Tag: Foreign Policy

TRUMP, FOREIGN POLICY: PEACE PROCESS “GOING NOWHERE”, RUSSIAN RELATIONS AT A LOW POINT, LITTLE PROGRESS FIGHTING ISLAMISM

Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Push Is Going Nowhere. That’s Why Israelis Love It.: Benny Avni, The Daily Beast, Aug. 28, 2017 — Jared Kushner's second visit to the Mideast is widely perceived as a Seinfeld-like show about nothing—and the Israelis love it.

Russia Feels American Pressure: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, August 16, 2017 — Recent tensions between Moscow and Washington could drive the two superpowers to a deadlock.

On Radical Islam, Trump Has Lost His Focus: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2017 — Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism.

Trump’s Foreign Policy: The Conservatives’ Report Card: Bret Stephens, New York Times, July 21, 2017 — If you’re a liberal judging Donald Trump’s foreign-policy record at the six-month mark, it’s not hard to guess the grade you’d give him.

 

On Topic Links

 

Keep Telling the Horrific Truth About North Korea: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 15, 2017

U.S. Policy in Lebanon Is Now Helping Hezbollah and Iran: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Weekly Standard, Aug. 16, 2017

Name-Calling Critics Fail to Refute ZOA’s Concerns About McMaster: Morton A. Klein, Elizabeth Berney and Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2017

The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 14, 2017

 

 

 

JARED KUSHNER’S MIDEAST PEACE PUSH

IS GOING NOWHERE. THAT’S WHY ISRAELIS LOVE IT.

Benny Avni

The Daily Beast, Aug. 28, 2017

 

Jared Kushner's second visit to the Mideast is widely perceived as a Seinfeld-like show about nothing—and the Israelis love it. Seeking President Trump’s “ultimate deal”—peace between Israelis and Palestinians—Kushner arrived in Jerusalem and Ramallah this week, where few could point to any progress made in promoting a deal between the parties. White House officials say they're keeping mum on progress by design, but commentators in the Israeli and Palestinian press claim there is little substance behind the first son-in-law’s diplomacy.

 

And that's just fine by Israeli government officials, who quietly express hope that Kushner's latest trip, and perhaps future ones as well, will yield no earth-shaking results. “Past American administrations jumped into the peace process pool before checking if there’s any water in it; we jumped after them and cracked our heads,” Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, told The Daily Beast. He commended Kushner’s go-slow approach, saying, “Perhaps he’ll realize there’s no water in this pool, and so there's no reason to jump in.”

 

Publicly, after meeting with Kushner, Jerusalem and Ramallah officials made statements that were remarkably similar, using words diplomats have long employed to obscure content. Privately, however, several Israeli officials say they expect no progress. Further, they're grateful the Trump administration, unlike previous ones, exerts no pressure on them to make major concessions. Political conditions are far from optimal for a meaningful peace process. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under unprecedented pressure, as investigations of various alleged wrongdoings mount against him. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is unpopular and weak.

 

While Kushner and international negotiator Jason Greenblatt do their best not to discuss the substance of their talks—saying they would rather conduct quiet diplomacy—critics note that not too long ago Kushner told White House interns, in a conversation that was leaked to the press, that there may be “no solution” to the Israeli Palestinian problem. Dayan—a former leader of Yesha, the West Bank settler movement—said that rather than seeking a final deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute once and for all, Kushner should seek smaller victories. Dayan cited a deal reached recently about water-sharing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “You won’t get a Peace Nobel for things like that, but they may be more achievable" and helpful, he told The Daily Beast.

 

The Palestinians fear that kind of approach would muddy their goal: to be recognized as an independent state. In a recent State Department briefing, spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to endorse the two state solution, a formula expressed by three prior administrations that calls for the creation of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state next to the Jewish state of Israel. “We are not going to state what the outcome has to be,” Nauert said, adding, “It has to be workable to both sides.” Palestinians were outraged. Even as Kushner met for several hours with Abbas in Ramallah Thursday, demonstrators, said to be organized by Abbas’ own lieutenants, gathered outside the presidential headquarters, known as the Muqata, with some reportedly carrying anti-Trump signs, including one depicting the president as being led on a leash by daughter Ivanka, who is married to Kushner.

 

A White House official close to the negotiations noted however that Abbas has threatened—as he’s often done in the past—to resign and dissolve the Palestinian Authority if Kushner declined to push hard on the peace process. But then, the official said, "Abbas didn’t pull out,” which indicates that the talks are substantial after all. “This shows it’s not about nothing," the official added. The official asked to speak on background as part of Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s expressed desire to keep the content of the negotiations under wraps. This, the official said, may be the reason many feel no progress is being made, but it is a deliberate strategy.

 

Past administrations “put process ahead of results. It was about a road map, time lines, impositions of deadlines,” the official said, adding that past diplomacy “suffered from a constant effort to show some achievement,” which doomed it to failure as the parties pushed back against public statements in Washington. Critics however say that the current diplomatic ambiguity may lead to failure. “You have to say publicly where you want to go,” said Gilead Sher, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. Kushner, he says, is undermining progress by not stating what the American goal is. “When no one knows which way America is sailing, it’s impossible for all to steer their boats," he added…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

 

Contents

RUSSIA FEELS AMERICAN PRESSURE

Emil Avdaliani

BESA, August 16, 2017

 

Recent tensions between Moscow and Washington could drive the two superpowers to a deadlock. On July 30, Russia retaliated against the US by ordering 755 American diplomats to leave the country. Moscow’s move came after Washington toughened its own anti-Russia sanctions (although the Russian move was intended more as a countermeasure against former US President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in late 2016).

 

Moscow cannot afford to impose serious countersanctions, as they would cause greater harm to the much-troubled Russian economy than they would to the US. Consider, for example, the case of NASA, which depends largely on Russian engines. Stopping their export could cause significant difficulties for the US aerospace industry, but for the Russian economy, it would represent a loss of approximately $1 billion in revenues in a couple of years.

 

The relationship, troubled as it is, has not necessarily hit rock bottom. On August 1, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “the [US-Russia] relationship was at a historic low since the end of the Cold War, and it could get worse.” On August 3, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev tweeted that any hope for improvement in relations was lost with Trump’s sanctions. There are reasons for Moscow to be worried. American politicians openly state how supportive the US will be towards eastern European countries and Georgia in the event that Russia increases its military capabilities in the region. This US resolve was highlighted recently when VP Mike Pence visited Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro.

 

A steady US/NATO military and security buildup is underway in eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Georgia, for example, hosted the biggest military exercises ever held on its soil, in which US forces took part along with other allies. Washington has also outlined its position that any progress with Moscow would depend entirely upon the latter’s ceasing its military and financial support for pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine, Georgia’s breakaway territories of Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.

 

Rather than compromise, the Russians have in fact expanded their military bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and other breakaway territories across the former Soviet space. As an international relations realist, Putin knows the only hope of pressuring Washington is to gain an advantage in other theaters where Moscow has significant political leverage. However, despite strained relations, Moscow and Washington still share similar – if limited – perspectives in several areas. Syria is first among several potential points of cooperation. Russia and the US share a vision of defeating ISIS, and there was even a joint announcement of a ceasefire in southwestern Syria in early July. To both countries’ credit, the ceasefire still holds.

 

East of the Syrian battlefield, Afghanistan could be another theater for cooperation. Russia fears a spillover of militancy from both the Taliban and ISIS across the Afghan border into Central Asia, and would not oppose a US presence in Afghanistan as a bulwark against it. Yet another geographic area of possible Russian-American cooperation could be the Korean peninsula, where the situation is heating up. The Pyongyang leadership is rigorously pursuing its nuclear program and has made significant progress in successfully testing its ICBM. Both Moscow and Washington are concerned that North Korea’s military capabilities could deal a final blow to the policy of non-proliferation.

 

However, there are limits to these areas of converging interests. In Syria, for instance, Russia’s grand strategy of linking the Syrian crisis with the Ukrainian one in order to gain diplomatic advantage in negotiations with the west has failed. In Afghanistan, the US suspects Moscow of providing military support to the Taliban, while in North Korea, Washington does not openly rely on Russian support. Washington recently criticized both Moscow and Beijing for not doing enough to stop the North Korean nuclear program.

 

Russian-US relations have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. There do exist several theaters in which the two superpowers can work together, but there are significant limits that will block any breakthroughs. There is thus little possibility for any rapprochement between the two powers across the former Soviet space. Different geopolitical readings on Ukraine, Georgia, and wider eastern European security make near-term progress in Russia-US relations improbable at best.                      

 

 

Contents

ON RADICAL ISLAM, TRUMP HAS LOST HIS FOCUS                                                                              

Ayaan Hirsi Ali                                         

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2017

 

Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism. He ditched the politically correct language of the Obama administration by declaring that we were mired in an ideological conflict with radical Islam, which he likened to the totalitarian ideologies America had defeated in the 20th century. Mr. Trump also promised, as part of his immigration policy, to put in place an “extreme vetting” system that screens for Islamic radicalism. He vowed to work with genuine Muslim reformers and concluded with the promise that one of his first acts as president would be “to establish a commission on radical Islam.”

 

Mr. Trump has had more than six months to make good on these pledges. He hasn’t gotten very far. The administration’s first move—a hastily drafted executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries—backfired when it was repeatedly blocked in court. Worse, subsequent moves have tended to run counter to Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges. Aside from a new questionnaire for visa applicants, there has been no clarity regarding the promised “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants and visitors. The promise to work with and empower authentic Muslim reformers has gone nowhere. The status of the promised commission on radical Islam remains unclear. Perhaps most discouragingly, the administration’s Middle Eastern strategy seems to involve cozying up to Saudi Arabia—for decades the principal source of funding for Islamic extremism around the world.

 

Some administration critics have blamed the loss of focus on Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who became White House national security adviser in February. The most charitable formulation of this criticism is that military men who slogged their way through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an aversion to the argument that we face an ideological opponent, as opposed to a series of military problems. But I put the responsibility on Mr. Trump. With regard to radical Islam, he simply seems to have lost interest. Is all hope of a revamped policy on radical Islam lost? Not necessarily. Prominent members of Congress—among them Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Reps. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and Trent Franks (R., Ariz.)—understand that Islamism must be confronted with ideas as well as arms.

 

And this need not be a partisan issue. In the early years after 9/11, Sens. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) worked together to analyze the threat of Islamist ideology. Even President Obama’s former representative to Muslim communities, Farah Pandith, who visited 80 countries between 2009 and 2014, wrote in 2015: “In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence . . . Funding all this was Saudi money, which paid for things like the textbooks, mosques, TV stations and the training of Imams.” In 2016, addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) sounded the alarm over Islamist indoctrination in Pakistan, noting that thousands of schools funded with Saudi money “teach a version of Islam that leads . . . into an . . . anti-Western militancy.” We have already seen one unexpected outbreak of bipartisanship in Washington this summer, over tightening sanctions on Russia in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s many aggressions.

 

I propose that the next item of cross-party business should be for Congress to convene hearings on the ideological threat of radical Islam. “Who wants America on offense, with a coherent and intelligible strategy?” Newt Gingrich asked in 2015, when he called for such hearings. Then as now, if the executive branch isn’t willing—if the president has forgotten his campaign commitments—lawmakers can and should step up to the plate.                                                                          

 

 

Contents

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY:

THE CONSERVATIVES’ REPORT CARD                                                                   

Bret Stephens

                      New York Times, July 21, 2017

 

If you’re a liberal judging Donald Trump’s foreign-policy record at the six-month mark, it’s not hard to guess the grade you’d give him. An F is too generous for your taste. An F-minus? How about a negative F? What if you’re conservative? Here your grade will depend on what kind of conservative you happen to be.

 

(1) You’re a Trumpkin. What’s not to like? Wasn’t it Machiavelli — or some other Italian with a similar-sounding name — who said, “it is much safer to be feared than loved”? Isn’t it about time that Bashar al-Assad fears us? Isn’t it about time we have an American president who couldn’t care less whether he’s loved in Paris or Brussels — capitals our soldiers once liberated only so that they could repay us with freeloading and condescension? And isn’t it about time we throw our weight around the world on our own behalf, and not for the sake of some make-believe “international community”? Grade: The easiest A since you took “rocks for jocks” in college.

 

(2) You’re not a Trumpkin, but you’re happy Hillary Clinton isn’t president. Well, what did you expect? We all knew he was a policy neophyte, with some bad ideas but reasonably decent instincts. And, on the whole, his instincts are serving us well. What, you have an objection to Jim Mattis at Defense, John Kelly at Homeland Security, Mike Pompeo at C.I.A. and H. R. McMaster as security adviser? The Clinton team would have consisted of Brookings Institution types trying to extend the Obama administration’s legacy of American retreat — of appeasing adversaries, alienating allies, and turning us into a country whose enemies didn’t fear us and whose friends didn’t trust us. It’s been only six months, and Trump still has a lot to learn. But he’s jettisoned some of his worst ideas — on NATO being obsolete, for instance — while taking a more muscular approach against the Islamic State, Iran and North Korea. Grade: B.

 

(3) You’re the sort of conservative who doesn’t believe we should grade college students on a curve, much less our commander in chief. Yes, Machiavelli did say it was better to be feared than loved. But the great Florentine also said, “a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred.” The United States has had unpopular presidents. But not one — not Richard Nixon in the Watergate crisis; not George W. Bush at the worst moments of the Iraq war — inspires the sort of hatred that Trump does.

 

Much of this is self-inflicted. Trump didn’t need to start his presidency by infuriating the president of Mexico on the eve of a planned visit to Washington, or by comparing the American intelligence community to Nazi Germany, or by throwing a tantrum with the prime minister of Australia. He didn’t need to demand that Seoul pay for missile defenses that would protect American troops in the event of war with North Korea, or toy with our NATO allies as he mulled whether to reaffirm our mutual-defense obligations.

 

Trump could have avoided all of this. He didn’t, either because his personality is defective or because he thinks humiliation is an appropriate tool of presidential power. Character is destiny, conservatives used to think. We are living this destiny.

 

Conservatives must also wonder what happened to the “conservative” foreign policy they were promised in the campaign. The administration certified this month that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal; according to the Institute for Science and International Security, it isn’t fully. We were supposed to support our allies in Syria fighting both the Islamic State and Assad; we ditched them. We were supposed to get serious about the threat from Russia. In Hamburg this month, Trump again showed how eager he was to oblige his man-crush in the Kremlin, this time at the expense of Israel.

 

But the deeper flaw of Trump’s foreign policy isn’t psychological. It’s philosophical. The Trump administration is the first to make an open break with the anti-isolationist postwar consensus of Harry Truman, Arthur Vandenberg and Dean Acheson. “The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage,” McMaster and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. Mark this as the shift from internationalism to transactionalism; from a values-based foreign policy rooted in Alexis de Tocqueville’s notion of “self-interest, rightly understood” to an approach that might be called neo-Maguirism, after “Jerry Maguire.” To wit: “Show me the money!”

