Friday, March 09, 2012

Obama at AIPAC -- Truth in Advertising?

From American Spectator, 8 March 2012, by Daniel Mandel:
President Barack Obama's address this week to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was a remarkable performance of salesmanship. But was there truth in advertising?
Striking all the right notes for his audience, President Obama talked up his record of supporting Israel materially, intoning about Israel's security being non-negotiable, preserving Israel's qualitative military edge "with more advanced technology -- the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies," and deploying the Iron Dome missile defense system to protect Israel from incoming missiles from Hamas-controlled Gaza. 

Obama also talked up his record supporting Israel diplomatically -- "When the [UN-commissioned] Goldstone report [into the 2010 Gaza flotilla clash] unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it.… When the [UN-commissioned anti-Semitic] Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it.… When Israeli diplomats feared for their lives in Cairo, we intervened to save them."

And Obama also reassured his audience about Iran's nuclear weapons program, affirming that neither Israel nor the U.S. can accept Tehran possessing nuclear bombs, that consequently all avenues for preventing this outcome, including military ones, are "on the table," and that Israel has a "sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs." 

All of which emboldened the President to conclude, "I have Israel's back" and "as you examine my commitment, you don't just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds." 

Let's do so. 

In April 2009, Vice-President Joseph Biden strongly warned Israel of the Administration's opposition to any Israeli military action against Iran. The same month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that American support in countering the Iranian nuclear threat was conditional on Israel making concessions to the Palestinians. Last December, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, explicitly opposed an Israeli strike. And if reports are true, Obama is privately warning Israel of penalties for striking Iran if he wins reelection. Nothing here about Israel's "sovereign right to make it own decisions."

For a year, Obama prohibited any new U.S. sanctions to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons. Nor has he laid down any red lines beyond which the U.S. will not permit Iran to advance in its quest for nuclear weapons. Worse, since Israel has fewer military capabilities than the U.S., it also has a smaller window of opportunity to deal with Iran's nuclear program than the U.S -- yet Obama is now asking it to waiting several more months for sanction to have an impact. Whatever else may be on "the table" at that point, Israel's capacity to act might not be among them.

In his AIPAC speech, President Obama took credit for imposing sanctions on Iran's Central Bank. In fact, as of last week, he has not implemented these sanctions, whose passage through the Congress he tried to slow and whose strength he sought to dilute. Numerous Democrats and Republicans from both the Senate and the House have called for him to actually start enforcing the sanctions they passed and which, at the moment, will not even take effect until June. 

Diplomatic support: 
Obama said at AIPAC that "the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations" and back Israel diplomatically. And his Administration has -- on the occasions cited above. But such support was scarcely evident when Obama supported the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, which demands not only an Israeli withdrawal to the vulnerable and serpentine 1949 armistice lines and a Palestinian state throughout the West Bank, but also the return of all Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel in return for "normalization" (not "peace") -- and only after Israel does all this.

Nor was it evident in 2010 when, unlike Bill Clinton in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2005, Obama permitted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference statement singling out Israel and insisting it joint the NPT. 

Nor was it evident when Obama agreed to a UN June 2010 Security Council statement he could have easily vetoed which "condemned" the "acts" that led to loss of life on the Gaza flotilla, or when he called on CNN's Larry King show for an investigation into the deaths of "innocent" victims -- actually, Hamas supporters who premeditatedly assaulted the Israeli boarding party enforcing the lawful inspection of ships bound for Gaza. 

Nor was it evident in February 2011, when Obama sought to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council for the "illegitimacy" of Jewish communities in the West Bank. Only when the Arab states refused to oblige and demanded that they be condemned as "illegal" -- a legally baseless assertion -- was Obama compelled to veto. 

And it was still less evident this February, when, having cut US funding to UNESCO in accordance with US law for it admitting the PA as a sovereign state, Obama sought to continue and in fact increase funding to UNESCO. Indeed, by doing so, he encouraged the PA to press ahead with its policy -- unpenalized by Obama -- of circumventing negotiations by seeking sovereign recognition by international organizations.

