Current Postings

April 12, 2015: The PA and More

Pesach is over and it’s back to “normal,” such as that may be.  Posting after posting, I have focused on Iran, and Obama.  With good reason: It is a most critical issue.  But I would like to at least begin with a look at the PA today. I feel I have been “neglecting” Abbas.

 
abbas

Credit: Reuters
 
Actually, Mahmoud Abbas has been playing the game every which way that he thinks might work.  If you recall, about two weeks ago, the Israeli government announced that it would be releasing collected PA tax funds that had been withheld because of Abbas’s declared intentions of joining the ICC and bringing charges against Israel. This looked like a regrettable Israeli concession.  But then, Abbas announced that because of the taxes that were to be released, no action against Israel would be pursued in the ICC.  And, more than a concession, this began to look like an action against the PA that actually netted results.
 
What Israel said was that funds withheld through February would be released, and determination regarding release of taxes collected in March would depend the PA.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/In-exchange-for-freed-tax-funds-PA-wont-pursue-Israel-over-settlements-at-ICC-395505
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Ah, but this state of affairs did not last very long.  For Abbas quickly learned that Israel was going to retain a percentage of the tax money to cover some part of funds owed to Israel by the PA for services provided to the Palestinian Arab population. 
 
This is what Abbas said last week:
 
”The Israelis have begun punishing us by withholding the money they collect on our behalf.

“They told us they would release our funds and they did, but after deducting one-third of the sum. Why? Are these debts? Who decides? We told them this is our money and you are not doing us a favor. This is not a donation. We insist on receiving all that belongs to us.” (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-issues-warning-to-Israel-to-turn-over-funds-or-face-charges-at-the-ICC-396240
 
What we have here is a sterling example of Abbas’s total disregard for facts.  As it happens, Israel turned over to the PA 1.37 billion shekels in withheld tax money.  Only 160,000 shekels was held back against the gargantuan PA electric bill of over 2 billion shekels.  Had we kept the entire sum of withheld tax funds it still would not have covered the outstanding PA debt to Israel.  And he complains?
 
It is Israel that should be saying, “Our electrical services are not a donation – we insist on full payment that belongs to us.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Abbas threated to return the sum that was given to the PA, but I have no information that he has done so.  The PA needs that money, and it is likely no more another threat.
 
But let us take a moment to examine WHY the PA so badly needs that money, according to the Palestinian Media Watch, as of October 2014 (emphasis added):
 
“The number [of public employees] currently registered in the [PA] General Workers’ Office comes to approximately 175,000. Yet the total number of recipients of government salaries exceeds 200,000 – if one includes the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and wounded, as well as the prisoners’ and released [prisoners’] pensions – [whose total stipends] constitute approximately 65% of the Palestinian government’s monthly expenditure.

The tax money [the PA] gets back from Israel, which represents two thirds of the Palestinian monthly income...constitutes the basis for the government’s ability to continue paying the salaries…”
 
http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=1005
 
Do the math: families of “martyrs,” prisoners, etc. receive stipends that are far more generous than what is paid to ordinary workers. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At the beginning of April, Othman Abu Gharbieh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, declared that Oslo was dead and that there would be no more peace negotiations. The PA, he declared, would be seeking Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Senior-Palestinian-official-Oslo-accords-are-dead-395735
 
Yes, that again...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
However, last Thursday, according to AFP, announcement was made by Russian officials of a visit to Russia by Abbas that is expected to take place this week.  He will be meeting with Putin, and on the agenda will be "ideas on the process of Israeli-Palestinian talks."
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-to-meet-Putin-in-Moscow-on-Monday-396689
 
Israeli-Palestinian talks?  These are the same talks that Abu Gharbieh recently said were dead, but never mind.
 
Abbas refers to the Russians as friends, and all together this is bad news.  The Soviets had a long-standing relationship with the PLO, and Russia today would be glad for a more significant foothold in the Middle East.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Hamas-Fatah relations are growing increasingly tense (after a recent bid to try again to re-establish a unity government).  Just two days ago, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar charged that Abbas has no legitimacy as president of the PA.  I will skip over matters such as PA security cooperation with Israel, which Hamas considers “treachery,” and go to the heart of the matter.
 
Al-Zahar says that Abbas’s term expired years ago. And he is absolutely correct.  Abbas’s term as president expired in January 2009.  It is a mark of international hypocrisy that Abbas is treated as an official who represents the PA. Everyone just ignores the fact that new elections have not been held.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And now, before closing, just a brief overview of the latest with regard to the Iran nuclear issue.  The situation has deteriorated into one of absolute farce, with the two major issues being the matter of sanctions relief and inspections/verification. 
 
Last Thursday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei gave a speech.  
  
The entire translation can be found here: http://defenddemocracy.org/iran-press-review-9-april Significant highlights shared by Omri Ceren of The Israel Project:
 
Politically, the most damage will probably come from Khamenei's declaration that nothing was agreed to at Lausanne, and that White House claims otherwise are ‘incorrect and contrary to the substance of the negotiations.’
 
Substantively, Khamenei's new red lines - if US negotiators ultimately accept them - would detonate the possibility of a verifiable, enforceable deal...
 
“On verification, he blasted inspections of military sites and ruled out any ‘unconventional inspection or monitoring’ in general. The military sites demand would gut the IAEA's ability to ensure the Iranians aren't enriching at military bases like Fordow (which they've done) or developing nuclear warheads at military bases like Parchin (which they've also done). Administration officials have been talking about ‘managed access’ to such sites, which is less than what former IAEA officials say the agency needs and less than the ‘snap inspections’ lawmakers were told negotiators would bring home - but still more than Khamenei is willing to give. The ‘unconventional’ demand would prohibit the unprecedented inspection regime President Obama has emphasized is necessary to prevent the Iranians from cheating.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Eli Lake has written an article for Bloomberg that Ceren quotes:

Now [Senator] Kirk feels that there isn't much of an agreement at all. As he told me Thursday, ‘Because Iran refuses to agree to the same framework for a final deal as the United States, and because Iran still strongly disputes basic issues like how a final deal will address comprehensive sanctions relief, uranium enrichment, and coming clean on Iran's military nuclear activities, I believe the full Senate should vote, sooner rather than later, on the bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015.’" 

The issue is not even one of who is telling the truth in the dispute between the US and Iranian version of the agreement.  It is, rather, that if Iran has not signed on to the US version, and is determined to get its way, there is no agreement.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Let’s close with some good news:
 
“British Christian groups are circulating a declaration expressing appreciation for Israel as a safe haven for Middle East Christians, support for bolstering ties with the Jewish state, and a call to combat anti-Semitism.
 
“Called the ‘Shalom Declaration,; the document states, ‘We deeply appreciate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens and where the Christian community is growing.’”
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/10/uk-groups-circulate-declaration-of-appreciation-for-israel-as-safe-haven-for-christians/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/13/april-12-2015-the-pa-and-more.html

 

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2015 at 03:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 8, 2015: Mid-Pesach

Here in Israel, the world sort of floats in limbo over the Pesach week; and so I thought that perhaps I would not post until the holiday was over. But life does go on, and I’ve decided to write. 
 
But before I move to the serious matters calling for attention, let me share this lighthearted video for Pesach, done by the students of the Technion (a top notch university – Israel Institute of Technology) in Haifa, specifically for Pesach:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baQfqoZrEvI
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Then, moving on, and hoping your spirits have been lifted...
 
I’m seeing a huge number of commentaries regarding the Iran situation, and obviously cannot share any significant portion of them.  
 
Actually, what I am finding most interesting is the way in which Obama is walking back several of his positions of last week.  This is, of course, in response to severe criticism that has been directed at the framework agreement with Iran and at his hard-nosed attitude.  I will come back to this.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Whatever my other disagreements and disappointments with Bibi Netanyahu, I continue to salute him for speaking out on the Iran issue.  There are those (writing in some of those commentaries) who think he’s wasting his breath because no one is listening.  I disagree.  He has affected the dialogue on Iran and modeled a forthright approach.
 
Yesterday, Bibi asked some particularly pertinent questions (the deal is so full of holes there are always more questions):
 
Why doesn't the framework address Iran's intercontinental ballistic missile program whose sole purpose is to carry nuclear payloads?" (Emphasis added)
 
And...”What is to stop Iran from using the over one hundred billion dollars that will be unfrozen as part of this agreement to fund aggression and terror in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere?”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193787#.VSVc4ZuJjIV
 
Hmm...That first question is particularly pertinent, as Iran aims to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that reach the US.
 
Joining Bibi in his forthright approach have been members of his government, such as Yuval Steinitz.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And I am pleased that Israel is is not alone in criticizing the agreement. 
 
There are Arab nations highly critical of Obama, although their criticisms are less direct than Israel’s.  See Khaled Abu Toameh’s piece on this:
 
“Arab leaders and heads of state were polite enough not to voice public criticism of the agreement when President Barack Obama phoned them to inform them about it. But this has not stopped Arab politicians, political analysts and columnists reflecting government thinking in the Arab world from lashing out at what they describe as ‘Obama's bad and dangerous deal with Iran.’"
 
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5493/arabs-blast-obama-deal-with-iran
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Most significantly, there are key members of Congress speaking out.
 
Right after the framework deal was announced, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) blasted it in no uncertain terms (emphasis added):
 
”Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than Wendy Sherman [State Department negotiator] got out of Iran,” he declared.
 
There’s nothing for Iranians to do but go at breakneck speed to a nuclear weapon.  We’re moving straight to forcing Israel to clean up this mess … when the West does nothing, Israel over and over has done something....we shouldn’t force our best ally in the region to clean up the mess.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/mark-kirk-iran-deal-react-nazi-116632.html 

A man who pulls no punches.