 

It’s not that the administration has done everything wrong, at least by conservative lights: It’s always possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. But if serious conservatives believe in anything, it’s that we really are, as Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth,” and that our foreign policy should be equal to that hope. That’s “hope,” Donald, not “joke.” Grade: O.M.G.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Keep Telling the Horrific Truth About North Korea: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 15, 2017—Equating President Trump’s tough North Korea talk with Kim Jong-un’s bluster, as the president’s critics have done over the past week, is dumb — not least because it’s clear Trump’s tack is working. The White House’s hard-edged messaging knocked Pyongyang’s dynastic tyrant out of his comfort zone.

U.S. Policy in Lebanon Is Now Helping Hezbollah and Iran: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Weekly Standard, Aug. 16, 2017—The U.S. is deploying special forces on the ground in Lebanon to provide training for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) for missions that partner with Hezbollah—Iran’s most valuable terrorist ally—against ISIS.

Name-Calling Critics Fail to Refute ZOA’s Concerns About McMaster: Morton A. Klein, Elizabeth Berney and Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2017—The Zionist Organization of America’s August 2017 report detailed US National Security Chief General H.R. McMaster’s troubling record regarding Iran, Israel and radical Islamist terrorism.

The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 14, 2017—One of the most important chapters in the war on terror is being rewritten — with a moral inversion. Islamic terrorists who were arrested and deported have become "liberal causes célèbres", while agents of the CIA who questioned them are not only being condemned but also financially crushed by punishment and legal bills — for having tried, legally, to save American lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY SO FAR COMBINES RADICAL RHETORIC & CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

No ‘Trump Doctrine’ Yet — and Wisely So: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Mar. 1, 2017— In his politically adept address to Congress Tuesday night, President Trump largely ignored foreign policy and spoke only generally — though warmly — about our armed forces.

Trump and the ‘Madman Theory’: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2017— At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction.

The Logic of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Michael Auslin, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017— Amid the seeming disarray of President Trump’s foreign policy, critics seem unable to make up their minds…

A Big Deal?: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Feb. 27, 2017— What a difference an election makes.                                                                                                                                                                            

On Topic Links

 

Trump’s ‘Alt-state’ Solution Suddenly Looks Like the Best Deal for Israelis and Arabs: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 22, 2017

What is Trump’s Israel Policy?: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2017

Clear, Clarify, Hold, Build: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2017

All of Trump’s Executive Actions So Far: Aidan Quigley, Politico, Jan. 25, 2017

 

NO ‘TRUMP DOCTRINE’ YET — AND WISELY SO                                                                       

Ralph Peters

New York Post, Mar. 1, 2017

 

In his politically adept address to Congress Tuesday night, President Trump largely ignored foreign policy and spoke only generally — though warmly — about our armed forces. That was a good thing. It might have been disastrous had the president attempted to lay down a “Trump Doctrine” on national security and international relations prematurely. He and his team long have been engaged on domestic issues, but, true to the pattern of recent administrations, they regarded global affairs as an annoyance and national security primarily as a stick for poking opponents.

 

Now, in office, Trump is learning how complex the world is and how confounding the collision of security, diplomatic and economic interests can be. Mr. President, take your time. Listen to premier advisers, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Hear out the senators who’ve studied national security for decades. Recognize that politics truly ought to end at water’s edge.

 

The president does need to make a defining foreign-policy speech to guide his administration. But it should come no earlier than this summer, allowing time to overcome preconceptions and face reality. Trump needs to get this right. Meanwhile, his brief remarks on global issues were reassuring. His declaration of solidarity with NATO was welcome and vital. Even though new funding isn’t yet “pouring in” from our allies, there are earnest discussions in European parliaments about making greater contributions to the alliance. But we must recognize that NATO has been the greatest security bargain the United States ever got. Peace is a great deal cheaper than world war.

 

Trump’s dramatic support for our troops and their families provided a healthy morale boost — and a welcome change from the grudging acknowledgments of the Obama era. The president repeated his determination, if without specifics, to renew our military. All good. But for those of us who take a broader view of national security, his emphasis on supporting domestic law enforcement and making ravaged minority communities safe, with quality schools, cut to the core. It matters little if we’re safe abroad if tens of millions of our fellow citizens must fear a walk to the corner store, don’t know if their children will return safely from the playground or cannot educate the young to advance and rise from poverty.

 

The Democratic Party’s unforgivable confinement of minorities to a permanent underclass is a national-security crisis of the first order, a virtual imprisonment of millions. But beyond mixed metaphors and an addiction to adverbs, there were three problems with the president’s remarks on security. First, the various proposed initiatives — tax cuts, massive infrastructure spending, more social benefits and a higher defense budget — would add enormously to our national debt. We’ll see what the budget wonks can do, but a sound economy and sustainable debt are fundamental to national security. We have to learn to live within our means, make hard decisions and take responsibility.

 

Second, the president began by announcing that our country will again play a leadership role in the world and that our allies can count on us once more. But, later, he veered toward “America First” and a retreat from the global stage. As many a former president learned the hard way, disengagement simply doesn’t work. When we don’t venture into the world, the world comes to us — as on 9/11, or at Pearl Harbor or as far back as the War of 1812.

 

Third, although the president never uttered the name “Putin,” the Russian dictator’s ghost floated by when the president pointedly noted that old enemies can become friends. Beware. If any single issue has the potential to ravage the new administration, it’s the Russia connection. Trump needs to state, openly and firmly, that Vladimir Putin threatens our values, our interests, human rights, freedom and common decency.

 

Grave political danger lurks, as some on the extreme right insist Putin’s a natural ally in the defense of our civilization against Islamist barbarism. But Putin’s a barbarian himself. It’s naked bigotry to give him a pass on the grounds that he’s nominally Christian: His regime exploits a pliant Orthodox Church for cynical ends, as did the Soviet Union Putin worships. Putin isn’t an embattled defender of “our” civilization. He’s its enemy. His values aren’t our values; his interests aren’t our own; and yes, he’s a war criminal. Civilization begins at the Polish border.

 

On Tuesday, Trump disarmed political opponents by calling them out. He reassured our allies. He opened the door to cooperation and change. Now the hard work begins.

 

 

Contents

 

                             

TRUMP AND THE ‘MADMAN THEORY’

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2017

 

At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, it is composed of men of experience, judgment and traditionalism. Meaning, they are all very much within the parameters of mainstream American internationalism as practiced since 1945. Practically every member of the team — the heads of State, Homeland Security, the CIA, and most especially Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — could fit in a Cabinet put together by, say, Hillary Clinton.

 

The commander in chief, on the other hand, is quite the opposite — inexperienced, untraditional, unbounded. His pronouncements on everything from the one-China policy to the two-state (Arab-Israeli) solution, from NATO obsolescence to the ravages of free trade, continue to confound and, as we say today, disrupt. The obvious question is: Can this arrangement possibly work? The answer thus far, surprisingly, is: perhaps.

 

The sample size is tiny but take, for example, the German excursion. Trump dispatched his grown-ups — Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — to various international confabs in Germany to reassure allies with the usual pieties about America’s commitment to European security. They did drop a few hints to Trump’s loud complaints about allied parasitism, in particular shirking their share of the defense burden. Within days, Germany announced a 20,000-troop expansion of its military. Smaller European countries are likely to take note of the new setup. It’s classic good-cop, bad-cop: The secretaries represent foreign policy continuity but their boss preaches America First. Message: Shape up.

 

John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies suggests that the push-pull effect might work on foes as well as friends. On Saturday, China announced a cutoff of all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of 2017. Constituting more than one-third of all North Korean exports, this is a major blow to its economy. True, part of the reason could be Chinese ire at the brazen assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother, who had been under Chinese protection. Nonetheless, the boycott was declared just days after a provocative North Korean missile launch — and shortly into the term of a new American president who has shown that he can be erratic and quite disdainful of Chinese sensibilities.

 

His wavering on the one-China policy took Beijing by surprise. Trump also strongly denounced Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and conducted an ostentatious love-in with Japan’s prime minister, something guaranteed to rankle the Chinese. Beijing’s boycott of Pyongyang is many things, among them a nod to Washington. This suggests that the peculiar and discordant makeup of the U.S. national security team — traditionalist lieutenants, disruptive boss — might reproduce the old Nixonian “madman theory.” That’s when adversaries tread carefully because they suspect the U.S. president of being unpredictable, occasionally reckless and potentially crazy dangerous. Henry Kissinger, with Nixon’s collaboration, tried more than once to exploit this perception to pressure adversaries.

 

Trump’s people have already shown a delicate touch in dealing with his bouts of loopiness. Trump has gone on for years about how we should have taken Iraq’s oil for ourselves. Sunday in Baghdad, Mattis wryly backed off, telling his hosts that “All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I am sure we will continue to do so in the future.”

 

Yet sometimes an off-center comment can have its uses. Take Trump’s casual dismissal of a U.S. commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East. The next day, U.S. policy was brought back in line by his own U.N. ambassador. But this diversion might prove salutary. It’s a message to the Palestinians that their decades of rejectionism may not continue to pay off with an inexorable march toward statehood — that there may actually be a price to pay for making no concessions and simply waiting for the U.S. to deliver them a Palestinian state.

 

To be sure, a two-track, two-policy, two-reality foreign policy is risky, unsettling and has the potential to go totally off the rails. This is not how you would draw it up in advance. It’s unstable and confusing. But the experience of the first month suggests that, with prudence and luck, it can yield the occasional benefit — that the combination of radical rhetoric and conventional policy may induce better behavior both in friend and foe. Alas, there is also a worst-case scenario. It needs no elaboration.

 

 

Contents

 

THE LOGIC OF TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY

Michael Auslin

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017

 

Amid the seeming disarray of President Trump’s foreign policy, critics seem unable to make up their minds: Either Mr. Trump is upending America’s traditional postwar priorities, such as by denigrating NATO, or he is easily accommodating conventional wisdom, such as by accepting the “One China” policy. Which is it?

 

These critiques miss the logical thread that ties together Mr. Trump’s actions. Although it is too early to expect the president’s foreign policy to be fully fleshed out, especially after the abrupt resignation of Mike Flynn as national security adviser, the White House appears to be guided by a consistent approach.

 

On foreign issues that directly affect domestic concerns, Mr. Trump pursues radical change. But on matters that are truly foreign, he is willing to adopt a traditional stance. What looks like inconsistency is actually an instinct deeply grounded in his worldview.

 

This explains the president’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Some charge that this is a betrayal of America’s decades-long commitment to a liberal global economic system. But Mr. Trump sees it as a domestic priority, a necessary shielding of American workers. Instead of sweeping, multicountry agreements, he has proposed bilateral trade pacts, beginning with Britain and possibly Japan.

 

On pure foreign policy, Mr. Trump has stayed the course for now. After initially questioning the relevance and utility of America’s main postwar alliances, he now seems committed to them. The president and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have affirmed the mutual-defense agreements with Japan and South Korea. Mr. Mattis had tough words for NATO allies last week when urging increased military spending, but walking away seems a remote possibility.

 

Even more surprising was the recent phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump dropped his criticism of the “One China” policy that has defined relations with Beijing since the 1970s. Mr. Mattis, during a visit to Japan, also calmed fears that the U.S. Navy might physically confront Chinese vessels in the South China Sea. The Trump administration has kept Russia at arm’s length, too, despite the president’s continued praise of Vladimir Putin. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has made clear that American sanctions will remain in effect unless Russia withdraws from Ukraine.

 

Mr. Trump rejects the widely held belief that globalization always benefits American interests. This may be his most lasting challenge to the postwar international order. Still, the Trump administration appears willing to live up to commitments and responsibilities that do not impose costs at home. None of this means Mr. Trump’s policies will go smoothly. But critics are wrong to claim he is suddenly kowtowing, seeing the wisdom of “orthodoxy,” or being tamed by the establishment. At least so far, Mr. Trump has been remarkably consistent. Critics from the left and right should accept that the next four years of American foreign policy will be defined by a mix of traditionalism and radicalism.

                                                               

Contents 

                                        

A BIG DEAL?

                                        

Elliott Abrams

 

Weekly Standard, Feb. 27, 2017

 

What a difference an election makes. Benjamin Netanyahu, for eight years scorned and insulted by the Obama administration, found himself warmly embraced in the Trump White House last week. No more name-calling, no more deliberate "daylight" between Israeli and American positions, no more abandonment of Israel at the U.N.

 

This was the central achievement of the Netanyahu visit: to demonstrate a visible end to the Obama years and put Israeli-American relations back where they were in the George W. Bush administration. The warmth of the White House greeting was no doubt bitter gall to Bibi's many enemies in Jerusalem, and in the Israeli press accounts they carped and complained about this word and that phrase. But having a close and supportive relationship with Washington is always an asset to an Israeli prime minister, and so it will be for Netanyahu.

 

Beyond this symbolic reset of the U.S.-Israel alliance, the visit was filled with several real developments. The American and Israeli press are mostly focusing on "the abandonment of the two-state solution" and quoting President Trump's lines: “I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians—if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.”

 

The criticism of Trump for this "abandonment" is misplaced. At least since Bill Clinton, a "two-state solution" has been the insistent American goal, but where has it gotten us—or the Israelis and Palestinians? Trump is focusing instead on the goal, which is peace, and saying any road that gets us all there can work for him if it can work for the parties. Criticism of this position is foolish, elevating the means over the end. He has not abandoned the two-state solution; the hand-wringing of the New York Times and the elation of some spokesmen for the Israeli right are both overdone. Trump is doing what he often does best: challenging the conventional wisdom and asking if there is a better path to peace.

 

In fact Trump has a theory of how to get there—the "outside in" approach that starts with the Arab states. The old two-state approach was to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian deal first, believing it would clear the way for the Arab states to improve their relations with Israel. Trump favors a regional approach: leverage Israel's improving relations with Arab states to help win an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Netanyahu was first to mention this when the two men appeared together: “I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach, from involving our newfound Arab partners in the pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians.

 

Trump agreed fully: “And we have been discussing that, and it is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. And it's actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory. So I didn't know you were going to be mentioning that, but that's—now that you did, I think it's a terrific thing and I think we have some pretty good cooperation from people that in the past would never, ever have even thought about doing this.”

 

Trump later added more: “Our new concept that we've been discussing actually for a while is something that allows them to show more flexibility than they have in the past because you have a lot bigger canvas to play with. .  .  . I can tell you from the standpoint of Bibi and from the standpoint of Israel, I really believe they want to make a deal and they'd like to see the big deal.” No doubt the Israelis would in principle like to see "the big deal," because it would mean normal diplomatic and economic relations with the Gulf Arab states. Can this work? You won't know until you try, and Trump plans to try.

 

Perhaps the biggest news from the visit and press conference is that Trump is a "peace processor." Instead of abandoning efforts at a peace deal as a waste of time, he plans to jump into them—or at least have his administration, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, do so. It's possible that something can be achieved here. The older Israeli-Palestinian "inside-out" approach tends to be all-or-nothing, and when it fails, it produces nothing but anger and disappointment. Perhaps the administration can improve Israeli-Arab relations and cooperation even if a final peace deal is elusive.

