Abbas’s Palestine is the Real Apartheid State, by Jonathan Tobin

In recent weeks, critics of Israel have been crying foul over the fact that Jews have moved into some apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.The fact that the homes were legally purchased and that the new residents were merely attempting to reside in the country’s as-yet-undivided capital was seen as irrelevant since the presence of Jews in Arab-majority areas is considered to be an obstacle to a potential partition of the city should a peace agreement with the Palestinians ever be signed. But even if we were to concede that such moves do infuriate Arabs, surely no one, not even Israel’s most adamant opponents, would be comfortable with laws that banned the presence of Jews in parts of Jerusalem or anywhere else. Right? Wrong.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the fact that Jews have bought homes from Palestinians in parts of Jerusalem by vowing to toughen existing PA laws that forbid such sales. Yes, that’s right. In “Palestine”—be it the existing PA or Hamas states or the future independent Palestinian state that Europe is so eager to recognize even without it having to make peace with Israel—it is against the law to sell land or a home to a Jew.

The question of whether Jews should move into majority Arab neighborhoods or towns is a question of judgment. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected any peace deal that would give them an independent state and a share of Jerusalem since it would require them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It is possible to argue that the two communities are better off living separately. But voluntary separation is one thing, legal restrictions on the right of Jews to live in some areas is something very different.

After all, in the State of Israel, which is routinely and falsely accused of being an “apartheid state,” Arabs may live where they please. When some areas have tried to restrict sales of property to Arabs, Israel’s courts have ruled that this is inconsistent with the principles enunciated in the country’s basic laws. While Israel is not a perfect society and the Arab minority faces challenges that are often rooted in the century-old war over the land, the principle of equality before the law for all citizens is upheld.

But in “Palestine,” not only are there no courts or government to prevent individuals or groups from discriminating, but there it is the government itself that both promulgates and ruthlessly enforces such bias.

As the Times of Israel reports:

According to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency, Abbas on Monday imposed a sentence of hard labor for life on “anyone diverting, renting or selling land to an enemy state or one of its subjects.”

Jordan’s penal code number 16 article 114, applicable in the Palestinian territories, previously subscribed “temporary hard labor” to perpetrators of the crime.

In practice, this means Jews may not buy, rent, or sell land. In other words, should the state of Palestine that sits in the United Nations ever become a real sovereign country it will be the apartheid state, not democratic Israel.

The purpose of such laws is to thwart the Zionist enterprise by which Jews have returned to their ancient homeland by legally purchasing land. But the motivating factor here is Jew hatred. Should Palestine ever become a reality, the neighborhoods where Jews have bought homes would be part of it. At that point these few Jews would be no threat to the Arab majority. But the Palestinian vision of statehood remains one in which Israel would be a country where Jews and Arabs live while Palestine will be a Judenrein—Jew-free—entity.

The point here is that peace is possible if both sides are prepared to compromise and recognize each other’s legitimacy. But the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority of Abbas, that both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry constantly praise as a true peace partner for Israel, is not only not interested in compromising. It is also promulgating and attempting to enforce laws that are based in anti-Semitic incitement. Were Israel to ban Arabs from moving into homes they owned in West Jerusalem, it would prompt an international outcry and condemnations from the United States. But instead America condemns Jews who move into Arab neighborhoods and stays silent when Abbas seeks to treat those who sell to Jews as criminals.

Instead of the Jewish home buying in Jerusalem being an obstacle to peace as Israel’s critics claim, it is the Arab attempt to criminalize selling to a Jew that best illustrates why peace is not yet possible

CAROLINE GLICK: Obama the virtuoso manager

Since he assumed office nearly six years ago, US President Barack Obama has been dogged by allegations of managerial incompetence. Obama, his critics allege, had no managerial experience before he was elected. His lack of such experience, they claim, is reflected in what they see as his incompetent handling of the challenges of the presidency.

In everything from dealing with the Congress, to reining in radical ideologues at the IRS, to handling the chaos at the Mexican border, to putting together coordinated strategies for dealing with everything from Ebola to Islamic State (IS), Obama’s critics claim that he is out of his league. That he is incompetent.

But if Israel’s experience with him is any guide, then his critics are the ones who are out to sea. Because at least in his handling of US relations with the Jewish state, Obama has exhibited a mastery of the tools of the executive branch unmatched by most of his predecessors.

Consider two stories reported in last Friday’s papers.

First, in an article published in The Jerusalem Post, terrorism analyst and investigative reporter Steven Emerson revealed how the highest echelons of the administration blocked the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office from assisting Israel in finding the remains of IDF soldier Oron Shaul.

Shaul was one of seven soldiers from the Golani Infantry Brigade killed July 20 when Hamas terrorists fired a rocket at their armored personnel carrier in Gaza’s Shejeia neighborhood.

As Emerson related, after stealing his remains, Hamas terrorists hacked into Shaul’s Facebook page and posted announcements that he was being held by Hamas.

Among other things it did to locate Shaul and ascertain whether or not he was still alive, the IDF formally requested that the FBI intervene with Facebook to get the IP address of the persons who posted on Oron’s page. If such information was acquired quickly, the IDF might be able to locate Oron, or at least find people with knowledge of his whereabouts.

Acting in accordance with standing practice, recognizing that time was of the essence, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office began working on Israel’s request immediately. But just before the US Attorney secured a court order to Facebook requiring it to hand over the records, the FBI was told to end its efforts.

In an order that senior law enforcement officials told Emerson came from Attorney General Eric Holder’s office, the FBI was told that it needed to first sign an “MLAT,” a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Israel, a procedure that would take weeks to complete, and is generally used in cases involving criminal prosecutions and other non-life threatening issues.

In other words, facing a bureaucracy acting independently, Holder – reportedly Obama’s most trusted cabinet secretary – acted quickly, decisively and effectively. And thanks to his intervention at the key moment, although Israel was able – after an exhaustive forensic investigation – to determine Oron’s death, today it is poised to begin negotiations with Hamas for the return of his body parts.

Then there was the unofficial arms embargo.

In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House and State Department had stopped the Pentagon at the last minute from responding favorably to an Israeli request for resupply of Hellfire precision air-to-surface missiles. The precision guided missiles were a key component of Israel’s air operations against missile launchers in Gaza. The missiles’ guidance systems allowed the air force to destroy the launchers while minimizing collateral damage.

In keeping with the standard decades-long practice, Israel requested the resupply through European Command, its military-to-military channel with the US military.

And in keeping with standard practice, the request was granted.

But then the White House and State Department heard about the approved shipment and spun into action. As in the case of Oron’s Facebook page, they didn’t reject Israel’s request. They just added a level of bureaucracy to the handling of the request that made it impossible for Israel to receive assistance from the US government in real time.

As State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf put it at the time, “We’re not holding anything. A hold indicates, technically, that you are not moving forward on making a decision about a transfer…. These requests are still moving forward; there’s just additional steps in the process now, and there’s been no policy decision made to not move forward with them…. They’re just going to take a little while longer.”

The Hellfire missiles, along with other ammunition Israel requested during the war, arrived in September – a month after the cease-fire went into effect.

On Friday veteran military affairs reporter Amir Rappaport reported in Makor Rishon that the hold on the Hellfire missiles was only one aspect of the White House’s decision to stop arms shipments to Israel during the war. Shortly after Operation Protective Edge began, the administration stopped all contact with the Defense Ministry’s permanent procurement delegation in the US.

According to Rappaport, for the first time since the 1982 war in Lebanon, “The expected airlift of US ammunition [to the IDF] never arrived at its point of departure.”

