Saturday, March 10, 2012

NASCAR team races for Israel

HARRISBURG, N.C. -- Two Charlotte men are putting their passion for American-Israeli relations on the hood of a Daytona 500 stock car.

The No. 49 “America Israel Racing” car is owned by Robinson-Blakeney Racing and driven by J.J. Yeley.

Friends Rich Shirey and Mark MacCaull said they came up with the idea for America Israel Racing at their daughters’ horse show in late 2011. Shirey said they wanted to find a way to educate the public about the relationship between the United States and its Middle Eastern ally.

They decided NASCAR seemed the best fit. “NASCAR is the only sport televised where they pray before every race,” said MacCaull, who has a background in the sport. “They are aligned with racing, religion and patriotism. We do not want to profit from this. Our goal is simply to educate people.”

It’s an unusual - and expensive - textbook. The friends funded the car for the Daytona 500 completely on their own. A basic full-car sponsorship can come in at around $10 million.

“It isn’t cheap,” said Shirey. “But being brought up Southern Baptist, I was always taught we stand behind Israel. This is a way I felt I could give back to society. It’s something I believe in.”

Both Shirey and MacCaull said they know that belief is controversial to some, but insisted this is not politically motivated.

So far, America Israel Racing will serve as the No. 49 car’s predominate sponsor in the Daytona 500 and the following race in Phoenix. The team said it hopes to run the entire schedule, but would need financial assistance to go beyond the first few races.

To learn more about America Israel Racing, log onto the web site or follow on

Obama vs. Israel

Charles Krauthammer

It’s Lucy and the football, Iran-style. After ostensibly tough talk about preventing Iran from going nuclear, the Obama administration acquiesced this week to yet another round of talks with the mullahs.

This, 14 months after the last group-of-six negotiations collapsed in Istanbul because of blatant Iranian stalling and unseriousness. Nonetheless, the new negotiations will be both without precondition and preceded by yet more talks to decide such trivialities as venue.

These negotiations don’t just gain time for a nuclear program about whose military intent the International Atomic Energy Agency is issuing alarming warnings. They make it extremely difficult for Israel to do anything about it (while it still can), lest Israel be universally condemned for having aborted a diplomatic solution.
If the administration were serious about achievement rather than appearance, it would have warned that this was the last chance for Iran to come clean and would have demanded a short timeline. After all, President Obama insisted on deadlines for the Iraq withdrawal, the Afghan surge and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Why leave these crucial talks open-ended when the nuclear clock is ticking? This re-engagement comes immediately after Obama’s campaign-year posturing about Iran’s nukes. Speaking Sunday in front of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), he warned that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States.” This just two days after he’d said (to the Atlantic) of possible U.S. military action, “I don’t bluff.” Yet on Tuesday he returned to the very engagement policy that he admits had previously failed.

Won’t sanctions make a difference this time, however? Sanctions are indeed hurting Iran economically. But when Obama’s own director of national intelligence was asked by the Senate intelligence committee whether sanctions had any effect on the course of Iran’s nuclear program, the answer was simple: No. None whatsoever.

Obama garnered much AIPAC applause by saying that his is not a containment policy but a prevention policy. But what has he prevented? Keeping a coalition of six together is not prevention. Holding talks is not prevention. Imposing sanctions is not prevention.

Prevention is halting and reversing the program. Yet Iran is tripling its uranium output, moving enrichment facilities deep under a mountain near Qom and impeding IAEA inspections of weaponization facilities.

So what is Obama’s real objective? “We’re trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel,” an administration official told The Post in the most revealing White House admission since “leading from behind.”

Revealing and shocking. The world’s greatest exporter of terror (according to the State Department), the systematic killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the self-declared enemy that invented “Death to America Day” is approaching nuclear capability — and the focus of U.S. policy is to prevent a democratic ally threatened with annihilation from preempting the threat?

Indeed it is. The new open-ended negotiations with Iran fit well with this strategy of tying Israel down. As does Obama’s “I have Israel’s back” reassurance, designed to persuade Israel and its supporters to pull back and outsource to Obama what for Israel are life-and-death decisions.

Yet 48 hours later, Obama says at a news conference that this phrase is just a historical reference to supporting such allies as Britain and Japan — contradicting the intended impression he’d given AIPAC that he was offering special protection to an ally under threat of physical annihilation.

To AIPAC he declares that “no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction” and affirms “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions .?.?. to meet its security needs.”

And then he pursues policies — open-ended negotiations, deceptive promises of tough U.S. backing for Israel, boasts about the efficacy of sanctions, grave warnings about “war talk” — meant, as his own official admitted, to stop Israel from exercising precisely that sovereign right to self-protection.

Yet beyond these obvious contradictions and walk-backs lies a transcendent logic: As with the Keystone pipeline postponement, as with the debt-ceiling extension, as with the Afghan withdrawal schedule, Obama wants to get past Nov. 6 without any untoward action that might threaten his reelection.

For Israel, however, the stakes are somewhat higher: the very existence of a vibrant nation and its 6 million Jews. The asymmetry is stark. A fair-minded observer might judge that Israel’s desire to not go gently into the darkness carries higher moral urgency than the political future of one man, even if he is president of the United States.
Thanks Ted Belman

Friday, March 09, 2012

Anatomy of a summit

Obama views Netanyahu’s proclamations about Iran as a lever with which to exert pressure on Tehran • Following Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, the White House perhaps came to the conclusion that there is no alternative to more crippling sanctions.

Professor Abraham Ben-Zvi
In June 1964, then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was invited to the White House for his first official visit. In the 1950s, American attitudes toward Israel were colder, more reserved and more distant. When Eshkol’s predecessor, David Ben-Gurion, traveled to Washington, he also met with Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, only these visits were held informally and without the attendant hoopla and galas that we are now accustomed to seeing in the elegant hotels of New York.

Unlike Ben-Gurion, Eshkol was warmly greeted by his host, President Lyndon Johnson. The historic state visit was arranged in a manner that befitted the pageantry and ceremony of all visits by a state leader. It was a visit that was arranged against the backdrop of the deepening and strengthening strategic ties, the foundations of which had been laid in the twilight of the Ben-Gurion era and the 1,000-day presidency of JFK and which were beginning to take hold between Washington and Jerusalem.

Eshkol’s presidential invitation also signaled the ideological rapprochement between Jerusalem and Washington, a rapprochement embodied by Johnson’s entry into the White House. Indeed, the White House meeting was remembered for the effusive praise and admiration that Johnson heaped upon Eshkol. The 1964 summit was perhaps the purest expression of the American president’s view of Israel as a vital, pro-Western bastion in a turbulent Middle East and his deeply held belief that Israeli society represented a mirror image of the values and tradition upon which the American nation was born.

These expressions of affections were also evident during Eshkol’s second visit to the U.S. in January 1968. It was a visit that included a trip to the White House as well as a visit to Johnson’s farm in Texas.

Ever since this watershed moment, summit meetings between leaders have become an inseparable part of the rules of the game which govern relations between the allies. These relations are anchored in Americans perception of Israel as a key strategic and regional asset for the U.S. as well as an ideological partner in advancing the moral and cultural vision of American society in the world today.

Yet alongside the summit meetings, which were usually occasions for heaping praise on Israel’s leaders (as occurred during most of the summit meetings when George W. Bush was president), there were also tense meetings characterized by friction and disagreement (like the March 1977 sit-down between Jimmy Carter and Yitzhak Rabin as well as the November 1982 meeting between Ronald Reagan and Menachem Begin).

Given this spectrum, which runs the gamut from warm embrace to chilly rebuke, it appears that the most recent Washington summit that took place this week between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can most accurately be described as being “somewhere in the middle,” a point equidistant from the two poles.

While the summit meeting was devoid of the sense of intimacy that was in the air whenever Johnson and Eshkol got together, it was held in an atmosphere that was light years from the brutal chill that has characterized other confrontational meetings between the two men, including the one that took place in April 2010.

Despite the sharp, fundamental disagreement over a number of issues, including the extent to which international sanctions have impacted Iran, the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat in the short term, and the risks inherent in exercising the military option, it is worth remembering that Obama and Netanyahu were starting from virtually the same point of reference.

As evidenced by the president’s clear and unequivocal remarks before the AIPAC conference, both men recognize that Israel has a complete right to take necessary steps to defend its existence and security in the face of the bellicose rhetoric and threats coming out of Tehran and that there would be no reconciling with a fanatic, clerical entity coming into possession of a nuclear weapon.

Indeed, Obama’s explicit vow to prevent Iran from realizing the nightmarish scenario of a nuclear capability overshadowed – at least partially – the points of disagreement that remained unresolved over issues like how much room there is to maneuver, what options are available, which options take higher priority, and the timeframe available for the American hegemon and the international community to take on the challenge that has been presented to them.

Although Obama would like for nothing more than to see quiet on the economic front, at least until the elections for president on Nov. 6 (particularly due to the fear that a crisis in the Persian Gulf would in one fell swoop send him tumbling back in time to the days of the George W. Bush administration and its strategic agenda, not to mention the steep economic price that any conflict is liable to exact), one should not discount the possibility that he sees a certain benefit in Netanyahu’s forceful statements on the Iranian issue, without ostensibly supporting the actual carrying out of the threat.

