Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Former NY Mayor Ed Koch: Obama's Treatment of Israel is Shocking; Time to speak out

(Ed Koch-RCP)...President Obama's abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shocking.

I have not heard or read statements criticizing the president by New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand or many other supporters of Israel for his blatantly hostile attitude toward Israel and his discourtesy displayed at the White House.

It is unimaginable that the President would treat any of our NATO allies, large or small, in such a degrading fashion. That there are policy differences between the U.S. and the Netanyahu government is no excuse. Allies often disagree, but remain respectful.

In portraying Israel as the cause of the lack of progress in the peace process, President Obama ignores the numerous offers and concessions that Israel has made over the years for the sake of peace, and the Palestinians' repeated rejections of those offers. Not only have Israel's peace proposals, which include ceding virtually the entire West Bank and parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, been rejected, but each Israeli concession has been met with even greater demands, no reciprocity, and frequently horrific violence directed at Israeli civilians. Thus, Prime Minister Netanyahu's agreement to suspend construction on the West Bank - a move heralded by Secretary of State Clinton as unprecedented by an Israeli government - has now led to a demand that Israel also halt all construction in East Jerusalem, which is part of Israel's capital. Meanwhile, Palestinians are upping the ante, with violent protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere. And the Obama administration's request that our Arab allies make some conciliatory gesture towards Israel has fallen on deaf ears.

Prior American presidents, beginning with Truman who recognized the State of Israel in 1948, have valued Israel as a close ally and have often come to its rescue. For example, it was Richard Nixon during the 1973 war, who resupplied Israel with arms, making it possible for it to snatch victory from a potentially devastating defeat at the hands of a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt and Syria.

President George W. Bush made it a point of protecting Israel at the United Nations and the Security Council wielding the U.S. veto against the unfair actions and sanctions that Arab countries sought to impose to cripple and, if possible, destroy, the one Jewish nation in the world. Now, in my opinion, based on the actions and statements by President Obama and members of his administration, there is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that President Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did - protect our ally, Israel. The Arabs can lose countless wars and still come back because of their numbers. If Israel were to lose one, it would cease to exist.

To its credit, Congress, according to the Daily News, has acted differently towards Prime Minister Netanyahu than President Obama. Reporter Richard Sisk wrote on March 24th, "Congress put on a rare show of bipartisanship for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday - a sharp contrast to his chilly reception at the White House. ‘We in Congress stand by Israel,' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a beaming Netanyahu, who has refused to budge on White House and State Department demands to freeze settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank."

But Congress does not make foreign policy. It can prevent military arms from going to Israel, but cannot send them. Congress has no role in determining U.S. policy at the U.N. Security Council. The President of the United States determines our foreign policy - nearly unilaterally - under our Constitution. So those Congressional bipartisan wishes of support, while welcome, will not protect Israel in these areas, only the President can do that. Based on his actions to date, I have serious doubts.

In the 1930s, the Jewish community and its leadership, with few exceptions, were silent when their coreligionists were being attacked, hunted down, incarcerated and slaughtered. Ultimately 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. The feeling in the U.S. apparently was that Jews who criticized our country's actions and inactions that endangered the lives of other Jews would be considered disloyal, unpatriotic and displaying dual loyalty, so many Jews stayed mute. Never again should we allow that to occur. We have every right to be concerned about the fate of the only Jewish nation in the world, which if it had existed during the 1930s and thereafter, would have given sanctuary to any Jew escaping the Nazi holocaust and taken whatever military action it could to save Jews not yet in the clutches of the Nazis. We who have learned the lessons of silence, Jews and Christians alike, must speak up now before it is too late.

So I ask again, where are our Senators, Schumer and Gillibrand? And, where are the voices, not only of the 31 members of the House and 14 Senators who are Jewish, but the Christian members of the House and Senate who support the State of Israel? Where are the peoples' voices? Remember the words of Pastor Niemoller, so familiar that I will not recite them, except for the last line, "Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up."

Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama - 78 percent of the Jewish community did - believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover. It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel's enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote.

Fmr. Israeli NSC Chief Arad: Time to say “no, we can’t” to Obama’s “appeasing and one-sided” policy

IDF Radio, March 31 2010 (Via Coteret):

Narrator Razi Barkai: We wish to discuss these issues with Uzi Dayan, a major general in the reserves, former [IDF] deputy chief of staff, and current head of the National Security Council (NSC) and, I must say, No. 42 on the Likud Knesset list. Good morning, Mr. Dayan. We should not have been surprised. At the conclusion of the Taba talks of 2002, we had the Clinton paper in which he said something that all the American presidents since adopted — whatever is Arab, is Palestinian; and whatever is Jewish, is Israeli — and he was referring to Jerusalem. Why are we stunned when it suddenly happens again?

Dayan: We are not stunned, but it is simply time for us to say, “no.” Every nation has moments when it has to say “no” even to its friends, including strategic friends. I think it is time for us to tell the USA and mainly its President, “no more.”


Barkai: Listen, [Haaretz correspondent] Ari Shavit said — and this has not yet been stated publically, except if it were raised in meetings one-on-one — that if you say “no” to the Americans (and you will soon tell us what we say “no” to), the Americans can start taking very small, secret, and painful steps such as, for example, delaying all kinds of weapon shipment, start questioning the $3 billion in aid we receive every year, or start poking us with all kids of small knives on international arenas such as the United Nations. Does this not bother you?

Dayan: Of course it does. The USA is not only our primary strategic ally, but it also has the power [to do these things]. That is correct. Still, even among friends there are lines you do not cross, which we should say politely but clearly. In our case, we should tell the US President, “no, we can’t” because you start addressing issues that do not only stand for Israeli interests and values, and we are not only right about them, but we are also wise because they do not benefit the issue at hand.

Look, there were two prominent leaders in our history who said “no” to the United States: Ben-Gurion, when he decided to declare Israel’s independence even though Washington was against it; and Menachem Begin, when facing that trilogy of the bombing of the Iraqi reactor, the attack in Lebanon, and the annexation of the Golan Heights. Now, we reached this state of affairs, which is not joyous of course, but a nation should know when to say “no.” Furthermore, we have a real crisis with the US policy because it is appeasing and one-sided. Look, what happened recently? We agreed to the solution of two states for two nations even though the Palestinians refused to acknowledge the right of the Jewish nation and despite the situation in Gaza, which lends itself at best to three states for two nations; and I am being cynical here. In addition, we froze construction works in Judea and Samaria, which was never done before; and we agreed to hold indirect negotiations with US involvement. Let me remind you that when I was personally involved in the process, the Americans were not even in the room with us.

Barkai: So what are we saying no to — the Jerusalem issue?

Dayan: Yes, to the Jerusalem issue. You know what? Let me add something here. What did we gain from making these concessions? We only received more and more demands. It is time for us to say “no” and insist on negotiations without preconditions. As for Jerusalem…it is so self evident.

Barkai: The Americans say to that: Great! Let’s go for direct negotiations without preconditions, but as we discuss the negotiations and while we conduct them, not facts shall be established on the ground. One of those facts established, which the Palestinians find incredibly intolerable, is construction in Jerusalem. You want to come to the table and say Jerusalem is entirely ours, and the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem are ours, and Jerusalem will remain ours in the permanent agreement? Fine. But do not establish facts while you are negotiating.

Dayan: The negotiations will determine what will be established in the negotiations. This is why it is called direct negotiations — that is, they are held directly, between us and the Palestinians, and without preconditions. The situation requires that we make such a statement. The Israeli public is waiting for it. Our US friends, not only the Jews but also Administration members, will support it. The President’s people will accept it. Why? Because it is not only just, but it is also the right thing to do so as to advance in the process.

Barkai: When you say that it is time to say “no” to the Americans, do you feel this morning that the prime minister — who represents you on both the ideological and the partisan level — is too weak? Did he not say “no” as decisively as you would expect him to?

Dayan: Look, I believe he is saying that, but he is justifiably more cautious than I am. I believe that the stand I am expressing here is not only the Likud view, but it is actually upheld by the majority in the Septet [Netanyahu's kitchen cabinet] and I believe that the prime minister would agree with the things I said here too.

Sarah Palin in Passover message: Next year in Jerusalem

(INN)...Republican Sarah Palin had a powerful message for Passover celebrants. Often touted by activists and pundits as pro-Israel, Palin directly addressed the Jewish people, and offered her solidarity with Israelis:

Tonight Jewish families all over the world will gather to celebrate Passover,
the story of Exodus and the freedom of the Jewish people from bondage. This
holiday reminds us of the sacrifices that are still being made for freedom – the
U.S. troops who are away from their families so that we can be with ours, and
the Israeli people, who struggle for peace with their neighbors even as they
face the threat of war.