The difference between Obama’s actions during Operation Protective Edge and Ronald Reagan’s partial arms embargo against Israel 32 years ago is that Reagan made his action publicly. He argued his case before the public, and Congress.

Obama has done no such thing. As was the case with the FAA’s scandalous ban on flights to Ben-Gurion Airport during the war, Holder’s prevention of the FBI from helping Israel find Oron, and Obama’s arms embargo were justified as mere bureaucratic measures.

As Harf claimed in relation to the embargo, there was no hostile policy behind any of the hostile policy moves.

Obama and his senior advisors are simply sticklers for procedure. And since during the war Obama insisted that he supported Israel, policymakers and the public had a hard time opposing his actions.

How can you oppose a hostile policy toward Israel that the administration insists doesn’t exist? Indeed, anyone who suggests otherwise runs the risk of being attacked as a conspiracy theorist or a firebrand.

The same goes for Obama’s policy toward Iran. This week we learned that the administration has now offered Iran a nuclear deal in which the mullahs can keep half of their 10,000 active centrifuges spinning.

Together with Iran’s 10,000 currently inactive centrifuges which the US offer ignores, the actual US position is to allow Iran to have enough centrifuges to enable it to build nuclear bombs within a year, at most.

In other words, the US policy toward Iran exposed by Obama’s nuclear offer is one that enables the most active state sponsor of terrorism to acquire nuclear weapons almost immediately.

But Obama denies this is his policy. For six years he has very deftly managed Congressional opposition to his wooing of the Iranian regime by insisting that his policy is to reduce the Iranian nuclear threat and to prevent war.

Opposing his policy means opposing these goals.

Consistent polling data show that Obama’s policies of harming Israel and facilitating Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal are deeply unpopular. His successful advancement of both policies despite this deep-seated public opposition is a testament to his extraordinary skill.

On the other hand, Obama’s virtuoso handling of the federal bureaucracy and Congress also reveal the Achilles heel of his policies. He conceals them because he cannot defend them.

Obama’s inability to defend these policies means that politicians from both parties can forthrightly set out opposing policies without risking criticism or opposition from the administration.

How can Obama criticize a serious policy to support Israel when he claims that this is his goal? And how can he oppose a serious policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons when he says that he shares that goal?

At least as far as Israel is concerned, Obama’s mastery of the federal bureaucracy is complete. It is not incompetence that guides his policy. It is malicious intent toward the US’s closest ally in the Middle East. And to defeat this policy, it is not necessary to prove incompetence that doesn’t exist. It is necessary to show that there are far better ways to achieve his declared aims of supporting Israel and blocking Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

10/14 History Repeating Itself in the White House

By Michael Curtis

Karl Marx was not as funny as Groucho, but he made at least one amusing quip. It occurs in his critical comparison of Louis Bonaparte, the French ruler in 1848, with his uncle Emperor Napoleon. In his essay, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon", Marx wrote, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all world-historic facts and personages appear so to speak twice. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Although 130 years apart, there is an uncanny resemblance between the foreign and military policies and actions of the political leaders William Gladstone in Britain in the 1880s and President Barack Obama in Washington today. Both leaders were (and are) characterized by their reluctance or hesitation to become involved in international affairs. Both were more concerned and interested in domestic than in foreign affairs.

Both can be characterized as more anxious to construct alliances and partnerships to meet common challenges and confront common threats than to act unilaterally in their leadership roles. Both engaged in careful deliberation of issues and displayed caution before acting, but both are seen to suffer from weakness, indecisiveness, and slowness or unwillingness to act as a result. Neither can be said to have applied any strategic calculation to world affairs. Both refused to make total commitments or permanent alliances. Both claimed to avoid needless and entangling engagements, and both intervened militarily after reluctance to do so in order to counter threats by extremist Islamist groups.

In Britain, two brilliant men, William Gladstone, the leader of the Liberal (Whig) Party and Benjamin Disraeli, the Conservative Party leader, differed in personality, character and political policies. One was magisterial, austere, self-righteous, and a deeply religious pious Christian. The other was mercurial, flamboyant, opportunistic, cynical, and son of an Italian-British Jew who baptized Benjamin to help his future career. Both were ambitious and successful. Gladstone, reasonably rich, educated at Eton and Oxford, became a cabinet minister at age of 33. Disraeli, who never went to university, was a personal and political adventurer who climbed what he called “the greasy pole” of politics.

As political rivals, the two political giants differed in their approach to foreign policy. Disraeli, who had been prime minister in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880, was not uninterested, for political or other reasons, in domestic affairs. He was responsible for reforms in a variety of different areas, health, housing, factory conditions, and agriculture. Above all, he was responsible for the 1867 Reform Bill that increased the size of the electorate by 80 per cent.

Nevertheless, his greater interest was in foreign and imperial issues. In 1875 he secured funds from the Rothschild family to buy for the nation 44 per cent of the total shares in the 1869-built Suez Canal, “the spinal core” of the Empire. He assented in 1876 to Queen Victoria’s desire to become Empress of India. At the Congress of Berlin in June-July 1878 he was the leading figure, together with Bismarck, in redrawing the map of what is now the Balkans. One of the consequences was the survival of the Ottoman Empire for 40 more years; another was that Cyprus became a British colony.

Disraeli was a master of realpolitik. At a time when the Ottoman Empire was declining in power, Disraeli’s important concern was to support it and prevent Russia from having more influence in the area and gaining control of Constantinople. In contrast to the aggressive policy of Disraeli, his rival Gladstone who became prime minister in 1880, though not an isolationist or an apostle of nonintervention, was reluctant to be drawn into foreign encounters. Though there were not categorical differences on all issues between the two rivals, Gladstone tended to take moralistic and humanitarian positions on issues on which he felt strongly while Disraeli acted on what he considered realistic and in the national interest.

Gladstone, like Disraeli, was concerned -- though he differed from him -- on what used to be called the “Eastern Question,” the European response to the decline of the power of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the Balkans. While Disraeli supported the Ottoman Empire, Gladstone condemned the massacre of Bulgarian Orthodox Christians by the Turks in 1876. In an extraordinary pamphlet, The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East, Gladstone wrote of the tortures and beheadings carried out by the brutal Turks, in a manner akin to those committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria today. 

Like Obama in regard to Iraq, Gladstone wanted to extricate Britain from its war in Afghanistan. On becoming prime minister in 1880, he withdrew the British garrison from Kandahar in Afghanistan. He was reluctant to intervene in the complex affairs of Egypt and the Sudan over which Egypt had nominal authority, but ultimately was forced to by events. The nationalist revolt in Egypt in 1882 constituted a danger to control of the Suez Canal.

President Obama has based his policy on forming a coalition or alliance of nations. Similarly, Gladstone appealed to the Concert of Europe, founded by the Allied Powers after they had defeated Napoleon, and which was supposed to meet at moments of crisis. The Concert refused to help and therefore Gladstone sent troops to Egypt.

President Obama did not meet the challenge when Syria crossing his rhetorical “Red Line,” and has been slow in responding to Islamist terrorism. Gladstone too was hesitant in meeting the challenge of Muhammad Ahmad, the self-appointed Mahdi, an Islamist extremist dedicated to Jihad and to the establishment of an Islamic state, who in 1882 had united various groups in the Sudan. Gladstone did not want to engage in war and did not immediately respond after the Madhi’s forces had annihilated an Egyptian force under the leadership of a British officer.

