Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fayyad’s toy gun.


by Yisrael Harel


If Arafat did not dare divide the land, will a technocrat bereft of charisma and leadership take such an audacious step?


With the Oslo wind in his sails reanimating his international legitimacy even after he had become a political corpse – and with his Israeli partners anxious to prove that Oslo, despite endless murderous terror, was not a fatal mistake – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat announced that on May 4, 1999 he would unilaterally declare the establishment of a Palestinian state. The political world was in turmoil. Except for the United States and its European allies, there was a supportive anticipation that Arafat would make good on his vision/threat and realize the dream of generations of Palestinians. Israel was bewildered.

So excited was the international political scene that its most veteran research institute decided to alleviate the tension by holding a simulation exercise: Will he or will he not declare independence? Participants arrived from all over the globe. All eyes were on the Palestinian delegates, none of whom moved (even though every participant represented only himself) without consulting Arafat who reportedly attached tremendous importance to the outcome.

Most of the Israeli and non-Arab observers believed Arafat would not dare declare independence, fearing Israeli military pressure and Israel's withdrawal from the Oslo process, since he would be violating one of Oslo's fundamental rules: No side would take unilateral measures.

I also believed Arafat would not make the declaration, but for an entirely different reason. His threat was directed at an objective that I don't fully understand, I said, but was definitely not the realization of the dream of generations. The Palestinians, I argued at that simulation and believe to this day, do not want a state of their own alongside Israel. Accordingly, Arafat would make a show of yielding to the counsel of the Arab states and avoid declaring independence. And so it was, even though few if any agreed then with my thinking.

Arafat's retreat was at the time considered a triumph of reason – so deep was the faith of the media and the Left that he was a true partner for peace (and so deep the need to justify the fatal adventure of Oslo). Yet the truth, then as now, is that had the Palestinians really wanted a two-state solution, their state would now be at least 10 years old and would be based on Israeli concessions of the Yossi Beilin variety. In fact, they do not want to divide the land; they want a single Arab state – not "a state of all its citizens" – between the river and the sea. And they believe they will eventually get there – hence all the delaying tactics, then and now.

IF ARAFAT did not dare divide the land based on an historic Arab concession, and agreement to a Jewish state, a national home for the Jewish people, then will Salam Fayyad, a technocrat bereft of charisma and leadership, dare take such an audacious step? He won't dare to defy the vast majority of his people, who reject compromise, territorial or otherwise.

Still, for the sake of argument, let's assume he does declare a state unilaterally and wins the support of his people, and that the international community overwhelmingly recognizes the new state. The territory it comprises, areas A and B, constitutes less than 50 percent of Judea and Samaria – all told some 2,500 square kilometers. In Gaza they'll breathe easy: Now the Hamas "state" can claim parallel legitimacy. And the world? The Arab states? They will get used to a state within these borders – a state that has to worry about education, security, economy and transportation; a state that can no longer complain that all its failures are due to the absence of the instruments of state.

Nor will or should Israel's settlers shed a tear over this course of events. Israeli public opinion will understand that if the pragmatic Fayyad – the man hosted in every important Israeli salon and even at the Herzliya Conference – pulled off this stunt, then there really is no Palestinian partner. The government, confronted with this provocation, will annul the road map – under the circumstances, the US will be unable to prevent such a step – accelerate the pace of settlement in Area C and, under pressure from the settlers, launch preparations to annex it.

The current Israeli response to Fayyad's threat is a counterthreat. But if the country's rulers were well-versed in subterfuge, they would find devious ways to encourage Fayyad's folly. After all, today, in the absence of a Palestinian state, the entire world, including an influential minority of Israelis, is pushing to establish one more or less along the 1967 lines. But the moment such a state is functioning within areas A and B, both it and the rest of the world will get used to this new reality. Certainly Israel will, with Area C in its hands.

Of course Fayyad won't fall into this trap. Hence all those who take his threat seriously, or even treat it as an exercise in Middle East bazaar diplomacy, are actually revealing that they don't understand either Fayyad's capabilities or the real Palestinian objective of eliminating the Jewish-Zionist entity.

One way or another, Fayyad's gun is empty. In fact, it's only a toy gun. And like a child playing with a toy, he doesn't always know either the purpose of the game or its outcome.


Yisrael Harel  heads the Institute for Zionist Strategy in Jerusalem and writes a weekly political column in Haaretz. He founded the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip and headed it for 15 years.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Moral blindness -- and truth and justice betrayed.


by  Melanie Phillips


How utterly extraordinary. Hillary Clinton made a big speech today to the US Jewish lobby group AIPAC – a speech of no small importance given the crisis in relations between the Obama administration and Israel. But in this speech, as Israel Matzav notes, she committed an astounding howler. Referring to the recent Palestinian naming of a square near Ramallah in honour of terrorist Dalal al Mughrabi, she said:


When a Hamas-controlled municipality glorifies violence and renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis, it insults the families on both sides who have lost loves ones in this conflict.