“Next year in Jerusalem” will be the refrain
echoed by Jewish families as they finish their Seders tonight. It is a stark
reminder that whatever the threats the Jewish people have faced, whatever the
struggles, their connection to Jerusalem is ancient and unshakable. On this
Passover holiday, our family sends our best wishes to all who are celebrating.
Chag kasher V'Sameach. Happy Passover. And next year in Jerusalem.

Zogby Poll: Republicans and Democrats divided over Obama's Mideast policy

A new poll conducted by Zogby International shows America divided over its support for the Obama administration's policies.

The poll finds that while Americans retain strong levels of support for Israel, the Democrats and the Republicans are divided over Obama's approach to the Middle east conflict.

According to the Zogby International survey, 71 percent of Obama backers believe that the United States should "get tough with Israel" to stop the expansion of settlements, compared to just 26 percent of those who supported Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Also, 80 percent of likely Obama voters were in total agreement with the phrase, "It's time for the United States to get tough with Israel," while just 16 percent of McCain supporters agreed.

Overall,Fifty percent of Americans agree the Obama Administration should steer a middle course in pursing peace in the Middle East. There is a strong divide on this question with 73% of Democrats agreeing that the President should steer a middle course while only 24% of Republicans hold the same opinion. These numbers are largely unchanged from a similar survey conducted in April of 2009.

Fifty-one percent of Americans also believe that the inability to stop Israeli settlements makes the U.S. less respected in the world. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (62%), more than half of political Independents (53%) and a third of Republicans (34%) agree.

The Zogby poll suggests that Netanyahu's views are a hard sell among Democrats. He is viewed "totally unfavorably" by 49 percent of Obama voters, while only 29 percent viewed him "totally favorably." Meanwhile, 82 percent of McCain voters viewed him as "totally favorably," while only 9 percent viewed him "totally unfavorably."

Acting as PA's advocate - Obama demands a 4-Month Jerusalem Building Freeze

(VOA,CSmonitor).An Israeli newspaper is reporting that U.S. President Barack Obama wants Israel to freeze construction in East Jerusalem for four months so that stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks can resume.

In a report published Wednesday, Haaretz said in exchange for the freeze, the United States would pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's office would not comment on the report.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the prime minister's office had no comment on the proposal and could not confirm its veracity. "We won't we won't talk about it unless they do first," said spokesman Mark Regev.

Netanyahu, mindful of his rightist allies, is unlikely to agree to a four-month halt, says political analyst Jonathan Spyer.

"My own sense is that it's a non-starter. I'm not sure if it's a trial balloon, but if so, I don't see it flying," says Dr. Spyer, a senior research fellow at Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA), part of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

"Everything we're hearing from Netanyahu's cabinet indicates that they're not interested in a freeze in Jerusalem. This kind of pressure on the coalition isn't sustainable and if Netanyahu were to make a move like that, it will collapse," he says.

Palin: Obama treating Israel as a enemy; 'Second Holocaust' if Iran gains nuclear weapons

(CNN).Just minutes after the clock expired on the first day of the Jewish holy day of Passover, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin issued a biting critique of the Obama administration's Middle-East policy via her Facebook page.

In a post entitled "Peace Not Possible if Iran Escapes Real Sanctions," Palin accuses President Obama of dropping the pursuit of "crippling" sanctions against Iran and treating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like an "unwelcome guest" during a recent visit to Washington.

"[J]ust as the Obama administration inexplicably gives up on imposing crippling sanctions on Iran, it's taken an uncompromising hard line against one country in the Middle East: Israel," Palin writes. "On his recent visit to Washington, the Israeli Prime Minister was treated like an unwelcome guest, as shown by White House actions such as refusing to be photographed with Israel's Prime Minister."

Palin argues that the Obama administration's actions have failed to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and that more than one year into Obama's presidency, his administration has made "no progress" on sanctions.

... While President Obama once said a nuclear-armed Iran would be “unacceptable,” after more than a year in office it’s sobering to have to acknowledge that his administration has made no progress in implementing “crippling” sanctions on Iran, let alone halting Iran’s nuclear program. Even the rhetoric moved in the wrong direction — recently the administration downgraded their call for “crippling” sanctions to sanctions that “bite.” Shockingly, as we learned last week, these “biting” sanctions will no longer include actions that could actually change Iran’s behavior, including limiting Iran’s access to international capital markets and banking services or closing air space and waters to Iran’s national air and shipping lines. So the issue is not when the so-called sanctions will come (President Obama promised them in “weeks” today) but whether they will even “nibble.” And while the Obama administration was more than willing to use every parliamentary trick in the book to ram its government health care takeover through Congress, conversely, it has worked hard to stall bipartisan efforts to pass the Iran Sanctions Act. ...

"The Obama administration has their priorities exactly backwards; we should be working with our friend and democratic ally to stop Iran's nuclear program, not throwing in the towel on sanctions while treating Israel like an enemy."

Dick Morris/ Obama Wants Israel's Netanyahu Out

(Dick Morris & Eileen McGann-Newsmax).Why is President Barack Obama so obviously humiliating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Why is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton negating everything she said when she represented New York state and piling on the Jewish state?

They want Netanyahu out. Specifically, they want him to feel such pressure that he dumps his right-wing coalition partners and forms a new government with the center-left party Kadima, headed by former Prime Minister Tzipi Livni.

Livni, who thinks nothing of trading land for peace, no matter how flawed the peace might be, will then hold Netanyahu's government hostage and force it to bend to the will of Washington and sign a deal with the Palestinians that cedes them land in return for a handful of vague vapors and promises, none of which will be kept.

On March 3 Livni said, in a Knesset debate, that since Netanyahu took control "Israel has become a pariah country in the world."

She is trying to use Obama's and Clinton's rejection of Netanyahu's course to force her way into the government. And Obama and Clinton are intent on helping her do so by publicly humiliating Netanyahu.

Netanyahu insists that he'd be happy to negotiate a peace accord. But, as he told me last year, "I just don't have a peace partner with whom to negotiate."

The Palestinians are expert at playing "good cop/bad cop" with Israel. The good cop — the Palestinian Authority — wants to negotiate a peace deal and insists on signs of Israeli good faith in order to do so.

Meanwhile, the bad cop — Hamas — fires missiles at Israel from Gaza, land Israel ceded to the Palestinians in order to promote the peace process earlier in the decade.

Any peace deal with the Palestinian Authority will not be binding on Hamas, and the pattern of Gaza will likely play out again: First, Israel cedes land to the Palestinian Authority. Second, Hamas seizes the newly ceded land through elections or military action. Third, Hamas refuses to recognize the peace deal and uses the newly acquired territory as a base from which to launch further attacks against Israel.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time.

When Hillary Clinton and President Obama explode in indignation against Israel for building apartments in East Jerusalem, they deliberately miss the point: There is no reason for Israel to catalyze peace negotiations when there is no single entity that is both committed to peace and speaks for the entire Palestinian people.

Without a peace partner, negotiations are either a trip to nowhere or a slippery slope to more Gaza-like concessions that do nothing but strengthen the enemies of Israel without providing any advancement to the cause of peace.

The merits of building in East Jerusalem or the need for a moratorium on all settlement construction are quite irrelevant as long as a substantial body of Palestinian opinion wants a war with Israel and the prevailing political authority in Gaza insists on the Jewish state's eradication.

So why are Obama and Clinton so intent on raising the profile of the construction issue and publicizing it?

One suspects an effort is afoot to link Israeli resistance to the peace process with the ongoing loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, if not to the global terrorism of al-Qaida.

Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples [in the region] … Enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the area of responsibility." In other words, blame Israel.

And ultimately, the administration's agenda may be to explain its withdrawal of support for Israel by blaming its stubborn insistence on housing construction.

One can well see the Obama administration learning to live with an Iranian nuclear weapon, all the while blaming Israel for fomenting Iranian hostility by building housing.

Meanwhile, through American aid to Gaza, the Obama administration is helping Hamas to solidify its position in Gaza and lengthen its lease on political power — the very power it is using to torpedo the peace process.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Likud Minister and member of inner cabinet Begin: U.S. pressure bolsters Palestinian hardliners and hinders peace efforts

The Obama administration's pressure on Israel to curb settlement activity will bolster Palestinian hardliners and hinder peace efforts, a senior cabinet minister said on Monday.

Benny Begin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner cabinet, described Washington's scrutiny on Jerusalem as departing from previous U.S. administrations' view that the city's status should be resolved in peace negotiations.

"It's bothersome, and certainly worrying," Begin told Israel Radio. "This change will definitely bring about the opposite to the declared objective. It will bring about a hardening in the policy of the Arabs and of the Palestinian Authority."