 

But optimism should be restrained. Cooperating with Israel is always risky for the Arab states, which is why they do it in secret. It is a potential domestic political problem of great magnitude for them, so why should they risk it? The answer is that it would improve the lot of the Palestinians—but that has never been and is not now a compelling objective for most Arab leaders. It's "nice to have" but not worth any real danger. They are most likely to try it if a strong and reliable American president presses them to do so, over and over again. And that's the rub here. Arab leaders do not yet know if they have a strong and reliable president with whom to work, or whether he is going to make this regional peace deal a major goal that he will pursue over time.

 

Arriving at the White House, Netanyahu barely missed passing national security adviser Michael Flynn on his way out. Who will handle the Middle East at the NSC under the new national security adviser, and what will that person's views be? Who will be the next assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs? What will be the balance of power among Trump, the new national security adviser, Jim Mattis at Defense, and Rex Tillerson at State? And for the Arabs, the far more critical question: What will be the new administration's real policy toward Iran? One can envision a tough policy on Iran that defends and gratifies the Sunni Gulf states and leads them to cooperate fully on Israeli-Palestinian matters. One can also imagine a policy that they find wanting and that provides little incentive for them to court additional risks. Until they have made a judgment about President Trump and his administration, they will carefully hedge their bets.

 

At the news conference, Netanyahu had a lot more to say about Iran than Trump did. The latter did say, "I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing—I mean ever—a nuclear weapon," which may suggest an effort to extend the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration. But after that opening line, and despite Netan­yahu's repeated mention of Iran, Trump did not utter the word again. This will leave Israel and Arab states wondering where U.S. policy is heading.

 

The embrace of "peace processing" led Trump to reiterate something his administration had said a couple of times recently: Unrestrained Israeli settlement expansion is not a good thing. As Trump put it to Netanyahu, "I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit." He also said, "I think that the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it's hard to do. They're going to have to show the fact that they really want to make a deal" and added, "As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?" This is very vague, but it is enormously helpful to Netanyahu. Trump's election victory was seen by some on Israel's right as opening the gates: Now there could be many new settlements and indeed annexation of parts of the West Bank. Netanyahu, always cautious, has long resisted such proposals, but that would have been much harder for him if Trump embraced such ideas…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents     

      

On Topic Links

 

Trump’s ‘Alt-state’ Solution Suddenly Looks Like the Best Deal for Israelis and Arabs: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 22, 2017—What could President Trump have possibly meant last week at his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he said he wasn’t committed to a one- or two-state solution for Israel, and that he was seeking “a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand”?

What is Trump’s Israel Policy?: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2017—President Trump’s comments at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a pleasant contrast to the frosty relationship, sometimes devolving into outright hostility, between former President Barack Obama and Netanyahu. However, Trump’s remarks left Middle East experts scratching their heads.

Clear, Clarify, Hold, Build: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2017—The Spanish viceroys who governed the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries had a saying when it came to the edicts—usually ill-judged and invariably late—from their sovereign across the sea: Obedezco pero no cumplo. I obey but I do not comply. It could be the motto of Donald Trump’s cabinet, at least on the foreign-policy side.

All of Trump’s Executive Actions So Far: Aidan Quigley, Politico, Jan. 25, 2017—President Donald Trump has spent his first days using his executive authority to rewrite American policy and undo a string of decisions made by former president Barack Obama. Here’s a running list of the new president’s executive actions…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “PRESIDENT WITH IMPUNITY”: WHILE ANTI-ISRAEL MEDIA SEIZES ON ABU KHDEIR MURDER, U.S. FOREIGN POLICY CONTINUES TO ALIENATE FRIENDS & EMBOLDEN TERRORISTS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Breaking News: THREE ISRAELI SUSPECTS CONFESS TO KILLING PALESTINIAN TEEN (Jerusalem) —Three Israeli suspects in the killing of a Palestinian teenager last week confessed to the crime on Monday. The confessions came as tensions continued to rise along Israel’s front with the Gaza Strip. Israeli airstrikes, launched in response to persistent rocket fire, killed at least eight Palestinians. The Hamas terrorist group vowed revenge, saying “the enemy will pay a tremendous price.” The region has been on edge since three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank. Last week, hours after the Israeli teens were buried, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted from outside his home in east Jerusalem, and his charred remains were found shortly afterward in a Jerusalem forest. His death triggered days of violent protests in Arab areas of Jerusalem and northern Israel. The Jewish suspects have not been identified. (New York Post, July 7, 2014)

 

Contents:

 

How Obama Lost the Middle East: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, July 3, 2013— In his first term, Barack Obama all but declared victory in America’s Middle East struggles.

The Daydream and the Nightmare: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2014— I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become.

Obama Knows He Can Ignore Scandal With Impunity: Andrew C. McCarthy, New York Post, May 31, 2014 — President Obama’s record of lawlessness is prodigious.

No Moral Symmetry: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, July 7, 2013— Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder is well on its way to becoming a core building block in the pantheon of anti-Israel propaganda, a central plank in the false argument that Israelis are just as murderous as the Palestinians. That Israelis are no more moral than the Palestinians.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep It There: Richard Landes, Tablet, June 24, 2014

Government by Fiat: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 26, 2014

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries a Small Stick: Amir Taheri, New York Post, May 31, 2014

 

 

HOW OBAMA LOST THE MIDDLE EAST                                                              Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                         

National Review, July 3, 2014

 

In his first term, Barack Obama all but declared victory in America’s Middle East struggles. As he precipitously pulled out all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the president had his own “Mission Accomplished” moment when declaring the country “stable,” “self-reliant,” and an “extraordinary achievement.” Those claims echoed Vice President Joe Biden’s earlier boast that Iraq somehow would prove Obama’s “greatest achievement.” After the death of Osama bin Laden, and during Obama’s reelection campaign, the president also proclaimed that al-Qaeda was a spent force and “on the run.”

 

But what exactly was the new Obama strategy that supposedly had all but achieved a victory in the larger War on Terror amid Middle East hostility? Fuzzy euphemisms replaced supposedly hurtful terms such as “terrorism,” “jihadist,” and “Islamist.” The administration gave well-meaning speeches exaggerating Islamic achievement while citing past American culpability. We tilted toward Turkey and the Palestinians while sternly lecturing Israel. Military victory was caricatured as an obsolete concept. Leading from behind was a clever substitute. Middle Easterners gathered that a bruised America would limp away from the region and pivot its forces elsewhere, saving billions of dollars to be better spent at home. The new soft-power rhetorical approach sought to win over the hearts and minds of the Arab Street, and thereby deny terrorists popular support. To grade that policy, survey the current Middle East, or what is left of it: Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Palestinians, Libya, Syria, and Turkey. It is fair to say that America has somehow managed to alienate friends, embolden enemies, and multiply radical Islamic terrorists.

 

So what happened? In short, the Obama administration put politics and ideology ahead of a disinterested and nonpartisan examination of the actual status of the 2009 Middle East. The more Obama campaigned in 2008 on a failed war in Iraq, a neglected war in Afghanistan, an ill-considered War on Terror, and an alienated Middle East, the more those talking points were outdated and eclipsed by fast-moving events on the ground. By Inauguration Day in January 2009, the hard-power surge had largely defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq. It had won over many of the Sunnis and had led to a U.S.-enforced coalition government, monitored by American troops. But there remained one caveat: What had been won on the ground could be just as easily lost if the U.S. did not leave behind peacekeepers in the manner that it had in all its past successful interventions: the Balkans, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.

 

Likewise, the once-derided “War on Terror” measures — Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, military tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions, and drones — by 2009 had largely worked. Since 9/11, America had foiled dozens of terrorist plots against our homeland and neutralized terrorists abroad, killing tens of thousands in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama for a while privately accepted that truth and thereby continued many of the very protocols that he had once derided. But there was again one problem. Obama kept posturing to the world that he would close Guantanamo and substitute civilian trials for military tribunals. He continued to say that he did not enjoy using renditions or drones — even as he upped the latter’s deadly missions tenfold. The results were contradictory messages that encouraged radical Islamists. The conclusion radical Islamists drew was that even the Obama administration had admitted its anti-terrorism protocols were either morally questionable or ineffective. Blaming a video maker instead of immediately taking out the known jihadists who had murdered Americans in Benghazi only reinforced that mixed message. So did exchanging five terrorist kingpins in Guantanamo for an alleged American military deserter in Afghanistan.

 

A series of empty Middle East red lines, deadlines, and withdrawal dates likewise reinforced the idea of American abdication. We warned Syria of air strikes and then backed down. We surged in Afghanistan only to simultaneously announce a withdrawal date for our troops. We issued Iran lots of deadlines to stop enriching uranium, only to forget them and end sanctions in hope of negotiations. As was the case with Russia, at first there were few consequences to such reset diplomacy and promises of easy victory. Al-Qaeda had been nearly wiped out in Anbar province in 2007–08 and was still regrouping. Iran had been crippled by sanctions and was wary of U.S. intentions. Terrorists did not wish to end up at Guantanamo or in a military tribunal. But newly emboldened terrorists gambled that the old deterrence was stale and now existed mostly as Obama’s reset rhetoric. They gambled that it was a great time to go on the offensive. They may have been right. Once more in the Middle East, Barack Obama is looking to blame others for a mess that has grown since 2009. But mostly he just wants out of the lose-lose region at any cost and wishes that someone would just make all the bad things go away.

 

 

Contents

THE DAYDREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE                                                   Peggy Noonan                                                                                                     

Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2014

 

I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We've got a sitting president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University's respondents also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50, who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were ashamed.

 

We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president's signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn't like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive. That's a long way of saying nothing's working. Which I'm sure you've noticed.

 

But I'm not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: "So sue me." "They don't do anything except block me. And call me names. It can't be that much fun." In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him—well, changed. He is "taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting "star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.

 

On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with "interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes" interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' '' Minuscule? Politics is his job. When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida. He went. At the "lush Ocean Reef Club," he reportedly told his dinner companions: "I needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time with friends." You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of concerns.

 

This is a president with 2½ years to go who shows every sign of running out the clock. Normally in a game you run out the clock when you're winning. He's running it out when he's losing. All this is weird, unprecedented. The president shows no sign—none—of being overwhelmingly concerned and anxious at his predicaments or challenges. Every president before him would have been. They'd be questioning what they're doing wrong, changing tack. They'd be ordering frantic aides to meet and come up with what to change, how to change it, how to find common ground not only with Congress but with the electorate. Instead he seems disinterested, disengaged almost to the point of disembodied. He is fatalistic, passive, minimalist. He talks about hitting "singles" and "doubles" in foreign policy. "The world seems to disappoint him," says the New Yorker's liberal and sympathetic editor, David Remnick. What kind of illusions do you have to have about the world to be disappointed when it, and its players, act aggressively or foolishly? Presidents aren't supposed to have those illusions, and they're not supposed to check out psychologically when their illusions are shattered.

 

Barack Obama doesn't seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he's made that have not turned out well. He doesn't seem concerned. A guess at the reason: He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is steering the world toward not relying on America. He is steering America toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a more federally controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and organized by progressives. He thinks he's done his work, set America on a leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, history will look back on him and see him as heroic, realistic, using his phone and pen each day in spite of unprecedented resistance. He is Lincoln, scorned in his time but loved by history. He thinks he is in line with the arc of history, that America, for all its stops and starts, for all the recent Supreme Court rulings, has embarked in the long term on governmental and cultural progressivism. Thus in time history will have the wisdom to look back and see him for what he really was: the great one who took every sling and arrow, who endured rising unpopularity, the first black president and the only one made to suffer like this. That's what he's doing by running out the clock: He's waiting for history to get its act together and see his true size…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link— Ed]

 

 

Contents

OBAMA KNOWS HE CAN IGNORE SCANDAL WITH IMPUNITY

Andrew C. McCarthy                                                                                                      New York Post, May 31, 2014

 

President Obama’s record of lawlessness is prodigious. There is the assumption of a power to rule by presidential decree — unilaterally amending ObamaCare provisions, immigration statutes, and other enactments in flagrant disregard of Congress’s constitutional power to write the laws. There is rampant fraud on the American people — think: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period,” just for a start. In the Benghazi massacre, we see the arc of administration malfeasance: In the absence of congressional authorization, the president instigated an unprovoked and ultimately disastrous war in Libya, empowering virulently anti-American Islamic supremacists. He then recklessly failed to provide adequate security for US officials who, for reasons that remain mysterious, were dispatched to Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places on the planet for Americans. Finally, when four Americans including our ambassador were predictably killed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, the president took no action to rescue them during the siege and then led a tireless campaign to blame an anti-Muslim video, rather than his wayward policy of empowering Islamists — even trumping up a prosecution against the video producer in violation of the First Amendment.

 

Making recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess. Ignoring court orders. Refusing to enforce the immigration laws. A Justice Department run amok: politicized prosecution, racially discriminatory enforcement of the civil rights laws, and Fast & Furious — a program that intentionally transferred thousands of guns to Mexican criminal gangs, resulting in the murder of a US border patrol agent. The list goes on. In fact, Obama’s behavior would easily satisfy the Constitution’s standard for removing a president from power. Yet, at this point, impeachment seems farfetched. In their wisdom, the Framers bequeathed us a Constitution that makes impeachment a political remedy, not a legal one. You can prove a thousand impeachable offenses, but absent the public will to remove the president from power, impeachment is a non-starter. The political case for ousting a president must be built. That is a good deal tougher than building the legal case.

 

As a matter of law, a president is impeachable for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This is a standard borrowed from British law. Indeed, during the 1787 constitutional convention in Philadelphia, the delegates were following the sensational impeachment trial of Warren Hastings in London, involving abuses of power that Parliament alleged Hastings committed while the empire’s top official in India. The term does not refer to “crimes” and “misdemeanors” as we commonly understand them — i.e., to ordinary criminal offenses listed in the penal code. Instead, “high crimes and misdemeanors” are what Alexander Hamilton described as “the misconduct of public men, or . . . the abuse or violation of some public trust.” They are best understood, he elaborated, as “political” wrongs because “they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”  Ordinary criminal offenses may qualify, but the concept is broader. It comfortably embraces such military-justice offenses as dereliction-of-duty — which is fitting given the president’s role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

 

Obama’s behavior would easily satisfy the Constitution’s standard for removing a president from power. Duty, in fact, is the critical ingredient. The president’s primary constitutional duties are to execute the laws faithfully and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He is even required to take an oath to that effect. Consequently, a chief executive who undermines our constitutional framework, who usurps the powers of the states or other branches of government, who intentionally misleads Congress and the public, or who obstructs other government officials in the performance of their constitutional responsibilities — such as Congress’s duty to conduct oversight of the departments and agencies it creates and funds with taxpayer dollars — commits high crimes and misdemeanors.