But the naming of the square was a Fatah event supported by the Palestinian Authority and glorifying a Fatah terrorist. Does Clinton not know this? Of course she does. What this whopper tells us is that she – and the benighted Obama administration that wrote her lamentable speech – cannot and will not acknowledge that Fatah is a terrorist organisation that glorifies a terrorist who murdered not only dozens of Israelis but also the niece of an American Democratic senator.


Clinton and the Obamites cannot and will not acknowledge this because their whole Middle East strategy revolves around forcing Israel to give a state to Fatah -- because they 'deserve' it as moderate peaceful statesmen-in-waiting. As if. The fact that the Obamites are actually bullying Israel into accepting a Fatah-run terrorist state was unfortunately all-too graphically demonstrated when Fatah named its square after Mughrabi. So Clinton, purporting to attack the glorification of terrorist violence, turned the instigators into Hamas instead.


Her message to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by previous signed agreements (this from an administration that has torn up America's own agreements with Israel) was addressed solely to Hamas. To Fatah, whose leaders declare they will never accept a Jewish state, whose armed wing continues to commit acts of terror and who have gone back on countless agreements, not one word of criticism.


The rest of Clinton's speech was as bad if not worse. Most egregious was her equation of Palestinian incitement to hate and murder Jews with Israel's construction of settlements in the West Bank. Thus murderous aggression by Arabs against Jews is equated with building houses on land to which Israel is historically, morally and lawfully entitled.  On planet Clinton, building houses 'undermines mutual trust'. But why should Israel, the victim of Palestinian aggression, be expected to build Palestinian trust, for heaven's sake? It is the aggressor who has to build the trust that he has renounced his aggression. Clinton's moral blindness is simply astounding.


Far from the irrelevant settlements, it is Arab incitement to hate and murder Jews and drive them out of their own restored homeland which has been the cause of the conflict for the past eight decades. As Clinton herself said -- without apparently acknowledging the implication of her words – Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion accepted the compromise solution of two states in the 1930s. What she failed to say is that the Arabs refused it then and ever since and are doing so even now – and yet the Obama administration is silent on this fact, the only fact that matters, and instead bullies Israel over the utterly bogus grievance of the settlements.


Thus the Obama administration has put itself on the side of the aggressors in the Middle East conflict and declared itself hostile to their victims – even as it professes a 'rock-solid' bond with those victims. This is an administration that quite simply does not acknowledge the difference between right and wrong, victim and aggressor, bullying and justice. It is thus no friend to the Jewish people, and a threat to the peace of the world.


Correction: an earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that the square in question was in Ramallah. In fact it was in a suburb of Ramallah where there is a Hamas-controlled municipal council. The naming of the square, however, had nothing to do with Hamas and was entirely a Fatah event.


Melanie Phillips

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.



The Obama Administration's Coolness to Israel is No Mirage but it is a Manageable Problem.

Barry Rubin


As my readers know, I have often defended the Obama Administration against excessive criticism, conspiracy theory charges, and claims that it wants to destroy or at least damage Israel as some ideological goal. And I've also been willing to criticize it  for its foreign policy mistakes when, unfortunately, all too often that's been necessary.

But when David Remnick
writes in the New Yorker that Israelis inexplicably have this strange mistaken, paranoid perception that President Barack Obama doesn't really love them, that crosses the line. The president, he explains, has Jewish friends and they think he is quite warm toward Israel.

Not only is it inaccurate and insulting to claim Israelis are just imagining that a real problem exists here but it misunderstands a very simple point that we daily observe: Israel's elite, academics, and journlaists understand the United States far better than current U.S. leaders, academics, journalists, and members of the policy elite understand Israel. Of course, Remnick's approach is also just one more way that opinionmakers and journalists have been avoiding the need to deal with the very real problems and shortcomings that do exist.

Here's the bottom line: It is hard to argue (honestly, at least) that Obama isn't the least-warm president to Israel while in office since the country was established in 1948. The "while in office"  phrase is meant to include Jimmy Carter whose great hostility came mostly after he left the White House.

This doesn't mean the Obama Administration cannot be worked with. From about April 2009 to early March 2010, U.S.-Israel relations were going pretty well. Two groups in particular deserve credit for this:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres and their team handled a difficult, potentially dangerous problem quite well.

Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues systematically destroyed their opportunity to take advantage of Obama's Third World, pro-Palestinian, eager-to-please-Muslims-and- Arabs orientation.