Maariv poll: Despite Obama's wishes - Netanyahu leads to head next Gov't if elections are to be held

Despite some wishes in the WH, to see Livni emerge as a serious contender against Netanyahu and create the next Government in Israel, polls show they can continue to dream and undermine Netanyahu, but the Israeli Public is still in favor of PM Netanyahu and a coalition led by the Likud.

According to a Maariv poll published today, Netanyahu's approval is only at 41%, while 53% are not sattisfied with his performance, but if Election were to be held today the results would be the same as the Elections held in 2009 with slightly changes, Kadima leads with 29 seats, Likud 28, Lieberman 13, Shas 9 and Labor only 8 seats, the Right wing bloc leads with a majority of 63 seats, and a likely prefered Unity Government headed by Likud and Kadima or Likud and Labor will give Netanyahu a 3rd term as Prime Minister of Israel.

Netanyahu is considered by the public fit to be PM by 46.7% , against Livni that is considered fit to be PM by only 28.7% (Livni's approval as Opposition leader is only at 38%, 56% disapprove her Job).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Netanyahu: Meeting on Obama's request wasn't Disaster, Just differences of opinion among friends

(BBC, NYT)..PM Benjamin Netanyahu has moved to ease tensions with the US, describing the two countries' relations as those of "allies and friends".

Mr Netanyahu also dismissed reports one of his confidants called US President Barack Obama a "disaster" for Israel.

A best-selling Israeli newspaper then quoted an unidentified aide as saying: "You could say that Obama is the greatest disaster for Israel - a strategic disaster."

But the prime minister, speaking before he briefed the cabinet on his US trip, condemned these comments as "unacceptable".

"They do not come from anyone representing me. The relations between Israel and the United States are those of allies and friends, and are based on tradition spanning many years."

"There were areas in which there was swift agreement," Netanyahu told the cabinet about the talks.

"In areas where there was disagreement, we tried to take, and we did take, certain steps to narrow the gaps in order to move the (peace) process forward," he said, without elaborating.

Resisting U.S. pressure, Netanyahu has said Israel would not stop building in West Bank territory it annexed to East Jerusalem after capturing the two areas in a 1967 war.

"I think we will continue these efforts. We are continuing them today and in the coming days," Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.

Politico: Fierce debate on Israel underway inside Obama administration; Ross calling to understand Netanyahu

(LauraRozen-Politico).Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tense visit to the White House last week, an intense debate inside the Obama administration about how to proceed with Netanyahu to advance the Middle East peace process has grown more heated, even as Israeli officials are expected to announce they have reached some sort of agreement with Washington as soon as tonight.

Sources say within the inter-agency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration's credibility.

POLITICO spoke with several officials who confirmed the debate and its intensity. Ross did not respond to a query, nor did a spokesman for George Mitchell.

“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu's coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn't seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become.

Last week, during U.S.-Israeli negotiations during Netanyahu’s visit and subsequent internal U.S. government meetings, the official said, Ross “was always saying about how far Bibi could go and not go. So by his logic, our objectives and interests were less important than pre-emptive capitulation to what he described as Bibi's coalition's red lines.”

When the U.S. and Israel are seen to publicly diverge on an issue such as East Jerusalem construction, the official characterized Ross's argument as: "the Arabs increase their demands ... therefore we must rush to close gaps ... no matter what the cost to our broader credibility.”

A second official confirmed the broad outlines of the current debate within the administration. Obviously at every stage of the process, the Obama Middle East team faces tactical decisions about what to push for, who to push, how hard to push, he described.

As to which argument best reflects the wishes of the President, the first official said, “As for POTUS, what happens in practice is that POTUS, rightly, gives broad direction. He doesn't, and shouldn't, get bogged down in minutiae. But Dennis uses the minutiae to blur the big picture … And no one asks the question: why, since his approach in the Oslo years was such an abysmal failure, is he back, peddling the same snake oil?”

Other contacts who have discussed recent U.S.-Israel tensions with Ross say he argues that all parties need to keep focus on the big picture, Iran, and the peace process as being part of a wider U.S. effort to bolster an international and regional alliance including Arab nations and Israel to pressure and isolate Iran. This is an argument that presumably has resonance with the Netanyahu government. But at the same time, Arab allies tell Washington that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem inflames their publics and breeds despair and makes it hard for them to work even indirectly and quietly with Israel on Iran. They push Washington to show it can manage Israel and to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace process going that would facilitate regional cooperation on Iran.

The surfacing of the fierce internal debate underway comes as sources said that the Israeli government is expected to announce as soon as Sunday or Monday that it has struck a deal with Washington on U.S. requests for confidence building steps to advance peace talks.

But officials even disagreed over the nature of the deal or understanding reached.

“There's no deal as would be understood by most,” the first U.S. official said. “That is, there's no shared, negotiated and agreed document. Instead, the Israelis have told us a few things we accept as positive, along with much we don't. So I expect you'll see us put out something that emphasizes our acceptance of only part of whatever the Israelis say.”

On Friday, before details of the internal administration debate surfaced and in response to Israeli news reports that a spokesman for the Prime Minister had suggested an understanding had already been reached between the Israeli and American governments, a White House spokesman said there was no deal yet.

“United States policy on Jerusalem has not changed,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said by email. “We have not reached any understandings on this issue with the Israeli Government. This is an issue on which the US government has had long-standing differences with multiple Israeli governments and the President believes that the only way for the parties to resolve these issues is by returning to negotiations. That’s why we’ve been talking to the Israelis about how to create an atmosphere that will allow the negotiations to succeed. Those conversations have been productive and will continue, as will our conversations with the Palestinians, about how to make the talks successful.”

Huckabee Accuses Obama Of "Snubbing" Netanyahu

Top Obama aides: There was No Intent to Humiliate Netanyahu; Friends can disagree

US President Barack Obama did not give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the cold shoulder when they met in the White House last week, a top Obama aide said on Sunday.

"This was a working meeting among friends. And so there was no snub intended," White House senior adviser David Axelrod told CNN's State of the Union news program.

Axelrod noted that the two leaders had met in private for two hours and had better things to do with their time than worry about protocol.

Axelrod told CNN: "This was not about formalities. This was not about a ceremonial meeting. This was a working meeting. We have a deep, abiding interest in Israel's security. And we believe the peace process is essential to that. And we are doing everything we can to move that process forward."

Valerie Jarrett, to Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week": "The United States is a strong and ardent ally of Israel. The fact of the matter is that friends can disagree. And I think what’s important is that world leaders are able to sit down with one another, have frank conversations and move forward. I don’t think there’s any doubt in the mind of Bibi Netanyahu about the president’s commitment to Israel and its safety, and how important that is to the United States and to the region.”

Poll:44% of US Jews support Netanyahu, Obama still popular with 59%- A 19% decline of '08 Election vote

US President Barack Obama continues to be popular among American Jews but gets only 59% , while in the 2008 Election he got the vote of 78% of the Jewish vote – in fact only 15% more popular than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll conducted by Israeli lobby J-Street, which is affiliated with the Left and competes with the Right-leaning veteran lobby group AIPAC.

According to the poll, Obama managed to maintain his popularity among 59% of American Jews, even after the harsh US condemnation that followed Israel's declaration it had approved construction of 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.

In contrast, 44% of American Jews continued to pledge their support to Netanyahu. The prime minister was received warmly during the AIPAC convention earlier in the week, but was later subject to what was described as a major embarrassment during his visit to the White House. The results of the poll were collected prior to these two events.

Pollster Gerstein noted that 55% of American Jews said the US was doing the right thing by criticizing Israel – and thought the issue was particularly sensitive because it involved Jerusalem.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nile Gardiner/ Obama’s humiliation of Israel is a disgrace

(Nile Gardiner -The Telegraph).I wrote recently about Barack Obama’s sneering contempt for both Israel and Great Britain. Further confirmation of this was provided today with new details emerging regarding the President’s appalling reception for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House earlier this week.

This is no way to treat America’s closest ally in the Middle East, and a true friend of the United States. I very much doubt that even third world tyrants would be received in such a rude fashion by the president. In fact, they would probably be warmly welcomed by the Obama White House as part of its “engagement” strategy, while the leaders of Britain and Israel are frequently met with arrogant disdain.

The ritual humiliation of the Israelis is an absolute disgrace, and yet another example of how the Obama administration views its allies with indifference, contempt, and at times outright hostility. It is extraordinary how far the Obama team has gone out of its way to grovel to state sponsors of terrorism, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Muammar Gaddafi, while kicking America’s friends in the teeth.

Israel is literally fighting for its survival on a daily basis against an array of vicious terrorist groups, from Hamas to Hizbollah, while facing a looming threat from a genocidal, nuclear-armed Iran. President Obama’s top priority in the Middle East should be preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapons programme. Instead he seems obsessed with kowtowing to America’s enemies by bashing Israel at almost every opportunity.