Israeli security needs: 
Obama said at AIPAC that Israel's security must be "sacrosanct." But this was no-where in evidence when, in October 2010, Obama offered Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority (PA) that, if it would only remain in talks with Israel after the expiry of Israel's unilateral 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank, he would endorse the Palestinian/Arab Peace Initiative demand that Israel withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines and establish a Palestinian state. 

Nor was it apparent when, in May 2011, after the PA had ignored Obama's offer and broke off negotiations for half a year, Obama went ahead anyway by calling for precisely such an Israeli withdrawal with "agreed swaps" -- a caveat that actually gives the Palestinians an automatic veto over Israel retaining anything beyond the 1949 lines. 

And it became less apparent still when that call included something never publicly supported by any previous president -- Israeli relinquishment of the Jordan Valley, whose retention successive Israeli governments have regarded as vital to Israeli defense. (The late Yitzhak Rabin said as much in his last speech to the Knesset in October 1995.) 

Palestinian terrorism & incitement:
Obama has said more than once that he will hold Palestinians accountable for their words and deeds, including incitement to hatred and violence against Israel. But nothing of the sort happened in August 2009, when Abbas' Fatah, which controls the PA, held a conference in Bethlehem, which reaffirmed its refusal to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, glorified terrorists living and dead by name, insisted on the so-called 'right of return,' and rejected an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel. 

Nor did anything of the sort occur when Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) subsequently urged Clinton to take up the issue with Abbas. Instead, she issued a flat-earth denial, saying that the Fatah Conference showed "a broad consensus supporting negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution" and that contrary statements by unnamed "individuals" at the conference "did not represent Fatah's official positions."

Nor did anything of the sort happen in January 2010 when terrorists from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a recognized terrorist group, murdered an Israeli, Rabbi Meir Chai, in a drive-by shooting and Abbas himself sent condolences to the families of the three terrorists subsequently killed by Israeli forces. Obama said nothing, even when specifically informed of these events by the Israeli government.

Nor did anything of the sort happen when, in March 2010, the PA named a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered. (The Administration did, however, condemn Israel for announcing a program of building Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem the day before.)

Nor did anything of the sort happen when, several days later, Clinton provided the Administration's belated criticism of the obscene glorification of Mughrabi. Quite the contrary, she whitewashed and protected Abbas and the PA by falsely stating it was "a Hamas-controlled municipality" that had initiated the event.

Nor did anything of the sort occur in March 2011, five members of the Fogel family, including three children, were murdered in their beds, their throats slit, by Palestinian terrorists. Nor did anything of the sort happen the next day when the PA held a ceremony to name another public square after the terrorist Mughrabi. Quite the contrary: it took four days before a minor State Department official condemned the event and urged PA officials to "address it" -- but didn't condemn Abbas or his ruling Fatah party, under whose auspices the ceremony took place.

Then there are the intangibles, matters of tone and emphasis when disagreements arise. The Obama Administration has used the terms "condemn," an "insult" and an "affront" when expressing disagreement with Israel's March 2010 mere announcement of a program of housing construction in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem – a project which violated no agreement with America. "Condemn," "insult" and "affront" are harsh and ugly terms that America and Obama have never used in reference to an ally's actions. To the contrary, when Turkey did not vote along with the U.S. for further sanctions on Iran, the Administration was merely "disappointed." When Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai spoke publicly of considering joining forces with the Taliban, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it "respected" him. 

Compare that to Gates criticizing Israel last September for giving nothing in return for U.S. military and intelligence support in terms of peace talks and calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "ungrateful." Or his successor Leon Panetta criticizing Israel the next month for not being more pliable, or again, last December rudely urging Israel -- which has been open to negotiations with the PA all along -- to "get to the damn table."

