Monthly Archives: April 2010

ICEJ News Special Commentary – Behind Obama’s battering of Israel

Here is something that came in my mail box this morning which has not yet made it onto the web, as far as I can tell. International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is an emissary of the church which exhibits a great deal of respect and support for the people and nation of Israel. I previously reprinted some first hand observations on the matter of apartheid by its executive director here. Today I received a special commentary written by its media director David Parsons. In it he raises several key points regarding the Obama Administration’s current antagonism toward the Jewish state, among them:

It is apparent that President Obama unjustly questions Israel’s desire for peace, “even while Palestinian Authority leaders are avoiding peace talks like the plague.” Palestinian Authority officials from Mahmoud Abbas on down have refused to talk to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. If called to task on the matter, they have a constant supply of pretexts, happily supplied by Washington itself.

Parsons also cites instances of dishonesty toward Israel on the part of the Obama Administration: such as Secretary Clinton disowning an agreement the US made with Israel, for which she voted in Congress, or of Clinton criticizing an action as having been committed by Hamas, when it was in reality  done by our supposed “peace partner” Fatah.

There have also been indications coming from chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel that this Administration has secretly set an objective to declare a Palestinian State before the end of Obama’s first term in office.

First term? This is just my opinion, but let’s pray to God that it’s his only term, and that at least some of his more damaging objectives remain unrealized.

Here is David Parsons’ special commentary:

Behind Obama’s battering of Israel
-by David ParsonObama has been leaning on Netanyhau while watching Abbas's back (AP) s

After one year in office, it seemed US President Barack Obama had learned some lessons in conducting foreign policy and was ready to back off some of his heavy handed tactics in dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It had become all too obvious that Obama had blundered by hammering away at Israel on settlements, while giving the Palestinians a free pass.

Thus, US Vice President Joe Biden paid a solidarity visit to Jerusalem in March to reassure Israeli leaders on Washington’s balanced approach to peacemaking with the Palestinians. But then the Obama administration deliberately ratcheted up the pressure again over the issue of Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and relations soured once more.

It has been manifestly unfair for the US administration to treat its closest democratic ally in the region and arguably the world in this manner. Obama has gone so far as to question Israel’s desire for peace, even while Palestinian Authority leaders are avoiding peace talks like the plague. When Netanyahu came into office last spring, PA officials from Mahmoud Abbas down unanimously said they would not talk to him “in a thousand years.” All their subsequent preconditions to talks are merely pretexts, often conveniently supplied by Washington, which has yet to hold them accountable for their intransigence.

Besides being unfair, the Obama administration has also been dishonest in its dealings with Israel. Early on, for instance, Netanyahu reminded the new Administration of the letter delivered in April 2004 by former US President George W. Bush to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon containing key American commitments to Israel regarding the Palestinian track. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brushed the letter aside as no longer binding, even though as a US Senator she had voted for a joint congressional resolution which endorsed the Bush letter as official US policy.

Poster of PLO commando Dalal Mughrabi: Why would Hamas want to honor a Fatah heroine? (AP)Another clear example of the dishonesty can be seen when Clinton went before the annual AIPAC policy conference in March and criticized Hamas for its incitement against Israel. Yet her comments on the incitement issue had actually been prompted by the Israeli government specifically complaining to the US State Department that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salaam Fayyad were honoring PLO terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the notorious “Coastal Road Massacre” in 1978. Clinton is now trying to correct the record by finally confronting the PA about its own incitement, but only after being caught in an embarrassing fib.

All this has left many wondering what exactly is Obama up to with his heavy pressure on Netanyahu while coddling the Palestinians. Besides courting favor with the wider Arab/Islamic world, one commentator close to Obama recently chalked up the festering quarrel over Jewish housing in east Jerusalem to the White House wanting to bring the more dovish Opposition leader Tzipi Livni of Kadima into the coalition. That may be a welcome outcome of the arm-twisting, but the ultimate goal is two-fold.

Will Obama continue to commit blunders in the Middle East?First, the Obama administration is sending a message of “no adventurism on Iran.” By making Netanyahu sweat over a manufactured issue like the Ramat Shlomo housing approvals, Obama is signaling that Netanyahu is being kept on a short leash, meaning any unilateral Israeli actions regarding Iran will n ot be tolerated. If the Netanyahu government deems it necessary to pre-empt the growing threat of Tehran’s renegade nuclear program, no one should expect America to cover its back in trying to manage the global fallout from such actions.