 

No man could be above the law, the Framers insisted, particularly that public official who, as George Mason put it, was positioned to “commit the most extensive injustice.” The Framers made the president the most powerful single official — reposing in his person all executive power — because they wanted him to be uniquely accountable. He is responsible not only for his own actions but for those of all administration officials. Misconduct and maladministration — whether it is ostensibly committed by Hillary Clinton, Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius, Eric Shinseki or some other underling — is the president’s misconduct and maladministration, especially if has encouraged and protected rogue subordinates rather than disciplining and firing them. The buck really does stop at the Oval Office. The legal grounds for impeachment are therefore easily established. What is quite difficult, by design, is the political decision to remove the president from power. The Framers understood that it might become necessary to oust a chief executive who abuses his authority. To leave in place a president who was incorrigibly lawless or incompetent would be an unacceptable threat to our republic. But they did not underestimate how socially disruptive impeachment could be, and they did not want it to become an exercise in factional or partisan hackery…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link— Ed]

 

Contents

NO MORAL SYMMETRY                                                                                  

David M. Weinberg                                                                                            

Israel Hayom, July 7, 2014

 

Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder is well on its way to becoming a core building block in the pantheon of anti-Israel propaganda, a central plank in the false argument that Israelis are just as murderous as the Palestinians. That Israelis are no more moral than the Palestinians. Without being too defensive, or in any way forgiving of the inexcusable kidnapping and gruesome murder of the young Arab boy from east Jerusalem, let it be said loud and clear: Comparisons that place Israeli and Palestinian societies on the same moral plane are evilly intended and utterly untruthful. No parallels can be drawn between Israel and the Palestinians when it comes to ethical standards. This is an asymmetrical conflict in every way: moral, political and ideological.

 

Israeli terrorists are few and far between. Over 100 years of conflict, they comprise a mere handful: Ami Popper, Jack Teitel, Yehuda Etzion, Baruch Goldstein, Yona Avrushmi and several others. This list of Palestinian terrorists fills fat ledger books across the globe, and the list of their victims fills even more. Israeli terrorists are denounced roundly and emphatically by Israeli society, caught quickly, and jailed fast. Nor are they released five minutes later. They are skunks, not heroes, of the Zionist movement and the Jewish people.

 

By contrast, Palestinian terrorists are celebrated widely by Palestinian society and feted by Palestinian leadership, sheltered methodically from justice, and rewarded generously. And if they're taken into custody, Palestinian terrorists are released just as quickly as international attentions turn elsewhere — the infamous "revolving door" record of the Palestinian Authority. And if Palestinian terrorists are held in Israeli jails, the Palestinians extort their release via kidnappings of Israelis, which again are celebrated. A perfect circle of perfidy. Note that Abu Khdeir’s murderers are already under arrest in Israel. They have nowhere to hide in Jewish-Israeli society. Whereas the murderers of Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach are still at large, hiding among their sympathetic and admiring brethren in the West Bank or Gaza.

 

When it became clear that Jews had murdered Abu Khdeir, for reasons of revenge or just ugly thugishness, the president, the prime minister, the chief rabbis, and all the political and cultural icons of Israelis society expressed deep shame at the killing, and spoke out immediately and without reservation in fierce denunciation of the crime. This killing does not represent the values or path of the Israeli people. When it became clear that Palestinians had kidnapped the three teenage Israeli boys, there was no shame in the streets of Ramallah, Hebron or Gaza City, only triumphant jubilation and defiance. A new three-finger stick-it-to-the-Israelis salute became the rave, and the pleased mother of one of the suspected kidnappers was lavished with hours of Palestinian television screen time. She told viewers that ("if he did it") she was proud of her son. Hamas and some Fatah leaders congratulated the kidnappers and promised them safe refuge and rewards, while promising Israel more kidnappings and murders.

 

The IDF arrested and jailed 10 soldiers last week who posted Facebook messages with calls for revenge. Contrast this with PA television, which broadcast a dozen sermons by local clerics, who get salaries from the Palestinian Authority, glorifying terrorism against Israelis and praising the kidnappers. All the while, the PA continued to pay salaries to the families of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and large reward stipends to terrorists released from Israeli jails. My point is that you judge a society not the by crimes of a few, but on the basis of the way that society deals with its criminals and who it celebrates as its heroes. In such a tally, there is no moral symmetry whatsoever between Israeli and Palestinian societies. Ironically, Palestinian propagandist MK Ahmed Tibi essentially affirmed the basic moral distinction between the two societies when speaking to Israel Radio this week before the killers in Jerusalem were identified. "Every Jew in this country," Tibi declared, "is praying that the murderer of Abu Khdeir is not a Jew. But I'm telling you for sure that he was a Jew." Tibi meant to curse and spit on Israeli society, yet didn't realize he was praising it. Indeed, every Jew in this country was praying that the murderer of Abu Khdeir would turn out not to be a Jew, because the very thought was reprehensible…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link— Ed]

 

         

Contents

 

On Topic

 

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep It There: Richard Landes, Tablet, June 24, 2014—Anthropologists and legal historians have long identified certain tribal cultures—warrior, nomadic—with a specific set of honor codes whose violation brings debilitating shame.

Government by Fiat: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 26, 2014 —The Supreme Court this week admonished the Environmental Protection Agency for overreaching in regulating greenhouse gases.

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014 —As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda.

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries a Small Stick: Amir Taheri, New York Post, May 31, 2014 —Until last week, some had hoped that, having failed to develop a credible foreign policy, President Obama may at least be ­capable of engaging in serious ­debate with his critics.

 

 

 

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY – FROM APPEASING TO PATHETIC TO POSITIVELY SCARY

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download an abbreviated version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Goodwill Squandered, U.S. Foreign Policy Is Adrift: Paul Chapin, Ottawa Citizen, July 15, 2013— The foreign policy of the United States is beginning to accumulate a record of diplomatic failure among the worst in U.S. history. Not since Woodrow Wilson raised the hopes of the world after the First World War and then failed to deliver U.S. leadership has an American president been such a disappointment.

 

A New Anti-American Axis?: Leslie H. Gelb and Dimitri K. Simes, New York Times , July 6, 2013—The flight of the leaker Edward J. Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow last month would not have been possible without the cooperation of Russia and China. The two countries’ behavior in the Snowden affair demonstrates their growing assertiveness and their willingness to take action at America’s expense.

 

The Obama Age of Proliferation: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2013— 'We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation," President Obama declared on Wednesday, "but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe." He's right about the last point, because even as the President offers new dreams of U.S. nuclear disarmament, the world is entering a new proliferation age.

 

On Topic Links

 

The US State Department’s Islamist Plan: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, July 19th, 2013

U.S. Supremacy Can Outlive Obama's Foreign Policy: Fabio Rafael Fiallo, Real Clear World, July 20, 2013

America Can Take a Breather. And It Should:Richard N. Haass, New York Times, June 23, 2013

Is Obama Trying to Start Israel-Syria War?: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, July 15, 2013

Kerry’s Mad Mission, Misreading the Middle East: Amir Taheri, The New York Post, July 22, 2013

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: "Muslim Brotherhood's Lackey": Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, July 17, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Aid to Egypt: Marian Wang & Theodoric Meyer, Real Clear World, July 10, 2013
 

GOODWILL SQUANDERED, U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IS ADRIFT

Paul Chapin

Ottawa Citizen July 15, 2013

 

The foreign policy of the United States is beginning to accumulate a record of diplomatic failure among the worst in U.S. history. Not since Woodrow Wilson raised the hopes of the world after the First World War and then failed to deliver U.S. leadership has an American president been such a disappointment. Barack Obama’s international standing today is in free fall, and that is bad news whatever one’s political affiliations. The United States is on the road to losing the war against Islamism, and among the futures we must now contemplate are mullah oligarchies ruling from North Africa to West Asia, nuclear brinkmanship between regimes in the Gulf, more asymmetric warfare in the streets of the great cities of the world, and perhaps another war for Israel’s survival.

 

President Obama took office in 2009 amid some of the highest expectations ever for an incoming president of the United States. It was a classic case of irrational exuberance. By any objective measure, he had one of the weakest resumés of any new president, and his closest advisers had even less grounding in foreign affairs than he did. Moreover, the president appointed no foreign policy veteran of stature as secretary of state or national security adviser to compensate for his own limitations, and he marginalized the best people he had such as Hillary Clinton, Jim Jones and Richard Holbrooke. Robert Gates was retained from the Bush administration as secretary of defence, but largely to see through the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq and then Afghanistan. He was gone in two years.

 

Nor did the president apparently seek advice. According to the former foreign editor of Newsweek, Edward Klein, in 2011 when Bill Clinton was urging Hillary to run again against Obama, he told a group of insiders: “I’ve had two successors since I left the White House — Bush and Obama — and I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama … Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent … Barack Obama is an amateur.”

 

The stakes are high, and the tragedy is that such a great opportunity has been lost. The Obama record provides an object lesson in squandering good will. In July 2008, while he was still just a candidate for president, Obama visited Berlin and was greeted by a crowd of 200,000. When he returned as president in June of this year, the crowd was not much more than 5,000, most of whom were invited guests. Reuters reported “He’s ‘demystified’ and ‘no longer a superstar’ in German eyes. Now he’s just another world leader on a state visit, and whatever problems people have with U.S. policy are on his shoulders.”

 

According to an annual Gallup tracking poll, European approval of U.S. leadership dropped from 47 per cent in 2009 to 36 per cent in 2012. Worldwide, the median approval of U.S. leadership across 130 countries declined from 49 per cent in Obama’s first year to 41 per cent last year. In Canada — innocent and blinkered as ever — 59 per cent approved and 32 per cent disapproved in 2012.

 

Only in Africa is Obama’s popularity still quite high. But it has fallen from the days when virtually the entire population of the continent erupted in joy that an American of Kenyan descent had become president. The president’s approval numbers today appear to be in the 70 per cent range, down some 20 points from four years ago.

 

When he visited South Africa two weeks ago, he was met by demonstrations. According to the London Telegraph, presidents Bush and Clinton are more fondly remembered in Africa for their multi-billion-dollar programs to treat AIDS and ease trade. “It would not be wrong,” in the view of a senior academic at the University of Johannesburg, “to say that George W. Bush probably did more for this continent.”…

 

In his study of the world Obama faced on coming to office, The Inheritance, David Sanger of The New York Times wrote that: “The symbolism of electing a biracial president with the middle name Hussein is a powerful antidote to the caricature of America as an intolerant, hegemonic power.” But he warned that it would only take the U.S. so far “in restoring our leverage and deploying our portfolio of influence around the world.” Three years later, in Confront and Conceal, Sanger would write that Obama “promised to restore traditional American ‘engagement’ by talking and listening to America’s most troubling adversaries and reluctant partners … But it quickly became evident that engagement is just a tactic, not a real strategy.”

 

As it turned out, the essence of Obama’s foreign policy strategy was to act unilaterally when confronted with a direct threat to American security — and to decline to act on a threat to the global order unless others with more immediate interests at stake were prepared to commit greater resources and take greater risks. This is not a strategy any U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt would have recognized, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter. And it is not one other democratic states should leave unattended. If the U.S. is not going to take the lead in dealing with global problems, others must do so. To date, however, only France and Britain have demonstrated any international leadership.

 

In June 2009, President Barack Obama spoke at Cairo University addressing a broad range of Mideast problems and leaving the impression he would get to work on fixing them. It was not to be. In the view of Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution, “nowhere in Obama’s foreign policy has the gap been greater between promise and delivery than in the (peace process).”

 

The polls tell the story of how Arabs and Muslims reacted once their hopes for U.S. support of the Arab Spring were dashed. In the Arab world, Washington today has an approval rating of only about 20 per cent. In Egypt, Gallup reports approval dropped from 78 per cent in 2009 to 17 per cent in 2012. It has probably fallen still further with Egyptians accusing Washington of embracing the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, removed by the military on July 3.

 

In fact, the “Obama doctrine” never contemplated active U.S. involvement in the Arab world, or any other region. On the contrary, Washington fears involvement and is determined to avoid the U.S. becoming embroiled in conflicts which might require sending troops abroad. The last thing the Obamians want is “another war.” The Obama doctrine has no interest in looking beyond current crises, let alone in leading change. It is more interested in “stability” than in advancing the cause of reform and democratic development. “Stability” is code for supporting the status quo whatever it is, for caution in accepting change, and for “getting on the right side of history” once change seems inevitable. As Vali Nasr, a leading expert on Muslim affairs, has written, “The administration’s enthusiasm for democracy remained largely a matter of rhetoric.”

 

This has had tragic consequences. In 2011, the Middle East was on the cusp of one of the great historical transformations of our times, one as profound and hopeful for the future as the collapse of communism in 1989. There had been two previous Arab “awakenings” — in the 1920s and in the 1950s. But unlike these earlier nationalist uprisings, the Arab Spring was the product of spontaneous street-level protests against authoritarian regimes. It is impossible to tell what might have happened had the U.S., and its allies, engaged quickly and forcefully to help the countries of the region with their public institutions, security sectors, and integration into the global economy. Instead, the U.S. withheld or threatened to withhold existing aid “until the situation is clearer.”

 

U.S. hesitancy to involve itself was again in full view when Obama had to be publicly goaded by the leaders of France and Britain to support an intervention in Libya. Trying to spin the situation to U.S. advantage, an unnamed U.S. official called the U.S. involvement “leading from behind.”. When an even tougher situation arose in Syria when the Assad regime deployed its military to quell an “Arab Spring” uprising, Washington refused to consider any measure which would stop the slaughter of civilians. The death toll is now about 100,000…..

 

What this all amounts to is that adversaries across the globe have taken the measure of Obama. They have concluded that Washington has no stomach for diplomacy which might have to be backed up with military might and they have lost their fear of paying a price if they oppose the United States. This calculus affects the entire international agenda and presents an enormous obstacle to international peace and security. U.S. failures of diplomacy have left us all worse off.

 

Paul Chapin is the former director general for international security at the Department of Foreign Affairs and is currently a director at the Atlantic Council of Canada.

 

Contents

 

A NEW ANTI-AMERICAN AXIS?

Leslie H. Gelb & Dimitri K. Simes

New York Times, July 6, 2013

 

The flight of the leaker Edward J. Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow last month would not have been possible without the cooperation of Russia and China. The two countries’ behaviour in the Snowden affair demonstrates their growing assertiveness and their willingness to take action at America’s expense.

 

Beyond their protection of Mr. Snowden, Chinese-Russian policies toward Syria have paralyzed the United Nations Security Council for two years, preventing joint international action. Chinese hacking of American companies and Russia’s cyber attacks against its neighbours have also caused concern in Washington. While Moscow and Beijing have generally supported international efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, they clearly were not prepared to go as far as Washington was, and any coordinated shift in their approach could instantly gut America’s policy on the issue and endanger its security and energy interests. To punctuate the new potential for cooperation, China is now carrying out its largest ever joint naval exercises — with Russia.

 

Russia and China appear to have decided that, to better advance their own interests, they need to knock Washington down a peg or two. Neither probably wants to kick off a new cold war, let alone hot conflicts, and their actions in the case of Mr. Snowden show it. China allowed him into Hong Kong, but gently nudged his departure, while Russia, after some provocative rhetoric, seems to have now softened its tone. Still, both countries are seeking greater diplomatic clout that they apparently reckon they can acquire only by constraining the United States. And in world affairs, there’s no better way to flex one’s muscles than to visibly diminish the strongest power.