Gladstone did not approve of sending a military force to Khartoum which was threatened by the Mahdi. Instead, in response to pressure from public opinion, he reluctantly allowed General Charles Gordon to go to the Sudan but only to evacuate the Egyptian garrison and civilians still in Khartoum. Defying orders, Gordon wanted to hold Khartoum and fought against the Mahdi. Gladstone refused to send a relief expedition to help Gordon. He finally consented, dispatching a force under Gen. Garnet Wolseley, but it was too late. Gordon had been killed in battle as Khartoum fell to the Mahdists. The Mahdi ruled the Sudan until defeated by Gen. H.H. Kitchener at Omdurman in 1898.

Gladstone and Obama had to resolve the same issues, where and when to intervene in international affairs, what is in the national interest, what is desirable from a humanitarian point of view, and what should be the concern of the dominant powers, Britain in the 19th century and the U.S. in the 21st, for maintenance of international order.

In his 2014 book, Worthy Fights, Leon Panetta comments on Obama’s tendency to look at issues as a law professor might do to determine what exact actions might be taken. This may be necessary but it is insufficient. Panetta himself concludes that the president also needs to have the heart of a warrior as well as the mind of an academic in order to engage in the necessary fight. What is noticeable in Obama as in Gladstone is the tendency to miss moments for opportune action. Both seem to lack fire in the belly.  Both want to avoid battle whenever possible. Do nothing until you hear from me may be a fine Duke Ellington ballad but it is bad advice for a coherent and successful foreign policy.

Obama administration’s unprecedented outburst against Israel by Isi Leibler 10/8/14

http://wordfromjerusalem.com/?p=5253

The exceptionally vicious U.S. condemnation of Israel with regard to housing construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem is not merely misguided, but also reflects irrational bias. Incidentally, this behavior also has many ominous parallels to the inhumane incarceration of Jonathan Pollard, despite pleas for his commutation from all sectors of American society.

The harsh outburst relates to a 2,600-unit housing project planned as an extension of an exclusively Jewish neighborhood adjacent to the suburb of Talpiot and Kibbutz Ramat Rahel both within the Green Line. It incorporates primarily barren land on which Ethiopian and Russian immigrants had been housed temporarily in mobile homes. Highly significant – but a fact that is ignored – is that nearly half of the construction was designated to provide housing for Arabs. Construction permits were approved two years ago but it was the far left-wing group, Peace Now that saw fit to highlight the issue in a press release on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in a calculated effort to embarrass the prime minister and provoke tensions.

The successive statements by both the White House and State Department spokesmen must be considered among the most bitterly prejudiced and unbalanced condemnations of Israel ever expressed by the U.S. They make a mockery of repeated claims by the Obama administration that it considers Israel to be a close ally.

- See more at: http://wordfromjerusalem.com/?p=5253#sthash.cpsrmcKk.dpuf

WSJ: Dershowitz, Education of a Wartime President

The Obama administration admits its rule on civilian casualties is unworkable in fighting ISIS. Fighting Hamas is no different.

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ  Oct. 2, 2014 7:36 p.m. ET

Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted.

When Israel acted in self-defense this summer against Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the Obama administration criticized the Israeli army for "not doing enough" to reduce civilian casualties. When pressed about what more Israel could do—especially when Hamas fired its rockets and dug its terror tunnels in densely populated areas, deliberately using humans as shields—the Obama administration declined to provide specifics.

Now the Obama administration has exempted itself from its own "near certainty" standard in its attacks against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In a statement on Sept. 30 responding to questions by Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News, the administration said that in fighting Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the U.S. military can no longer comply with Mr. Obama's vow last year to observe "the highest standard we can meet."

The statement came after a Tomahawk missile last week struck the village Kafr Daryan in Syria, reportedly killing and injuring numerous civilians including children and women. The missile was directed at al Qaeda terrorists that the White House calls the Khorasan Group, but apparently the Tomahawk hit a home for displaced civilians. The Pentagon says it is investigating the incident, but YouTube video of injured children and the appearance by angry Free Syria Army rebel commanders at a congressional hearing about the attack—an attack that prompted protests in several Syrian villages—left little doubt about what happened.

If this sounds familiar, it is because in every attack on terrorists who operate from civilian areas, there will be civilian casualties. This is especially so when terrorists employ a policy of hiding behind civilian human shields in order to confront their enemies with a terrible choice: not attack a legitimate military target; or attack it and likely cause civilian casualties, which the terrorists can then exploit in the war of public opinion.

Hamas has employed this approach effectively in its periodic wars against Israel. Hamas fighters fire rockets at Israeli civilian targets from densely populated areas near United Nations facilities, mosques, hospitals and private homes. These areas, rather than the less densely populated open areas between the cities of Gaza, are intentionally selected. Hamas urges civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings that are used to store rockets and that serve as command-and-control shelters.

The fighters dare Israel to attack these shielded military targets. Israel responds by issuing warnings—by leaflets, telephone and noise bombs—to the civilians, urging them to leave. When civilians try to leave, Hamas fighters sometimes force them back at gunpoint. The fighters launch their missiles using a time delay, giving themselves the opportunity to hide in tunnels where only they are allowed to seek shelter; civilians are left exposed to Israel's efforts to destroy the rockets.

When Israel does attack military targets such as a rocket launcher or a tunnel entrance, and kills or injures civilians, Hamas operatives stand ready to exploit the dead for the international media, who are ever ready to show the victims without mentioning that they died because Hamas was using them as human shields.

Now ISIS and other jihadists in Iraq and Syria are beginning to emulate the Hamas strategy, embedding fighters in towns and villages, thus making military strikes difficult without risking civilian casualties. That is why the Obama administration has exempted itself from its theoretical "near certainty" policy, which has proved to be unworkable and unrealistic in actual battle conditions involving human shields and enemy fighters embedded in densely populated areas.

For the U.S., the fight against ISIS is a war of choice. Islamic State fighters pose no immediate and direct threat to the American homeland. For Israel, by contrast, Hamas poses an immediate and direct threat. Both the U.S. and Israel seek to minimize civilian casualties. Neither can do so under an unrealistic principle of "near certainty."

Israel has come closer to this high theoretical standard than have the United States and its various coalition partners—for instance, only Israel would employ small rooftop "knock-knock" explosives to warn civilians of a coming missile strike. Yet Israel is the only nation that is routinely condemned by the United Nations, the international community, the media, the academy and even the U.S. for "not doing enough," in Mr. Obama's words, to reduce civilian casualties. As the president is learning, war is hell. The possibility of waging it with "near certainty" of anything is a chimera.

There must be a single universal standard for judging nations that are fighting the kind of terrorism represented by ISIS and Hamas. The war against ISIS provides an appropriate occasion for the international community to agree on a set of standards that can be applied across the board. These standards must be both moral and realistic, capable of being applied equally to the U.S., to Israel and to all nations committed both to the rule of law and to the obligation to protect citizens from terrorist attacks.

The decision of the Obama administration to abandon its unrealistic "highest standard" pledge indicates the urgent need to revisit anachronistic rules with which no nation can actually comply, but against which only one nation—Israel—is repeatedly judged.

Mr. Dershowitz is a law professor emeritus at Harvard University. His books include "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas" (RosettaBooks), available now as an e-book and in hardback next month.

Anne Bayefsky on Netanyahu's speech

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/09/30/at-un-netanyahu-challenges-brazen-lies-told-by-obama-abbas

At UN Netanyahu Challenges 'Brazen Lies' Told by Obama and Abbas
This article by Anne Bayefsky originally appeared on Fox News.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose not to let President Obama’s bold allegation that Israelis were not interested in peace go unanswered in his speech Monday at the UN. “Brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country” is how Netanyahu described the remarks of previous speakers, when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly.

Just five days earlier, President Obama had made a shocking assertion in his role as president while speaking on the world stage. He claimed that there were “too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace.” Obama scolded: “that’s something worthy of reflection within Israel.”

