Tag: Israel-US Relations


Michael Young

Daily Star, July 12, 2012

Lately, the U.S. administration has been so preoccupied with domestic issues vital to President Barack Obama’s re-election, that you wonder where the Middle East stands in Washington’s future.

That’s not to say that American officials are ignoring the region. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has devoted much effort to Syria and Iran, while related American concerns further afield, such as those in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have also preoccupied decision-makers. The problem is more fundamental.… At such a revolutionary moment in the Arab world, when foreign policy certitudes are collapsing almost on a daily basis, the administration does not appear to have any long-term overriding vision or interpretation of the region to help define how the United States must act to advance its national interests.…

Developing a foreign policy strategy is complex, demanding clear direction from the president or a State Department mandated by the White House to take the lead in policy formulation. It entails interaction between different, often competing, government bureaucracies, which have to ultimately hammer out compromises (successful or not) that ensure everyone is on the same page. At some stage Congress, which controls the money, is brought on board, and usually will try to impose alternative paths of its own. Ideally, a strategy requires flexibility, so that Washington can adapt to political surprises, which tend to overwhelm the big ideas and can substantially rewrite the story.

But if crafting a strategy is never easy, articulating it so that foreign capitals and the public know what is going on is not rocket science. The administration will insert relevant references in speeches. Officials will write op-ed pieces and publish papers. Think tanks will be enlisted to disseminate or will pick up new policy vibes from the administration. And the president and his aides will get on an airplane and spread the good word. Time is valuable, so the time that a president devotes to an issue shows how important he thinks it is.

On the basis of all this, the Middle East seems to be a rather poor cousin in the Obama administration. After high-profile visits early in his term, Obama has kept away from the Arab world. Even in his speeches, his disinterest is palpable.…

For instance, in Syria, where the Americans have the capacity to politically cripple a principal regional rival, namely Iran, the Obama administration is still dependent on the goodwill of Russia and China, two countries that want to see American power reduced.…

Even the military involvement in Libya last year was done in spite of Obama’s manifest misgivings. The president allowed himself to be dragged into the conflict because he did not want to be accused of allowing a massacre in Benghazi. As in Egypt a few weeks earlier, the U.S. seemed to be caught off guard, propelled by events largely outside its control, for which it seemed inadequately prepared.

Most of the pillars sustaining American involvement in the Middle East since the end of World War II have collapsed. The relationship with Saudi Arabia has been severely shaken during Obama’s term. Egypt has entered a new phase of its history, one in which American influence is in decline. The so-called Palestinian-Israeli peace process is without a process and offers no prospects of peace.…

It is astonishing that at such a crucial stage in the Arab world, Washington is doing little hard thinking. Obama has written himself out of the script, a distant apparition alien to the peoples of the Middle East. But the region remains critical…and it can still bite the world in the rear end. When that happens, the Americans cannot afford to lead from behind.…

(Michael Young is opinion editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star.)

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, July 3, 2012

The 2012 [US presidential] election will hinge on the economy, not on U.S. foreign policy, unless there is a major overseas crisis—an Israeli attack on Iran, an Iranian detonation of a nuclear weapon, a Middle East war, a North Korean attack, or something of that sort. That said, there is much to lament in the current administration’s foreign policy.…

What are the ten legitimate areas of criticism?

1. Securitygate. The Obama administration has leaked the most intimate secrets about U.S. covert operations—the cyber war against Iran, the Predator-drone assassination program, the Yemeni double agent, the bin Laden raid—in a transparent attempt to chest-thump over the once covert anti-terrorism efforts. This was a shameful thing, and we have not yet felt the full consequences of this disaster.

2. The administration initially did not care much about the Arab Spring, but was dragged into it by the looming fall of Hosni Mubarak. Leading from behind in Libya was incoherent, and what followed Qaddafi was more incoherent.… Obama remains ashamed of Iraq and ostracizes it (even as it so far remains the most stable of the new Arab consensual governments), and he makes no distinction between the Muslim Brotherhood and secular democratic movements. In other words, rather than encouraging those who thought the Arab Spring might offer a pluralistic society, Obama stood back as Islamists, Khomeini-style, took control, and he then ex post facto labeled them democrats, even though, as in the case of Hamas and the Iranian theocrats, they favor one free election, just one time.

3. Russian reset is mostly a failure. Embarrassing the Czechs and the Poles over missile defense got us little. Putin has been no help with Iran. An occasional peep about Russian human rights was unceremoniously swatted down. Putin now assumes Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics fall under his own Russian Monroe Doctrine. A new loose axis of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea threatens to create a nuclear buffer to U.S. interests.

4. Obama has snubbed our closest allies, so much so that should the U.S. ever find itself again in need of a coalition, it is hard to imagine who would join it. Canada got mostly ingratitude for its presence in Afghanistan, and it is still furious over the Keystone Pipeline debacle. Our once closest ally, Great Britain, recognizes that the United States is now neutral on the Falklands (a.k.a. the Maldives), and that if Argentina were to invade again, the U.S. would probably withhold help. Israel knows that the U.S., at best neutral, votes present on the Middle East and does not much worry that Israel may soon be surrounded by Islamist frontline states. Whether we would fully supply Israel in its next war is legitimately in doubt. In contrast, Turkey, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood, for the first time in history, believe that America is more sympathetic to their causes than to Israel’s. Anti-democratic Venezuela and Cuba, and their Latin American kindred Communist states, also sense that the U.S. is a friend of such totalitarian movements.…

5. President Obama was quiet when nearly 1 million Iranian protesters hit the streets in the spring of 2009, almost as if he felt his own multicultural bona fides should be given a chance to finesse the Khomeinist theocracy.… It was a shameful decision at a rare time when the Iranian people were looking for pro-democracy affirmation—offering the last chance to stop the Iranian bomb without some sort of military intervention.

6. The new emphasis on Asia is so far in utter confusion. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are less, not more, assured that a diffident U.S. would come to their defense in case of an existential crisis. Are they still under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, or is the umbrella itself shrinking fast? Simultaneously borrowing from and lecturing China leads to the image of U.S. impotence.…

7. Despite the growing anti-democratic tendencies of the Erdogan government in Turkey, Obama has structured his Middle East policy around that government, unconcerned that its policy of insidious Islamization is a model for slowly subverting what follows from elections.

8. The apologies, contextualizations, and bowing were trivial gestures, but in aggregate they added to the sense of U.S. diffidence and decline.…

9. The addition of $5 trillion in national debt was disastrous in terms of U.S. foreign policy. It lost us what leverage we had over China. It destroyed any credibility in advising the European Union about its own financial meltdown. It curtailed options in the Middle East. Massive defense cuts loom. In this regard, the associated decisions not to open federal lands to new oil and gas leasing, and to cancel Keystone, were also strategically dense, given that an additional 2 to 3 million barrels of North American production would have given us greater leeway in the Persian Gulf and lessened our exposure to foreign creditors.

10. With a little deft diplomacy, Obama could have salvaged a vestigial American presence to monitor the security of Iraqi democracy and blunt Iranian subversion. The failure to attempt this was an especially ironic lapse, given that the administration now wants to radically increase U.S. troop levels in nearby monarchical Kuwait.…

(Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.)

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2012

Two weeks ago, in an unofficial inauguration ceremony at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi took off his mask of moderation. Before a crowd of scores of thousands, Mursi pledged to work for the release from US federal prison of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.…

Otherwise known as the blind sheikh, Abdel Rahman was the mastermind of the jihadist cell in New Jersey that perpetrated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. His cell also murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1990. They plotted the assassination of then-president Hosni Mubarak. They intended to bomb New York landmarks including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and the UN headquarters.

Rahman was the leader of Gama’a al-Islamia—the Islamic Group, responsible, among other things for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. A renowned Sunni religious authority, Rahman wrote the fatwa, or Islamic ruling, permitting Sadat’s murder in retribution for his signing the peace treaty with Israel. The Islamic group is listed by the State Department as a specially designated terrorist organization.

After his conviction in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Abdel-Rahman issued another fatwa calling for jihad against the US. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Osama bin Laden cited Abdel-Rahman’s fatwa as the religious justification for them.

By calling for Abdel-Rahman’s release, Mursi has aligned himself and his government with the US’s worst enemies.… Mursi signaled that he cares more about winning the acclaim of the most violent, America-hating jihadists in the world than with cultivating good relations with America.

And in response to Mursi’s supreme act of unfriendliness, US President Barack Obama invited Mursi to visit him at the White House.

Mursi is not the only Abdel Rahman supporter to enjoy the warm hospitality of the White House.

His personal terror organization has also been the recipient of administration largesse. Despite the fact that federal law makes it a felony to assist members of specially designated terrorist organizations, last month the State Department invited group member Hani Nour Eldin, a newly elected member of the Islamist-dominated Egyptian parliament, to visit the US and meet with senior US officials at the White House and the State Department, as part of a delegation of Egyptian parliamentarians. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to provide any explanation for the administration’s decision to break federal law in order to host Eldin in Washington.…

Mursi is not the only Arab leader who embraces terrorists only to be embraced by the US government. In a seemingly unrelated matter, [last] week it was reported that in an attempt to satisfy the Obama administration’s urgent desire to renew negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, and to satisfy the Palestinians’ insatiable desire to celebrate terrorists, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered to release 124 Palestinian terrorist murderers from Israeli prisons in exchange for a meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas.

Alas, Abbas refused. He didn’t think Netanyahu’s offer was generous enough.

And how did the Obama administration respond to Abbas’s demand for the mass release of terrorists and his continued refusal to resume negotiations with Israel? By attacking Israel.

The proximate cause of the Obama administration’s most recent assault on Israel is the publication of the legal opinion of a panel of expert Israeli jurists regarding the legality of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Netanyahu commissioned the panel, led by retired Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy, to investigate the international legal status of these towns and villages and to provide the government with guidance relating to future construction of Israeli communities beyond the armistice lines.

The committee’s findings…concluded that under international law, these communities are completely legal.…

The international legal basis for the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 was the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. That document gave the Jewish people the legal right to sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, as well as all the land Israel took control over during the 1948-49 War of Independence.

Not only did the Mandate give the Jewish people the legal right to the areas, it enjoined the British Mandatory authorities to “facilitate…close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” So not only was Jewish settlement not prohibited. It was required.…

Whereas the Obama administration opted to embrace Mursi even as he embraces Abdel-Rahman, the Obama administration vociferously condemned Israel for having the nerve to ask a panel of senior jurists to opine about its rights. In a press briefing, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell banged the rhetorical hammer. As he put it, “The US position on settlements is clear.… We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.…”

In short then, for the Obama administration, it is all well and fine for the newly elected president of what was until two years ago the US’s most important Arab ally to embrace a terror mastermind indirectly responsible for the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans. It is okay to invite members of jihadist terror groups to come to Washington and meet with senior US officials in a US taxpayer-funded trip. It is even okay for the head of a would-be-state that the US is trying to create to embrace every single Palestinian terrorist, including those who have murdered Americans. But for Israel’s elected government to ask an expert panel to determine whether Israel is acting in accordance with international law in permitting Jews to live on land the Palestinians insist must be Jew-free is an affront.

The disparity between the administration’s treatment of the Mursi government on the one hand and the Netanyahu government on the other places the nature of its Middle East policy in stark relief.… Obama believed he would convince the jihadists to put aside their hatred of America. Obama has implemented this policy for three and a half years. And its record of spectacular failure is unbroken.…

Lawrence Solomon

Financial Post, July 15, 2012

Jews provide an estimated 50% to 60% of the entire funding of the Democratic Party, making them vital to President Barack Obama’s prospects for re-election. But many Jews are now questioning their commitment to Obama.… Only 64% of Jews who had donated to Obama’s 2008 campaign planned to support him again.

How could Obama have lost so many of his Jewish supporters, a group that gave him almost 80% of their vote in 2008? Obama blames Republicans for spreading bigotry, such as the claim Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim, and counters that he’s as good as it gets for Jews. Obama reportedly told a group of rabbis visiting the White House in May that all of his Chicago friends were Jewish, that he’s well read on Judaism, and that he “probably knows about Judaism more than any other president.…” A New York magazine cover story, titled The First Jewish President, illustrated Obama in a skull cap.

But the estrangement of Jewish Democrats from Obama has nothing to do with his Muslim name and everything to do with how Jews now perceive him and his policies. This “Jewish president,” so confident of his knowledge of Jews, badly misread the Jewish community.…

Obama certainly is steeped in a Jewish milieu. The men most responsible for engineering his political strategies and running his campaigns—David Plouffe and David Axelrod—are both savvy Jews, as are most of his top economic advisors and his current and former chief of staff. J Street, the George Soros funded “pro-Israel” advocacy group, has Obama’s ear, having visited the White House numerous times since he became president.… But Obama’s familiarity with Jews extends well beyond this contemporary crew.

For starters, there’s Rabbi Arnold Wolf, a man said to have helped shape Obama’s views in the Chicago of the 1990s. Wolf is known for siding with the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was hijacking airplanes and conducting other terrorist acts, for chairing Breira, a radical anti-Israel organization that had tried to prevent the U.S. from supplying Israel with arms during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and for inviting the Chicago Seven, the radicals famed for their role in the Chicago Riots of 1968, to speak at his synagogue. Obama, who lived across the street from Wolf’s Chicago synagogue, often dropped by to discuss Israel and the Middle East with Wolf and like-minded Jews, giving Obama an insight into radical Jewish thought.

Wolf himself inspired and was inspired by Jewish radicals and revolutionaries—they included Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, two leaders of the Chicago Seven, and the revolutionary Jews who pervaded the anti-capitalist, anti-Vietnam War movement through the Weathermen and Students for a Democratic Society. Wolf, who was one of Obama’s earliest political backers, hosted a coffee party for Obama to aid his campaign, as did other members of this set, such as Weatherman founders Bernadette Dohrn, daughter of a wealthy Jew, and her husband, Bill Ayers. A Chicago Jew who did not meet Obama but who nevertheless profoundly influenced all in his progressive circle was Saul Alinsky, the legendary community organizer, who remains the gold standard in fighting the establishment.…

Surrounded as he was by radical Jews and their anti-capitalist, pro-Palestinian ideology, Obama could be forgiven for thinking that the Chicago crew he knew so well was representative of American Jewry as a whole, particularly since research by J Street confirmed for him that American Jews don’t support Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine, don’t support the right-wing government of Israel, and in any case don’t vote on the basis of America’s policies toward Israel. Obama’s Jewish advisors doubtless thought that offending Israel and its right-wing prime minister would play well to his Jewish base.

Hence Obama pointedly skipped Israel in his high-profile trips to Muslim countries in the Middle East and, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to the White House, Obama denied his guest the customary photo-ops and joint press statement, and even refused to dine with him, curtly leaving Netanyahu and his aides without dinner arrangements and alone in the White House.…

This conduct, which shocked many Jews, began their reappraisal of Obama. While America’s Jews may not vote on the basis of Israel…neither do they want to see their co-religionists and the birthplace of their religion dissed.… Moreover, most American Jews are far from being radicals or anti-capitalist, as are many in Obama’s Jewish circle. Only 10% see themselves as either somewhat radical (8%) or largely radical (2%) and 58% believe they are “not at all” leftist, even though most Jews worry about global warming, favour abortion rights, support higher taxes on those earning more than $200,000, and want more government services and spending. (America’s Jews are in fact even less left-leaning than this survey suggests, because it excluded Orthodox Jews and those who had attended Jewish day school.)

If Obama’s stance toward Israel gave many Democratic Jews pause, his railing against the rich and the 1%, culminating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, motivated many to abandon Obama.… Occupy Wall Street, which Obama publicly endorsed, sent a chill through many Jews because of the division and hatred it unleashed.…

Will Obama get his alienated Jewish backers back? His fundraisers are certainly doing their best to explain that Obama’s position on Israel has been misunderstood, that many of Obama’s best friends are Jewish, that Obama doesn’t have anything against people becoming rich, that what Obama might say in public for political purposes doesn’t represent his private views. But many aren’t coming back.…

Summed up one of those in the 1% to an Obama fundraiser: “I just don’t think he likes us.”


Charles Krauthammer

National Post, March 9, 2012

It’s Lucy and the football, Iran-style. After ostensibly tough talk about preventing Iran from going nuclear, the Obama administration acquiesced to yet another round of talks with the mullahs. This, 14 months after the last group-of-six negotiations collapsed in Istanbul because of blatant Iranian stalling and unseriousness. Nonetheless, the new negotiations will be both without precondition and preceded by yet more talks to decide such trivialities as venue.