If not for the badly timed announcement over apartments in Jerusalem, bilateral relations would be quite good now, as they largely were since last summer. It is wrong, I believe, to think that the Administration leaped on this mishap as a chance to bash Israel. It was genuinely angry that what comes close to being its only foreign policy achievement--and a minor one at that--getting indirect Israel-Palestinian negotiations going had suddenly crashed. This is not to say that the Administration handled the crisis in a smart manner, but this was a spontaneous problem and one it wishes to fix as fast as possible.

There are lots of reasons why, despite the lack of warmth toward Israel, the Obama Administration can be dissuaded from hostility in practice. These include different opinions in the administration regarding Israel and the Middle East, with many officials not at all unfriendly. In addition, there is the force of events--including Palestinian intransigence--and the administration's ability to learn which were displayed in the president's January interview saying he learned not much progress was possible in the peace process.

Then, too, there are counter-forces like American public opinion, the role of Congress, and electoral considerations that temper the administration's behavior. Indeed, the degree of concern and criticism on this issue has in itself been an important factor in subverting any Administration ardor for punishing or distancing itself from Israel.

Finally, Obama and his colleagues have seen that they can walk over with relative ease many forces always thought powerful--banks, insurance companies, the energy industry, and individual states, for example. Only in the case of Israel has there been public and even Democratic party push-back. Savvy politicians notice that kind of thing.

The White House's main goal at this point is not to bash Israel but rather to claim victory at getting indirect negotiations going and to avoid upheavals which officials think would interfere with U.S. policies elsewhere in the region.

And as I've said often, the real problem is not with U.S.-Israel relations but with the failures of U.S. policy to recognize and deal with the region-wide expansion of radical forces and especially of the Iran-Syria axis. By the same token, the real threat is not to Israel's interests--nothing is going to change on the ground and there won't be any major diplomatic shift--but to U.S. interests.

Ironically, Israel is not so different in its perceptions of the Administration from its Arab neighbors. In their case, though, the problem for most Arab states is that while they see a president who wants to be friendly to Arabs and Muslims, the specific Arabs and Muslims it is trying to be most friendly with are their own eneies, mainly Iran, Syria, and--to a far lesser extent so far--Islamist revolutionaries. They see this as a sign of weakness that might jeopardize their survival.

Ironically, their common discomfort with what's coming out of Washington may actually push Israel and moderate Arabs together far more than any U.S. attempt at peacemaking.

At any rate,  it is true that the views of some right-wingers that demonize Obama and his government are quite excessive. But to claim that the existence of certain ideological viewpoints, policies, and attitudes in this president and his administration are imaginary figments, misunderstandings, and paranoid fantasies goes too far.

The most interesting thing about recent Obama Administration rhetoric toward Israel--especially clear in Clinton's AIPAC speech--is that it thinks it is positioning itself like a moderate left Israeli. The problem is that what they are trying to copy is the position of Labor Party people, and arguably the majority in Israel, during the second half of the 1990s, when there was hope that big concessions to the Palestinian Authority might produce a stable peace based on compromise. Today, such a belief is held by perhaps 20 percent or so of Israeli voters, and that includes Arab voters.

And how seriously are Israelis going to take the idea that the Obama Administration knows better how to preserve their lives and national security when Clinton, beneficiary of supposedly the world's best intelligence agencies and so many "experts"--mistakenly condemned Hamas in her AIPAC speech for renaming "a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis" when it was in fact the Palestinian Authority that did so?  This is no sophisticated analysis of the radicalism and intransigence in the PA but merely a mantra: Hams Bad; PA Good!

If through its behavior and official statements, this administration wants to assure Israelis and its own public that it understands the threats to Israel, the country's security requirements, and its legitimate goals that is a good thing. But this U.S. government must first demonstrate some comprehension that the PA is a major--or even better but too unlikely, the major--factor blocking peace. It has to show some readiness to pressure and criticize the PA, not just Israel.

In addition, such words must come from the president and his chief lieutenants, not from non-government sources whose goal is to boast the administration by denying that anything whatsoever is going on here.

Don't get me wrong. It is indeed quite proper for American Jewish organizations, individual politicians in the United States and Israel, and certainly for Israel's government to deny that there is any deep problem. This stance makes them far more able to resolve tensions. But the job of scholars, journalists, and academics is to speak the truth, which is--or should be--our distinctive contribution to solving as well as avoiding problems.

Once again, I think issues of U.S.-Israel relations are a distraction from what's really important. Nothing is going to happen on the peace process front or on U.S.-Israel relations during the next two or three years. What will happen is the erosion of the U.S. strategic position in the region as radical forces--and Iran gets nuclear weapons--grow stronger and moderate ones are frightened into silence or appeasement. This is the real danger and the front toward which American energy and determination should be directed.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


A revolutionary proposal.


by  Melanie Phillips


Commenting on the Obama/Israel crisis, Ed Lasky concludes that the US President is deliberately trying to turn America against Israel – and he is succeeding.