In the decade that led up to the Six-Day War, the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations made repeated use of Israeli threats to assert control over the West Bank of the Jordan River in the event that the Hashemite kingdom disintegrated. The specter of Israeli control over the West Bank was the most effective weapon that the U.S. could hope to brandish in order to deter Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser from continuing in his efforts to undermine King Hussein’s regime, this despite Washington’s vehement opposition to Israel undertaking such a takeover.

Despite the vastly different circumstances between then and now as well as the seemingly contradictory statements emanating from the administration, one gets the impression that when it comes to the Iranian issue, the White House, as it did in the 1950s and early 1960s, sees the increasingly aggressive Israeli tack as an effective means of pressure on Tehran and other global actors who are either hesitant, apathetic, or hostile to the sanctions regime. Of course, this is contingent on Iran refraining from any provocative responses.

In other words, the Israeli threat is one of many vital tools at the Americans’ disposal. These tools, which include a number of possible courses of action, are being utilized by the administration to cobble together a large coalition that would be more committed to stopping the imminent threat. Washington will brandish these threats without wholesale adoption of every aspect of the Israeli argument, all the while hoping that hardening its position will not lead to an escalation that gets out of hand and a crisis that spins out of control.

A painful reminder

Aside from the willingness to lean on the Israeli threat as yet another means to deter Iran and persuade the international community to adopt even tougher sanctions, one can consider this week’s summit as a clear indication that the Americans have formulated a more aggressive and pro-active strategy than it has to this point when it comes to dealing with the Iranian theatre.

Not only has the White House show its readiness to use the Israeli threats of military action as a lever against Iran, but it seems that it has also come to the realization that it has no other option but to ratchet up the severity of sanctions against Tehran. Washington’s hope is that a combination of tough, forceful language emanating from Jerusalem and U.S. and international diplomatic activity will be enough to keep the Iranian nuclear bomb from coming into being.

Contrary to President Theodore Roosevelt’s doctrine (to which Obama alluded in his AIPAC speech) which posits that it is better to speak softly and carry a big stick, America’s future conduct on the Iranian matter is likely to stem from an entirely different principle given contemporary strategic thinking. This could be attributed partly to Israeli lobbying.

Indeed, the White House’s rhetoric is likely to be blunt and bellicose rather than soft, and it will be backed up by a number of crippling, menacing sticks. The intention is to narrow the gap between words and action in the hope that the Islamic fanatics will reassess the feasibility of the nuclear project.

In this vein, we can point to a number of potential far-reaching, punitive steps that could include harsher sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors as well as tactics of economic warfare similar to those employed by the Nixon administration against the government of Salvador Allende in Chile four decades ago. It may also include the various actions and schemes that were hatched behind the scenes by the U.S. and Britain which led to the premature downfall of Mohammad Mosaddeqh, the Iranian prime minister, in 1953.

Another variable – which to a large extent could be credited to the prime minister’s trip to Washington this week – could compel the Americans to take a tougher stance toward the Tehran regime. This factor found expression in Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC convention, which aimed to rally the Jewish community and its organizational might to undertake an uncompromising, no-holds-barred campaign against the Iranian nuclear program. The Israeli hope is that organized Jewry will bring its considerable influence to bear on the Obama administration during this election season.

Indeed, the prime minister’s poignant references to past wounds and traumas – including the futile effort by the World Jewish Congress to lobby Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration to intervene on behalf of European Jewry during the Holocaust – during his AIPAC speech was aimed at reminding the crowd of the days when U.S. Jewish leaders, chief among them Rabbi Stephen Wise, had in practice come to terms with the most horrific atrocities (alongside the ostensibly unforgivable and unfathomable oversights and inaction by Roosevelt himself). This was meant to be a painful reminder of the efforts to enlist others in the fight against threats of destruction that are made on a near daily basis by Tehran.

One should keep in mind that the Jewish community in the U.S. has for eight decades been tied by the proverbial umbilical cord to the Democratic Party. U.S. Jews have been an integral part of the party ever since the days of Roosevelt’s “grand coalition,” formed in the 1930s.

These entrenched, traditional attitudes were further manifested in 2008, when no less than 78 percent of U.S. Jews cast their votes for Obama. The president aims to once again garner an overwhelming majority of Jewish votes, particularly in light of the fact that U.S. Jews have in the past “punished” presidents or presidential candidates, including Democrats, who were deemed too confrontational toward Israel. In light of the fight for Jewish votes, the community’s position on Iran takes on added importance.

This is so when one takes into account the fact that three of the four top candidates for the Republican nomination wholeheartedly support Israel’s position on this front. Alongside Israel’s growing pressure on the Americans (as well as the pressure on the White House that is being exerted by Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich), there is also likely to be pressure on Obama from this critical source of support, the Jewish community, which has a high voter turnout, extensive financial clout, and which is capable of tipping the balance in critical swing states where electoral college votes are up for grabs.

As for the Republicans ...

Jewish support has taken on greater significance when one considers the relative rise of the front-running Republican candidate Mitt Romney, following his successful string of primary victories in the recent Super Tuesday contests. Romney now commands the loyalty of a far greater number of delegates who will decide which candidate will face Obama compared to the biggest threat standing in the way of Romney’s White House hopes, Santorum.

Still, despite Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, winning in six of 10 states that held primaries this week, Republicans have yet to rally around him as their top candidate. If, however, Romney could finish the job and ensure victory, this would force Obama, who thus far has been watching with glee as Republicans bicker amongst themselves but whose advantage in the polls over his potential rivals remains fragile, to devote most of his energies to ensuring a second term.

In this scenario, Obama’s sensitivity to the “Jewish vote” would be especially acute. There is widespread agreement that Obama’s opposition to a military option will continue to be adamant, at least until Nov. 6. Nonetheless, he will be ready to go a long way toward additional punitive measures against Iran.

These next few months (perhaps weeks) will prove whether the 44th president is willing to reach serious compromises with “the Jewish vote” on the issue of his Iran policy in an effort to repeat his electoral feat of November 2008 among Jewish supporters, who may just represent the springboard that will catapult him to his ultimate goal – conquering the White House for a second time.

Netanyahu Hints Iran Attack Just Months Away

Gil Ronen
A7 Newa

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set a general timetable for a possible strike on Iran Thursday evening, for the first time.

Netanyahu said that Israel has not yet made a decision on whether to attack the Iranian nuclear sites. He added that the timing of such a strike "is not a matter of days or weeks," but on the other hand, "it is not a matter of years."

"I am not standing with a stopwatch in my hand," he told Channels 2 and 10 in a joint interview, upon his return from a five day visit to Canada and the United States. Israel will be "glad" if Iran halts its nuclear program on its own. "I, too, will be happy," he said. "I will be happy if the sanctions work – all the better. But we cannot know, and we will not accept a situation in which Iran has nuclear weapons."

He warned that Israel faces "an existential danger," and added: "If I do not make the right decision, there may be no one left to explain to [why I made the wrong choice]."

Israel And A Palestinian State: A Look Behind The News (First of Two Parts)

Louis Rene Beres

Oddly enough, even Israeli politicians can change course abruptly. Shimon Peres, unambiguously the proudest Israeli champion of a “two state solution” in the Middle East, at one time called Palestinian statehood an existential threat to Israel. In his book Tomorrow is Now (1978), Peres, currently the country’s president, had presciently warned against this plan: The establishment of such a state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria (West Bank); this force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other military equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip…. In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is apparently willing to go along with a Palestinian state, but only so long as its prospective leaders agree first to “demilitarization.”

Ironically, Netanyahu the hawk should take heed of Peres the dove’s earlier warning and acknowledge the pertinent intersections of law and strategy. For Israel, legal mistakes and misunderstandings could quickly give rise to irreversible strategic harms. In the matter of “Palestine,” the underlying conceptual issues are synergistic (interpenetrating), longstanding, and potentially global.

History can help us to understand. From the formal beginnings of the state system in 1648, following the Thirty Years’ War and the Peace of Westphalia, states have negotiated treaties to provide security. To the extent that they are executed in good faith, these agreements, in written form, are fashioned and tested according to relevant international law. Often, disputes arise whenever particular signatories determine that continued compliance is no longer in their own presumed and particular “national interest.”

For Israel, its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt remains important. Still, continuing regime change and Islamist ascendancy in Cairo could signal abrogation of this agreement. The same risks could apply even to a more secular military governing council, should its leaders decide, for any reason, that the treaty with Israel should be terminated.

Any post-Mubarak regime that would extend some governing authority to the Muslim Brotherhood or its proxies could result in a sudden or prompt Egyptian abrogation. Plainly, although such a willful cessation of treaty obligations by the Egyptian side would almost certainly be in violation of The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the governing “treaty on treaties,” there is little if anything that Israel or the “international community” could do in effective response.

Following the Arab Spring, prospective treaty compliance issues with Egypt ought to bring to mind the myriad dangers of Palestinian statehood. Already, in June 2009, Netanyahu had agreed to a Palestinian state. But, with an apparent nod to prudence, he had carefully conditioned this public acceptance upon Palestinian demilitarization. More precisely, said the prime minister, “In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel.”