Secondly, the Administration is unnecessarily battering Netanyahu in a bid to soften his opposition to a Palestinian state, which they hope to declare within Obama’s first term in office. White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel said as much to an American Jewish leader last year, according to Yediot Aharonot, and I don’t think it was a slip of the tongue.

In this regard, Obama and his team have misread the Israeli public. Obama believes Netanyahu does not truly represent the views of most Israelis, but he does. They have been conditioned by years of violence, terror and foreign pressure into being ready to give up the West Bank for peace. Yet they remain highly skeptical that there is a peace partner on the Palestinian side who can keep their end of the bargain. Obama will make an even bigger blunder if he persists in thinking the Palestinians are currently ready for a state that would live at peace with Israel.


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Obama Administration feels the heat as more internationally honored Israel supporters have their say.

I  noticed in today’s Israel National News a comment that

Obama-Pointing “United States administration officials have expressed harsh criticism over advertisements in the American press favoring Israel’s right to sovereignty in Jerusalem.” 

"All these advertisements are not a wise move," said an unnamed “senior American official” as quoted in the leftist daily Haaretz.

The “advertisements” drawing the administration’s ire are the open letter by WJC President Ronald Lauder which I reprinted last week, and an eloquent essay in support of Jerusalem by world renowned author, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Considering the favorable response by readers to my presentation here of the Ronald Lauder letter and a similar one two days ago from the America-Israel Friendship League, I figure I can do no better than to also give you Mr. Wiesel’s statement without further comment. Am Israel Chai,

eliewiesel It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms. New and old tensions surface at a disturbing pace. Seventeen times destroyed and seventeen times rebuilt, it is still in the middle of diplomatic confrontations that could lead to armed conflict. Neither Athens nor Rome has aroused that many passions.

For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture — and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, it IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.

Since King David took Jerusalem as his capital, Jews have dwelled inside its walls with only two interruptions; when Roman invaders forbade them access to the city and again, when under Jordanian occupation, Jews, regardless of nationality, were refused entry into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall, the last vestige of Solomon’s temple. It is important to remember: had Jordan not joined Egypt and Syria in the war against Israel, the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab. Clearly, while Jews were ready to die for Jerusalem they would not kill for Jerusalem.

Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.

What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. Is there a solution? There must be, there will be. Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?

Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, "Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart."

Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.

– Elie Wiesel

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Second major American Jewish organization sends Open Letter rebuking President Obama

Obama-in-Rhiyad2GETTY-WEB A few days ago I printed an open letter by the World Jewish Congress to President Barack Obama, citing his responsibility for the current deterioration in U.S. – Israel relations.

Now the America-Israel Friendship League has published a similar criticism, very politely asking the American President to reconsider some his recent actions.

The AIFL makes several good points in its letter, one of which calls attention to the detrimental effects of the U.S. aligning itself with the Arab League in its demands on Israel. I really think that’s a first for us.

Here is the letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL), we write to express our concern about deteriorating relations that appear to be developing between the United States and Israel. The AIFL is committed to advance the friendship between Israel and the U.S. We know that you share our commitment to this very special relationship and recognize the need for it to grow and develop based on our shared values, traditions and vision for free and democratic societies in the Middle East and worldwide. We know of your deeply felt commitment to Israel and your vision for democratic societies and that is why we are led to write you about our concerns. For these reasons, we urge you to reconsider what appears to be your policy of pressing Israel to abandon its long established Jerusalem policy as a precondition to any Proximity Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (the ”PA”).

It has been Israel’s policy for 40 years that construction activities may proceed normally in Jerusalem. That policy was not an impediment to Egypt which established peace with Israel under Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979. It did not preclude Jordan in 1994 from signing a peace treaty with Israel under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. And it did not interfere with the PA negotiating twice with Israel in 2000 and 2008 with Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.

It should therefore not be surprising that Israel’s policy is to allow construction in East Jerusalem to continue. Notwithstanding the agreement reached between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, which your Administration has apparently decided not to recognize, Israel accepted the terms of the Proximity Talks and suspended construction plans in the West Bank for 10 months, with the reservation regarding East Jerusalem.

