Saturday, June 06, 2009

Israel is different

Elyakim Haetzni
Israel Opinion

How is this country different from all other states?

In all other states, the winner gains – yet in the Jewish State, the winner tends to lose.

In all other states, rightist parties adopt rightist policies – yet in the Jewish State, a rightist government is expected to be leftist.

In all other states, guests on official visits utter respectful and polite words – yet in the Jewish State, such guests preach to us and provide the master of the house with suicidal advice. n all other states, both sides adhere to agreements – in the Jewish State, the Arabs are exempt from this, while only the Jews have to live up to signed agreements.

In all other states, each party to the negotiations gives something and receives something – yet in the Jewish State, the Arabs keep on getting and the Jews keep on giving.

In all other states, an area that must not be expanded is compared to a ghetto from the Middle Ages – yet in the Jewish state, the ghettoization of settlers (known as “a settlement freeze”) is the zenith of political correctness.

In all other states, the expulsion of certain population groups is referred to as “ethnic cleansing” and its perpetrators are punished for committing crimes against humanity – yet in the Jewish State, the “evacuation” of settlers is legal and normative.

In all other states, the notion of clearing a whole area of Jews (Judenrein) is condemned as anti-Semitic and racist – yet in the Jewish State, the notion of removing all Jews from areas handed over to “Palestine is a legitimate plan.

In all other state, a warring party imposes a blockade on the enemy – yet in the Jewish State, we provide our enemy with fuel, water, electricity, food, money, and medical treatment.

Finally, all states demand payment in exchange for offering their help – yet the Jewish State is asked to pay in exchange for military backing for Arab states vis-à-vis Iran!

Obama's 'White Paper' of 2009

Moshe Dann
Attempting to appease Arabs who had been attacking Jews and rioting throughout Palestine during the late 1930's, Britain, the Mandatory Power, issued a cruel policy statement -- a "White Paper" -- in 1939.

Britain restricted the number of Jews desperately trying to escape the Nazis and immigrate to Palestine to 75,000, spread over 5 years, after which time no Jews would be allowed to immigrate (without Arab approval); it also prohibited Jews from buying land in Palestine. This directly violated the purpose and conditions of the Mandate and condemned millions of Jews trapped in European savagery. Despite this draconian "law," however, many Jews were smuggled illegally into Palestine, a rescue mission that became a defining symbol in Israel's (and Jewish) history. Seventy years later, President Obama has issued a new "White Paper" against Jewish settlements.

Directed only against Jews, Obama's policy is clearly anti-Jewish and blatantly discriminatory. He does not even mention the issues of incitement and terrorism officially sponsored by the Palestinian Authority and most Arab and Muslim countries. Jihadism is not on his agenda; Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron (the "West Bank") are his obsession.

Obama has no effective policy on the on-going atrocities in Sudan, Somalia or other Muslim countries that oppress and slaughter their own populations. Israeli Jews are in his crosshairs.

He cannot and will not prevent North Korea and Iran from their nuclear ambitions. He can't secure Pakistan. He is determined, however, to defeat Israeli Jews.

This is an issue that strikes at the heart of American values and ideals - as well as common sense. No American political leader has enunciated and carried out a policy intended to destroy the State of Israel - as Obama's policies surely lead.

No American President would dare violate basic American interests -- the support of the only democracy in the entire region.
And no American President would retreat from the battle against terrorism.

Obama's 'White Paper' against Jews, like that of the British in 1939, is a sign of moral depravity - not only because it means Jews will be murdered, but because it contradicts fundamental American beliefs in human rights.

If Obama would subject his policies to review by Congress or the Supreme Court he would be ridiculed - not because he doesn't have the Constitutional right to make such policies, but because what he proposes violates values embodied in the Constitution.

Obama's anti-Israel policy, unlike those of some of his predecessors, like Jimmy Carter, lacks even the pretense of "even-handedness," - the code words for punish Israel - since there is no reciprocity. Israel has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Obama's anti-Israel policies are un-American because they are unfair.

Obama's anti-Israel policies are un-American because Israel is America's only reliable ally in the entire region.

A danger to American interests, Obama's policies should be of deep concern to Americans - not because they put Israel at risk - but because they damage America.

The author, a former asst professor of History (CUNY), is a writer and journalist living in Israel.

Page Printed from: at June 06, 2009 - 02:14:29 AM EDT

Obama's speech "encourages the dangerous misconception that Islamic terrorism is principally caused by something other than...Islamic ideology — such

Here is a most interesting exchange between Rich Lowry and Andy McCarthy at National Review's The Corner:

Lowry reflects the view of many who have seen the speech as a positive thing, and who see its historical and other inaccuracies as irrelevant, or as a necessary element of effective diplomacy: .I don't want to make exalted claims for the speech. It was a mixed bag and there are limits to the effect any one speech can have. But I think some in the conservative blogosphere are pronouncing it a scandal because they leave out all the good things. Consider: He extolled America as "one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known"; pledged we will "relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our country"; condemned Holocaust denial as "baseless, ignorant, and hateful"; said "it is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus"; insisted that "the Arab-Israel conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems"; and called for more democracy, religious freedom, and women's rights in the Muslim world. And he got a standing ovation.

That should count for something. My standard is not whether Obama gave a speech I'd totally agree with (not going to happen), or whether it was strictly accurate as a matter of history of Koranic exegesis (irrelevant), but whether the speech will, on balance, help isolate Islamic extremists intellectually and politically, or not. Since I think it will, I consider it a success.

McCarthy explains just why the faulty Koranic exegesis is not irrelevant at all:

Rich, I don't think a speech that is wildly inaccurate as a matter of history of Koranic exegesis — as the president's speech was — is irrelevant, precisely because such a speech bolsters the credibility of Islamic extremists, rather than isolating them. The population of extremists is far larger than the population of actual terrorists, and when Obama is so demonstrably wrong, that makes them demonstrably right on matters of grave importance — the doctrines that are cited as justification for terrorism. Plus, when Obama and other well-intentioned Islamophiles tell the Muslim world that Islam is wonderful and peaceful as is, it undermines their case for reform and encourages the dangerous misconception that Islamic terrorism is principally caused by something other than a construction of Islamic ideology — such as American counterterrorism policy.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Obama's Cairo Speech and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Good Intentions Plus Misunderstanding Equals Failure


Barry Rubin

President Barack Obama’s discussion in his Cairo speech of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is so important that it took up about 25 percent of the text.

Obama sought to put the United States into a neutral rather than pro-Israel position. This is not so unusual as it might seem compared to the 35 years U.S. policy has been trying to be a credible mediator, a length of time many forget--including Obama himself—through numerous peace plans and negotiating structures. The speech is beautifully constructed and carefully crafted. But what does it say, both intentionally and implicitly?

Obama began by stressing U.S.-Israel links, not downplaying or concealing this from his Muslim audience:

“America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.”

He then makes two points: the reality of the Shoah (Holocaust) and opposition to wiping Israel off the map:

“Threatening Israel with destruction--or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews--is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.”

Previous presidents have often said such but Obama is wrapping this in his attempt to show Muslims he is on their side it might be deemed especially effective. But putting almost all emphasis on the Holocaust—which in Arab and Muslim views is a European crime whose bill they are unfairly paying—may be the wrong approach.

He also roots Jews desire for their own country mainly in persecution, to which the Arab/Muslim answer has been that this isn’t their responsibility or that Jews can live happily—as Obama wrongly hints they have done in the past—under Muslim rule.

While Obama tries hard, his approach may reverberate only for a small minority of politically powerless Western-oriented liberals who already understand it.

Turning to Palestinians, he uses an appealing image but one so wrong that it undermines Obama’s entire approach. The Palestinians, he says, have “suffered in pursuit of a homeland” for more than 60 years.

But if that were true the issue would have been solved 60 years ago (1948 through partition), 30 years ago (1979 and Anwar Sadat’s initiative) or 9 years ago (Camp David-2). What has brought Palestinian suffering is the priority on total victory and Israel’s destruction rather than merely getting a homeland. This is the reason why the conflict won’t be solved in the next week, month, or year.

Obama states, “The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.” But in real political terms that’s untrue. If it were true, the leadership would move quickly to improve their situation rather than continue the struggle seeking total victory. The Oslo agreement of 1993 and Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip were both based on this premise and both failed miserably for this very reason.