This agreement seemingly represented a “smart” concession, but only if there could be some corollary Palestinian compliance. In fact, however, any such expectations are implausible. This is the case not only because all treaties and treaty-like agreements can be broken, but also because, in this specific case, any post-independence Palestinian insistence upon militarization would likely be lawful.

Neither Hamas nor Fatah, now forged together in a new unity pact, would ever negotiate for anything less than full sovereignty.

International lawyers seeking to discover any “Palestine-friendly” sources of legal confirmation could conveniently cherry-pick pertinent provisions of the 1934 Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, the treaty on statehood sometimes called the Montevideo Convention. They could apply the very same strategy of selection to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

International law is not a suicide pact. Indisputably, Israel has a peremptory right to remain alive. It was entirely proper for Netanyahu to have previously opposed a Palestinian state in any form. Both Fatah and Hamas still see all of Israel as part of “Palestine.”

Last summer, Palestinian Authority television rebroadcast songs with lyrics that depicted all of Israel as part of “my country Palestine.” Some of the specific Israeli cities included in these songs were Jaffa, Safed, Tiberias, Acre, Nazareth, Beit Shean, Ramie, and Haifa. All of the official PA maps of “Palestine” continue to include all of Israel.
Israel And A Palestinian State: A Look Behind The News (Second of Two Parts)
By: Louis Rene Beres
Published: February 22nd, 2012

In the strict Islamic view, not merely in the more narrowly Jihadi or Islamist perspectives, Israel must be seen as the individual Jew in macrocosm. The Jewish state must be despised on account of this relationship – that is, because of the allegedly “innate evil” of each individual Jew.

This insidious understanding is a far cry from the widely fashionable idea that Israel is despised in the region only because it is an “occupier.” Generally, the Israeli is despised in the Islamic world because he or she is a Jew, a condition of presumed infirmity, and one that can never be “remedied.”

A current Egyptian textbook of Arab Islamic history, used widely in teacher training colleges, expresses these sentiments:

“The Jews are always the same, every time and everywhere. They will not live save in darkness. They contrive their evils clandestinely. They fight only when they are hidden; because they are cowards…. The Prophet enlightened us about the right way to treat them, and succeeded finally in crushing the plots they had planned. We today must follow this way, and purify Palestine from their filth.”

In an earlier article in Al-Ahram, by Dr. Lufti Abd al-Azim, the famous commentator urges, with complete seriousness:

“The first thing that we have to make clear is that no distinction must be made between the Jew and the Israeli…. The Jew is a Jew, through the millennia…. in spurning all moral values, devouring the living, and drinking his blood for the sake of a few coins. The Jew, the Merchant of Venice, does not differ from the killer of Deir Yasin or the killer of the camps. They are equal examples of human degradation. Let us therefore put aside such distinctions, and talk only about Jews.”

Writing also on the “Zionist Problem,” Dr. Yaha al-Rakhawi remarked openly in Al-Ahram:

“We are all once again face to face with the Jewish Problem, not just the Zionist Problem; and we must reassess all those studies which make a distinction between “The Jew” and “The Israeli.” And we must redefine the meaning of the word “Jew” so that we do not imagine that we are speaking of a divinely revealed religion, or a minority persecuted by mankind…. we cannot help but see before us the figure of the great man Hitler, may God have mercy on him, who was the wisest of those who confronted this problem…. and who out of compassion for humanity tried to exterminate every Jew, but despaired of curing this cancerous growth on the body of mankind.”

Finally, we may consider what Israel’s first Oslo “peace partner,” Yasir Arafat, had to say on January 30, 1996, while addressing forty Arab diplomats at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm. Speaking with the title “The Impending Total Collapse of Israel,” Arafat remarked, without hesitation:

“We Palestinians will take over everything; including all of Jerusalem…. All the rich Jews who will get compensation will travel to America…. We of the PLO will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps. Within five years, we will have six to seven million Arabs living in the West Bank, and in Jerusalem…. You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state…. I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews.”

Despite these plainly intolerant and potentially genocidal Arab views of Israel’s physical existence, international law still need not expect Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements concerning armed force. This is true even if these agreements were to include certain explicit U.S. security guarantees to Israel. Also, because authentic treaties can be binding only upon states, a non-treaty agreement between the Palestinians and Israel could quickly prove to be of little or no real authority, or effectiveness. This is to say nothing of the still critical connections between Fatah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Hizbullah, the Islamic Resistance Movement and the (Egyptian) Muslim Brotherhood.

What if the government of a new Palestinian state were somehow willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these very improbable circumstances, the new Arab government could still have ample pretext, and opportunity, to identify fully usable grounds for lawful treaty termination.

Palestine could withdraw from the “treaty” because of what it would regard as a “material breach,” a purported violation by Israel that had allegedly undermined the “object or purpose” of the agreement. It could also point toward what international law calls Rebus sic stantibus. In English, this doctrine is known formally as a “fundamental change of circumstances.” Here, if Palestine should decide to declare itself vulnerable to previously unforeseen dangers, perhaps even from the interventionary or prospectively occupying forces of other Arab armies, it could lawfully end its previous commitment to remain demilitarized.

There is another factor that explains why Prime Minister Netanyahu’s hope for Palestinian demilitarization remains misconceived. After declaring independence, a new Palestinian government, one likely displaying openly genocidal sentiments, could point to particular pre-independence errors of fact, or duress, as appropriate grounds for agreement termination. Significantly, the usual grounds that may be invoked under domestic law to invalidate contracts can apply equally under international law, both to actual treaties, and to treaty-like agreements.

Any treaty is void if, at the time of entry, it is in conflict with a “peremptory” rule of international law, a rule accepted by the community of states as one from which “no derogation is permitted.” Because the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, “Palestine” could be fully within its lawful right to abrogate any agreement that had, before its independence, compelled demilitarization.

Benjamin Netanyahu should take no comfort from any legal promises of Palestinian demilitarization. Should the government of a future Palestinian state choose to invite foreign armies or terrorists on to its territory, possibly after the original government had been overthrown by more militantly Jihadist/Islamic forces, it could do so not only without practical difficulties, but also without necessarily violating international law.

The core danger to Israel of any presumed Palestinian demilitarization is more practical than legal. The Road Map to “Palestine” favored by President Obama and almost all European leaders stems from a persistent misunderstanding of Palestinian history, and also of the long legal history of Jewish life and title to disputed areas in Judea/Samaria (West Bank) and Jerusalem.

At a minimum, President Obama should finally recognize that the PLO was formed in 1964; three years before there were any “occupied territories.”

Exactly what did the PLO plan to “liberate” at its inception?

In his earlier years, Shimon Peres was correct. A Palestinian state – any Palestinian state – would represent an utterly mortal danger to Israel. This danger could not be relieved, inter alia, by any legal Palestinian pre-independence commitments to “demilitarize.”

As I have indicated in several of my previous Jewish Press columns, international law is never a suicide pact.

Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of political science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Thomas Sowell

What are we to make of President Barack Obama's latest pronouncements about Iran's movement toward nuclear bombs? His tough talk might have had some influence on Iran a couple of years ago, when he was instead being kinder and gentler with the world's leading terrorist-sponsoring nation. Now his tough talk may only influence this year's election -- which may be enough for Obama.

The track record of Barack Obama's pronouncements on a wide range of issues suggests that anything he says is a message written in sand, and easily blown away by the next political winds. Remember the "shovel-ready projects" that would spring into action and jump-start the economy, once the "stimulus" money was available? Obama himself laughed at this idea a year or so later, when it was clear to all that these projects were going nowhere. Remember how his administration was going to be one with "transparency"? Yet massive spending bills were passed too fast for the Congress itself to have read them. Remember the higher ethics his administration would practice -- and yet how his own Secretary of the Treasury was appointed despite his failure to pay his taxes?

If you were an Israeli, how willing would you be to risk your national survival on Obama's promise to stand by your country? If you were a leader of Iran, what would you make of what Obama said, except that an election year might not be the best time to attack Israel?

Members of the Obama administration have been pointing out how hard it would be to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, now that they have been built deep underground and dispersed.

That would have been something to consider during the time when President Obama was taking leisurely and half-hearted measures to create the appearance of trying to stop the Iranian nuclear program, while vigorously warning Israel not to take military action.

Time was never on our side. The risks go up exponentially the longer we wait. When the Iranian nuclear program was just getting started, it could have been destroyed before it became so big, so dispersed and so deeply dug in underground. Now, if we wait till they actually have nuclear bombs, the same kinds of arguments for inaction will carry even more weight, when the price of an attack on Iran can be the start of a nuclear Holocaust.

Nor should we assume that we can remain safe by throwing Israel to the wolves, once the election is over, as might well happen if Obama is re-elected and no longer has any political reasons to pretend to be Israel's friend.

That kind of cynical miscalculation was made by France back in 1938, when it threw its ally, Czechoslovakia, to the wolves by refusing to defend it against Hitler's demands, despite the mutual defense treaty between the two countries. Less than two years later, Hitler's armies were invading France -- using, among other things, tanks manufactured in Czechoslovakia.