Israel’s announcement of its decision by a low level bureaucrat during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel did not justify unduly critical comments. We acknowledge that Israel’s announcement was poor timing given the purpose of Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel and his deep commitment to Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister quickly recognized this unfortunate indiscretion and extended his public apology-an appropriate and proper response to the United States. But instead of this matter being put to rest and any further differences privately resolved as befitting close allies, the incident was used as grounds for criticizing Israel publicly, and perhaps attempting either explicitly or implicitly to humiliate its Prime Minister. Such actions are not justified against a close, democratic ally with whom policy differences arise. Both Democrats and Republicans on the AIFL Board were distressed by the actions of the government in this very public shaming of Israel. At a time when Israel is facing a very well financed and concerted campaign by its enemies to delegitimize its existence as a state (e.g., the Goldstone Report), the actions of your Administration were not in line with our values. Israel’s conduct cannot serve as a basis for any radical change in U.S. policy.

The demand by the United States in aligning itself with the Arab League that Israel should rescind its core principle regarding its policy on Jerusalem as a precondition to the Proximity Talks reflects an unjustified change in U.S. Middle East policy.

This new policy is an adoption of the position of the Arab League and the PA, who have only been emboldened by this deterioration of relations between the United States and Israel. Any change in Israel’s position regarding Jerusalem should come only in the course of face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the PA.

When Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a 10 month freeze to new construction in the West Bank (but exempting East Jerusalem) it was perceived by Secretary Clinton as ”unprecedented”. It is now viewed as insulting and demanding of an immediate termination. Will Israel’s failure to comply with the demands of U.S. policy now lead the United States to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries signed in 2007 regarding security assistance to Israel? What further escalating measures will be taken in order to ensure compliance with new U.S. policies? Will future use by the U.S. of its veto on resolutions in the Security Council of the United Nations be contingent on compliance with this U.S. policy? We respectfully suggest that the actions detailed above are not justified between close allies and could provide our common adversaries with succor.

Our concerns are not only with the breach of good relations between two countries that we love and hold dear to us but we are concerned with the possibility that such extreme words coming from the United States following numerous apologies from the Prime Minister will give aid and comfort to those who seek to incite hatred of Israel and, indeed of Jews.

The United States, the world community and Israel face unparalleled challenges from Iran. This is not a time to exacerbate any real or perceived slights. It is a time for U.S. leadership to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons as has been repeatedly advocated by you. We applaud your pledge and support your objectives.

Finally, the opening of a rift between the U.S. and Israel on these issues must create doubt among other U.S. allies. It cannot be too comforting to our allies that if Israel can be disdained with such ease, what does this say about the U.S. and its steadfastness with its other allies?

Jerusalem has always occupied a special place in the hearts and dreams of Israel and the Jewish people. The Bible records (Second Book of Chronicles 36:23) that in his first year (516 BCE), Cyrus, the King of Persia (now Iran), in order to reverse the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BCE, and to fulfill the prophesy of Jeremiah, proclaimed that he had been charged by the Lord to build a house in Jerusalem and to send the Jews in his kingdom to ”go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (he is the God) which is in Jerusalem”. The Jewish claim to the Land of Israel originated long before the Holocaust and derives from the days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, King David and the prophets. It has abided for more than 4,000 years and is reflected in the cry ”next year in Jerusalem” which ends the Yom Kippur fast and Passover Seder. For most of those 4,000 years, Jews have lived in the Land of Israel in an unbroken chain with Jewish communities continually remaining in places like Jerusalem, Hebron and Safad.

We view with alarm any effort to create distance between the United States and Israel on fundamental policies. Where there are legitimate differences, such should be resolved in normal diplomatic fashion. We sincerely hope that the hope and support that reflected your election can be restored. It is not an exaggeration to say that both the United States and Israel need nothing less.

We would look forward to an exchange of ideas with your Administration now and in the future about how to advance the United States’ interest in securing peace and justice in the Middle East and ensuring security for Israel.

Respectfully yours,

For the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors
America-Israel Friendship League

Kenneth J. Bialkin, Chairman, AIFL

Harley Lippman, President, AIFL

Charlotte K. Frank, Chair, Executive Committee

Paul M. Kaplan, Chair, Law Committee

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World Jewish Congress Open Letter to President Obama

Obama-Arab via WJD Every so often I lay aside all thoughts of originality, and present a significant statement from a respected public figure. Today I follow the lead of Israel National News, World Jewish Daily  and others in reprinting the full text of an open letter from World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder to U.S. President Barack H. Obama.