I have written in today's Jewish Chronicle that it is time for Israel to stop going along with the diplomatic lies told for so long by Britain, America and the west about the Arab war against Israel. Lies that have twisted so many people's minds into the belief that Israel is the historic usurper and aggressor in the Middle East, whereas in fact the Jews and the Jews alone are the rightful heirs to the land, in historical, legal and moral terms, and a monstrous injustice has been and is still being done to them.


It is these lies, and the consequent appeasement of the Arabs who promulgate them and the rewarding of Arab aggression, which has caused the Middle East impasse to remain an unending conflict. And it is these lies and the new distortions supplied by Obama which now pose the greatest single danger to Israel's security and existence by eroding public support – not just in Britain, which is already lost, as is to a lesser extent 'old' Europe, but among the people who are the staunchest supporters of Israel: the great mass of middle America.


Disastrously, Israel has gone along with these lies -- for a variety of reasons. First, Israel observes the rules of diplomacy which almost invariably involve compromise. Now compromise is in general a good thing; but in a war of extermination, if the victim compromises with its attackers it strengthens them and makes its defeat more likely. In no other conflict in the history of the planet has a country which is the victim of an eight-decade belligerency aimed at wiping it off the map been expected to make concessions to its attackers. In no other conflict has such a victimised people been bullied by onlookers into doing so. Yet the first pressure is what Britain, America and Europe have been applying for decades, and the second is what Obama is now applying, with the EU falling in behind him: bullying the prospective victim of extermination into submitting to measures which increase the risk of such an eventuality, and in the process almost forcing the Palestinians from their habitual pose of sullen obstructionism and sporadic terrorism into another spate of outright war.


This global trance of intellectual inversion, hallucinatory bigotry and appeasement of terror could be broken instantly if the big lies that sustain it were exposed for the malevolent fictions that they are. Yet remarkably, Israel never stands up and delivers the necessary home truths about the history of the region and the cowardly and vicious behaviour of its 'friends'.


There are various reasons for this. First, vulnerable as it is, it needs all the allies it can get – particularly America – in order to survive. These 'friends', false as they may be, are nevertheless better than enemies; and they provide considerable ballast -- in their own interests, let it never be overlooked -- against Israel's declared foes. So that's one very good reason why Israel has bitten its lip and proclaimed deep friendship with these treacherous western nations.


Next, and scarcely less important, is what can only be described as the psychopathology arising from Israel's beleaguered existence. After eight decades of military siege, Israel suffers from what might be described as a collective 'Stockholm Syndrome' – identifying to some extent at least with the mindset of its abusers.


At the same time, Israel believes the moral rightness of its cause is so overwhelmingly obvious it cannot grasp that others don't see it that way, let alone view its Arab aggressors as the victims of Israel: such an appalling inversion of reality and justice is simply too outrageous for it to take on board. 


As for the need to make the case again and again for the Jewish entitlement to the land, Israelis protest – not unreasonably – why they alone should have to justify their existence when no other country, however artificial or contested, such as Pakistan, for example, is expected to do so.


Even more significant is the fact that, as a result of the Holocaust in Europe and the egregious betrayal of the Jews by the British in Palestine (the perfidious capitulation to Arab terrorism which is the true historic cause of the whole enduring Middle East problem) successive Israeli governments have written off Britain and Europe as irredeemably bigoted and thus impervious to any reasoned or moral argument about the situation of the Jewish people. So they won't make the case.


However understandable any of these reasons may once have been, they have not only had catastrophic consequences but are now superseded by the new reality. Israel assumed that America would remain its staunch friend. It believed that because, first, the vast bulk of the American people supported Israel, and second because it assumed that any US administration would realise that Israel was the bulwark against a hostile Arab world (forgetting how indifferent or even hostile certain US Presidents had been in the past). Now we can see how short-sighted, foolish and arrogant those assumptions were. Obama has now demonstrated beyond doubt that he is Israel's enemy – and much worse than that, he is turning the great-hearted American people against it.


So with Iran about to manufacture its genocide bomb, the course of Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu is now clear. He must speak over the heads of Obama and his administration to the great mass of the American people. He must tell them very plainly the truth of what is happening and the way in which their country is being turned into an ally of evil against justice, aggressor against victim. And beyond America, he must now state in blunt and unmistakeable terms the grotesque reality of what Israel's 'friends' in Britain and Europe, along with America, are now doing: uniquely rewarding those who wish to destroy a sovereign state, and punishing their victims.


For sure, speaking out like this is not in the diplomatic rule-book. The idea of telling the truth would doubtless have the mandarins of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office reaching for the smelling salts. But it's diplomacy that has brought the Middle East to this terrible impasse, and it's diplomacy that threatens to facilitate yet more mass murder of the innocent. Netanyahu must take his courage in his hands and finally speak public truth to unjust and coercive power at this moment of such grave peril, not just for Israel but for the world. 