This was just one of the expedient miscalculations that helped bring on the bloodiest and most destructive war the world has ever known. Dare we repeat such miscalculations in a nuclear age?

At the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill said, "There never was in all history a war easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe." It might even have been prevented "without the firing of a single shot," Churchill said.

Early in Hitler's career as dictator of Germany, the Western powers -- indeed, France alone -- had such overwhelming military superiority that an ultimatum to Hitler to stop rearming would have left him little choice but to comply. But the price of stopping him went up as time went by and he kept on rearming.

When Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland in 1936, in defiance of two international treaties, he knew that Germany at that point had nothing that would stop the French army if it moved in. But France was too cautious to act -- and caution can be carried to the point where it becomes dangerous, as France discovered when a stronger Germany conquered it in 1940.

Churchill warned, "Do not let us take the course of allowing events to drift along until it is too late." But that is what expediency-minded politicians are always tempted to do.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

When the Sun Stood Still

Editorial of The New York Sun | June 2, 2011

When Israel was planning its attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor 30 years ago next week, the general staff wanted to carry out the raid after sunset to give its pilots the cover of darkness on the way back. But the lead pilot, Colonel Ze’ev Raz, was opposed, because, he later told the Jewish Press newspaper, he thought that “if we did the bombing after sunset there wouldn’t be enough light.”

The decision forced the pilots to fly back in the full light of the setting sun. So great was their speed as they raced home that the sun was out the whole time. It never set. “It was though it remained standing in the middle of the horizon,” Colonel Raz told the Jewish Press, and the pilots radioed one another to recite the prayer of Joshua, “Sun, stand still over Gibeon. . . .” The story is beautifully recounted in the Jewish Press this week in a dispatch by its senior editor, Jason Maoz, who quotes Colonel Raz as saying that the very recalling of the incident gave him goose bumps. All the more so for the rest of us today as the world watches and waits to see what will be done in respect of a new nuclear program designed to enable an atomic attack on the six million Jews of Israel.

Today there is much handwringing over what to do about the Iranian program. The thing to remember is that there were also risks 30 years ago, and it’s hard to see how they were different in anything but scale, if that. Nor is the political alignment much different. The same countries and newspapers that opposed Israel’s raid on Iraq 30 years ago can be expected to fly into high dudgeon if Israel — or America — attacks the Iranian nuclear program.

Thirty years ago, the decision to attack Iraq was Prime Minister Begin’s. Gradually, those who criticized him came around. The editor of the New York Times — which had issued an editorial accusing Israel of launching a “sneak attack” that it characterized as “an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression” — later acknowledged that the paper had made an error of judgment. President Reagan, whose administration signed onto a U.N. resolution against the raid, later acknowledged, the Jewish Press reminds us, that privately he “sympathized with Begin’s motivations” and “believed we should give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Begin himself never had any doubts. He was a natural leader, who had risen from underground to take on the British Empire. He didn’t debate his decision in public before he made it, though he’d made consultations among his military and strategic advisers in Israel. He never asked anyone for permission, though he informed some of his countrymen, including the Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, of the possibility of an attack. He told his cabinet of what was about to happen only as the Israeli F-16s were approaching Baghdad. To those who caviled, he had his reply. “There won't be another Holocaust in history — never again.”

* * *

We have often thought about Begin in the years since then. He came to believe that ordering the destruction of the Iraq atomic plant was the most important thing he did in his entire astounding life. It certainly set him up for re-election, after a season when voters had grown doubtful. He knew before he launched the attack that it was by no means certain that Iraq would obtain an atomic bomb. But he knew there was a possibility. He knew that the situation would grow steadily more dangerous. He knew, too, that it’s better to act, to do one’s best, than to live forever in fear. He knew he risked defeat. But he knew what success would mean. And no doubt he knew that sometimes in the heat of battle marvelous, even miraculous things can happen, even that the sun can stand still like it did that day over Gibeon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Scenario On What Israelis Could Expect An After Iran strike - And Why It's Dangerously Wrong


Today in YNET, Yair Lapid has an op-ed (todah, Snoopy at Simply Jews) that presents an interesting look on what Israel might expect after an Iran strike:

“Let’s assume we bomb in Iran,” the senior source told me. “What do you think will happen the next day?

I repeated what everyone else has been saying: We can expect blood, fire and smoke; hundreds of missiles will be fired at Israel.

“That’s not the real scenario,” he said. “The problem is not that they would fire 300 missiles at us in two days, but rather, that they would do the opposite – fire only five or six missiles each month, but keep doing it for two years.”

And what would happen then? I asked.

“Israel’s airspace would be closed down,” the senior source said. “Airplanes will not be taking off, ships carrying goods will not be arriving at Israel’s ports, life here would grind to a halt, and our economy would be paralyzed.”

A few problem with Lapid's scenario. One,if nothing is done, if Israel does nothing, the missiles are eventually going to come anyway, and they're going to be nuclear and chemical weapons. Unlike what our 'intelligence chief' James Clapper says, all the evidence shows that assuming the Iranians are rational actors is extremely foolish.

Two, if the IDF hits the oil fields and oil infrastructure ( as I described in my article last week), the Iranians are going to be far too occupied with their internal problems to waste much time and money trying to hit Israel...assuming they still even have the capacity after the raid.They're far more likely to try and attack US, Saudi and UAE targets and shut down the Persian Gulf, in which case I trust the US Navy to make them very sorry they did.

Three, the chief danger to Israel is from Hezbollah and Hamas and 'soft' Jewish targets overseas. I spelled out in last week's submission why there's a decent chance that in terms of missiles Hamas and Hezbollah's response will be mainly confined to rhetoric, especially when it comes to Hamas. If there is such a response, the Israelis need todeal with it ruthlessly, even to the point of tactical nukes - especially since they're going to be labeled as Nazis and warmongers by the usual suspects anyway. Old American proverb: "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."

Four, as you may have noticed,when dealing with the Muslim mindset, it's frequently a case of at your feet or at your throat. A strong, decisive Israeli response against Iran would do much to dissuade others from repeating the Mullah's error and could even be a major deterrent to illegal proliferation and an impetus for peace.

Five, if Iran actually does launch missiles at Israel, again a full on, disproportionate response would certainly make Iran or other bad actors in the region think twice about doing it again. Since neither Israel or any other country would be able to exist under the conditions Lapid describes, such a response would not only be imperative but entirely justified.

Make no mistake, Israel and the West are going to reap a certain amount of cost for allowing Iran to develop its rogue nuclear program and terrorist proxies as much as it has. But the cost is going to be infinitely greater the longer it's delayed...especially for Israel.

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

- Sir Winston Churchill, 1938

Cut and Run Redux

Karen McKay

President George W. Bush was excoriated and ridiculed for appearing under a banner saying “Mission Accomplished” on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln after toppling Saddam Hussein from power. The yammering harpies of the left intentionally misrepresented the meaning of the banner.

The primary mission of a war is to win a strategic objective. That overarching mission is constructed of a multitude of smaller component missions, each of which breaks down into smaller missions, which in turn break down into yet smaller missions and on down to the individual rifleman and support team. That banner represented two missions accomplished: that of the aircraft carrier completing its own mission to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that of the operation's mission to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The president in his on-board speech made clear how much work, including fighting, lay ahead to stabilize the country and establish a democratic government and free institutions.
Fast forward to President Barack Obama, who has pulled a play from the Vietnam handbook: declare victory and get out, and damn the consequences to those left behind. We know what happened then in Southeast Asia, and the disgraceful treatment of our own veterans of that war. But there was a Republican in the White House then, and now there is a Democrat.

Nixon ended the American combat role in Vietnam on the promise that the US would continue to support the South Vietnamese against the Communist North. A Democrat Congress reneged on that guarantee, and South Vietnam collapsed in bloodshed and ignominious pictures of Americans escaping by helicopter from the roof of the US embassy, with desperate people hanging from the skids. The boat people put to sea and drowned in great numbers, and then there were the killing fields of Cambodia and Laos. The Montagnards who so valiantly supported the American forces were hunted down and eradicated like wild dogs. Somehow, the Republicans took the blame for the war that John F. Kennedy got us into and that Lyndon Baines Johnson expanded after deciding with his Secretary of Defense, Robert Strange McNamara, that it could not be won. The blame—and contempt--accrued to the veterans who fought the war. There were no honors for them.

But now we have President Barack Hussein Obama, declaring “Mission Accomplished!” in Iraq and yanking out all US troops, consequences be damned. And we hear a clamor for a victory parade for the troops who fought for Iraq's liberation.

Several problems with that. In the first place, Obama's admirers want the parade, not to honor those who fought and sacrificed, but to glorify Obama. The staged photo of Bill Clinton smugly leading a marching formation of Reservists returned from the Gulf War springs to mind. President George H.W. Bush, who presided over the swift defeat of Saddam Hussein and liberation of Kuwait, was forgotten. Bill Clinton took credit for the victory and return home of US troops.

Beyond that, there are some practical matters. When WWII ended with VE and VJ Days, great masses of our forces returned on ships in a short time and remained on active duty for out-processing. They were available for parades celebrating a clear and decisive victory against an enemy. But many of those Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen who served in Iraq are now in Afghanistan. Others, especially Reservists and Guardsmen, are no longer on active duty or in the military at all—they've returned to pick up their lives again at home. So just whom are we proposing to parade down Broadway?