This is a foreign policy doctrine that is both destructive and fundamentally against the US national interest. The future security of the United States rests not upon the degree to which it can appease her enemies, but upon the strength of her enduring alliances with the rest of the free world. Israel needs Washington’s support and vice versa, not a slap in the face from a president whose idea of world leadership seems to consist largely of apologising for his country while throwing America’s friends to the wolves.

Post poll: Obama's favorable among Israelis with only single digits- 9% Jews say Obama is pro-Israel; 48% call him pro- Palestin

(JPost).Just 9 percent of Jewish Israelis think US President Barack Obama’s administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, according to a Smith Research poll taken this week on behalf of The Jerusalem Post.

Forty-eight percent said that the Obama presidency favored the Palestinian side, 30% said his administration was neutral and 13% chose not to express an opinion for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The poll of a representative sample of 500 Israelis was conducted on Sunday and Monday after weeks of heightened tensions between Obama and Israel, but before the crisis intensified during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.

Respondents who consider themselves right-wing were more likely than the rest of the population to characterize the Obama administration as more pro-Palestinian (72%). Those who define themselves as left-wing were more likely to call the administration in Washington more pro-Israel (16%).

The number of Israelis who see Obama’s policies as pro-Israel has risen from 4% in the last Smith Research poll taken on behalf of the Post in August. In that poll, 51% of Jewish Israelis said Obama’s administration was more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, while 35% considered it neutral and 10% declined to express an opinion.

A widely reported Post poll published on June 19 that put the first figure at 6% had been cited by top officials in both the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office as a catalyst for American efforts to improve the American-Israeli relationship. Taken shortly after Obama reached out to the Muslim world in a landmark address in Cairo on June 14, that poll found that 50% of those sampled considered the administration’s policies more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli, and 36% said the policies were neutral. The remaining 8% did not express an opinion.

The Times: Netanyahu humiliated after Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'

(Timesonline).For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

Left to talk among themselves Mr Netanyahu and his aides retreated to the Roosevelt Room. He spent a further half-hour with Mr Obama and extended his stay for a day of emergency talks to try to restart peace negotiations. However, he left last night with no official statement from either side. He returned to Israel yesterday isolated after what Israeli media have called a White House ambush for which he is largely to blame.

Sources said that Mr Netanyahu failed to impress Mr Obama with a flow chart purporting to show that he was not responsible for the timing of announcements of new settlement projects in east Jerusalem. Mr Obama was said to be livid when such an announcement derailed the visit to Israel by Joe Biden, the Vice-President, this month and his anger towards Israel does not appear to have cooled.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, cast doubt on minor details in Israeli accounts of the meeting but did not deny claims that it amounted to a dressing down for the Prime Minister, whose refusal to freeze settlements is seen in Washington as the main barrier to resuming peace talks.

In their meeting Mr Obama set out expectations that Israel was to satisfy if it wanted to end the crisis, Israeli sources said. These included an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement growth beyond the ten-month deadline next September, an end to building projects in east Jerusalem and a withdrawal of Israeli forces to positions held before the second intifada in September 2000.

Newspaper reports recounted how Mr Netanyahu looked “excessively concerned and upset” when he pulled out a flow chart to show Mr Obama how Jerusalem planning permission worked and how he could not have known that the announcement that hundreds more homes were to be built would be made when Mr Biden arrived in Jerusalem.

Mr Obama then suggested that Mr Netanyahu and his staff stay at the White House to consider his proposals so that if he changed his mind he could inform the President right away. “I’m still around,” the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Mr Obama as saying. “Let me know if there is anything new.”

With the atmosphere so soured by the end of the evening, the Israelis decided that they could not trust the telephone line they had been lent for their consultations. Mr Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, his Defence Minister, went to the Israeli Embassy to ensure that the Americans were not listening in.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joel Rosenberg: Netanyahu Stood His Ground with Obama

(Joel C. Obama administration has been applying intense and unprecedented pressure on the Netanyahu government to make huge unilateral concessions to the Palestinians even before direct peace talks begin. One advisor who has been briefed on the talks told me:

“President Obama is insisting that Israel sign a document that specifies Israel’s commitment to a peace deal with the Palestinians that will be based on 1967 lines. This means no building in Jerusalem, and a time table to address other core issues, like the ‘right of return.’”

The source, one that I trust a great deal, also noted that President Obama spoke by phone in the last 24 hours with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make sure each of them are on board with pressuring the Israelis to make such unprecedented unilateral concessions. The White House apparently wants the document to become the blueprint for final status negotiations, even though the Palestinians refuse even to come to the table and sit down face-to-face with Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu.

The Netanyahu team delayed their departure out of Washington Wednesday afternoon to continue meeting almost non-stop together at the Israeli Embassy. Several key officials also met with special Mideast envoy George Mitchell and other key administration officials. The team finally left for Israel late Wednesday night. Thus far, a virtual news blackout has been imposed on President Obama’s meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The good news: Netanyahu had a very good week. He looked strong and principled. He was gracious and diplomatic. And he stood his ground. He did not cave in to the intense pressure from the White House and State Department. He refused to divide Jerusalem. In a masterful AIPAC speech, he calmly and clearly explained why Israel would never give up the right to build homes in her capital. He sent the U.S. and the world a straightforward and sobering message that if they don’t move quickly and decisively to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, then Israel will do it herself. He didn’t threaten. He didn’t swagger. He simply stated the facts, in their historic context, and nobody does it better than Netanyahu. What’s more, he did all this with Defense Minister Ehud Barak standing in solidarity at his side, which was important because it sent the White House — and his critics back in Israel, and enemies back in Iran — the message that the Israeli government is united. No small thing. Barak came to Camp David with Yasser Arafat in 2000 willing carve up Jerusalem and give away the West Bank. God bless Netanyahu for opposing this approach in principle, and for having and (thus far, at least) maintaining Barak’s support in the process.

What’s more, the AIPAC speech, plus the warm and engaging meetings with Members of Congress significantly strengthened Netanyahu’s hand. It reconnected him in a very important way with grassroots pro-Israel activists from all over the U.S., Jews and Christians alike. It also significantly strengthened his alliance with Congress, which continues to prove itself as the pro-Israel end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Both are critical in counter-balancing the hostile Obama administration.

The President and Prime Minister met twice at the White House on Tuesday night for a total of about two hours, from 5:30pm to around 7pm, and then again from about 8:30pm to 9pm. Senior aides to both leaders then stayed up until nearly 1:00am Wednesday morning continuing their talks. The White House, however, has refused to treat Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak with the dignity and respect afforded other world leaders. No joint press conferences. No photo ops. No still shots released of the two leaders meeting. Pretty much ”no comment” to any of the substance.

The Netanyahu team, apparently following the request of the White House and trying to be sensitive to the desire of its host, hasn’t been talking either. On Wednesday morning, the Israelis canceled all interviews. Several news outlets have noted the silence related to the talks is “deafening,” and I agree. It’s hard to remember the last time a world leader of Netanyahu’s caliber — particularly a strong friend and ally of the United States — was subject to such treatment from an administration that claims to be hitting the “reset” button to improve relations between the two countries. Except for last year when Netanyahu came to Washington and also met with Obama without a photo op, press conference, or any of the diplomatic trappings of mutual respect and true friendship.

I believe that Netanyahu was wise to cancel his media interviews on Wednesday. He didn’t grandstand. He didn’t purposefully stick his finger in the President’s eye. Having effectively made his public case to AIPAC and Congress on Monday and Tuesday, Netanyahu, Barak and their team worked hard on Wednesday to show the administration their willingness to negotiate in good faith, and to do so without immediately and publicly airing their differences with the administration.

Prof. Efraim Inbar : Netanyahu Can Say "No"

(Efraim Inbar-BESA).The Obama administrationג€™s attempt to force Israel to accept the division of Jerusalem as a prerequisite for peace talks is astonishing. Despite the obvious reluctance to confront an American president, Prime Minister Netanyahu can effectively resist such American pressure on Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is the issue on which Netanyahu can best make a stand against Obama.

President Barack Obama capitalized on a minor Israeli glitch ג€“ the announcement of Israel's plans to build in Ramat Shlomo ג€“ to fabricate a crisis in US-Israeli relations. Obama seeks to renegotiate the agreement reached for starting proximity talks with the Palestinians and to extract additional concessions from Israel. Most striking and central is the administration's effort to force Israel into accepting the division of Jerusalem even before the talks start.

The White House expects that the Israeli prime minister will bend under pressure to its wishes. While in the past Netanyahu has proven susceptible to such pressure, the administration may be overplaying its hand on the issue of Jerusalem. Despite the obvious reluctance to confront an American president, Prime Minister Netanyahu can effectively resist American pressure. In fact, this is the issue on which Netanyahu can best take a stand against Obama.

