Mainstream media are not telling the story. The major critique of Obama is coming from right-wing radio talk shows and Fox news (and right wing Internet sites and blogs) -- and what I wonder is if they are preaching to the choir.

One thing I had not mentioned before, and should, is the attempt by US Homefront Security to label right wing protesters as a dangerous threat to the country. This is a serious and worrisome business, suggesting a diminution of civil liberties.


Part of what is troubling about Obama is not what he's already done (although there's plenty of that) but rather an intuitive feeling he generates in his critics regarding where he's coming from and what he's about. There is a recognition that traditional American values are being abandoned wholesale and that the nation is being led who-knows-where.

This is a function of a number of things, including whom Obama appoints, who his mentors and financial supporters have been, as well as his eagerness to go an "international" route and his aforementioned courting of the Muslim world. There is an unsettling arrogance about him that rings bells, and an authoritarian approach that is anti-democratic.


Analyst Barry Rubin, in a recent piece, shared thought on some of these issues. While he is more sanguine than I, he makes some interesting points.

Obama's position on Iran presents dangers to Israel, says Rubin, as does an approach that "emboldens radical, terrorist, Islamist forces and demoralizes relatively moderate Arab regimes." But his position on Israel and the "two state solution" actually is not that different from that of his predecessors. Bush pushed Annapolis and Condoleezza was constantly pressuring us for concessions.

Obama, Rubin tells us, is inherently anti-Israel, but has learned that "he could insult large sections of the American people and abandon the most basic assumptions of American patriotism and get away with it. In contrast, he learned that it is politically costly to attack Israel."

Most significantly, according to Rubin -- and I've addressed this numerous times -- the Palestinians are not ready to make even the smallest concession or compromise in the interests of achieving that "two state solution." This makes Obama considerably less dangerous than he would be if the Palestinians cooperated. No matter what he wishes, he cannot achieve the impossible.


There has been much said regarding PM Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize us as a Jewish state, and whether he's back-tracked on this. (I don't think he has.)

He made a statement about this at the Cabinet meeting yesterday:

We don't know yet what the nature of a settlement we might offer to the Palestinians will be, as this is currently being formulated. We want them to rule over themselves except for powers that threaten our security and existence. [Note: He does not say we will give them a state.] However, one thing is clear:

"We insist that the Palestinians - in any diplomatic settlement with us - will recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.

"...The entire international community demands that we recognize the principle of two states for two peoples and we are discovering that this is two states but not for two peoples but two states for one people, or two states for a people-and-a-half. That is to say there is no doubt that we are being asked to recognize the Palestinian state as the national state for the Palestinian people but...it is clear...that the Palestinians have no intention of recognizing the national state of the Jewish People. Of course, this is completely unacceptable.

"...we insist that they recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People. (Emphasis added)

"...We have never conditioned the start and existence of talks on advance agreement about this but neither can we see progress on a future settlement without their agreement to this condition. Therefore, not only have we
not backtracked from it, we stand behind it strongly and I think that in this regard, we reflect a very broad consensus, not only around this table but among the entire nation, a great part of the nation, and rightly so."

Those who walked out on Ahmadinejad's talk:

Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden -- all EU nations, plus Morocco, and St. Kitts and Nevis (a federated two-island nation in the Caribbean).

see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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