However, the primary problem with a victory parade is that the war is not over. In April 2009, less than three months after taking office, Obama declared, “I don’t want to run car companies. I don’t want to run banks. I have two wars to run.” Aside from the folly of presidential management of tactical military decisions—John Kennedy (Bay of Pigs), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Jimmy Carter (Desert One), Clinton (Yugoslavia)--Obama shares with a large part of the media a fundamental misunderstanding of the War on Terror.

Clarity of thought requires precision of language. Think about World War II: the “European Theater,” the “African Campaign,” the “Battle of Britain,” the “Eastern Front,” the “War in the Pacific.” These were not separate wars, they were parts of the whole. Despite the common misrepresentation that we are fighting the “Iraq War” and the “Afghanistan War,” we are not fighting two different wars, nor are we engaged in “overseas contingency operations” in response to “man-made disasters.” America and our free world allies are fighting one war, a global war against radical Islam, i.e. Islamofascism. Iraq and Afghanistan are but campaigns in the Middle Eastern-Southwest Asian theater of that war. Before it is over, there will be other fronts, other battles, other campaigns and other theaters. Actually, there are already. Islamist terrorists have struck all over the globe, washing country after country in blood. Ironically, most of their victims so far have been Muslims. (Obama did not exactly open a new front of the War on Terror in Libya—Qaddafi, frightened by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, had long since crawled into his hole and was no longer a player on the world field. However, the grisly death of Muammar Qaddafi, who had called Obama “my son,” opens up all kinds of new possibilities by presumably nullifying President Jimmy Carter's Executive Order 12036, which prohibited US involvement of any kind in the assassination of a foreign head of state.)

This is a world war, waged for decades before America finally acknowledged on September 11, 2001 that we were under attack. George Bush correctly identified the enemy as Islamofascists and radical Islam, but was soon worn down by critics; he succumbed to political correctness and softened his language.

The “War on Terror” is a good catch phrase, albeit perhaps not definitive. John Brennan, Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, was not technically incorrect in stating that “the enemy is not 'terrorism,' because terrorism is a 'tactic,' and not 'terror,' because terror is a 'state of mind.'” I think it can be argued that terrorism is a strategy as well as a tactic. Anyway, nobody has come up with a better name for the war, and in any case, the current regime denies that there even is an Islamist enemy. Worse, it appears that the Obama Administration sympathizes with our enemies, and certainly with the enemies of Israel. Whether because of delusion or Islamist sympathies—John Brennan himself refers to Jerusalem by the name the Arabs use, al-Quds. Brennan is just as dangerously wrong on everything else about the enemy.

If America and Western civilization are to survive, we must—absolutely must—come to terms, literally, with reality. We are at war with an implacable enemy who intends to cleanse the world of Jews and destroy Western civilization. Mealy-mouthed speeches, attempts to excuse or “understand” those who are dedicated to destroying us, and limp-wristed responses to threats—such as negotiations and feel-good sanctions--will doom us. Our enemies respect only strength, decisiveness and fearlessness.

We were, once upon a time, a nation of warriors. The world despises us now as a nation of appeasing capons, soft and effeminate. Time to man-up again. We did not choose this war, but we must win it. The alternative is unthinkable. To win it, we must know its nature and, as Sun Tzu dictated, our enemy. We must as a people, gird our collective loins and lock arms with our allies—first and foremost of whom are the valiant and beleaguered Israelis.

Our national mission statement must include John F. Kennedy inaugural declaration: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

The enemy then was “International Communism,” the precursor of our threat today, which we call terrorism, the weapon of International Islamism. As with international Communism, international Islamism has state sponsors. Although we eventually won the Cold War which, incidentally, was World War III, we handicapped ourselves and lengthened it by granting immunity to the countries that trained, financed and provided safe haven to Communist terrorists and guerrillas. Likewise we shrink today from taking on those countries that train, finance and provide safe haven to Islamist terrorists, and their kissing cousins the narcoterrorists.

As Dr. Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. documented in his book Red Cocaine, the Soviets and Chicoms developed terrorism and narcotics as weapons in their war against the Free World, especially the Untied States. Communist terrorism and narcotrafficking had merged into a symbiotic system of destruction that had taken on independent existence long before the collapse of the USSR. The Cold War has morphed into World War IV with the rise of modern Islamism. Islamism, like Communism, is both irredentist and imperialist, but for now Islamists and Marxists have submerged their conflicting beliefs to defeat their common enemy: Western civilization with its personal freedoms. And they have strengthened their interrelationship with drug lords worldwide, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. Iran is building bases in Venezuela, the Muslim Brotherhood-spawned Hamas and Iranian surrogate Hezbollah are partnering with the Mexican drug cartels, infiltrating the US through our porous borders. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are targeting Americans, Israelis and Jewish communities from the Western Hemisphere to the Far East.

America and American citizens have been under attack by communists, by anarchists, by international terrorists, by radical Islamists, by drug cartels for decades. In 1920, an early version of the truck bomb—a bomb in a horse-drawn wagon—on Wall Street killed 35 people and injured hundreds. Incidents in the last four decades include the 1975 bombing of a landmark New York City tavern; the assassination of the American ambassador to Afghanistan in 1979; the seizure of our embassy in Tehran—twice--in 1979; the 1981-82 kidnapping and murder of Americans and other westerners in Beirut; the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, and the bombing of the US embassy in Kuwait, all in 1983; the second bombing of the US embassy in Lebanon in 1984; the killing of Americans on a highjacked Kuwaiti airliner, also in 1984; the 1985 bombing of a Madrid restaurant popular with American soldiers; the 1985 murder of an American Sailor on a hijacked TWA flight; the 1985 murder of a wheelchair-bound American on a hijacked cruise ship; the bombing of another TWA flight in 1986; the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco popular with American troops; the 1988 bombing of a Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland; the1993 World Trade Center bombing; the bombing of the US military headquarters in Riyadh in 1995; the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, a US military complex, in Dhahran; the simultaneous bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998; the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

Other than President Reagan's retaliatory attack on Libya that drove Qaddafi off the world terrorism stage and into his hole, and President George H.W. Bush's swift action to liberate Kuwait, the response of American presidents to aggression was feeble and drew only the world's contempt and encouraged our enemies. Not until 9/11 did our government find its manhood again. Twenty-six days after the 9/11 attacks, the United States and our allies smashed into Afghanistan to take out al Qaeda and its Taliban host. Notably, although all of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, that kingdom was not held responsible. The Iraq campaign was opened eighteen months later.

America's “two wars,” Afghanistan and, of late, Iraq must be placed in the context of total war between the Free World—Western civilization—and forces international that seek to destroy us.

This is not the first time that an enlightened culture was threatened with extinction. What we call World War One was only the first global war of modern times, i.e. the 20th Century. There have in fact been other “world wars” prior to our times. Our own American Revolution was a set piece in a global war with the primary players being the English and the French. The Dark Ages didn't just “happen” all by themselves. There were earlier civilizations of scintillating brilliance that were plunged into cultural cesspools because, as Karl von Clausewitz explained, their swords became blunt in peace and, lacking the stomach for violence, they defended themselves with half-measures in war. We, the United States of America, risk that fate now.

The Iraq victory parade? Oh, yeah. The Obamas have decided instead to have another lavish dinner party at the White House to celebrate the president's “victory in Iraq.” As the Entertainer-in-Chief said on December 9, 2011, “We never need an excuse for a good party.”

Party, party, party! Contributing Editor Karen McKay is a retired US Army Foreign Area Operations Officer living in Western North Carolina with her horses and . During the '80s she led the Committee for a Free Afghanistan and later Americans for Freedom. She is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor and volunteer firefighter/EMT. She can be reached by email at

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

How the U.S. Army Sees The Arabs, Islam, and Middle Eastern Societies

How the U.S. Army Sees The Arabs, Islam, and Middle Eastern Societies

By Barry Rubin

What do you tell soldiers who are risking their lives on Middle East battlefields about the people they are fighting for and against simultaneously? That’s a tough task. And now we have a fascinating picture of how it’s done.

“Arab Cultural Awareness” is a 73-page text by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. It’s easy to make fun of some things in it. Yet how can one briefly explain a complex, different society riddled with exceptions to soldiers who have other concerns, little knowledge, and no experience with it?

Remember, we’re talking about a text whose first section is, “Where is the Arab World?” followed by “What is an Arab?” I think they did a conscientious and honorable job, avoiding prejudice without generally creating a fantasy image, and doing a reasonable job of explaining Islam and social customs.

How the U.S. Army Sees The Arabs, Islam, and Middle Eastern Societies

By Barry Rubin

What do you tell soldiers who are risking their lives on Middle East battlefields about the people they are fighting for and against simultaneously? That’s a tough task. And now we have a fascinating picture of how it’s done.

“Arab Cultural Awareness” is a 73-page text by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. It’s easy to make fun of some things in it. Yet how can one briefly explain a complex, different society riddled with exceptions to soldiers who have other concerns, little knowledge, and no experience with it?