 

 

Credit: Politico


~~~~~~~~~~

On April 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be voting on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would require the Obama administration to submit the final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review and approval.
 
Committee Chair, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Sunday that ”it’s very important that Congress is in the middle of this, understanding, teasing out, asking those important questions.”
 
Then on Monday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stated that:
 
“We cannot forget that Iran is pursuing a full-spectrum campaign to expand its sphere of influence in the greater Middle East.
 
“The administration needs to explain to the Congress and the American people why an interim agreement should result in reduced pressure on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/07/senate-foreign-relations-committee-to-vote-on-iran-nuclear-agreement-review-act/

~~~~~~~~~~

It is a matter of certainty that Obama will veto this bill, and so 67 votes supporting it are needed to override that veto.  Senator Corker has indicated that there are already 65 who will be voting in favor. Two more votes are necessary. 

And so, please! contact your Senator without delay.  If you are certain that he or she will be voting for this bill, offer thanks and express your understanding of how important this is.  If you are in doubt as to whether your Senator will be supporting the bill, urge that he or she do so. Say it is a matter of critical importance, and that you will be watching.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Now, as to the Obama walkback: nothing is more astonishing (and disingenuous!) than his new, improved stance on Israel.  In an interview with Tom Friedman on Sunday, he declared that: 

“It’s been a hard period. It has been personally difficult for me to hear” accusations that “this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest...if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.” 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-05/obama-says-iran-accord-doesn-t-forgo-defense-or-abandon-israel 

This is best read on an empty stomach.  What would be personally difficult for most of us would be to swallow this self-serving drivel.  But I imagine that, unfortunately, there are some who will buy it. 

Obama now feels so kindly disposed to Bibi that he is planning on inviting him to the White House after the coalition is formed. 

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-to-invite-bibi-after-coalition-formed/2015/04/06/ 

Yes, this is the same Obama who refused to see Bibi when he came to address the Congress.  

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Elliot Abrams, Former US Deputy National Security Adviser, has penned a potent response to Obama’s hot air assurances to Israel (emphasis added): 

“Several times in this interview the President went out of his way to suggest that he fully understands Israel’s security problems, but the full text suggests that he does not–because he believes that his statements that ‘if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there’ and would ‘stand by them’ actually solve any of those problems...

What does ‘messes with Israel’ mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years.  Is that ‘messing with Israel?...Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that ‘messing with Israel?’ And what does the President mean by ‘America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?” 

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/07/leading-former-official-says-israelis-wont-be-reassured-by-obamas-security-pledges-following-iran-agreement/ 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

At some level, Bibi has little choice but to accept this new approach at face value – i.e., he will have to go to the White House.  It falls to him to spin it so that it is of maximum utility to Israel – perhaps extracting certain military guarantees.  Unfortunately, the “two state” solution is likely to be at the top of Obama’s agenda when they meet.  (And in coming days I’ll have much to say about that issue, which never dies.) 

~~~~~~~~~~  

One of the most convoluted statements that has been offered by Obama on the benefits of the deal is this, from an NPR interview: 

It is, he said “a relevant fear” that “in year 13, 14, 15, [the Iranians] would have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

“Keep in mind, though, currently, the breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.  So essentially we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year...that if they decide to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond.  And we have those assurances for at least well over a decade.

“And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter, but at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves. We have much more insight into their capabilities. And the option of a future president to take action if in fact they try to obtain a nuclear weapon is undiminished.” 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193763#.VSVjQZuJjIV 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Immediate and vociferous criticism followed this statement: The president, went the charge, has now admitted that the deal would not stop Iran from every getting a nuclear weapon, as promised.  It would simply make it perhaps a bit more difficult for some 15 years, after which breakout would be close to zero. 

Spokespersons for the White House argued that the “zero breakout time” the president referred to was only if there was no deal. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Our prime minister certainly isn’t buying this.  Iran’s post-deal breakout time will be zero, he says. And with good reason: 

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has now announced that once a deal is signed at the end of June, and sanctions are lifted, Iran will move over to using its most advanced centrifuges. 

These are the IR8 centrifuges, which enrich uranium 20 times faster than the current IR-1 models, meaning they would radically reduce the breakout time needed for Iran to obtain a nuclear arsenal. (Emphasis added) 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/193800#.VSVpo5uJjIX 

Dear friends, digest this information carefully. Be very afraid of where this is leading, and very furious at the president of the US, who has the gall to promote his deal. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

The good news here – if there is any good news on this - is that there really is no deal.  Not yet. And so there’s time to stop what Obama would like to achieve. 

Bret Stephens, writing in the WSJ, tells us that: 

”what the president calls ‘this verifiable deal’ fails the first test of verification—mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it....
 
“The deal cannot be verified,” he says, as “there are significant discrepancies between the U.S. and the Iranian versions of the deal.”
 
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-obama-and-the-inevitable-critics-1428361609
 
According to Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, the French have still another version.
 
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4817/report-internal-french-document-shows-troubling

~~~~~~~~~~

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz writes, in “The unfolding farce of Obama’s deal with Iran” that:

”Time and again, President Barack Obama and his indefatigable secretary of state promised that they and their P5+1 negotiating partners would not sign a bad deal with Iran on its nuclear weapons program.

“And, lo, they were as good as their word. They didn’t sign a bad framework deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week. They just agreed on one in principle, and left it unsigned, allowing for multiple conflicting interpretations.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-unfolding-farce-of-obamas-deal-with-iran/

~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, it is Obama’s deepest hope that this unsigned agreement will go through in one version or another (likely the version most satisfactory to Iran – regardless of what the president has told his people and the world), and become a signed deal by the end of June.

But it is the responsibility of every individual who can see past the president’s hype to the dangers looming large, to do everything possible to make sure it does not become a signed deal. 

In the US, the most important vehicle for blocking Obama is Congress – a Congress that must be informed by its constituency of its urgent concern.

But it is also important to inform those Americans who may be buying what they are told.  Write letters to the editor and Internet talkbacks on this issue.  Speak to people.

~~~~~~~~~~

In Israel, we must pray that our government will have the strength to do whatever must be done.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tomorrow night is holiday again – the seventh and in Israel the last day of Pesach.  (Outside of Israel, there is an eighth day.)

I want to end here with one of my very favorite songs, which I have shared before: Yehi Sheamda.

This video features Yaakov Shwekey and Yonatan Razel, who wrote the vocal arrangement, at the piano.

The words. The words are straight out of the Pesach Haggadah:

And so it has stood for our fathers and for us, that it wasn't just one nation alone that rose up against us to destroy us, and The Holy One, Blessed is He, saves us from their hand.

A song of faith and of hope.  Appropriate for this Pesach season, and for this time of threats to the Jewish people.  Our history is a story of miracles.  Let it be so now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo6WMef3SP0

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/8/april-8-2015-mid-pesach.html

Posted on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 04:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 2, 2015: The Only Clarity

Tomorrow night begins Pesach. 
 
A quintessential moment in the Jewish year, providing a powerful perspective: The Almighty heard the cry of the Children of Israel, who were suffering bitter slavery in Egypt. And He brought us out.  Not an agent, but the Almighty.  “Us” because we are commanded to consider ourselves as having been rescued then. 

 

Credit: jfjfp
 
In that rescue, that Exodus from Egypt, we became a nation – ultimately brought to Mt. Sinai to receive the law, which instructs us to this day.  And then brought to the land.  It is of one piece.
 
Let us not forget the lessons of seder night.  And may those lessons transcend what is going on in the world today. 
 
To all who celebrate, Chag Pesach Kasher V’Sameach.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
After days of tortuous dragging out of negotiations with Iran, a  “sort-of” conclusion has been announced.  The advent of the holiday makes it impossible for me to comment at length on what is currently going on.  Details will be forthcoming in my postings next week, after time spent with family and when I have returned to a “normal” writing schedule.  Here I wish to simply review fairly quickly. 
 
There is no signed agreement. There is only a “framework”  - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  - that will require much working out of specifics by the end of June. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama tonight called the agreement “historic” – if finalized it “would cut off every path” to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, and would include the toughest inspections “ever negotiated...If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/world-powers-iran-announce-framework-for-nuke-deal/
 
Give us a break!  Only those eager to be taken in, only those who are so hungry for this issue to be put to rest, would believe this.  Unfortunately, this describes a good number of people.  Remember that Iran has a history of cheating, of moving ahead in secrecy on nuclear development.
 
The US speaks about re-imposing sanctions immediately if Iran were found cheating. But this is a dubious proposition, as Russia and China are likely to balk, so that Iran would be able to cheat AND have sanctions relief.
 
According to Jeffry Lewis, nuclear proliferation expert, “These treaties never really have an enforcement mechanism, which is, from a legal perspective, kind of weird and kind of a bummer, but totally understandable in a world of states that jealously guard their sovereignty."  (Emphasis added)
 
https://www.vox.com/2015/4/2/8336723/iran-nuclear-deal-transcript
 
No enforcement mechanism? This means Iran must be trusted to keep the deal?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama has the unmitigated gall to say there is no daylight between Israel and the US with regard to the security of Israel. This deal, he claims, is the best way to protect Israel.  He’s slick – attempting to sideline Netanyahu as an aggressive individual who prefers tough sanctions or even a military attack to this splendid deal that solves everything.
 
Israeli officials say they will continue to fight this agreement until its date for being finalized in June.
 
They referred to the framework as “a capitulation to Iranian dictates.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, they called it “a bad framework that will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement.” If finalized, it would make the world “far more dangerous.”

The agreement, they maintained, constitutes “international legitimization of Iran’s nuclear program” whose “only purpose is to build nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/world-powers-iran-announce-framework-for-nuke-deal/
 
We have yet to hear from members of Congress – but we will.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I note, as well, that all Western negotiating partners are not on board with the same enthusiasm that Obama exudes.
 
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President Francois Hollande welcomed the "framework" but expressed the opinion that there was much work to do to before there could be an acceptable deal.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I share this, from Omri Ceren of The Israel Project (emphasis added):

“[Iranian Foreign Minister] Zarif just finished his speech...some of what Zarif revealed has already generated controversy. There was a lot of braggadocio in the speech: no closing of facilities, R&D will continue on Iran's scientific schedule, enrichment will continue, the heavy water at Arak will be modernized, etc.

“Perhaps most relevant to people who have been following the day-to-day in Lausanne, is that Zarif confirmed the U.S. has completely caved on the Fordow concession that the AP blew open on Thursday. Recall that Fordow is the underground bunker, built into the side of a mountain, which the Iranians emptied and made into an illicit enrichment facility. The assumption had always been that the Iranians would have to close it under any reasonable deal.

“President Obama was saying as late as 2012: ‘We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program’...

“The Iranians simply said no...So the Americans caved and said that they could keep it open as a research facility, but they had to remove all the centrifuges for storage...there was a lot of talk of Iranian flexibility when they accepted it...Then this week, it emerged that in fact the Iranians would be allowed to keep centrifuges spinning inside the mountain.

“But instead of spinning uranium, the centrifuges would be spinning germanium or similar non-nuclear elements. Centrifuges spin isotopes into lighter and heavier elements, thereby enriching’ the material. That's what they do. In fact that's all they do. The administration has gone all-in on a talking point can be defeated by a Google search for 'centrifuges enrich germanium'...

This isn't a minor point. The concession has the potential to gut the whole deal.”

“[It] allows...centrifuge R&D beyond the reach of the West- since the process is the exact same process, Iran will have a hardened facility where it will be able to research and develop N-generation centrifuges. Zarif bragged from the stage in Lausanne that Iranian R&D on centrifuges will continue...the development of advanced centrifuges would give the Iranians a leg up if they decide to break out, and will put them instantly within a screw's turn of a nuke when the deal expires.

“[It] leaves Iranian nuclear infrastructure running beyond the reach of the West - if the Iranians kick out inspectors and dare the world to respond, the West will have zero way to intervene...”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/04/02/critics-say-just-announced-framework-deal-between-p51-and-iran-raises-many-concerns/

