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Obama-Netanyahu Rift is Unbridgeable: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014— In an unprecedented breach of diplomatic etiquette, President Obama once again sandbagged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Michael Oren’s Perilous Plan B: David M. Weinberg, Tablet, Mar. 4, 2014 — The Israeli political Left is perilously anxious.
The Israeli Solution: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014 — In its annual survey of American Jewry published last October, the American Jewish Committee found that 75 percent of American Jews agree with the statement, “The goal of the Arabs is not a peaceful two-state agreement with Israel, but rather the destruction of Israel.”
Give Peace a Chance?: Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 20, 2014 — In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow’s main character Von Humboldt Fleisher is the consummate American, caring about America more than anything else.
Netanyahu at AIPAC: Rebutting Obama, Affirming Israel: P. David Hornik, Frontpage, Mar. 5, 2014
Book Review: Caroline Glick: Explaining the Right’s Alternative to the World: Ted Belman, Israpundit, Jan. 5, 2014
Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014
In an unprecedented breach of diplomatic etiquette, President Obama once again sandbagged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In a carefully orchestrated interview with Jeff Goldberg, a columnist for Bloomberg, released a few hours before the prime minister’s arrival in the US, Obama reverted to his May 2011 role as an Israel basher and engaged in personal savaging and humiliation of Netanyahu. This despite Netanyahu’s intimation that Israel intended to adopt the Kerry framework, albeit with reservations.
Obama accused Netanyahu of leading his country toward disaster, condemned the “more aggressive settlement construction” and rhetorically asked, “Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank?” He effusively praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – who had rejected prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer for 97 percent of territories over the Green Line and refused to even conduct negotiations unless Israel released mass murderers whom he currently fetes as heroes. Obama made no reference to Palestinian intransigence and total unwillingness to compromise.
Obama’s most ominous remark was a veiled threat that unless Israel made further concessions, the US would be limited in its ability to protect Israel from “international fallout” at the United Nations and other international bodies. Some allege that Obama was playing a “good cop, bad cop” routine with Secretary of State John Kerry, who despite his earlier role conveying similar intimidating threats against Israel was now reverting to a pro-Israel posture. The more likely explanation is that in the absence of another election, Obama no longer feels obliged to be nice to Israel and is unconstrained in promoting his biased outlook.
To Netanyahu’s credit, he retained his cool and avoided directly confronting Obama’s offensive remarks. He said that “Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.” He added, “The tango in the Middle East needs at least three. For years, there have been two – Israel and the US. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present.” Reiterating his desire to achieve a peace settlement, he nevertheless emphasized that he would resist any pressures that could compromise Israel’s security needs.
In the midst of this, the Ukraine crisis exploded and Obama’s impotent response again highlighted the dramatic retreat of the US from the world stage.
Obama’s incompetence and failed diplomacy led to the debacle in Syria which, combined with his misguided support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, paved the path for Russia to resume its role as a central player in the Middle East. Obama’s courting and appeasement of extremist adversaries like Iran and his alienation of friends, and hollow threats, have convinced traditional allies that the United States has become a paper tiger and can no longer be relied upon. Many regard Obama as even more ineffective than president Jimmy Carter.
However, when faced with another insoluble maelstrom in the Ukraine and humiliation at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin and requiring congressional support, Obama must have realized that it would be somewhat bizarre to launch a new confrontation with a democratic ally. At the joint press meeting with Netanyahu, Obama gushed that “we do not have a closer friend or ally than Israel and a bond between our two countries and our two peoples is unbreakable.” In a 360-degree reversal, he commended Netanyahu’s efforts and praised him for having “conducted these negotiations with the level of seriousness and commitments that reflects his leadership.” Netanyahu responded indirectly to Obama’s earlier outburst stressing that “the best way to guarantee peace is to be strong and that’s what the people of Israel expect me to do – to stand strong against criticism, against pressure, stand strong to secure the future of the one and only Jewish state.” He emphasized that “what we want is peace – not a piece of paper… a real peace… based on mutual recognition… a peace that we can defend.” He urged Obama to cooperate with Israel to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. He concluded with formal praise of President Obama and especially John Kerry for their tireless efforts to promote peace.
After the meeting, according to news agency AJP, a senior administration official described the talks as “not as contentious as on previous encounters” and said that the president told Netanyahu that he would “push Palestinians” to match any Israeli concessions. And so we witnessed an extraordinary reversal. At the subsequent AIPAC conference, Kerry was effusive in his praise of Israel and Netanyahu. He called on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stressed that Israel could not compromise its security.