These negotiations don’t just gain time for a nuclear program about whose military intent the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is issuing alarming warnings. They make it extremely difficult for Israel to do anything about it (while it still can), lest Israel be universally condemned for having aborted a diplomatic solution.

If the administration were serious about achievement rather than appearance, it would have warned that this was the last chance for Iran to come clean and would have demanded a short timeline. After all, President Obama insisted on deadlines for the Iraq withdrawal, the Afghan surge and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Why leave these crucial talks open-ended when the nuclear clock is ticking?

This re-engagement comes immediately after Obama’s campaign-year posturing about Iran’s nukes. On Sunday, in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he warned that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States.” This just two days after he’d said (to the Atlantic magazine) of possible U.S. military action, “I don’t bluff.” Yet on Tuesday he returns to the very engagement policy that he admits had previously failed.

Won’t sanctions make a difference this time, however? Sanctions are indeed hurting Iran economically. But when Obama’s own director of national intelligence was asked by the Senate intelligence committee whether sanctions had any effect on the course of Iran’s nuclear program, the answer was simple: No. None whatsoever.

Obama garnered much AIPAC applause by saying that his is not a containment policy but a prevention policy. But what has he prevented? Keeping a coalition of six together is not success. Holding talks is not success. Imposing sanctions is not success.

Success is halting and reversing the program. Yet Iran is tripling its uranium output, moving enrichment facilities deep under a mountain near Qom and impeding IAEA inspections of weaponization facilities.

So what is Obama’s real objective? “We’re trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel,” an administration official told the Washington Post in the most revealing White House admission since “leading from behind.”

Revealing and shocking. The world’s greatest exporter of terror (according to the State Department), the systematic killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the self-declared enemy that invented “Death to America Day” is approaching nuclear capability—and the focus of U.S. policy is to prevent a democratic ally threatened with annihilation from pre-empting the threat?

Indeed it is. The new open-ended negotiations with Iran fit well with this strategy of tying Israel down. As does Obama’s “I have Israel’s back” reassurance, designed to persuade Israel and its supporters to pull back and outsource to Obama what for Israel are life-and-death decisions.

Yet 48 hours later, Obama tells a news conference that this phrase is just a historical reference to supporting such allies as Britain and Japan—contradicting the intended impression he’d given AIPAC that he was offering special protection to an ally under threat of physical annihilation.

To AIPAC, he declares that “no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction” and affirms “Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions … to meet its security needs.” And then he pursues policies—open-ended negotiations, deceptive promises of tough U.S. backing for Israel, boasts about the efficacy of sanctions, grave warnings about “war talk”—meant, as his own official admitted, to stop Israel from exercising precisely that sovereign right to self-protection.

Yet beyond these obvious contradictions and walk-backs lies a transcendent logic: As with the Keystone pipeline postponement, as with the debt-ceiling extension, as with the Afghan withdrawal schedule, Obama wants to get past Nov. 6 without any untoward action that might threaten his re-election.

For Israel, however, the stakes are somewhat higher: the very existence of a vibrant nation and its 6-million Jews. The asymmetry is stark. A fair-minded observer might judge that Israel’s desire to not go gently into the darkness carries higher moral urgency than the political future of one man, even if he is president of the United States.

Charles Bybelezer

Imagine for a moment that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, at a Martyrs’ Day rally in Tehran, repeated his longstanding call for both the UK and France to be wiped off the map. Imagine then, that after failing for nearly a decade to persuade Iran to abort its nuclear program through diplomatic overtures and intensifying sanctions, the UK and France began advocating, in response to Khameini’s genocidal threats and in accordance with international law, for preventive military action against Iran’s nuclear installations.

Not only would UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy unquestionably garner Barack Obama’s unconditional support, but the US President also would likely agree to do the heavy lifting for them.

How do we know this? Because less than one year ago Obama did just that in Libya. That is, the US led a NATO campaign at the behest of close allies to depose Moammar Qaddafi. And this despite the fact the Libyan dictator posed no threat whatsoever—never mind a mortal one—to either the UK or France. Moreover, Obama was so eager to accommodate American allies that he went to war in Libya without obtaining approval from Congress—arguably a violation of the US Constitution—and in a manner that vastly exceeded the parameters of the coalition’s so-called UN mandate. No amount of “leading from behind” rhetoric can alter this truth.

Yet here is tiny Israel—the US’ most stalwart ally in the world’s most strategically imperative region—having its real existential threat not only shunned by the same Barack Obama, but also publicly undermined by his most senior defense and intelligence officials. Granted Iran is no Libya, but can this alone account for the discrepancy in the way the US President treats his most dependable allies? No. Obama’s inherent bias against the Jewish state is clear, and should be undeniably confirmed to all. His actions also prove once again that Israel is held to unique, unfair standards, thereby reinforcing the importance of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertion that “Israel must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

We have three pieces of evidence indicating that Netanyahu’s core Iran policies were rebuffed by Obama during their meeting in Washington. First, to persuade the US President to articulate clear “red lines,” preferably but not necessarily defined as Iran’s achievement of a “nuclear capability,” which if passed would prompt US military action against Iranian nuclear facilities; second, in the absence of any willingness directly to engage Iran militarily, a US commitment indirectly to support (at the very least tacitly approve of) an Israeli strike; or , third, should this bare minimum not be met, that Obama set three basic pre-conditions before agreeing to resume his fruitless “engagement” of Tehran’s Mullahs—that Iran close its underground Fordow nuclear facility near Qoms; stop enriching uranium; and remove from the country all uranium enriched beyond 3.5 percent.

First, after meeting with Obama for the better part of Monday, Netanyahu that night opened his speech to AIPAC with the following: “Thank you.… I want to thank you for that wonderful reception. This applause could be heard as far away as Jerusalem—the eternal and united capital of Israel.” The eternal and united capital of Israel, indeed—also a clear message to Obama. In effect, Netanyahu told the President: If you will not support Israel’s legitimate positions regarding Iran, then Israel, in turn, will not even consider your views regarding the “peace process” (conventional wisdom maintaining that Israel cede East Jerusalem—i.e. agree to divide the city—to the Palestinians as part of any deal).

Equally important, the statement can also be viewed as a rebuke of Obama’s 2008 speech to AIPAC. Therein Obama affirmed that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided,” only to backtrack a day later by describing the word “undivided” as “poorly chosen.” Effectively, Netanyahu rendered moot Obama’s  “hawkish” Iran speech given to AIPAC a few days earlier by reminding the audience that Obama lied to them about his Jerusalem policy in 2008.

Secondly, the day after his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu had this to say to US congressional leaders: There are historical precedents in which Israel acted according to its own interests, despite American opposition. Netanyahu noted that notwithstanding Washington’s opposition David Ben-Gurion declared independence in 1948; Levi Eshkol launched a preemptive attack against Egypt in 1967; and Menachem Begin decided to bomb the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. Coupled with Netanyahu’s stated commitment that Israel always remain “master of its fate” in dealing with Tehran, the writing is on the wall: the Jewish state will go it alone if necessary.

Third, Obama, for his part, also weighed in, holding a “last-minute” press conference—his first in five months—which immediately devolved into an attack on the “loose talk of war” emanating from leading Republican presidential candidates (who, by the way, addressed AIPAC earlier that day) Obama cautioned against “beating the drums of war,” and warned of “consequences for Israel if [military] action [against Iran] is taken prematurely.” Concurrently, World Powers, including the US, reportedly accepted Tehran’s offer to resume negotiations over its nuclear program without preconditions. The news no doubt reached Netanyahu on Capitol Hill.

Taken together, it appears Israel is on its own should Netanyahu decide to act in the near future. Alternatively, the Jewish state can trust that Obama “has Israel’s back” and that he will put an end to Iran’s nuclear program when Israel no longer has the capability to do so. Will Netanyahu accept Obama at his word? Highly unlikely. What that means is that the time has come for Israel’s true allies to rally behind her. She will need it.

(Charles Bybelezer is Publications Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)

Clifford Orwin

Globe and Mail, March 7, 2012

“Obama to warn Netanyahu against military strikes on Iran.” So proclaimed the headline in last Saturday’s Washington Post. At their meeting on Monday, Barack Obama reportedly did just that, while reaffirming America’s commitment to Israel’s safety. And yet…could this be very different than it seems? Is it the cagey exterior of a policy aimed at leaving Israel no choice but to strike?

Look at it this way. Suppose you were the Obama administration, confronted by an intransigent Iran but facing an election in November and an American public weary of Middle Eastern wars. Wouldn’t you rather shoehorn an ally into undertaking this risky and unpleasant business in your place? Then, even if you too had to intervene (as you would, at the very least to keep open the Strait of Hormuz), you’d have avoided blame for starting the conflict.

It’s happened before, and not just once. Twice already, the United States has declined to intervene against nuclear threats in the Middle East, and twice already, Israel has concluded that it had no choice but to do the job itself. In 1981, it destroyed the Osirak reactor in Iraq, and in 2007, a secret nuclear plant under construction in Syria. In neither case, so far as is known, was there a green light from Washington. But both countries reaped the benefits of actions that were effectively outsourced to Israel.

The Iranian threat is much graver than those. The task of eliminating it is harder and the expected retaliation is more dire. In such a situation, each ally would gladly shift the burden to the other. Israel has naturally been hoping that the United States would dispose of the matter, as befitted the senior partner in the alliance. So far, this has proved wishful thinking under Mr. Obama, as it did under George W. Bush. As the weaker of the two partners, Israel lacks the means to force the United States to act. Washington, however, possesses ample means to coerce Tel Aviv.

The asymmetricality here lies in Iran’s two different “zones of immunity” from attack. Washington has weapons capable of eliminating Iran’s installations at a later stage of hardening than anything known to be in Israel’s arsenal. It can wait for sanctions to fail before launching its hypothetical attack. Israel can’t.

As Yossi Klein Halevi has argued, Israel faces an agonizing choice. Either it strikes Iran’s program while it is still within its power to wreck it, or having missed its chance, it would be reduced to relying on Washington to do so. Either it attacks, risking a break with its closest ally, or it becomes completely dependent on that ally to deal with an existential threat. The former choice would be wrenching, but the latter would violate a fundamental Zionist principle: that the survival of the Jewish state and people must never again be left to the unreliable mercies of others. It was one thing to hope for America to act while Israel remained capable of doing so if necessary. It would be quite another to have forfeited all initiative to it.

The basic problem goes much deeper, then, than Israel’s mistrust of Mr. Obama. Even presidents deemed staunch friends have faltered when Israel most needed them. Two countries are two countries.

At this point, Israel has good reason to doubt that even the toughest sanctions will prevent or delay Iran from building nuclear weapons. Like most sanctions, these have come too late. The findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirm that the mullahs can now enrich uranium at their leisure. And every spokesman for the regime, from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on down, has insisted that nothing will deter it from its oh-so-peaceful nuclear quest—or its doubtless equally “peaceful” resolve to annihilate Israel.

Looking beyond sanctions, Israel sees too much ambiguity in the Obama administration’s positions, too much demonstrated irresoluteness, too many signs of willingness to tolerate a more advanced stage of Iranian nuclearization than Israel deems compatible with its safety. Especially in election years, American fulmination is cheap. (Just ask North Korea, as snug as a bug in a rug with its nuclear weapons that successive administrations in Washington had declared they would never permit.)

Is Washington really seeking to push Israel into intervening before its perceived window of effectiveness shuts? I doubt it. Mr. Obama likely still hopes that, with Iran being a “rational actor,” sanctions will suffice to sway it. But if it were my plan to finagle Israel into attacking, I wouldn’t practice a public diplomacy much different from Mr. Obama’s.

(Clifford Orwin is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto
and a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s
Hoover Institution.)


Today’s Briefing:



Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post, March 5, 2012



Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, March 6, 2012



Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2012



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

Efraim Karsh

Jerusalem Post, March 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arab/Muslim apartheid comes in many forms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, March 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The following is excerpted from US President Barack Obama’s speech
at the
AIPAC Policy Conference on March 4, 2012.

“…Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction.…

A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we’ve done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant to southwest Asia.…

Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States—just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs. I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.…”


Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2012

As White House U-turns go, President Obama’s hawkish rhetorical shift on Iran in the last week has been remarkable. The question now is whether Israel, and especially Iran, will believe that he means it after three years of trying to woo the mullahs to the bargaining table with diplomacy.

Mr. Obama opened the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Sunday with a keynote whose strong talk on Iran kept the audience coming to its feet. The President took credit for isolating the Islamic Republic diplomatically and imposing a de facto oil embargo that has sent the Iranian rial tumbling.

His speech follows an interview last week with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in which Mr. Obama went out of his way to call a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.” He referred to the “military component” of U.S. policy and said that “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as President of the United States, I don’t bluff.” As startling, he added that containing a nuclear Iran wouldn’t work because of near-certain proliferation in the region and that “the risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound.”

The timing of all this is no accident as [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu meets Mr. Obama in the White House today amid intense speculation about an imminent Israeli strike on Iran. In an interview with Wall Street Journal editors on Friday, Eyal Gabbai, the former director general of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, said Mr. Netanyahu’s meeting with Mr. Obama “will be the last time they can speak face-to-face before a decision is taken.”

The Israeli military calculus toward Iran is driven largely by the perception that the regime’s nuclear programs will soon enter a “zone of immunity,” beyond which they may be effectively invulnerable to a non-nuclear Israeli strike. But also driving Israeli fears is the sense that the Obama Administration isn’t prepared to use military means if diplomacy, sanctions and covert acts don’t persuade Iran to stand down.

Those fears are far from groundless. Though Mr. Obama now takes credit for sanctions, his Administration fought Congress tooth-and-nail on sanctioning Iran’s central bank. The President only reluctantly signed the sanctions into law as part of a larger defense bill. His aides also worked to stop legislation to cut off Iran from making financial transactions via the Swift banking consortium. As for military strikes, senior Administration officials have repeatedly sounded as if their top priority is deterring Israel, rather than stopping Iran from getting a bomb.

As recently as November, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said a military strike would have “unintended consequences” and wouldn’t necessarily result in “deterring Iran from what they want to do.” In the last two weeks, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said an Israeli strike would be “destabilizing,” while Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that the Iranians haven’t decided to build a bomb. Little wonder the Israelis are nervous about U.S. resolve.

It’s welcome news if Mr. Obama is now trying to put those fears to rest, but he is also more outspoken than ever in trying to avert Israel from acting on its own. “Do we want a distraction in which Iran can portray itself as a victim, and deflect attention from what has to be the core issue, which is their pursuit of nuclear weapons?” Mr. Obama told Mr. Goldberg—the “distraction” here meaning an Israeli attack.…

The question Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli leaders have to ponder is whether Mr. Obama now means what he says. The President has built up an immense trust deficit with Israel that can’t be easily dispensed in a week. All the more so when Israelis know that this is an election year when Mr. Obama needs to appear more pro-Israel than he would if he is re-elected.

It’s good to hear Mr. Obama finally sounding serious about stopping a nuclear Iran. But if he now finds himself pleading with Israel not to take matters in its own hands, he should know his Administration’s vacillation and mixed signals have done much to force Jerusalem’s hand. More fundamentally, a President who says he doesn’t “bluff” had better be prepared to act if his bluff is called.

Herb Keinon

Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2012

Like classic American football games that are known by short titles—”The Ice Bowl,” “The Immaculate Reception,” “The Drive”—some of the more memorable White House meetings between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama lend themselves to this type of labeling.

There was “The Ambush”—that first meeting in May 2009, just weeks after both men took office, when Obama was determined to establish new rules of engagement (some would less charitably say he wanted to put the new prime minister in his place), and blind-sided Netanyahu with a call for a complete settlement freeze.

There was “The Disrespect”—that memorable White House meeting in March 2010, soon after the blowup with the US over the announcement of plans to build in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood that took place during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit. As the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl wrote of Obama’s treatment of Netanyahu at the time—refusing to allow non-official photographers to record the meeting, and issuing no statement afterward—Obama treated Netanyahu “as if he were an unsavory third-world dictator, needed for strategic reasons, but conspicuously held at arms length.”

And then there was “The Lecture”—the last meeting at the White House in May 2011, where Netanyahu turned the professorial tables on Obama and lectured him about why exactly it was impossible for Israel to return to the “indefensible” pre-June 5, 1967 lines, which Obama had called for the day before, albeit, with mutually-agreed land swaps.

And now [today’s] parley between the two, the ninth since May 2009, and likely the last before the US elections in November. How will that be remembered? Chances are good that this meeting will be remembered as “The Concord.” For even though there are differences between Israel and the US over the best policy to take toward Iran, and even though the two men have not developed chemistry or an abiding personal friendship over the last three years, they both have an interest in radiating unity, harmony and concord after their head-to-head talks.