~~~~~~~~~~

A bit of clarification here, regarding the Fordow site and the enrichment of germanium:

“...the centrifuges could only be used to enrich germanium, zinc, and other non-fissile materials. But the centrifuges are identical in design to those used for uranium enrichment, and can quickly be retooled for uranium enrichment.

Critics are concerned that Fordow could be used to perfect advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges using uranium stand-ins and in a location secure from outside attack.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/iran-nuclear-deal-chances-2015-3
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And in closing, this additional information just in from Omri Ceren:

“The issue of sequencing sanctions relief - how, when, and to what extent sanctions will be lifted in exchange for Iranian compliance - was one of the key sticking points over the last week...

“Achieving an understanding on sanctions would have to be counted as a major achievement, and it's already being claimed as such. But there's something wrong here. I haven't figured out what it is yet, but I'm pretty sure I don't like it...

“The EU/Iran joint statement says sanctions will be terminated ‘simultaneously’ with Iran implementing its obligations...

“The White House factsheet says sanctions will be suspended ‘after’ Iran has taken ‘all’ of its nuclear-related steps...

Zarif is already saying the White House is lying about how sanctions will be lifted... (emphasis added)

“The last time Zarif accused the Obama administration of lying on a factsheet was after the JPOA was announced, in the context of granting a ‘right to enrich.’ He was 100% right and the Americans were 100% wrong.

“It's not clear what the actual sanctions deal is, but it's worrying that there are already differences...If the Iranians are right, then the White House is again misleading journalists and lawmakers about the actual scope of their concessions.”

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/4/3/april-2-2015-the-only-clarity.html 

Posted on Friday, April 3, 2015 at 04:48AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 29, 2015: Bone Weary

Anyone who is tracking the news these days, and genuinely cares for the security of Israel and the future of the US – not to mention Europe and the Mideast - has got to have an extremely heavy heart.  We are facing some very dark times. 
 
With regard to Israel, serious thinkers are pondering the best way to survive the 22 months until Obama is out of office.  But the problem is actually a great deal bigger than the issue of how Obama is behaving towards Israel – as much as this remains huge for us here.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama.  In addition to his irrational and venomous attacks on Israel, there is his courting of Iran.  One is the flip side of the other: Alienate Israel, buddy up to Iran.
 
We are now a mere two days away from the presumed deadline on a signed framework deal between Iran and P5 + 1.  (In reality this is a negotiation between Iran and the US, as the other negotiating partners, with the exception of France, have largely pulled back.)  How likely it is that a deal really will take place depends on whom you ask.  What is clear is that Obama – and Kerry, operating in his stead - are doing all they can to achieve this “diplomatic success.”
 
Because of Obama’s eagerness, what we are seeing is the stuff of nightmares.  Definitely nightmares, as it’s hard to believe this could be happening in the light of day.  The Iranians – recognizing very well with whom they are dealing – have consistently stonewalled on US demands.  Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal broke with a story on yet another US pullback, each in turn design to conciliate the Iranians (emphasis added):

Talks over Iran’s nuclear program have hit a stumbling block a week before a key deadline because Tehran has failed to cooperate with a United Nations probe into whether it tried to build atomic weapons in the past, say people close to the negotiations.

“In response, these people say, the U.S. and its diplomatic partners are revising their demands on Iran to address these concerns before they agree to finalize a nuclear deal, which would repeal U.N. sanctions against the country.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-stalls-u-n-probe-into-its-1427327943

The issue is “possible military dimensions” (PMD).  As Omri Ceren of The Israel Project has explained (emphasis added):

“PMD disclosure is about base-lining all of Iran's nuclear activities - not just its known civilian parts - as a prerequisite for verifying that those activities have been halted under a nuclear deal. Iran has uranium mines; some are civilian and some are military. It has centrifuges; some are operated by civilians and some by IRGC personnel. It has uranium stockpiles; some are maintained by civilians and some by the military. There's no way for future inspectors to verify that Iran has shuttered its mines, stopped its centrifuges, and shipped off its stockpile - for instance - unless the IAEA knows where all the mines and stockpiles are.

“No PMDs mean no verification.”

~~~~~~~~~~

And there’s more.  On Thursday, AP reported (emphasis added):

The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites...”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/ap-exclusive-iran-run-centrifuges-fortified-site-29925489

As Ceri explains here (emphasis added):

“Allowing the Iranians to enrich at Fordow means they could kick out inspectors at any time and have a fully-functioning enrichment facility hardened against military intervention. Since sanctions will be unraveled by design at the beginning of a deal, that means the West would have literally zero options to stop a breakout...

“The White House started out promising that Fordow would be shuttered, then that it would be converted into an R&D plant where no enrichment would take place, and now they've collapsed.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Add to the above the fact that the US is ignoring the violent hegemonic encroachment of Iranian proxies across various areas of the Middle East – as if it were only the issue of nuclear capacity that must be dealt with. 

There are, of course, Syrian president Assad, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon (and Syria).  But most recently what we’ve seen is the takeover of Yemen by the Shiite Houthis, also supported by Iran.  Houthi control of Yemen has enormous importance because of its strategic location, adjacent to Saudi Arabia.  From the Yemenite port city of Aden, the straits of Bab el-Mandeb, which are only about 20 miles wide, can be controlled.  The straits constitute a major chokepoint – so the party that controls the area has the capacity to block marine traffic from the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.8 million barrels of oil and refined petroleum products pass through the straits daily on their way to destinations in Asia, Europe and the US. 

This is before we mention that increased Iranian backed presence in the Middle East is worrisome to Israel.

But the US is not paying a whole lot of attention. US special forces fled Yemen a while ago, and US negotiators are not raising this issue.  There are commentators who believe that the US should have walked out on negotiations until Iran withdrew support for the Houthis.  But that might have jeopardized the deal, which has first priority for Obama – the rest of the world be damned.

~~~~~~~~~~

You want to know how crazy it is?  While Obama is promoting diplomatic ties with Iran and “reaching out” to the Iranians, we can see in a MEMRI video that Iranian leader Khamenei cries “Death to America.”

http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4838.htm

~~~~~~~~~~

Amir Hossein Motaghi is an Iranian journalist who was supposed to be covering the negotiations, but has defected because he could not longer tolerate Iranian demands that he write his reports according to their specifications. 

In a TV interview, he has now said:

The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/28/iranian-defector-us-negotiating-team-mainly-there-to-speak-on-iran%e2%80%99s-behalf/

If this does not blow your mind, you are not getting it.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I really cannot grasp – even beyond the question of how a man such as Obama secured two terms in the White House – is why the other negotiating nations are being so passive, when Iran is a threat to them, or why the American people are not truly up in arms (meant figuratively here).

~~~~~~~~~~

There are just a small number of possible recourses with regard to this situation:

The first is the US Congress, many of whose members – Republicans, but a handful of Democrats as well - indeed are grievously distressed by what is going on.  What is required is a sufficient number of votes in the Senate to over-ride a veto by Obama, so that sanctions to weaken Iran can be put in place appropriately. We are seeing signs that this may be possible.

“The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Thursday for a non-binding amendment to a budget bill intended to make it easier to re-impose sanctions if Iran violates a nuclear deal.

“The vote was 100-0 for the amendment, sponsored by Republican Senator Mark Kirk, which would establish a fund to cover the cost of imposing sanctions if Tehran violated terms of an interim nuclear agreement now in effect, or the final agreement negotiators hope to reach before July.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/26/iran-nuclear-congress-idUSL2N0WS30W20150326

~~~~~~~~~~

And then there is Israel. 

According to Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) there is time between the signing of a framework agreement now and the final agreement in June – at which point details would be factored in - when diplomatic maneuvering can still be done.  This would involve, it seems to me, key communication with France first – as France has the greatest unease about what is taking place.

Beyond this, there is the military option, with the moment of truth advancing rapidly.  We are now probably past the 11th hour, perhaps at about 15 minutes to midnight. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, again and again, that he will never permit Iran to become a nuclear power. He has also made it clear that Israel is not bound by the terms of a very bad P5 + 1 deal with Iran. 

Just today, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a close Netanyahu associate, declared on public radio that Israel "will not be bound by an accord concluded by others and will know how to defend itself." (Emphasis added)

https://news.yahoo.com/dangerous-accord-iran-worse-israel-feared-pm-094154014.html

What our government will do in the end, and what our military is capable of doing, remains to be seen.  Israel cannot take out Iran’s capacity for nuclear development entirely – but can, as I understand it, do considerable damage.   

The scuttlebutt is that Netanyahu wants to attack, although I know people who are convinced he never will. (Please, do not write to share opinions on this.)  Some months ago, information was revealed indicating that at one point Defense Minister Ya’alon was opposed to an attack but has now changed his mind.

A key factor here is the readiness of Saudi Arabia, which is absolutely enraged with Obama’s inaction on Iran, to lend passive assistance, at a minimum, should Israel decide to attack. The Saudis would be delighted – make no mistake about this.  This assistance might make a difference in the end.  Because the other piece of the story is that Obama is trying his best to track Israeli intentions and to block us.