For those of us unfamiliar with the WJC, it is an organization respected world wide, credentialed by the United Nations and other major institutions: “Founded in Geneva in 1936 to unite the Jewish people and mobilize the world against the Nazi onslaught, the WJC is the representative body of Jewish communities and organizations in over 80 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe across six continents. It seeks to foster the unity and creative survival of the Jewish people while maintaining its spiritual, cultural and social heritage.”

Here, then, is Mr. Lauder’s letter to Mr. Obama:

15 April 2010
Dear President Obama:

I write today as a proud American and a proud Jew.

Jews around the world are concerned today. We are concerned about the
nuclear ambitions of an Iranian regime that brags about its genocidal
intentions against Israel. We are concerned that the Jewish state is being
isolated and delegitimized.

Mr. President, we are concerned about the dramatic deterioration of
diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel.

The Israeli housing bureaucracy made a poorly timed announcement and your Administration branded it an “insult.” This diplomatic faux pas was over the fourth stage of a seven stage planning permission process – a plan to
build homes years from now in a Jewish area of Jerusalem that under any
peace agreement would remain an integral part of Israel.

Our concern grows to alarm as we consider some disturbing questions. Why
does the thrust of this Administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame
Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the
Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate.

Israel has made unprecedented concessions. It has enacted the most far
reaching West Bank settlement moratorium in Israeli history.

Israel has publicly declared support for a two-state solution. Conversely,
many Palestinians continue their refusal to even acknowledge Israel’s right
to exist.

The conflict’s root cause has always been the Palestinian refusal to accept
Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Every American President
who has tried to broker a peace agreement has collided with that Palestinian
intransigence, sooner or later. Recall President Clinton’s anguish when his
peace proposals were bluntly rejected by the Palestinians in 2000.
Settlements were not the key issue then.

They are not the key issue now.

Another important question is this: what is the Administration’s position
on Israel’s borders in any final status agreement? Ambiguity on this matter
has provoked a wave of rumors and anxiety. Can it be true that America is
no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible
borders for Israel? Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel
with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?

There are significant moves from the Palestinian side to use those
indefensible borders as the basis for a future unilateral declaration of
independence. How would the United States respond to such a reckless course of action?

And what are America’s strategic ambitions in the broader Middle East? The
Administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well
known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it
assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.

And what about the most dangerous player in the region? Shouldn’t the
United States remain focused on the single biggest threat that confronts the
world today? That threat is a nuclear armed Iran. Israel is not only
America’s closest ally in the Middle East, it is the one most committed to
this Administration’s declared aim of ensuring Iran does not get nuclear

Mr. President, we embrace your sincerity in your quest to seek a lasting
peace. But we urge you to take into consideration the concerns expressed
above. Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the
core values of freedom and democracy. It is a bond much treasured by the
Jewish people. In that spirit I submit, most respectfully, that it is time
to end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that
we face together.

Yours sincerely,
Ronald S. Lauder
World Jewish Congress

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Bang, pop – fizzle (and a few other 140s)

barack_obama_conf-209x156 Well, Pres. Obama’s much touted Nuclear Arms Summit turned out to be rather a non-event.

For starters, not only did Israel’s Prime Minister decide against attending, but also the leader of America’s longest running ally found something better to do. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s absence was not as well publicized as Netanyahu’s, but sends, in my opinion, and even stronger message to Obama that he’s missing the point of who our friends are, or ought to be.

As for results, well, the major outcome appears to have been that Obama said ‘I done good.’ I’m not sure anyone else was particularly impressed.

BHO bowing to Saudi King_Resize What received more attention than the ostensible purpose of the conference was all the glad-handing, pearlies-flashing, and yes, kowtowing which he was able to work into his busy schedule.

Mr. President, I don’t mean to yell, but THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE THEIR PRESIDENT BOWING TO FOREIGN LEADERS, especially when the foreign heads don’t bow back.

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While we’re still on the subject, this article by Anne Bayefsky, courtesy Unity Coalition for Israel, points out an utterly more serious side to the affair. As Ms. Bayefsky explains, the comic atmosphere attending to the event only serves to distract from a much darker agenda being promoted.