In his AIPAC address, Netanyahu made scant reference to the president. He restated the danger of a nuclear Iran, reiterated the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and refused to compromise on security issues. The bulk of his speech was devoted to passionately conveying his desire to reach a settlement with the Palestinians, stressing the great economic, political and social benefits that peace would bring to Israel and the region. The speech reflected the centrist position that he had adopted and thrust the onus on the Palestinians. It was an extraordinary display of good diplomacy, for which Netanyahu deserves full credit.
Yet we should be under no illusions. Despite the ultimate ritual exchange of diplomatic pleasantries, the negative chemistry and ideological differences between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu seem unbridgeable. Obama’s calculated savage outburst against Netanyahu prior to his arrival stands in stark contrast to the soft and engaging language he consistently employs toward leaders of rogue states like Iran. Despite the chaos and bloodshed engulfing the Middle East and other parts of the world, Obama remains obsessed with beating up Israel. His latest outburst reinforced the concerns of most of the Israeli public that he lacks any real understanding of the situation and confirmed their estimate of him as the most hostile US president Israel had ever encountered…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]
David M. Weinberg
Times of Israel, Feb. 26, 2014
The Israeli political Left is perilously anxious. The same people who once sold us Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas as peace partners are now telling us that peace with the Palestinians is probably impossible yet the existing situation is unacceptable. Therefore, they now say, unilateral withdrawal from part or all of the West Bank is Israel’s best/only remaining course of action, and it is urgent. In the Left’s newfangled political parlance, unilateral withdrawal is being giving a heroic shine. It involves “acting boldly to set Israel’s borders without being hostage to the Palestinians;” “making peace without (Palestinian) partners;” tearing down settlements in the distant reaches of the West Bank in order to “signal” to the world that our government is “serious” about compromise; “showing” America that Israel is not interested in “forever being an occupying power”; and so forth.
In Ambassador Michael Oren’s thinking, unilateral Israeli withdrawal is elevated even further and accorded almost angelic status. “I would supplant the word unilateralism with Zionism,” Oren gushes. “One good definition of Zionism is Jews taking their destiny in their hands… We do not outsource our fundamental destiny to Palestinian decision making.” Ambassador Oren’s over-the-top salesmanship of Plan B (– unilateral withdrawal as “the Zionist option”!) suggests that he knows that Mahmoud Abbas won’t settle with Israel. “I believe the Palestinians have never indicated a willingness to meet our minimum requirements, which are recognition of Israel’s permanence and legitimacy as a Jewish state and end of claims and end of conflict,” Oren admits.
Alas, the only thing new about Oren’s “Plan B” is the sad adding of his important voice to the emerging, dodgy mindset of unilateralism. Others already are into detailed planning for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria. Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who now heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), also says that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail – and he assesses that they will – Israel should withdraw unilaterally from 85 percent of the West Bank. This will “advance Israel towards a two-state situation, even if there is no two-state solution,” he and his colleagues wrote in their annual strategic assessment. Such a withdrawal will improve Israel’s demographic and international situation, Yadlin contends, and will supposedly gain Israel “the ability to be firmer on the Iranian subject and get the United States on board.” Oren similarly argues (without a shred of logical evidence) that unilateral withdrawal would “help take the wind out of the growing BDS movement, particularly in Europe.”
At previous INSS conferences, former defense ministers Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz also touted unilateral Israeli action. “We are on borrowed time,” Barak said in June 2012. “We will reach a wall, and we’ll pay the price. If it isn’t possible to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, we must consider an interim arrangement or even a unilateral move.” Last year, Barak’s former bureau chief, Gilad Sher presented an INSS team report entitled “The Palestinian Issue: Toward a Reality of Two States” which also advocated unilateral Israeli withdrawal. And Sher is co-chairman of an organization called “Blue White Future” which is pushing a “compensation law” that would provide payment to tens of thousands of settlers for leaving their West Bank homes.
I say that Israel should reject such desperate, dangerous and illogical proposals for unilateral withdrawal. Unilateral withdrawal won’t bring security or peace to Israel. It won’t even provide Israel with “diplomatic legitimacy” or breathing room, as its adherents claim. Rather, as the Lebanon and Gaza precedents prove, unilateral Israel withdrawal guarantees continuation of the conflict and even its escalation. Consider: The Yadlin and Oren plans both speak of unilateral Israeli action to re-draw the map of settlement in Judea and Samaria (i.e., to expel Israelis from their homes). But this would not bring diplomatic quiet. It would only encourage Palestinian maximalism. The Palestinians would (once again) discover that there is no reason to compromise with Israel on any issue (borders, settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, recognition), since Israelis will eventually tear themselves down and out of the West Bank, anyway. All they (the Palestinians) need to do is sit tight, remain intransigent, and demand more.