Melanie Phillips

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


The Other Side of the "Peace" Process.


by Jonathan Tobin

While most of the world rattles on about how Israel’s impudent decision to build apartments for Jews in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem will harm the peace process, the real obstacles to peace staged yet another demonstration of Middle East realities. In the last two days, Palestinian terrorists fired three rockets into southern Israel. Two landed near the town of Sderot in Southern Israel on Wednesday. One adult and a child suffered from shock from that blast. Then today, a rocket hit nearby Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, killing a worker from Thailand. Thirty such rockets have landed in southern Israel since the beginning of 2010.

Apologists for the Hamas terrorists, who run Gaza as a private fiefdom, were quick to blame the attacks on splinter groups beyond the control of the supposedly responsible thugs of Hamas. Two such groups claimed responsibility. One is an al-Qaeda offshoot, and the other is none other than the al-Asqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the terrorist wing of the supposedly moderate and peace-loving Fatah Party that controls the West Bank.

The rockets were an appropriate welcome to the Dame Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s top foreign-policy official, who was in Gaza for a visit. Though Ashton won’t meet with Hamas officials, her trip to Gaza is seen as helping the ongoing campaign to lift the limited blockade of the terrorist-run enclave even though Israel allows food and medical supplies into the Strip, so there is no humanitarian crisis. Those who would like to see this Hamasistan freed from all constraints say that the “humanitarian” issues should take precedence over “politics.” But their humanitarianism takes no notice of Israelis who still live under the constant threat of terrorist missile attacks. Nor do they think Hamas should be forced to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for an end to the blockade.

Such “humanitarianism” is also blind to why Israelis are leery of any further territorial concessions to the Palestinians – because they rightly fear that the ordeal of Sderot could easily be repeated in any part of Central Israel, as well as in Jerusalem, once Israel’s forces are forced to completely withdraw from the West Bank. Gaza is not just a symbol of the failures of Palestinian nationalism, as the welfare of over a million Arabs has been ignored as Hamas pursues its pathologically violent agenda of hostility to Israel. It is also a symbol of the failure of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal policy, which Americans once hoped would allow the area to become a zone of peace and prosperity.

For all of the recent emphasis on Israel’s behavior, Gaza stands as both a lesson and a warning to those who heedlessly urge further concessions on Israel on behalf of a peace process in which the Palestinians have no real interest.


Jonathan Tobin

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


White House Ignores Iran’s Help to Al-Qaida in its Passion over Jerusalem Apartments.

By Barry Rubin

The United States is at war with al-Qaida. Al-Qaida carried out the attack on the World Trade Center that killed 3,000 Americans. Al-Qaida is killing Americans in Iraq and elsewhere. So one would think the fact that al-Qaida has found a powerful ally would be a big story in the American media and by a big priority for setting off U.S. government anger.

And this would be especially so if that was explained by one of the most respected men in the country, a man who has access to the highest-level intelligence.

Not at all.

In the same testimony which  created lots of discussion regarding remarks on the Israel-Palestinian issue, General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, revealed a bombshell story that has been ignored: Iran is helping al-Qaida attack Americans.

Iran, he
said in military-speak, provides "a key facilitation hub, where facilitators connect al Qaida's senior leadership to regional affiliates." Translation: Tehran is letting al-Qaida leaders travel freely back and forth to Pakistan and Afghanistan, using its territory as a safe haven, while permitting them to hold meetings to plan terrorist attacks for attacking U.S. targets and killing Americans. While nominally Iran sometimes takes these people into custody, that seems, Petraeus says, a fiction to fool foreigners.

Oh, and Petraeus added that Iran also helps the Taliban fight America in Afghanistan. Regarding Iraq, the general explains, "The Qods Force [an elite Iranian military group within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] also maintains its lethal support to Shia Iraqi militia groups, providing them with weapons, funding and training,"

So, Petraeus pointed out that Iran is helping al-Qaida against the United States and also, at times, Shia groups as well though these have been more quiet lately. In effect, the Tehran regime is at war with the United States. Yet this point is not being highlighted, nor does it stir rage in the hearts of White House officials or strenuous attempts to counter this threat.

There have been stories, some persuasive but not fully confirmed, about Iran's cooperation with al-Qaida for years. Frankly, I have been reluctant to write about this matter lest it be dismissed as being based on rumors, though even Syrian cooperation with al-Qaida which is crystal clear--the terrorists they are training, funding, equipping, and letting cross back and forth over the Syria-Iraq border are openly al-Qaida--has virtually never been mentioned by U.S. government officials and the point rarely made in the mass media.

But now Petraeus has shown Tehran's cooperation with al-Qaida to be true, and the U.S. government does nothing while maintaining that diplomatic engagement is still possible and dragging its feet on higher sanctions.