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On a positive note, it bears repeating that neither the American people as a whole, nor a majority of our elected leaders, support our current titular head of state in his antagonism toward Israel. In today’s news we see yet another indicator of that: more than 70 US Senators have joined 333 Representatives in calling upon the Administration to  rethink its opposition to the only democracy in the Middle East. We need to also keep in mind the cultural values we share with the Jewish nation, even though our President may not share those values.

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LM Kotel Ronn Ben Harav So much for positive; the UK has just come out with one of the most absurd proclamations in quite a while – they’ve decided that the Western Wall is not in Israel. Maybe Gordon Brown & Barack Obama should kiss and make up, after all.

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Oh, and I’m not sure how this relates to Obama’s hatred for Israel, but it’s too good to pass up. Did you know that Michelle Obama has admitted on tape that her husband’s home country is Kenya (not America)? This of course confirms what many have asserted that he is constitutionally disqualified from serving as President of the US. I’m not sure whether you want to take that as a positive or a negative; ask me later.

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And now for a few more 140s

MilitantIslam-FLIKR-WEB I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the many ways in which the Obama administration is cozying up to the Islamist world is by changing the basic vocabulary of US security documents. As reported by ICEJ, Unity Coalition for Israel, and others, efforts are being made to remove terms such as “Islamic extremism” and “jihad” from core defense policy statements. The President has repeatedly said he wishes to promote better relations with the Muslim world, but doesn’t he also say that extremism and jihad are not truly a part of that world? So why then would he have a problem with those terms?

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That last was of course a rhetorical question. It sadly does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why Barack Obama wants to remove references to Islamist terror from US defense documents. Lt.-Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters doesn’t bill himself as a rocket scientist, but does have credentials as a military analyst, and is cited in Israel National News as putting it rather bluntly:

Obama apparently has a chip on his shoulder against Israel – and it’s not “helpful to our civilization.”

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More bad news: Jonathan Tobin has written an article in Commentary Magazine titled Obama’s Diplomatic War on Israel Is Just Getting Started. In his column he points out that as far as Obama is concerned, it’s about having his way without regard for regional realities. As Tobin lays it out, the way the Obama administration approaches Middle East issues

obama_wh_032610_monster_397x224 …fits in with the messianic self-confidence of the president, and with the vision of his presidency that his staffers exude. They are not interested in the fact that such attempts have always failed because of Palestinian intransigence, or that such attempts have ultimately led to more, not less, violence. It isn’t clear whether they truly believe that weak figures like Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad can sign any peace deal that recognizes Israel’s existence within any borders. But the administration’s simmering resentment against Israel seems to be driving this development more than anything else…

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I’d like to think I’m changing the subject with this next one, but I’m not really. At least I get to talk about Iran rather than Israel for just a  moment. New York Post writer Rich Lowry nicely sums up the entire farce of putting the brakes on a nuclear Iran through endless talk of sanctions:

The rules of the great Iranian nuclear charade are simple: We pretend to punish the Iranians for the nuclear- weapons program that they pretend doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry, Rich, but I admit I didn’t pay all that much attention to the rest of your article, but you just nailed it so well in that opening line. Maybe we need more minds that can just see it the way it is, and say so.

And with that I’ll say good night!

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140s Correction: Alive, but not well.

It was reported earlier this week that the Hamas claim of a Gaza teenager having been killed by the IDF was disproven with the arrival of said teenager “alive and well” back at home.  New reports indicate that indeed, the Hamas claim was false, and yes, the teenager was back at home, but that he’s not so well, after all. It seems his fellow Arabs treated him quite harshly while he was being held in Egypt. Not to be taken at a loss, however, the Palestinians are putting a new spin on the story by hailing him as “The Returning Shahid.” A “shahid,” you see, is a martyr, so by calling him a “returning” martyr they are trying to say, well, yes, he died, sort of, but he’s back, and he’s a hero for being back, or for being killed, or…

virgins I wonder if he got his 72 virgins, or if they sent him back because he was just 15. After all, he wasn’t actually trying to be a shahid; he was just collecting rocks near the airport with some friends when they heard gunfire and ran and hid in a smugglers’ tunnel. Boys will be boys.

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