Thus, it makes no sense to dangle before Mahmoud Abbas the hope that Israel will, out of desperation, unilaterally withdraw. Furthermore, withdrawal from the heights of Judea and Samaria without real peace and security would be a very risky move. We’re not talking about the relatively isolated and distant Gaza Strip, but the heartland of Israel in close proximity to our two biggest population centers: greater Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Yadlin and Oren respond to this by asserting that even after a unilateral withdrawal the IDF would remain positioned in the West Bank at key strategic junctures and installations. But this of course turns the whole unilateral withdrawal proposal into rank nonsense. The Palestinians and much of the world would contend that the “occupation” continues (just as they do with regard to Gaza, even today, where Israeli troops just ring the border). And worse yet still, this would turn the West Bank into southern Lebanon. Everybody remembers, I hope, just how badly Israel’s “security zone” in southern Lebanon worked out. Our forces there had no legitimacy whatsoever, brought us sustained international opprobrium, and suffered heavy casualties. That’s exactly what would befall the rump Israeli troop presence in the West Bank once our civilian settlements were unilaterally torn down and out of the area.
Prime Minister Netanyahu should ignore his former ambassador’s new/old ideas for unilateral Israeli withdrawal. He should resist the temptation to buy fleeting international approval (and perhaps purchase short-term domestic political gain) by sacrificing the country’s long-term strategic needs and most fundamental diplomatic principles. Instead, Israel should sit tight and wait out the Palestinians until they crawl back to the real peace negotiating table with mature leaders and realistic expectations. In the meantime, Israel needs perseverance, not impatience, from its diplomats.
Caroline Glick Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2014
In its annual survey of American Jewry published last October, the American Jewish Committee found that 75 percent of American Jews agree with the statement, “The goal of the Arabs is not a peaceful two-state agreement with Israel, but rather the destruction of Israel.” And yet, American Jews supported the establishment of a Palestinian state 50% to 47%. Next week over 10,000 predominantly Jewish American supporters of Israel will gather in Washington at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. Given their high commitment to Israel, probably most of those gathered belong to the 47% of American Jews who opposed Palestinian statehood. Yet at the conference they will embrace the two-state formula. And on March 4 they will go up to Capitol Hill and tell their representatives that they support it. They will do so not because they are addled. They will do so because for the past 20 years all they have heard is that Israel has no alternative to the two-state plan.
Israel’s fervent and committed supporters at AIPAC have been told that Israel needs a Palestinian state more than the PLO does. Only by bringing such a state into existence in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem can Israel get the Palestinian demographic albatross off its neck. These committed supporters of the Jewish state have been sternly lectured that Israel is doomed if it doesn’t give the Palestinians an outlet for their political impulses outside of Israel, because within a year or two there will be more Palestinians than Israelis west of the Jordan. The same day AIPAC’s delegates meet with members of both houses of Congress, my new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East will be released… In my book, I show that the demographic time bomb is a dud, and a malicious one at that. In 1997, the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Hassan Abu Libdeh told The New York Times that he was carrying out a census which would serve as a “civil intifada,” that is, as a statistical terror assault. And he was right. The goal of terrorism is to force a target population to take actions it otherwise would not have taken. The goal of statistical warfare is to manipulate numbers to coerce a target society into taking actions that it would otherwise not take.
The Palestinian census claimed that by 2015, Arabs would be the majority west of the Jordan River. And once Jews were the minority, the Arabs could destroy Israel just by demanding the vote. The Clinton administration, the US Jewish leadership and the Israeli Left rushed to embrace the findings, even though they were totally inconsistent with annual Palestinian population surveys the Israeli military government conducted from 1967 through 1996. All crowed that true, the PLO still supports terrorism, but if Israel didn’t cough up the territories, it would be demographically overwhelmed. It took seven years until an independent group of Israeli and American researchers studied the PLO data and exposed the fraud at their foundation. The American- Israeli Demographic Research Group showed that the Palestinian data inflated the Arab population by a whopping 50 percent. The news for Israel has only gotten better in the intervening years. The Jewish fertility rate has increased as the Palestinian rates have collapsed along with those of the Muslim world as a whole. Israeli Jews now have higher fertility rates than the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, (3.04 vs. 2.91 children per woman). Israel’s immigration rate is high and rising. Palestinian emigration rates have skyrocketed over the past decade. The demographic good news has percolated throughout Israeli society. And with the news, more and more Israeli politicians have come to favor applying Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria, just as Israel successfully applied its laws to united Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the past.