Remember, we’re talking about a text whose first section is, “Where is the Arab World?” followed by “What is an Arab?” I think they did a conscientious and honorable job, avoiding prejudice without generally creating a fantasy image, and doing a reasonable job of explaining Islam and social customs.

But here’s what makes this text especially interesting to me: It was published in January 2006, after September 11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan made this information vital but before hard-core “Political Correctness” set in to freeze American brains. I’m certain this book couldn’t be written today because it is too honest.

The section, “Commom (sic) Misconceptions about Arabs” has to contend with lots of difficulties.

“Stereotypes of Arab males:

“--All are “oil-rich Sheiks”. As in the West, there are economically diverse segments of the population.

“--Mad dictators. Various types of political systems in Arab world.

“--Terrorists. Overwhelming majority are law abiding citizens with families and a wide variety

of occupations.” This is the only time a word deriving from “terror” appears. The words “Islamism” and “Arab nationalism” never appear at all, though it could be argued this text is about culture and not politics.

·”Stereotypes of Arab women:

“--All are oppressed by men. Not true.

“--All are veiled. According to Islam women are supposed to wear veils. In some countries, like Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, it is no imposed upon them and women are free to choose whether to wear veils. However, in other places, all women, even non-Muslims, wear veils out of fear of mistreatment by fanatics or those who pretend to be guardians of Islam.”

A book could be written about those two brief sections which hop through minefields of controversy. Consider the contradiction between saying Islam tells women they must wear veils with suggesting many do so only due to intimidation. Most, if not “all” women are oppressed. The veil is arguably not ordered by Islam but by the dominant interpretation of Islam. And in much of Syria and Egypt women are not free to choose in practice. Could the “mistreatment by fanatics” sentence be used by the Obama-era army? I doubt it.

The book also tells us that “Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen” were in 2006 “parliamentary democracies.” Only Lebanon fit that description. But this is standard classification in the many American textbooks I’ve seen.

Similarly, there is a lot of politeness. Read the very short section entitled, “Arab Contribution to Civilization” which doesn’t quite match President Obama’s diplomacy by flattery because it can't come up with too much. And there is only a tiny hint that there is a certain feeling of superiority, expectation of global victory, and a deep-seated inferiority complex—a formula for rage if there ever was one—in these societies.

The section entitled “Arab Worldview” says the following. I have put the words that don’t conform with Obama ideology in bold:

“An Arab worldview is based upon six concepts: ….

“ATOMISM. Arabs tend to see the world and events as isolated incidents, snapshots, and particular moments in time. Westerners tend to look for unifying concepts whereas

Arabs focus on parts, rather than on the whole.” I’m not sure this is true. Maybe in a highly traditional part of the society but Arab nationalists, Islamists, and others certainly have unifying theories that they believe underpin a wide variety of events.

“FAITH. Arabs usually believe that many, if not all, things in life are controlled by the will of God (fate) rather than by human beings.” It is interesting to explore the implications of this. If you believe, as revolutionary Islamists do, that Allah is on your side then the balance of forces doesn’t matter. You will destroy Israel or defeat America no matter how bad the odds seem to be.

‘WISH VERSUS REALITY. Arabs, much more than Westerners, express emotion in a forceful and animated fashion. Their desire for modernity is contradicted by a desire for tradition (especially Islamic tradition).” That last sentence is a fascinating point and how to solve that contradiction is at the root of much regional turmoil. Of course, media coverage tends to greatly understate the desire for tradition, a factor that helped sabotage the naive expectations of the "Arab Spring."

“IMPORTANCE OF JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. Arabs value justice and equality among Muslims, and to a lesser degree to others. All actions taken by non-Arabs will be weighed in comparison to tradition and religious standards.” That last sentence implies a double standard which does indeed exist. The West also has such an orientation but people consciously and constantly struggle against it. Indeed, nowadays in the West anything that corresponds to tradition and religion are automatically deemed to be wrong by those in control of intellectual and often of political life.

“FAMILY VERSUS SELF. Arabic communities are tight-knit groups made up of even tighter family groups. Family pride and honor is more important than individual honor.”

“PARANIOA. (sic) Arabs may seem paranoid by Western standards. Many are suspicious of any Western interest or intent in their land.”

I know at least four people associated with the U.S. military who have faced pressure, firing, or denial of jobs based on believing some of these things. Differences among societies do exist and some of these explain why some societies are more successful than others.

To ignore or deny these things is to blind oneself to reality and hence make it impossible to deal successfully with threats and problems. U.S. behavior in Afghanistan is a prime example of this problem and yes it does cost lives. For example, if one ignores “paranoia,” as it is called here, that overestimates your own ability to win over people through apology, concessions, trying to prove to be a nice guy, and taking higher risks.

Another interesting section is entitled “Successful Negoiation (sic) Suggestions.”

“Use Policies of Inclusion: Consult and involve in negotiations all the power brokers that have the ability to affect your project.”

True, in part because unless a dictatorship exists—in which case only the man at the top has ultimate authority—the chain of command is extremely weak. But the real problem is that different power brokers try to outbid each other in how little they give, how much they get, and the ability to criticize others for being too flexible. That means deal are hard to reach, even harder to implement, and commitments are rarely met.

“Xenophobia: Be prepared for some distrust of foreigners. Historically, Middle Easterners perceive foreigners in the Middle East as invaders or exploiters.”

See “paranoia” discussion above. The Westerner thinks he will succeed by being liked but he never will be liked no matter how much he bows, gives, or flatters. See Obama policy.

“Bartering: Expect Bartering- Expect an Arab to ask for what he wants rather than merely what he needs. Work towards a satisfactory medium.”

But will you ever get there?

“Personal Provisions: Some Arabs may ask for provisions that appear self-serving. Personal rewards are a normal part of negotiation in the Arab world.”

In other word, bribery.

“Commitment: Do not put your guests / hosts in a position to commit to a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in front of other Arabs. Social pressure could compel your guest/host to agree to a commitment he has no intention of keeping.”

True, but after an agreement is reached that social pressure continues and subverts agreements. See, for example, the history of Israel-Egypt or Israel-Jordan relations and most of all Israel-Palestinian negotiations.

“Long Range Planning: Never accept a firm commitment farther than a week out at face value. Arab culture and the concept of fatalism are not conducive to long range planning and require at least a confirmation in the week prior to the planned event.”

“Compliance: To compel an Arab to keep a commitment in which he appears not to be keeping, attempt an indirect approach first before direct confrontation. Having a peer gently remind him of his commitment, could prevent him from feeling an affront to his honor. Keep verbal commitments or risk reinforcing the perception that `America never keeps its promises.’”

We often see this employed, for example Obama in 2009 trying to get Arab states to back peace with Israel in order to press the Palestinians. Either the peer says “no,” as happened to Obama, or the targeted group says “no” to the peer.

The bottom line in practice is that the Western country (or Israel) is pressed to deliver or criticized for not observing every detail of an agreement while the other side is excused from doing so. In this framework, the former parties are always deemed to be at fault.

This 2006 army manual, despite its faults, makes a good effort to prepare American soldiers to deal with the Middle East. I shudder to think what an equivalent text prepared today would say.

Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
The Rubin Report blog
He is a featured columnist at PJM
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal

Editor Turkish Studies,

Purim Guide for the Perplexed 2012

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought”
March 6, 2012, Based on Jewish Sages

1. Purim's historical background according to the late historian, Prof. Israel Eldad:
*Xerxes the Great – Achashverosh in Hebrew – succeeded Darius the Great and ruled the Persian Empire during 465-486BC, 150 years before the rise of Greek's Alexander the Great.
*Greece was Persia's key opponent in its expansion towards the Mediterranean and Europe, hence the alliance between Persia and Cartago, a rival of Greece.
*Greece supported Egypt's revolt against Persian rule, which was subdued by Persia with the help of the Jewish warriors of Yeb (in Egypt) and Cartago, which had a significant Jewish-Hebrew connection (Hanibal and Barca were a derivative of the Hebrew names, Hananyah and Barak). *Xerxes was defeated by Greece at the 480BC Salamis Battle, but challenged Greece again in 470BC. According to a Greek translation of the Scroll of Esther, Haman (the Agagi) was a Macedonian by orientation or by birth. Agagi could refer to Agag, the Amalekite King (who intended to annihilate the Jews) or to the Aegean Islands. Haman aspired to annihilate the Jews of Persia and opposed improved relations between Xerxes and the Jews Yeb. He led the pro-Greece and anti-Cartago orientation in Persia. Mordechai was a chief advocate of the pro-Cartago orientation.

2. Purim is celebrated on the 14th/15th days of the Jewish month of Adar. Adar (אדר) is the root of the Hebrew adjective Adir (אדיר glorious, awesome, exalted, magnificent). It is, also, a derivative of the Akkadian word Adura (heroism). Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud) highlights Adar as a month of happiness, singing and dancing. The zodiac of Adar is Pisces (fish), which is a symbol of demographic multiplication. Hence, Adar is the only Jewish month, which doubles itself during the 7 leap years, during each 19 year cycle. Purim is celebrated on the 14th (in non-walled towns) and (in Jerusalem) on the 15th day of Adar, commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish People from the jaws of a holocaust in Persia and the 161 BCE victory of Judah the Maccabee over Nikanor, the Assyrian commander. Moses ¬ - who delivered the Jewish People from a holocaust in Egypt and whose burial site is unknown - was born, and died (1273 BCE) on the 7th day of Adar, which is Israel's Memorial Day for soldiers, whose burial site is unknown. The events of Purim occurred following the destruction of the 1st Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (586 BCE) and the exile from Zion, during the leadership of Ezra who returned to Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Second Temple (3rd of Adar, 515 BCE) by Ezra and Nehemiah. Nebuchadnezzar died in Adar 561 BCE (Jeremiah 52:31). Einstein published the theory of General Relativity in Adar 1916.