So what is really left of Obama's claims of having Israel's back? A strong -- and mutually beneficial -- defense cooperation actually inaugurated and funded by George W. Bush, which would require Congressional approval to reverse; supplying Iron Dome missile defense systems to Israel for which he has recently trimmed funding; affirming Israel's right to act against Iran that his own senior officials have continuously and publicly opposed; saving Israeli diplomats in Cairo from a mob enabled by his having helped push Hosni Mubarak from power weeks before; and some UN speeches seeking to limit the damage of noxious Arab initiatives he previously encouraged.

The words of the prophet Daniel apply -- "You are weighed in the balance, and are found wanting."

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

If it looks, feels and smells like a bomb....

From Reuters VIENNA, Mon Mar 5, 2012, by Fredrik Dahl:

Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and the U.N. nuclear watchdog has "serious concerns" about possible military dimensions to Tehran's atomic activities, the agency's chief said on Monday.
...[International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya] Amano told a news conference at the IAEA in Vienna there were indications of unspecified "activities" at an Iranian military site which his inspectors want to visit as part of a probe into fears Iran may be seeking nuclear weapons capability.
comments made by IAEA diplomats to Reuters last week when one said: "we have heard about possible sanitation" of the Parchin site that he called "very concerning," suggesting Iran may be delaying access while it removed evidence of suspect activities.
The United States and its Western allies are seeking Russian and Chinese backing to rebuke Iran at the week-long IAEA board meeting, that began on Monday, over its failure to address the agency's growing concerns.
...[Iran's] refusal to curb sensitive atomic work that can have both civilian and military applications has drawn increasingly tough U.N. and Western sanctions against the major oil producer.

During visits by IAEA inspectors to Tehran in January and February, Iranian officials stonewalled requests for access to Parchin, seen as central to its investigation.
"We have some indication that activities are ongoing at the Parchin site. It makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later," Amano told reporters, giving no details.
An IAEA report last year presented a trove of intelligence pointing to research activities in Iran relevant for developing the means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so.
One key finding was information that Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, in which to conduct high-explosives tests that the IAEA says are "strong indicators" of possible weapons development.
"The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program,"

...Since the IAEA's previous report in November, Amano said Iran had tripled monthly production of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent - well above the level usually needed to fuel nuclear power plants.
It was the first time Amano spoke in public about this rapid increase in Iran's enrichment activities which has stoked Western and Israeli suspicions about Tehran's nuclear agenda.
...20 percent enrichment, experts say, also represents most of the technical effort needed to attain the 90 percent threshold required for nuclear explosions.
Much of this work is carried out deep inside a mountain at Iran's underground Fordow facility to better shield it against military strikes, and further expansion there is planned...
Amano told Monday's closed-door board meeting, according to a copy of his speech.

Monday, March 05, 2012

On Iran: "We need actions, not words"

From YouTube, 4 March 2012:
Netanyahu's former Chief of Staff reacts to Obama's speech on Fox News:
"Obama is speaking strongly, but carrying a small stick".
"We need actions, not words".

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Psychology of Jews Who Embrace Their Enemies

From Israel, Jews and Judaism, Sunday, March 4, 2012:
Psychiatrist-author Kenneth Levin:
"Those of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. And they often insist they are being virtuous by doing so."
...“This phenomenon reveals great similarity, at the level of human psychology, to the response of children subjected to chronic abuse. Such children tend to blame themselves for their suffering. In their helpless condition, they have two alternatives. They can either acknowledge they are being unfairly victimized and reconcile themselves to being powerless, or they can blame themselves for their predicament. The attraction of the latter - ‘I suffer because I am bad’ - is that it serves the desire of being in control, fantasies that by becoming ‘good’ will elicit a more benign response from their tormentors. Both children and adults invariably seek to avoid hopelessness.”
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist, historian and author of several books, among which is The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege. He is a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
In The Oslo Syndrome, Levin explains the attitude of Israeli self-haters:
[There is] “a wish to believe Israel is in control of profoundly stressful circumstances over which, unfortunately, it has no real control. Genuine peace will come to the Middle East when the Arab world, by far the dominant party in the region, perceives such a peace as in its interest. Israeli policies have in fact, very little impact on Arab perceptions in this regard, much less than the dynamics of domestic politics in the Arab states and of inter-Arab rivalries.”