~~~~~~~~~~

Leon Panetta – former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense under Obama, gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC three days ago that merits mention here. Put simply, what he said was that he learned at the CIA and Defense that “The Iranians can’t be trusted.”

This is the bottom line.  Said Panetta (emphasis added):

“...the real test is going to be, and the whole world will be looking at it — the test will be have we truly made sure that Iran can be stopped from developing a nuclear weapon. And to do that in my book demands transparency and it demands accessibility so that we have a firm inspection regime that will guarantee they cannot do this.”

http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/26/former-obama-defense-secretary-the-iranians-cant-be-trusted-video/

Precisely! And that is never, ever going to happen.

~~~~~~~~~~

I recently encountered an article that asked, in its lead: Which side is Obama on?  That, my friends, is a rhetorical question.  It is clear that he is on Iran’s side. 

That being the case, it is inevitable that the president would come down on Netanyahu in every way possible.  He wants to discredit him, and weaken him, and delegitimize his position, for Netanyahu is the key stumbling block to what he is trying to achieve.  There is no way for Bibi to make it “right” with Obama. It’s not really about the negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs or other related issues.

And facing the truth straight on also helps explain why Obama worked so hard behind the scenes to defeat Netanyahu in the elections, and why he is so frustrated now.

~~~~~~~~~~

Just a moment here, then, to look at what is happening at home.  I wrote last week about the apparent halting of building scheduled for Har Homa in Jerusalem (and indeed I’ve received no information that it was anything else such as a bureaucratic mix-up).  That did not sit well.  Since I wrote about that, information has surfaced about Israel agreeing to release to the Palestinian Authority tax monies that had been collected – with some held back against money owed to Israel for electricity and other services.  On top of this, there is apparently a deal for Israel to sell gas to Gaza, with Qatar paying the bill.

This did not sound good.  Really not good. Certainly at first blush it looks like a caving to Obama under pressure, because there is so much talk about Israel’s “readiness’ for a “two state” deal.

But that’s at first blush, and I’ve been struggling with this long and hard over the last couple of days. Because there is another way to look at this.  If Netanyahu is making concessions to please Obama it is the height of foolishness, a terrible weakness, as nothing will please Obama where we are concerned.  The only way to respond to him is with strength.  Anything that smacks of weakness will simply invite more pressure.

But suppose Netanyahu is doing this to remove some of the poison spewed by Obama (Netanyahu is a racist, he does not want peace, etc.), in order to deal more placidly with others? Suppose he wants to approach Democrats in Congress conveying the image of someone who is willing to compromise for peace, so that they will hear him on Iran?  Suppose he wants to speak with French leaders - who are eager for “two states” - from a position that will make them more amenable to his message? Or with other European countries?  Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz suggests several nations are uneasy about the deal.

In light of the enormous weight of what our prime minister has to deal with, I prefer to cut him some slack here, for the moment, and see how the situation evolves. Today he told the Cabinet:

“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that."

http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Netanyahu-says-expected-Iranian-nuclear-deal-even-worse-than-Israel-feared-395468

~~~~~~~~~~

I had hoped to discuss some matters related to the formation of the coalition here, but will table this.  Before closing, I want simply to look at a couple of relative bright spots in an otherwise grim picture.

Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the Houthi take-over in Yemen, and absolutely furious at Obama for opting out of involvement, decided to act, in concert with other Sunni allies.  This was promising, as the Iranian takeover by proxy in Yemen is being pushed back as a result of Saudi airstrikes that are being hailed a success. There is further talk of ground forces in Yemen, although my information is that it will not be necessary, as there are tribal groups in Yemen that are ready to act on the ground against the Houthis.

Even further, the Arab League, at the closure of a meeting in Egypt, has announced in principle the creation of a joint Arab rapid response force. Egypt, which would be a prime mover in the establishment of such a force, declared that it would consist of some 40,000 elite troops, backed by jets, warships and light armor.  What this means is that even though the US has totally abdicated its role of confronting Iranian regional aggression, there are Sunni Arab states presumably ready to step up, lest the feared and detested Iran take over the region. 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/03/29/yemen-rebels-air-bases/70625166/

~~~~~~~~~~

Then see this report that says Hezbollah – operating at the behest of Iran - has been stopped by paramilitary rebel forces from establishing a major presence on the Golan directly adjacent to the Israeli border.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/on-the-syrian-golan-unlike-in-yemen-an-iranian-offensive-fails/

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/29/march-29-2015-bone-weary.html

 

Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 02:22PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 25, 2015: Exposed

Before we take a look at the broader situation, I share two announcements:

This Friday, March 27th, at noon, there will be a press conference and a “Keep Iran Nuclear Free” rally, at 780 Third Avenue (between 48th & 49th Streets) in Manhattan. This is in front of the offices of the Manhattan offices of New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to urge these Senators to commit to overriding President Obama's expected veto of two important pending bills on the issue of Iran.
 
The Bipartisan Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Kirk and Menendez, imposes new sanctions on Iran if international negotiators fail to reach a deal by June 30 on Tehran's nuclear program.  Fourteen Senators, including Senator Schumer co-sponsored the bill. 

The Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Corker, Menendez, Graham and Kaine, mandates that the president must submit the text of any agreement with Iran to Congress; prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days, during which Congress would hold hearings and review the agreement; provides for Congressional oversight; and requires assessments and certifications of Iranian compliance. 

Every vote is needed. 
 
It is best if you can attend, but in any event, if you live in NY state, you are encouraged to reach Senator Schumer via: http://www.schumer.senate.gov/ and Senator Gillibrand via: http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then, for Israelis and those planning to be in Israel over the Pesach week:
 
I have written about the illegal building for Arabs that the EU is sponsoring, and the excellent report about this that the organization Regavim has released.  Now Regavim is sponsoring a bus tour to allow you to actually see this massive illegal building in Area C and Jerusalem. In the end, there is nothing like seeing it for yourself.
 
Date and time: Wednesday, April 8th, Hol Hamoed Pesach, from 1:30 to 4:30 PM.
 
Location: Buses will depart from and return to the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem.
 
Cost: 100 NIS or $25. 
 
An expert will accompany each bus; detailed maps will be provided, as will water.  Bring your own food.
 
For information: Dr. Jan Sokolovsky, drjan43@gmail.com
 
To Register: by April 3, www.regavim.org.il/en/events/Pesach
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to what has been exposed (if you haven’t already guessed), it is Obama’s hatred for our prime minister and his paranoid vindictiveness.
 
However supporters of Obama (particularly Jewish supporters) have, over the past years, tried to convince themselves that Obama was a friend of Israel, it has never been the case.
 
If you doubt this, please take the time to see this video (with thanks to Michael Widlanski for calling it to my attention):
 
“Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wbH5KVPrPo&feature=youtu.be
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What has happened now is that Obama’s antipathy for Israel has grown enormously.  The president does not like to lose and is not fond of compromise.  If he does not achieve what he wants, he goes after those whom he sees as stumbling blocks. 

 

Credit:  Telegraph (UK)

It was bad enough for him that, in spite of his efforts to block Bibi, our prime minister came to the Congress – to a resounding welcome that must have been galling for the president – to speak against the deal with Iran that is close to completion.
 
Clearly, he resolved to “fix” Bibi after this, by making sure that he was not re-elected.  We know that there were American funds invested in the effort to defeat Bibi at the polls, as well as assistance provided to the Buji campaign by former Obama advisor Jeremy Bird and the team he brought with him.
 