For Obama it is a simple question of electoral mathematics. Eight months before the November elections, he will do everything he can to show his support and friendship for Israel. He articulate[d] it at length during his Sunday speech to the AIPAC annual policy conference, and he will follow-up with signaling friendship and support for Israel at the press opportunity following his meeting with Netanyahu.…

Obama needs Jewish voters and donors come November. In 2010 he captured 78 percent of the Jewish vote, but this time the polls are showing discontent among a good number of Jews. A Pew Research Poll on trends in party identification by religion from last month showed that Jews supporting or leaning Republican, jumped from 20% in 2008, to 29% in 2011, while those supporting or leaning Democratic fell from 72% in 2008, to 65% in 2011. That is troubling news for the Obama campaign. In key battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Nevada—where there are significant Jewish populations—the shift by just a couple percentage points of the Jewish vote from Obama to his Republican opponent could make a huge difference in a close election.…

Obama and his staff know very well that despite Obama campaign clips showing Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak saying what a good friend of Israel he is, and despite the oft repeated mantra—both in the US and Israel—that the Israeli-US security relationship has never been better, many American-Jewish voters still suspect Obama, and think that his heart is “not in the right place” when it comes to Israel. Netanyahu’s visit, and the AIPAC appearance, gives him a prized opportunity to demonstrate the opposite.

Netanyahu also has an interest in a harmonious visit for political reasons. The night before Netanyahu went to the AIPAC conference last time, in May 2011, Obama gave a speech outlining his vision of the Mideast and talked about a return to the 1967 lines, with mutually-agreed swaps. Even before he got on the airplane, Netanyahu issued an extremely harsh response, signaling that he was interested in tangling publicly with the president. The next day they met and, afterward, Netanyahu delivered “The Lecture.…”

That visit came just days after hundreds of Palestinians rushed the country’s northern borders on “Nakba Day,” and Netanyahu calculated there would be huge public support for saying clearly to Obama that Israel could not return to the 1967 lines. Netanyahu’s comments were crafted carefully to align with the vulnerability felt by many in the country after the border incidents. And he calculated correctly. A Haaretz poll shortly after the visit showed that his popularity skyrocketed after that Washington trip.

Now, however, Netanyahu’s political calculations are a bit different. A Geocartography poll last week showed that if elections were held today, Likud would win 39 seats. Netanyahu is going to Washington in a strong political position: his coalition is solid, and it seems safe to assume there will be elections before the end of 2013 only if he wants them. And if Netanyahu does decide to call new elections before the end of his term—many are discussing the possibility that he might like to see them before the end of the year—he is vulnerable to criticism that he caused a rift with the US; that Jerusalem’s relations with Washington are at their lowest ebb in years; and that the intimacy Israel enjoyed with the Oval Office during the Bush and Clinton years faded away under his watch. A good, friendly, warm meeting with Obama on Monday can be used by Netanyahu to dispel those charges.…

While the US and Israel share the same goal—that Iran should not gain nuclear weapons…their disagreement centers around that point when sanctions need to be ditched and military action taken. The Israeli position is that military action should be taken before Iran has all the technological capabilities needed to assemble a bomb, while the American position is that a strike is needed only after the political decision in Tehran is made to put together a nuclear device.

And that is a fundamental difference, because Iran could have all the bomb-making capabilities—even begin fortifying their installations to make them invulnerable to attack—and yet only decide to actually assemble a device years down the road. It is this difference that has very much been in the air over the last few weeks, as US and Israeli officials traveled back and forth to each others’ capitals. And it is a difference that threatens to cast a shadow over the upcoming meeting.…

Yossi Klein Halevi

New Republic, March 2, 2012

When Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Barack Obama on Monday, the main issue will be trust. Obama will ask that Israel trust America’s determination to stop Iran, and trust that when he says all options are on the table he means it. Netanyahu will likely be thinking about May 1967.

In late May 1967, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dispatched his foreign minister, Abba Eban, to Washington. Egyptian and Syrian troops were pressing on Israel’s borders; Egypt had imposed a naval blockade on the Straits of Tiran, Israel’s shipping route to the east. Eban’s request of President Lyndon Johnson was that America honor its commitment to back military action if Egypt blocked the Straits of Tiran. That commitment had been made by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1957, to secure Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai desert following the 1956 Suez War. Only a declaration by Johnson that he intended to immediately open the straits to Israeli shipping even at the risk of war—one idea was for the U.S. to lead an international flotilla—could stop a unilateral Israeli strike. Though Johnson was viscerally pro-Israel, he proved unable or unwilling to honor Dulles’ commitment. Preoccupied with Vietnam, Johnson wasn’t ready to support another war, let alone initiate one.

Even if Barack Obama is truly the pro-Israel president his Jewish supporters claim he is, the Johnson precedent tells us that it may not matter. Like Johnson, Obama presides over a nation wary of another military adventure, especially in the Middle East.…

What the world remembers of the Six Day War era is Israel’s military victory in June 1967. But these days Israelis are recalling the vulnerability of May 1967, in the weeks that preceded the victory. To be sure, Israelis understand that, in several crucial ways, today is different.… Then, Israel was entirely on its own in facing the threat on its borders. Today, by contrast, many countries, including in the Arab world, regard a nuclear Iran as a very real threat. In 1967, the war was localized, while this time the consequences of an Israeli preemptive strike will directly affect the international community and especially the United States—and perhaps not only economically.… And that could risk the stability of the American-Israeli relationship.

The Iranian nuclear threat could force Israel to choose between two of its essential national values. On the one hand, there is the commitment to Jewish self defense. On the other hand, there is the longing to be a respectable member of the international community. Allowing an enemy that constantly threatens Israel’s destruction to acquire the means to do so would negate Zionism’s promise to protect the Jewish people. And launching a preemptive strike without American backing could lead to Israel’s isolation.…

In this excruciating dilemma, the question of whether Israel can trust the administration to act militarily against Iran becomes all the more crucial. Israeli leaders believe that their window of opportunity in launching a preemptive strike will be closing in the coming months. America, though, with its vastly superior firepower, could retain a military option even after Israel’s lapses. In other words: An Israeli decision not to strike this year will mean that it effectively ceded its self-defense—against a potentially existential threat—to America. When Obama tells Israel to give sanctions time, what he is really saying is: Trust me to stop Iran militarily when you no longer can.

Yet the message from Washington in the last few weeks has only reinforced Israeli suspicions that we are back in May 1967. The spate of administration leaks to the media questioning Israel’s military capability in confronting Iran has undermined Israeli confidence in American resolve. An administration serious about stopping Iran to the point of military intervention would convey messages that raise Iran’s anxiety, not Israel’s. By insisting that Israel’s military threat isn’t credible—without at the same time explicitly stating that America’s military threat is—the administration reassures Iran that it has little to fear from military action. The Israelis can’t and the Americans won’t.…

Faced with an imminent existential dilemma, Israel will probably opt for preemptive self-defense, even if that means risking its special relationship with America.… The precedent of the two Israeli attacks against Arab nuclear facilities—in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007—reinforces Israeli determination to stop Iran, unilaterally if necessary.…

In better times, the two allies might have been able to navigate these conflicting needs. But in the absence of mutual trust, what could remain are conflicting perceptions of interest.

Amos Yadlin

NY Times, February 29, 2012

On July 7, 1981, I was one of eight Israeli fighter pilots who bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. As we sat in the briefing room listening to the army chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, before starting our planes’ engines, I recalled a conversation a week earlier when he’d asked us to voice any concerns about our mission.

We told him about the risks we foresaw: running out of fuel, Iraqi retaliation, how a strike could harm our relationship with America, and the limited impact a successful mission might have—perhaps delaying Iraq’s nuclear quest by only a few years. Listening to today’s debates about Iran, we hear the same arguments and face the same difficulties, even though we understand it is not 1981.

Shortly after we destroyed Osirak, the Israeli defense attaché in Washington was called into the Pentagon. He was expecting a rebuke. Instead, he was faced with a single question: How did you do it? The United States military had assumed that the F-16 aircraft they had provided to Israel had neither the range nor the ordnance to attack Iraq successfully. The mistake then, as now, was to underestimate Israel’s military ingenuity.

We had simply maximized fuel efficiency and used experienced pilots, trained specifically for this mission. We ejected our external fuel tanks en route to Iraq and then attacked the reactor with pinpoint accuracy from so close and such a low altitude that our unguided bombs were as accurate and effective as precision-guided munitions.

Today, Israel sees the prospect of a nuclear Iran that calls for our annihilation as an existential threat. An Israeli strike against Iran would be a last resort, if all else failed to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.… Some experts oppose an attack because they claim that even a successful strike would, at best, delay Iran’s nuclear program for only a short time. But their analysis is faulty.… What matters more is the campaign after the attack.

When we were briefed before the Osirak raid, we were told that a successful mission would delay the Iraqi nuclear program for only three to five years. But history told a different story. After the Osirak attack and the destruction of the Syrian reactor in 2007, the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs were never fully resumed. This could be the outcome in Iran, too, if military action is followed by tough sanctions, stricter international inspections and an embargo on the sale of nuclear components to Tehran. Iran, like Iraq and Syria before it, will have to recognize that the precedent for military action has been set, and can be repeated.

Others claim that an attack on the Iranian nuclear program would destabilize the region. But a nuclear Iran could lead to far worse: a regional nuclear arms race without a red phone to defuse an escalating crisis, Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, more confident Iranian surrogates like Hezbollah and the threat of nuclear materials’ being transferred to terrorist organizations.…

President Obama has said America will “use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.…” The problem, however, is one of time. Israel doesn’t have the safety of distance, nor do we have the United States Air Force’s advanced fleet of bombers and fighters. America could carry out an extensive air campaign using stealth technology and huge amounts of ammunition, dropping enormous payloads that are capable of hitting targets and penetrating to depths far beyond what Israel’s arsenal can achieve. This gives America more time than Israel in determining when the moment of decision has finally been reached. And as that moment draws closer, differing timetables are becoming a source of tension.

On Monday, Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are to meet in Washington. Of all their encounters, this could be the most critical. Asking Israel’s leaders to abide by America’s timetable, and hence allowing Israel’s window of opportunity to be closed, is to make Washington a de facto proxy for Israel’s security—a tremendous leap of faith for Israelis faced with a looming Iranian bomb. It doesn’t help when American officials warn Israel against acting without clarifying what America intends to do once its own red lines are crossed.

Mr. Obama will therefore have to shift the Israeli defense establishment’s thinking from a focus on the “zone of immunity” to a “zone of trust.” What is needed is an ironclad American assurance that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity—and all other options have failed to halt Tehran’s nuclear quest—Washington will act to prevent a nuclear Iran while it is still within its power to do so. I hope Mr. Obama will make this clear. If he does not, Israeli leaders may well choose to act while they still can.

(Amos Yadlin is a former chief of Israeli military intelligence.)


Yesterday, the White House announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with US President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5.


The encounter between the two leaders will take place against the backdrop of a flurry of reports about the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.


To date, senior American officials ranging from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey have publicly warned Israel against taking such action. Coupled with the Obama administration’s apparent downplaying of Iran’s nuclear progress, the question arises: Is Obama focused more on containing Tehran or Jerusalem?


Mr. Netanyahu is about to find out.



Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2012

Is the Obama Administration more concerned that Iran may get a nuclear weapon, or that Israel may use military force to prevent Iran from doing so? The answer is the latter, judging from comments [last] Sunday by Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

Appearing on CNN, General Dempsey sent precisely the wrong message if the main U.S. strategic goal is convincing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. He said the U.S. is urging Israel not to attack Iran—because Iran hasn’t decided to build a bomb, because an Israeli attack probably wouldn’t set back Iran by more than a couple of years, and because it would invite retaliation and be “destabilizing” throughout the Middle East.

“That’s the question with which we all wrestle. And the reason we think that it’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” the General said, referring to a possible Iranian response to an attack. “That’s been our counsel to our allies, the Israelis. And we also know or believe we know that the Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the capability—or the effort to weaponize their nuclear capability.”

In a single sound bite, General Dempsey managed to tell the Iranians they can breathe easier because Israel’s main ally is opposed to an attack on Iran, such attack isn’t likely to work in any case, and the U.S. fears Iran’s retaliation. It’s as if General Dempsey wanted to ratify Iran’s rhetoric that the regime is a fearsome global military threat.

If the U.S. really wanted its diplomacy to work in lieu of force, it would say and do whatever it can to increase Iran’s fear of an attack. It would say publicly that Israel must be able to protect itself and that it has the means to do so. America’s top military officer in particular should say that if Iran escalates in response to an Israeli attack, the U.S. would have no choice but to intervene on behalf of its ally. The point of coercive diplomacy is to make an adversary understand that the costs of its bad behavior will be very, very high.

The general is not a free-lancer, so his message was almost certainly guided by the White House. His remarks only make strategic sense if President Obama’s real priority is to contain Israel first—especially before the November election.

This might also explain General Dempsey’s comments that the U.S. doesn’t believe Iran’s regime has decided to build an atomic bomb and that it is a “rational” actor, like, say, the Dutch. This would be the same rational Iran that refuses to compromise on its nuclear plans despite increasingly damaging global sanctions, and the same prudent actor that has sent agents around the world to bomb Israeli and Saudi targets, allegedly including in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.

Iran doesn’t need to explode a bomb, or even declare that it has one, to win its nuclear standoff. All it needs to do is get to the brink and make everyone believe it can build a bomb when it wants to. Then the costs of deterring Iran go up exponentially, and the regime’s leverage multiplies in the Middle East and against American interests. General Dempsey’s assurances obscure that military and political reality.

Like most of Mr. Obama’s Iran policy, General Dempsey’s comments will have the effect of making war more likely, not less. They will increase Israel’s anxiety about U.S. support, especially if Mr. Obama is re-elected and he has a freer political hand. This may drive Israel’s leadership to strike sooner. Weakness invites war, and General Dempsey has helped the Administration send a message of weakness to Israel and Iran.

Thomas Joscelyn

Weekly Standard, February 15, 2012

During an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer shortly before the Super Bowl on February 5, President Obama was asked about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the possibility of an Israeli airstrike. “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said. “I think they, like us, believe that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program. Until they do, I think Israel rightly is going to be very concerned, and we are as well.”

At least the president spoke candidly of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program…” [as] this is something the U.S. intelligence community has a difficult time doing. America’s top spooks prefer to obfuscate the issue.

Here is how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in written testimony given to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on January 31—less than one week prior to President Obama’s interview: “We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

So while the president openly discusses Iran’s “nuclear weapons program,” his spy chief isn’t sure if Iran has even decided to build the world’s most deadly weapons.… Clapper and the analysts who helped craft his testimony are relying on an illogical premise: that Iran would do everything in its power to pursue the components necessary to build nukes without having decided to actually put those pieces together. This makes no sense.

Iran would not go out of its way to enrich uranium beyond what is necessary for civilian purposes, construct covert uranium enrichment facilities (as it did at Qom), continue to pursue various means of constructing a warhead (as confirmed by the IAEA, and contrary to the intelligence community’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate), and engage in sundry other nuclear weapons efforts without making a political decision to build nuclear weapons.

The purpose of Clapper’s testimony was not to provide a clear-eyed intelligence assessment, however, but to advance a specific policy agenda. Clapper insists (emphasis added): “We judge Iran’s nuclear decision making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran. Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran’s security, prestige, and influence, as well as the international political and security environment, when making decisions about its nuclear program.”

The intelligence community’s message is clear: We’d prefer for policymakers to continue to try everything short of a military strike. But it is not Clapper or the intelligence community’s place to advocate such an approach. That is a political decision.…

More importantly, what evidence is there that Iran can be dissuaded from pursuing nuclear weapons? The Obama administration’s outreach to the mullahs failed. The Europeans’ efforts failed before that. The Obama administration’s sanctions regime…has not convinced the mullahs to foreswear nukes. And various other American efforts at rapprochement on a range of issues dating back decades (i.e., terrorism)…have similarly fallen short.

There is simply no evidence that the international community has discovered any diplomatic, financial, or other means for bringing an end to what President Obama accurately calls Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”

Even taking Clapper’s argument about Iran’s “cost-benefit approach” on its own terms is far from convincing. Iran has already suffered substantial costs in terms of international “prestige” and “influence”—economic and otherwise—and has unquestionably decided that the benefits of acquiring nuclear weapons are worth it. We know this because Iran has borne these costs even while making significant strides toward building nuclear weapons.

Clapper himself writes: “Iran’s technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so. These advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses.”