“Popular hatred for Israel, which is fanned by Arab governments, education systems, media and Muslim clerics, runs deep in Arab opinion. This is not a totally isolated phenomenon, but fits into a much broader framework. Since the earliest days of the existence of the Arab-Muslim world, there has been widespread animosity against both religious and ethnic minorities in the region. It would be a mistake to attribute, for instance, the pressure on Christian minorities exclusively to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Popular Muslim-Arab hostility has also led to pressures on non-Arab Muslims such as the Berber populations in North Africa.
“While those Jews and Israelis who embrace anti-Jewish arguments typically do so in the hope of ingratiating themselves with the Jews’ enemies, they will rarely acknowledge this motive. Rather, they typically claim that their position reflects a higher moral or ethical position.
“In the past and present, a common claim by anti-Semites has been that Jews are interested exclusively in their own well-being. This has led many Jews to focus their energies on broader social causes, even as the Jewish community suffered unique disabilities. Jews who take this course typically do not admit they are doing so to avoid being accused of Jewish parochialism. Rather, they claim to be righteously transcending narrow concerns to address more universal needs.
“During World War II, particularly after the Nazi extermination program was revealed in late 1942, many American Jewish leaders sought to raise public awareness of the plight of Europe’s Jews and promote rescue efforts. Yet they also limited their campaign out of fear of arousing public anger over Jewish concern with a Jewish issue, and they often rationalized their doing so as reflecting devotion to the greater patriotic task of winning the war. It was largely non-Jewish voices which insisted the Nazi extermination program was not only a crime against the Jews but a crime against civilization and all of humanity and therefore should be of concern to everyone.”

“In the last sixty years, the American Jewish community at large has energetically embraced support for Israel. This has been made much easier by the fact that the wider American public has traditionally been sympathetic toward the Jewish state.
“On the other hand, Israel has come under much criticism in certain American media, on many American campuses and in several mainstream liberal churches. Those segments of the Jewish community who live and work in environments hostile to Israel, commonly embrace the anti-Israel bias around them. And they often insist they are being virtuous by doing so.
“The psychological dynamics of communities under attack explain why, both abroad and in Israel, the virtual siege placed upon the Jewish state will continue to lead segments of Jewish communities to support the besiegers and to urge Jewish self-reform as the path to winning relief. Yet the path they advocate is no less delusional than that of abused children who blame themselves for the abuse they experience. All too often such children doom themselves psychologically to lives of self-abnegation and misery. In the case of Jews indicting Israel for the hatred directed against it, the misery they cultivate goes far beyond themselves and ultimately, undermines Israel’s very survival.”
Levin observes:
Levin adds now:

Obama: Commander-in-Chief gone AWOL

From PJ Media, 2 March 2012, by Anne Bayefsky*:
On the eve of a meeting between President Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ...[a] most revealing interview proof-positive of [Obama's] dangerous animus towards the Jewish state and its elected leaders.

...During the interview the president claimed to “have Israel’s back” at the United Nations, among other places. The administration’s actions at the UN allegedly corroborate that his “relationship [with Israel] is very functional ...The president specified:
Actually, the truth is that President Obama has done more to legitimize the delegitimizers of Israel than any other president in the history of the Jewish state.
When you look at what I’ve done with respect to … fighting back against delegitimization of Israel, whether at the [UN] Human Rights Council, or in front of the General Assembly, or during the Goldstone Report, or after the flare-up involving the flotilla — the truth of the matter is that the relationship has functioned very well.