Meanwhile, you can read in the
Washington Post a column by Robert Kagan, "Allies everywhere feeling snubbed by President Obama," reporting how U.S. policies have dismayed allies as they coddled enemies. Readers of this blog heard this point made repeatedly over the last year ago. It is astonishing that policymakers and top opinionmakers still don't seem to grasp the danger.

But why should they when so much of the debate is dominated by nonsense. Thus, with typical New York Times silliness, Mark Landler
writes in "Opportunity in a Fight With Israel":

"For President Obama, getting into a serious fight with Israel carries obvious domestic and foreign political risks. But it may offer the administration a payoff it sees as worthwhile: shoring up Mr. Obama's credibility as a Middle East peacemaker by showing doubtful Israelis and Palestinians that he has the fortitude to push the two sides toward an agreement."

As so often happens, such statements are obviously ridiculous. Everyone knows the administration is willing to push Israel but has never shown the slightest effort toward pushing the Palestinians. In fourteen months there has not been a single public criticism of the Palestinian Authority despite its sabotage of any peace process. Presumably, the U.S. government pressed the PA enough to agree to indirect talks—scarcely a great achievement—but then the U.S. outrage over the apartment announcement, instead of handling it by making a quick private deal with Israel to postpone the project, let the PA escape once again.

That the PA has been allowed to portray merely negotiating to get a state as doing the United States a big favor is one of many bizarre dislocations of the last year. As for the Palestinians, of course, they don't care about stopping the construction. Their concept of American credibility is whether the United States would give them everything they want with no concession whatsoever on their part. Such an attitude has been fed by Obama Administration policies.

As for the idea that bashing Israel is going to make Israelis see Obama as a more credible peacemaker is a statement which could only be made by someone who has zero knowledge about Israel. Perhaps pushing an Iran-Syria alliance which now uses al-Qaida as a client might make those regimes see Obama as a more credible opponent.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Another Tack: The Chicken Licken syndrome.


by Sarah Honig


Hillary is hopping mad about Israeli "insults" (no less). Barack Obama's vice president, Joe Biden (some of whose best friends are Zionists), has warned us (at Tel Aviv University) that "the status quo is not sustainable."

Obviously doubting our abilities to comprehend so weighty a message, he slowly and deliberately reiterated the portentous mantra with extra emphasis on the really important syllables, so that even dim-witted vassals can get the point and get scared.

Our left-leaning media did all they could to amplify the implicit intimidations. Opinion-molders prone to running with the pack and going with the flow were duly aghast with angst.

But upon cooler reflection, those of us with more than two weeks' worth of historic memory might recollect that this is hardly the first time we received the harshest of warnings that time isn't in our favor – heaven forefend – and that if we don't rush to slash our own throats, our enemies might shortly decapitate us. Do we really want to lose our heads?

IN SEPTEMBER 2000, Hillary's significant other, Bill, when he was still president, delivered the same warning in the same omniscient tone of we-know-better-than-you-what's-best-for-you. It was at the Millennium Summit. "Like all chances, this one too is fleeting and there's not a moment to lose," Slick Willy wagged his disapproving finger. If we don't do pronto as he wishes, he admonished, disaster would strike and the sky would come crashing down upon our thick skulls. He only tried to save us from ourselves. Just like Biden. For our own good.

Amazingly the sky is still hanging up there, as it did eons ago, contrary to the dark predictions that it wouldn't.

Biden, dispatched here by his boss Obama to declaim the dire forecast, merely reenacted a shabby worn routine. Doubtlessly, he too was out to convince us that the state of our firmament is as precarious as Chicken Licken (a.k.a. Chicken Little) assessed after an acorn struck him. Young Licken reckoned on that occasion that the stratosphere had collapsed. His consequent hysteria infected Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, all of whom joined his quest to locate the king and caution him.

Likewise converted to Biden's doomsayer agenda were Ehud Barak and his labor leftovers, Tzipi Livni and her Kadima coterie, Meretz (always first to cheer any bad news), superficial scribblers and tendentious talking heads, as well as a host of gullible "useful fools." The danger is that infectious fear may have already crept into Binyamin Netanyahu's heart. We elected him our prime minister in the trust that he is made of sterner stuff, but is he?

So far we've only seen him backtrack in trepidation – from his freezing Jewish construction in the Jewish heartland to instructing Jerusalem's mayor to suspend development plans lest Arabs be outraged. If Arabs are outraged, the rest of the world is bound to reverberate with righteous indignation and the soundness of the sky might be tested.

SHEER CONCERN for the well-being of the heavens above led Bibi to refrain from attending the rededication of Jerusalem's rebuilt Hurva Synagogue – until 62 years ago the Old City's magnificent Ashkenazi house of worship. It was deliberately destroyed and burned by the Arabs who illegally conquered segments of Jerusalem, occupied them for 19 years and forcefully expelled their Jewish inhabitants.