And so will Obama’s effort.

Pulling out of Gaza, for instance, Israel urged the Palestinian Authority to provide stability, improve living standards, and stop the war on Israel. Huge amounts of money were provided. And the result has been evident.

For Obama, Palestine is what Iraq was for George W. Bush. By rebuilding and reshaping its situation, providing its people with good lives and democracy, he expects to win Arab and Muslim gratitude. Obama’s supporters have ridiculed Bush for trying to remake other peoples, cultures, and countries. The same point applies to Obama.

He concludes, “The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.” True. But what else is new? Israelis’ aspirations—despite misunderstandings by others--can certainly be met by this outcome. The same is not true for Palestinian aspirations as they really exist, rather than as Westerners think they should be.

While Obama might have said it in a different way, his words echo those of the last five American presidents. In the way he argues, however, Obama reveals his weakness in dealing with these issues. First he says—and this sounds wonderful to Western ears:

“Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed,” citing the American civil rights’ movement as example. This sounds noble but it is silly because it ignores the social and ideological context.

Fatah believes it got control of the West Bank and leadership of the Palestinian people through violence and killing. Hamas in Gaza; Hizballah and Syria in Lebanon; and Iran’s Islamist regime as well as the Muslim Brotherhoods believe that “resistance” works.

From the standpoint of Palestinian leaders, violence and killing are not failures. Moreover, violence and killing are commensurate with the goal of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian leadership, which is total victory. Their main alternative “peaceful” strategy is the demand—shared by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas—that pretty much all Palestinians who wish to do so must be allowed to live in Israel. A formula for more violence and killing.

Obama also says: “Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people.” This, of course, is what we’ve been hearing since 1993, when the responsibility for governing was supposed to transform Yasir Arafat from terrorist to statesman. Isn’t there some reason that this didn’t happen?

He continues: “Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.”

The mind reels. Hamas doesn’t just have support, it governs the Gaza Strip.
It disagrees with Obama. Fulfilling Palestinian aspirations means for it creating an Islamist state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Unifying the Palestinian people means for it seizing control of the West Bank also and putting all the territories under its rule.

And what will Obama do when nobody behaves the way he wants them to? In this respect, Israel is not his problem, though he doesn’t seem to understand that yet.

Consider the otherworldliness of what he says about Israel. Here’s an example: “The continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank.” Actually, the latter point is precisely the current Israeli government’s policy. As for Gaza, mitigating the alleged humanitarian crisis means strengthening a Hamas government. Ending the “crisis,” by opening the borders and infusing lots of money that will inevitably be used to strengthen Hamas’s rule threatens Israel’s security far more than the status quo.

One of Obama’s best lines was to say, “The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.” But this is so basic to the needs of the existing regimes, why would the governments respond to Obama’s call to do this, any more than to Bush’s urging for democracy?

Here’s Obama’s main theme: “Privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.”

This argument—peace is rational so just do it!--has been the basic concept governing Western policy toward the issue at least since the late 1970s. Even before. In 1955, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asked why the Arabs and Israelis didn’t settle their differences like “Christian gentlemen?” Obama is more cultural sensitive, but his ethnocentric approach is basically the same.

After decades we are no closer to implementing this idea, perhaps even further. Obama’s task is to come to understand why this is so. Here’s one hint: almost all Israelis publicly support a Palestinian state if it leads to a stable peace. Those Muslims ready for full peace with Israel are still a minority who are too afraid to speak other than “privately.” This imbalance explains why the conflict continues, who is responsible for it, and what must be done to change that situation.

Speaking Flattery to Power

Barry Rubin *
June 5, 2009

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Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo is one of the most bizarre orations ever made by a U.S. president, not a foreign policy statement but rather something invented by Obama, an international campaign speech, as if his main goal was to obtain votes in the next Egyptian primary. That approach defined Obama’s basic themes: Islam’s great. America is good. We’re sorry. Be moderate (not that you haven’t always been that way). Let’s be friends.

Here, Obama followed the idea that if you want someone to like you agree with almost everything he says. Obama also gave, albeit with some minor variations, the speech that the leader of a Third World Muslim country might give, justifying it in advance by claiming America is a big Muslim country, after all.

Of course, the speech had tremendous—though temporary—appeal combined with its counterproductive strategic impact. It will make him more popular. It may well make America somewhat less unpopular. But its effect on Middle East issues and U.S. interests is another matter entirely.

The first problem is that Obama said many things factually quite untrue, some ridiculously so. Pages would be required to list all these inaccuracies. The interesting question is whether Obama consciously lied or really believes it. I’d prefer him to be lying, because if he’s that ignorant then America and the world is in very deep trouble.

If he really believes Islam’s social role is so perfect, radical Islamists are a tiny minority, Palestinians have suffered hugely through no fault of their own, and so on, then he’s living in a fantasy world. Unfortunately, we are not. The collision between reality and dream is going to be a terrible one.

The second problem is the speech’s unnecessarily extreme one-sidedness. Obama portrays the West as the guilty party. Despite a reference to September 11—even that presented as an American misdeed, unfair dislike of Islam resulting—he gave not a single example of Islamist or Muslim responsibility for anything wrong in the world.

Obama could easily have made the same points in a balanced way: you’ve made mistakes; we’ve made mistakes. You’ve done things to us; we’ve done things to you. And having established that I respect you, let me tell you how Americans feel and what’s needed.

But that’s not how he chose to do it. So afraid was Obama of giving offense—and thus not maximizing his popularity-at-all–costs mission—he did the political equivalent of scoring an own-goal. President Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain.” In effect, Obama declared, “We’re your pain.”

So if Muslims are always the innocent victims, isn't Usama bin Ladin and others correct in saying that all the violence and terrorism to date has been just a "defensive Jihad" against external aggression and thus justifiable? Why should anything change simply because Obama has "admitted" this and asked to start over again?

When he cited examples of oppression, Obama listed only Bosnia (where he didn’t even mention the U.S. role in helping Muslims), along with Israel, and also the Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Darfur. He didn’t mention terrorist violence and mistreatement of non-Muslims by Muslims in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Sudan, the Gaza Strip, against Israel, Europe or even Egypt itself.

This is a hallmark of the kind of thinking dominating much contemporary Western thought extending something that works in their own societies-- where self-criticism, apology, and unilateral concessions really can lead to the other side forgiving and compromising--to places where it doesn't work.

In the Middle East if you say you’re to blame, that communicates to the other side that their cause is right and they're entitled to everything it wants. If you apologize, you’re weak. Sure, some relatively Westernized urban liberals will take what Obama said that way, I doubt whether radical states and political forces, as well as the masses, will do so.

The main ingredient in the Obama speech was flattery. There is a bumper sticker that says: Don’t apologize. Your friends don’t need to hear it and your enemies don’t care.

Obama’s situation might be described as: Don’t grovel. It scares the hell out of your friends and convinces your enemies you owe them big time.

As a result, the mainstream in the region will say, “We were right all the time. Obama admitted it!” While more extreme radicals say, “We’ve won and America’s surrendering.”

But if Obama, as it appears, is running to be the region’s favorite politician, he’ll find he—not to mention America’s allies--has to give up many more things to win that dubious honor.

Third, Obama undermined the existing states. True, to Obama's credit, he did talk about reform, democracy, and equal rights for women. Yet the speech suggests to listeners is: democracy plus Islam equals solution. If Islam is so perfect and has such a great record—except for a tiny minority of extremists—why shouldn’t it rule? And since the extremists are presumably al-Qaida, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood parliamentarians in the audience must have found a lot to applaud.

How will this go over with the rulers Obama wants as allies?

Finally, Obama played into the stereotype that Israel is the central political issue in the region. Others, of course, are happy to find the usual scapegoat. An Associated Press headline reads, “Obama’s Islam Success Depends on Israel.” Is the entire “Muslim World” just waiting for Israel to stop building a few thousand apartment units a year before deciding that America is great, reform is needed, and moderation wise.

Obama’s phrases were carefully crafted. He called on Palestinians to stop violence, show their competence in administration, and accept a two-state solution, living in peace alongside Israel. Hamas was commanded to be moderate. Yet he in no way seemed to condition Palestinians getting a state on their record. His administration may think this way but he didn’t make that clear.