 

This new approach appears based in part on a sense of their growing strength relative to America and their increasing emphasis on differences over issues like Syria. Both Moscow and Beijing oppose the principle of international action to interfere in a country’s sovereign affairs, much less overthrow a government, as happened in Libya in 2011. After all, that principle could always backfire on them. They also don’t like watching the West take action against leaders friendly to them, like President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. As this sense of common interests becomes entrenched, increasing Russian-Chinese cooperation could pose grave risks for America and the world.

 

Their conduct suggests that they see less cost in challenging the United States and fewer rewards for acting as a partner. These calculations stem from two dangerous perceptions. First, they see American decline and decadence. In their view, the United States is on the wrong side of history, holding on to ties with Europe and parts of Asia, while losing economic leverage and moral authority in the rest of the world. American disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan without victory contributes to a related impression that America’s unquestioned military superiority isn’t worth much in terms of achieving policy objectives on the ground.

 

Second, many Russian and Chinese elites consider American foreign policy objectives fundamentally hostile to their vital interests. Neither group views American democracy promotion as reflecting any genuine commitment to freedom; instead, both perceive it as a selective crusade to undermine governments that are hostile to the United States or too powerful for its comfort.

 

Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese leaders make clear that Washington’s support for their neighbors in practically every dispute involving Beijing or Moscow is less a matter of respect for international law than a form of dual containment that seeks to curtail the regional and global influence of these two major powers.

American backing for Georgia and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia bothers Russia. Likewise, China views American support for Vietnam and the Philippines in their maritime disputes with Beijing as a menace.

 

No wonder Xi Jinping of China made his first international trip as China’s president to Moscow, where he told his counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, that Beijing and Moscow should “resolutely support each other in efforts to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests” and promised to “closely coordinate” on regional and international issues. Mr. Putin reciprocated by saying that “the strategic partnership between us is of great importance on both a bilateral and global scale.” While the two leaders’ words may have generated more of an impression of collusion than was necessary, it’s safe to assume they knew exactly the message they were sending.

 

Policy makers in Washington must carefully assess the growing chumminess between China and Russia and what it means for America. To ignore it would be foolish. Yes, China and Russia continue to be divided by a history of mutual distrust as well as by conflicting economic interests and Chinese territorial ambitions. China’s concerns about North Korea exceed Russia’s, and Moscow’s stake in Syria is greater than Beijing’s. And in Central Asia, the two nations are outright competitors. Moreover, China is a rising superpower and Russia is fighting to stay in the big leagues, which gives them different perspectives on world affairs.

 

That said, both countries share a strong interest in maintaining partnerships with the United States and the European Union, their main trading partners and the custodians of the international financial system, in which each has a major stake. These are powerful reasons for staying on good working terms with Washington, but the United States should not assume that they will halt the new anti-American tack in Beijing and Moscow. That would be a dangerous misreading of history….

 

To gain the respect of Russia and China, the White House must first demonstrate that American leadership is essential to solving key world problems, including those vital to China and Russia. America can’t be seen as passive. Relations with Russia and China deserve to be given priority, but the United States mustn’t be afraid to stand firm in some cases or, in others, to partner with these two authoritarian but ultimately pragmatic powers. To do otherwise would be a folly of historic proportions.

 

Leslie H. Gelb, a former columnist, editor and correspondent for The New York Times, is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dimitri K. Simes is president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its magazine, The National Interest.

 

Contents

 

 

THE OBAMA AGE OF PROLIFERATION

Editorial

Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2013

 

'We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation," President Obama declared on Wednesday, "but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe." He's right about the last point, because even as the President offers new dreams of U.S. nuclear disarmament, the world is entering a new proliferation age.

 

Mr. Obama returned this week to Berlin to give his long-promised speech laying out his plans to rid the world of nuclear weapons. His idea is to remove those weapons initially and primarily from American hands. North Korea and Iran each got a single line in his speech, which is at least more than he gave to China, which is investing heavily in the world's third largest nuclear arsenal. Nukes in the hands of terrorists? Mr. Obama said he'll hold a summit on that one in 2016.

 

Give Mr. Obama points for consistency. Since his college days at Columbia in the 1980s, he has argued for American disarmament and arms-control treaties. When he last issued a call for a nuclear-free world on European soil four years ago in Prague, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rewarded him with a peace prize.

 

This week he announced that the U.S. could "maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent" with a third fewer strategic nuclear weapons, or about 1,000 in all. He also called for "bold" cuts in tactical nukes in Europe without offering specifics, which suggests that was mostly for show. He said he'll work on reducing U.S. stockpiles through "negotiated cuts" with Russia. Whenever this Administration negotiates with Russia, beware. But there's another danger. President Obama left the door open to unilateral U.S. reductions, possibly without Congressional approval.

 

The Berlin initiative is the long-promised follow-up to the 2010 New Start accord with Russia, which brought down stockpiles of warheads, missiles and bombers. In his speech this week, President Obama urged everyone to "move beyond Cold War nuclear postures." But is there anything that evokes the Cold War more than arms control with Moscow? Even the Kremlin isn't likely to embrace this new offer. "We cannot endlessly negotiate with the United States the reduction and limitation of nuclear arms while some other countries are strengthening their nuclear and missile capabilities," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian radio last month. By "some others," he means China.

 

Good point. Bilateral negotiations are an anachronism. Before the Cold War powers cut any deeper, how about some clarity about the size of the Chinese arsenal and its intentions? Beijing hides its warheads and missiles in tunnels and has the industrial wherewithal to build many more quickly. The Pentagon thinks the Chinese have up to 400 nuclear warheads, which sounds low. The Pakistanis possess more than 100.

 

The Russians are terrified of a rising Chinese military on their long southern border. Beijing likely has 1,800 bombs and warheads, the former commander of Russia's Strategic Forces told the military journalist Bill Gertz last year. Whether this number is accurate or not, the Russians think it is. They're reluctant to give away any more of their rusting strategic long-range arsenal. Forget about any progress on thinning Russia's formidable stockpile (size unknown) of shorter-range tactical weapons.

 

Yet engaging in arms talks could give the Kremlin fresh leverage over America's missiles defenses. The Russians have wanted to kill the program since Ronald Reagan made it a priority, and they have found a weakness in President Obama's dreams of disarmament. To get New Start, the White House in 2009 cancelled plans for a missile defense site in Poland that would protect the U.S. against an Iranian ICBM.

 

Mr. Obama is literally pleading with Moscow to strike another arms deal, which underscores the surreal nature of his vision. He handed the Kremlin reams of classified data about American missile defense, supposedly to allay fears that U.S. defenses will weaken Russia's nuclear deterrent. Invoking executive powers, the Pentagon and State Department rebuffed requests by Congress to specify the information shared with Russia to see if it might have jeopardized U.S. security.

 

Even if Russia won't go along, Mr. Obama's new nuclear strategy says the U.S. has more warheads, missiles and submarines than it needs. The White House can invoke this conclusion to prune the arsenal through budget cuts or executive orders. This way he can also impose changes to America's missile defenses sought by the Russians without direct Congressional approval.

 

Meanwhile in the real world, North Korea adds to its nuclear arsenal and tests weapons with impunity. Iran marches ahead toward its atomic capability despite U.N. sanctions. Their neighbours in Asia and the Middle East watch and get ready to build or buy their own weapons in response. The legacy of the President who dreams of nuclear disarmament is likely to be a world with far more weapons and more nuclear powers.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

The US State Department’s Islamist Plan: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Jewish Press, July 19th, 2013—Kerry and Obama believe that Muslim Brotherhood rule over most of the Muslim states is the most suitable solution to American interests, even at the price of abandoning long-standing friends and allies.

 

U.S. Supremacy Can Outlive Obama's Foreign Policy: Fabio Rafael Fiallo, Real Clear World, July 20, 2013—Foreign policy achievements have thus far stood out for their absence during President Obama's tenure. The engagement with Iran, the "reset" of relations with Russia, the intermediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the protestations against cyber-attacks coming from China against U.S. firms, the pressures on North Korea and the "red line" warnings to the Syrian regime over chemical weapons, have all failed to advance peace or democracy in the world or to strengthen the American hand in international relations.

 

Is Obama Trying to Start Israel-Syria War?: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, July 15, 2013—Is the Obama administration trying to start a war between Israel and Syria? Because intentionally or not, it’s certainly doing its darnedest to provoke one. This weekend, three anonymous American officials told CNN that Israel was behind an explosion in the Syrian port of Latakia on July 5. The explosion, they said, resulted from an airstrike targeting Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles.

 

Kerry’s Mad Mission, Misreading the Middle East: Amir Taheri, The New York Post, July 22, 2013—Egypt is in turmoil while Syria is fragmenting into ungoverned “territories” and Lebanon is inching toward civil war. Iran is setting the stage for another diplomatic rope trick to speed up its nuclear project and jihadists are reappearing in Iraq’s Arab Sunni provinces. Washington’s closest regional allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are falling out over Egypt and Syria.

 

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: "Muslim Brotherhood's Lackey": Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, July 17, 2013— Why do millions of Egyptians, including politicians and activists, consider Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, a "stooge" for the Muslim Brotherhood — as she is so commonly referred to by many in Egypt, from the media down to the street?

 

Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Aid to Egypt: Marian Wang & Theodoric Meyer, Real Clear World, July 10, 2013

The recent military coup in Egypt has prompted a renewed debate about American aid to the country. Sens. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, have both called for cutting off aid, while the White House has said it's in no hurry to end the aid.

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

OBAMA AS A “ROI FAINÉANT”, A “DO-NOTHING” KING — AS U.S. RECEDES, ASSA, HEZBOLLAH, PUTIN, IRAN ADVANCE


Contents:                          

 

Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Obama’s Dorothy Doctrine: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 30, 2013— This is John Lennon, bumper-sticker foreign policy — Imagine World Peace. Obama pretends that the tide of war is receding. But it’s demonstrably not. It’s metastasizing to Mali, to the Algerian desert, to the North African states falling under the Muslim Brotherhood, to Yemen, to the savage civil war in Syria…

 

Obama Admits Iran is More Dangerous than Ever, Yet Does Nothing: David Meyers, Real Clear World, June 4, 2013—According to a new State Department report, Iran's support for international terrorism is at an all time high. We also recently learned that Iran continues to aggressively expand its nuclear program, and funnel troops and weapons into Syria. President Barack Obama concedes that Iran is the world's most dangerous country, but he still refuses to do anything about it.

 

Shades of “Chicken Kiev” in Syria?: Max Boot, Commentary, June 2, 2013—I’m with the Wall Street Journal editorial page (and numerous conspiracy theorists throughout the Middle East): I’m starting to suspect that President Obama secretly wants Bashar Assad to hold onto power. How else to explain Obama’s continuing unwillingness to do much of anything to help the rebel forces even as they are being pushed back–possibly to the brink of defeat–by an offensive massively assisted by Iran and Hezbollah?

 

Samantha Power’s World View: Seth Mandel, Commentary, June 6,2013—Straight news reporting often produces humorous understatement. The reporting on President Obama’s new nominee to serve as ambassador to the United Nations–a position Obama had earlier made a Cabinet-level post–and her controversial past statements certainly resulted in such understatement.

 

On Topic Links

 

Ending U.S. War on Terror Requires Partners: Matthew Fisher, The Gazette, May 27, 2013

Kerry’s Embarrassing ‘Peace Process’ Obsession: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2013

State Dept. Shows Signs of Dumping ‘Peace Process’: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, June 10, 2013

Obama's Foreign Policy Reset: Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2013

 

 

OBAMA’S DOROTHY DOCTRINE

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, May 30, 2013

“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises . . .” — Barack Obama, May 23

 

Nice thought. But much as Obama would like to close his eyes, click his heels three times and declare the war on terror over, war is a two-way street. That’s what history advises: Two sides to fight it, two to end it. By surrender (World War II), by armistice (Korea and Vietnam) or when the enemy simply disappears from the field (the Cold War).

 

Obama says enough is enough. He doesn’t want us on “a perpetual wartime footing.” Well, the Cold War lasted 45 years. The war on terror, 12 so far. By Obama’s calculus, we should have declared the Cold War over in 1958 and left Western Europe, our Pacific allies, the entire free world to fend for itself — and consigned Eastern Europe to endless darkness. John F. Kennedy summoned the nation to bear the burdens of the long twilight struggle. Obama, agonizing publicly about the awful burdens of command — his command, which he twice sought in election — wants out. For him and for us.

 

He doesn’t just want to revise and update the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which many conservatives have called for. He wants to repeal it. He admits that the AUMF establishes the basis both in domestic and international law to conduct crucial defensive operations, such as drone strikes. Why, then, abolish the authority to do what we sometimes need to do? Because that will make the war go away? Persuade our enemies to retire to their caves? Stop the spread of jihadism?

 

This is John Lennon, bumper-sticker foreign policy — Imagine World Peace. Obama pretends that the tide of war is receding. But it’s demonstrably not. It’s metastasizing to Mali, to the Algerian desert, to the North African states falling under the Muslim Brotherhood, to Yemen, to the savage civil war in Syria, now spilling over into Lebanon and destabilizing Jordan. Even Sinai, tranquil for 35 years, is descending into chaos.

 

It’s not war that’s receding. It’s America. Under Obama. And it is precisely in the power vacuum left behind that war is rising. Obama declares Assad must go. The same wish-as-policy fecklessness from our bystander president. Two years — and 70,000 dead — later, Obama keeps repeating the wish even as the tide of battle is altered by the new arbiters of Syria’s future — Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. Where does every party to the Syrian conflict go on bended knee? To Moscow, as Washington recedes into irrelevance.

 

But the ultimate expression of Obama’s Dorothy Doctrine is Guantanamo. It must close. Must, mind you.

Okay. Let’s accept the dubious proposition that the Yemeni prisoners could be sent home without coming back to fight us. And that others could be convicted in court and put in U.S. prisons. Now the rub. Obama openly admits that “even after we take these steps, one issue will remain — just how to deal with those Gitmo detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks but who cannot be prosecuted.”

 

Well, yes. That’s always been the problem with Gitmo. It’s not a question of geography. The issue is indefinite detention — whether at Gitmo, a Colorado supermax or St. Helena. Can’t try ’em, can’t release ’em. Having posed the central question, what is Obama’s answer? “I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved.” That’s it! I kid you not. He’s had four-plus years to think this one through — and he openly admits he’s got no answer.

 

Because there is none. Hence the need for Gitmo. Other wars end, at which point prisoners are repatriated. But in this war, the other side has no intention of surrender or armistice. They will fight until the caliphate is established or until jihadism is as utterly defeated as fascism and communism. That’s the reason — the only reason — for the detention conundrum. There is no solution to indefinite detention when the detainees are committed to indefinite war.

 

Obama’s fantasies are twinned. He can no more wish away the detention than he can the war. We were defenceless on 9/11 because, despite Osama bin Laden’s open written declaration of war in 1996, we pretended for years that no war against us had even begun. Obama would return us to pre-9/11 defencelessness — casting Islamist terror as a law-enforcement issue and removing the legal basis for treating it as armed conflict — by pretending that the war is over. It’s enough to make you weep.