The Hurva was built between 1857-1864 on the ruins of an earlier structure constructed by Rabbi Judah the Pious in the late 17th century (over a synagogue site dating to the second century). There wasn't a wee murmur of protest about this wanton arson nor about the devastation of 57 other Old City synagogues by conquistador Arabs. Likewise, not a whisper of displeasure about Arabs ripping out Mount of Olives tombstones to construct public latrines. The international community was decidedly unbothered when for 19 years Jews were prohibited from praying at their holiest sites.

But the Jewish return was deemed a reprehensible violation of good conduct codes by which, we know, all other nations faithfully abide. Ravaging the Hurva was acceptable, but rebuilding it is a sin against pie-in-the-sky peace. It was pardonable to cast Jews out of the Old City, but their homecoming deserves unreserved condemnation.

Jerusalem was always one united city save for a 19-year illegality arising from an Arab invasion in violent breach of the UN partition resolution. While the world convivially tolerated Arab occupation of half of Jerusalem, it never recognized the residual Jewish hold even on the other half, west Jerusalem. In the spirit of skewed evenhandedness, the global consensus now is that the result of 1948's illegal Arab invasion must be upheld and that Jews must be barred from anywhere that the invaders once occupied.

That's why planning permits for 1,600 additional apartments in Ramat Shlomo irk the world. Ramat Shlomo isn't in east Jerusalem but to its north, doesn't encroach on Arab neighborhoods and its birth 12 years ago triggered no squawk. It's situated on what were barren slopes that overlook the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway. Ramat Shlomo's already existing 2,300 housing units were erected on vacant wasteland, dispossessing nobody. Currently 17,500 Jews reside there. They marry, give birth and their families grow. Is their neighborhood to be made judenrein because for 19 years Jews were barred from it?

If anyone owes an apology for rank insults, Obama, Biden and Clinton do for assuming they can dismiss 3,000 years of Jewish history in the city which Jews put on humanity's map. This trio disrespects us and our sensibilities and in so doing raises Arab expectations and deepens Arab intransigence. With the world's one superpower espousing the Fatah/Hamas line, why should Arabs evince the slightest flexibility? Obama has placed all the bargaining chips in Arab hands.

On May 29, 1995, post-Oslo and five months before his assassination, Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset: "There is one issue on which there is no debate among us – the integrity of Jerusalem and the continuation of its cultivation and consolidation as Israel's capital. I said so yesterday and will repeat it today: There are no two Jerusalems. There is only one. Jerusalem is not subject to compromise. It was ours, will be ours, is ours and so it will remain for ever and always."

Only after Barak was elected and succumbed to the Chicken Licken syndrome was the world given to understand that Jerusalem is negotiable, divisible and surrenderable. It's now up to Netanyahu to decide whether he'll revive – in more than lip service – yesteryear's resolve about Jerusalem or, like Chicken Licken, be licked by his own panicky prognostications.

Chicken Licken led his feathery followers right into the den of Foxy Loxy, who had no fear of the sky falling but had all the birdbrains for dinner. None of the alarmists survived, but sly Foxy was satisfied.

Sarah Honig  was The Jerusalem Post's long-time political correspondent (as well as for years of the now-defunct Davar). She headed the Post's Tel Aviv bureau, wrote daily analyses of the political scene as well as in-depth features. 

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Obama’s War Against Israel.


by Joel B. Pollak

There's a joke making the rounds in my suburban Chicago neighborhood about the clash between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government: Why did Vice-President Joe Biden get angry when Israel embarrassed him by announcing new construction in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood? Because it's usually Biden's job to embarrass himself.

The joke has carried on far too long. The tension between the two governments is being stoked by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a deliberate attempt to weaken the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If Israel had committed a real foul, the Obama administration could have used a quiet threat of public condemnation to force Israeli concessions, and the Netanyahu government would have little choice but to comply.

Instead, the Obama administration has turned a public relations snafu into a public test of Israeli sovereignty, leaving the Netanyahu government little choice but to resist. The neighborhood where 1600 homes were to be built is not a remote outpost. It is mere meters from the Green Line, in a part of East Jerusalem that is actually west of the Old City. It is likely to remain part of Israel in any future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The timing of the administration's attack is unfortunate, for two reasons. One is that Iran continues to move towards becoming a nuclear power. Each day the U.S. and Israel spend on the Ramat Shlomo question is a day wasted, a day that ought to have been spent dealing with our common enemy.

The second reason is that thousands of pro-Israel activists will arrive in Washington, D.C., next week for the AIPAC policy conference. The contrived crisis is a provocation, a message to the grassroots representing the pro-Israel majority of Americans that bipartisan support for Israel is over.