The division of the city is opposed by the current democratically-elected Israeli government and (according to polls that I have directed) by over 70 percent of the Jews in Israel. Few issues in Israel command such a large and clear majority.

The timing of the crisis also serves Israel well. A few days before Passover when Jews repeat a 2,000-year-old text pledging, Next year in Jerusalem,Netanyahu can say no to American demands for concessions in Jerusalem. Rejection of the division of Jerusalem expresses the deepest wishes of an overwhelming number of Jews living both in Israel and the Diaspora.

In contrast to parts of Judea and Samaria, the Israeli need to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem is easiest to explain. The Palestinian claim to Jerusalem is weak. There was never a Palestinian state and the Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem for the past 150 years. Jerusalem has never been a capital of any political entity, except that of a Jewish State. Moreover, the Arab residents of Jerusalem, if given a choice, would in all probability prefer to live under Israeli sovereignty than become part of a failed Palestinian state. Finally, dividing a city makes very little urban or political sense.

Netanyahu has the rhetorical power to galvanize widespread Jewish support for continued and unrestrained Israeli rule in Jerusalem. In 1967, the Jews were fortunate to liberate Jerusalem, their ancient capital, and particularly the Temple Mount, their holiest site. The fortunes of the eternal city strike an emotional chord for every Jew. Even many non-Jews share the same sensitivity.

Israel can reject the Obama demands for additional confidence-building measures by pointing to Obama's unfairness toward Israel. Netanyahu's already significant concessions have been belittled by the American administration and rejected as a sign of Israeli seriousness entering into peace talks. Netanyahu's acquiescence to the two-state paradigm was coolly received in Washington. A partial freeze in Judea and Samaria, an unprecedented concession by an Israeli government, was welcomed only as a step in the right direction.Agreeing to proximity talks instead of insisting on direct negotiations another significant Israeli concession also is not good enough for the Obama White House.

In contrast, Obama appears to relish humiliating and bullying Netanyahu, the prime minister of a democratic, embattled state. This appears to fit Obama's overall foreign policy approach of estranging democratic allies while appeasing anti-American dictators.

Flagrant conflict with the US is not something an Israeli leader prefers, but sometimes the asymmetry between a great power and its small ally is not compelling. The Israeli interest in keeping Jerusalem united is more intense than the Obama desire for a foreign policy success. The balance of determination tilts in Israel's favor. Moreover, Israel has some leverage by its nuisance value; that is, it can do things that the US does not like. One clear example is an attack on Iran. Another source of Israeli influence is the character of the American political system, which is susceptible to lobbies and popular sentiment.

Fortunately, the level of public support for Israel in the US is at a record high. Over two-thirds of Americans view Israel favorably and prefer the Jewish State to the Palestinians. Congress reflects such widespread attitudes. Since the President is not in sync with a huge majority of Americans on this issue, Israel has a good chance of convincing the American people that their president is unfair to the Jewish State and is wrong in trying to impose his views on democratic Israel. We already see American voices in the media and in Congress expressing criticism of Obama for not treating Netanyahu properly.

At stake is not just a policy issue. Hanna Arendt in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, points out that attitude toward Jews is the litmus test for measuring democratic retrogression. This is true of the attitude toward the Jewish state as well. The unwavering American commitment to democracy incorporates respect for choices made by other democracies. Israel can convince Americans that its democratically-elected government has every right to determine its future.

If Obama continues to insist on freezing construction in Jerusalem, Israelג€™s prime minister has the option to tell the US and the world that the Jews have returned to where King David established his capital 3,000 years earlier and that they intend to stay there. The text of such a response is easily available: "f I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy" (Psalms 137, 5-7). Once in a while such words have great power.

EXCLUSIVE: Intelligence agencies: Kadima Chair Ramon working with PA to obstruct the start of peace negotiations

(Matti Tuchfeld-Israel Hayom).Kadima Council Chairman Haim Ramon is working to sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians — say high-ranking political officials.

The senior officials say that according to information recently obtained by intelligence agencies that was placed on the desk of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, Ramon is working with senior PA officials to prevent negotiations from being launched between Jerusalem and Ramallah. According to this information, PA sources confirmed this. It was also said that other figures in Kadima might be partners Ramon’s activity. Political sources say that Ramon has been urging Palestinian and European figures to wait for Kadima to come to power, saying that this would make it possible to launch negotiations under better conditions for them.

Likud sources recently said that Ramon is surrounded by a number of people with whom he maintains close friendships. Some of them want the Netanyahu government to fall, and the actions of the [former] MK serve these friends in one way or another. Among the figures who could benefit from the fall of the government: Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, former minister Aryeh Deri and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. MK Ramon denied this, but a senior Kadima member confirmed the details last night. “Ramon has been engaged in intrigues in the Palestinian Authority and is preventing the start of the peace negotiations to the best of his ability,” a senior Kadima source said yesterday, “he believes that this will topple Netanyahu.”

Ramon said in response, “woe to a country whose leaders, through the ‘Bibi-paper’ known as Israel Hayom, disseminate unsubstantiated nonsense in a desperate attempt to excuse the fact that the prime minister and the defense minister have caused Israel to sink to the deepest diplomatic low in many years.” Sources in Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s bureau said that “this is delusional and untrue.” Sources in Peace Now, who were apparently the ones who conveyed the report to the media about the construction in Sheikh Jarrah, said that they did not work in coordination with Ramon on the matter. MK Ophir Akunis of the Likud said yesterday that “there are clear indications that Kadima and its advisers played a major role in publicizing the construction in Jerusalem.” […]

Likud Ministers to PM: Show US we have red lines; We are not an American satellite

(Ynet).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making his way back to Israel after failing to reach an agreement with the White House that would advance the launching of so-called proximity talks with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile in Israel, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said Netanyahu should be praised for insisting on Israel's interests with the US administration. "We are not a leftist government, and construction in Jerusalem is part of the consensus – it is the capital of the people of Israel," Hershkowitz said.

"We do not want to fight with our great friend, but our responsibility is towards the people of Israel. We are an independent state and not an American dependant. We must avoid a situation whereby we close down the Knesset and government, hand (US President Barack) Obama the keys and allow him to tell us what to do," he said.

"If the Americans will realize that the Israeli government has red lines - they will respect that," he said.

Sources close to right-wing cabinet members said that before Netanyahu left for Washington he was told to take a tough stance on Jewish construction in east Jerusalem even at the risk of a full-blown crisis.

According to one source, Netanyahu was told that Israel must make it clear to the US that the issue of Jerusalem is nonnegotiable.

"If the Americans insist, then they can break down the negotiations," one minister was quoted as saying.

A senior minister's aide said, "Are we negotiating with the US or with the Palestinian Authority? Any withdrawal from the cabinet's position will be considered a starting point by the Americans and Palestinians."

WaPo: Netanyahu is being treated as a unsavory Third World dictator

(Jackson Diehl-WashingtonPost).So it’s now been two weeks since President Obama chose to seize on a poorly-timed Israeli announcement about new Jewish housing in Jerusalem to launch another public confrontation with the government of Binyamin Netanyahu. The results, so far, are these:

Obama’s demand, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that Israel reverse its decision on the new neighborhood and freeze all other new construction in Jerusalem has been publicly rejected by Netanyahu. And the administration, for the second time in a year, has backed down. “Ultimately,” said State spokesman P.J. Crowley at his briefing Tuesday, “the future of Jerusalem can only be resolved through the direct negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] that we hope will get started as quickly as possible.” That, word for word, has been the Israeli position all along.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has adopted Obama’s original demand as his own: He’s saying he won’t begin even the indirect, “proximity” talks he previously agreed to until Israel accepts the Clinton terms on Jerusalem. How could he do otherwise? The Palestinian leader cannot be less pro-Palestinian than the White House. But Abbas cannot climb down from his position so easily -- which means that, for the second time in a year, the Middle East peace process has been stalled by a U.S.-engineered deadlock. U.S. and Israeli negotiators worked until 3 a.m. Wednesday in an attempt to come up with a formula that would allow the talks to go forward. They met again Wednesday morning. So far, no luck.

Finally, Obama has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades. Tuesday night the White House refused to allow non-official photographers record the president’s meeting with Netanyahu; no statement was issued afterward. Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to. Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.

The White House’s explanations for Obama’s behavior keep shifting. At first spokesmen insisted that the president had to respond to the “insult” of the settlement announcement during a visit to Jerusalem by Vice President Biden -- even though the administration knew that, far from being a calculated snub, the decision by a local council had taken Netanyahu himself by surprise.

Next the administration argued that the scrap was a needed wake-up call for Netanyahu’s right-wing government, which, it was said, had been put on notice that its failure to move toward a settlement with Palestinians was endangering U.S. interests in the region. But -- assuming for the moment that the administration’s premise is correct -- Obama chose to challenge Netanyahu on a point that is not material to the creation of a Palestinian state. As the Israeli leader has pointed out, previous U.S. administrations and the Palestinians themselves have already accepted that Jewish neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem will be annexed to Israel in exchange for territory elsewhere.