Iran’s rulers, therefore, have acquired the “capacity” to make nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community is simply hoping that there is one last imaginary line for them to cross before they do so.

(Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.)


Washington Post, February 14, 2012

Two months ago we questioned a decision by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to spell out publicly his objections to an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear program—a speech that must have cheered the commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Now Mr. Panetta has indirectly caused a similar stir: After a conversation with Mr. Panetta this month, The [Washington] Post’s David Ignatius reported that the Pentagon chief “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June.”

What could explain this public undercutting of one of America’s closest allies? The unfortunate answer seems to be a lack of strategic agreement or basic trust between the Obama administration and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu. A senior U.S. intelligence official recently said that Israel has grown reticent about discussing a possible attack on Iran and had declined to offer an assurance that it would consult Washington before acting. That leaves the administration facing the possibility that it will be presented with an Israeli-Iranian conflict that could expand to encompass U.S. forces and allies in the Persian Gulf.…

While the Obama administration suggests that only a clear Iranian attempt to produce a nuclear weapon would justify military intervention, Israel believes that Iran’s acquisition of the capacity to do so—achieving the status of a threshold nuclear power, like India and Pakistan before 1997—would also be intolerable. That’s understandable for a country within missile range of a regime that has called for the extinction of the Jewish state.…

Israeli commanders judge that in a few months, once Iran has fully prepared a new nuclear facility located under a mountain, Israel’s capacity to disable the program with air strikes will be greatly reduced. The United States would retain a military window of opportunity for longer. But can the Netanyahu government count on the Obama administration to act if a moment of truth arrives?

For now, several top Israeli officials are skeptical. That is where Mr. Panetta and Mr. Obama should be making an effort. Rather than publicly arguing with Israel, they should be more clearly spelling out U.S. willingness to take military action [against] Iran.… Saying “all options are on the table” is not enough; the Obama administration should be explicit about Iranian actions that will violate its red lines—and what the consequences will be.

Benny Morris

LA Times, February 14, 2012

Most people in the Arab world, according to opinion polls, believe that the Holocaust never happened, that it’s a Jewish invention and trick to win the world’s sympathy and support. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is similarly minded; he has said so countless times.

In the West, speaking of the Holocaust, most leaders and commentators concede that it did, indeed, occur. But, privately and sometimes publicly, some tell the Israelis: “Get over it.” They mean that the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II should not dominate, or perhaps even strongly influence, Israel’s policies today.

But is this reasonable or even moral? Should Israel set aside the memory and reality of what happened to its people, and conduct its life as a nation as if nothing happened?

The fact is that Israel’s leaders, reflecting Israeli public opinion, take very seriously Iran’s oft-repeated threat to create a second Holocaust, to wipe the Jewish state—”the Zionist entity” or “Zionist regime,” as the Iranians call it—off the map. They take equally seriously Iran’s nuclear program.… Israelis, at least those who don’t bury their heads in the sand, believe that if the Iranians get nuclear weapons they will, in the end, use them—or at a minimum, cannot be relied on not to use them—and that Israel’s very existence is at stake.

After years of Israeli cajoling and blandishments, the United States and the European community have at last started to impose serious sanctions against Tehran, targeting its oil industries and central bank. But the sanctions have come too late—and, besides, many in the international community, meaning Russia, China, India, Turkey, the Arab states and some other countries, are not on board or are actively subverting these sanctions, rendering them ultimately ineffective. The Iranians have said as much: They will not abandon their nuclear program, even if the sanctions bite into their citizens’ living standards.…

Yet America’s and Europe’s leaders tell Israel: Wait, give the sanctions time.

But time has almost run out. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has publicly stated that Iran…could have the bomb within a year.… And perhaps Panetta is wrong—perhaps there is less time than he thinks. Or, as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak put it earlier this month, those who advise Israel to wait till later may end up discovering that “later is too late.”

The choice is clear and stark. Either Iran, led by fanatical, brutal and millenarian leaders, will get the bomb, or it will be prevented from doing so by military assault on its nuclear installations, by America or Israel. If the Americans, who have the capability to do a thorough job, don’t do it…then the Israelis, with their more limited capabilities, will have to. How Washington, which has repeatedly and more or less publicly vetoed the idea, would react to an Israeli strike deeply worries policymakers in Jerusalem. But it worries them far less than a nuclear-weaponized Iran.…

The Israelis may have the capability, using conventional weapons, only to delay the Iranian nuclear program and only by a few years. But any delay is good; perhaps the international community…will wake up to the danger of a nuclear Iran and take effective measures to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program definitively.…


Herb Keinon, Jpost.Com Staff & Reuters

Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2012

[Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that a series of bomb blasts that struck Thailand on Tuesday was part of an attempted terrorist attack perpetrated by Iran.

An Iranian man was seriously wounded in Bangkok on Tuesday when a bomb he was carrying exploded.… Shortly before, there had been an explosion in a house the man was renting in the Ekamai area of central Bangkok, and shortly afterward, another blast on a nearby road. Five people were injured in the explosions.

“The attempted terror attack in Thailand proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to operate in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that,” Barak said while on a state visit to Singapore. The incident came one day after near simultaneous attacks on Israeli embassies in India and Georgia.…

[Thai] Police General Bansiri Prapapat told Reuters…“We discovered the wounded man’s passport. It’s an Iranian passport and he entered the country through Phuket and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on the 8th of this month [press reports have since identified the man as Saeib Morabi—Ed.].”

Police declined to make any link between Tuesday’s incident and the arrest last month of a Lebanese man in Bangkok who, according to the Thai authorities, had links to Hezbollah.…

Joe Nocera

NY Times, February 6, 2012

On Monday, Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, traveled to China for a week of high-level meetings. He brought with him a handful of his cabinet ministers, including Joe Oliver, his tough-talking minister of natural resources who, until recently, had been withering in his scorn for the opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which [US] President Obama rejected a few weeks ago. The pipeline, of course, was intended to transport vast oil reserves in Alberta to the American refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Oliver no longer talks so freely about the environmental critics of the Keystone pipeline; all of Harper’s ministers have been instructed to stop making comments that might be construed as interfering in the American presidential election. But there are other, more diplomatic, ways to send messages. Like going to China with your cabinet members and cutting energy deals with a country that has, as The Globe and Mail in Toronto put it recently, a “thirst for Canadian oil.” Oil, I might add, that may be a little dirtier than the crude that pours forth from the Saudi Arabian desert—that is one of the main reasons environmentalists say they oppose Keystone—but is hardly the environmental disaster many suppose.…

What [Obama’s] Keystone decision…represents is the way our poisoned politics damages the country. Environmental concerns notwithstanding, America will be using oil—and lots of it—for the foreseeable future. It is the fundamental means by which we transport ourselves, whether by air, car or truck. Where do we get that oil? Mostly from countries that don’t like us, like Venezuela, which has the world’s second-largest oil reserves.

And here is Canada, a staunch American ally that has historically sold us virtually all of its crude exports. Over the past two decades, energy companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in the tar sands, so much so that Canada now ranks No. 3 in estimated oil reserves. Along with the natural gas that can now be extracted thanks to hydraulic fracturing…the oil from the Canadian tar sands ought to be viewed as a great gift that has been handed to North America. These two relatively new sources of fossil fuels offer America its first real chance in decades to become, if not energy self-sufficient, at least energy secure, no longer beholden to OPEC. Yet these gifts have been transformed, like everything else, into political footballs.

In Canada, the Keystone XL controversy has created a surprising new resolve.… Instead of blithely assuming the United States would purchase its oil, Canada is now determined to find diverse buyers so it won’t be held hostage by American politics. Hence, the newfound willingness to do business with China. Canada has concluded that it simply can’t expect much from the United States, even on an issue that would seem to be vital to our own interests.… At least one country in North America understands where its national interests lie. Too bad it’s not us.

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, February 10, 2012

At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, seeking theological underpinning for his drive to raise taxes on the rich, President Obama invoked the highest possible authority. His policy, he testified “as a Christian,” “coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’”

Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m fairly certain that neither Jesus nor his rabbinic forebears, when speaking of giving, meant some obligation to the state. You tithe the priest, not the tax man.

The Judeo-Christian tradition commands personal generosity as represented, for example, by the biblical injunction against retrieving any sheaf left behind while harvesting one’s own field. That is for the gleaners—“the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:10). Like Ruth in the field of Boaz. As far as I can tell, that charitable transaction involved no mediation by the IRS.

But no matter. Let’s assume that Obama has biblical authority for hiking the marginal tax rate exactly 4.6 points for couples making more than $250,000 (depending, of course, on the prevailing shekel-to-dollar exchange rate). Let’s stipulate that Obama’s prayer-breakfast invocation of religion as vindicating his politics was not, God forbid, crass, hypocritical, self-serving electioneering, but a sincere expression of a social-gospel Christianity that sees good works as central to the very concept of religiosity.

Fine. But this Gospel according to Obama has a rival—the newly revealed Gospel according to Sebelius, over which has erupted quite a contretemps. By some peculiar logic, it falls to the health and human services secretary to promulgate the definition of “religious”—for the purposes, for example, of exempting religious institutions from certain regulatory dictates.

Such exemptions are granted in grudging recognition that, whereas the rest of civil society may be broken to the will of the state’s regulators, our quaint Constitution grants special autonomy to religious institutions.

Accordingly, it would be a mockery of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if, for example, the Catholic Church were required by law to freely provide such “health care services” (in secularist parlance) as contraception, sterilization and pharmacological abortion—to which Catholicism is doctrinally opposed as a grave contravention of its teachings about the sanctity of life.

Ah. But there would be no such Free Exercise violation if the institutions so mandated are deemed, by regulatory fiat, not religious.

And thus, the word came forth from Sebelius decreeing the exact criteria required (a) to meet her definition of “religious” and thus (b) to qualify for a modicum of independence from newly enacted state control of American health care, under which the aforementioned Sebelius and her phalanx of experts determine everything—from who is to be covered, to which treatments are to be guaranteed free of charge.

Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious”—and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.

Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals—even Catholic schools—do not turn away Hindu or Jew.

Their vocation is universal, precisely the kind of universal love-thy-neighbor vocation that is the very definition of religiosity as celebrated by the Gospel of Obama. Yet according to the Gospel of Sebelius, these very same Catholic institutions are not religious at all—under the secularist assumption that religion is what happens on Sunday under some Gothic spire, while good works are “social services” properly rendered up unto Caesar.

This all would be merely the story of contradictory theologies, except for this: Sebelius is Obama’s appointee. She works for him. These regulations were his call. Obama authored both gospels.

Therefore: To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

The contradiction is glaring, the hypocrisy breathtaking. But that’s not why Obama offered a hasty compromise on Friday. It’s because the firestorm of protest was becoming a threat to his reelection. Sure, health care, good works and religion are important. But reelection is divine.

Jeffrey H. Anderson

Weekly Standard, February 14, 2012

President Obama’s fourth budget has now been released, which allows for a relatively full accounting of deficit spending during his four years in office. The picture isn’t pretty, but it is revealing.

According to the White House’s own figures, the actual or projected deficit tallies for the four years in which Obama has submitted budgets are as follows: $1.293 trillion in 2010, $1.300 trillion in 2011, $1.327 trillion in 2012, and $901 billion in 2013.…

Adding all of this up, deficit spending during Obama’s four years in the White House (based on his own figures) will be an estimated $5.170 trillion—or $5,170,000,000,000.00. To help put that colossal sum of money into perspective, if you take our deficit spending under Obama and divide it evenly among the roughly 300 million American citizens, that works out to just over $17,000 per person—or about $70,000 for a family of four.

The previous record for most deficit spending during a presidency was set by President George W. Bush. During Bush’s 8-year administration, total deficit spending was $3.402 trillion. That’s a truly extraordinary and reckless sum. It’s also $1.768 trillion less than deficit spending in just four years under Obama.…

Prior to Obama, our annual deficit spending had only exceeded 6.0 percent of GDP during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Except during those huge conflicts, our deficits had never exceeded 6.0 percent of GDP in any year—not during the Great Depression, not at the height of the Cold War defense buildup, not ever.… During Obama’s four years in the White House, annual deficit spending will average 8.4 percent of GDP. That’s nearly double the average annual level of deficit spending under any other post-War president.… This has truly been a historic presidency—more profligate than any other by far.

Robert Spencer

FrontPage, February 7, 2012

The Egyptian Government has released the names of nineteen American citizens that it intends to prosecute for their role in fomenting anti-government protests—a charge they deny. Protests from the American Government have so far been futile, met with sneers of contempt.

The echoes are unmistakable. On November 4, 1979, Iranian thugs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. Jimmy Carter’s government wrung its hands in futility for the next fourteen months, until finally the Islamic Republic released the hostages on January 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan took office as President of the United States.

The bitter irony in all that was that Carter had betrayed the Shah of Iran, a longtime U.S. ally, and thereby paved the way for the ascent to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian mullahcracy that has ruled Iran ever since. Rather than feel gratitude toward Carter, however, Khomeini viewed his abandonment of the Shah as a sign of weakness, and pressed forward with his jihad against the Great Satan.…

As the Iranian regime inches ever closer toward constructing nuclear weapons…the U.S. and Israel have one man to thank for the advent of a genocide-minded regime that considers them both the most implacable of enemies.… That man, of course, is Jimmy Carter. And from the looks of recent events, he is back in the White House.

In June 2009, when Barack Obama made his notorious appeal to the Muslim world from Cairo, he specifically stipulated that leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to attend—despite the fact that at that time the Brotherhood was still an outlawed group. Last March, as the “Arab Spring” uprisings toppled the sclerotic and brutal regime of Hosni Mubarak, Obama hailed “the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.” As the regime fell, Obama exulted: “We’ve borne witness to the beginning of new chapter in the history of a great country and a longtime partner of the United States.…”

The parallels are so close, they’re almost eerie. The Shah of Iran was no champion of human rights, and neither was Hosni Mubarak. That gave the opposition groups to both an opportunity to appeal to the world’s conscience as the great hope of their people to live at last in dignity—an opportunity that both exploited with great aplomb. Both the Shah and Mubarak were relatively secular rulers who for decades successfully held at bay the pro-Sharia Islamic supremacist forces that despised and longed to topple them. Both had mutually beneficial relationships with the United States—not perfect ones, by any means, but alliances of convenience that fostered stability in troubled regions.

Both the Shah and Mubarak then ran afoul of leftist Democrat presidents who positioned their betrayal of these undeniably less-than-perfect allies as a responsibility necessitated by their commitment to human rights.… Carter in Iran and Obama in Egypt got the regimes they wanted. They got the expression of “democracy” that they assured the American people would usher in a new era of peace and freedom. In both cases, they made their decisions based on politically correct falsehoods and fantasies rather than harsh realities. And in both cases, as is increasingly clear in Egypt, innocent Americans have had to pay for their myopia.

This is the Egypt, and this is the Middle East, that Barack Obama has given us. And in the coming weeks and months, he will find that the forces he has helped unleash will be impossible to contain.…

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, January 25, 2012

The mystery remaining about the Obama administration’s foreign policy is not whether it has worked, but whether its failures will matter all that much. That is no rhetorical question, given that it is hard to permanently damage, in just three years, the position abroad of the United States, given its vast military power and enormous economy.

The Obama administration’s policy was predicated on three assumptions. First, world tensions and widespread dislike of the United States were due to George Bush’s wars and his cowboyish style. Therefore, outreach and reset would correct the Bush mistakes.… The unique personal narrative and heritage of Obama and his tripartite name, of course, would earn America fides in inverse proportion to Bush’s twang and evangelical way of speaking about God.

Yet most problems really did transcend Bush, and so reset accomplished little. Hugo Chávez is more hostile to America than ever, whether symbolically by accusing the Obama administration of spreading cancer among Latin American leaders or concretely by entertaining [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is no new warmth from Cuba or Nicaragua—as there never could have been from their Stalinist heads of state. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has as much contempt for Obama as he did for Bush.…

The decision to reach out to [Syrian dictator Bashar] Assad with recognition and an embassy failed; Syria became more unhinged and violent, not less.… The Palestinians are now talking of a third intifada, and they hope that, when the shooting starts, their new friend the United States will hector Israel in a way it did not under Bush.

Outreach to Iran was a disaster; the serial face-to-face talks and the quiet neglect of the Iranian dissidents did not work. Now we are reduced to the sort of catch-up sanctions that would have earned Bush the charge of warmongering from the Left. Unofficial U.S policy seems to be a silent hope that tiny Israel does the unthinkable that a huge United States would not, while Saudi Arabia expands its pipelines to nullify the value of the Strait of Hormuz in a way [Obama is] refusing to do at home with Keystone.