 

Top of Page

 

 

OBAMA ADMITS IRAN IS MORE
DANGEROUS THAN EVER, YET DOES NOTHING

David Meyers

Real Clear World, June 4, 2013

 

According to a new State Department report, Iran's support for international terrorism is at an all time high. We also recently learned that Iran continues to aggressively expand its nuclear program, and funnel troops and weapons into Syria. President Barack Obama concedes that Iran is the world's most dangerous country, but he still refuses to do anything about it. This inaction will have deadly consequences for the world, and for America.

 

No recent news story so clearly articulated Obama's failure on Iran as the report that Tehran was sending $4 billion to Syria to prop up the Assad regime. By failing to address the Iranian threat, Obama has helped contribute to the deaths of 80,000 Syrians — along with scores more across the Middle East and the world.

And if Obama doesn't act quickly, many more innocent people will find themselves in mortal danger from Iran.

 

For years, the State Department has labelled Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terror. In their most recent report, the Department concluded that "Iran and Hezbollah's terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s." Yet President Obama has shown no indication that he will alter his failed policy of sanctions and diplomacy.

 

Even Dennis Ross, Obama's former Mideast adviser, admits that President Obama's Iran policy has failed. The reason is simple: Iran does not take Obama seriously, nor do they believe his empty threats about the use of force. For five years, Obama has told Iran that they can build a nuclear weapon, support terrorism, fund Hezbollah and Hamas and prop up the Syrian regime with absolutely no consequences.

 

President Obama's economic sanctions are failing miserably. For Iran's leaders, obtaining a nuclear weapon is a matter of survival. The regime believes that a nuclear capability will ward off any sort of foreign intervention (see North Korea), and might actually force the international community to support Tehran in an internal crisis due to the West's fear of what would happen to Iran's nuclear stockpile if the mullahs fell (see Pakistan). Whatever the merits of Western intervention in countries such as Iraq and Libya, these conflicts have shown Iran's leaders that obtaining a nuclear weapon is the only foolproof way to prevent something similar from happening in the Persian state.

 

Hoping that sanctions and economic distress will convince the Iranian people to overthrow their government, or force the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program, is also naïve. During the 2009 Green Revolution, the Iranian government showed it was perfectly willing to murder and torture its own citizens to preserve power. Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was quoted as warning that Ayatollah Khamenei was wiling to murder 200,000 people in order to ensure the survival of his regime. Finally, as we've seen in North Korea, some leaders are perfectly happy to let their people starve if that's the price of a nuclear weapon.

 

The proof is in the pudding. Obama's sanctions against Iran have been in effect for years. What are the results? The IAEA says Iran is racing toward a nuclear weapon, Iran is supporting international terrorism at an unprecedented rate and Iran is almost singularly propping up the Assad regime (with an assist from Russia). Granted, President Obama does not possess the unilateral power to force Iran to alter its behaviour. But he has many tools at his disposal, and he must use them.

 

Obama must demonstrate that Iran will face serious, and real, consequences if the mullahs don't change course. Given the president's five-year policy of appeasement, as well as his recent speech promising to take America off of a war footing, this will be difficult. But it is possible.

 

If President Obama continues his failed policy, Iran will build a nuclear weapon, expand its support for international terror and continue to support the murder of innocent people in Syria, Israel, Europe and the United States (Iran is directly responsible for the death of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has encouraged terror attacks against Americans abroad). Americans, and President Obama, are rightly focused on the many problems facing us here at home. But a nuclear-armed, emboldened Iran demands greater attention.

 

David Meyers worked in the Bush White House from 2006 to 2009.

 

Top of Page

 

 

SHADES OF “CHICKEN KIEV” IN SYRIA?

Max Boot

Commentary, June 2, 2013

 

I’m with the Wall Street Journal editorial page (and numerous conspiracy theorists throughout the Middle East): I’m starting to suspect that President Obama secretly wants Bashar Assad to hold onto power. How else to explain Obama’s continuing unwillingness to do much of anything to help the rebel forces even as they are being pushed back–possibly to the brink of defeat–by an offensive massively assisted by Iran and Hezbollah?

 

Assad long ago crossed with impunity Obama’s “red line” of using chemical weapons; Obama’s threats about what he would do if such weapons were employed now seem like more of a laugh line than a red line. Now Assad appears to be close to subduing the rebellion in a significant part of the country. And what does Obama do? He is convening a meeting in Geneva where Assad and the Iranians will get a seat alongside the Syrian opposition. The odds of Assad voluntarily removing himself from power through such an arrangement–which is what Obama has repeatedly called for–are about as the great as the odds of him converting to Judaism. It is hard to see what purpose such a meeting serves except to provide yet another excuse for American inaction.

 

Is Obama just being ultra-cautious–or does he actually think that an Assad victory is in our ultimate interest? It’s not such a far-fetched argument, since some Realpolitikers have convinced themselves that the rebels are so infiltrated by Islamist extremists that a continuation of Assad’s secular rule is a better bet. This is not a calculation I would make–I would be more alarmed about allowing the Khameini-Assad-Nasrallah axis to consolidate power, which would increase the threat to Israel, dispel any hopes of freeing Lebanon from Hezbollah’s grip, and cause moderate states such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia to view the U.S. as an unreliable ally and Iran as the “strong horse” in the Middle East. But it is precisely the kind of calculation that a cold-blooded and aloof president who has often in the past expressed his admiration for the “realist” foreign policy of George H.W. Bush may make.

 

Bush, recall, was the president who gave the infamous Chicken Kiev speech urging the Soviet Union to stay together in 1991 just at the moment when it was dissolving. The dissolution of the Evil Empire turned out to be in America’s interest–imagine how much more of a threat Putin would pose today if he controlled not only Russia but Ukraine (site of the Chicken Kiev speech), Central Asia, and other parts of the erstwhile Russian Empire. But the USSR’s breakup induced deep concern among stability-above-all realists–as did the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany. In a similar vein, Obama today appears petrified at change in Syria even though the existing regime is about as anti-American as it can possibly be.

 

At the very least if Obama really has decided that all of his previous rhetoric about toppling Assad no longer applies, he deserves to level with the American public about his change of heart instead of hiding behind the fiction that we support the anti-Assad forces in Syria.

 

Top of Page

 

 

SAMANTHA POWER’S WORLD VIEW

Seth Mandel

Commentary, June 6,2013

 

Straight news reporting often produces humorous understatement. The reporting on President Obama’s new nominee to serve as ambassador to the United Nations–a position Obama had earlier made a Cabinet-level post–and her controversial past statements certainly resulted in such understatement. One example was the Times of Israel’s write-up of the nomination, which began: “A decade-old video of Samantha Power calling for the US to shift Israeli military aid to Ramallah and to deploy forces to protect Palestinians from IDF troops may prove a hurdle in the UN envoy nominee’s confirmation process.”

 

It is fair to say that calling for the U.S. to impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by installing a U.S.-led military occupation of Israel is a controversial thing to say–not to mention uncommonly stupid, even in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which produces a tremendous amount of stupidity from Israel’s antagonists. Some will defend Power by saying she gave this quote back in 2002. That is not a defence, because that was when Israel was defending itself from the Palestinian terror campaign of the second intifada and Power was suggesting the introduction of the U.S. military on the side of the terror masters. But the quote is actually worse than it seems, and here it is in full:

 

 I actually think in the Palestine-Israeli situation there’s an abundance of information and what we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism. What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line in helping the situation. And putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import. It may more crucially mean sacrificing, or investing I think more than sacrificing, really billions of dollars not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine; investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support I think what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old, you know, Srebrenica kind or the Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence.

 

Because it seems to me at this stage–and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses which we’re seeing there–but you have to go in as if you’re serious. You have to put something on the line. And unfortunately imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful, it’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy–or they’re meant to anyway. And there, it’s essential that the same set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to people who are fundamentally, politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat.”

 

I mean, I do think in that sense that both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible, and unfortunately it does require external intervention which–very much like the Rwanda scenario, that thought experiment, if we had intervened early–any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism, but we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.

 

You should watch the video to see her snide laughter when she speaks of ignoring Jewish voters. But even with just this transcript, it’s difficult to decide what’s the worst of it. Is it her casual comparison of the IDF’s anti-terror campaign to the violence that led to Srebrenica or the Rwandan genocide? Is it her dismissal of the moral question surrounding admittedly “fundamentally undemocratic” actions as irrelevant because “liberal democracy” requires the invasion of allies with whom we disagree? Is it her endorsement of Tom Friedman’s moral equivalence between Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon?

 

It’s really a tough call, because it’s all so astoundingly ignorant and malicious. What is clear, however, is that such a person should not be anywhere near the levers of power – so of course then-Senator Barack Obama, with his scant knowledge of foreign affairs and his ideological rigidity, hired Power to advise him on foreign policy during the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election. She was dropped from the campaign for calling Hillary Clinton a “monster,” but that was always going to be temporary for someone whose intellect, such as it is, attracts such admiration from our president.

 

That was far from the only controversial statement Power has made, of course. The Washington Free Beacon has compiled its list of Power’s greatest hits, but the most relevant one, aside from the call to invade Israel, was her call for a public reckoning of the American behavior that has caused anti-Americanism around the world and a public apology tour (sound familiar?). Though I suppose the risk of appointing Power to be our ambassador to the United Nations is limited, at least, by the fact that her ideas about America are already so prevalent there. At worst, she’ll simply be redundant.

 

 

Top of Page

 

Ending U.S. War on Terror Requires Partners: Matthew Fisher, The Gazette, May 27, 2013—U.S. President Barack Obama promised on Thursday to end the perpetual war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001. President Barack Obama has pledged to scale back the use of unmanned military aircraft to eliminate enemies in the Middle East and South Asia.

 

The Region: Kerry’s Embarrassing ‘Peace Process’ Obsession: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2013—There’s an old saying: it’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to speak and prove it. US Secretary of State John Kerry seems to have a bit of a problem in this regard. What is remarkable isn’t how Kerry has painted himself into a corner, not just staking his term as secretary of state on making Israel-Palestinian peace, but how he has done so in a matter of weeks.

 

State Dept. Shows Faint Signs of Dumping ‘Peace Process’: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, June 10th, 2013—U.S. State Dept. comments on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled return to Israel this year offer faint indications that the Obama administration, may finally be getting ready to tell the Palestinian Authority and Israel, “Go fight it out among yourselves and leave us alone.”

 

Mcmanus: Obama's Foreign Policy Reset: Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2013—The appointment of Susan Rice as national security advisor sends an important signal about the kind of foreign policy President Obama wants to pursue for the remainder of his second term: activist, assertive, occasionally even pugnacious. With three years to shape a legacy in world affairs, Obama wants to play offense, not defense.

 

Top of Page

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

WHY DO JEWS – WITH WOMEN, BLACKS, LATINOS SUFFERING, ISRAEL MARGINALIZED – STILL SUPPORT OBAMA?

 

Contents:

 

Community Colloquium: CIJR & Adath Israel present: The Coming Crisis: Israel, Iran & The U.S.

 

Obama, Romney and the Jews: Ruth R. Wisse, Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2012

Whether out of fear or hopes for peace, many Jews have ingested the accusations against them,

hoping to avoid conflict by holding Israel responsible for the aggression against it. Consequently,

Jews can be found among those Americans who believe that their weakness—and that of Israel—

would advance world peace.

 

Betrayal Of Israel By Liberal Jews: Shoula Romano Horing, YNet News, October17, 2012

It is shocking that for Jews in the US the right to an abortion, which is a 40 year old federally .

protected right ingrained in American society, is a more important issue than the Jewish state

and the real existential threat Israel is facing from Iran and Muslim extremists.

 

Into The Fray: If you Are Jewish…: Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post, Oct 1, 2012

I am convinced that his reelection is liable to be a calamity of epic proportions — with incalculable,

probably irreversible, repercussions for US interests, both at home and abroad (at least as they

have been traditionally perceived), and for those of its longstanding allies — particularly Israel.

 

On Topic Links

 

American Jewry's Cherished Values: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 12, 2012

Why Jewish Voters Choose Obama Over Romney:  Nadine Epstein, The Hill, Aug. 29, 2012

Obama Economy Leaves Women Behind: Andrew Stiles, Free Beacon, Sept. 4, 2012

The Obama Presidency, A Modern-Day Ancien Régime: Nile Gardiner, The Telegraph, Aug. 7, 2010

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY  COLLOQUIUM

CIJR & Congregation Adath Israel present:

 

The Coming Crisis: Israel, Iran & The U.S.

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012 @ 9:00am

Adath Israel Congregation

223 Harrow

Hampstead

 

Admission Free

 

Panelists:      

 

Prof. Frederick Krantz, Chair (Concordia) 

Prof. Harold Waller (McGill)

Prof. Julien Bauer (UQAM)                 

Prof. David Bensoussan (UQAM)

 

 

RSVP: 514-486-5544; cijr@isranet.org

 

OBAMA, ROMNEY AND THE JEWS

Ruth R. Wisse,

Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2012

 

No citizens would seem to need a strong America more than the Jews, who are once again targeted by aggressors seeking to destroy what they cannot attain. Iran develops the bomb and threatens to annihilate the Jewish state. Fundamentalist-controlled Egypt threatens to abrogate the treaty that cost Israel the Sinai Peninsula. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza vie over which is Israel's more effective enemy, with the latter firing more than 400 rockets into southern Israel so far this year.

 

Israel rejects having any foreign soldier defend its soil, but no country the size of New Jersey can permanently withstand such disproportionate force without countervailing support from a greater power.

 

The positive basis for such support was spelled out by Mitt Romney this summer on his visit to Israel: common belief in democracy and the rule of law, common practice of free enterprise, and common freedom of expression that includes the freedom to criticize. The defensive rationale for supporting Israel is that, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put it, "those who single out the Jewish people as a target of racial and religious bigotry will inevitably be a threat to all of us."

 

These affinities explain why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was cheered when he told the U.S. Congress last year that "Israel has no greater friend than America and America has no greater friend than Israel." Through military intelligence and experience, it is sometimes Israel that protects America.

 

Given the unique danger to the Jewish state and Israel's exceptional role in the defense of democracy, one might expect American Jews to vote for whichever party and politician is likelier to secure both countries. But Unlike Christians, Muslims and many others, Jews are a self-defined minority with a strategy of political accommodation to surrounding majorities. Whether out of fear or hopes for peace, many Jews have ingested the accusations against them, hoping to avoid conflict by holding Israel responsible for the aggression against it. Consequently, Jews can be found among those Americans who believe that their weakness—and that of Israel—would advance world peace.

 

Jews don't necessarily vote with Israel in mind, but for those who do, the choice has never seemed clearer. President Obama's call last year for Israel to return to its 1967 borders—the roughly nine-mile diameter that invited combined attacks from Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization—horrified Susan Crown of Chicago, who had been an Obama bundler in 2008: "Telling all the people who have lost loved ones in the 1967 war, that we were going to have a 'do-over,' really made me mad," she told an Illinois "Women in Leadership" forum this month.