An official here in Jerusalem has charged that the White House was directly involved in the attempt to unseat the prime minister:
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/officials-white-house-was-part-of-bid-to-oust-netanyahu/

~~~~~~~~~~

But there is even worse: There are reports from a Likud strategist of an effort “’to organize the [Israeli] Arabs into one party and teach them about voter turnout.
 
“’The State Department people in the end of January, early February, expedited visas for [Israeli] Arab leaders to come to the United States to learn how to vote,’ McLaughlin exposed.
 
“He added, ‘there were people in the United States that were organizing them to vote in one party so they would help the left-of-center candidate Herzog, that the Obama administration favored.’” (emphasis added)
 
This, my friends, was the source of Bibi’s concern during the election that the Arabs were coming “in droves.”  He knew it was a set up, but Obama then turned this into a “racist” statement, which it was not.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In the end, all of the dirty tricks didn’t work, and Netanyahu secured a victory.  Oh, how galling this must have been for Obama. 

I’ve already written about his overheated response, with the decision to “re-evaluate” the US relationship with Israel.
 
But since I last wrote, it has gotten worse still.  The latest accusation is that Israel “spied” on negotiations with Iran and then leaked information to members of Congress.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4640317,00.html

Spied?  What does this mean?  There is no evidence offered, simply an empty (silly) charge.  Does Obama imagine that Israel designed little robots that look like flies and were able to sit on the wall of the negotiating room, recording information? What?
 
The information I do have is that Israeli officials are in touch with some of those who are in the negotiating process – primarily from France – and have been thus kept informed. This is not “spying.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then there is the whole issue of Netanyahu “sharing” information with members of Congress.  
 
Please understand what sort of siege mentality the president has, that he considers it inappropriate for members of Congress to know what’s going on. This is at the core of Congress’s battle with him:  Its members believe they must be informed and involved, and he’s fighting them every step of the way.
 
What is more, there is no evidence, either, of Bibi having shared information with members of Congress.  Speaker of the House John Boehner said he was “shocked” by this accusation, for he has never received any information about the Iranian negotiations from Israel, and he was unaware of other members of Congress having received such information.
 
 http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/24/boehner-%e2%80%98shocked%e2%80%99-by-reported-israeli-spying-on-iran-talks-denies-receiving-information/

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon have all categorically denied the accusation of spying.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What we have here, then, is a very sick situation.  Exceedingly nasty.  Dangerous, certainly. But it seems to me beyond the bounds of what is rational. This is Obama becoming unhinged.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And you know what?  In some respects, I see this as not a bad thing. For, many who supported Obama - who believed him when he said he had Israel’s back - have now had their eyes opened. There is a significant shift in how Obama is being seen in several quarters within the US.  Consider (with emphasis added):

’The fact that the outcome of a democratic election in Israel seems to be of great concern [to the Obama administration] is cause for deep anxiety and puzzlement,’ said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.’

“’Whatever the failings of the prime minister, the way this is unfolding runs completely contrary to the spirit of US-Israel relations,’ Harris said. ‘The US appears to have a reasoned interest in prolonging the crisis’...
 
”’As someone who was critical of several steps by [Netanyahu] during the campaign leading up to his reelection, I am even more troubled by statements now coming out of the White House,” said Abe Foxman, longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

What we are hearing from the Obama administration raises deeper questions about their intentions and perspectives,’ he said, adding that ‘from the beginning of the Obama years, there was a disturbing indifference to the mind-set of the Israeli public.’”


http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-establishment-sounds-alarm-as-White-House-rhetoric-intensifies-394978
 
OK, so now we have establishment Jewish leadership - which has pretty much toed the line for Obama - looking askance at him.  Good.  Hopefully there is a body of Jews within the American electorate that is now also revisiting the issue of Obama as friend of Israel.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But there is also a troubling side to this situation: That is Netanyahu’s MO – his propensity for seeming to play the game rather than being confrontational.  We had reason to hope there had been a shift away from this tendency of his.  He demonstrated a strong conviction and was willing to buck the president when it came to his talk in Congress.  This was the Bibi to be admired and supported. He showed he could do it – as he has shown before.  I remember his lecture to Obama in the White House, as to why we cannot return to the ‘67 lines.
 
But now?  Now I have picked up news that – if accurate - is greatly unsettling:
 
According to YNet, Israel is freezing construction of 1,500 new housing units in Har Homa:
“The massive construction plan in Har Homa has been suspended ‘for neither planning nor professional reasons.’

“The Ministry for Construction and Housing and Jerusalem municipality confirmed that two critical planning discussions set for the coming week on advancing the construction have been canceled for unknown reasons.

“Planning officials familiar with the details of the plan told YNet that the program is not being advanced due to the political sensitivity and that there had been no approval from the Prime Minister's Office to hold the planning discussions.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4640852,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~

Har Homa (officially Homat Shmuel) is outside the Green Line and often referred to as a “settlement” in “east (sic) Jerusalem.”  In fact, it is in the south of Jerusalem, within the municipal lines of a united Jerusalem, and a strategically important neighborhood.  Founded in 1997, under the watch of Netanyahu, it is located only about a kilometer from Bethlehem.  Netanyahu has indicated that this neighborhood serves as protection for “the southern gateway of Jerusalem.”  The area is being constructed in stages – reportedly there is a master plan; the current population is 25,000. 
 
New housing units in Har Homa

Credit: European Press Photo Agency
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Just days ago, before the election, Netanyahu stood in Har Homa and pledged to continue building in Jerusalem.  He knows that it is possible to continue in spite of international uproar, for he faced an uproar when approving the construction of the first stage of Har Homa 18 years ago.
 
Yesterday, at a  press conference, Obama declared that Netanyahu’s words have made the possibility of a “two state” deal unlikely:

"Netanyahu, in the election run-up, stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister.  And I took him at his word that that's what he meant.

"Afterwards, he pointed out that he didn't say 'never,' but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created. But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet any time soon.”

Obama said that in light of Netanyahu's comments, the "possibility seems very dim" for the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach an agreement.

"’We can't continue to premise our public diplomacy on something that everybody knows is not going to happen, at least in the next several years,’ the president said.”

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-denies-spying-us-134204766.html

It is hardly necessary for me to say much about how dishonest and low Obama’s approach is.  As if everything was in place, and peace was going to burst out any second – but Netanyahu destroyed it.  As if Netanyahu’s conditions were anything but reasonable.
 
This statement by Obama followed a speech by his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, in which he declared that “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
 
Bibi knows full well how correct he is about the impossibility of a “Palestinian state” now - because of the terrorism in the region, and because of Abbas’s total intransigence as well (never mind because of our legal rights).  But there remains great unease that Obama’s approach may put him on the defensive and motivate him to “prove” his intentions.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As far as I can determine at present, the report about the stoppage for political reasons is coming only from YNet – which has a distinctly leftward tilt. The prime minister’s office, referring more to bureaucratic process, denies the stoppage was motivated by politics. 
 
This is a situation that must be watched closely. Within days we should have a more definitive picture.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
We might hope that Bibi Netanyahu would take the advice of Brett Stephens, writing on “The Orwellian Obama Presidency” (emphasis added):
 
”Here is my advice to the Israeli government, along with every other country being treated disdainfully by this crass administration: Repay contempt with contempt. Mr. Obama plays to classic bully type. He is abusive and surly only toward those he feels are either too weak, or too polite, to hit back...
 
The Israelis will need to chart their own path of resistance...Israel survived its first 19 years without meaningful U.S. patronage. For now, all it has to do is get through the next 22, admittedly long, months.”

 
http://www.wsj.com/articles/bret-stephens-the-orwellian-obama-presidency-1427153308?mod=hp_opinion
 
AMEN!
 
~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/25/march-25-2015-exposed.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 04:15PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 22, 2015: Overwrought

That’s been the overriding climate here in Israel for several days now – whether it is a mood of anguish or of euphoria, it has all been rather frenetic.
 
In the days leading up to the election, I observed (and experienced) a mood akin to grief, at the prospect that Buji Herzog might win; this then morphed into jubilation at the subsequent electoral victory of Bibi. 
 
But in some quarters on the right, there was an over-reaction.  Bibi was hailed as the leader of the free world (there is a case for this, as he’s the only one who has spoken out on Iran with courage), and it was assumed that he would now have the latitude to move forward in significant ways.  There was even an assumption voiced that he would now be able to annex Judea and Samaria.
 
Because he garnered 30 mandates?  He still has to face down the world, and form his coalition. Ain’t gonna happen now, no how, however fervent the desire that it should.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What Bibi had said in the course of the last days of the campaign was that there would be no Palestinian state established on his watch as prime minister.  The day before the election, in an interview, he declared:
“Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel. This is the true reality that was created here in the last few years."  (Emphasis added)

Those on the left, who say otherwise, are "sticking their head in the sand, time and time again."

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/16/middleeast/israel-netanyahu-palestinian-state/

~~~~~~~~~~

Bibi was only stating an obvious truth that anyone with a minimal grasp of the situation can see. His statement is not radical.  It could have (we might have said, should have) gone further: No state, because it’s our land.  But he didn’t say this.

~~~~~~~~~~

After the election, the Obama administration came out swinging at Bibi.  The American government, it was announced, was going to be re-evaluating its relationship with Israel and might opt to change its policy regarding standing with us in the UN.

Again, enormous anxiety: What if the Security Council voted to demand that we move back to the ‘67 line, or created a full Palestinian state?

My own feeling on this was that there was a certain amount of grandstanding in this statement of “re-evaluation.” It was, quite simply, a threat:  You don’t want to move with me in my desire to achieve a two-state solution? (Which solution is impossible anyway, but never mind that.) This is what you have to look forward to.

I believe that Obama will do whatever he can to damage us, that there is an irrational hatred at work with regard to how he responds to us.  For example, he has just allowed a forty-year agreement guaranteeing that Israel would be able to purchase oil to lapse.  A maliced act:

http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/obama-let-40-year-old-oil-supply-guarantee-to-israel-expire-in-november-2014/2015/03/17/0/

He should never, ever be trusted.

But at the same time, I believe he retains sufficient rationality to do what he perceives as being most prudent or in his own best interest – in terms of achieving his own goals, looking good, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~

My first thought on learning about the “re-evaluation” was that the possible scenarios in the UN that were being projected carried within them their own stumbling blocks: It was very likely not as simple as was being suggested. The UN, according to international law, cannot “create” a state; and to vote for Israel to move back to the ‘67 lines conflicts with Security Council Resolution 242, which said this was not required. 

Israel, it seemed to me, had to consult with the finest of international lawyers, military advisors and diplomats and respond offensively.  It might be pointed out, for example, that a UN resolution demanding that we move back to the ‘67 lines would render Oslo - which requires negotiations to determine a border - deader than dead. Deader than it already is now.  We might let US officials know that if this were the case, there would be absolutely no cooperation with the Palestinian Authority at all from the day the vote was taken.  No tax collection, no security provisions, no electricity or water, no cooperation in marketing of produce (all of these things spelled out in Oslo).  Obama might think twice about this, and the repercussions that would follow.

~~~~~~~~~~

As it is,  Netanyahu took the step of “explaining” what he meant.  In an interview early on Thursday, he said:

“I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4638988,00.html

In other words, don’t point a finger at me – my commitment has stayed the same.  It’s the situation that is different.