Obama likes Prime Minister Erdogan even more than he hates Prime Minister Netanyahu. But what he thinks the Israelis have done to the Palestinians pales in comparison to what he must know the Turks have done to the Kurds, Greeks, and Armenians. It is open to question whether Erdogan will be calmed by such affability or will find it useful should he wish to settle old scores with the Kurds, on Cyprus, or in the Aegean.

Lecturing China while borrowing ever more money from it does not work. I don’t think Japan and South Korea feel any safer with Obama in office—despite claims of a new focus on Asia at the expense of old Europe. The more Obama talks of eliminating nuclear weapons, the more both these neighbors of North Korea will probably consider acquiring them.

There is no need to review the reset flip side of estrangement from the Czech Republic, Britain, Israel, and now Canada—allies who believe in staid things like democracy, human rights, and alliances in times of peril. It is hard to calibrate U.S. policy toward the EU, since the entire enterprise is unraveling, and the Europeans seem puzzled that we are emulating the very failure they are learning from. Mexico is more violent and unstable than ever before.… Fast and Furious promises not to deport any more illegal aliens, and the administration’s lawsuit against the state of Arizona, did not have a warming effect on our relationship.

The second Obama idea was the dream of reenergizing the United Nations and working to eliminate all nuclear weapons. But the likelihood is that the atomic club will be larger, not smaller, when Obama leaves office.… Obama claimed he was doing U.N. work in Libya; but in truth he exceeded a U.N. mandate for humanitarian help and no-fly zones by stealthily bombing “from behind.” How odd that by ignoring the U.S. Congress and the War Powers Act and instead championing but not obeying the United Nations, Obama snubbed both in a way his cowboyish predecessor never had.…

Did the Obama setbacks matter all that much? So far, in the very short term, perhaps not.

Few envisioned that the Arab world and the European Union in their own respective ways would implode, quite apart from anything the United States did.… The insolvency of Mediterranean Europe has taken attention from the near insolvency of the U.S. Treasury. The EU pact, and styles of governance in China, Russia, and the Arab world, remind us that the U.S. Constitution remains exceptional. And the stagnant American economy has muffled domestic objections to vast cutbacks in defense and our new follow-rather-than-lead foreign policy.

In other words, we are back to the deceptive quiet of a 1913, 1938, or 2000.…

Let us hope no one [would be so stupid as to start a stupid war]. But if someone should be so crazy, others might follow. Then we would learn that our old allies are now neutrals; our new friends are enemies; and the old deterrence will be as hard to regain as it was once to acquire.

(Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.)



Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2012

President Obama [on January 8] put in a rare appearance at the Pentagon, flanked by the four service chiefs and his Secretary of Defense. Saying that now is the time to cash in a peace dividend, he unveiled plans for a significantly slimmed-down military. This dance was choreographed to convey strength. Everything else about it showed how domestic entitlements are beginning to squeeze the U.S. military.

This self-inflicted attack on defense comes at a strange time. True, the U.S. cut deeply after World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War—and in each case came to regret it soon enough when new threats emerged. But peace doesn’t characterize our time. Mr. Obama wielded his familiar line that “the tide of war is receding,” which will please his antiwar base but will come as news to the Marines in Afghanistan or the Navy ships patrolling the tense Strait of Hormuz.

The Pentagon shouldn’t be immune to fiscal scrutiny, yet this Administration has targeted defense from its earliest days and has kept on squeezing. The White House last year settled with Congress on $450 billion in military budget cuts through 2021, on top of the $350 billion in weapons programs killed earlier. Defense spending next year will fall 1% in nominal terms. The Pentagon also faces another $500 billion in possible cuts starting next January under “sequestration,” unless Congress steps in first.

Taken altogether, the budget could shrink by over 30% in the next decade. The Administration projects outlays at 2.7% of GDP in 2021, down from 4.5% last year (which included the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan).… As recently as 1986…the U.S. spent 6.2% of GDP on defense with no detrimental economic impact.

What’s different now? The growing entitlement state. The Administration is making a political choice and sparing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which are set to hit nearly 11% of GDP by 2020. And that’s before $2.6 trillion for ObamaCare, which will surely cost more. These entitlements are already crowding out spending on defense and thus reducing America’s global standing, following the tragic path that Europe has taken. The difference is that Europe had the U.S. military in reserve. Who will backstop America?…

The real message to the world is that the Administration wants to scale back U.S. leadership. This was part of the rationale behind the White House’s reluctance to take the initiative in the Middle East last year, as well as the attempts to mollify Iran’s mullahs and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Now the Administration plans to draw down troops and America’s profile in Africa, Latin America and Europe. The Navy can easily match Iran’s threats in the Persian Gulf now, but what about in 10 years?

President Obama ended his remarks by quoting Dwight Eisenhower on “the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.” The line comes from his 1961 Farewell Address, better known as the “military-industrial complex” speech. Mr. Obama’s new defense posture brings to mind another Eisenhower line, offered two years earlier: “Weakness in arms often invites aggression.”

Jim Lacey

National Review, January 11, 2012

In 2010, Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, waded into a domestic political debate he would have been well advised to avoid. By declaring that “Our national debt is our biggest national-security threat,” Admiral Mullen painted a bull’s-eye on the Pentagon for every shortsighted budget-cutter in Washington to aim at.… After all, if the organization responsible for securing America is declaring our national debt to be the number-one security threat, then it must, of course, lead the way in taking the cuts that will help reduce that threat.

[On January 8], we saw the outcome of Admiral Mullen’s misjudgment, when the president crossed the Potomac to announce his administration’s new strategic guidance to the Department of Defense.… There are some things about it that all Americans must be made aware of. The most important is that this is not a strategy aimed at securing the country. Rather, it is designed for one purpose only: to cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of the defense budget—consequences be damned.

The new guidance declares that “preventing Afghanistan from ever being a safe haven” for terrorists is one of its “central” goals. Then, in the very next paragraph, it discusses our impending withdrawal from Afghanistan. As part of “deterring and defeating aggression,” the new guidance says the military must be able to “secure territory and populations,” but then goes on to state that it only has to do this “on a small scale and for a limited period.” The administration forgets that the enemy gets a vote on the scale and length of any conflict.… In another insult to clear thinking, the guidance sets one of the military’s “primary missions” as conducting “stability and counterinsurgency operations.” In keeping with its established pattern, however, it then goes on to state: “U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.” After our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, how is it possible that the administration appears not to be aware that such operations are always and everywhere prolonged and troop-intensive?…

Despite this, the Army and Marine Corps are planning for mandated cuts of approximately 150,000 troops from their strength, much of that cutting to come from the combat forces. Such cuts would be an unmitigated disaster for the security of our nation. Only through the most drastic means were the Marines and Army just able to scrape together enough forces for Iraq and Afghanistan.…

One of the great fallacies believed by those with only a limited knowledge of the military is that we have a large number of combat troops. In truth, what the military calls the “point of the spear” is rather thinly manned. If you put all of the Army’s and Marine Corps’s combat troops (infantry, armor, and artillery) inside the Rose Bowl, you would still have over 30,000 empty seats. If the Army ever again took losses that were typical of a single day’s hard fighting in many of our past wars, our current force would be decimated beyond its ability to recover.

This is the force the strategic guidance is setting up for a gutting. Given the host of challenges and the growing power of our potential enemies, this appears a particularly bad time to consider a unilateral disarming of the force that has underpinned the Pax Americana for almost 70 years. Unfortunately, Vegetius’s words “If you want peace, prepare for war” remain as true today as when he wrote them 1,600 years ago.…

Remarkably, even the administration does not believe its guidance is a good idea. How do I know? Its own guidance document says so. At one point, the document instructs the military to reduce the force in such a way that it can be rapidly “regenerated” in the event of an emergency. At another point it says “reversibility…is a key part of our decision calculus.” When before has a nation ever announced a new defense strategy in which a major part of the plan involves reversing everything the plan sets out to do?…

As a percentage of GDP, however, the military budget is set to fall to its lowest point since before World War II, and well under half of what we maintained throughout the Cold War. It is not the military budget that is bankrupting the nation. Rather, it is runaway entitlement spending that is set to wreck the nation’s economic future.…

It is only a matter of time before a potential enemy calculates that we have weakened ourselves to the point that it can roll the dice. If you think staying prepared for war is expensive, try getting caught up in one when unprepared.

(Jim Lacey is the professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College.)

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2012

It’s never entirely easy to distinguish between retrenchment and retreat.

For three years, the Obama administration has followed what it believes is a strategy of retrenchment—withdrawing from Iraq, setting a deadline for Afghanistan, calling off further expansion of NATO, signing arms-control treaties, asking the Europeans to take the lead in Libya, preferring sanctions to military strikes, and now slicing into the Pentagon’s budget—all on the commendable theory that America must learn once again to pick its spots, match its ambitions to its means, and pursue a “sustainable” foreign policy.

The only problem is, the theory is wrong. What the administration would like to have you believe is a matter of vision is seen by others as a function of weakness.

Consider the Strait of Hormuz, 2012 edition. The administration kicks the year off by imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil trade and persuading the Europeans to follow suit. The Iranians conduct military drills and warn the U.S. not to send an aircraft carrier back to the Persian Gulf. Then a potential diplomatic deus ex machina appears in the form of the USS Kidd’s high-profile rescue of some Iranian sailors from their pirate captors. Iran repays the gesture by sentencing to death 28-year-old Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, an American citizen of Iranian descent.

The lesson of this parable is that you don’t get more by doing less. The administration’s policy toward Iran amounts to avoiding direct confrontation at all costs on the view that the last thing the U.S. needs is another war in the Middle East. But the result is that Iran is more truculent than ever (and much closer to a bomb), while our allies are more skittish than ever about the strength of U.S. commitments. Sooner or later, the U.S. will have to prove the worth of those commitments in the face of an adversary that’s more likely to test them. How sustainable is that?

This scenario has been playing itself out with depressing regularity since Mr. Obama came to office. About Iraq, Hillary Clinton said in October that the U.S. would not tolerate Iranian meddling. Yet the likelihood that the promise will be tested is far greater now than when we had a residual force in the country, even as the prospective cost of honoring the promise has become almost unaffordable. About Afghanistan, we surged our forces but attached a deadline. The upshot is the U.S. expending itself on temporary triumphs over the Taliban as Pakistan waits and plans a pro-Taliban end game.

Or consider Mr. Obama’s favorite subject, nuclear proliferation. In April 2009, he gave a speech in Prague dreaming of a nuclear-free world. Almost immediately, North Korea tested a weapon, Pakistan expanded its arsenal, Iran moved ahead with its illicit programs, and China and Russia undertook extensive nuclear modernization schemes.

Now the president wants a retrenched military.… Unfortunately for the president, the tide of war does not ebb or flow according to his wishes—unless he refuses to meet any provocation with force as a matter of principle. Our financial disorders are not the result of excess military spending but of entitlement programs Mr. Obama refuses to touch and has done much to expand.… Today’s military has half as many ships and nearly 600,000 fewer active duty troops than it did at the end of the Cold War. Whatever else he’s doing, Mr. Obama is not taking his budget knife to a bloated force.

In the history of any great power, there is always a point when the downward trend becomes unmistakable and irreversible. For France it was 1940; for Britain 1947; for the Soviet Union 1989. A case may soon be made that for the European Union the year was 2011. It would be silly to suggest that the U.S. is anywhere near that type of inflection point. It has suffered no comparable military or economic disaster; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a sneeze compared to World War II.

The current vogue in declinism confuses the failures of (and disappointments in) an administration with the health of the country as a whole.… We will not husband our resources by spending less on defense: We’ll just squander the money elsewhere, probably less productively. We will not lessen tensions overseas by diminishing our military footprint: We’ll just create vacuums into which others rush and to which we’ll eventually return, at a cost.

That’s the Obama administration’s foreign policy legacy in a nutshell. Its failures…are becoming clearer by the day to U.S. allies and adversaries alike. Eventually Americans will get the picture, too.

P. David Hornik

Frontpage, January 17, 2012

Are Israel and the U.S. fighting again? Is the cancellation of a major joint U.S.-Israeli military drill part of the frictions? The news from the last several days gives that general impression.

Last Wednesday Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, director of uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, was assassinated in Tehran. Iran quickly blamed Israel and the U.S.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, hastened to “categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran.” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland added that the “United States strongly condemns this act of violence and categorically denies any involvement in the killing.…” For Israel it was a disconcerting message. If getting rid of someone helping a fanatic regime obtain weapons capable of annihilating millions of people is a “violent act” to be condemned, is the Obama administration really serious about the threat? Or still dreaming of dialogue and “understanding” with that regime?…

On Sunday Israeli deputy prime minister Moshe Yaalon complained publicly about U.S. policy. He compared it to Britain and France, who “are taking a very firm stand [on Iran] and understand sanctions must be imposed immediately”—whereas “In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-none, to impose…sanctions [against Iran’s Central Bank], yet the U.S. administration is hesitat[ing] for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations. In that regard, this is certainly a disappointment, for now.”

Not many hours after that, it was reported that the U.S.-Israeli military drill—which was to be the largest joint exercise ever between the two countries—had been postponed at least to sometime later this year. Originally planned for April, “Austere Challenge 12” was aimed at improving antimissile defense systems, as well as cooperation between U.S. and Israeli forces.

Whatever the impact of this development on the Israeli leadership, on Monday it was Netanyahu himself who continued in his deputy Yaalon’s vein, telling a Knesset committee that “The sanctions employed thus far are ineffective, they have no impact on [Iran’s] nuclear program. We need tough sanctions against [its] central bank and oil industry. These things are not happening yet and that is why it has no effect on the nuclear program.” He also said Iran had been quickly penetrating Iraq since the U.S. withdrew its forces, and that Israel, as a result, had to strengthen its defenses against possible attacks from the air and the ground.

In an atmosphere, then, of implicit and open accusations and counteraccusations, it is tempting to see the cancellation of “Austere Challenge 12” as a U.S. slap at Israel.…

[US] Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey is on the way to Israel this week to hold talks with the Israeli chief of staff and other top brass. It comes as no surprise, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the U.S. is increasingly worried about an Israeli strike on Iran.…


Last week, the Quartet issued yet another call for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks “without delay or preconditions”—its third such declaration since September 23—following separate meetings in Jerusalem with Palestinian and Israeli officials. The statement by the Quartet—made up of the US, EU, UN and Russia—stressed “the important objective of a direct exchange between the parties…beginning with a preparatory meeting and leading to the presentation of proposals on territory and security.”


True to form, the Palestinians summarily rejected the appeal. Conversely, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accepted the Quartet’s terms, reiterating Israel’s desire to “get to the damn table,” as US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta so eloquently put it.


The most recent attempt by the “international community” to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations comes on the heels of the reunification between Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, his Fatah party, and the Hamas terrorist organization. According to Abbas, “There are no more differences between [them] now.” Furthermore, a senior Palestinian official over the weekend confirmed the Palestinians would proceed with efforts to obtain a unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations, despite this constituting a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords.


Given these circumstances, it is difficult to envision a breakthrough of any sorts occurring in the near future. It seems the Palestinians once and for all have proven themselves unworthy “partners in peace.” However, as today’s Briefing shows, in the Mideast, everything depends on one’s definition of those words.


Sarah Honig

Jerusalem Magazine, December 16, 2011

On November 11, 1999, back when she was first lady, Hillary Clinton visited Gaza. She was graciously greeted by Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha, who spiritedly launched into a blood-libel diatribe.

None of this, incidentally, could be laid at the door of Binyamin Netanyahu’s demonic disrepute. Israel’s then-prime minister was Ehud Barak, whose electoral campaign was enthusiastically aided and abetted by Hillary’s own hubby. But contrary to conventional wisdom, it never really matters much who’s in power in Jerusalem. Israel is always the regional bogeyman. And so, back in the good old days of post-Oslo Labor rule, America’s first lady, self-satisfied and basking in ultra-liberal sanctimony, smiled contentedly as Suha railed in indignation: “Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.”

No way could Hillary claim to have gotten the wrong end of the stick. She listened via simultaneous translation to Suha’s prepared script, accusing Israel—in genuine medieval well-poisoning tradition—of resorting to all manner of noxious concoctions to kill Arab women and tots. Among its other sins, Hillary’s hostess charged, Israel deliberately contaminated with lethal toxins 80 percent of the water consumed by Palestinian females and infants.