Not only did President Obama not include Palestinians in this demeaning and defamatory slur, he proceeded to equate “rockets fired at innocent Israelis” with “Palestinian children taken from us in Gaza.” Not “taken from us” by Hamas who used them as human fodder in their attempted annihilation of Israel. But apparently “taken from us” by those Israelis not interested in peace.

No Israeli Prime Minister could allow such an attack to go unanswered. And so Netanyahu began his remarks by daring President Obama to distinguish between his battle against ISIS and Israel’s battle with Hamas.

Said Netanyahu: “the people of Israel pray for peace, but our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam in on the march.”

The stark contrast between the two world leaders also could not have been more clear on the subject of Iran.

President Obama spent five sentences of his 39-minute UN address on Iran, telling the world “my message to Iran’s leaders…We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful.”

Another brazen lie, since no one believes that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful or has anything to do with its energy needs, which can be met into the next century by its natural resources.

Netanyahu instead pointed – yet again – to the terrifying threat of the acquisition of the world’s most dangerous weapon by the world’s most dangerous country and the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

He challenged the president, and the global community, “to disarm ISIS but leave Iran with the bomb would be to win the battle but lose the war.” 

Sitting stone-faced in her seat, was the woman holding the bag on Obama’s obsequious Iran policy, America’s ambassador to the UN: Samantha Power.

Israeli Prime Minister’s message Monday came as Palestinian leaders are vying to remain the U.N.’s favorite victim amidst the headless human carcasses now piling up in Iraq, Syria, the United Kingdom, Algeria, and the United States.

No doubt, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has something to worry about. It’s a tough sell to differentiate the Hamas partner in his unity government – an organization dedicated to the kidnapping, murder and execution of both Israelis and Palestinians en route to Islamic domination – from ISIS, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda and company.

So Israel’s “peace partner” evidently decided the way forward was not to eschew Islamic fanaticism but to embrace it.

In one of the most vitriolic speeches ever delivered by a Palestinian leader at the U.N., Abbas accused Israel on Friday, September 26 of “genocide,” of practicing “an abhorrent form of apartheid,” and of “state terrorism.” He analogized Israelis to Nazis with Palestinians living in “ghettos” and claimed the rise of ISIS was Israel’s fault since Israel was a “source of terrorism” and a “breeding ground for incitement…”

Netanyahu called the assertions something derived from “the moral universe” of “a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews.”

Unfortunately, plain talk at the U.N. is as unwelcome as it is unusual.

Even more unfortunate is a president of the United States who sounds warmer when talking about Iran than about Israel.

By Bret Stephens in WSJ: Obama needs to call Bush

Bill Clinton made news earlier this month when he revealed, at a joint appearance with George W. Bush, that the 43rd president used to call him twice a year during his troubled second term "just to talk."

"We talked about everything in the right world," Mr. Clinton said of the conversations, which lasted anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes. "He asked my opinion, half the time he disagreed with it. But I felt good about that, I thought that was a really healthy thing."

Maybe President Obama also calls Mr. Bush every now and then, just to talk, and one day we'll find out about it. But I suspect not. No president has so completely built his administration with a view toward doing—and being—the opposite of his predecessor. Long private talks wouldn't just be out of character for this president. They'd be awkward.

But having a long conversation with Mr. Bush is what Mr. Obama needs to do if he means to start salvaging his failing presidency. It would be an act of contrition: for six years of vulgar ridicule and sophomoric condescension. Also, humility: for finally understanding that the intel is often wrong (and that doesn't make you a "liar"), that the choices in war are never clear or simple, that the allies aren't always with you, and that evil succumbs only to force.

And it would be an act of bipartisanship: not the fake kind to which the president pays occasional lip service, but the kind that knows there is no party monopoly on wisdom, and that there is no democracy without compromise, and that there can be no compromise when your opponents sense you hold them in contempt.

"Mr. President," Mr. Obama could begin, with an emphasis on formality, "I'd like to borrow that portrait you did of Vladimir Putin so I can hang it in my private study. I need to be able to stare my enemy in the face every day."

That should break the ice.

Maybe then the two presidents can start talking about a few things they have in common. Like going from big re-elections to dismal ratings in a matter of months. Like realizing that you will soon lose the Congress, and that your own party is turning on you. Like figuring out that your top cabinet officers and White House confidantes are failing you. Like having your past boasts about military success rendered ridiculous by events. Like needing to come up with a new strategy, quickly, before a foreign-policy setback becomes a full-blown calamity.

"Tell me about firing Don Rumsfeld, " Mr. Obama might inquire.

That's a good subject to dwell on, because firing is what presidents do when a signature policy is visibly failing, as Iraq policy was in the summer of 2006. In the Rumsfeld case, Mr. Bush faced a particularly difficult task: Mr. Rumsfeld was a man the president admired, a peer of his father, a team player—and an object of partisan venom, meaning his sacking would be treated in the media as an admission of failure and a scalp for Democrats.

If Mr. Obama isn't thinking about cashiering a top adviser, he should start now. CIA Director John Brennan has presided over serial intelligence debacles—including the failure to anticipate the fall of Mosul—while National Intelligence Director James Clapper has had no credibility in Congress since he lied to a Senate committee. John Kerry's incompetent diplomacy in Jerusalem and Ramallah helped set the stage for the Gaza War. Susan Rice is toxic with Republicans on account of her public misrepresentations regarding Benghazi and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and toxic with allies because of her penchant for foul-mouthed tirades. Hapless Chuck Hagel is busy downsizing the U.S. military while demanding that Europeans increase their military spending.

The dismissal of any of these people would send a useful signal to U.S. allies that the president has the nerve—and self-awareness—to make a change.

"Mr. President," Mr. Bush could modestly suggest, "go to Congress, say the threats we face from Russia and ISIS and Iran require a bigger military, and name Stan McChrystal or Dave Petraeus as your next Defense Secretary and Ray Odierno as your new national security adviser. Add a few hawks to your team. That'll bury a couple of ghosts. And it'll get Vladimir's immediate attention."

"Interesting ideas, George. Final question: How do I kick things off with Mitch McConnell when he's majority leader?"

"He can't be worse than Harry Reid, can he?" Mr. Bush might reply. "Be gracious. Pretend you know something about horses and bourbon. Don't make promises in private that you'll renege on in public. Never keep him waiting. Don't give speeches denouncing Republicans as mean and greedy. Listen as if you might actually learn something. Give something if you want to get something."

"OK, thanks. Gotta go help Sasha with her geometry homework. Any advice on that?"

"Call Clinton. He's the triangulator."

On Rosh Hashanah

A Pause to Account for Ourselves

Today, President Obama gave a speech at the United Nations that almost seemed as if he has taken account of the foreign policy blunders that have been the hallmarks of his six years in office and is trying to chart a different cause. His very different tone was not accompanied by any admission of error but nonetheless the juxtaposition of his shift to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah was quite apt, as this is a day when all persons should think about taking stock of their past offenses and mistakes.

Jewish New Year that begins with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. The ten days from the beginning of this festival until the end of Yom Kippur next week are known in Judaism as the Days of Awe. During this time, Jews are asked to reflect on their deeds in the past year and seek to account for them to their Creator as well as their fellow human beings. But this period of introspection should cause all of us to think about the same questions. Indeed, as Americans now take stock of the war against Islamist terrorists that they have been dragged back into against their will, it is an apt moment to look at issues facing the nation in a sober and honest manner.