Bibi was then accused here in Israel of backtracking on his pre-election position of no Palestinian state.  But if you look carefully, it’s not quite so – although his emphasis has certainly shifted. Painful as it is to hear him reiterate commitment to a “two state solution,” he did say there would be no Palestinian state because of a changed situation; he never actually said that he had changed his mind on two-states, in principle.

~~~~~~~~~~

My first impulse was Oi!  Did he have to say this?  He backed off – or gave the appearance of backing off – in the face of Obama’s threats.  This can come across as weakness and encourage even more threats. 

But I’ve since re-thought the matter.  The situation Bibi is facing on several fronts is horrendous.  I think it behooves us to cut him a bit of slack here, if he has decided that minimizing the tensions with the US administration is in Israel’s best interest right now. 

What must be watched carefully are the decisions he makes once there is a government. He has said that there will be no more releasing of prisoners as a “gesture.”  If the PA should demand this, and Obama push for it, we must see that it does not happen.  This, or similar other “gestures.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The big question is whether Bibi means it when he speaks of a “two-state solution,” whether he meant it when he gave his Bar Ilan speech. My guessing is that this is not his ideology, but his MO – which involves “playing the game” at some level, rather than being confrontational.  If he says he is for two-states, but then refuses to move forward in real terms because of the security risks implicit, he will be holding the line for the short term. (We’ll get to the long term when there is recognition at the highest levels of government that we have legal rights in Judea and Samaria, and all of Jerusalem.)

~~~~~~~~~~

At first, Obama declared himself suspicious of the sincerity of Bibi’s statement. But by later on Thursday, he had called our prime minister to offer congratulations.  Reports are that it was a “tough” conversation, but what was made public was that the two leaders had agreed to move forward on ways to find peace (whatever that means).

US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said today that there was no choice but to examine Netanyahu’s “confusing” statements. But he also indicated that at the moment there are no changes in policy.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pms-comments-confusing-but-no-changes-yet-says-us-envoy/

~~~~~~~~~~

One of the things that I believe made Obama think twice regarding his attack on Netanyahu has been the response of several members of Congress.

Take the stunning speech by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdMWbqZsyuM&feature=youtu.be

Or that of Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), which is even stronger:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=426721624156045   

These distinguished gentleman forthrightly call Obama on his irrational antipathy to Netanyahu.

It is said that this very autocratic/non-democratic president does as he pleases. But this is not quite so.  Congress can cut funding for programs that Obama wants to see sustained, and can use its leverage to make things difficult for a president who chooses to make matters difficult for Israel. 

Senator Cotton has now said he will support legislation to cut US funding to the UN, if it takes action against Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

And this morning Senator John McCain (R-AZ) severely criticized Obama on CNN:

Noting that Israel had a “free and fair” democratic election - “the only nation in the region that will have such a thing,” he said it’s time for Obama to “get over it,” if he doesn’t like the results.

“Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President. It’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region which is threatening the very fabric of the region. The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during a reelection campaign.”

http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/22/mccain-obama-needs-to-get-over-his-temper-tantrum-about-netanyahus-reelection/

~~~~~~~~~~

I would like to briefly comment on one accusation that is being made against Netanyahu: It is being said that he made “racist” remarks against Israeli Arabs during the election, pointing out that they were coming to vote in large numbers, which required the right wing to come out in large numbers as well.

That is not quite accurate.  Netanyahu’s concern was with the fact that US money had been utilized to promote the left in the campaign, and it was believed that US money was paying for the buses to bring the Arabs to the polls.  This is clearly not as it should be, and he was calling for a strong response against it.

One very interesting news item helps put lie to the accusation that Netanyahu is racist:  In one Bedouin village in the north of Israel, over 76% of the votes were cast for Netanyahu and Likud:

http://jewishbusinessnews.com/2015/03/19/bedouin-village-gave-76-of-its-votes-to-netanyahu/

~~~~~~~~~~

As to the election, the early stages of coalition building are in process now.  I will write about this when next I post.  It is not a pretty picture, not as I write tonight, at any rate.

~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot close without a mention of the vile/hateful/destructive and totally perverse positions of Obama, whatever his motivations (do NOT write to tell me what they are, please – this is rhetorical).  Right after the elections here, the PLO moved to increase its connection with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in order to establish a “unity government.” I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve moved towards a unity government.  But the point is that there can be no “negotiations” for a “two-state solution” if the PA is in bed with Hamas. And yet, from the Obama administration I’ve seen not a single word of criticism about this being “counterproductive” to peace – never mind threats to re-evaluate the US support for the PA.

~~~~~~~~~~

But then again, what can we expect:

“An annual security report submitted recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, removed both Iran and Hezbollah from the list of terrorism threats to the United States for the first time in years.” (emphasis added)

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/17579-us-removes-iran-and-hezbollah-from-list-of-terror-threats

~~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of Iran...

There are officials here in Jerusalem who believe that Obama’s attack on Netanyahu was designed to deflect attention from the nuclear negotiations, which should be coming to a close within days.  Obama may be seeking ways to “discourage” Netanyahu from speaking out on what is taking place.