 

Earlier, in a speech in Cairo entitled "A New Beginning," Mr. Obama courted Arab favor as mediator between Islam and Christianity. His speech extolled the "religious tolerance and racial equality" practiced by the two societies, and he ascribed equal responsibility to Israelis and Arabs for regional hostility.

 

The clearest argument for choosing Republican over Democratic leadership in the coming election was made inadvertently by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who wrote recently that the GOP was returning to "the moral, muscular foreign policy" that Mr. Obama scuttled. When Ms. Dowd called Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan the "puppets" of Dan Senor (a former Bush administration official who has co-authored a book on Israeli entrepreneurship), she meant they, unlike the president, are enthusiastic and unapologetic supporters of Israel. When she said that neoconservatives are "slithering back," Ms. Dowd merely confirmed, albeit in slimy language, the obvious choice for voters who want America to take leadership of a free and safer world. You just have to know how to read.

 

Yet most Jews and leaders of Jewish organizations urge their coreligionists to keep voting for the president whose party has adopted the most tepid position on Israel in recent times. Edgar Bronfman, the former president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote recently that, "Not long ago, while sitting in the Oval Office, Obama looked me in the eye and said, 'My commitment to Israel's security is bone deep.' " Or, as my Harvard colleague Alan Dershowitz wrote: "Several months ago, President Obama invited me to the Oval Office to discuss his Iran strategy. He looked me in the eye and said, 'I don't bluff.' "

 

A president prepared to hypnotize so many Jews into promoting his campaign might have done better to invite back to the Oval Office the prime minister of the country they claim to be looking out for.

 

Every day brings fresh anxieties. The fate of America's ambassador to Libya and the subsequent White House handling of the attack might give pause to those who trust that President Obama "has Israel's back." And Jews aren't the only Americans looking for resolute policies of deterrence in the Middle East.

 

Ruth Wisse, is professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard, and the author of "Jews and Power" (Schocken, 2007).  (Top of Page)

 

 

BETRAYAL OF ISRAEL BY LIBERAL JEWS

Shoula Romano Horing

YNet News, October17, 2012

               

A new American Jewish Committee poll conducted in September found that Israel came in a distant fourth among issues that registered Jewish voters listed as "most important" to them, with 61.5% listing the economy, 16.1% listing health care, 4.7% listing abortion, and 4.5% listing US-Israel relations.  Just 1.3% named Iran’s nuclear program as most important.

 

It is shocking that for Jews in the US the right to an abortion, which is a 40 year old federally protected right ingrained in American society, is a more important issue than the Jewish state and the real existential threat Israel is facing from Iran and Muslim extremists.

 

While many Jews in Israel and the US still believe in the commitment of US Jewry to Israel, liberal Jews have already chosen Obama, the Democratic Party and their American identity over their Jewish identity. They have already chosen their economic comfort, upscale social life, and liberal agenda over the Jewish state.

 

Now it is understandable why the Democratic Party platform deleted the “Jerusalem as capital of Israel” statement and other reassurances made to Israel from previous presidents regarding the Palestinian refugees, Hamas, and borders.

 

Now it is clear why President Obama did not find the time to meet Netanyahu during his visit to the US for the UN General Assembly Meeting in September despite Israeli requests to discuss the Iranian threat, but instead found the time to meet Beyoncé, Jay Z, David Letterman and the women on The View. In an attempt to patronize those few gullible Jews left who still care, the White House took a picture of Obama talking to Netanyahu on the phone.

 

It seems that Obama and his advisors read the same polls knowing that he will not pay any political price for mistreating Netanyahu or Jerusalem. The same AJC poll found that 65% of Jews nationwide plan to vote for US President Barack Obama versus 24% for Mitt Romney, with another 10 percent undecided. According to the AJC's national survey, Reform Jews favored Obama over Romney 68% to 23% while similarly Conservative Jews favored Obama 64% to 23%. Orthodox Jews, by contrast, favored Romney 54% to 40%.

 

But much worse, liberal Jews such as US Senator Boxer, US Congressmen Henry Waxman and Barney Frank, and commentators like Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, and Roger Cohen of the NY Times have been jumping on the bandwagon as Obama henchmen to orchestrate a public campaign against the Israeli prime minister. They have publicly criticized and personally attacked Netanyahu and his request that Obama set red lines regarding the Iranian nuclear program, inadvertently raising the age old anti-Semitic libel that the Jews and their leaders are war mongers trying to push US to start a war on Israel’s behalf.

 

Such priorities and opinions by US Jews are sad and alarming. Of course, US Jews can think and vote as they wish, but it is quite astonishing for Jews to discard the Israeli issue in favor of their own personal welfare. It is quite naïve for Jews, who are so educated and knowledgeable about their own Jewish history of persecution, to feel so complacent about their security and safety, that they can so easily discard the existential threats to Israel.

 

Despite the fact that it is 2012, a weak Israel or no Israel is still not good to any Jew in the US. Before Israel was established, the conditions of the Jews in the US were full of discrimination and hatred. Even if the Jews feel safe in the US, it is amazing that they cannot empathize with Netanyahu who is trying to prevent a second Holocaust against the Jewish people in Israel.

 

During the Holocaust, the US Jewry and its leaders and organizations were silent and did not pressure the FDR administration to enter the war earlier and rescue millions of Jews. In World War II, the Jews claimed as their excuse an ignorance of the magnitude of the genocide and lack of political influence.

 

However, now the liberal Jews have no excuse except their apathy and self-indulgence. They cannot claim lack of political influence when many liberal Jews are deeply involved in the Obama administration and his re-election campaign machine. Furthermore, they cannot claim ignorance of the dangers of genocide to Israel. Netanyahu has been warning incessantly that Iran is within six months of nuclear bomb capability while, the International Atomic Agency confirms the acceleration of uranium enrichment by Iran.

 

If Israel’s security is compromised, liberal Jews this time will not be able to avoid responsibility as accomplices to the next potential disaster facing their own people.

 

Shoula Romano Horing was born and raised in Israel. She is an attorney in Kansas City and a national speaker. (Top of Page)

 


 

INTO THE FRAY: IF YOU ARE JEWISH…

Martin Sherman,

Jerusalem Post, Oct 1, 2012

\

“What liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded — and apologized for to other nations — is precisely what conservatives are dedicated to preserving, reinvigorating and proudly defending against attack. American Jewry surely belongs with the conservatives rather than the liberals. For the social, political and moral system that liberals wish to transform is the very system in and through which Jews found a home such as they had never discovered in all their forced wanderings throughout the centuries over the face of the earth.” – Norman Podhoretz, Why Are Jews Liberals? September 10, 2009

 

“The most disturbing aspect of the American Jewish community’s devotion to Obama and the Democrats is that it indicates that the vast majority of American Jews have abandoned their faculties for independent thought and judgment in favor of conformism and slavish partisanship”. – Caroline B. Glick, “US Jewry’s cherished values,” The Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2012

 

As I have stated previously, I am not among the most strident critics of Barack Obama. Indeed, I find some of the vitriol directed against him by some of his more radical detractors both tasteless and baseless.

 

That said, I am convinced that his reelection is liable to be a calamity of epic proportions — with incalculable, probably irreversible, repercussions for US interests, both at home and abroad (at least as they have been traditionally perceived), and for those of its longstanding allies — particularly Israel.

 

Obama’s term has been one of unmitigated disaster and failure. True, the circumstances he inherited in January 2009 were far from benign. But under his stewardship, the problems, across the board, have been gravely exacerbated, with little indication of how the situation is to be retrieved, other than by holding fast to measures that have already been tried and failed….

 

As Norman Podhoretz aptly notes in the introductory excerpt, since present-day liberals seek to restructure — in many ways, to deconstruct — the very social mechanisms that provided US Jewry with its unprecedented access to the pinnacle of power and privilege, logic would dictate that “American Jewry…belongs with the conservatives rather than the liberals.”

 

Yet, despite the massive metamorphosis that the US Democratic Party has undergone since the days of “Scoop” Jackson, Daniel Moynihan and Tom Lantos, and its lurch leftward toward social radicalism, away from its traditional values, Jewish allegiance to it has remained undiminished.

 

Attempts have been made to explain this by invoking the ingrained heritage of Jewish social liberalism. In an article titled “Why Jewish voters will choose Obama over Romney,” Moment magazine editor Nadine Epstein writes: “Our 2012 Moment magazine political survey shows that a whopping 82 percent of the Jewish Americans who responded believe that it is the duty of a Jew to feel a responsibility to care for the poor.”

 

But based on the evidence, this hardly seems a compelling rationale to support Obama. Quite the opposite. Under his policies, poverty has increased significantly, not only making more people poor, but making the poor poorer. Moreover, the usual foci of liberal concern — minorities and women — have fared unusually badly under Obama. It is they who have borne the brunt of his failed policies. Latinos/Hispanics and Blacks suffer chronically high rates of joblessness…

 

The Huffington Post noted: “Though unemployment is a concern amongst most Americans, the situation is dire for black and Latino families… more black and Latino men are without work than others… the male workforce participation rate [has been pushed] to a new low unseen since the federal government began reporting this data in 1948.”

 

Likewise, Colorlines – a site covering race and politics – sternly decried Obama’s policies (September 6): “Black and Latino employment is an unmitigated disaster. More than one out of seven African-Americans is without work. One out of 10 Latinos is jobless….The situation amongst youth of color is even worse. One out of three young African-Americans is out of work, and more than one in five young Latinos is unemployed. In certain cities across America, almost 50 percent of youth of color can’t find a job.”

 

With a caustic touch, it added damningly: “The dispiritive impact of President Obama’s silence on black and brown joblessness burst into full view almost exactly a year ago, in a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus. In that September 2011 talk, Obama responded to the CBC’s push for race-specific action on unemployment by telling its members to ‘stop complaining.’”… 

 

Neither have women been blessed by good fortune under the current administration. The New York Times (August 7) reported that jobless rates among single women has nearly doubled (to 11%) compared with pre-recession levels (6%). Other sources paint an equally dismal picture….

 

In light of the worsening plight of the poor, and the growing despair among minorities and women, one might be excused at being a little perplexed as to how continuing support for the policies — and the policy-maker who created them – could be squared with Jewish social sensibilities invoked for that support.

 

All this socioeconomic devastation has come about despite a massive expenditure of resources on the part of the Obama regime to address it. Trillions of dollars have been added to the US deficit and national debt to generate “shovel-ready” projects, produce “green economy” jobs and enlist “an army of teachers.”…

 

The conclusion is inescapable — either the policies were wrong or their implementation was incompetent.  Neither alternative provides a persuasive rationale for reelection.  American Jews should be reminded of Winston Churchill’s insightful dictum: However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results….

 

Just how incongruous it is to invoke social awareness for Jewish support of Obama was vividly conveyed in a recent Washington Times piece (July 19). Titled “Obama’s economic policies plague poor,” it asserts accusingly: “Obama’s economic policies essentially have declared war on the poorest class in America… ” The article goes on to identify the major focus, and the real beneficiaries, of the Obama administration’s effort: “Need I point out that Mr. Obama is spending most of his time soliciting campaign money from Wall Street and the ‘1 percent,’ not minorities? It is Wall Street that got the goodies during his first term (big profits, large bonuses) not the poor and minorities. Not one Wall Street banker went to jail or even was prosecuted under Mr. Obama.”…The article ends with the trenchant question, “Does anyone really think the second term will be any different?”…

 

I could go on enumerating additional reasons why US Jewry has good reason to dramatically restructure its voting patterns — not despite its “cherished values” but because of them….

 

But allow me to end with this: If the reasons for refraining from voting for Obama on the domestic front are myriad, they are even more so in the field of foreign policy, where gross incompetence has almost reached a level of near-buffoonery. (Top of Page)

 

 

On Topic

 

American Jewry's Cherished ValuesCaroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2012

Decades ago, the sociographer Milton Himmelfarb coined the aphorism that "American Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans." And his words ring as true today as ever. Surveys show that roughly 70 percent of American Jews intend to cast their ballots for President Barack Obama's reelection next month.

 

Why Jewish Voters Will Choose Obama Over Romney: Nadine Epstein, The Hill, August 29, 2012

… the overwhelming preponderance of American Jews, remain social liberals. Although they need to know Obama is a strong supporter of Israel in order to vote for him, they are not and never have been single-issue voters.

 

Obama Economy Leaves Women Behind: Andrew Stiles, Free Beacon, September 4, 2012

The sluggish economy under President Obama has been particularly hard on women. Nearly six million are currently unemployed, more than 400,000 have lost their jobs, and poverty rates among women have soared to record highs.

The Obama Presidency, A Modern-Day Ancien Régime: Nile Gardiner, The Telegraph, Aug. 7, 2012

Symbolic of a far wider problem with the Obama presidency [is] the overarching disdain for the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise that have built the United States over the course of nearly two and a half centuries into the most powerful and free nation on earth.

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

JEWISH DESTINY: VILNA GAON AS EARLY ZIONIST, MALAYSIA ANTI-SEMITISM, & ISRAEL IF OBAMA WINS

 

Articles:

The Vilna Gaon and Jewish Destiny: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2012

This [past] Friday (Oct. 6) marks the anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest men to have walked this earth over the past few centuries, a figure that had a lasting impact on the Jewish people, as well as the State of Israel.

 

Anti-Semitism without Jews in Malaysia: Robert Fulford, National Post, Oct 6, 2012

In Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, politicians and civil servants devote a surprising amount of time to thinking about Israel, 7,612 km away. Sometimes they appear to be obsessed by it. Malaysia has never had a dispute with Israel, but the government encourages the citizens to hate Israel and also to hate Jews whether they are Israelis or not.

 

What Does Israel Do If Obama Is Re-elected?: Barry Rubin, Jewish Press, October 4th, 2012

Israel’s government needs to ensure the continuation of U.S. aid, including assistance for anti-missile systems, intelligence sharing and other forms of cooperation. Unless Obama decides to go all-out on an anti-Israel vendetta, he is likely to see this issue as a low-priority one. All he has to do is nothing.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Truly Credible Military Threat to Iran: David Rothkopf   Foreign Policy, October 8, 2012

Team Obama and Crunch Time on Tehran: Michael Widlanski, Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2012

Honoring an anti-Semite?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, October 9, 2012
 

 


THE VILNA GAON AND JEWISH DESTINY

Michael Freund

Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2012 23:07

 

This [past] Friday (Oct. 6) marks the anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest men to have walked this earth over the past few centuries, a figure that had a lasting impact on the Jewish people, as well as the State of Israel.

 

It was 215 years ago this Friday, on the 19th of Tishrei during the intermediate days of Succot, that Rabbi Elijah the Gaon (Hebrew for genius) of Vilna returned his soul to its Maker. Most contemporary Jews have heard of this prodigious scholar, his vast erudition and unmitigated commitment to exploring all aspects of Jewish knowledge and learning.

 

But few are familiar with how he laid the intellectual, spiritual and physical groundwork for the rebirth of the modern Jewish state more than a century before Theodor Herzl raised the banner of political Zionism.  And in light of some of the challenges now facing Israel in the international arena, it is well worth taking a look back at the revolution that the Gaon wrought, the lessons of which remain remarkably relevant even today.