Though my point of reference is Jewish tradition, the notion of accountability also speaks directly to any democracy based on the concept that the public must judge leaders. While politicians and pundits fill up the 24/7 news cycle with endless debate every day, the real question is whether it is possible to give our political culture the unsparing assessment it requires if we are to preserve our republic and its institutions in a manner befitting the ideals upon which it was founded. That is why appeals to fear as well as mindless defenses of the status quo are the antipathy of the heshbon nefesh—or accounting of the soul—that Rosh Hashanah asks us to perform each year.

One of the keynotes of our political life in the last year, as well as those that preceded it, is the never-ending attempt of our parties and ideological factions to demonize their political opponents. But the dawn of the New Year represents an opportunity to step back and realize that efforts to brand leaders, parties, and movements as being beyond the pale has done much to undermine any hope for a resolution of our national problems.

Abroad we have seen the way the natural American desire to withdraw ourselves from difficult problems only made the threat from Islamist terror worse. For the moment, strident voices of isolationism have been quieted as the nation realizes the awful nature of the peril we face, but the impulse to ignore these problems is always there and must be answered directly.

Just as important, we have seen the failure of much of our media to give sufficient attention to genuine scandals that go to the heart of the concept of accountability on the part of a democratically elected government. Elsewhere, it also failed to adequately cover the rising tide of anti-Semitism and viciously distorted Israel’s efforts to defend its people against rocket attacks and terrorist tunnels.

In the coming 12 months, Americans will find themselves dealing with another war in the Middle East that can’t be avoided. And unless the president is able to match deeds to his new rhetoric, the nuclear threat from Iran that dwarfs even that of ISIS will only grow more serious. Nor should we allow those who continue to seek to delegitimize Israel or its supporters to go unanswered.

The passage of the calendar also reminds us at COMMENTARY of the urgency of our task to speak up in defense of Zionism and Israel; to bear witness against the scourge of anti-Semitism; and to support the United States as well as the best of Western civilization. Our work is, as our editor John Podhoretz wrote back in February 2009, an act of faith in the power of ideas as well as in our own nation, and as we take inventory of our personal lives we also seek to rededicate ourselves to the causes to which our magazine is devoted.

Jewish liturgy tells us that the fate of all humanity is decided during these Days of Awe, but it also says that teshuva (repentance), tefilla (prayer), and tzedaka (acts of justice and charity) may avert the severe decree. In that spirit of reflection and dedication to carrying on our task of informing and educating our readers in the coming year, we at COMMENTARY wish you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year. We’ll be back next week after the holiday.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at:jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.

Bret Stephens in WSJ: Of Ferguson and Fallujah

http://online.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-of-ferguson-and-fallujah-1408404679

Last October I wrote a column with the headline "Iraq Tips Toward the Abyss." It was prompted by the news that 7,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed over the previous 10 months alone.

"Americans may think they've changed the channel on Iraq, but the grisly show goes on," I wrote. "Pay attention before it gets worse." The world yawned and the Obama administration did nothing.

In January came the news that a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham had retaken Fallujah, just 40 or so miles west of Baghdad, a city that U.S. Marines had liberated a decade earlier at a major cost in lives. The media ran a few stories about the heartache of the battle's veterans. President Obama said nothing.

In July, ISIS took Mosul and seized six divisions worth of U.S. supplied Iraqi military equipment. For once, President Obama took public notice but waited another month before doing anything, ostensibly because he disapproved of the leadership in Baghdad. That was around the time Kurdistan nearly fell to ISIS and the Yazidis were nearly wiped out.

Letter: PM Begin to US after Destroying Osirak Nuclear Reactor

People ask me what I think of President Obama and the US/Israel relationship. I think that Obama has followed a long list of US leaders and our state department by criticizing Israel, a liberal democracy, a line of defense between Greece, a NATO ally and Islamic states and the best friend we have. People who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Read PM Begin's letter to the US. 

http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/ronn-torossian/obama-has-no-right-to-punish-israel/?utm_source=FrontPage+Magazine&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3274ad3586-Mailchimp_FrontPageMag&utm_term=0_57e32c1dad-3274ad3586-156510186

This is not the first time in recent history that America and Israel have had strong disagreements. Today, Israel is being criticized for supposedly killing too many people, and for strongly responding to Hamas. In 1981, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor “Osirak” near Baghdad. America was “outraged.”

Israel’s Prime Minister then released a letter — which verbatim Obama should remember:

“Three times during the past six months, the U.S. government has ‘punished’ Israel.
On June 7 we destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor “Osirak” near Baghdad. I don’t want to mention to you today from whom we received the final information that this reactor was going to produce atomic bombs. We had no doubt about that: Therefore our action was an act of salvation, an act of national self-defense in the most lofty sense of the concept. We saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including tens of thousands of children.
Nonetheless, you announced that you were punishing us — and you left unfilled a signed and sealed contract that included specific dates for the supply of (war) planes. Not long after, in a defensive act — after a slaughter was committed against our people leaving three dead (including an Auschwitz survivor) and 29 were injured we bombed the PLO headquarters in Beirut.
You have no moral right to preach to us about civilian casualties.We have read the history of World War II and we know what happened to civilians when you took action against an enemy. We have also read the history of the Vietnam War and your phrase ‘body count.’
We always make efforts to avoid hitting civilian populations, but sometimes it is unavoidable — as was the case in our bombing of the PLO headquarters. We sometimes risk the lives of our soldiers to avoid civilian casualties.
Nonetheless, you punished us: You suspended delivery of F-15 planes. A week ago, at the instance of the government, the Knesset passed on all three readings by an overwhelming majority of two-thirds, the ‘Golan Heights Law.’
Now you once again declare that you are punishing Israel. What kind of expression is this —‘punishing Israel’? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of 14 who, if they don’t behave properly, are slapped across the fingers?
Let me tell you who this government is composed of. It is composed of people whose lives were spent in resistance, in fighting and in suffering. You will not frighten us with “punishments.” He who threatens us will find us deaf to his threats. We are only prepared to listen to rational arguments.
You have no right to ‘punish’ Israel — and I protest at the very use of this term. You have announced that you are suspending consultations on the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation, and that your return to these consultations in the future will depend on progress achieved in the autonomy talks and on the situation in Lebanon.
You want to make Israel a hostage of the memorandum of understanding. I regard your announcement suspending the consultations on the memorandum of as the abrogation (by you) of the memorandum. No ‘sword of Damocles’ is going to hang over our head. So we duly take note of the fact that you have abrogated the memorandum of understanding.
The people of Israel have lived 3,700 years without a memorandum of understanding with America — and it will continue to live for another 3,700. In our eyes it (i.e., the U.S. suspension) is an abrogation of the memorandum. We will not agree that you should demand of us to allow the Arabs of East Jerusalem to take part in the autonomy elections — and threaten us that if we don’t consent you will suspend the memorandum.
You have imposed upon us financial punishments — and have (thereby) violated the word of the president. When Secretary Haig was here he read from a written document the words of President Reagan that you would purchase 200 million dollars worth of Israel arms and other equipment. Now you say it will not be so.
This is therefore a violation of the president’s word. Is it customary? Is it proper?
You canceled an additional 100 million dollars. What did you want to do — to ‘hit us in our pocket’? In 1946 there lived in this house a British general by the name of Barker. Today I live here. When we fought him, you called us “terrorists” — and we carried on fighting. After we attacked his headquarters in the requisitioned building of the King David Hotel, Barker said: ‘This race will only be influenced by being hit in the pocket’ — and he ordered his soldiers to stop patronizing Jewish cafes.
To hit us in the pocket — this is the philosophy of Barker. Now I understand why the whole great effort in the Senate to obtain a majority for the arms deal with Saudi Arabia was accompanied by an ugly campaign of anti-Semitism. First, the slogan was sounded ‘Begin or Reagan?’ — and that meant that whoever opposes the deal is supporting a foreign prime minister and is not loyal to the president of the United States. And thus Senators like Jackson, Kennedy, Packwood, and of course Boschwitz are not loyal citizens.
Then the slogan was sounded ‘We should not let the Jews determine the foreign policy of the United States.’ What was the meaning of this slogan? The Greek minority in the U.S. did much to determine the Senate decision to withhold weapons from Turkey after it invaded Cyprus. No one will frighten the great and free Jewish community of the U.S., no one will succeed in cowing them with anti-Semitic propaganda. They will stand by our side. This is the land of their forefathers — and they have a right and a duty to support it.
Some say we must ‘rescind’ the law passed by the Knesset. ‘To rescind’ is a concept from the days of the Inquisition. Our forefathers went to the stake rather than ‘rescind’ their faith.
We are not going to the stake. Thank God. We have enough strength to defend our independence and to defend our rights.
If it were up to me (alone) I would say we should not rescind the law. But as far as I can judge there is in fact no one on earth who can persuade the Knesset to rescind the law which it passed by a two-thirds majority. Mr. Weinberger — and later Mr. Haig — said that the law adversely affects U.N. Resolution 242. Whoever says that has either not read the Resolution or has forgotten it, or has not understood it. The essence of the Resolution is negotiation to determine agreed and recognized borders. Syria has announced that it will not conduct negotiations with us, that it does not and will not recognize us — and thus removed from Resolution 242 its essence. How, therefore, could we adversely affect 242?
As regards the future, please be kind enough to inform the secretary of state that the Golan Heights Law will remain valid. There is no force on earth that can bring about its rescission.
As for the contention that we surprised you, the truth is that we did not want to embarrass you. We knew your difficulties. You come to Riyadh and Damascus. It was President Reagan who said that Mr. Begin was right — that had Israel told the U.S. about the law (in advance) the U.S. would have said no. We did not want you to say no — and then go ahead and apply Israeli law to the Golan Heights.
Our intention was not to embarrass you. As regards Lebanon, I have asked that the secretary of state be informed that we will not attack, but if we are attacked, we will counterattack.