3. Purim's Hebrew root is fate/destiny (פור), as well as "lottery" (to commemorate Haman's lottery which determined the designated day for the planned annihilation of the Jewish People) "to frustrate”, "to annul”(להפר), "to crumble” and "to shutter” (לפורר), reflecting the demise of Haman.

4. Purim commemorates a Clash of Civilizations between Mordechai the Jew and Haman the Iranian-Amalekite. It constitutes an early edition of the war between Right vs Wrong, Liberty vs Tyranny, Justice vs Evil, Truth vs Lies, as were/are Adam/Eve vs the Snake, Abel vs Cain, Abraham vs Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob vs Esau (grandparent of Amalek), Maccabees vs Assyrians, Allies vs Nazis, Western democracies vs Communist Bloc and Western democracies vs Islamic terrorism.

5. Purim is the holiday of contradictions and tenacity-driven-optimism:

Grief replaced by joy; Esther's concealment replaced by the disclosure of her national/religious identity; Haman's intended genocide of the Jews replaced by redemption; Haman replaced by Mordechai; national and personal pessimism replaced by optimism. A Purim lesson: Life is complex, full of contradictions, ups and downs and difficult dilemmas and worthy of principled-determination.

6. Mordechai, the hero of Purim and one of Ezra's deputies, was a role model of principle-driven optimism in defiance of colossal odds, in the face of a global power and in spite of the Jewish establishment. He fought Jewish assimilation and urged Jews to return to their Homeland. He was endowed with the bravery of faith-driven individuals, such as Nachshon - who was the first to walk into the Red Sea before it was parted. Mordechai was a politically-incorrect statesman and a retired military leader, who practiced "disproportionate pre-emption” instead of defense, deterrence or retaliation. The first three Hebrew letters of Mordechai (מרדכי) spell the Hebrew word Rebellion (מרד), which is consistent with the motto/legacy of the American Founding Fathers: "Rebellion against Tyrants is Obedience to G-D." Mordechai did not bow to Haman, the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire. He was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the only son of Jacob who did not bow to Esau. The name Mordechai is also a derivative of Mordouch,¬ the chief Babylonian god.

Mordechai was a descendant of King Saul, who defied a clear commandment (to eradicate the Amalekites) and spared the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, thus precipitating further calamities upon the Jewish People. Consequently, Saul lost his royal position and life. Mordechai learned from Saul's error. He destroyed Haman, a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, and Haman's entire power base, thus sparing the Jewish People a major disaster.

In Gimatriya, "Cursed Haman" (ארור המן) equals "Blessed Mordechai" ברוך מרדכי), 502).

7. Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim's Esther Scroll (the 24th and concluding book in the Hebrew Bible) was Mordechai's niece. One cannot comprehend Purim without studying the Esther Scroll. Esther demonstrates the centrality of women in Judaism, shaping the future of the Jewish People, as did Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam, Batyah, Deborah, Hannah, etc. Sarah was the first Jewish woman, and Esther was the last Jewish woman, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Sarah lived 127 years and Esther ruled over 127 countries. The name Esther (אסתר)is a derivative of the Hebrew word הסתר - "clandestine", "hidden", "subtle", which was reflective of her (initially) unknown Jewish identity and subtle-style at the royal court. The name Esther is also a derivative of Ishtar ¬ a Mesopotamian goddess, Astarte ¬ a Phoenician goddess. In fact, the one day pre-Purim Fast of Esther (commemorating the three day fast declared by Esther in order to expedite deliverance), was cherished by the Marano in Spain, who performed Judaism in a clandestine manner. The Scroll of Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible, in which G-D's name is hidden/absent. It has been suggested that the explicit name of G-D is absent because the Scroll of Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible, which deals exclusively with the Diaspora and not with the Land of Israel. According to Michael Bernstein, the noun "King" appears 182 times in the Esther Scroll, which is the total sum of 26 (numerical value of G-D) times 7 (days of creation). Esther's second name was Hadassah, whose root is Hadass (myrtle tree in Hebrew) ¬ which constitutes a metaphor for eyesight 20:20.

The name Esther is identified with the planet Venus (hence, Esther's other Hebrew name ¬Noga, just like my oldest granddaughter¬ a glaring divine light, which is Venus in Hebrew). In Gimatriya, Esther (אסתר) and Noga (נגה) equal 661 and 58 respectively, and the sum of 6+6+1 and 5+8 is 13 (the number of G-D's virtues). In "small Gimatriya" both Esther (1+6+4+2) and Noga (5+3+5) equal 13, which is also the total sum of one in Hebrew (אחד) ¬ which represents monotheism, as well as the total sum of love in Hebrew (אהבה).

8. The Persian King appointed Mordechai to be his top advisor, overruling Haman's intent to prevent the resettling of Jews in Zion, the reconstruction of the Temple and the restoration of the wall around Jerusalem. He foiled Haman's plan to exterminate the Jews. The king prospered as a result of his change of heart and escaped assassination. That was the case with Pharaoh, who escaped national collapse and starvation and rose in global prominence, once he appointed Joseph to be his deputy.

9. Purim's four commandments:

*Reading/studying the "Esther Scroll” within the family, highlighting the centrality of family, education, memory and youth as the foundation for a solid future.

*Gifts to relatives and friends emphasize the importance of family and community.

*Charity (at least the value of a meal) reflects compassion and communal responsibility. According to Maimonides, "there is no greater or more glorious joy than bringing joy to the poor."

*Celebration and Happiness sustains optimism and faith - the backbone of individuals and nations.

10. Lethal enemy destroyed and lethal threat commemorated. The pre-Purim Sabbath is called "Memorial Sabbath" (שבת זכור), commemorating the war of extermination launched by the Amalekites against the Jewish Nation, since the Exodus from Egypt. A Purim lesson: Be wary of enemies, posing as partners of peace, concealing a strategic goal of extermination.

Happy Purim,

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative"

Why Israel Has Doubts About Obama

Even Democrats have publicly questioned U.S. statements and policies toward America's most important Mideast ally.


'I try not to pat myself too much on the back," President Barack Obama immodestly told a group of Jewish donors last October, "but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration."

Mr. Obama struck a similar tone at the annual policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) in Washington Sunday, assuring the group that "I have Israel's back." And it's little wonder why. Monday he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid growing concern that a military strike will be necessary to end Iran's nuclear weapons program. He also knows that he lost a portion of the Jewish vote when he publicly pressured Israel to commence negotiations with the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders with land swaps. With the election nine months away, he's scrambling to win back Jewish voters and donors. It is true that there has been increased U.S. funding for Israeli defense programs, the bulk of which comes from Mr. Obama maintaining a 10-year commitment made by President George W. Bush to Israel's government in 2007.

But a key element of Israel's security is deterrence. That deterrence rests on many parts, including the perception among its adversaries that Israel will defend itself, and that if Israel must take action America will stand by Israel. Now consider how Israel's adversaries must view this deterrence capability in recent months:

October 2011: Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Israel, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised provocative questions about Israel. "Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you're isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?"

This characterization of self-created isolation surprised Israeli officials. After all, for almost three years President Obama had pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions in the peace process. And his administration had publicly confronted Israel's leaders, making unprecedented demands for a complete settlement freeze�which Israel met in 2010.

Enlarge Image
Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with Barack Obama.

The president's stern lectures to Israel's leaders were delivered repeatedly and very publicly at the United Nations, in Egypt and Turkey, all while he did not make a single visit to Israel to express solidarity. Thus, having helped foment an image of Israeli obstinacy, the Obama administration was now using this image of isolation against Israel's government. Mr. Panetta's criticism was promptly endorsed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a harsh critic of Israel, who said Mr. Panetta was "correct in his assumptions." Indeed, almost every time the Obama administration has scolded Israel, the charges have been repeated by Turkish officials.

November 2011: In advance of meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mr. Panetta publicly previewed his message. He would warn Mr. Barak against a military strike on Iran's nuclear program: "There are going to be economic consequences . . . that could impact not just on our economy but the world economy." Even if the administration felt compelled to deliver this message privately, why undercut the perception of U.S.-Israel unity on the military option?

That same month, an open microphone caught part of a private conversation between Mr. Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. Sarkozy said of Israel's premier, "I can't stand Netanyahu. He's a liar." Rather than defend Israel's back, Mr. Obama piled on: "You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day."

December 2011: Again undercutting the credibility of the Israeli military option, Mr. Panetta used a high-profile speech to challenge the idea that an Israeli strike could eliminate or substantially delay Iran's nuclear program, and he warned that "the United States would obviously be blamed."