Hillary listened to the calumny without a hint of displeasure. Indeed, she nodded approval from time to time, and when Suha concluded, Hillary embraced her warmly and planted affectionate kisses on her cheeks. Thus, the uninitiated onlooker may be forgiven for assuming that Suha listed irrefutable grievances and that her claims won at least the tacit corroboration of her American guest. Significantly, even after the bizarre scene ended, Clinton never bothered to dispel that impression. This, however, should have come as no shocker to anyone familiar with her record.

Going back to the earliest stirrings of Hillary’s public-life debut, she treated the PLO as a hip revolutionary liberation movement, rather than as spearheading an Arab war to destroy the Jewish state. When she chaired the New World Foundation in the ‘80s, she funneled finances to PLO subsidiaries. In 1998, she preceded Bill Clinton in unabashed advocacy of a Palestinian state.

So is it any surprise that, just as the Mideast is awash with reactionary Islamic-supremacist takeovers (cheered by the beguiled Free World as democratic uprisings), Secretary of State Clinton should choose to berate Israel’s treatment of women? Hardly.

She has certainly imbibed scraps of disjointed and tendentious information on our much-hyped in-house quarrels. Yet our boisterous debate, more than all else, attests to the vibrancy of our civil liberties rather than to their demise, as she disingenuously contended in her skewed monologue at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center.

Clinton likened Israel to Iran after harping on controversies at the extreme-most fringes of our society, making them look like the mainstream. She omitted to mention that the mainstream is diametrically different. That is rank distortion. The same goes for Clinton’s excoriation of legitimate Knesset legislative initiatives to limit the ability of foreign governments to derail our domestic democracy via financial largesse to various NGOs. All these outfits face is the loss of tax exemptions, which is hardly a mortal blow to freedom and certainly less than what the American law prescribes. But the truth, as was the case in Suha’s address, is immaterial—perhaps it’s altogether undesirable.

With doting chums like this secretary of state, it’s safe to deduce that we need no enemies in America’s corridors of power. But the really bad news is that pals like Hillary abound there. She is an authentic representative of her boss, President Barack Obama.

In his friendliest guise yet, he has just told Jewish campaign donors that he considers “no ally more important than the State of Israel” and that “Prime Minister Netanyahu knows he can count on the United States.… We will not abandon the pursuit of a just and lasting peace that will end the conflict.” Yep, we got the message: Obama wants money and votes. Electioneering begets lots of brotherly blarney, but the devil is in the details. What’s a “just” peace, and what does its “pursuit” denote?

The answers were furnished by Obama’s defense secretary, Leon Panetta, at the same forum in which Clinton tongue-lashed the Mideast’s lone democracy. If Clinton defamed our democratic deportment, Panetta acerbically scorned our survival strategies. Put in a nutshell, he blamed all regional ills on Israel.

The inescapable corollary is that justice can only be achieved by righting wayward Israel’s wrongs and winning concessions from it. Unambiguously placing the onus upon Israel, Panetta indeed urged Israel to take risks and “lean forward” to achieve peace with the Palestinians. Never mind that Israel had already taken risks aplenty—time after disastrous time—gaining nothing but more bloodshed and abuse for its sacrifices, while whetting appetites for yet more sacrifices.

What if our goodwill blows up in our faces yet again? “If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them,” Panetta pontificated. Subtext: Israel needs to bare its throat to genocidal enemies, so that the watching world would admire its virtue. One would think Panetta, a former CIA director, has just surfaced from a sealed bunker, entirely oblivious to repeated displays of Israeli virtue that only intensified Israel’s vilification.

We won’t be better liked for being weaker, and getting weaker won’t improve our self-preservation prospects. Yet weakening Israel is precisely the Obama administration’s definition for “just,” and consequently the “pursuit” of a just solution means twisting Israel’s arms. This begins with reading it the riot act.

That was plainly Panetta’s mission when he sternly warned against a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. That was plainly Panetta’s mission when pompously proposing that Israel “reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability—countries like Turkey and Egypt.” We might question how much stability has been furthered by Egypt and Turkey, but Panetta left no doubt regarding who’s liable for the busted fences. That was plainly Panetta’s mission when he suggested that Israel undermines the Palestinian Authority and is at fault for not restarting moribund negotiations with it. That was why he hectored: “Just get to the damn table.”

In the simplistic Obamaesque worldview, Israel is the irritant that predisposes the entire Arab/Muslim sphere against America. Israel is the figurative poison in the Mideastern well, much like the contaminants with which Suha insisted Israel literally polluted actual Palestinian wells.

Unfortunately (by their perception) Obama and crew can’t thoroughly disinfect the region from the Israeli venom. Even a faint trace of such sentiment would be politically super-stupid with elections in the offing. But Barack, Hillary and Leon can bully us while nonetheless posing as our bosom buddies. Of course, successive Israeli governments have well demonstrated that crude pressure from Oval Office patrons can be marketed as evidence of deep, abiding friendship.

Mona Charen

National Review, December 9, 2011

After a two-hour meeting in Cairo, Khaled Mashaal, unelected leader of Hamas, and Mahmoud Abbas, unelected leader of the Palestinian Authority, were all smiles. “We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything to do with the Palestinian nation,” Mashaal announced. “There are no more differences between us now,” agreed Abbas.

In other words, the “moderate” Abbas is now a full partner with the leader of an organization whose charter is committed not just to the destruction of Israel but to the elimination of all Jews everywhere. This is the same Abbas who forfeited whatever slim claim he held to moderate status by declining to accept Israel as a Jewish state, refusing to engage in direct negotiations with Israel (as recently as last week, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat declined a Quartet request to sit down with the Israelis), and flouting the Oslo accords by going to the United Nations to demand recognition. Now he is formally partnered with a genocidal Islamist organization. But the Obama administration thinks Israel is the problem.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 40 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections, while another 25 percent went to Salafi forces.… So two-thirds of the Egyptian electorate support candidates who will find Hamas utterly congenial. But the Obama administration is dismayed by Israel. In Syria, the regime’s brutal massacres of peaceful protesters continue. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said this week that “we are placing the [number of deaths at 5,000]. But the information coming to us is that it’s much more.” Guess who the Obama administration is angry at?

In Turkey, the Islamist party won a huge victory in June, permitting the government to crack down on opposition voices (jailing hundreds of critics) and move the once-Western-oriented Muslim country more firmly in the direction of an Islamist state. Turkey has also noisily supported Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and Islamists in other Muslim nations. Inexorably, Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons.

The Muslim world is in turmoil, with results that so far do not bode well for peace, democracy, or development. But what worries the Obama administration? Israel.

Twice in the past week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has declared that a military attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities would do more harm than good—a signal not just that the Obama administration (its promises never to permit an Iranian bomb notwithstanding) has no intention of using force to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but also that it seeks to prevent Israel from acting. Panetta also dispensed advice to Israel, snapping, “Get back to the damn table,” as if Israel, not the PA, were the party boycotting negotiations. It is Israel’s fault, the defense secretary implied, that the region is becoming ever more radicalized and that Israel’s formerly cordial relations with Egypt and Turkey are fraying. Repairing to the favorite expression of those with nothing on the line, Panetta demanded that Israel “take risks.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, too, managed to put a finger in the eye of the region’s lone enduring democracy. Speaking to a Brookings Institution gathering, Mrs. Clinton expressed dismay about Israel’s treatment of women. She had read a Washington Post column suggesting that some Israeli buses in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods were sex-segregated, forcing women to sit in the back. Clinton fumed that it reminded her of Rosa Parks and Iran. Mrs. Clinton failed to mention that the issue has already been litigated in Israel. The High Court has declared sex segregation illegal. But why acknowledge the workings of a vibrant democracy when you can posture about Rosa Parks?

In Belgium, Amb. Howard Gutman suggested that Arab anti-Semitism springs from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He later insisted his comments were “taken the wrong way.”

Speaking to potential Jewish donors, President Obama preened, “I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more for the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration.” Both clauses of that sentence are priceless.

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, December 18, 2011

There is a constant effort—especially by the anti-Israel Left (and also by its anti- Semitic portions) to portray those who express mainstream public and professional Israeli views as “right-wing” or “Likudnik.” This leads me to wonder what one would have to say to please these people. What would be centrist? What would be the equivalent of “liberal?”

I presume one would have to say that US President Barack Obama is the best American president for Israel ever (even he says so!), and that there are no problems in the US-Israel relationship. Furthermore, even if there were to be problems, they would be entirely due to the Israeli government’s selfish, short-sighted and unreasonable intransigence.

To them, the only acceptable liberal view would state that peace with the Palestinians could be achieved within a few months if only Israel would make a few more concessions and stop being so belligerent and stubborn. The Palestinian Authority wouldn’t even have to change any of its policies, wouldn’t have to stop anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement or admit openly, clearly and in Arabic that the Jews have a right to an independent country in the historic land of Israel, nor would the Palestinians be required to negotiate or compromise. Israelis should never talk about these things.

I suppose the only acceptable liberal view is that the PA sincerely wants peace, and if given the West Bank plus a corridor to the Gaza Strip and all of east Jerusalem it would be a reliable partner and keep all of its commitments. In exchange for a peace agreement, Israel should withdraw to the 1967 borders with minor modifications and dismantle all settlements. But to ask for recognition by the PA of Israel as a Jewish state, prior agreement to resettle all Palestinian refugees in Palestine (or where they are living now), and demilitarization are unreasonable demands and should be dropped because these demands only block peace.

If all the above were to happen, the liberal view must be that the Middle East would become quiet and peaceful. Islamists would either become moderate or lose support. Terrorism against the West would cease and America would be very popular. Nor is the PA-Hamas partnership really a problem, because once there is a peace agreement, Hamas will give up its goal of wiping Israel off the map and there will be no more rocket, mortar, or cross-border attacks. But if Hamas does attack Israel from the Gaza Strip then Israel shouldn’t retaliate since to do so would inevitably involve disproportionate force and hurt Palestinian civilians.

The failure of Western countries to keep their commitments to Israel in 2006 to keep Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon and stop arms smuggling is unimportant, and Israel should not mention it. That fact is unimportant and should not influence Israel’s thinking or actions, and neither should the experiences of the 1990s peace process and 2000 Camp David meeting.

As for Islamist takeovers in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Israel really has nothing to fear. The Muslim Brotherhood is really moderate, and Israel should stop talking about a supposed threat from these groups. It is up to Israel to patch up relations with Egypt and it should not be concerned about cross-border terrorist attacks, repeated assaults on the natural gas pipeline or the government-permitted mob takeover of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Perhaps Israel should agree to renegotiate the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.

Same with regard to Turkey. Israel should apologize to Ankara for letting IDF soldiers defend themselves after being attacked by jihadi terrorists on the Mavi Marmara. It should pay compensation to the families of the attackers and allow the whole-scale import of advanced weaponry to the Gaza Strip. The collapse of the Israel-Turkey relationship was completely Israel’s fault.

Israel should give up any option of attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons’ facilities at any time, not only now to prevent Tehran from getting such weapons but presumably in the future as well if there is a perceived threat from Iran. Instead, Israel should depend on US protection. If Iran hits Israel with nuclear weapons, the United States will then (probably?) retaliate.

I honestly don’t think I’ve exaggerated the attitudes of American and European leftists (including many Jews) about “proper” Israeli policy. Strangely, I don’t see the Kadima or Labor parties adopting such a program. It would be amusing to survey random Israeli pedestrians on the street in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem about what they think of the “liberal” plan for Israel.

As always, since the mainstream Western media generally does not allow a real response to the ridiculousness of the program for Israel it so often advocates you won’t be reading any of the points made above there. People will just be left to believe that the current government is just unreasonably reactionary; that most Israelis support Obama (or that they deserve what they get if they don’t); and that the region would be just fine if only Israel would let the American far-Left choose its government. Indeed, if any left-wing blog mentions this article it will only be to brand it “right-wing.”

George Jonas
National Post, November 26, 2011

It was four years ago that the last White House-sponsored Middle East peace conference was held at Annapolis, Maryland, on Nov. 27, 2007. It produced smiles and hugs, along with joint communiqués. The closest friends don’t hug half as much as mortal enemies do at international gatherings. If counterfeiting affection were a crime, three-quarters of the diplomatic corps would be in jail.

Still, perhaps the most refreshing thing about the Annapolis peace conference was that it was almost illusion-free. Unlike Madrid, Oslo, Wye River and similar chimeras conjured up under the optimistic tutelage of U.S. presidents…no one expected anything from Annapolis: Not the Americans convening it, not the Middle Easterners observing it and certainly not the Palestinians and Israelis sitting around a U-shaped table in a frescoed hall underneath the chandeliers of the U.S. Naval Academy.

In 2007 most people saw a factor that only a few noticed in the 1980s and 1990s. For peace-negotiations to succeed, it’s not enough for both sides to want peace in the abstract. They must also ascribe the same meaning to the term—and the two sides in the Middle East do not. Israel wants peace and so does the Arab/Muslim world, but Israel wants peace with the Arab/Muslim world and the Arab/Muslim world wants peace without Israel.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many people failed to see what seemed self-evident to a few, namely that for the Palestinian leadership the “peace-process” was a mere ruse de guerre. When the late Yasser Arafat stepped unto the world’s stage, he made no bones about it at first. “The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle,” he had told the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci in 1972. “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.…”

Around the time of Annapolis, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, one-time Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky described an episode when, as an Israeli delegate to the Wye River summit, he and some colleagues managed to extract a promise from Arafat to delete from the Palestinian Charter the sections calling for the destruction of Israel.

“Upon leaving the conference room,” Sharansky recalled in his piece, “we saw one of the closest advisors of president Bill Clinton and proudly told him about our achievement. ‘Are you out of your minds?’ he shouted. ‘He’s going to be killed because of that. He is too weak for dramatic steps like that. First he has to be strengthened!’” This anecdote sums up the charade of sham peace initiatives and “road maps” of the last 20 years, up to and including Annapolis.

To begin with, Arafat probably had no intention of excising any section calling for Israel’s destruction from the Palestinian Charter anyway. He had made half-hearted promises to do so long before Wye River and nothing came of them. He knew that understanding souls in the U.S. State Department would exempt him from having to go out on any such limb until he was suitably “strengthened.” But—and here’s the point—in the unlikely event that Arafat had actually made an attempt to remove the clause, he might well have been killed, just like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.

I’ll go further and suggest that if Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, the ex-strongman of Egypt, is put to death now that he had been deposed by the much vaunted Arab Spring, he will die at least in part for having honoured his predecessor’s peace treaty with Israel. Minimally, in the eyes of his judges it will weigh against him as heavily as any of his misdeeds.

Throughout his career, Arafat was prepared to accept down payments from Israel on merchandise he had not only no intention of delivering, but which wasn’t his to deliver anyway. Arafat had no title to peace. Neither had Israel’s negotiating partner at Annapolis, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud “Abu Mazen” Abbas. If anything, Abbas’ grip on peace had been even more tenuous all along. Hamas, the terrorist group that controlled Gaza by 2007, had immediately scheduled a “counter-conference” to protest Palestinian attendance at Annapolis, which they described as “treason.”

Forget the smiles, the hugs, the photo ops. They secure Nobel Peace Prizes for politicians, not peace for people. The region wasn’t ready for peace in Arafat’s days and it isn’t ready now. A minority saw it then; a majority sees it today. Paradoxically, if there’s any hope, it’s only because majorities are so often wrong.


Quizz sur la «Palestine»

primo-info.eu, 8 décembre 2011

Prenez plaisir à répondre à ce quizz concernant la démographie, les conditions de vie et l'histoire du peuple palestinien… et testez vos connaissances avec les réponses fournies à la fin du Communiqué…:




1.) Classez ces pays en fonction de l'espérance de vie (taux le plus long, selon vous, en premier):


Brésil – Turquie – Égypte – Gaza – Russie – moyenne mondiale


2.) Classez ces conflits (depuis 1950) en termes de nombre de victimes:


Birmanie/Myanmar – Russie/Tchétchénie – conflit israélo/arabe –
Zimbabwe (troubles civils) – Révolution iranienne –
répression des Kurdes (Turquie, Irak, Iran) – guerres civiles au Soudan


3.) Combien de Palestiniens ont été traités dans les hôpitaux israéliens en 2010?


Aucun – 180 – 1.800 – 18.000 – 180.000


4.) Classez ces pays selon leur taux de croissance économique (PIB, chiffres de 2009)


Australie – Allemagne – Israël – Égypte – Territoires palestiniens – Hong Kong – Brésil


5.) Combien d'électricité est fournie par Israël à Gaza?


Aucune – 10% – 33% – 50% – 70%


6.) Depuis qu'Arafat a lancé la 2ème Intifada contre Israël, la dernière décennie a été de loin la plus coûteuse en vies palestiniennes de toute l'histoire israélo-palestinienne. Combien de Palestiniens sont morts dans ce conflit depuis 2000?