 

Indeed, much has been written about the Vilna Gaon’s towering scholarship and achievements. As Prof. Jay M. Harris of Harvard has noted, the Vilna Gaon “set in motion an ethos of study that was to revolutionize rabbinic learning.” He revived the study of the Jerusalem Talmud and other ancient Jewish texts, sought to harmonize conflicting passages that had confounded other scholars for generations and meticulously traced the sources for the rulings contained in the Shulchan Aruch (the code of Jewish law).

 

He waded through the vast sea of Jewish lore, correcting inconsistencies and making emendations where necessary, driven by an unquenchable thirst for truth and accuracy. A profoundly humble man, the Vilna Gaon neither held nor sought any public or communal position, devoting himself with all his might to the texts of our people. But his influence would extend far beyond the bookshelf, thanks in part to a simple yet weighty idea that he passionately advocated: the Jewish people should not remain passive in bringing about their own redemption.

 

Though this belief went against the grain of much of European Jewry’s worldview at the time, the Gaon nonetheless encouraged his students to make aliya, which many did in three large waves that began in 1808. Eventually, thousands of his disciples and their families moved to the Land of Israel. As a result, by the middle of the 19th century, the majority of Jerusalem’s population was Jewish for the first time since the Roman invasion, and thus it has remained ever since.

 

All thanks to the vision of a lone Jewish scholar in a study-hall in Lithuania. The Vilna Gaon’s groundbreaking conviction that the Jewish people needed to take practical steps to reclaim their ancient homeland were best expressed in the volume Kol HaTor (Hebrew for “Voice of the Turtledove,” a reference to a verse in the “Song of Songs”), which was written by his student Rabbi Hillel of Shklov.

 

The book cites the words of the prophet Isaiah (54:2-3), who said, “Enlarge (“Harchivi” in the original Hebrew) the place of your tent and let them stretch forth the curtains of your dwelling places… for you shall spread out to the right and left, and your descendants shall possess the nations and inhabit the desolate cities.”

 

The Kol HaTor says in the name of the Vilna Gaon that these verses contain within them the key to Jewish redemption, for the prophet Isaiah’s call of “Harchivi” is a command – a call to action to Jews everywhere to move to Israel and settle every corner of the Land. He notes chillingly that the only alternative to “Harchivi,” to Jewish growth and expansion, is “Hachrivi” (Hebrew for destruction). In other words, there is no room for withdrawal, or for turning back.

 

Finally, says the Gaon, “we must know in advance that all the precious treasures included in the blessing of ‘Harchavah’ (enlargement) will come only when action is first take by the people of Israel themselves in an awakening from below.” With these words, the Vilna Gaon laid down a clear challenge to each and every Jew, delineating that our task is not to sit passively and wait for redemption from exile, but rather to take action and bring it about.

 

Through this novel approach, the Gaon became a harbinger of modern Zionism, a forceful promoter of Jewish activism and a restorer of Jewish self-confidence and esteem. He stared at the seemingly impossible and overcame it. Propelled by a belief in the justness of our cause and deep faith in the Creator, he left behind a legacy of Jewish reclamation and restoration.

 

After centuries of endless exile and persecution, the Vilna Gaon taught us all a critical lesson, one which resonates particularly strongly in light of today’s often frightening headlines: the Jewish people are not prisoners of fate, but partners with God in shaping our own destiny. It is a lesson that we would all do well to learn. (Top of Page)

 

 

ANTI-SEMITISM WITHOUT JEWS IN MALAYSIA

Robert Fulford

National Post, Oct 6, 2012

 

In Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, politicians and civil servants devote a surprising amount of time to thinking about Israel, 7,612 km away. Sometimes they appear to be obsessed by it. Malaysia has never had a dispute with Israel, but the government encourages the citizens to hate Israel and also to hate Jews whether they are Israelis or not.

 

Few Malaysians have laid eyes on a Jew; the tiny Jewish community emigrated decades ago. Nevertheless, Malaysia has become an example of a phenomenon called “Anti-Semitism without Jews.” Last March, for instance, the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department sent out an official sermon to be read in all mosques, stating that “Muslims must understand Jews are the main enemy to Muslims as proven by their egotistical behaviour and murders performed by them.” About 60% of Malaysians are Muslim.

 

In Kuala Lumpur, it’s routine to blame the Jews for everything from economic failures to the bad press Malaysia gets in foreign (“Jewish-owned”) newspapers.

 

The leaders of the country assume that Jews and Israelis deserve to be humiliated as often as possible. In 1984, the New York Philharmonic cancelled a visit because the Malaysian information minister demanded that a composition by Ernest Bloch, an American Jewish composer who died in 1959, be eliminated from their program. In 1992, an Israeli football player with the Liverpool team was refused permission to play in Malaysia; the team cancelled the visit. The government banned Schindler’s List, calling it anti-German and pro-Jewish propaganda. The same government later decided it could be shown if seven scenes were cut. Steven Spielberg refused, so the government removed all his films from Malaysia’s screens.

 

In 2003, the prime minister’s political party gave delegates to the United Malays National Organization copies of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic book from the 1920s, The International Jew, a favourite of Hitler, translated into Bahasa Malay.

 

For half a century, Israel has tried to establish diplomatic relations, but Kuala Lumpur has always replied that Muslim opinion makes that politically impossible. Instead, Malaysia has joined the Arab campaign to defame Israel. Trade with Israel is officially banned — but goes on nevertheless, through covert arrangements with third countries. (Sales of products from Israel’s Intel computer chip factory to Malaysia amount to many millions of dollars a year. Malaysian policy softens temporarily when confronted with certain products at the right price.)

 

It’s only when we grasp the unremitting and mindless hostility of countries such as Malaysia that we begin to understand the pain and difficulty of Israel’s place in the world. This is the context in which we should think about the Harper government’s pro-Israel policy. Israel faces automatic enmity from all the Arab nations, most other Muslim-dominated states and the many organizations in democratic countries that dedicate themselves to showering abuse on Israel (and no one else) in the name of human rights.

 

Except during civil wars, no other state, not even the worst dictatorship, not even Iran or China, is so badly and so often maligned. Now only Canada and the United States (in certain moods) give Israel the benefit of the doubt.

 

Yet many Canadians apparently believe that there is something unfair in this situation, not in the invective heaped on Israel but in Canada’s habit of friendship with the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s argued that this policy has done harm to Canada. Jeffrey Simpson of The Globe and Mail says that because of our attitude to Israel, “Canada’s reputation in the Arab world is mud.” Tony Burman, of the Toronto Star, former head of Al Jazeera English, and now a journalism teacher at Ryerson University, says that our government’s “passionate pro-Israeli stance” has damaged Canada’s reputation throughout the Middle East “after decades of being one of the world’s respected ‘honest brokers’ on Mideast issues.”

 

That phrase “honest broker” seems to me one of the most dubious of Canadian clichés. I have not once in several decades seen it applied to us by a citizen of some other country. In my experience, it’s one of those compliments many Canadians, and only Canadians, pay to Canada. Burman expresses nostalgia for an attribute that hasn’t existed, so far as I’m aware, since the 1950s.

 

Simpson says the Harper government’s policy is based on a simple-minded black-and-white view, on the evangelical Christian streak among Conservatives, on the idea that Israel is a democracy and Arab countries are not and on a hope of prying Canadian Jews away from the Liberals. Or, just possibly, there might be another reason: Because it’s the right thing to do. (Top of Page)

 

 

WHAT DOES ISRAEL DO IF OBAMA IS RE-ELECTED?

Barry Rubin

Jewish Press, October 4th, 2012
 

 “Don’t Panic” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
 

I’m going to try to analyze what Israeli strategy might look like if Obama were to be re-elected. I don’t want to write a partisan piece — predicting every type of the most horrible disaster and open hatred from the White House — but a serious analytic effort. This involves speculation, but policymakers have to develop the most likely scenarios in order to plan ahead.

 

Let me start, though, with a joke. An asteroid hits the ocean, producing a giant tidal wave so powerful that within an hour all land will be covered by water. Television networks put on a variety of politicians, alleged wise people, and religious figures to speak with the doomed population. The rabbi among them explains: “All I can say is that you have one hour to learn to breathe underwater.”  That is Israel’s mission. To survive a second Obama term brought on it by the American — including a large majority of American Jewish — voters.

 

The first thing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does is send a warm message of congratulations to the re-elected president. He is going to be president for four years, like it or not, and Israeli leaders will work hard to minimize any antagonism. At least with Netanyahu strongly entrenched, Obama will understand that he cannot subvert the Israeli government to get some other prime minister more to his liking (i.e., someone ready to make unilateral concessions in exchange for getting nothing in return)….

 

1. Maintaining bilateral relations

 

Israel’s government needs to ensure the continuation of U.S. aid, including assistance for anti-missile systems, intelligence sharing and other forms of cooperation. Unless Obama decides to go all-out on an anti-Israel vendetta, he is likely to see this issue as a low-priority one. All he has to do is nothing.

Here, Israel’s contacts with Congress and the Defense Department will be critical. The Democrats in Congress will have to show whether they still do actually support Israel — and a majority of them do — by joining with the Republicans in backing continued aid and cooperation. The Defense Department has generally good relations with Israel and also benefits from Israel’s technological advances.

 

There are real prospects for maintaining bilateral relations on their current level. Obama can be expected to mistreat Netanyahu and to say things that totally misunderstand Israel and insult its interests, but when you are a country of 7.5 million allied with a superpower, your leaders have to take such behavior, as long as it remains verbal.

 

2. Keep Obama from damaging Israel’s situation in regard to the Palestinians

 

Obama will have to decide whether to put an emphasis on the Israel-Palestinian “peace process,” meaning pressure on Israel to make concessions while the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) doesn’t keep its commitments and makes no compromises. He might decide to do so based on his ideological predispositions.

 

Yet there is some evidence that Obama won’t behave this way. His failure on peacemaking is the only such defeat he has ever acknowledged. He knows it is hard and the administration almost certainly knows — though it will never admit it publicly — that what Mitt Romney said was right. The P.A. doesn’t want to make a peace deal with Israel.

 

Moreover, there have been interesting developments regarding the main strategic motive for the idea that a peace deal is necessary as soon as possible and requires pressure on Israel. This factor is called “linkage” — the concept that bashing Israel and getting the Palestinians a state as soon as possible will solve all of America’s other problems in the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, Muslims and Arabs will love the United States and — more importantly in one man’s mind — Obama.

 

What’s important here is not just that linkage doesn’t work, but that this reality has never before been so obvious. With anti-Americanism and crisis coming from all directions — Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and so on — will Obama see bashing Israel as a panacea?

 

There’s no question that during his first term, especially the first two years or so, Obama really believed this and tried very ineptly to institute such a strategy. Yet he knows it didn’t work. At any rate, if faced with such a situation, the Israeli government is quite capable of offering cooperation, giving in on relatively unimportant issues, stalling for time and essentially calling the P.A.’s bluff. In the end, nothing will happen.

 

3. How would Obama handle the regional Arab situation and threats from revolutionary Islamist forces that he has helped to unleash and even to put into power?

 

In my view, the number one danger Israel faces is not Iran, but Egypt. A radical regime now exists in Cairo that wants to wipe Israel off the map, is willing to help Hamas — which rules the Gaza Strip — on that project, and might get directly involved itself.

 

During Obama’s second term, Israel is likely to face sporadic attacks from the Gaza Strip that periodically it will have to retaliate against. Obama will remain aloof on this problem, which isn’t good but is manageable. The real difficulty is whether Hamas launches an all-out attack as it did in late 2008.

 

But this time it would have some level of Egyptian support. Such help could take many forms: Hamas headquarters, weapons storehouses and other facilities being moved onto Egyptian territory so that Israel cannot touch them; a massive flow of arms, weapons, and money across the border financed in part by the ruling Muslim Brotherhood; an influx of Egyptian volunteers to fight alongside Hamas, whose death would lead to howls of revenge in Egypt; and other such measures.

 

Beyond this, Egypt could escalate into allowing — even if denying responsibility — cross-border terrorist attacks on Israel. Attempted cross-border attacks are already routine and the Egyptian government does nothing to suppress the groups involved. It is not inconceivable that from the mass demands of Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood forces, by the revolutionary enthusiasm of the regime and by ideological hysteria, Egypt could end up in a war with Israel. That might happen if it proved necessary to send Israeli military forces into the Gaza Strip, as happened in 2009.

 

Israel cannot depend on the United States to press sufficiently hard for enforcement of the treaty or to deter Egypt. As a result, Israel will have to be ready to fight such a smaller or bigger war by itself. If a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime were to be in power in Syria, it would join in. The only bright spot is that other Arab countries would stand aside. Perhaps even Hezbollah might content itself with the firing of some symbolic rockets rather than have Lebanon flattened in a “Sunni war.”

 

In fact, for the first time in almost forty years, under Obama Israel could not depend on U.S. support or protection against any Arab threat or aggression. Israel would just have to take care of itself. But the key issue: would Obama send arms — perhaps pressed by Congress and public opinion even if he didn’t face election — or would he play neutral and just do nothing while he pursued useless diplomatic efforts?

 

4. Iran

 

Briefly, there is no way that Obama would attack Iran or support an Israeli attack no matter what Tehran does. American sanction efforts would continue hand in hand with Iran going full speed ahead on obtaining nuclear weapons. Israel would still attack Iranian facilities if this were deemed necessary for national survival, but the bar on what constituted acceptable reasons for attacking would be raised.

 

Israel could also not depend on U.S. support in the aftermath. On the contrary, Obama could be outraged and blame Israel for terror attacks on Americans, the spiraling cost of oil, and other resulting problems. After all, he doesn’t face reelection — he can tame the pro-Israel Democrats with a few crumbs, and he wouldn’t care what the public opinion polls said. If necessary, Israel would have to take that risk. But how does one define “necessary”?

 

So Obama’s re-election would be a serious problem for Israel, not a catastrophe or an end to the state. But for the first time in four decades, every Israeli leader would understand that the country could not depend on the United States as a protector. In fact, the Obama administration could be counted on to make things worse. (Top of Page)

__________________________________________________________________

 

A Truly Credible Military Threat to Iran:  David Rothkopf   Foreign Policy, October 8, 2012

The Israelis and the Americans are zeroing in on a strike option that has a real chance of deterring the mullahs…the action that participants currently see as most likely is a joint U.S.-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities.

Team Obama and Crunch Time on Tehran:  Michael Widlanski, Jerusalem Post,

October 8, 2012

 

Amid his election campaign, US President Barack Obama promised “no daylight” between the US and Israel when it comes to stopping Iran's nuclear bomb-making. Many hope this pledge will be kept, but it is unlikely the US will launch military moves against Iran.

 

Honoring an anti-Semite?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, October 9, 2012

At a time of increasing anti-Semitism in many parts of the world, it is deeply disturbing that the city of Clifton, N.J., — in the shadows of New York City — is considering naming a park after a virulent anti-Semite and racist named Chester Grabowski, who died in April.

 

Shabbat Shalom to all our readers.

__________________________________________________________________

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.