http://www.pressreader.com/israel/jerusalem-post/textview

~~~~~~~~~~

No wonder the climate here is overwrought.  The situation to be coped with is insane.  Not least is a pogrom that took place in London last night.  A terrifying harbinger of things to come?

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Attackers-yelling-we-will-kill-you-storm-synagogue-in-London-suburb-leave-worshipers-bloody-394684

There is no room for complacency or apathy now.  And support for Israel and her rights is essential. What happens to the Jews of the world depends in good part upon the Jewish state.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/23/march-22-2015-overwrought.html

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 07:03AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 18, 2015: With Gratitude and Gladness!

The Israeli election campaign just ended has been one hell of a dismal and ominous ride.  I knew that well enough, but it was only when near-final results were released, and I began to cry, that I realized how very frightened I had been.  For this nation that I love, and for the free world.

 

 

Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen
 
And so I am grateful.  First to the Almighty.  And then to the people of Israel, who saw their way past the nonsense, and saved the day.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The campaign was one that I found shameful on several counts, something I have written about in recent days: 
 
It was personalized – an attack directly on Binyamin Netanyahu (with ridiculous accusations against his wife), rather than primarily a debate on the issues. This was ugly, and unbecoming. 
 
What is more, there is solid reason to believe that the campaign incorporated outside American interference, which is unacceptable by all measures of diplomatic conduct.  Such was the desire and determination of the Obama administration to take down Netanyahu.  (More on this below.)  The campaign advice provided to “the Zionist Camp” was slick – starting, I strongly suspect, with the fact that the merged Labor-Hatenua faction renamed themselves “Zionist Camp,” thereby creating the possibility of confusion in people’s minds.  And, I just as strongly suspect, including an announcement by Livni, just hours before the voting was to start, that she was pulling out of the shared premiereship deal with Herzog (clearly because internal polls indicated he would do better without her).           
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
That in the end the people of Israel did not buy the rhetoric of the campaign on the left is a source of great gladness. 
 
For – and this is the heart of the matter!! - it is difficult to exaggerate the damage that Buji and Livni might have done, had they gained the reins of the government.  They would have created a threatening situation for us at home with their “two state” negotiations nonsense, would have invited attack by Hamas and Hezbollah with their appeasement, and would have left Obama in the White House and the mullahs in Tehran laughing their heads off. 
 
But we are not in that place.  Thank God, thank God.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Coming into the election, Bibi was trailing Buji by some four mandates, and it was a scary time. A concerned Bibi let it be known that if the electorate was interested in a nationalist government, they would have to center their votes on Likud, and not spread them out amongst the nationalist parties. For if the nationalist vote was divided, and Herzog came in with more mandates, President Rivlin might select Herzog to first try to form a coalition.
 
The people heard.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
When the polls closed at 10 PM yesterday, the nation was provided with the results of several media exit polls that had been done in the course of the day.  These polls were supposed to be a reasonably solid predictor of the actual results.
 
What we were told was that Bibi and Buji were just about neck and neck, at 27 mandates each by most accounts.  This was reassuring – a far cry from the information we had via the final polls five days before the election. There was now solid hope for Likud, as it was being predicted that Bibi had a better chance to form a coalition. But it was still too close for real comfort.  Netanyahu claimed victory; Herzog declined to congratulate him, assuming a “wait and see” stance instead.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But as the night wore on, the picture changed to one increasingly positive, until it was at last clear that Bibi Netanyahu and Likud had secured an amazing win, with 30 mandates to 24 for Buji and the Zionist Camp. 

Buji then congratulated Bibi on his win.  And now it is a sure thing that Rivlin will ask Bibi to form the government.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Prior to the election, the far left Hadash had joined with the Arab parties for a united list, and they came in third at 14 mandates.  It is expected that they will now break apart again.
 
Then: Yesh Atid (Lapid) 11, Kulanu (Kahlon) 10, Habayit Hayehudi (Bennett) 8, Shas (Deri) 7, United Torah Judaism (Litzman/Gafni) 6, Yisrael Beitenu (Lieberman) 6, Meretz 4. 
 
Just as Habayit Hayehudi lost mandates (some 12 had been anticipated), because of the call for votes to Likud, so, too, did Eli Yishai’s new party Yahad fail to make the electoral cut-off.  I am sorry about that.  A break off from Shas, and solidly Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox, it was also shaping up as a nationalist party.  I believe Yishai is a good man, and hope he finds his way.
 
The numbers I cite here represent 99% of the vote, there are still votes from soldiers and others to be counted.  That last 1% is unlikely to change matters – but it could cause a shift, as has happened before. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I want to mention Naftali Bennett here, because he has conducted himself as a true mensch – a person who behaves with integrity and decency.  He and other members of the party (notably Ayelet Shaked) were able to rejoice at a right wing win, even though it was at the cost of some Habayit Hayehudi mandates.  Said Bennett to his gathered supporters (emphasis added):
 
“Netanyahu called me. I praised him for the great victory of the national camp. We concluded that we will begin negotiations to establish the government. I tell you, my friends, in these negotiations we will not focus on cabinet positions, rather on values.

“We will take care to ensure a government … that will safeguard the Land of Israel in its entirety. A government that will ensure the Jewish character of the State of Israel. A government that will protect IDF soldiers from outside [legal] persecution.

“We will secure a government that will safeguard a united Jerusalem under the sovereignty of Israel, and Israel only. And a government that will not give a centimeter of Israeli land to the Arabs.

We’re running long distance. We are not afraid, and we don’t lower our heads. We raise our heads higher and higher. We love the people of Israel, the land of Israel. We, all of us, love the Torah of Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/despite-poll-battering-jewish-home-party-defiantly-upbeat/
 
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett waves to onlookers following elections, March 17, 2015. (photo credit: Avi Lewis/ Times of Israel, Jon Weidberg)

Credit: Avi Lewis/Times of Israel
 
Bennett’s day will come.  So often politicians are concerned only with the success of their own party, and this is refreshing.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In terms of how Bibi conducted himself here, we are also seeing integrity.  Bennett was the first one he called, and – undoubtedly appreciating the hit Bennett had taken - he let him know that they would work together to form a nationalist government.  Another cause for gratitude. A new day. There has been all together too much tension between these men, and they should be partners in important work now.
 
Bibi has said he will form a nationalist religious coalition.  Its exact nature has yet to unfold. There is, of course, much speculation – with many parameters being examined.  In the formation of a coalition government, various factions make demands. Now it is a question of how much Netanyahu needs any given faction, and what the head of that faction is demanding.  The fact that Likud has 30 mandates and not 27 somewhat reduces the bargaining power of the various other parties.
 
Kahlon is focused on social issues and wants the Finance Ministry (and perhaps housing).  Bibi is prepared to give him Finance, certainly.  Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the US, and now a prominent member of Kulanu, is a two-state man, and makes me nervous.  Lieberman, who has gone way down in the number of mandates his party has, is talking big in terms of wanting Defense.  I would be shocked if he got it.  Lapid is talking about sitting out the coalition and acting in the opposition.  (Suffice it to say here that the ultra-Orthodox parties and Lapid are on opposite sides of a huge divide.)
 
Bibi does not need all of these parties.  He would be able to pass over at least one if not two of them and still end up with 61 or more mandates.  We’ll watch, and see how it plays over the next couple of weeks.
 
When I speak of a “new day,” I believe it may be coming in a couple of contexts.  Please note that last time around he gave Livni the Justice Ministry.  Now he speaks of a nationalist religious government.  I believe that Bibi has been pushed hard enough by Obama so that he is in no mood for conciliatory gestures.  Sometimes it has to get worse before it can get better.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Just a few final thoughts here now. 
 
What is most important is that the world see that a right-leaning nationalist government is where the Israeli electorate stands. This does not make us radicals, even though a left-leaning media will paint us so.  A democratic election was held and the people have spoken.  We will, we must, move on from here.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
To the extent that the left focused on issues during the campaign, they were social/economic issues, such as the need for more housing.  The problem with their perspective is that they represent these issues as the primary and most critical ones.
 
These issues are very real, but security is and must be treated as more urgent. I read a comment by someone (sorry I cannot quote, as I do not remember who) that: It’s wonderful if the government will build us new apartment complexes, but what good will it do us if Iran nukes them.  Crudely put, but absolutely true.  The right is not mistaken, to be concerned first with Iran, and what would happen if we gave the Palestinian Arabs a state, and what Hezbollah intends to do. 
 
But it would be prudent if Bibi now gave a more serious nod to those economic/social issues.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
For your information: Zahava Gal-On has resigned as head of Meretz because she takes responsibility for the fact that her party only pulled four mandates (at one point it was thought they might not make the cut-off).
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to the meddling from the US, I would not want to see this issue dropped.  It must be pursued to its end, and it falls to those who are American citizens to demand that this be done.
 
Please see the article below which appeared a couple of months ago in no less than Haaretz:
 
“...With the help of American money and a former campaign adviser to President Barack Obama, V15 is trying to replace Israel’s government. The money and organization comes from V15’s partnership with OneVoice...
 
Their secret campaign weapon is Jeremy Bird, a 36-year-old American political strategist who worked for Obama. Bird has come with a team of four consultants that will try to channel the energies of V15 into an organized methodology.”
 
http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-election-2015/.premium-1.639158
 
And this (emphasis added):
 
“...the [Senate] probe is looking into funding of the OneVoice Movement, a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants. A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, guided by top operatives of the White House, which openly seeks to ‘replace the government’ of Israel.”
 
http://unitedwithisrael.org/is-the-obama-administration-interfering-in-israels-elections/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
There is going to be a great deal to track, as we move forward now. And I am eager to look at a variety of news items, regarding a very defiant Iran, a belligerent Palestinian Authority, and more. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/18/march-18-2015-with-gratitude-and-gladness.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 05:16PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 16. 2015: It's Up to Us!

The chances of a right wing victory in tomorrow’s election suddenly seemed far greater after last night’s rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.  After a very frustratingly lackadaisical campaign – with an incredibly negative tone, and with polls showing the left ahead - a bubble of hope welled up.  Some estimated that there were 100,000 people there.  Whether there were 100,000 or 70,000, it was possible so say, “Ah!”
 

Credit: MATE
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I have learned that apparently – for reasons that are not clear to me – leftists vote more consistently than right wing people do.  And so I write this final posting before the election to call upon every right wing Israeli citizen of voting age to go out and vote tomorrow.  There is always a solemn responsibility to vote.  But tomorrow it is particularly important.  Especially as there is the possibility of seizing victory at the 11th hour: We cannot win unless we vote, guys.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I am sending this to my regular list, and taking the liberty, as well, of sending it to others who might spread the word.
 
To those outside of Israel, I ask that you share with all your friends and relatives in Israel.  To those in Israel, I ask that you take note, and then share my message with all of your friends and relatives as well.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At the end of this message, I am going to repeat the core of my last posting, which explains how the system works.
 
Just as I said the last time, I repeat here:  In the end, it is not my place to tell anyone how to vote. Each of you must decide.  But what I can do is explain that a right wing victory is most likely if Likud garners more mandates than the “Zionist Camp.”  Bibi must have the first opportunity to form a coalition or we risk Herzog’s being able to do it.  To ensure that Likud has those mandates means voting Likud.
 
The situation would be very different if Likud were showing a strong lead in the polls.  Then voting to the right of Likud, to ensure a strong right flank for Likud, would be almost a reflexive decision for some.  But as it is, Likud, which has not been showing a lead in the polls (strong or otherwise), needs a boost now. Something to be considered as you decide how to vote – Likud or to the right of Likud.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
One of the things that has been most upsetting about this vile campaign is that a major theme of it, on the left, has been “anyone but Bibi.”  No grappling with issues, no positive frame.  It has been rather disgusting, and should not be permitted to win the day.
 
Let’s look at why it MUST be Bibi:
 
[] The reason it is “anyone but Bibi” is because Bibi is the one who represents the threat to the left.  No one else in the current set-up can carry the day on the right except him.  And since the thought of a left-wing government headed by Buji Herzog is terrifying, it indeed must be Bibi who is provided with the opportunity to defeat Buji.
 
Herzog is running on a “two-state” platform.  He is eager to start negotiations with the PA – an exercise in insanity - and looks forward to being able to give half of our country away. 
 
Even more distressing is his readiness to bow to Obama on issues of Iran: He expresses “confidence” that Obama can handle matters. Heaven help us.
 
Stopping him means a strong Bibi.
 
It is not necessary to think that Bibi is the perfect leader.  One can feel discontent with him in one regard or another and still understand that he stands head and shoulders above Buji in terms of doing what’s best for the country.
 
Providing security for our nation means standing strong.  Herzog’s positions would immediately weaken Israel, for Herzog is going for appeasement instead of strength.  Our enemies would smell this immediately.
 
Channel 2’s Middle East expert has already predicted that Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, would be likely to test Herzog’s strength very quickly after a Herzog win;
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192596#.VQTJ-pscSM9
 
Stopping Buji means a strong Bibi. There is no one else who can fill this role.
 
[] With regard to Iran, the most significant existential issue of all, there is also the matter of Netanyahu’s stunningly successful talk in Congress earlier this month.  
 
He was hailed incredibly in Congress with one rousing ovation after another; commentators later referred to him as the leader of the free world – the only one ready to stand up and tell the truth about Iran.  A time of great pride for Israel, when we are so often the object of delegitimization campaigns. 
 
Does the nation then reject Netanyahu?  It would be a huge disservice to him.  And the message it would send to the world would be shameful:  Yes, our prime minister stood up to Iran as no one else, but we are prepared to dump him now for someone who can appease Obama.
 
This would not only be a terrible message to deliver, it would mean that the single voice speaking out against Iran, amongst national leaders, would have been silenced.  A disservice to the free world. 
 
[] Then we come to the matter of reports that American funds have been invested in the campaign here in order to bring Bibi down.  The matter is serious enough so that the Senate is now going to look into it, according to Fox News:
 
”An investigatory bi-partisan panel has been convened in order to probe allegations that the US State Department gave a political group that opposes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the proceedings told Fox News on Saturday.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/senate-said-probing-washingtons-ties-to-anti-netanyahu-group/
 
Do we sit still for this?  Is this how we want our elections determined? It is imperative to stand strong, with ballots, against a US administration that wants our prime minister out.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to what I wrote last about our electoral system:

People vote for parties, not for individuals, and the president of Israel plays a key role in what follows after the votes are cast and counted: It is the president who invites the head of one party to attempt to form a governing coalition.  As there are 120 seats in the Knesset, the coalition must represent at least 61 of those seats (referred to as mandates).

After the election is completed, it is determined which party received the most mandates.  (It has never happened that any one party had at least 61 mandates.  A coalition has always been required.)  Very often, the president then invites the head of that faction to try to form a coalition.  The scuttlebutt now is that this is what President Ruby Rivlin intends to so.  It is not necessarily required of him to do this – but it is what we expect to happen, what usually does happen.

(There is yet another step, before he formally selects the person who will attempt to form the coalition: The head of each party comes to visit the president, and indicates which party head he/she prefers to put together the coalition.)