Moins de 10.000 – 10.000/20.000 – 20.000/30.000 – 30.000/40.000 – soit plus de 40.000


7.) Dans la Seconde Intifada contre Israël, combien de Palestiniens ont été tués par d'autres Palestiniens (appelons-le «Intra-fada»…)?


70 – 170 – 370 – 570 – plus


(Les réponses sont fournies à la fin du Communiqué…)


Leadership du Bloc:
la candidate Maria Mourani entre l’incompétence
et la complaisance à l’égard des islamistes
pointdebasculecanada.ca, 6 décembre 2011

 Après que le National Post (19 novembre 2011) ait révélé le double emploi de l’ex-ministre Philippe Couillard comme membre du Comité de surveillance des activités d’espionnage du SCRS et comme consultant pour l’Arabie saoudite, Maria Mourani a dénoncé la situation et enjoint l’ex-ministre de choisir entre ses deux positions.


Il était légitime que madame Mourani s’objecte au double emploi du Dr. Couillard d’autant plus qu’elle est la critique de son parti en matière de sécurité publique. Cependant, quand on constate les relations qu’elle-même entretient avec des puissances étrangères, on peut difficilement croire que son intervention ait été motivée par la sécurité du Canada.


À l’occasion de la campagne au leadership du Bloc Québécois qui doit se conclure par l’élection d’un nouveau chef le 11 décembre 2011, Point de Bascule revient sur certaines des prises de position passées de la candidate au leadership Maria Mourani. Selon nous, ces positions témoignent au mieux de son incompétence et au pire de sa complaisance envers les islamistes.


Le 22 juin 2010, le directeur du SCRS, Richard Fadden, mentionna à la CBC que des politiciens canadiens sont sous l’emprise de gouvernements étrangers. Le 26 juin, Maria Mourani exigea la démission de M. Fadden dans un communiqué de presse après l’avoir accusé «de semer le doute sur la probité et l’intégrité de nombre d‘élus et (de)
cré(er) un climat malsain de suspicion et une paranoïa populaire, notamment à l‘égard d‘élus d’origine étrangère».


À l’époque, Richard Fadden avait laissé entendre que la Chine cherchait activement à influencer les politiciens canadiens. En septembre 2011, les médias canadiens révélèrent que le secrétaire parlementaire du ministre des Affaires étrangères, Bob Dechert, et une journaliste de l’agence de presse officielle chinoise Xinhua basée à Ottawa avaient échangé des messages amoureux par courriel. La journaliste chinoise fut rappelée en Chine dès que l’affaire fut rendue publique. Invité à commenter, un ancien espion chinois réfugié aux États-Unis déclara au Globe and Mail (30 novembre 2011) qu’il était fréquent que la Chine utilise des journalistes pour influencer des politiciens de haut rang ou obtenir des informations de leur part. L’ancien espion ne put cependant pas confirmer si c’était bien le cas cette fois-ci.


Dans cet article, Point de Bascule revient sur certaines des positions passées de Maria Mourani à l’égard des islamistes:


9 mars 2006– Maria Mourani invite les représentants de huit pays membres de l’Organisation de la coopération islamique à assister à son assermentation comme députée à Ottawa. Elle leur déclare: «Je serai à votre écoute». En 2010, Madame Mourani a décrit comme «parfaitement normal» que des députés canadiens répondent ainsi aux demandes de représentants de puissances étrangères;


17-24 août 2006– Lors d’un voyage au Liban financé par le Conseil national des relations canado-arabes, Maria Mourani accuse Israël d’avoir commis des crimes de guerre au Liban. Plus tard, elle se rétracte;


Février 2009– Maria Mourani fait parvenir un courriel à tous ses collègues députés à Ottawa qui contient de nombreux liens vers des sites glorifiant les attentats-suicide et le jihad. Plus tard, elle dira qu’elle n’avait pas pris connaissance des vidéos qu’elle suggérait à ses collègues de visionner;


11-18 février 2010– Maria Mourani voyage en Turquie aux frais de l’ambassade turque et du gouvernement de la Turquie qui soutient ouvertement le Hamas. Madame Mourani a également participé à d’autres activités commanditées par le gouvernement turc au Canada;


2 novembre 2011– Maria Mourani dénature le crime d’honneur et le présente comme un équivalent aux meurtres qui surviennent dans un contexte familial non-musulman en Occident. Madame Mourani passe sous silence le fait que le crime d’honneur est endossé par la charia et que le meurtrier profite de la complicité de sa famille et du silence de sa communauté, ce qui n’est généralement pas le cas dans les autres cas de meurtres en milieu familial auxquels elle fait référence. (…)


(Lisez la suite de l’article au: http://pointdebasculecanada.ca/articles/10002520-leadership-du-bloc-la-candidate-maria-mourani-entre-l’incompétence-et-la-complaisance-à-l’égard-des-islamistes.html)

Analogie entre Somaliens et Palestiniens:
l’ombudsman de Radio-Canada conclut à une inexactitude

David Ouellette
davidouellette.net, 6 décembre 2011

L’ombudsman de Radio-Canada Pierre Tourangeau a conclu que «dans sa comparaison entre réfugiés somaliens et réfugiés palestiniens, la journaliste [Sophie Langlois] a enfreint la valeur d’exactitude en affirmant que tous les réfugiés palestiniens, plutôt qu’une minorité d’entre eux, n’ont pas le droit de travailler et dépendent de l’aide internationale… Exception faite de cet accroc», poursuit l’ombudsman, «l’échange entre la journaliste et l’animatrice du Téléjournal respecte les Normes et pratiques journalistiques de Radio-Canada».


Le 7 septembre dernier, le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes avait déposé une plainte auprès de l’ombudsman en raison du parallèle que Sophie Langlois avait établi entre les Somaliens menacés de famine et les Palestiniens. La correspondante de Radio-Canada avait déclaré que «les Somaliens sont en train de devenir les Palestiniens de l’Afrique, des réfugiés permanents dans une ville étrangère où ils n’ont pas le droit de travailler, ce qui fait qu’ils sont forcément dépendants de l’aide, de l’aide internationale (…)».


Notre plainte soutenait que «l’insensée assimilation des conditions de vie des Somaliens à celles des Palestiniens contribue à banaliser l’ampleur de la tragédie humaine qui frappe les populations de la Corne de l’Afrique et à dramatiser indûment et à outrance les conditions de vie des réfugiés palestiniens ».


Notre plainte démontrait aussi que les conditions de vie des réfugiés des Palestiniens décrites par Sophie Langlois étaient non seulement erronées, mais qu’elles ne se prêtaient à aucune analogie avec le sort des réfugiés somaliens. Nous soutenions, en conclusion, que la journaliste avait émis une opinion «purement subjective» et que son commentaire contrevenait aux Normes et pratiques journalistiques de Radio-Canada sur le plan de l’exactitude de l’information et de l’expression d’opinions personnelles.


L’ombudsman juge que le commentaire de la journaliste était inexact dans la mesure où tous les réfugiés palestiniens ne sont pas dépendants de l’aide internationale ou interdits de travail, mais ne considère pas que la journaliste a émis une opinion personnelle. Le Centre entend continuer de demander à Radio-Canada que son traitement d’Israël et du conflit israélo-arabe soit plus rigoureux dans le respect de ses Normes et pratiques journalistiques

Plus guère un allié
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, 6 décembre 2011

Version originale anglaise: Our World: An ally no more

Adaptation française: Sentinelle 5772 ©

 Au lieu de mettre en garde l'Égypte contre une rupture de son traité avec l'État juif, les officiels des USA choisissent de critiquer Israël.


Avec le décompte des votes pour le premier tour des élections parlementaires en Égypte, il est assez clair que l'Égypte est sur la voie rapide d'un État islamique totalitaire. Le premier tour des élections a eu lieu dans les villes cosmopolites les plus libérales d'Égypte. Et pourtant les 'Frères Musulmans' et les salafistes ont recueilli plus de 60% des suffrages. Le scrutin pour 52 autres sièges augmentera leur représentation selon les estimations. Puis dans le mois à venir, les électeurs égyptiens dans le Delta du Nil et le Sinaï bien plus islamistes, apporteront sans aucun doute les forces de l'islam jihadiste avec une plus grande marge de victoire.


Jusqu'au renversement d'Hosni Moubarak soutenu par les USA, l'Égypte servait d'ancre au système d'alliance américain dans le monde arabe. L'armée égyptienne est armée par les USA, formée par les USA, et financée par les USA. Le Canal de Suez est l'une des voies d'eau vitales pour la marine américaine et l'économie mondiale. Grâce à l'engagement de Moubarak à contenir la marée des forces jihadistes qui menaçaient son régime, sous sa férule, l'Égypte servait de centre anti-terroriste majeur dans la guerre menée par les USA contre le jihad international.


Avec l'importance singulière de l'Égypte pour les intérêts stratégiques des USA dans le monde arabe, la réponse du gouvernement Obama aux résultats calamiteux de l'élection a été choquante. Plutôt que de faire sonner les alarmes, le président américain Barack Obama a fêté les résultats comme une victoire pour «la démocratie». Plutôt que de mettre en garde l'Égypte vis-à-vis des conséquences sévères qu'elle affrontera si elle achève sa transformation islamiste, le gouvernement Obama a retourné ses armes contre le premier pays à payer le prix de la révolution islamique en Égypte: Israël.


S'adressant au conclave annuel de stratégie politique à Washington parrainé par le Saban Center pour la Politique au Moyen Orient de l'Institut Brookings orienté à Gauche, le secrétaire américain à la Défense Leon Panetta et la secrétaire d'État Hillary Clinton ont tapé à coups redoublés sur Israël, le seul véritable allié que les USA ont conservé au Moyen Orient après la chute de Moubarak. Clinton a senti la nécessité – au nom de la démocratie – d'adopter les positions de la Gauche radicale d'Israël contre la majorité des Israéliens.


La même secrétaire d'État qui a proclamé des négociations avec les Talibans violents et misogynes fanatiques; qui a chanté les louanges de l'Arabie saoudite où les femmes reçoivent dix coups de fouet pour se permettre de conduire, et dont le département d'État a formé des agents parmi les 'Frères Musulmans' qui haïssent les femmes pour conduire les élections actuelles en Égypte, elle a accusé Israël d'opprimer le droit des femmes. Le seul État de la région où les femmes ont la plénitude des droits et des protections légales est devenu le cœur de la vertueuse rage féministe de Clinton.  (…) 

Wiesel annonce un livre prouvant la négation du droit d'Israël à exister
par les Palestiniens
Naama Rehoboam
Guysen.com, 7 décembre 2011

 Deux auteurs révèlent les moyens qu’emploie l'Autorité palestinienne pour diffuser des messages de haine envers l’État Juif et afin de saper le processus de paix avec Israël.


Lors d’une apparition publique mardi 6 décembre, le lauréat du prix Nobel de la Paix, Elie Wiesel, et le fondateur de Human Rights Watch, Bob Bernstein, ont annoncé la publication d'un ouvrage exposant une année de diffusion médiatique dans l'Autorité palestinienne. Celui-ci montre que presque tous les messages diabolisent Israël, tout en niant son droit d’exister.


Deception: Betraying the Peace Process, par Itamar Marcus et Nan Jacques Zilberdik, analyse les sources médiatiques qui diffusent des messages de haine pour le compte de l’Autorité palestinienne afin de saper le processus de paix avec Israël. En mai 2010, I. Marcus et J. Zilberdik ont ​​commencé leur examen en profondeur des supports approuvés par l’Autorité palestinienne (AP), afin de déterminer comment l'AP a répondu à ses engagements face au Quartet d’encourager la non-violence, de reconnaître l'État juif d'Israël, et de l'accepter comme un partenaire pour la paix.


Après avoir examiné un large éventail de magazines et de documents culturels pendant une année complète, la conclusion est la suivante: les messages diffusés directement ou indirectement par l'Autorité palestinienne reflètent «une abrogation totale des engagements pris vis à vis de la population», a déclaré I. Marcus. Le livre détaille des centaines d'exemples de sources culturelles, éducatives et médiatiques visant à promouvoir des messages de haine chez les Palestiniens et à saper le processus de paix avec Israël. Il catalogue et contextualise les nombreuses politiques de l'AP pour glorifier le terrorisme et diaboliser les Israéliens et les Juifs, tout en rejetant le droit d'Israël à exister.


Même dans des contextes banals tels que des pages sportives, I. Marcus confie que l’on peut faire référence à Israël, sans évoquer Israël mais une «patrie qui est occupée». Autrement dit, l'intégralité d'Israël, et pas seulement la Judée-Samarie et la bande de Gaza. Fréquemment, I. Marcus l'a souligné, toutes les villes et sites israéliens sont considérés comme palestiniens, soit sur papier ou à la télévision, y compris dans les programmes éducatifs conçus pour les enfants. Marcus a néanmoins précisé que le livre distingue bien ceux qui nient l'existence d'Israël de ceux qui nient son droit à exister entièrement, tel que le montrent ceux qui se réfèrent à Haïfa, Tibériade et Jaffa, comme des «villes palestiniennes».


«Il y a une ignorance de la presse occidentale sur ce qui est en train de se passer. Ils ne lisent pas l'arabe», explique Bob Bernstein. «Tout aussi troublant, ajoute I. Marcus, est la diabolisation répétée d'Israël, en assimilant les Israéliens aux nazis et en alléguant qu'Israël a empoisonné Yasser Arafat. Cette diabolisation se produit également lorsque les kamikazes sont glorifiés, ayant même des stades, des tournois et des places de la ville à leur nom».


«Des discours de haine parrainés par le gouvernement sont incompatibles avec la paix», souligne Bob Bernstein. «Sauf si l'AP arrête de présenter les terroristes comme des modèles à suivre, ainsi que les Juifs et les Israéliens comme intrinsèquement mauvais, et à moins qu'elle cesse d'éduquer son peuple à imaginer un monde sans Israël, il n'y a aucune chance de parvenir à une paix authentique», a déclaré J. Zilberdik dans un communiqué.


I. Marcus espère remettre son livre dans les mains de tous les membres du Congrès américain ainsi que des parlementaires européens, «afin que les législateurs sachent à quoi sert l’aide qu’ils versent aux Palestiniens… L’objectif est que la diffusion de ces informations constitue une première étape vers un véritable changement», a conclu I. Marcus. 



1.) Classez ces pays en fonction de l'espérance de vie (taux le plus long en premier):


i) la bande de Gaza – 73,4 années

ii) en Égypte – 72

iii) le Brésil – 72

iv) la Turquie – 72

v) la moyenne mondiale – 66,6

vi) la Russie – 66


Vous pouvez donc vous attendre à profiter de… 16 mois supplémentaires si vous êtes né du côté de Gaza que si vous êtes né côté égyptien! La moyenne en Cisjordanie palestinienne monte à 74,5 … ce qui pourrait bien être expliqué en partie par la question 3. Et étant donné que le taux de Gaza est supérieur à la moyenne Turque, les flottilles «humanitaires» devraient sans doute faire cap …dans la direction opposée!


2.) Classez ces conflits (depuis 1950) en termes de nombre de victimes.


i) les guerres civiles au Soudan – 1,9 millions de victimes

ii) la répression des Kurdes – 300.000

iii) Russie-Tchétchénie – 140.000

iv) Birmanie / Myanmar – 130.000

v) révolution iranienne – 80.000

vi) au Zimbabwe – 60.000

vii) le conflit israélo-arabe 52.000


En fait, le conflit israélo-arabe arrive 49e sur la liste des conflits les plus meurtriers de ces 60 dernières années, dont bon nombre sont, honteusement, complètement oubliés … ou ignorés par la presse occidentale.


3.) Combien de Palestiniens ont été traités dans les hôpitaux israéliens en 2010?


v) 180 000


Il s'agit notamment des milliers de patients de Gaza, en dépit des attaques constantes du Hamas sur les citoyens israéliens. Les hôpitaux israéliens seraient en mesure de traiter beaucoup plus de Palestiniens si la sécurité n'était pas un problème. Avant l'Intifada de 2000, tout Palestinien pouvait librement arriver à un hôpital israélien pour y être traité.


4.) Classez ces pays selon leur taux de croissance économique (PIB, chiffres de 2009)


i) les Territoires palestiniens (8%)

ii) le Brésil (7,5%)

iii) Hong Kong (6,8%)

iv) l'Égypte (5,1%)

v) Israël (4,6%)

vi) l'Allemagne (3,5%)

vii) l'Australie (2,7%)


Après la dépression économique qui a accompagné l'Intifada contre Israël, et conduit à la construction de la barrière de sécurité pour protéger les Israéliens contre les agressions terroristes afin de rétablir la sécurité en Cisjordanie, les perspectives sont très prometteuses pour l'économie palestinienne.