Middle Eastern ears won’t hear this aspect--which is part of the reason they may cheer the speech—in the way Washington policymakers intend. Inasmuch as the United States now has more credibility for them it’s because they hope it will just force Israel to give without them having to do much. When this doesn’t happen, anger will set in, intensified by the fact that the president “said” the Palestinians are in the right and should have a state right away.

Everything specific concerning Israel’s needs and demands--an end to incitement, security for Israel, end of terrorism, resettlement of refugees in Palestine—weren’t there. While Israel was specifically said to violate previous agreements on the construction within settlements issue—an assertion that’s flat-out wrong—there was no hint that the Palestinians had done so.

I can’t shake the image of Obama as the new kid in school, just moved into the neighborhood, fearful of bullies, who says anything to ingratiate himself and is ready to turn over his lunch money.

There’s a famous line in “Citizen Kane” where one characters says that it’s very easy to make a lot of money….If all you want to do is make a lot of money. It’s also easy to make a lot of popularity, if that’s all one wants to do.

An American president has to do more, a lot more.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Obama's Arabian dreams

Caroline B. Glick |

US President Barack Obama claims to be a big fan of telling the truth. In media interviews ahead of his trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and during his big speech in Cairo on Thursday, he claimed that the centerpiece of his Middle East policy is his willingness to tell people hard truths. Indeed, Obama made three references to the need to tell the truth in his so-called address to the Muslim world. Unfortunately, for a speech billed as an exercise in truth telling, Obama's address fell short. Far from reflecting hard truths, Obama's speech reflected political convenience.

Obama's so-called hard truths for the Islamic world included statements about the need to fight so-called extremists; give equal rights to women; provide freedom of religion; and foster democracy. Unfortunately, all of his statements on these issues were nothing more than abstract, theoretical declarations devoid of policy prescriptions.

He spoke of the need to fight Islamic terrorists without mentioning that their intellectual, political and monetary foundations and support come from the very mosques, politicians and regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt that Obama extols as moderate and responsible.

He spoke of the need to grant equality to women without making mention of common Islamic practices like so-called honor killings, and female genital mutilation. He ignored the fact that throughout the lands of Islam women are denied basic legal and human rights. And then he qualified his statement by mendaciously claiming that women in the US similarly suffer from an equality deficit. In so discussing this issue, Obama sent the message that he couldn't care less about the plight of women in the Islamic world.

So too, Obama spoke about the need for religious freedom but ignored Saudi Arabian religious apartheid. He talked about the blessings of democracy but ignored the problems of tyranny.

In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free world.

In a like manner, Obama's tough "truths" about Israel were marked by factual and moral dishonesty in the service of political ends.

On the surface Obama seemed to scold the Muslim world for its all-pervasive Holocaust denial and craven Jew hatred. By asserting that Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism are wrong, he seemed to be upholding his earlier claim that America's ties to Israel are "unbreakable."

Unfortunately, a careful study of his statements shows that Obama was actually accepting the Arab view that Israel is a foreign — and therefore unjustifiable — intruder in the Arab world. Indeed, far from attacking their rejection of Israel, Obama legitimized it.

The basic Arab argument against Israel is that the only reason Israel was established was to sooth the guilty consciences of Europeans who were embarrassed about the Holocaust. By their telling, the Jews have no legal, historic or moral rights to the Land of Israel.

This argument is completely false. The international community recognized the legal, historic and moral rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel long before anyone had ever heard of Adolf Hitler. In 1922, the League of Nations mandated the "reconstitution" — not the creation -- of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel in its historic borders on both sides of the Jordan River.

But in his self-described exercise in truth telling, Obama ignored this basic truth in favor of the Arab lie. He gave credence to this lie by stating wrongly that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history." He then explicitly tied Israel's establishment to the Holocaust by moving to a self-serving history lesson about the genocide of European Jewry.

Even worse than his willful blindness to the historic, legal, and moral justifications for Israel's rebirth, was Obama's characterization of Israel itself. Obama blithely, falsely and obnoxiously compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to white American slave owners' treatment of their black slaves. He similarly cast Palestinian terrorists in the same morally pure category as slaves. Perhaps most repulsively, Obama elevated Palestinian terrorism to the moral heights of slave rebellions and the civil rights movement by referring to it by its Arab euphemism, "resistance."

But as disappointing and frankly obscene as Obama's rhetoric was, the policies he outlined were much worse. While prattling about how Islam and America are two sides of the same coin, Obama managed to spell out two clear policies. First he announced that he will compel Israel to completely end all building for Jews in Judea, Samaria, and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem. Second he said that he will strive to convince Iran to substitute its nuclear weapons program with a nuclear energy program.

Obama argued that the first policy will facilitate peace and the second policy will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Upon reflection however, it is clear that neither of his policies can possibly achieve his stated aims. Indeed, their inability to accomplish the ends he claims he has adopted them to advance is so obvious, that it is worth considering what his actual rationale for adopting them may be.

The administration's policy towards Jewish building in Israel's heartland and capital city expose a massive level of hostility towards Israel. Not only does it fly in the face of explicit US commitments to Israel undertaken by the Bush administration, it contradicts a longstanding agreement between successive Israeli and American governments not to embarrass each other.

Moreover, the fact that the administration cannot stop attacking Israel about Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, but has nothing to say about Hizbullah's projected democratic takeover of Lebanon next week, Hamas's genocidal political platform, Fatah's involvement in terrorism, or North Korean ties to Iran and Syria, has egregious consequences for the prospects for peace in the region.

As Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas made clear in his interview last week with the Washington Post, in light of the administration's hostility towards Israel, the Palestinian Authority no longer feels it is necessary to make any concessions whatsoever to Israel. It needn't accept Israel's identity as a Jewish state. It needn't minimize in any way its demand that Israel commit demographic suicide by accepting millions of foreign, hostile Arabs as full citizens. And it needn't curtail its territorial demand that Israel contract to within indefensible borders.

In short, by attacking Israel and claiming that Israel is responsible for the absence of peace, the administration is encouraging the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole to continue to reject Israel and to refuse to make peace with the Jewish state.

The Netanyahu government reportedly fears that Obama and his advisors have made such an issue of settlements because they seek to overthrow Israel's government and replace it with the more pliable Kadima party. Government sources note that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel played a central role in destabilizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's first government in 1999, when he served as an advisor to then president Bill Clinton. They also note that Emmanuel is currently working with leftist Israelis and American Jews associated with Kadima and the Democratic Party to discredit the government.

While there is little reason to doubt that the Obama administration would prefer a leftist government in Jerusalem, it is unlikely that the White House is attacking Israel primarily to advance this aim. This is first of all the case because today there is little danger that Netanyahu's coalition partners will abandon him.

Moreover, the Americans have no reason to believe that prospects for a peace deal would improve with a leftist government at the helm in Jerusalem. After all, despite its best efforts, the Kadima government was unable to make peace with the Palestinians as was the Labor government before it. What the Palestinians have shown consistently since the failed 2000 Camp David summit is that there is no deal that Israel can offer them that they are willing to accept.

So if the aim of the administration in attacking Israel is neither to foster peace nor to bring down the Netanyahu government, what can explain its behavior?

The only reasonable explanation is that the administration is baiting Israel because it wishes to abandon the Jewish state as an ally in favor of warmer ties with the Arabs. It has chosen to attack Israel on the issue of Jewish construction because it believes that by concentrating on this issue, it will minimize the political price it will be forced to pay at home for jettisoning America's alliance with Israel. By claiming that he is only pressuring Israel in order to enable a peaceful "two-state solution," Obama assumes that he will be able to maintain his support base among American Jews who will overlook the underlying hostility his "pro-peace" stance papers over.

Obama's policy towards Iran is a logical complement of his policy towards Israel. Just as there is no chance that he will bring Middle East peace closer by attacking Israel, so he will not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by offering the mullahs nuclear energy. The deal Obama is now proposing has been on the table since 2003 when Iran's nuclear program was first exposed. Over the past six years, the Iranians have repeatedly rejected it. Indeed, just last week they again announced that they reject it.

Here too, to understand the President's actual goal it is necessary to search for the answers closer to home. Since Obama's policy has no chance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is apparent that he has come to terms with the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. In light of this, the most rational explanation for his policy of engaging Iran is that he wishes to avoid being blamed when Iran emerges as a nuclear power in the coming months.