U.S. pressure on Netanyahu will be needed if the peace process ever reaches the point where the genuinely contentious issues, like Palestinian refugees or the exact territorial tradeoffs, are on the table. But instead of waiting for that moment and pushing Netanyahu on a point where he might be vulnerable to domestic challenge, Obama picked a fight over something that virtually all Israelis agree on, and before serious discussions have even begun. As the veteran Middle East analyst Robert Malley put it to The Post’s Glenn Kessler, “U.S. pressure can work, but it needs to be at the right time, on the right issue and in the right political context. The administration is ready for a fight, but it realized the issue, timing and context were wrong.”

A new administration can be excused for making such a mistake in the treacherous and complex theater of Middle East diplomacy. That’s why Obama was given a pass by many when he made exactly the same mistake last year. The second time around, the president doesn’t look naive. He appears ideological -- and vindictive.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Netanyahu spends hours at WH, including two meetings with Obama

(WashingtonPost).Amid high tensions in U.S.-Israeli relations, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with President Obama for a total of two hours in two meetings at the White House Tuesday night under a virtual news blackout, which, according to the Prime Minister's Office, were "conducted in a good atmosphere."

A U.S. official said that Obama and Netanyahu initially met in the Oval Office from 5:34 to 7:03 p.m. Obama then went to the residence while Netanyahu conferred with his aides in the Roosevelt room. Netanyahu then requested another meeting, and the two leaders returned to the Oval Office for a discussion that lasted from 8:20 to 8:55 p.m., the official said. He did not provide an explanation for the two meetings.

Although they met for a total of two hours, the White House did not issue a formal statement on what was discussed in either meeting, another break with custom. Israeli officials also had no comment.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is Obama's problem that Netanyahu is a Republican at heart?

(The MESS Report-Haaretz).Perhaps the tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama isn't personal but partisan, in the words of a member of Bill Clinton's White House administration. He suggests that the problem isn't that Netanyahu is a "Likudnik," but that, at his core, he is a Republican.

Half-joking and half-serious, the official explained to me that when one hears Netanyahu's creed about economic affairs, it's like listening to a conservative Republican senator. That - maybe - explains the tension between the two leaders. Perhaps now that Obama has succeeded in passing his health care reform bill, his attitude toward the conservative Republican from the State of Israel might be more forgiving.

Bicker summit? Netanyahu meets Obama without meeting his demands

(Ynet,Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama met in the White House for 90 minutes Tuesday, Netanyahu did not leave the White House for another two hours after his formal talks with Obama, but what he was doing during that time was not immediately clear.

Just before the meeting, reports surfaced of yet another controversial construction project approved in the eastern part of the capital, this time in Sheikh Jarah. PM Netanyahu entered his meeting with Obama without being aware of the new building permit. Officials at the PM's Office declined to comment about the issue for the time being.

Just like his last visit to Washington, the meeting at the White House did not include photo opportunities or a press briefing following the session. The White House had no immediate comment on what was discussed by the two leaders in the Oval Office.

According to an Israeli source who has discussed the matter with senior U.S. officials, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the president are dissatisfied with a letter given to them by Netanyahu, in which he detailed steps he is willing to take to restore American confidence in his government.

An Israeli source noted that both Biden and Clinton used strong language and made it clear to Netanyahu that he would need to make further concessions to American demands in their meeting if trust is to be restored.

The same source said that the Americans are convinced that the answers Netanyahu had given them are insufficient.

Flanked by House leaders Pelosi, Boehner, Netanyahu hails bipartisan support for Israel

(msnbc).Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the bipartisan support in Congress for Israel Tuesday as he stood flanked by party leaders Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner — in his only photo opportunity so far on his visit with U.S. officials.

Speaking before meeting Pelosi and Boehner, Netanyahu said of support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress that it was "genuine. It's real. It's the detailed. It's serious. And it's deeply, deeply appreciated by the people of Israel, across the board," according to an account in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The paper said he added: "We face two great challenges. The first is the quest for peace with our Palestinian neighbors. And the second is the ability of the international community to stop the Iranian tyranny from developing atomic weapons, which would directly threaten the State of Israel, but threaten the entire world, and threaten the Untied States of America."
Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

"If this terror tyranny acquires atomic bombs, they could easily give them to terrorist proxies," he warned, the Sun-Times reported. They could also contemplate using these weapons themselves. And this is something of intolerable danger to all of us.

Netanyahu ignored a shouted question about the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from London — a British response to the cloning of U.K. passports used by a hit squad which assassinated a Hamas leader in Dubai.

Pelosi spoke of the "long friendship" between the two countries, stressing that the two parties "speak with one voice on the subject of Israel," the Sun-Times said. Boehner added that the U.S. had "no stronger ally anywhere in the world than Israel" but admitted "we all know that we're in a difficult moment."

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY):The U.S. must hit Iran first, on our own, with unilateral sanctions

Senate leadership member Charles Schumer, D-NY, passionately pledged to push this week for action on the Iran sanctions legislation currently awaiting a House-Senate conference. They directly contradicted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call for more time to allow the U.N. process to play out, a plea she made in remarks to the same group earlier in the day.

Comparing a delay in confronting Iran's nuclear program with the WWII-era appeasement of Adolf Hitler, Schumer said there was no choice but to move forward with new Iran sanctions now.

"Diplomatic efforts have failed. We are too close (to a nuclear Iran) to simply continue those efforts," said Schumer. "The U.S. must hit Iran first, on our own, with unilateral sanctions, no matter what the other nations of the world do. And we cannot wait, we must push those sanctions now ... we cannot afford to wait for Russia or China."

Schumer's comments showed some daylight between the New York senator and the administration on the issue of banning the export of petroleum products to Iran. Schumer is for it, but administration officials say they want to focus on sanctions that target the regime, not the population.

Full speech of PM Netanyahu at AIPAC

Before you attack, check the facts - Netanyahu gives Clinton lesson in bureaucracy

(Ynet).Israeli sources described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting on Monday as "friendly and concise." The two met privately for an hour and a half and were later joined by officials from both sides, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Netanyahu presented Clinton with a sketch illustrating the long bureaucratic process entailed in securing building permits for houses in Israel, including in Jerusalem. He described a process consisting of dozens of stages, including ones that many Israeli government ministers are not adept at.

Netanyahu explained that each stage has the potential of sparking an international controversy, trying to demonstrate the origin of the diplomatic crisis which erupted between the US and Israel last week.

Netanyahu told Clinton that he cannot guarantee that similar crises won't happen in the future, regardless of the prime minister's political stance on Jerusalem.

During the meeting, Clinton and Netanyahu tried to find ways of speedily advancing towards direct talks.

The Israeli stance as presented is that Israel is willing to hold immediate direct negotiations and that the US administration should recognize that the Palestinians do not help advance the process, and on several occasions have even stalled it.

After the meeting Netanyahu met US Vice President Joe Biden for dinner.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Defiant Netanyahu at AIPAC: Jerusalem is not a settlement,It is our Capital

(Ben Smith-Politico).Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a defiant reply to the White House in a speech to the pro-Israel group AIPAC this evening, responding to American attempts to damp down their harsh words with an insistence on Israel's right to construct housing in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, who apologized for the announcement of new housing in Jerusalem during Joe Biden's visit ten days ago, does not reprise his apology, Instead, he reminds the White House that the new housing -- though a thumb in the eye -- did not actually violate any commitment he'd made, as any settlement freeze always excluded Jerusalem.

"The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied.The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied," Netanyahu says. "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.Jerusalem is not a settlement.It is our capital."

"Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement.Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu returned in his speech to familiar themes: The historic assaults on the Jewish people, his theoretical desire for Palestinian independence, and the sole fault of Palestinian leaders in preventing it.

"Peace requires reciprocity .It cannot be a one-way street in which only Israel makes concessions. Israel stands ready to make the compromises necessary for peace. But we expect the Palestinian leaders to compromise as well," he says.

Netanyahu concluded with a short tribute to the American-Israeli relationship, mentioning President Obama once and thanking him, and Congress, for military cooperation.

But his speech also included a clear rebuttal to Israelis and American Jews who have pleaded with him to mend his relationship with the White House.

"The future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself," Netanyahu says.

