OBAMA MAY, OR MAY NOT, “HAVE ISRAEL’S BACK”—BUT NETANYAHU WILL “NEVER LET MY PEOPLE LIVE IN THE SHADOW OF ANNIHILATION”

Today’s Briefing:

 

THE MIDDLE EAST’S REAL APARTHEID

Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, March 5, 2012

 

PM NETANYAHU’S SPEECH AT THE 2012 AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE

Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, March 6, 2012

 

THE ‘JEWISH’ PRESIDENT

Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2012

 

OBAMA SETS OUT THE CASE FOR AN ISRAELI STRIKE

Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2012

THE MIDDLE EAST’S REAL APARTHEID
Efraim Karsh

Jerusalem Post, March 5, 2012

In light of Israel Apartheid Week, which hit cities and campuses throughout the world recently, supporters of the Jewish state find it difficult to agree on the best response to this hate fest. Some suggest emphasizing Israel’s peacemaking efforts, others propose rebranding the country by highlighting its numerous achievements and success stories. Still others advocate reminding the world of “what Zionism is—a movement of Jewish national liberation—and what it isn’t—racist.” Each of these approaches has its merits yet none will do the trick.

Peace seeking and/or prosperity are no proof of domestic benevolence and equality. The most brutal regimes have peacefully coexisted with their neighbors while repressing their own populations; the most prosperous societies have discriminated against vulnerable minorities.… Nor for that matter is the apartheid libel driven by forgetfulness of Zionism’s true nature. It is driven by rejection of Israel’s very existence. No sooner had the dust settled on the Nazi extermination camps than the Arabs and their western champions equated the Jewish victims with their tormentors.

“To the Arabs, indeed Zionism seems as hideous as anything the Nazis conceived in the way of racial expansion at the expense of others,” read a 1945 pamphlet by the Arab League, the representative body of all Arab states. A pamphlet published by the PLO shortly after its creation in 1964 stated: “The Zionist concept of the ‘final solution’ to the ‘Arab problem’ in Palestine, and the Nazi concept of the ‘final solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’ in Germany, consisted essentially of the same basic ingredient: the elimination of the unwanted human element in question.” Indeed, it was the Palestinian terror organization that invented the apartheid canard in the mid-1960s, years before Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

This charge, of course, is not only completely false but the inverse of the truth.… Israel actually is the only apartheid-free state in the Middle East—a state whose Arab population enjoys full equality before the law and more prerogatives than most ethnic minorities in the free world, from the designation of Arabic as an official language to the recognition of non-Jewish religious holidays as legal days of rest.

By contrast, apartheid has been an integral part of the Middle East for over a millennium, and its Arab and Muslim nations continue to legally, politically and socially enforce this discriminatory practice against their hapless minorities.

Why then should an innocent party be under constant pressure to “come clean” while the real culprits are not only left unscathed but also given a worldwide platform to blame others for their own crimes? Rather than engage in incessant apologetics and protestations of innocence, something Jews have been doing for far too long, Israel should adopt a proactive strategy, call a spade a spade and target the real perpetrators of Middle East apartheid: the region’s Arab and Muslim nations.

Arab/Muslim apartheid comes in many forms:

• Religious intolerance: Muslims historically viewed themselves as distinct from, and superior to, all others living under Muslim rule, known as “dhimmis.” They have been loath to give up this privileged status in modern times. Christians, Jews and Baha’is remain second-class citizens throughout the Arab/Muslim world, and even non-ruling Muslim factions have been oppressed by their dominant co-religionists (e.g. Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia, Sunnis in Syria).

• Ethnic inequality: This historic legacy of intolerance extends well beyond the religious sphere. As longtime imperial masters, Arabs, Turks and Iranians continue to treat long-converted populations, notably Kurds and Berbers, that retained their language, culture and social customs, as inferior.