In reckoning with the Obama administration, it is imperative that the Netanyahu government and the public alike understand what the true goals of its current policies are. Happily, consistent polling data show that the overwhelming majority of Israelis realize that the White House is deeply hostile towards Israel. The data also show that the public approves of Netanyahu's handling of our relations with Washington.

Moving forward, the government must sustain this public awareness and support. By his words as well as by his deeds, not only has Obama shown that he is not a friend of Israel. He has shown that there is nothing that Israel can do to make him change his mind.

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JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"The Speech and Its Implications"

Arlene Kushner

I write this almost immediately following the completion of Barack Hussein Obama's speech in Cairo. What I provide here is in great measure my take; undoubtedly I will share other analyses in days ahead.

I will start with other aspects of his talk and save the very worst, regarding Israel, for last. Obama began with his "suck up to Muslims" approach, which is precisely what we expected. It becomes a bit sickening at times:

Talking about how the US has had a solid Muslim connection since its founding, for example. As one TV commentator observed, this man is making up history. Talking about the Muslims in the US and all that they contribute. Informing his audience that there are mosques in every state in the union. Speaking not about the Koran, but the "holy Koran," which he cited some four or five times. Enumerating the great contributions in math and poetry made by Islamic society -- which is true enough, but ancient history now, and hardly relevant to the struggles we face as large parts of the Muslim world are caught in resistance to and resentment of modernization. (According to the dean of Arabists, Bernard Lewis, Islam is now functioning in the 15th century.)


When he referred to his own history, and his own connection with Islam across three continents, he misrepresented. "I am a Christian," he intoned, before tracking his father from Kenya -- whose family "includes generations of Muslims" (which isn't quite saying his father was actually Muslim, though he was). And then the years he spent in Indonesia, where he heard the call to prayer of the Azaan. And I say, just a second! He may be a practicing Christian now, but in Indonesia he did more than hear the call to prayer: he was registered in school as a Muslim, was given Muslim teachings, and sometimes was taken to the mosque for prayers, which he is reported to have recited. By birth, and by the practice of his step-father, he is a Muslim. At least he might have said, "I come from Muslim roots." But better for his political fortunes at home not to mention this.


The vision that he then presented for a better world was -- almost across the board -- pie-in-the-sky, which I had also anticipated. What he offers far exceeds the real possibilities and sets him up for failure down the road. As another commentator said, "And unicorns won't poop in our streets any more."

He prefers to pontificate on what "must" happen, without grappling with the painful realities of how we get there. For example, fault lines within Islam -- between Sunni and Shiia -- must be closed. Must be? I doubt that he has the remotest idea how deep these divisions are or how long the history of these tensions. His saying this achieves absolutely nothing. Were he serious, he would offer a halting start, for example, saying that he has spoken with this Sunni leader and that Shiite leader, and he is encouraging them to start a dialogue, which will be a beginning.


Nowhere was the tendency to avoid confronting the realities more blatant than with regard to Iran. The "rights and responsibilities" of nations with regard to nuclear weapons has been a source of tension, he said, by way of lead-in. It has been a source of tension between the US and Iran. In fact, there has been a tumultuous history between the two countries. But rather than be trapped in the past, he has made it known to the leaders of Iran that he and the American people are prepared to move forward. There will be much to discuss.

"But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path."

And that's it. I had the feeling as he moved to his next sentence (which I'll get to) that there had been a glitch in transmission and something had been lost. With Iran, you see, he didn't use the "must" word. He's too busy offering them sweetness and light (isn't that lovely?), so that he just "suggests." No "If Iran wants to join the community of nations it must abandon plans to build nuclear weapons and must stop threatening Israel." In fact, while at least he mentioned the nuclear issue, he didn't even touch on Iranian threats to Israel. And there was not even a hint of a threat to Iran regarding what will happen if they don't abandon nuclear ambitions.

His next thought? Well, some people might think it's unfair, that some nations have nuclear weapons and some don't. But he has the solution:

"No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."

I am not making this up. This is what passes for policy with Obama.

He's dreaming, of course. Because nuclear nations are not going to surrender their weapons, nor should they, necessarily. Our capacity to wage war is the edge that keeps us from being destroyed here in Israel. And assured mutual destruction has likely prevented what would have been WWIII between the US and the USSR -- instead we had the Cold War. But never mind, if surrender of weapons would make Iran happy, so that it would not be left out of the club, then it's a good thing to do. Right?


In summary, to this point, this is a vacuous speech. Obama is a politician, not a diplomat. I hear a lot about how smart he is, but he sure sounds stupid here. This is a worthless speech on many counts.

And it's particularly important to note how foolish and simplistic it is to address "the Muslim world," as if it's a monolith, which it most certainly isn't.


Now as to the clincher: the issue of Israel and the Palestinians.

He began nicely enough, recognizing our suffering in the Holocaust, the unbreakable bond the US has with Israel. Etc. Etc. Setting us up for the one-two punch, POW!

Obama's take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that adopts in toto the Palestinian narrative. Ignoring history. Ignoring painful realities that he doesn't confront -- in spite of his talk of how it's time to be honest.

" is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."


Let me here interject a brief response in terms of history and reality.

"They've suffered in pursuit of a homeland." Hell, they could have had a homeland several times over. It's been offered and they always find a reason to refuse it. (Most recently when Abbas refused a shockingly generous offer made by Olmert.) How about telling the PA to get real, and face the fact that they cannot have everything, such as "return of refugees," and that if they are really serious about wanting a state it's time to make compromises?

And about those refugees: "For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands..." (This is the nakba vision.)

The "pain of dislocation," he needs to know (DOES he know?), was the result of a war that the Arabs imposed on our brand new nation in order to destroy us. If they had not been the aggressors there would have been no dislocation of Arabs. Time to tell it like it is.

And those refugee camps? Hey, all the other refugees in the world are settled as quickly as is possible -- in many cases re-settled in a third country. Only the Palestinians are kept in those UNRWA camps for generations because it has been decided that they must return to Israel (in order to destroy Israel). How about telling the Arab nations that the way to contribute to peace is to absorb these refugees?

"The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable"? "Occupation"? How about facing the fact that the Palestinians have made their own bed, via violence and incitement, and corruption and turning international donations to weapons instead of genuine national development? How about holding them responsible for themselves instead of making eternal victims of them? How about acknowledging that per capita the Palestinians get more international money than any other people on earth, but that this hasn't been used by them as an opportunity for self-development?


Obama does address the issue of violence. "The Palestinians must abandon violence," he said. Good.

But then he talks about Hamas and how it must abandon violence, recognize past agreements, etc. This is also pie-in-the-sky. Hamas will not do this. (Does he know nothing of their radical ideology?) But the way in which he has spoken about Hamas -- as having a responsibility to the people, and a role in unifying the people and fulfilling their aspirations -- gives troublesome credibility to Hamas as a recognized player. There's a red light on here with regard to where he's going with this.


Then there's the "must" for Israel: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

There's a certain ambiguity in this. What is not accepted by the US -- building in the settlements, or the "legitimacy of continued settlements"? In the short term he's demanding a settlement freeze. And here he sets himself most publicly on a road to conflict with Israel. May Bibi and our government stay strong!!!

But it sounds to me as if he's also laying out a policy of Israeli pullback to the Green Line, which in my book marks him as our enemy.

It must be said unequivocally: There is NO agreement we've participated in that obligates us to remove major settlement blocs. There is no document anywhere that requires us to pull back to the Green Line. This is merely widely-touted Palestinian mythology. And Obama is right in line.

I cannot here do justice to the issue of our rights on the land, but I will return to this.


There are other things he said that disturbed me as well:

"All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when...Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together."

Uh oh! He doesn't know that under Israeli sovereignty there IS room now in Jerusalem for all of the children of Abraham? And that ONLY under Israeli rule has this been the case? Doesn't he know, or doesn't he care?

He should mark this well -- Jerusalem will not be divided again.


It galls me without end that he has decided what is best for us. This is what he says -- the two-state solution is in "Israel's interest." He hasn't noticed that we're a sovereign state, capable of deciding on our own what's best for us?

The bottom line is that a "two-state solution" is not viable and is not going to happen. It is not remotely the solution to the region's problems that Obama likes to imagine it is.


It irks me enormously, by the way, that he's make the analogy between Palestinians and blacks in America who suffered humiliation. Condoleezza redux.