Most Likud members of Knesset and all members of the Bayit Yehudi party support partial or full implementation of Israeli law in the areas. 59% of Israeli Jews support such action as well and support doing so unilaterally. Indeed, even leftist Israelis support Israel’s unilateral application of its laws to parts of Judea and Samaria. For instance, former ambassador to the US Michael Oren supports the unilateral withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria. But Oren foresees the retention of the major Israeli settlement blocs under Israeli law. In the absence of a peace deal, such a step can only be taken through the unilateral application of Israeli law to those areas. In the current Knesset session, members have submitted two bills calling for the application of Israeli law to the large Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley, respectively. But while all of this is going on in Israel, Israel’s supporters in the US remain in the dark about the existence of a better – facts based – alternative path for Israel…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Feb. 20, 2014
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow’s main character Von Humboldt Fleisher is the consummate American, caring about America more than anything else. He also reads voraciously, but the more he reads, the more despondent he becomes – because he’s not seeking that sort of complexity. He wants a simpler universe. “History,” Bellow says of Humboldt the American, “was a nightmare during which he was trying to get a good night’s sleep.”
Fifty years before Bellow’s novel, in 1907, Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote his third and final play, A Strange Land. In it, he introduces the young Russian Jew, Gonta, just back from several years in America. Gonta had gone to America “to forget,” he says. And when asked what it was that he was hoping to forget, he responds, “Who I was.” Two utterly different writers, one American and one European, separated by an ocean, by largely competing ideologies and by half a century. Yet for both, America was the place where one could essentially put on blinders. In America, you could forget who you were; in America, you could get a good night’s sleep even in the midst of the nightmare called history. That, of course, has been key to America’s greatness, to its optimism, to its sense that every problem has a solution. It has come of age fighting most of its wars in lands far away, buffered by large oceans that make the world the object of interest – but not the source of personal distress.
Israel could not be more different. No one goes to Israel, temporarily or permanently, to forget who they are. No one goes to Israel to get a good night’s sleep in the midst of the nightmare called history. To go to Israel is to have who you are be the focus of your very existence. To go to Israel is to sometimes live the nightmare even when you’re awake. No oceans here to serve as buffers. No luxury of fighting our wars far away, in lands we will never see. During the Second Lebanon War and more recent Gaza conflicts, our friends packed up food for their sons who were on the front – sometimes for Shabbat, and sometimes just because – loaded up the trunk of their car, and drove to deliver the food to the boys. No Iraq or Afghanistan – out of sight and often out of mind – here. The DNA of the world’s two largest Jewish communities could not be more different.
We need each other and have much to learn from each other, but we could not be more dissimilar. One is a place where you can imagine that if you play your cards right, you’ll have no enemies; the other is a place where such a delusion can get you killed. One is a place where young people have “Holocaust fatigue” and wish to hear no more about it – after all, it was a long time ago, and it’s time to move on; the other is a place where Yad Vashem is a national institution, where Holocaust imagery and memory are to be found everywhere, where Israeli rightists printed posters of Yitzhak Rabin dressed as Hitler (and then pretended to wonder why he was assassinated), where haredim dress their kids up as concentration camp victims to make a political point, and where the Shoah is – for better and for worse – a reminder of the Jewish people’s very real vulnerability.
That is why the “give peace a chance” mantra of many thoughtful, Israel- committed and well-intentioned Diaspora Jewish leaders strikes many middle-of-the-political-road Israelis as ludicrous. “If US Secretary of State John Kerry fails, it will be because the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships could not summon the courage to take the painful steps required for peace, security and dignity,” said one recently. Ah, the luxury of balance, of optimism, of the belief that every conflict has a solution. It’s the gift of the buffer of the oceans…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –ed.]
Netanyahu at AIPAC: Rebutting Obama, Affirming Israel: P. David Hornik, Frontpage, Mar. 5, 2014 —On Sunday, even before Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu had arrived in America for his current visit, President Obama was portraying him in an interview to Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg as the obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Book Review: Caroline Glick: Explaining the Right’s Alternative to the World: Ted Belman, Israpundit, Jan. 5, 2014—In her new book, journalist Caroline Glick lays out a political plan built on application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Here too, the question of how to deal with the demographic issue is a leading concern, but in this case, Israeli sovereignty becomes a surprising and essential demographic solution.
Obama’s ‘If Not Now, When?’: Algemeiner, Mar. 7, 2014 —U.S. President Barack Obama assumes that regional and global circumstances are now conducive for a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
A Disturbing Double Standard: Sarah N. Stern, American Thinker, Jan. 15, 2014 —Afghan President Hamid Karzi has recently authorized the release of 72 prisoners, regarded as a threat to the security of the United States
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