Mr. Panetta also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by lecturing Israel to "just get to the damn table." This, despite the fact that Israel had been actively pursuing direct negotiations with the Palestinians, only to watch the Palestinian president abandon talks and unilaterally pursue statehood at the U.N. The Obama team thought the problem was with Israel?

January 2012: In an interview, Mr. Obama referred to Prime Minister Erdogan as one of the five world leaders with whom he has developed "bonds of trust." According to Mr. Obama, these bonds have "allowed us to execute effective diplomacy." The Turkish government had earlier sanctioned a six-ship flotilla to penetrate Israel's naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Mr. Erdogan had said that Israel's defensive response was "cause for war."

February 2012: At a conference in Tunis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about Mr. Obama pandering to "Zionist lobbies." She acknowledged that it was "a fair question" and went on to explain that during an election season "there are comments made that certainly don't reflect our foreign policy."

In an interview last week with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, Mr. Obama dismissed domestic critics of his Israel policy as "a set of political actors who want to see if they can drive a wedge . . . between Barack Obama and the Jewish American vote." But what's glaring is how many of these criticisms have been leveled by Democrats.

Last December, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez lambasted administration officials at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. He had proposed sanctions on Iran's central bank and the administration was hurling a range of objections. "Published reports say we have about a year," said Mr. Menendez. "So I find it pretty outrageous that when the clock is ticking . . . you come here and say what you say."

Also last year, a number of leading Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Steny Hoyer, felt compelled to speak out in response to Mr. Obama's proposal for Israel to return to its indefensible pre-1967 borders. Rep. Eliot Engel told CNN that "for the president to emphasize that . . . was a very big mistake."

In April 2010, 38 Democratic senators signed a critical letter to Secretary Clinton following the administration's public (and private) dressing down of the Israeli government.

Sen. Charles Schumer used even stronger language in 2010 when he responded to "something I have never heard before," from the Obama State Department, "which is, the relationship of Israel and the United States depends on the pace of the negotiations. That is terrible. That is a dagger."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, said of Mr. Obama last year, "I think he's handled the relationship with Israel in a way that has encouraged Israel's enemies, and really unsettled the Israelis."

Election-year politics may bring some short-term improvements in the U.S. relationship with Israel. But there's concern that a re-elected President Obama, with no more votes or donors to court, would be even more aggressive in his one-sided approach toward Israel.

If Mr. Obama wants a pat on the back, he should make it clear that he will do everything in his power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability, and that he will stand by Israel if it must act. He came one step closer to that stance on Sunday when he told Aipac, "Iran's leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States, just as they should not doubt Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs." Let's hope this is the beginning of a policy change and not just election year rhetoric.

Mr. Senor, co-author with Saul Singer of "Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle" (Twelve, 2011), served as a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003-04, and is currently an adviser to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

A version of this article appeared Mar. 5, 2012, on page A15 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Why Israel Has Doubts About Obama.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Fisking Obama's AIPAC Speech

Ed Lasky

President Obama delivered a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday. The text can be found here.

Barack Obama's reception was lukewarm when he walked on stage -- and for good reason, given the treatment he has meted out to Israel since assuming the presidency. I thought it would be interesting to do a so-called Fisking of his speech to illustrate its inaccuracies. Fisking is named after the British "journalist" Robert Fisk who has been notorious for passing off his biases and errors as facts. A Fisking just reveals and highlights these "errors". The excerpts are in quotes; my analysis follows after

Comment So a Fisking we go:

"Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every single year. We are investing in new capabilities. We're providing Israel with more advanced technology - the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies. And make no mistake: We will do what it takes to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge - because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. This isn't just about numbers on a balance sheet. As a senator, I spoke to Israeli troops on the Lebanese border. I visited with families who've known the terror of rocket fire in Sderot. And that's why, as president, I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes and hospitals and schools in that town and in others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel's defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles."

Comment: He did not do this; Congress did. Mark Kirk was instrumental in ensuring the Iron Dome system was funded, developed and deployed. This was during the Bush years, not the Obama years. A matter of fact, he trimmed funding in his latest budget proposal for Israel's missile defense.

"And just as we've been there with our security assistance, we've been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it. When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them. When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism.

When one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them. When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened to save them. When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to delegitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them. So there should not be a shred of doubt by now - when the chips are down, I have Israel's back."

Comment: The Obama administration joined the execrable and anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council where anti-Israel actions continue to mount with no opposition from America; they waited and waited until the political pressure became intense to decide not to attend Durban (other nations, such as Canada, announced their intentions not to attend much earlier). Susan Rice has excoriated Israel at the United Nations. Former AIPAC Policy Conference Speaker Anne Bayefsky recently outlined how weak American support for Israel at the United Nations has been the last 3 years (seeObama Rewrites His Record on Israel)

"Which is why, if during this political season you hear some questions regarding my administration's support for Israel, remember that it's not backed up by the facts. And remember that the U.S.-Israel relationship is simply too important to be distorted by partisan politics. America's national security is too important. Israel's security is too important."

Comment: Yes..all the criticism is all lies for partisan purposes. So, therefore, all criticism should be ignored -- especially before November. A President should not stoop to partisanship during this type of speech (didn't Barack Obama himself decry such partisanship in this very speech)?

"But as hard as it may be, we should not and cannot give in to cynicism or despair. The changes taking place in the region make peace more important, not less. And I've made it clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel's security concerns are met. That's why we continue to press Arab leaders to reach out to Israel, and will continue to support the peace treaty with Egypt. That's why - just as we encourage Israel to be resolute in the pursuit of peace - we have continued to insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel's right to exist and reject violence and adhere to existing agreements. And that is why my administration has consistently rejected any efforts to short-cut negotiations or impose an agreement on the parties."

Comment: Where to start? First of all, no requirement that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state (see Omri Ceren's "Obama's Telling Silence"). Has there really been an effort to press Arab leaders to reach out to Israel? I have not seen much movement. How accurate is this statement? "And that is why my administration has consistently rejected any efforts to short-cut negotiations or impose an agreement on the parties." Where to start with that sentence? The administration has ignored commitments regarding Israel having defensible borders and agreements regarding settlements; it has ignored the Palestinians ignoring Oslo commitments regarding the sequencing of actions; the issue of the 1967 borders that Obama threw out as "the basis" of negotiations; one could go on and on criticizing that claim. Even Abbas admitted he saw the Presidents efforts to push Israel so broad and hard he felt all he had to do was sit back and wait for Barack Obama to push Israel into agreements (see Abbas's Waiting Game by Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl).

"When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in tatters. Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands, without facing broad pushback from the world. In the region, Iran was ascendant - increasingly popular and extending its reach. In other words, the Iranian leadership was united and on the move, and the international community was divided about how to go forward."

Comment: Everything is Bush's fault. President Obama was clever here because he did not directly say this, but he all-but-did-so by picturing a situation where the world was divided, sanctions were weak, etc. before his Presidency. Some truth to that, but contrary to what he asserts, China and Russia are not cooperating very much with sanctions and other countries have helped Iran that were not doing so before (Turkey, run by a leader that Obama considers one of his best friends among international leaders). What has really focused the world's attention is Israel's words regarding the chance of a military strike -- language that the administration is trying to defuse -- as Barack Obama calls for in his AIPAC speech.

Fact: Barack Obama tried to slow and weaken sanctions legislation as it moved through Congress; his "implementation" was so weak that at various times over the last few years large numbers of Democrats and Republicans from both the Senate and the House have called for him to actually start enforcing the sanctions they passed; most recently, the White House refused to implement additional sanctions on foreign firms doing business with Iran's Central Bank-power he was given by the Kirk-Menendez amendment. A former top Israeli official notedthat additional sanctions are available but that Barack Obama has refused to use them. When he signed the legislation that contained the Kirk-Menendez amendment, he issued one of those presidential signing statements he used to excoriate when his predecessor issued them. This signing statement expressed his intention to interpret the Kirk-Menendez in a way that would allow him to take a pass on invoking those sanctions -- something he did last week.

Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Comment: Good about containment not being a policy; but people were looking for "red lines" regarding preventing Iran from developing the capability to develop nuclear weapons. There were no "red lines". AsJonathan Tobin notes, "there was the absence in the speech of any indication that the United States is willing to lay down 'red lines' that mark the limit of how far Iran may go without obligating Washington to take action. Though the president deprecated the 'loose talk' about war that has been heard lately, the only way to avoid such a conflict is to demonstrate to Iran that if it continues, as it has, to increase its efforts toward nuclear capability, it will bring down upon itself the wrath of the West." Israelis will not be comforted by Iranians having the capability to build a bomb at a time and place of their choosing.

By trying to tamp down Israeli language regarding possible military strikes against Iran, by sending out administration officials to indicate it would be foolish for Israel to strike since Iran is a "rational actor" and such a strike would probably not succeed, and that the WH was "trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel," the administration is taking steps that would ease pressure on Iran to negotiate. Such language will be interpreted that America does not have Israel's back and will thus decrease the perception that Israel would strike Iran. This would incidentally have the effect of lowering oil prices before November, and helping at least one person's prospects if not the prospects of millions of people threatened with destruction.