Israel Should Ignore Obama’s Tantrum by Tobin

Last month as the fighting raged in Gaza, news about the United States resupplying the ammunition stocks of the Israel Defense Forces balanced other, more troubling stories about arguments between the two countries over diplomacy. But it turns out the arguments between the Obama administration and the Israelis were even angrier than we thought. As theWall Street Journal reports today, the White House has been having a full-fledged temper tantrum over Israel’s unwillingness to take orders from Washington and doesn’t care who knows it. But the best advice friends of Israel can give Prime Minister Netanyahu is to stick to his positions despite the insults being flung in his direction.

The article, which appears to be based on leaks from high-ranking U.S. officials, revolves around the notion that the administration is furious with Israel. The anger emanating from the White House is, at its core, the function of policy differences about the peace process. It also revolves around Israel’s decision to attempt to reduce Hamas’s arsenal rather than merely shoot down the rockets aimed at its cities. But what really seems to have gotten the president’s goat is the ease with which Jerusalem has been able to circumvent his desire to pressure it to make concessions via the strong support of Congress and the close ties that have been established between Israel’s defense establishment and the Pentagon.

As Seth noted earlier, rather than speeding the necessary ammunition supplies to the IDF, the administration was doing the opposite. But the ammunition transfers were just the last straw for a White House that regards Israel’s government and the wall-to-wall bipartisan pro-Israel consensus that backs it up as a source of unending frustration.

It bears remembering that this administration came into office in January 2009 determined to create more daylight between the positions of the two countries, and that’s exactly what it did. Obama picked pointless fights with Netanyahu over settlements and Jerusalem throughout his first term, culminating in a calculated ambush of the prime minister on a trip to Washington in May 2011 when the president sought to impose the 1967 lines as the starting point for future peace talks. But Netanyahu, who had sought to downplay differences until that point, was having none of it and made clear his resistance. Instead of humiliating the Israeli, Obama was forced to watch as Netanyahu was endlessly cheered before a joint meeting of Congress as if he was Winston Churchill visiting the U.S. during World War Two.

That might have led to a further escalation of the fight between the two governments, but the president’s looming reelection campaign intervened. What followed instead was an administration charm offensive aimed at pro-Israel voters in which all was seemingly forgotten and forgiven even if anger still lingered beneath the surface.

Those tensions have now resurfaced in Obama’s second term. The trigger for much of it was Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to waste much of the last year on an effort to revive peace talks with the Palestinians that no one with any sense thought had a chance of success. Predictably, his failure (which was unfairly blamed by both the secretary and the president on Israel rather than on a Palestinian Authority that remains unable and/or unwilling to make peace) exacerbated the situation and led, albeit indirectly, to this summer’s fighting. Yet rather than learn from this mistake, the administration’s reaction to Gaza has been mostly motivated by pique against the Israelis and an incoherent impulse to frustrate Netanyahu.

But now that the dust appears to have settled in Gaza at least for the moment, where does that leave U.S.-Israel relations? It is true, as John noted earlier, that the alliance seems to have sunk to a point that is roughly comparable to that experienced during the administration of the elder George Bush. Administration officials are openly saying that Netanyahu doesn’t know his place and making implicit threats of retaliation.

But, as was the case in 2011, it’s not clear that Obama and his minions in the West Wing can do anything but complain about Netanyahu to their friends in the press. But theJournal story highlights an important fact. No matter how angry Obama may be about Netanyahu’s refusal to do his bidding and make concessions that make even less sense today than they did a few years ago, there are limits as to how far he can go and what he may do to take revenge for this.

The thing that is driving Obama crazy is not so much Netanyahu’s willingness to say no to him but the fact that Congress and most Americans seem to think there is nothing wrong with it. The president may be, as Aaron David Miller famously said, someone who is “not in love with the idea of Israel” as his recent predecessors have been. But the alliance he inherited from George W. Bush and Bill Clinton is one that is so strong and so deeply entrenched within the U.S. political and defense establishments that there isn’t all that much he can’t do about it.

Try as he might, Obama can’t persuade any Israeli government to endanger its people by repeating the Gaza experiment in the West Bank. Nor will he persuade them to refrain from hitting Hamas hard and opposing negotiations that further empower it. Netanyahu has a relatively united Israeli nation behind him that rightly distrusts Obama. He also can count on the support of a bipartisan consensus in Congress that sees no reason to back an increasingly unpopular and ineffective lame duck president against the country’s only democratic ally in the Middle East.

This administration can still undermine the alliance and America’s own interests by perpetuating this personal feud with the prime minister and exacerbating it by further appeasement of Iran in the nuclear talks. But if Obama couldn’t break Netanyahu in his first term, he won’t do so now. As difficult as it may be to ignore the brickbats flying from Washington, the Israelis can stand their ground against this president sure in the knowledge that most Americans back them and that the next occupant of the Oval Office, whether a Democrat or a Republican, is likely to be far more supportive of this special alliance that Obama disdains.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at: jtobin@commentarymagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter at TobinCommentary.

Two Excellent Articles from Commentary on the US Administration's Battle with the Israeli Government

In the first, John Podhoretz reflects on revelations of Obama's hostility which appeared in today's Wall Street Journal.  What John does not mention is the hostility of the article itself.  It's important to keep in mind that the editorial staff of the Journal is pro-Israel; not so much it's news staff.

In the second article, Jonathan Tobin gives advice on how Israel should respond.