You can read the full speech here:


There are difficult days in front of us. May the Almighty grant us wisdom and strength, and may Barack Hussein Obama fall on his face soon.

see my website

The Professor's Obsession

Cinnamon Stillwell
FrontPage Magazine
June 4, 2009

Stanford Middle East history professor Joel Beinin's appearances on the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center (PPJC) Palo Alto cable television program "Other Voices" reliably produce anti-American, anti-Israel invective. In September 2008, Beinin declared, "The American empire is going down," and during a taping for the February 2009 show, "Gaza and the Future," he pronounced, "The United States aids and abets Israeli war crimes." What Beinin labeled Israeli "war crimes" (i.e. defending its citizenry) and U.S. collusion therewith were central to his discussion, as the show aired soon after Israel's military incursion into Gaza in December 2008.

One might have thought Obama's election would make Beinin optimistic about the prospects for weakening U.S. support for Israel, but his mood was decidedly downbeat. Obama, Beinin predicted, would "act like all America presidents" by "pushing U.S. interests with foreign policy." (What country doesn't pursue its own interests with foreign policy?) But, Beinin allowed, if Obama were to simply issue a "statement" telling Israel "it's committing war crimes," "going against U.N resolutions," and that "the U.S. will no longer sell Israel weapons," "the Israel Lobby and AIPAC would crumble." The crowd of mostly aging hippies murmured in agreement.

Jimmy Carter, the most rabidly anti-Israel U.S. president and author of the widely criticized book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, was the only American leader Beinin praised. Beinin lauded Carter as a "deeply religious man" but, he qualified with a chuckle, "in a good way." Apparently, he only sees the minority of practicing Christians who toe the anti-Israel line as palatable.

In a case of tortured logic, Beinin blamed Israel for making "Hamas and Hezbollah…heroes in the Arab world" with its defensive military actions. "It's almost as if Israel was trying to make Hamas appear to represent the Palestinian cause," Beinin continued—apparently forgetting that Gazans elected Hamas by a landslide—and then quipped, "not to get conspiratorial or anything."

Beinin proceeded to do exactly that by echoing many of his peers in the perennially anti-Israel field of Middle East studies with the statement:

The Gaza operation was premeditated. It had nothing to do with rockets, terrorism, or anything the Israeli government claims.

Regarding Hamas's deliberate use of civilians as human shields and civilian buildings as targets, Beinin made the equally preposterous statement:

Of course Hamas hides among civilians. Gaza's a very small, densely populated place. Where else are they going to hide?

Similarly, on the advisability of either Israel or the U.S. negotiating with Iran and Syria, Beinin made the axiomatic statement that, "You have to talk with the people you're trying to negotiate with."

On the prospects for a two-state solution, Beinin claimed that "successive Israeli administrations have done everything to prevent it from happening: The settlements, the wall, the roads." There was no word on the role of Palestinian violence toward Israelis in the failure of the "peace process," which, he allowed, was "effectively dead."

Beinin also avoided focusing on internecine battles among Palestinian factions, either in the Middle East or in the U.S. When an audience member asked him about a highly circulated video produced by Minnesotans Against Terrorism depicting a pro-Palestinian rally at the state capital in St. Paul that descended into a pitched battle between Fatah and Hamas supporters, Beinin was clueless. (The rally featured the first Muslim congressman, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, being shouted down by followers of Hamas, apparently for not being radical enough.) Seemingly unaware that Minnesota is a center for Islamist activity, Beinin was surprised that a story from that state could have any significance and brushed the question off.

Beinin's actions since this interview have amplified his anti-Israel credentials. Although Middle East studies academia has largely avoided Israel Apartheid Week since its inception in 2005, Beinin took part this year, with a talk at the University of California, Berkeley on March 5th. So too did University of Massachusetts Boston political science assistant professor Leila Farsakh, who spoke at York University the same day. Beinin's participation in this propagandistic and offensive week of Israel-bashing further affirms his lack of objectivity on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Although Beinin's audience at the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center likely consists of like-minded viewers, his students are another matter. They should treat most of what he says with the skepticism one reserves when listening to ideologues.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at

Muslims want Obama to throw Israel to the wolves

They say they have already made enough concessions to Israel. What were those, again? "As Obama Begins Trip, Arabs Want Israeli Gesture," by Jeff Zeleny and Michael Slackman for the New York Times, June 3 (thanks to James): RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Obama arrived here on Wednesday afternoon, opening a five-day trip to try to improve relations between the United States and the Muslim world and push for progress in settling the Arab-Israeli conflict. [...]

On his Middle East tour, Mr. Obama is expected to press the Arab nations to offer a gesture to the Israelis to entice them to accelerate the peace process.

But in his meetings with the Saudi king, he should be prepared for a polite but firm refusal, Saudi officials and political experts say. The Arab countries, they say, believe they have already made their best offer and that it is now up to Israel to make a gesture, perhaps by dismantling settlements in the West Bank or committing to a two-state solution.

“What do you expect the Arabs to give without getting anything in advance, if Israel is still hesitating to accept the idea of two states in itself?” said Mohammad Abdullah al-Zulfa, a historian and member of the Saudi Shura Council, which serves as an advisory panel in place of a parliament.

Al-Zulfa was, of course, silent about the non-acceptance of the two-state "solution" on the Palestinian side, and the continued commitment of Palestinian groups to the total destruction of Israel -- a goal that will be greatly advanced by that very same two state "solution." That is why the promise of recognition rings hollow:

While not dismissing the possibility of some movement on the peace process, the Saudis say the Arab world made substantial concessions in the Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by a 22-nation coalition during an Arab League summit in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2002. That proposal offered full recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawing to its 1967 borders and agreeing to a “just settlement” to the issue of the Palestinian refugees....

“I think we should hear something positive from President Obama,” said Ahmed Kattaan, the Saudi ambassador to the Arab League. “I think he is going in the right way now.”

You have every reason to think that.
Thanks Jihad Watch

Barak tells US not to expect the 'irrational'

Summing up his visit to Washington, defense minister tells reporters he wants US administration to 'tone down volume' on public remarks regarding disputed settlement activity in order to conduct debate in respectful fashion

Yitzhak Benhorin
Israel News

WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after summing up a round of meetings in Washington Wednesday that any public debate between the US and Israel "should take place in a mutual and respectful fashion". Speaking at a press conference with Israeli journalists, Barak said the US government should "tone down the volume" on the public debate so that it could focus on the core of the issues at stake.

The defense minister said he had told US officials the Israeli government agrees that a regional accord should be striven for, and that the Palestinian issue should be at its focus.

"Not everything is agreed upon, there is a debate and they are looking for the right way to gather Israeli support for the activation of the peace process while maintaining Israel's vital interests," he said.

Regarding the American demand for the freezing of all settlement activity Barak said, "There needs to be rational conduct that is connected to real life; you can't just expect irrational things to happen."

'No option off the table'

He said Israel had informed the US that it planned to honor previous commitments on the Palestinians and illegal West Bank outposts, and to promote regional peace.

"We will assist with anything else, such as risking the opening of various checkpoints. Regarding the evacuation of outposts, it will take time to smooth this over with the Americans, but I am leaving these talks more optimistic," Barak said.

He added that he had received the impression that the US was committed to Israeli security, but that the political process geared by the two countries would probably be prone to conflict. He stressed that conflict was a natural occurrence.

Barak also referred to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Moscow speech, in which he said Israel has no plans to attack Iran. "Israel is taking no option off the table," he said.

The defense minister traveled to Washington in part in order to offer himself as an attenuating factor in the debate between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist government and the Obama administration.

During his visit he met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor, Jim Jones.

To Obama, with whom he met for 15 minutes, Barak expressed Jerusalem's interests regarding the demands to freeze construction in settlements. He said Israel was willing to remove 22 illegal outposts out of the 26 established since 2001.

US Refuses to Commit to Previous Agreement with Israel

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( The U.S. State Department Tuesday refused to state whether the Obama administration will honor a promise by the previous government that Israel will retain sovereignty over large Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria, in the event that a new Palestinian Authority state is created. Then-President George W. Bush wrote former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”

Sylvie Lucas, President of the Economic and Social Council, charged that the refusal of the United States to state whether it is backing the commitment is problematic because “we are continually calling, for example, on the Palestinians – all factions of the Palestinians – to abide by the commitments that previous Palestinian governments have made. And yet you stand at that podium unwilling to declare whether or not the United States feels obligated to abide by the commitment that a previous United States government made.”