5.) Combien d'électricité est fournie par Israël à Gaza?


v) 70%


Israël fournit plus de 70% d'électricité à Gaza, l'Égypte fournit un «généreux» …5%, les 25% restants provenant d'exploitations isolées autour et au sein de la Bande.


6.) Depuis qu'Arafat a lancé sa guerre d'Intifada contre les Israéliens, cette dernière décennie a été de loin la plus coûteuse en vies palestiniennes dans l'histoire israélo-palestinienne : combien de Palestiniens sont morts dans ce conflit depuis 2000?


i) Moins de 10 000 : environ 6000, combattants et non-combattants.


Pour mettre en perspective: 20 000 morts en 1 mois lors du conflit au Sri Lanka (2009)Entre 50.000 et 70.000 morts au cours de la même décennie en Tchétchénie, alors que 35.000 personnes perdent la vie lors des guerres de la drogue au Mexique depuis 2005…


7.) Dans la Seconde Intifada contre Israël, combien de Palestiniens ont été tués par d'autres Palestiniens («Intra-fada»)?


v) 570


Ou, plus précisément, 557 selon l'ONG israélienne B'Tselem. Pour une raison quelconque, peu – sinon aucune – des protestations internationales n'ont été entendues sur ces assassinats inter- Palestiniens.




6-7: félicitations, vous êtes bien informés! Continuez à mieux connaître les mythes et réalités autour du conflit israélo-arabe.


3-5: Vous croyez souvent aveuglément à la couverture des médias traditionnels sur le conflit israélo-palestinien… pourquoi ne pas suivre les sources d'information israéliennes (il en existe maintenant en langue française) de temps en temps?


0-2: Vous avez probablement pris les grands quotidiens français pour des journaux sérieux… Votre déception doit être grande!


Frederick Krantz

The Arab world is in turmoil, as the high promise of the “Arab spring” is everywhere descending—from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to (soon) Syria—into the triumph of the Islamists and Muslim Brothers. And meanwhile Abbas and the PA, rejecting negotiations with Israel and recognition of it as a Jewish state, continue their unilateral drive for UN recognition and seek to unite with Gaza’s overtly terrorist and rejectionist Hamas rulers.

Yet precisely at this moment of both great clarity and great peril for Israel, one further radicalized by Iran’s looming achievement of a nuclear weapon, the new American Secretary of Defense, Leon E. Panetta, angrily advises threatened Israel, America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East: “Get to the damn table!”

This is an expression of utter and final Administration bankruptcy, the absolute nadir of Obama’s failed Middle East foreign policy. Obama has—repeatedly and willfully ignoring all the evident realities—consistently disregarded Israel’s situation and instead played to the Muslim regimes and public. This failure runs from the outright lies of Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech to the precipitate abandonment of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak, from the failed efforts to negotiate with the Iranian mullahs to the (related) ignoring and abandonment of the Iranian people’s protest movement, and from the repeated attempts to appease the Syrian dictator to America’s muted response as he murders his own protesting citizens.

And now—in the face of the sustained refusal of Abbas to sit down with Israel, his vicious rejection of Israel’s historical claims in his specious UN speech, his attempt to reunite with a movement even Obama’s own government considers terrorist—what is America’s advice? A repetition of the old, stale, failed “two states living side by side in peace” mantra (rejected by Abbas), an assertion of Israel’s growing regional “isolation” clearly (and wrongly) implying it is Israel’s fault, and an angry injunction to sit down with those whose refusal of negotiations expresses a rejection of Israel’s very legitimacy.

If the U.S. had a parliamentary system, the Republicans would, pointing to his long record of Middle East incompetence and failure, no doubt be moving a non-confidence vote in President Obama, his Secretaries of State and Defense, and his government. As it is, Senate and House Foreign Affairs committees should demand that Panetta (and Hilary Clinton) appear at hearings on Obama’s failed Middle East policy, and the next Republican Presidential candidates’ debate should focus on this latest stunning example of Administrative incompetence and/or hostility.

Panetta’s deplorable remarks also indicate that it is high time that Jewish organizations go into high gear to point out that Israel faces not only an aggressive and untrustworthy Palestinian non-partner in the so-called “peace process”, and not only a rapidly deteriorating regional framework (cf. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Iran), but also an objectively unfriendly U.S. Administration. Panetta and his friends seem unable, or unwilling, to grasp that, post-Mubarak, the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt—the key cornerstone since 1979 of Middle East stability—is gravely imperiled, and that, given Teheran’s functionally unimpeded nuclear drive, Israel’s very existence is threatened.

This politically tin-eared, morally blind, and politically passive (if not paralyzed) Administration, ideologically frozen into political and diplomatic immobility, cannot, and will not, change. The only remedy now for the deep harm, and great danger, its anti-Israel Middle East policy has created is to do everything possible to make sure that a Republican  President and Administration occupies the White House after November, 2012.

(Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,
and editor of
CIJR’s Daily Isranet Briefing, ISRAFAX journal, and Blog.)


Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2011

In recent days, there has been a truly frightening articulation of the US administration’s perception of Israel vis-à-vis the Muslim world. [Last] Friday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta essentially blamed Israel for its own “increasing isolation,” urging the Jewish state to reach out to its neighbors.

He suggested that Israel make diplomatic inroads with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly Islamist and anti-Israel Turkey, and vulnerable Jordan, a country whose leadership—for the sake of self-preservation—has been making concessions to its own Muslim Brotherhood. And when asked at the end of his speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington what operative steps Israel could make to advance negotiations with the Palestinians, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”

In other words, the clearly exasperated Panetta believes that if only stubborn Israel would make more concessions to the Palestinians, regional animosity toward Israel would miraculously evaporate after decades of incitement.

Just two days before Panetta made his disturbing comments, US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, basically blamed Israel for Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe.…

First, [Gutman] noted the “significant anger” and “yes, perhaps hatred and indeed sometimes an all too growing intimidation and violence directed at Jews generally as a result of the continuing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories and other Arab neighbors in the Middle East.” But instead of denouncing Muslims who attack European Jews because Israel stubbornly insists on defending itself…Gutman attempted to understand these outbursts of violence as a legitimate reaction and, therefore, fundamentally different from “traditional” forms of anti-Semitism.

Though one man was talking about Muslim perceptions in Europe and the other focused on Muslim political leadership in the region, both Panetta and Gutman had one thing in common: a maddening insistence on mixing up cause and effect.

No, Mr. Panetta, Israel’s isolation has not deepened as a result of anything that it has done (besides existing). In Turkey, in the Gaza Strip, in Tunisia and now in Egypt, governments have been voted into power—in democratic elections—that have, or soon will, pursue foreign policies exceedingly antagonistic toward the Jewish state. After all, what interest would any Arab country in the region have in strengthening ties with Israel at a time when its citizens, given the chance to choose, are expressing a distinct preference for a particularly fundamentalist, illiberal and anti-Western—not to mention anti-Israel and anti-Semitic—strain of Islamic leadership?

What Panetta should have said—and didn’t—was that in light of the increasing hostility directed toward Israel by an increasing number of Muslim states in the region, the US reaffirms its commitment to Israel’s security. And Mr. Gutman, the hundreds of attacks on innocent European Jews perpetrated by Muslims purportedly in response to Israel’s settlement policy in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria or in response to its attempts to defend itself through military means are no less irrational than any other type of anti-Semitism.

Just as Jews such as Gutman’s father were not responsible for the sort of anti-Semitism directed at them during the Holocaust, so, too, is it unfair to point to Israeli policies as triggering Muslim violence against European Jews.…

The sorts of views held by Gutman and Panetta are, unfortunately, not uncommon. But it is more than just unfortunate when these views are held by men who have a critical influence on US foreign policy. It is downright scary, especially in light of Israel’s growing need for American support as radical changes sweep the region.

Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, December 3, 2011

…In a major address on U.S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama administration’s view of the region.… We now know the following regarding Obama’s policy: It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstands the Middle East.…

In his speech, Panetta bashed Israel based on a ridiculously false premise. Here it is: “I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.… The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences.”

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe the Middle East events of 2011, “Arab Awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.” This apparently comes from the title of a new book about these events. But what is the origin of this phrase? The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation and existence. Might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do?… Within two years of Antonius’s book, the form the Arab Awakening took was an alliance with Nazi Germany. One of the main allies of Berlin was the Muslim Brotherhood, now coming into power in Tunisia and Egypt.

Interesting parallels. But there are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does: By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International. The changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map. Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.

Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true? The answer is as follows:

–Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even more extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt), the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them? We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism.

–The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction. They will not be dissuaded by a peace agreement. They will do anything possible—starting with demagoguery and ending with terrorism or even war—to block such a diplomatic solution. How can Israeli action reconcile those who don’t want peace?

–Not only is the United States not opposing this development; it is supporting it. In other words, U.S. policy is intensifying the threat to Israel, not helping Israel.

Third, why are there no negotiations? As the history of the issue since January 2009 shows, it is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel. If Panetta and the Obama administration were either wise or honest they would acknowledge this fact. Instead, they blame Israel.… Consider Panetta’s statement: “I believe security is dependent on a strong military but it is also dependent on strong diplomacy. And unfortunately, over the past year, we’ve seen Israel’s isolation from its traditional security partners in the region grow.”

But why has it grown? Because of the advance of Islamist radical regimes and movements which are not tolerant of Israel’s security needs or in fact of Israel’s existence.… [Yet] Panetta’s suggestion…is that Israel should mend relations with such “traditional security partners.” Specifically, he stated, “Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability—countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan.”

That statement is false. Israel can’t reach out and mend fences with Turkey and Egypt because they do not share an interest in regional stability.… They are countries that want revolutionary change in the Middle East. And this claim takes on special irony since Israel must now not just mend the fence but build an entirely new fence to protect itself from cross-border attacks from Egypt. [Also], Turkey today is not the Turkey of the past. Israel had good relations with Turkey when it was governed by center-right or social democratic parties. Today Turkey is governed by Islamists who hate Israel. Doesn’t Panetta understand the difference? No! Now that’s scary.

Here’s the truth: Under the Obama administration, the Islamist regime in Turkey has replaced Israel as America’s number-one Middle East friend and advisor. And this is a government about which a half-dozen years ago Israel’s ambassador told an American counterpart (as we see on Wikileaks) that this regime hates Israel and hates Jews. That message is in a State Department cable.…

There is one more shockingly absurd pieces of advice Panetta has for Israel. “This is not impossible [for Israel to try to mend fences]. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them.…” This is precisely the same advice given regarding the 1990s’ peace process, the freeze of construction on settlements, and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. And every time the world doesn’t see. After the risk is taken (and Israel’s security suffers), and the concessions are made (and Israelis die), the world is even more critical of Israel and repeats, as Panetta does, that Israel has done nothing for peace.

These are harsh words about the Obama administration and for those who don’t understand the current situation in the Middle East they will no doubt seem partisan, extreme, and alarmist. This is the worst tragedy of all: sadly and regrettably they are quite true.

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2011

With vote tallies in for Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections in it is abundantly clear that Egypt is on the fast track to becoming a totalitarian Islamic state. The first round of voting took place in Egypt’s most liberal, cosmopolitan cities. And still the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists received more than 60 percent of the vote. Run-off elections for 52 seats will by all estimates increase their representation. And then in the months to come, Egyptian voters in the far more Islamist Nile Delta and Sinai will undoubtedly provide the forces of jihadist Islam with an even greater margin of victory.

Until the US-supported overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt served as the anchor of the US alliance system in the Arab world. The Egyptian military is US-armed, US-trained and US-financed. The Suez Canal is among the most vital waterways in the world for the US Navy and the global economy. Due to Mubarak’s commitment to stemming the tide of jihadist forces that threatened his regime, under his rule Egypt served as a major counter-terror hub in the US-led war against international jihad.

Given Egypt’s singular importance to US strategic interests in the Arab world, the Obama administration’s response to the calamitous election results has been shocking. Rather than sound the alarm bells, US President Barack Obama has celebrated the results as a victory for “democracy.” Rather than warn Egypt that it will face severe consequences if it completes its Islamist transformation, the Obama administration has turned its guns on the first country that will pay a price for Egypt’s Islamic revolution: Israel.

Speaking at the annual policy conclave in Washington sponsored by the leftist Brookings Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hammered Israel, the only real ally the US has left in the Middle East after Mubarak’s fall. Clinton felt it necessary—in the name of democracy—to embrace the positions of Israel’s radical Left against the majority of Israelis.

The same Secretary of State that has heralded negotiations with the violent, fanatical misogynists of the Taliban; who has extolled Saudi Arabia where women are given ten lashes for driving, and whose State Department trained female-hating Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the lead-up to the current elections in Egypt accused Israel of repressing women’s rights. The only state in the region where women are given full rights and legal protections became the focus of Clinton’s righteous feminist wrath.

In the IDF, as in the rest of the country, religious coercion is forbidden. Jewish law prohibits men from listening to women’s voices in song. And recently, when a group of religious soldiers were presented with an IDF band that featured female vocalists, keeping faith with their Orthodox observance, they walked out of the auditorium. The vocalists were not barred from singing. They were not mistreated. They were simply not listened to.

Yet as far as Clinton is concerned, this is proof that women in Israel are under attack.… But Clinton didn’t end her diatribe with the IDF’s supposed war against women. She continued her onslaught by proclaiming that Israel is taking a knife to democracy by permitting its legislators to legislate laws that she doesn’t like. The legislative initiatives that provoked the ire of the US Secretary of State are the bills now under discussion which seek to curtail the ability to foreign governments to subvert Israel’s elected government by funding non-representative, anti-Israel political NGOs like B’Tselem and Peace Now.

In attacking Israel in the way she did, Clinton showed that she holds Israel to a unique standard of behavior. Whereas fellow Western democracies are within their rights when they undertake initiatives like banning Islamic headdresses from the public square, Israel is a criminal state for affording Jewish soldiers freedom of religion. Whereas the Taliban, who enslave women and girls in the most unspeakable fashion are worthy interlocutors, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which supports universal female genital mutilation is moderate, Israel is an enemy of democracy for seeking to preserve the government’s ability to adopt policies that advance the country’s interests.…

Clinton’s assault on Israeli democracy and society came a day after Panetta attacked Israel’s handling of its strategic challenges. Whereas Clinton attacked Israel’s moral fiber, Panetta judged Israel responsible for every negative development in the regional landscape.…

Panetta demanded that Israel make renewed gestures as well to appease the Egyptians, Turks and Jordanians. He failed to notice that it was Turkey’s Islamist government, not Israel, that took a knife to the Turkish-Israeli strategic alliance. As for Egypt, rather than recognize the strategic implications for the US and Israel alike of Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic state, the US Defense Secretary demanded that Israel ingratiate itself with Egypt’s military junta. Thanks in large part to the Obama administration, that junta is now completely beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood. As for Jordan, again thanks to the US’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its aligned groups in Libya and Tunisia, the Hashemite regime is seeking to cut a deal with the Jordanian branch of the movement in a bid to save itself from Mubarak’s fate. Under these circumstances, there is no gesture that Israel can make to its neighbor to the east that would empower King Abdullah to extol the virtues of peace with the Jewish state.

Then there is Iran, and its nuclear weapons program. Panetta argued that an Israeli military strike against Iran would lead to regional war. But he failed to mention that a nuclear armed Iran will lead to nuclear proliferation in the Arab world and exponentially increase the prospect of a global nuclear war. Rather than face the dangers head on, Panetta’s message was that the Obama administration would rather accept a nuclear-armed Iran than support an Israeli military strike on Iran to prevent the mullocracy from becoming a nuclear-armed state.…

[Such positions are] certainly of a piece with classical anti-Semitic behavior. There is little qualitative difference between accusing Israeli society of destroying democracy for seeking to defend itself against foreign political subversion, and accusing Jews of destroying morality for failing to embrace foreign religious faiths. So too, there is little qualitative difference between blaming Israel for its isolation in the face of the Islamist takeover of the Arab world, and blaming the Jews for the rise of anti-Semites to power in places like Russia, Germany and Norway.

In truth, from Israel’s perspective, it really doesn’t make a difference whether these statements and the intellectual climate they represent stem from ideological myopia or from hatred of Jews. The end result is the same in either case: Under President Obama, the US government has become hostile to Israel’s national rights and strategic imperatives. Under Obama, the US is no longer Israel’s ally.