Obama Administration Makes War on Israel

John Podhoretz, Commentary 14/08/2014

What on earth? In the middle of a war this country’s president publicly says is  justified owing to the relentlessness of the rocket fire against civilian populations, U.S. officials proudly tell the Wall Street Journal, they are holding up weapons transfers to Israel:

They decided to require White House and State Department approval for even routine munitions requests by Israel, officials say.

Instead of being handled as a military-to-military matter, each case is now subject to review—slowing the approval process and signaling to Israel that military assistance once taken for granted is now under closer scrutiny.

These transfers were taking place through entirely traditional, legal, and uncontroversial means. Israel is an ally. It’s at war. War depletes stocks. So why is this happening?

Simply put: It’s a gigantic hissy fit, an expression of rage against Bibi Netanyahu, by whom the administration feels dissed. The  quotes in this article are almost beyond belief. In the annals of American foreign policy, no ally has ever been talked about in this way.

EXAMPLE: “We have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their strongest friend,” the official said. “The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

Even in the article’s own terms, the official’s accusation Israel is “playing the United States” is entirely false. The true claim here is that Israel is “playing” the Obama administration because it has support from Congress that limits the administration’s ability to bash it.

EXAMPLE: A senior U.S. official said the U.S. and Israel clashed mainly because the U.S. wanted a cease-fire before Mr. Netanyahu was ready to accept one. “Now we both want one,” one of the officials said.

This is also transparently absurd. Netanyahu didn’t want this war, and is transparently eager for any way to extricate Israel from a long struggle. What he can’t accept is a cease-fire that leaves Hamas with sufficient firepower and with intact tunnels—which is something you’d think the United States would similarly support.

EXAMPLE: “It’s become very personal,” an official tells the Wall Street Journal. Yeah, no kidding. That’s a great way to make policy.

For five and a half years now, some Israel advocates have been attempting to make the case to others that there is something new and dark in the Obama administration’s perspective on Israel—that there is an animus as pronounced as the one during the administration of the Elder George Bush, which was so self-evident the Jewish vote for Bush in the 1992 reelection was a staggeringly low 11 percent.

This Wall Street Journal article should now leave no illusions. In its transparent hostility—not to mention the cowardice of hiding behind anonymity to issue its repugnant bitch-slaps—the Obama administration is worse than the Bush 41 administration. It’s the worst since Eisenhower. Were it not for Iron Dome, it would be the worst ever. And given the decision to hold up weaponry during wartime, it may yet surpass Eisenhower.

-------------------------------------------

Israel Should Ignore Obama’s Tantrum

Jonathan Tobin, Commentary 14/08/2014

Last month as the fighting raged in Gaza, news about the United States resupplying the ammunition stocks of the Israel Defense Forces balanced other, more troubling stories about arguments between the two countries over diplomacy. But it turns out the arguments between the Obama administration and the Israelis were even angrier than we thought. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, the White House has been having a full-fledged temper tantrum over Israel’s unwillingness to take orders from Washington and doesn’t care who knows it. But the best advice friends of Israel can give Prime Minister Netanyahu is to stick to his positions despite the insults being flung in his direction.

The article, which appears to be based on leaks from high-ranking U.S. officials, revolves around the notion that the administration is furious with Israel. The anger emanating from the White House is, at its core, the function of policy differences about the peace process. It also revolves around Israel’s decision to attempt to reduce Hamas’s arsenal rather than merely shoot down the rockets aimed at its cities. But what really seems to have gotten the president’s goat is the ease with which Jerusalem has been able to circumvent his desire to pressure it to make concessions via the strong support of Congress and the close ties that have been established between Israel’s defense establishment and the Pentagon.

As Seth noted earlier, rather than speeding the necessary ammunition supplies to the IDF, the administration was doing the opposite. But the ammunition transfers were just the last straw for a White House that regards Israel’s government and the wall-to-wall bipartisan pro-Israel consensus that backs it up as a source of unending frustration.

It bears remembering that this administration came into office in January 2009 determined to create more daylight between the positions of the two countries, and that’s exactly what it did. Obama picked pointless fights with Netanyahu over settlements and Jerusalem throughout his first term, culminating in a calculated ambush of the prime minister on a trip to Washington in May 2011 when the president sought to impose the 1967 lines as the starting point for future peace talks. But Netanyahu, who had sought to downplay differences until that point, was having none of it and made clear his resistance. Instead of humiliating the Israeli, Obama was forced to watch as Netanyahu was endlessly cheered before a joint meeting of Congress as if he was Winston Churchill visiting the U.S. during World War Two.

That might have led to a further escalation of the fight between the two governments, but the president’s looming reelection campaign intervened. What followed instead was an administration charm offensive aimed at pro-Israel voters in which all was seemingly forgotten and forgiven even if anger still lingered beneath the surface.

Those tensions have now resurfaced in Obama’s second term. The trigger for much of it was Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to waste much of the last year on an effort to revive peace talks with the Palestinians that no one with any sense thought had a chance of success. Predictably, his failure (which was unfairly blamed by both the secretary and the president on Israel rather than on a Palestinian Authority that remains unable and/or unwilling to make peace) exacerbated the situation and led, albeit indirectly, to this summer’s fighting. Yet rather than learn from this mistake, the administration’s reaction to Gaza has been mostly motivated by pique against the Israelis and an incoherent impulse to frustrate Netanyahu.

But now that the dust appears to have settled in Gaza at least for the moment, where does that leave U.S.-Israel relations? It is true, as John noted earlier, that the alliance seems to have sunk to a point that is roughly comparable to that experienced during the administration of the elder George Bush. Administration officials are openly saying that Netanyahu doesn’t know his place and making implicit threats of retaliation.

But, as was the case in 2011, it’s not clear that Obama and his minions in the West Wing can do anything but complain about Netanyahu to their friends in the press. But the Journal story highlights an important fact. No matter how angry Obama may be about Netanyahu’s refusal to do his bidding and make concessions that make even less sense today than they did a few years ago, there are limits as to how far he can go and what he may do to take revenge for this.

The thing that is driving Obama crazy is not so much Netanyahu’s willingness to say no to him but the fact that Congress and most Americans seem to think there is nothing wrong with it. The president may be, as Aaron David Miller famously said, someone who is “not in love with the idea of Israel” as his recent predecessors have been. But the alliance he inherited from George W. Bush and Bill Clinton is one that is so strong and so deeply entrenched within the U.S. political and defense establishments that there isn’t all that much he can’t do about it.

Try as he might, Obama can’t persuade any Israeli government to endanger its people by repeating the Gaza experiment in the West Bank. Nor will he persuade them to refrain from hitting Hamas hard and opposing negotiations that further empower it. Netanyahu has a relatively united Israeli nation behind him that rightly distrusts Obama. He also can count on the support of a bipartisan consensus in Congress that sees no reason to back an increasingly unpopular and ineffective lame duck president against the country’s only democratic ally in the Middle East.

This administration can still undermine the alliance and America’s own interests by perpetuating this personal feud with the prime minister and exacerbating it by further appeasement of Iran in the nuclear talks. But if Obama couldn’t break Netanyahu in his first term, he won’t do so now. As difficult as it may be to ignore the brickbats flying from Washington, the Israelis can stand their ground against this president sure in the knowledge that most Americans back them and that the next occupant of the Oval Office, whether a Democrat or a Republican, is likely to be far more supportive of this special alliance that Obama disdains.

Obama Doesn’t Worry About Israel’s Survival. That’s Why We Should. Jonathan S. Tobin

President Obama once again sounded the themes that have characterized his second term foreign policy: befuddlement and helplessness. But amidst the alibis for failure, the president also said something significant: He’s not worried about Israel’s survival but is concerned about its values. That’s exactly why the rest of us should be more worried about its security.