• Racism: The Middle East has become the foremost purveyor of anti-Semitic incitement in the world with the medieval blood libel widely circulated alongside a string of modern canards (notably The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) depicting Jews as the source of all evil.…

• Gender discrimination: Legal and social discrimination against women is pervasive throughout the Arab-Islamic world, accounting for rampant violence (for example domestic violence or spousal rape are not criminalized) and scores of executions every year, both legal and extra-judicial (i.e. honor killings). Discrimination against homosexuals is even worse.

• Denial of citizenship: The withholding of citizenship and attendant rights from a large segment of the native-born population is common. Palestinian communities in the Arab states offer the starkest example of this discrimination (in Lebanon, for example, they cannot own property, be employed in many professions, move freely, etc.).…

• Labor inequality: Mistreatment of foreign workers (especially household servants), ranging from sexual abuse to virtual imprisonment and outright murder, is widely tolerated throughout the Middle East, especially in oil-exporting countries that host large expatriate labor forces.

• Slavery: The Arabic-speaking countries remain the world’s foremost refuge of slavery, from child and sex trafficking in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to actual chattel slavery in Sudan and Mauritania.…

• Political Oppression: Many Middle Eastern regimes are little more than elaborate repressive systems aimed at perpetuating apartheid-style domination by a small minority: Alawites in Syria; Tikritis in Saddam’s Iraq; the Saudi royal family; the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan.…

It is time to denounce these discriminatory practices and force Arab/Muslim regimes to abide by universally accepted principles of decency and accountability. This will not only expose the hollowness of the Israel delegitimization campaign but will also help promote regional peace and stability.…

(Efraim Karsh is director of the Middle East Forum.)

PM NETANYAHU’S SPEECH AT THE 2012 AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE
Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, March 6, 2012

The following is excerpted from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s March 5 speech to AIPAC.

…Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about Iran.… I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.… [Israel is] determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal.…

Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons.… Incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs. Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable but it’s deterrable. My friends, responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons. And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.

From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats. It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism: it sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America.…

In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 US Marines. In the last decade, it’s been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in a restaurant just a few blocks from here.… Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that’s as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and it does. Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction—each day, every day, relentlessly.

I say all his to make one point clear: this is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons.… There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran. I think it’s time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran.

A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella.… Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic bombs.… A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and could make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz. If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off. And here’s the worst nightmare of all, with nuclear weapons, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism. It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city, anywhere in the world.

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” When you think about that you’ll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

Of course, the best outcome would be if Iran decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program peacefully. No one would be happier than me and the people of Israel if Iran dismantled its program. But so far, that hasn’t happened. For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world.

For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked. For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either.… Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer. As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb. They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran.

I’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, I’ve read them before. In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department. Here are the letters. The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came five days later: “Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…and in any case, it would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources.…” And here’s the most remarkable sentence of all, and I quote: “Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.” Think about that—“even more vindictive action”—than the Holocaust.

My Friends, 2012 is not 1944. The American government today is different.… But here’s my point: The Jewish people are also different. Today we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. My Friends, we deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.…

THE ‘JEWISH’ PRESIDENT
Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2012

Should Israelis and pro-Israel Americans take President Obama at his word when he says—as he did at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday—“I have Israel’s back”?

No. Here is a president who fought tooth-and-nail against the very sanctions on Iran for which he now seeks to reap political credit. He inherited from the Bush administration the security assistance to Israel he now advertises as proof of his “unprecedented” commitment to the Jewish state. His defense secretary has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of a U.S. military option against Iran even as the president insists it remains “on the table.” His top national security advisers keep warning Israel not to attack Iran even as he claims not to “presume to tell [Israeli leaders] what is best for them.” Oh, and his secretary of state answers a question from a Tunisian student about U.S. politicians courting the “Zionist lobbies” by saying that “a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention.” It seems it didn’t occur to her to challenge the premise of the question.

Still, if you’re looking for evidence of Mr. Obama’s disingenuousness when it comes to Israel, it’s worth referring to what his supporters say about him. Consider Peter Beinart, the one-time Iraq War advocate who has reinvented himself as a liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism. Mr. Beinart has a book coming out next month called “The Crisis of Zionism.” Chapter five, on “The Jewish President,” fully justifies the cover price.