Too late, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has tried to undo the damage that her 45-minute tirade against Netanyahu has done. She denied this week that there was any crisis at all. Yet, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren–a historian who has chronicled the history of American involvement in the Middle East–has said that "Israel's ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975." (Oren has since denied making that statement, but there can be little doubt that the sentiment is widely held among the Israeli leadership).

Riots broke out across Jerusalem yesterday, orchestrated by Palestinian leaders, who have linked the argument over settlement construction to Israel's reconstruction of a synagogue in the Old City that was destroyed by Jordan after 1948. Their goal is to spark a third intifada by appealing to religious passions among Palestinians and throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds. If they succeed, the administration will not only have harmed U.S.-Israel ties, but it will also have sparked a new terrorist war that could threaten American interests.

As the White House escalates its attacks on Israel, the chorus of anti-Israel voices in Washington grows louder. In 2008, only 27 congressmen–almost all Democrats–could be found to vote against Israel's Gaza offensive, Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, the anti-Israel ranks swelled to 39 in a vote on the Goldstone Report. And this year, 54 congressmen–all Democrats–signed a letter protesting the Israeli "blockade" of Gaza. Obama leads, and they follow.

The White House wants to make pro-Israel Americans decide: either an Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, or no Israel at all. It is a false choice, because the two options yield the same result. A forced retreat to the Green Line–rejected by U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, rejected by every previous U.S. President, and rejected over two decades of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy–is an invitation to Israel's enemies to press ever further.

It is time that pro-Israel activists turned the tables. We must make our elected officials decide: either continue with the current policy of appeasement, which finds new ways to separate the U.S. from Israel; or a policy of strength, which focuses on the values and interests the countries share. A world that is not safe for Jews and for Israel is not safe for America, either. That is the grim lesson of history and, under the Obama administration, we seem doomed to repeat it.


Joel B. Pollak is the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress in the 9th district of Illinois.

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Barack Obama treats Israel and Britain with sneering contempt.


by Nile Gardiner

Perhaps only one thing is certain about the course of the Obama administration’s ham-fisted foreign policy – there is no depth to which it will not stoop to kick America’s allies in the teeth while cuddling up to her enemies. In the past month we’ve seen ample evidence of this with the State Department’s appalling decision to openly side with Argentina against Great Britain over the Falklands, and the White House’s bullying of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Obama team swiftly issued a groveling apology to terrorist sponsor Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, for earlier casting aspersions over the Butcher of Tripoli’s call for a jihad against Switzerland. A barbaric Islamist tyrant with American blood on his hands is, incredibly, treated better than the leaders of both Britain and Israel.

The president declared in an interview with Fox News last night that “Israel’s one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that’s not going away.” Why then has he and his Secretary of State tried to humiliate the Israeli people and their government with a very public dressing down as well as petty retaliation for the decision to approve the building of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem? There was no need for this kind of very public spat, which has led to the gravest crisis in US-Israeli relations for 35 years. There will always be disagreements between friends, but they should be settled behind closed doors in private discussions, rather than the unforgiving amphitheatre of world opinion.

Israel is an independent country, not a satellite province ruled by imperial viceroy Rahm Emanuel. It is free to make its own decisions, some of which might upset the current occupants of the White House. Israel has survived for over 60 years in the face of insurmountable odds and an array of hostile regimes and bloodthirsty terrorist organizations backed by Iran and Syria. Like the United States and Great Britain, Israel possesses a tremendous warrior spirit that should be widely admired. It is under constant threat and has to literally fight for its survival on a daily basis. Israel deserves the Obama administration’s full support, not its contempt.

Contrast President Obama’s softly, softly treatment of the Iranian theocracy led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – which has threatened to wipe Israel off the map – with that of his distinctly aggressive stance towards Israel. Every effort has been made to engage Tehran, and appease its leaders, from remaining silent over its brutal beating and murder of protestors to turning a blind eye to Tehran’s military and financial support for both the Taliban in Afghanistan and terrorist groups in Iraq. At the same time, the Iranians continue to bankroll and arm Hamas and Hizbollah, whose sole aim is the destruction of Israel.

In the space of just over a year, Barack Obama has managed to significantly damage relations with America’s two closest friends, while currying favour with practically every monstrous dictatorship on the face of the earth. The doctrine of “smart power” has evolved into the shameless appeasement of America’s enemies at the expense of existing alliances. There is nothing clever about this approach – it will ultimately weaken US global power and strengthen the hand of America’s enemies, who have become significantly emboldened and empowered by Barack Obama’s na├»ve approach since he took office.

The Obama presidency is causing immense damage to America’s standing in the free world, while projecting an image of weakness in front of hostile regimes. Its treatment of both Israel and Britain

 is an insult and a disgrace, and a grim reflection of an unbelievably crass and insensitive foreign policy that significantly undermines the US national interest.


Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.

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