Here’s the quote:

I asked the president whether he was worried about Israel.

“It is amazing to see what Israel has become over the last several decades,” he answered. “To have scratched out of rock this incredibly vibrant, incredibly successful, wealthy and powerful country is a testament to the ingenuity, energy and vision of the Jewish people. And because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival. … I think the question really is how does Israel survive. And how can you create a State of Israel that maintains its democratic and civic traditions. How can you preserve a Jewish state that is also reflective of the best values of those who founded Israel. And, in order to do that, it has consistently been my belief that you have to find a way to live side by side in peace with Palestinians. … You have to recognize that they have legitimate claims, and this is their land and neighborhood as well.”

It’s nice that the president admires Israel’s achievements. But his complacence about its military achievements combined with his patronizing concern about its democratic and civic traditions is the sort of left-handed compliment that tells us more about his animosity for the Jewish state’s government than his fidelity to the alliance between the two allies. You don’t have to read too closely between the lines to understand that the subtext of these comments—Hamas’s genocidal intentions and Iran’s nuclear ambitions—make Obama’s blasé confidence about Israel’s ability to defend itself deeply worrisome.

The president is, of course, right to note that Israel has a formidable military. In particular, Israel’s dedication to technological advances such as the Iron Dome missile defense system have both saved many lives in the last month’s fighting with Hamas and provided a substantial long-range benefit to its American security partner. But his complacency about its security situation is hardly reassuring.

Israel remains under siege by hostile neighbors in the form of terrorist states on both its northern (Hezbollah) and southern borders. Both remain committed not just to Israel’s destruction but also the genocide of its Jewish population. While Israel is in no current danger of military defeat, the spectacle of Hamas forcing the majority of Israelis in and out of bomb shelters for a month encouraged the Islamists and their supporters to believe their cause is not yet lost. The fact that their efforts are being cheered on by a worldwide surge in anti-Semitism fueled by hatred of Israel also ought to leave any true friend of Israel worried.

Even more to the point, the principal sponsor of those terror groups—Iran—is working hard to gain nuclear capability, a (to use Obama’s own phrase) “game changing” factor that could destabilize the entire Middle East, threaten the security of the U.S. as well as endanger Israel’s existence. But despite paying rhetorical lip service to the effort to stop Iran, Obama has spent the last years hell-bent on pursuing détente with Tehran. The weak interim nuclear deal signed by the U.S. last fall undermined the sanctions that had cornered the Iranians and discarded virtually all of the West’s leverage. If the Iranians are currently playing hard to get in the current round of negotiations (now in the equivalent of soccer’s injury time as the deadline promised by Obama for talks has been extended), it is because they know the president’s zeal for a deal (and an excuse to abandon his campaign promises to stop Iran) outweighs his common sense or his resolve.

The bulk of Friedman’s interview with Obama concentrated on the disaster in Iraq and related troubles. But here, as with many domestic problems and scandals, the president’s priority is to absolve himself and his policies. The world is, he seems to be constantly telling us, a complex and confusing place where all of our possible choices are bad. There’s some truth to that, especially in places like Syria and Iraq. But what comes across most in his account of America’s declining affairs is that this is a president who is overwhelmed by events and has little understanding of them. The best he can do is to spew clichés about his bad options and to blame others.

Obama’s chief whipping boy in the Middle East is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the world leader with whom he has quarreled the most in his years in office. Despite the events of the last month that have proved again that any territory Israel hands to the Palestinians will become a terror base, Obama continues to obsess about the need for Netanyahu to make territorial concessions that will create the possibility of, as the Israeli says, 20 Gazas in the West Bank. The overwhelming majority of Israelis reject such mad advice but Obama dismisses their common sense as merely being a case of a lack of vision. Despite his talk about supporting Israeli democracy he has been doing everything possible to thwart the will of Israel’s voters by undermining Netanyahu. Israelis want peace but understand that subjecting themselves to terror governments won’t bring the conflict to a close.

Obama also believes that the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians isn’t Hamas. This conveniently ignores the fact that it is Hamas that plunged the region into war and whose hold on power there is being guaranteed by American pressure on Israel to restrain its counter-attacks on Islamist rocket fire and terror tunnels. The problem is, Obama says, that Netanyahu is “too strong” and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is “too weak.” That explains Obama’s constant attacks on Israel and his praise for the feckless—and powerless—Abbas. If he were serious about supporting democracy, he’d be wary of the autocratic Abbas and his corrupt PA gang and understand that asking Israel to further empower a Palestinian leadership that won’t make peace is not the act of a friend.

Even if we take the president’s assurances of his friendship for Israel at face value, this interview confirms what has been obvious since January 2009. This is a president who believes Israel’s security is not his priority or even a particular concern. Rather, he wants to save Israel from itself and acts as if it has not already made several offers of peace that have been consistently turned down by the Palestinians. Though Obama is right that Israelis won’t allow their country to be destroyed, his apathy about the deadly threats it faces from Iran and its terrorist proxies, cheered by a chorus of anti-Semitic haters, does nothing to inspire confidence in his leadership. The world has gotten less safe on his watch. The Israeli objects of his pressure tactics do well to ignore his advice. Friedman’s interview gives those who do care about the Jewish state’s future even more reasons to worry.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of COMMENTARY magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at: jtobin@commentarymagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter at TobinCommentary.

 

by Isi Leibler: Obama Shielding the Barbarians at Our Gates?

http://wordfromjerusalem.com/?p=5183

Check out my latest interview on FOX TV with Greta Van Susteren on the topic of President Obama's abandonment of Israel, our only ally in the Middle East and the country that has helped us prevent other 9/11's here.

The US is aware of the extraordinary lengths, unmatched in any military conflict, which Israel employs to minimize civilian casualties. But innocent civilians die in a war– and obviously more so in a situation in which women and children are employed as human shields and who are deliberately housed in locations together with missiles launchers and command posts. When under fire from terrorists - even if they operate out of schools - Israeli soldiers must return fire or be killed. Beyond that, accidents are inevitable. Just recall the thousands of innocent French civilians who were killed by the allies during the invasion in 1944.

To appreciate the double standards and hypocrisy employed against us, the US should take note of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed by allied forces in the course of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the carnage in Serbia incurred by NATO’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Belgrade to force Milosevic to step down.

The prime responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens. This is a time for Israel to stand firm and take whatever steps are necessary to defang Hamas and demilitarize Gaza. The responsibility for the fallout on innocent Palestinians rests exclusively on Hamas.

The brazen Hamas breach of the 72-hour ceasefire has led to a temporary global backlash against Hamas. Having neutralized those tunnels which the IDF was able to detect, the ground forces are being redeployed. However PM Netanyahu has made it clear that the operation is not over.

The cabinet must speedily decide on one of two options. It can expand the ground campaign and conquer Gaza, which the majority of the nation would probably initially endorse but which would likely entail massive casualties and provoke concerted international pressure that would probably force us to withdraw unilaterally or face sanctions. It would appear that without ruling out this option, Prime Minister Netanyahu - at least in the short-term - intends to continue degrading the rocket launchers and attacking Hamas from the air, thereby limiting Israeli casualties and providing greater leverage to achieve demilitarization.

The outcome rests largely with the US. If it rewards Hamas for its aggression by seeking to “lift the blockade” or provide them with funds without demilitarization, it will be betraying us. The US will thus have destroyed whatever little global credibility they retain and will be seen as abandoning its long standing ally and groveling to those who support fanatical Islamic terrorism.

Will the US support Israel’s just cause against genocidal terrorism or act as a shield to protect the barbarians at our gates, effectively paving the way for a far more brutal war in the near future?