Mr. Beinart’s case is that Mr. Obama came to his views about Israel not so much from people like his friend Rashid Khalidi or his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Instead, says Mr. Beinart, Mr. Obama got his education about Israel from a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who “bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.”

At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf.… In the early 1970s, [Wolf] founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. And, in 1996, the rabbi “was one of [Mr. Obama’s] earliest and most prominent supporters” when he ran for the Illinois state Senate. Wolf later described Mr. Obama’s views on Israel as “on the line of Peace Now”—an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in “his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s.” Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, “still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups” and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street.…

Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF’s world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

Other things that we learn about Mr. Obama’s intellectual pedigree from Mr. Beinart: As a student at Columbia, he honed his interests in colonialism by studying with the late pro-Palestinian agit-Prof. Edward Said. In 2004, Mr. Obama “criticized the barrier built to separate Israel and its major settlements from the rest of the West Bank”—the “barrier” meaning the security fence that all-but eliminated the wave of suicide bombings that took 1,000 lives in Israel.

We also learn that, according to one of Mr. Beinart’s sources, longtime diplomat Dennis Ross was brought aboard the Obama campaign as part of what Mr. Beinart calls “Obama’s inoculation strategy” to mollify Jewish voters apprehensive about the sincerity of his commitments to Israel.…

The important question here isn’t about American-Jewish attitudes toward Israel. It’s about the president’s honesty. Is he being truthful when he represents himself as a mainstream friend of Israel—or is he just holding his tongue and biding his time? On the evidence of Mr. Beinart’s sympathetic book, Mr. Obama’s speech at AIPAC was one long exercise in political cynicism.

OBAMA SETS OUT THE CASE FOR AN ISRAELI STRIKE
Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2012

…Obama’s speech [to AIPAC last Sunday morning] was notable for a number of reasons. First, this was the first speech on an Israel-related theme that Obama has given since the 2008 campaign in which he did not pick a fight with Israel. And it is due to the absence of open hostility in his address that Obama’s supporters are touting it as a pro-Israel speech.

While he didn’t pick a fight with Israel on Sunday, his speech did mark a clear attempt to undermine Israel’s strategic position in a fundamental—indeed existential—way. As many commentators have noted in recent weeks, Israel and the US have different red lines for the Iranian nuclear program.… From Israel’s perspective, Iran’s nuclear program will reportedly become unstoppable as soon as the Iranians move a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium and/or centrifuges to the Fordow nuclear installation by Qom. Since Israel reportedly lacks the ability to destroy the facility, Israel’s timeline for attacking Iran will likely end within weeks. The US reportedly has the capacity to successfully bomb Fordow and so its timeline for attacking Iran is longer than Israel’s.

The reason this is important is because it tells us the true nature of Obama’s demand that Israel give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to work. When one recognizes Israel’s short timeline for attacking, one realizes that when Obama demands that Israel give several more months for sanctions to work, what he is actually demanding is for Israel to place its survival in his hands.…

To understand just how dangerous this would be it is worth considering the other issues Obama covered in his speech. Obama’s speech essentially boiled down to three assertions, which he argued prove that he is the best friend Israel has ever had and therefore can be trusted to ensure its survival.

First, Obama asserted that military cooperation between Israel and the US has grown to unprecedented levels under his leadership. Second he claimed that his administration has served as Israel’s stalwart defender in the UN and generally when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Finally, he argued that he can be trusted to defend Israel from a nuclear armed Iran because of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran by the US and the international community since he entered office.

The alleged expansion of US-Israel military cooperation under Obama’s watch has served as a regular talking point for Obama administration officials. The claim is convenient because it is based on classified information unavailable to the general public. You and I have no way of knowing if it is true. But what we do know is that under Obama’s leadership, senior US military and defense officials have made repeated statements that are openly hostile to Israel. Then defense secretary Robert Gates called Israel “an ungrateful ally.” Current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demanded that Israel “get back to the damned table” with the Palestinians. General Dempsey and his predecessor Michael Mullen have spoken disparagingly of Israel and its military capabilities.…

Aside from these rather uncooperative comments, under Obama the US has adopted policies and taken actions that have endangered Israel militarily on all fronts and in fundamental ways. With Obama at the helm the US not only stood back and allowed Hezbollah and Iran to take over Lebanon. The US has continued to supply the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese military with sophisticated US arms.