The following are Prime Minister Netanyahu's prepared remarks to AIPAC this evening:
As the world faces monumental challenges, I know that Israel and America will face them together.We stand together because we are fired by the same ideals and inspired by the same dream the dream of achieving security, prosperity and peace.This dream seemed impossible to many Jews a century ago.
This month, my father celebrated his one-hundredth birthday.When he was born, the Czars ruled Russia, the British Empire spanned the globe and the Ottomans ruled the Middle East.During his lifetime, all of these empires collapsed, other powers rose and fell, and the Jewish destiny swung from despair to a new hope the rebirth of the Jewish state.For the first time in two thousand years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend themselves against attack.
Before that, we were subjected to unremitting savagery: the bloodletting of the Middle Ages, the expulsion of the Jews from England, Spain and Portugal, the wholesale slaughter of the Jews of the Ukraine, the pogroms in Russia, culminating in the greatest evil of all the Holocaust.The founding of Israel did not stop the attacks against the Jews.It merely gave the Jews the power to defend themselves against those attacks.
My friends,
I want to tell you about the day when I fully understood the depth of this transformation. It was the day I met Shlomit Vilmosh over forty years ago.I served with her son, Haim, in the same elite unit in the army.During a battle in 1969, Haim was killed by a burst of gunfire.At his funeral, I discovered that Haim was born shortly after his mother and father had been freed from the death camps of Europe.Had he been born two years before, this daring young officer would have been tossed into the ovens like a million other Jewish children. Haims mother Shlomit told me that though she was in great anguish, she was proud.At least, she said, my son fell wearing the uniform of a Jewish soldier defending the Jewish state.
Time and again the Israeli army was forced to repel attacks of much larger enemies determined to destroy us.Recognizing that we could not be defeated in battle, Egypt and Jordan, embraced the path of peace. Yet there are those who continue the assault against the Jewish state and who openly call for our destruction.They seek to achieve this goal through terrorism, missile attacks and most recently by seeking to develop atomic weapons.
The ingathering of the Jewish people to Israel has not deterred these fanatics. In fact, it has only whetted their appetite.Irans rulers say Israel is a one bomb country."The head of Hezbollah says: "If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."
My friends,
These are unpleasant facts, but they are the facts.The greatest threat to any living organism or nation is not to recognize danger in time. Seventy-five years ago, the leading powers in the world put their heads in the sand.Untold millions died in the war that followed. Ultimately, two of history's greatest leaders helped turn the tide.Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill helped save the world. But they were too late to save six million of my own people.

The future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.
Today, an unprecedented threat to humanity looms large.A radical Iranian regime armed with nuclear weapons could bring an end to the era of nuclear peace the world has enjoyed for the last 65 years.Such a regime could provide nuclear weapons to terrorists and might even be tempted to use them itself. Our world would never be the same.Iran's brazen bid to develop nuclear weapons is first and foremost a threat to Israel, but it is also a grave threat to the region and to the world.Israel expects the international community to act swiftly and decisively to thwart this danger. But we will always reserve the right to defend ourselves.
We must also defend ourselves against the lies and vilifications.Throughout history, the slanders against the Jewish people always preceded the physical assaults against them and were used to justify them.The Jews were called the well-poisoners of mankind, the fomenters of instability, the source of all evil under the sun.Like the physical assaults, these libelous attacks against the Jewish people did not end with the creation of Israel.For a time after World War Two, overt anti-Semitism was held in check by the shame and shock of the Holocaust. But only for a time.
In recent decades the hatred of the Jews has reemerged with increasing force, but with an insidious twist.It is not merely directed at the Jewish people but increasingly at the Jewish state.In its most pernicious form, it argues that if only Israel did not exist, many of the world's problems would go away.
My friends,
Does this mean that Israel is above criticism?Of course not.Israel, like any democracy, hasimperfections but we strive to correct them through open debate and scrutiny. Israel has independent courts, the rule of law, a free press and a vigorous parliamentary debate believe me, its vigorous. I know that members of Congress refer to one another as my distinguished colleague from Wisconsin or the distinguished Senator from California.
In Israel, members of Knesset don't speak of their distinguished colleagues from Kiryat Shmona and Beer Sheva.We say well, you don't want to know what we say. In Israel, self-criticism is a way of life, and we accept that criticism is part of the conduct of international affairs.But Israel should be judged by the same standards applied to all nations, and allegations against Israel must be grounded in fact.
Here is one allegation that is not. The attempt by many to describe the Jews as foreign colonialists in their own homeland is one of the great lies of modern times.
In my office, I have on display a signet ring that was loaned to me by Israel's Department of Antiquities.The ring was found next to the Western wall, but it dates back some 2,800 years ago, two hundred years after Kind David turned Jerusalem into our capital city. The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu.His name was Netanyahu Ben-Yoash.My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob.One of Benjamin's brothers was named Shimon, which also happens to be the first name of my good friend, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel.Nearly 4,000 years ago, Benjamin, Shimon and their ten brothers roamed the hills of Judea.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied.The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied.
The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.Jerusalem is not a settlement.It is our capital.
In Jerusalem, my government has maintained the policies of all Israeli governments since 1967, including those led by Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin.Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the citys Jewish population, live in neighborhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines.All these neighborhoods are within a five-minute drive from the Knesset.They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem.Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement.Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.
Nothing is rarer in the Middle East than tolerance for the beliefs of others.Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem has ensured that the religious sites of all faiths have been protected. While we cherish our homeland, we also recognize that Palestinians live there as well.We dont want to govern them.We dont want to rule them. We want them as neighbors, living in security, dignity and peace.
Yet Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians.Nothing could be further from the truth.My government has consistently shown its commitment to peace in both word and deed. From day one, we called on the Palestinian Authority to begin peace negotiations without delay. I make that same call today.President Abbas, come and negotiate peace.

Leaders who truly want peace should be prepared to sit down face-to-face. Of course, the United States can help the parties solve their problems but it cannot solve the problems for the parties.Peace cannot be imposed from the outside. It can only come through direct negotiations in which we develop mutual trust.

Last year, I spoke of a vision of peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.Just as the Palestinians expect Israel to recognize a Palestinian state, we expect the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state.In the past year, my government has removed hundreds of roadblocks, barriers and checkpoints in the West Bank. As a result, we have helped spur a fantastic economic boom there. Finally, we announced an unprecedented moratorium on new Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.
This is what my government has done for peace.What has the Palestinian Authority done for peace? Well, they have placed preconditions on peace talks, waged a relentless international campaign to undermine Israel's legitimacy, and promoted the notorious Goldstone Report that falsely accuses Israel of war crimes.
I want to thank President Obama and the United States Congress for their efforts to thwart this libel. The Palestinian Authority has also continued incitement against Israel. Less than two weeks ago, a public square was named after a terrorist who murdered 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children.The Palestinian Authority did not prevent it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Peace requires reciprocity.It cannot be a one-way street in which only Israel makes concessions. Israel stands ready to make the compromises necessary for peace.But we expect the Palestinian leaders to compromise as well.But one thing I will never compromise is our security.
If you want to understand Israel's security predicament, imagine the entire United States compressed to the size of New Jersey. Next, put on New Jersey's northern border an Iranian terror proxy called Hezbollah which fires 6,000 rockets into that small state. Then imagine that this terror proxy has amassed 60,000 more missiles to fire at you.Now imagine on New Jerseys southern border another Iranian terror proxy called Hamas.It too fires 6,000 rockets into your territory while smuggling ever more lethal weapons into its territory.
Do you think you would feel a little bit vulnerable?Do you think you would expect some understanding from the international community when you defend yourselves?
A peace agreement with the Palestinians must include effective security arrangements on the ground.Israel must prevent a repeat in the West Bank of what happened when it withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza. Israels main security problem with Lebanon is not its border with Lebanon. It is Lebanon's porous border with Syria, through which Iran and Syria smuggle tens of thousands of weapons to Hezbollah.
Israels main security problem with Gaza is not its border with Gaza.It is along Gaza's border with Egypt, under which nearly 1,000 tunnels have been dug to smuggle weapons.
Experience has shown that only an Israeli presence on the ground can prevent weapons smuggling.This is why a peace agreement with the Palestinians must include an Israeli presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state.As peace with the Palestinians proves its durability over time, we can review security arrangements. We are prepared to take risks for peace, but we will not be reckless with the lives of our people and the life of the one and only Jewish state.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The people of Israel want a future in which our children no longer experience the horrors of war.We want a future in which Israel realizes its full potential as a global center of technology, anchored in its values and living in peace and security with all its neighbors.I envision an Israel that dedicates its creative and scientific energies to help solve some of the great problems of the day, foremost of which is finding a clean and affordable substitute for gasoline.If we can help find an alternative to gasoline, we will stop transferring hundreds of billions of dollars a year to radical regimes that support terror worldwide.
I am confident that in pursuing these goals, we have the enduring friendship of the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth.The American people have always shown their courage, their generosity and their decency.Time and again, America has stood by Israel's side against common enemies.From one President to the next, from one Congress to the next, America's commitment to Israel's security has been unwavering.
In the last year, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have given meaning to that commitment by providing Israel with military assistance, by enabling joint military exercises and by working on joint missile defense. So too, Israel has been a staunch and steadfast ally of the United States.As Vice President Biden said, America has no better friend in the community of nations than Israel.
For decades, Israel served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism.Today it is helping America stem the tide of militant Islam. Israel shares with America everything we know about fighting a new kind of enemy.We share intelligence and we cooperate in countless other ways that I am not at liberty to divulge.This cooperation saves American lives.
Our soldiers and your soldiers fight against fanatic enemies that loathe our common values.In the eyes of these fanatics, we are you and you are us.To them, the only difference is that you are big and we are small, you are the Great Satan and we are the Little Satan. This fanaticisms hatred of Western civilization predates Israels establishment by over one thousand years.Militant Islam does not hate the West because of Israel.It hates Israel because of the West Because it sees Israel as an outpost of freedom that prevents them from overrunning the Middle East.When Israel stands against its enemies, it stands against America's enemies.
President Harry Truman, the first world leader to recognize Israel, said:

I have faith in Israel and believe that it has a glorious future not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.
My Friends,

We are gathered here today because we believe in those ideals. And because of those ideals, I am certain that Israel and America will always stand together.