The question of whether U.S. President Barack Obama will honor the letter was raised at the State Department’s daily press briefing last week. Spokesman Ian Kelly replied, “That’s an excellent question…and I’ll get you the information on that.”

Spokesman Robert Wood dodged the issue Monday but was cornered on Tuesday by Lucas, who verbally sparred with him. [Questions and answers on the letter are located at 29 minutes after start of video.]

Wood repeatedly answered Lucas, “What I tried to say yesterday, and I’ll try and say it again today, is that we are working with the two parties to implement their Roadmap obligations….We’ve been extremely clear about that."

Pressed by Lucas, who asked, “So it means you are not bound by this letter?” Wood replied, “What I said, Sylvie, was we are working with the two sides to help them implement their Roadmap obligations.”

Lucas tried again: “Why don’t you want to say if you are bound or not? I don’t understand.”

Wood: “I’m saying what I’m saying.”

Lucas: Well, you are not answering.” As others at the session laughed out loud, she asked, “I don’t understand why you don’t want to say it.”

Wood insisted he could not be any clearer on the issue, to which Lucas answered, “What? Well, we must be stupid because we don’t understand. It’s a yes-or-no question, Robert. Is the Obama Administration bound by the contents of that letter or not? A yes or a no will suffice.”

The spokesman refused to budge and repeated, “Well, I’m giving you the answer that I’ve given you yesterday and today.”

He rejected Lucas’s charge that the U.S. is demanding from the PA to agree to previous commitments while the American government does not abide by the same rules. She did not mention that most conditions of past agreements have been carried out by Israel while several PA obligations, such as ending incitement and formally recognizing the State of Israel , have been skipped over.

“We’re demanding things from both sides,” Wood declared. “This is not an issue of what the United States needs to do. This is an issue about what the two sides need to do.”

Media commentators have reported that President Obama is morally bound but not legally bound to stand behind the letter from his predecessor.
© Copyright

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


In 1969 Stanley Goldfoot wrote an open letter to the world…

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz. After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, "The Times of Israel."

In the first issue of "The Times of Israel", Stanley Goldfoot wrote his famous controversial "Letter to the World from Jerusalem", which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant and, in his memory, I am sharing it with you.

A Letter to the World from Jerusalem

by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)


I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe. I am a Jerusalemite-like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood. I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you.

I owe you nothing. You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it when they came to destroy it. And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York. When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves—a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning. Here people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battle-ments, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the Almighty: "Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and swell in it as Thou promised." On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope that next year would find us in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)—all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel.

Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions? We have been to Hell and back—a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized. In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job—British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon. And then the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.

And you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war—a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in theirspiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift "to save the gallant Berliners". But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital—but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of "justice" and need for the "Christian" quality of turning the other cheek.

The truth—and you know it deep inside your gut—you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews. No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword—but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. "Next year" and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time—"in Jerusalem"!

Stanley Goldfoot Founder Editor The Times of Israel
Thanks Nuritspan>

FM: View ME conflict in wider context


With Russia keen on holding an international peace conference, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday in Moscow after meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be seen within a wider regional context. Since the conflict is essentially a greater one between extremists and moderates, it must be solved within the framework of a comprehensive plan that brings in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states and other countries, Lieberman said.

Lieberman also met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said after the meeting that the two had discussed the parameters of the proposed Moscow conference. No date for the conference has yet been set. Lieberman met Medvedev and Lavrov in Moscow, before flying to St. Petersburg to meet Putin.

According to a statement issued by Lieberman's office, the foreign minister reiterated Israel's position that it would be willing to open negotiations with Syria without any preconditions.

Regarding Iran, Russia's foreign minister said the new US administration's approach to Teheran had increased chances of resolving the standoff over its nuclear program, but gave no indication of whether Moscow would increase pressure on the Islamic republic.

Lavrov, speaking at a press conference with Lieberman after their meeting, ceded no ground publicly over Russia's engagement with Hamas. Lieberman said last week that Israel was "disappointed" that Lavrov had met Hamas head Khaled Mashaal last month in Damascus.

"We are sending the corresponding signals to Hamas and [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas in terms of the necessity to cooperate in the most serious way," Lavrov said. He also said Hamas must help create the conditions for removal of the blockade of Gaza.

The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed Russian military official as saying Tuesday that Moscow would deliver 50 armored personnel carriers to the PA from July to September.

Israel had initially balked at the planned deliveries, but has since given its approval.

Russia says the vehicles would be used to help the Palestinians keep order.

It was Lieberman's first visit to Moscow as foreign minister, and he and Lavrov focused their comments on Russian-Israeli relations. Lieberman said the countries' ties "are probably at their highest point" since diplomatic relations were established 18 years ago. He added that he and Lavrov had reached agreement on a number of bilateral issues, including cooperation in space.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1243872315467&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Abbas Seizes Opportunity to Throw Away Opportunity


Barry Rubin

When Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas visited President Barack Obama in Washington, he squandered a great opportunity while, at the same time, giving Obama a tremendous opportunity to understand how the Middle East really works. Abbas showed that he, like his predecessors, would never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Here is a new U.S. president, the potentially most pro-Palestinian chief executive in history, straining at the bit to move forward a peace process, quite open to the possibility of pressuring Israel.

And Abbas gave him nothing.

"I am confident that we can move this process forward," Obama said after meeting Abbas. One would expect he’s less confident now than before the meeting.

On one point, Abbas can expect U.S. support: pressing Israel to stop any building whatsoever on Jewish settlements. But how much effort should the United States put into this when Abbas—rather than being cooperative with the president’s pet project—refuses to talk with Israel unless there is a total freeze and additional unrequited concessions?

In contrast, Abbas could have tried to portray himself (falsely) as flexible and eager for progress. After all, the president used such phrases as, “We can’t continue with the drift….We need to get this thing back on track….We don’t have a moment to lose.” But now, Abbas has played his hand so that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to talk and the PA isn’t.

As for Abbas’s pet project, unity with Hamas, Obama was not quite supportive of the PA’s strategy. It would be nice to have unity, said Obama—a mistake but leave that aside for the present—but any coalition would have to accept all previous agreements and the Quartet’s conditions. And that Hamas will never do.

Reportedly, Abbas’s plan presented to Obama said nothing about what the PA would do to promote peace, only proposing an immediate freeze on any settlement activity and a timetable for Israeli withdrawal.

In other words, Israel gives him everything and he gives nothing.

One can only wonder whether, during the meeting, it ever occurred to Obama and his advisors that Abbas was acting precisely the way Netanyahu had predicted.

Obama did mention to Abbas such Israeli requirements—and Quartet demands—as that the PA reduce anti-Israel incitement to violence.

But what could be a more indicative, almost humorously so, response than what Abbas told reporters:

"I believe that if the Israelis would withdraw from all occupied Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese land, the Arab world will be ready to have normal relationships with the state of Israel."

Israel gives up all the territory and then maybe it gets something in return.

Most significantly of all, one of Abbas’s aides was quoted as saying: "The Americans are the leaders of the world….They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions.'"

And that’s the Palestinian strategy: America tells Israel to make all the concessions. The PA accepts them.

It might be added as an aside, that if the United States used its “weight” on the PA two years ago, that effort by the Bush administration brought no perceptible shift in PA positions and policies. The end of the second intifada—if that’s what the official meant—came about as the result of the PA’s military defeat and shifting gears tactically was clearly in its interests.

In a real slap in the face to Obama, Abbas said he wouldn’t even help presidential envoy Senator George Mitchell by giving any confidence-building measures. Nobody could have put this better than Washington Post editor Jackson Diehl:

“[Abbas] has revived a…Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while the Arabs passively watch and applaud.”

I would only suggest that no revival is involved since this fantasy has never dissipated in the first place.