Under Obama, the US intervened in Egypt’s internal politics to empower the Muslim Brotherhood and overthrow Hosni Mubarak. The transformation of Israel’s border with Egypt from a peaceful border to a hostile one is the direct consequence of the US-supported overthrow of Mubarak and the US-supported rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. These are indisputable facts. Their military repercussions are enormous and entirely negative.

Then there is Syria. For more than six months, Obama effectively sided with Bashar Assad against his own people who rose up against him. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Assad a reformer.… By failing to act against Assad, the Obama administration is effectively acting as the guardian of Iran’s most important regional ally. That is, far from enhancing Israel’s military posture, Obama’s behavior towards Syria is enhancing Iran’s military posture.…

As to Iran, while Obama touts the new anti-Iran sanctions that have been imposed since he took office as proof that he can be trusted to take action against Iran, the fact is that Obama has been forced to implement sanctions against his will by the US Congress and Europe. So too, Obama still refuses to implement the sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank that Congress passed against his strong objections earlier in the year.… Obama’s behavior has served to help rather than hinder Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities.

Beyond Israel’s immediate borders, and beyond Iran, Obama’s behavior towards Turkey has had a destructive impact on Israel’s military position and strategic posture. Obama has said that Turkey’s Islamist, anti-Semitic Prime Minister Recip Erdogan is one of the five foreign leaders he is closest to.… Erdogan gained Obama’s trust at the same time that he ended his country’s strategic alliance with Israel and began directly funding the Hamas terrorist organization.… What is notable about Obama’s relationship with NATO member Turkey is that he has not used his relationship with Erdogan to influence Erdogan’s behavior. Instead he has rewarded Erdogan’s behavior.

Obama’s self-congratulatory statements about US assistance to the development of Israel’s missile defense systems ring depressingly hollow for two main reasons. First, the military cooperation agreement between Israel and the US for the development of the Iron Dome anti-mortar and rocket shield was concluded and financed under President George W. Bush due to the peripatetic actions of Senator Mark Kirk. Obama inherited the program. And in his 2012 budget, Obama reduced US funding of the project. The second reason is because his actions as President have increased Israel’s need to defend itself from Palestinian mortars and rockets from Gaza.…

This brings us to Obama’s statements about his support for Israel at the UN and towards the Palestinians. The fact is that it is Obama’s hostile position towards Israel that fuelled the Palestinians’ rejection of negotiations with Israel. As Mahmoud Abbas told The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl, Obama’s demand for a Jewish building freeze convinced him that he has no reason to hold talks with Israel.… The fact is that the Palestinians only sought a UN Security Council resolution condemning Jewish construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria because Obama made them think that he would support it. It was Obama after all who called Israeli settlements “illegitimate,” and demanded an abrogation of Jewish building rights outside the armistice lines.

The same is the case with the Palestinian decision to have the UN accept “Palestine” as a member. In his September 2010 address to the UN General Assembly Obama called for the establishment of a Palestinian state within a year. It was his statement that made the Palestinians think the US would back their decision to abandon negotiations with Israel and turn their cause over to the UN. So in both cases where Obama was compelled to defend Israel at the UN, Obama created the crisis that Israel was then compelled to beg him to defuse. And in both cases, he made Israel pay dearly for his protection.

The fact is that Obama’s actions and his words have made clear that Israel cannot trust him, not on Iran and not on anything. The only thing that has been consistent about his Israel policy has been its hostility. As a consequence, the only messages emanating from his administration we can trust are those telling us that if Obama is reelected, he will no longer feel constrained to hide his hatred for Israel. What these messages make clear is that if our leaders are too weak to stand up to Obama today, we will pay a steep price for their cowardice if he wins the elections in November.