Frank Luntz poll: 72.8% The Israel - Palestinian conflict is not about Land, but Ideology and religion

(Via IMRA).Israel Project Poll of Americans - support Israel, reject land for peace premise

Complete Results of Israel Project Poll of Americans conducted by Frank Luntz, Ph.D. of The Word Doctors, March 19-20, 2010 with 811 registered voters :

Thinking about the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East, please tell me whether, in general, you think the United States SHOULD be a strong supporter of Israel, a supporter of Israel, a supporter of the Palestinians or a strong supporter of the Palestinians.


Please tell me how much you agree with the following statement... Enemies of America use the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an excuse to create anti-American sentiment. Even if the dispute is settled, they would find another excuse to justify their hostility towards America.


And, thinking again about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians...which statement do you agree with MOST?




Now that Iran has enriched uranium, do you believe they will pursue their threat to
"wipe Israel off the map?"
14.8% NOT SURE

9. Now that Iran has enriched uranium, do you believe that it will be easier for terrorist groups all over the world to acquire nuclear weapons?
07.7% NOT SURE

Republican whip Cantor: The U.S. must stand with Israel in the global struggle against the Islam threats

Transcript of speech before delegates at AIPAC

( you, and what a pleasure it is to join you this afternoon. I’m delighted to be here with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Although we’re on opposite sides of the political aisle, we are absolutely united when it comes to the US-Israel relationship. Steny is a genuine leader on this issue in his party, and I respect and thank him for that.

We gather here today under a dark cloud of uncertainty. Despite all the bloodshed Israel’s small population has borne, despite the hand of peace Israel has consistently extended to its neighbors, the 2,000-year-old dream of self-determination in the Jewish ancestral homeland is in mortal danger. We are in a critical time. Now is not the time to be picking fights with Israel in what seems to be an attempt to curry favor with the Arab world. Now is the time when the U.S. must stand with Israel in the global struggle against the threats posed by radical Islam.

It is times like these when we must remember what happens when Americans and decent-minded people everywhere fail to stand up to evil. Seventy years ago, after the violence of Kristallnacht, newspapers across America screamed Hitler’s warning that the Jews would be wiped out unless other countries took them in. Hitler correctly predicted that the world would be shocked, but do nothing. The U.S. Congress refused to raise quotas on refugees. The State Department erected a barricade of paperwork to keep the Jews out.

In 1938, two members of Congress sponsored a bill to admit 20,000 German-Jewish children into the United States. It was a priority for many Americans, including the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. But isolationist forces sabotaged the effort, and even the president failed to offer his full backing. The result? The bill died. And 20,000 Jewish children, who could have been saved, joined the 1.5 million children who would die in the Holocaust. Another instructive moment can be found in the tragic journey of the ship St. Louis.

Exactly 9 years to the day before the birth of the State of Israel, some 900 German Jews fleeing the Nazis set sail from Hamburg en route to Havana, Cuba – where they thought they had permission to land. But when the St. Louis pulled into Havana Harbor two weeks later, virtually all of the passengers were denied entry. Efforts to pay Cuban officials to accept the Jews broke down, and the ship was soon ordered out of Havana. On its way back to the cauldron of Europe, the St. Louis sailed so close to America’s shores that the passengers could see the lights of Miami. So near, yet so far. The German boat captain pleaded with U.S. officials for permission to dock. But instead of helping them come ashore, the U.S. Coast Guard patrolled the waters to make certain no one tried to jump ship. Passengers aboard the St. Louis frantically cabled President Roosevelt begging for refuge, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The State Department’s reply: Get in line and wait your turn.

American Jews and other well meaning Americans were powerless to move our government to save countless lives. There was no State of Israel to take the Jews in. In fact, British-run Palestine was off-limits to Jewish refugees. At that moment, the tragic fate of the passengers was sealed. The majority were destined for the death camps. The takeaway for us? We must do all we can to ensure the survival of the state of Israel.

At a time like this there’s nothing more critical than making the case that a strong Israel is in the best interest of U.S. national security. There’s no better way to demonstrate this than to take people to see Israel first-hand. Steny and I have had the tremendous privilege of leading AIPAC-sponsored trips to Israel for members of Congress. Our colleagues are often moved to tears when they exit Yad Vashem and walk up to a balcony overlooking the eternal city of Jerusalem. Meeting with besieged families in Sderot, these members begin to understand the struggles the Israeli people go through every day. One Congressman summed it up like this: “Some of us came as supporters. Some of us were ambivalent and others were skeptical. But now we have seen this nation’s courage, and we’ve seen how it shares our values. We’re going home as Zionists.”

In 2010, a new set of dangers has emerged. A new enemy has arisen. And once again, Israel and the Jewish people are in the crosshairs. The Iranian regime, emboldened by the west’s lack of unity and resolve, brazenly forges ahead with its nuclear weapons program. Iran’s President denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist terror groups operate on Israel’s borders with the support of Tehran. They threaten the Jewish state with weaponry that grows more lethal by the day. No less dangerous is the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel as a state among the nations. Israel’s critics deny the Jewish people’s irrefutable, historic and religious link with the holy land.

Today’s blood libels and anti-Semitic incitement is a page taken directly from Nazi propaganda. Like a plague, this vitriol has spread throughout the international media, across the Internet, and into our colleges and universities. My message to you today is simply this: Should any of us ever grow weary, should any of us for one minute waver in our resolve to safeguard Israel, We must let the powerful lessons of history propel us to action! Unfortunately, there are signs of tension right now between our two nations. So we must remind our leaders here in Washington of the critical importance of the US-Israel relationship.

Let’s face it. Israel is not the problem. From Yemen to Afghanistan to Pakistan, terrorists are not going to lay down their arms against America if we abandon Israel. We must do everything possible to hold the media accountable and empower our communities at home with an understanding of the true nature of our shared struggle with Israel. We must begin with Iran. To those growing voices that say we shouldn’t take seriously the threats of a “madman”, we must ask: “Have we not been down this road before?”

We cannot take cover under the notion that we can actually deter a nuclear Iran. That would merely be lulling ourselves into a false sense of security. Iran must be dealt with firmly, with real sanctions that have real teeth. The message should be clear: If you deal with Iran, you are not welcome to deal with the U.S. Stopping the regime in Iran will involve empowering the domestic opposition and delivering Tehran the message that our willingness to use force is on the table.

As we face these new threats, one could ask, “What is the difference between 70 years ago and today?” The answer: The grassroots force of the American pro-Israel community led by AIPAC!!!

Thanks to you, I have complete faith that the United States Congress, and the American people, know well who our one true and reliable friend in the Middle East is: Israel.

The American people know who stands with us in our fight against terrorism; we know who wept at candlelight vigils when America was attacked on 9-11; and we know who sends teams of doctors and millions of dollars halfway around the world to save lives in Haiti. In the same way, we Americans also know who teaches their children to emulate suicide bombers; who danced and tossed candy around in the streets on 9-11 celebrating that horrible day. And we do know who names their boulevards, schools and their public squares after terrorists.

The case I press before you now is more than just a “Jewish cause” or just an Israeli issue. These are challenges to America. Israel’s security is synonymous with our own. The People who point guns at her with murder in their eyes will next turn on us. Israel has turned out to be not just a friend who shares our values, but a critically important strategic ally who brings stability and balance to a volatile region.

As Golda Meir said, Zionism and pessimism are not compatible. With your ongoing commitment, the miracle of the modern-day state of Israel will survive. And together, we will hasten the day, when the Jewish people, after 2,500 years of uninterrupted persecution, will at long last… live in peace in their ancestral homeland. Thank you.