A PA official has been quoted as saying that after a couple of years, U.S. pressure will force Netanyahu to resign and presumably comply with whatever the United States, or rather whatever the PA, wants. Note that this “patience” not only clashes with Obama’s impatience but also with the supposed Palestinian suffering. After all, the idea that Palestinians are so miserable under “occupation,” so eager to escape bloodshed, and so passionately yearning for a state they just cannot wait.
What Abbas’s behavior shows, however, is that the PA is more interested in making peace with a radical Islamist Hamas than with Israel; more hopeful of eventually destroying Israel than in making peace with Israel.
The meetings much have been quite a learning experience for President Obama, the first lesson in his education that making peace is not so easy and that the main obstacle to achieving it is the Palestinian leadership.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to To see his blog,

Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared in the June 1, 2009 Edition 21 of Bitter Lemons. Copyright, Bitter Lemons

Obama's Visit to Riyadh: Competing Agendas?

Simon Henderson
June 2, 2009

On June 2, President Barack Obama departs for the Middle East, where he is scheduled to deliver a major speech in Cairo on June 4. But his first stop is Riyadh, where he will meet Saudi king Abdullah. Officially the two men will, in the words of a White House spokesman, "discuss a range of important issues, including Middle East peace, Iran, and terrorism." The U.S. agenda, however, is almost certainly wider: the very fact of the meeting, only announced on May 26, suggests that Obama foresees a major role for Saudi Arabia in his approach to a range of issues -- on which King Abdullah has his own perspectives Background
The upcoming meeting will not be the first encounter between the two men; they met in London at the April gathering of the G20 (Saudi Arabia qualifies as the world's largest oil exporter). On that occasion, President Obama was caught on video bowing to the Saudi monarch, a gesture at odds with proper protocol (heads of state merely shake hands) and regarded as obsequious by the president's detractors and those wary of close U.S. links with the kingdom. The two leaders also met privately in London and have reportedly spoken by telephone several times. A good working relationship appears to be emerging despite the differences in age (Abdullah is eighty-six, Obama forty-seven) and ethical norms (on May 29, according to the official Saudi news agency, a murderer was publicly beheaded in the Saudi capital and the body and head left on display for several hours).

Saudi Peace Plan
Most speculation is focused on whether Obama will be able to coax Saudi Arabia into a more active diplomatic role in the Middle East peace process. At the center of the discussion is the Arab League-supported 2002 Saudi peace plan, which offers Israel diplomatic recognition by the Arab world in return for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 territorial lines and an agreed resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue. The plan, which helped Riyadh recover from the embarrassing fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers in the September 11 attacks were Saudis, has been moribund because of initial Israeli rejection of the plan and U.S. coolness to it. Saudi Arabian unwillingness to engage diplomatically (and publicly) with Israel has also been no small contributor to its stagnation.

Riyadh sees the plan as reinforcing Abdullah's personal diplomacy (he authored the initial version) as well as Saudi leadership of the Arab world. But while the king seems to personally advocate some engagement -- he and Israeli president Shimon Peres exchanged greeting messages at a UN interfaith conference in New York in December -- he has been unwilling or unable to go further absent a major Israeli concession such as a settlement freeze.

Obama, who is also expected to discuss the Middle East peace process in his Cairo speech, presumably would like to present a Saudi gesture on this issue, such as allowing Israeli airliners to transit Saudi air space, trade relations with Israel (the neighboring United Arab Emirates quietly allows more than $1 billion in trade annually), visas for Israelis, or the appointment of an American Jew as U.S. ambassador in Riyadh (the position is currently vacant and the Obama administration has yet to nominate a candidate).

Nuclear Iran
Another central issue in the talks will be Iran's nuclear program, which concerns many of the Persian Gulf Arab states as much as it does Israel. Indeed, it is probably Abdullah's number-one priority, which he has consistently told U.S. leaders must be dealt with through force and coercion, not Obama-style engagement. Abdullah is almost certainly not happy with Obama pushing diplomacy with Iran until the end of the year before considering further sanctions.

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Riyadh has been unhappy about the emergence of a Shiite-dominated administration in Baghdad. This has exacerbated Saudi concerns about the clerical regime in Tehran and its influence on the majority Shiites in Iraq as well as Shiite communities in other parts of the Middle East. For example, Riyadh has worked to blunt Iranian support for Hizballah in Lebanon and was undoubtedly disquieted by recent Shiite disturbances in Bahrain. In 2007, King Abdullah refused to meet Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki at a conference in Egypt, and the slight is still felt. Last week, in a statement on an Iraqi government website, al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia of having "negative positions," allowing Saudis to become insurgents in Iraq, and said that more diplomatic reconciliation would be "useless" without a change of heart in Riyadh. This prompted an angry denial by Saudi interior minister Prince Nayef, who urged Baghdad to improve its own border security. Officials in Washington are very conscious that without Saudi cooperation in stopping jihadist fighters, the military situation in Iraq could worsen, causing a delay in a key Obama administration policy of drawing down U.S. forces.

On June 1, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salih visited Riyadh for talks with King Abdullah, just three days after CIA deputy director Steven Kappes was in the Yemeni capital discussing al-Qaeda and the fate of approximately a hundred Yemeni detainees locked up at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility (Yemen has the largest national group at the facility, which Obama is intent on closing). The United States reportedly wants to repatriate these Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia because it is not satisfied with Yemen's ability to stop them from returning to terrorism. Meanwhile President Salih wants the United States to fund the construction of a detention facility in Yemen for the detainees.

Washington also considers Saudi Arabia an important influence on Pakistan because of Riyadh's political links with that country's likely future leader, Nawaz Sharif, as well as the kingdom's necessary role in mobilizing an anti-jihadist consensus. There is also concern that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will look to Pakistan for nuclear guarantees to supplement or replace U.S. security promises.

This week started with the price of oil at a seven-month high, above $67 per barrel, a reflection of both production cutbacks by the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and revived hopes for the recovery of the world economy. In an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper on May 26, King Abdullah stated that "the fair price is $75, maybe $80." But U.S. willingness to challenge Saudi Arabia on this point is uncertain. On May 28, in an interview with the Financial Times, U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu warned that Americans would have to learn to live with higher oil prices. The following day, President Obama, who campaigned on increasing the energy independence of the United States, said he was going to indicate to King Abdullah that "we're not going to be eliminating our need for oil imports in the immediate future . . . that's not our goal." But he did say that "it's [not] in Saudi Arabia's interests to have a situation in which our economy is dependent -- or disrupted constantly -- by huge spike[s] in energy prices." Meanwhile U.S. officials, concerned that oil revenues can be diverted to fund extremism (or, in Iran's case, fund its nuclear program), told the Wall Street Journal on May 29 that the Taliban in Afghanistan "received significant donations from . . . Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia."

Obama's Challenge
In his interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper, King Abdullah, asked to comment on Obama's planned speech in Cairo, said, "Perhaps [Obama's] speech will include justice to Arab and Muslim causes." He continued, "We ask nothing from [the United States] other than fairness and justice to the causes of Arabs and the Islamic religion . . . a religion of justice and moderation, a religion of tolerance, love, and brotherhood."

In his conversation with the Saudi king, Obama will be seeking more than a list of platitudes. That the visit is taking place at all suggests that Obama is expecting some definitive policy achievements to emerge. The diplomatic reality, however, is that breakthroughs are rare, especially with Saudi Arabia, which prefers to keep its options open. News of the Riyadh meeting may well be quickly overshadowed by Obama's speech in Cairo, but what happens in the Saudi capital will remain of great importance to U.S. interests in the region.
Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Program at the Washington Institute. His new study, After King Abdullah: Succession in Saudi Arabia, will be published this summer.

"Briefly Only"

Arlene Kushner

To discuss all of the hot issues that call for attention, and to do full justice to each, would require more time than is possible for me, and more space than is reasonable for this posting.

And so, I will touch upon the major issues, commenting relatively briefly, with intention to return as necessary. At the same time here, I will return to a couple of issues pending from the last few days. The big news here is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the US demand that the growth of settlements in Judea and Samaria be halted is "not reasonable," and that our government will not stop building for natural growth.

This is major. Especially as the pressure from Obama is intense. (More on this below.) It should be noted that this follows the failure last week of an Israeli delegation to come to terms with US governmental representatives in London on this and related issues.


However, Netanyahu also indicated that the government would be taking down "illegal" outposts. This, he said, was a "reasonable demand." And, indeed, I've been picking up reports about preparations for dismantlement of some outposts (outposts with more than a tent and a shack).

This is also major, though not as major as building in the settlements, I suspect, with regard to our future in Judea and Samaria.