For instance, one of his opening foreign policy moves was to join — for the first time — the UN Human Rights Council, allowing the full weight of American membership to boost the credibility of this viciously anti-Israel body.
When the president decided to join the Council he knew full well that the body organized every regular session around a permanent agenda of ten items, one directed only to Israel-bashing and another to the remaining (unspecified) 192 UN member states. But the administration claimed that it joined the Council to reform it from the inside during a five-year deadline imposed by the General Assembly. The reform scheme went down in flames last June, and the agenda remained unchanged.
What was the president’s response to the ritualized Jew-bating that carries on unabated in a global forum in the name of human rights? He is now actively seeking a second term on the Council for the United States.
Not once did President Obama make the equal treatment of the Jewish state a condition for remaining on this “human rights” body — notwithstanding that the whole foundation of the UN Charter is the “equal rights of nations large and small.”
At the General Assembly, the president’s speech of 2010 specifically planted in the minds of every listener and fueled a September 2011 date for a “state of Palestine” becoming “a new member of the United Nations.” Moreover, President Obama devoted more than a third of his entire General Assembly statement focusing on what Israel should and should not do, knowing full well that the deadly Arab narrative is that the failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict on their terms is the root cause of Islamic fanaticism and violence. In other words, it was the president himself who used his speech in the UN forum as a pressure tactic against the state of Israel.
On the flotilla of Turkish-backed extremists who attempted to violate Israel’s lawful blockade of Hamas-run Gaza, the Obama administration extraordinarily permitted the Security Council to adopt a presidential statement within 24 hours of the event. The statement cast the flotilla participants as humanitarians, was silent on Israel’s legitimate concerns about arms-smuggling, and made no mention of Hamas at all. Without taking any time to ensure the facts were at hand, the Council unanimously agreed to a UN investigation of the Israel Defense Forces which the United States would never have legitimized for American armed forces in similar — or in fact any — circumstances.
And as for Iran, President Obama’s use of the United Nations has moved the country in only one direction — inexorably closer to obtaining nuclear weapons. President Obama was the first U.S. president to preside over a meeting of the UN Security Council in September 2009, and he personally took the opportunity of controlling the Council agenda to tie nuclear non-proliferation together with nuclear disarmament. His move had the predictable effect of setting back non-proliferation efforts by giving Iran one more excuse to delay, while disarming America moved to center stage. The sanctions regime belatedly adopted by the Council has been an incontrovertible failure.
At rock bottom, the president’s interview makes one claim more poisonous to Israel’s welfare than all others. He argues that if Israel uses military force against Iranian nuclear sites, then the timeline for any negative consequences will start with Israel — not Iran.
Obama urges Netanyahu to think about “the profound costs of any military action,” places the focus on “potential unintended consequences” of Israel’s actions, and describes the move as libel to be a “distraction in which Iran suddenly can portray itself as the victim.”
This is not the statement of an ally at a turning point in world history, with the most dangerous country on Earth on the verge of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon. Israel’s actions would be taken in self-defense. They would not be the starting point. Israel and the civilized world, in the crosshairs of this leading state sponsor of terrorism and its genocidal ambitions, are the real victims and any claim to the contrary would be a lie — not a distraction. To suggest that Israel will be responsible for the economic costs of seriously slowing or ending Iran’s race towards nuclear weapons places the shoe exactly on the wrong foot, and diminishes the much higher cost of Iranian victory.
The president’s miscalculation on Iran is of epic proportion. He even describes the Iranian leadership to Goldberg this way: “they’re sensitive to the opinions of the people.” The freedom-loving people of Iran who are rotting in Iranian torture chambers are undoubtedly as mortified by this claim as are the people of Israel and its supporters across America.
The very unfortunate reality is that Israel may be forced to save America and the civilized world because this commander-in-Chief is AWOL. Israel has America’s back, not the other way around.
In his interview, President Obama worried that Republicans are trying to “drive a wedge … between Barack Obama and a Jewish American vote.” They don’t have to, Mr. President. You can take credit for the mile-wide gulf all yourself.
*Anne Bayefsky is director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College. She is the author or editor of 12 books and numerous articles in the field of human rights, and a frequent contributor to newspapers in the U.S., Europe, Israel and Canada.

"Daylight" between Obama and Israel

From the Emergency Committee for Israel, Mar 3, 2012:

Barack Obama ran for president as a pro-Israel candidate -- but his record tells a different story.