Am I all right with this? No. I am deeply disturbed. In particular because Netanyahu is suggesting that he's responding to "a demand." As to all of his talk about this being the "right thing" to do, because the outposts are illegal and we are a nation of law, etc., etc: I don't buy it. The "illegal" outposts have been there for some time and somehow they managed to remain.

Why now? I am reminded of the astute comment by an analyst a couple of weeks ago -- that the fact that we're not engaged in "final negotiations" with the Palestinians, which theoretically would bring progress and resolve matters (ha!), puts more pressure on us with regard to our presence in Judea and Samaria, as if moving us out from there will solve matters. It becomes more of a big deal for Obama. The way to prove he's "making progress."

And so there remains the feeling, still, that this is somehow a trade-off. Which is where I started some days ago. Trade-off for what? Is the deal that Netanyahu will take down outposts in return for continuing to build in the major settlements? Don't think so, and I'll get to that in a minute.


At the Committee meeting today, Netanyahu pounded the table and declared that he was responsible for the security of Israel, even if that made him unpopular.

And yes, this feels like a re-run of what he said the other day. The implication, the hint, is that he's taking down the outposts -- which will make him unpopular -- in return for something with regard to taking on Iran, which involves our security. But I won't go there a second time, because right now I just don't know. Is it pretense, pretext, or something more?


Netanyahu described for the Committee the meeting he had with Obama thus:

"There was a confirmation of our understandings on strategic matters. There was agreement over the danger of Iran going nuclear and on our right to self defense at all times.

"...during the meeting, there was no talk of linking the Palestinian and Iranian issues. We talked about how Iran will supply a nuclear umbrella to terror organizations."

Do we take this at face value? Is he saying that Obama acknowledges our right to attack Iran and will refrain from getting in the way? And that whatever support -- even passive -- Obama gives in this regard is not tied to our progress regarding negotiations with the Palestinians?

Netanyahu said even more, but the rest will keep for another day. Suffice it to say here that he reiterated his position that dealing with Iran is first priority.


It's likely to get ugly if and when larger outposts are dismantled. There will be violence, of a sort that pains us all enormously. Sort of like being kicked in the solar plexus.

Right now information is floating about dangers to Havat Gilad in Samaria, named after Gilad Zar, who was murdered by Palestinians.

I remain somewhat dubious as to whether all outposts will come down. Part of what we must see is when (or if) the nationalists in the government kick in with serious rebellion. It's our job to keep the pressure on.


Some outposts are potentially more vulnerable than others because of charges of being on private Palestinian land -- which, I've indicated, is not a simple matter. The legalities are vastly complex and further discussion on this must be tabled. Suffice it to say that sometimes the far left organizations make fallacious charges in this regard, and produce "the Palestinian owners." Sometimes it happens that Arab land owners from a different time period have been absent longer than the law allows, and land has been re-allocated. Not a simple picture, because Judea and Samaria are not governed by Israeli civil law, and we are in control only 42 years, and before that was Jordanian control, and before that British Mandate control, and before that Ottoman law -- with rules overlaid one over the other, all within the span of roughly a century.

None of this information contradicts what I wrote the other day with regard to the Road Map, etc. etc. It is simply another layer of information. And at some point I would like to address the actions a few years ago of one Talia Sasson, attorney, who made (infuriating) recommendations regarding what should be considered legal in the way of outposts and what should not.


According to the NY Times today, Obama is thinking about weakening support for Israel in the Security Council if we don't freeze settlements.

There is no way to contain the rage I feel in this regard. The duplicity of the man. Concern for Israeli security indeed. The UN is among the most anti-Israel of institutions.

The article suggests that in doing this Obama is trying to play over Netanyahu's head and reach the people, who will pressure him to do as Obama wishes so that we will not suffer. Said one senior administration official cited: "There are things that could get the attention of the Israeli public." This will not work.

Then this same official had the unmitigated gall to say: "Israel is a critical United States ally, and no one in this administration expects that not to continue."

With allies like this, who needs enemies?


So, please, my American friends -- avoid using obscenities, just as I have avoided doing so here -- but let Obama know what you think of him with regard to this:

Fax: 202-456-2461 Comment line: 202-456-1111

e-mail form via:


Elected representatives should be contacted on this as well:

To locate your representatives:

To locate your senators:


I alluded in my last discussion to an article by Caroline Glick, "Israel and the Axis of Evil," in which she shared her opinion that nothing Netanyahu does will make Obama change his Iran policy.

I return to that article now for another issue of great concern. Wrote Glick:

"...last Friday, Yediot Aharonot reported that at a recent lecture in Washington, US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, who is responsible for training Palestinian military forces in Jordan, indicated that if Israel does not surrender Judea and Samaria within two years, the Palestinian forces he and his fellow American officers are now training at a cost of more than $300 million could begin killing Israelis. (emphasis added)

"Assuming the veracity of Yediot's report, even more unsettling than Dayton's certainty that within a short period of time these US-trained forces could commence murdering Israelis, is his seeming equanimity in the face of the known consequences of his actions. The prospect of US-trained Palestinian military forces slaughtering Jews does not cause Dayton to have a second thought about the wisdom of the US's commitment to building and training a Palestinian army. (emphasis added)

"Dayton's statement laid bare the disturbing fact even though the administration is fully aware of the costs of its approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, it is still unwilling to reconsider it."

Is your blood boiling yet? This is so in-your-face awful that it rather defies further comment.

There's more of significance in this article as well (make sure you move to page two):


Then I want to turn to yet another article that is exceedingly illuminating: A piece in the Washington Post by Jack Diehl, "Abbas's Waiting Game," which ran last Friday after Abbas's meeting with Obama. This was the original article that carried the expectation voiced by Abbas that it would take about two years for Obama to squeeze Netanyahu out; it describes a meeting Diehl had with Abbas the day before his meeting with Obama.

Abbas, writes Diehl, says that he will make no compromises, and will not meet in negotiations with Israel until Netanyahu agrees to his terms: freeze settlement construction and publicly accept a two-state solution.

"What's interesting about Abbas's hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama's first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.

"Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud."

But Diehl looks at even more than the damage Obama is doing:

"In our meeting Wednesday, Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank -- though he complained that the Israeli leader [my note: a sneak if ever there was one] refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert 'accepted the principle' of the 'right of return' of Palestinian refugees -- something no previous Israeli prime minister had done -- and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert's peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it's almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.

"Abbas turned it down. 'The gaps were wide,' he said.

But Abbas didn't really turn it down because of wide gaps. He turned it down because he doesn't want a state, he wants the status quo and the pressure on Israel to continue. If ever there was clear evidence of this, it is right here.

Diehl quotes Abbas at the end of the article: "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

"A normal life." No huge suffering under "occupation," no great longing for a state. Good people in America, please make sure the president and your elected representatives see this.

(thanks, Judith N.)


It must be noted that a good deal of Obama's tough posture with regard to Israel precedes his major speech in Cairo, to be delivered on Thursday (and which I predict will fall flat because he's over-shooting and making tactical errors).

What I find astonishing is the degree to which he has Mubarak licking his shoes. This week, the Egyptian president declared that peace in the Middle East is more important than resolving the issue of Iran. Of course, that he is saying this just before Obama comes to talk about his Middle East peace plans is just a coincidence.

This is total nonsense, in any event. Egypt, a Sunni country, has hated Shiite Iran forever, and is now quite afraid of the radical Islamic groups supported by Iran encroaching on it and threatening instability. This is far more important to Egypt than whether Abbas gets his state.


Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is in the US and was interviewed by Fox News, said that Iranian long range missiles are capable of hitting the east coast of the US.

I hope a lot of people are paying attention.


"The Good News Corner"

A cutting edge brain research center -- to be called the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences Israel -- is to be built at Hebrew University. The international committee that made the decision regarding investment in this center had determined that the level of research in the field of brain sciences at HU is already among the highest in the world. With the advantage of a newly equipped center, HU will be ranked among the top five in the world in this field.

It will open shortly on the Givat Ram campus of the university, with dozens of staffers. Research will be done in how the human brain works, and advances will be made in treating neurological disorders.

What a source of pride this is -- that we are capable of this at the same time that we face down Iran, and endure a host of security threats as well as international attempts at delegitizimation. We are doing very well indeed.


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