~~~~~~~~~~

There are only two choices, in terms of whom Rivlin might select – it is either going to be the head of Likud (Netanyahu) or the head of the Zionist Camp (Herzog). 

~~~~~~~~~~

There are those who make the case that what matters is a strong right wing bloc so that you are helping defeat Herzog by voting for Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) or Eli Yeshai’s Yahad party.  This would be the case if Likud were solidly ahead of the Zionist Camp in the polls: then there would be a strong case for voting to the right of Likud, to prevent pull in the opposite direction.

And it is certainly the case once a coalition is being formed.  Bayit Yehudi and Yahad are natural allies of Likud, and if they are strong, then the right wing bloc is stronger.  (This is good because then fewer other parties have to be brought in to make the coalition. When there are more parties, the coalition tends to be weakened because each party has different demands.)

However, there is a “but” here.  If Likud does not bring in more mandates than the Zionist Camp in the election, then Netanyahu might not ever have the chance to form a coalition. This is the reality right now.

I say this not because I am opposed to Bayit Yehudi or Yahad.  Not at all. But because the Zionist Camp must be defeated.

~~~~~~~~~~

What must be understood is how complicated the coalition building process is. There are parties that are definitely on the right, such as Bayit Yehudi and Yahad. They are not going with Herzog no matter what.  And there are others that are clearly left, such as Meretz (if it even gets enough mandates to get into the Knesset). But there are other parties that will swing either way.  Such parties as Shas, or Yesh Atid or Kulanu. Calling themselves “centrist” (I would call them something else), they will go with the coalition that will do the most for them.  It’s a sort of political horse-trading: I’ll support your coalition and vote with you, but I want this ministry, or that law passed.

Thus is it the case that the party who has the first opportunity to attempt to form a coalition, has the best chance of bringing in these swing parties.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 
See my website at www.arlenefromisrael.info  Contact Arlene at akushner18@gmail.com
 

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/16/march-16-2015-its-up-to-us.html

 

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 09:54AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 11, 2015: THE ELECTION

This is a posting of utmost seriousness, my friends, about a subject that is both weighty and complex.  I will do my best to clarify.
 
We’re not looking at an election that is “simply” a contest between two candidates with somewhat different opinions and styles: We are talking about radical differences.
 
And we are not looking at a campaign process that has been measured – sort of an extended civil debate on the issues.  Quite the contrary! What has been going on has been ugly and distressful.   
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At the core of the campaign, we have the Likud, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. 

 

Credit: Politico

 
And the “Zionist Camp,” a merger of Labor and Hatenua, which are headed respectively by Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog and Tzipi Livni.  It sometimes refers to itself as the “Zionist Union,” although “Camp” is the direct translation from the Hebrew.
 

 

Credit: The Guardian

~~~~~~~~~~

For the moment, we will put the other parties aside, although I will come back them.

~~~~~~~~~~

For those alarmed by the prospect of a Herzog-Livni government, the question is how to vote to prevent this disaster from occurring.  There is huge concern right now because the current polls put the Zionist camp ahead of Likud.  It’s no comfort that traditionally these polls are often wrong: the prospect remains truly terrifying.

~~~~~~~~~~

Why is the prospect of a Herzog-Livni government a disaster?  Because we live in very dangerous times, within an exceedingly dangerous neighborhood, and nothing about the former policies of Herzog and Livni or the goals that they are promoting now remotely suggest that they would have either the wisdom or the strength needed to stand for Israel.

This is a very serious matter.  In my book, a matter that trumps the other issues.  There is, for example, a housing problem here in Israel.  No question.  Responsibility for this problem falls on many shoulders going back over time.  It must be debated and solutions must be found. But – Heaven forbid – if we are overrun by radical Islamists/terrorists because of a weak government, the housing issue becomes moot.  Does it not?

~~~~~~~~~~

Back when Tzipi Livni was foreign minister, I was present at a talk she gave at a conference.  She was explaining why Israel had to relinquish Judea and Samaria: Because this would make the world like us better, and we need international support.  Dear Heaven!  How I deplore this attitude.  I walked out.

Livni was foreign minister in 2006, at the time of the Second Lebanon War, and served as a sort of Israeli diplomatic nursemaid to Security Council Resolution 1701, which provided the structure for Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the formation of UNIFIL – UN forces charged with working with the Lebanese army to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. 

Originally 1701 was supposed to have been established under Chapter 7 of the Security Council, which would have meant it had enforceability.  But it was scaled back to a Chapter 6, which means there was no enforceability. What Livni said was “so we got [Chapter] 7 minus” – a breathtakingly stupid and meaningless statement.  There is, of course, no such thing.  And yet she did not protest and said that this resolution was good for Israel: she took enormous credit for this “diplomatic” achievement.

Resolution 1701 had no clause to prevent the transfer of arms into Lebanon for use by Hezbollah.  In fact, UNIFIL was not authorized to use armed force. And UNIFIL includes recruits from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, countries that support terrorism and destruction of the Jewish state, and countries that are in an official state of war with Israel.

This is what Livni, without protest, called “good for Israel.”

The theoretical goal of 1701, aside from moving Israel out of Lebanon, was to keep Hezbollah out of the south of the country and to prevent it from re-arming. Today Hezbollah, along with its 100,000 rockets, is in south Lebanon.

 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
For most of the campaign, neither Livni nor Herzog enunciated a clear platform.  The campaign consisted mostly of a series of “anyone but Bibi” innuendoes. It has been a depressingly ugly and unserious campaign.
 
This past Sunday, the Zionist Camp brought its platform to the public. It addresses housing issues, and economic problems, which is quite fine.
 
But, within the first 100 days after the election, the Zionist Camp would also “make every effort to present our (peace) initiative to the Arab League." (Emphasis here and following is added.)
 
What?  A “peace initiative”?  Now? And involving the Arab League, yet.  “We present a vision and a leadership that is able to pay a political price when we believe it's justified.”  This “vision” is couched in very vague language, but what is being said here is that they would relinquish Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem. 
 
Beware, I tell you.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said repeatedly in recent days that there will be no territory relinquished under current circumstances: it would be dangerous because in no time at all we’d have jihadist terrorists at our border.  He is 100% correct, and the fact that Herzog and Livni do not get it is serious indeed.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I will not belabor all of the planks of the Zionist Camp platform, but want to mention this:
 
“A government headed by the Zionist Union will act to prevent Iran from developing military nuclear capabilities through a final-status agreement between Tehran and the international community, which includes dismantling the existing nuclear infrastructure, and a strict and effective regime of supervision and inspection."
 
I think most of my readers can understand what babble, devoid of reality, this is.
 
And lastly:

"The strategic allegiance (sic) between the United States and the State of Israel is a basic component of Israel's national strength, and an asset that must be safeguarded and nurtured. Hurting this allegiance (sic), much like the deterioration in Israel's international status, leads to unimaginable damage to Israel's diplomatic and security strength.

"A government led by the Zionist Union will mend the special relationship with the United States, which was seriously damaged during the tenure of the outgoing government.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4634652,00.html

Translation: We are going to go kissy-kiss with Obama.  Netanyahu made a huge mistake in crossing him, as this damaged Israel’s relationship with the US, but we aim to fix it.

Not so, of course. What was “damaged” was our relationship with a US president who works against us in any event.  The enormous esteem in which the US Congress holds Netanyahu was clear for all to see.

Appeasement, bending over to keep Obama happy, can only hurt Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

So the case against the Zionist Camp has been made.  And now we look at what to do to keep Herzog and Livni out of power. Our electoral system is more than a bit complex:

People vote for parties, not for individuals, and the president of Israel plays a key role in what follows after the votes are cast and counted: It is the president who invites the head of one party to attempt to form a governing coalition.  As there are 120 seats in the Knesset, the coalition must represent at least 61 of those seats (referred to as mandates).

After the election is completed, it is determined which party received the most mandates.  (It has never happened that any one party had at least 61 mandates.  A coalition has always been required.)  Very often, the president then invites the head of that faction to try to form a coalition.  The scuttlebutt now is that this is what President Ruby Rivlin intends to so.  It is not necessarily required of him to do this – but it is what we expect to happen, what usually does happen.

(There is yet another step, before he formally selects the person who will attempt to form the coalition: The head of each party comes to visit the president, and indicates which party head he/she prefers to put together the coalition.)

~~~~~~~~~~

There are only two choices, in terms of whom Rivlin might select – it is either going to be the head of Likud (Netanyahu) or the head of the Zionist Camp (Herzog). 

~~~~~~~~~~

There are those who make the case that what matters is a strong right wing bloc so that you are helping defeat Herzog by voting for Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) or Eli Yeshai’s Yahad party.  This would be the case if Likud were solidly ahead of the Zionist Camp in the polls: then there would be a strong case for voting to the right of Likud, to prevent pull in the opposite direction.

And it is certainly the case once a coalition is being formed.  Bayit Yehudi and Yahad are natural allies of Likud, and if they are strong, then the right wing bloc is stronger.  (This is good because then fewer other parties have to be brought in to make the coalition. When there are more parties, the coalition tends to be weakened because each party has different demands.)

However, there is a “but” here.  If Likud does not bring in more mandates than the Zionist Camp in the election, then Netanyahu might not ever have the chance to form a coalition. This is the reality right now.

I say this not because I am opposed to Bayit Yehudi or Yahad.  Not at all. But because the Zionist Camp must be defeated.

~~~~~~~~~~

It is not necessarily the case, by the way, that the person who is given the first opportunity to form the coalition will be successful.  A few years ago, Livni had the first opportunity, and failed.

What must be understood is how complicated the coalition building process is. There are parties that are definitely on the right, such as Bayit Yehudi and Yahad. They are not going with Herzog no matter what.  And there are others that are clearly left, such as Meretz (if it even gets enough mandates to get into the Knesset). But there are other “centrist” parties that will swing either way.  Such parties as Shas, or Yesh Atid or Kulanu. Calling themselves “centrist,” they will go with the coalition that will do the most for them.  It’s a sort of political horse-trading: I’ll support your coalition and vote with you, but I want this ministry, or that law passed.

Thus is it the case that the party who has the first opportunity to attempt to form a coalition, has the best chance of bringing in these swing parties.

~~~~~~~~~~

And there are two other points I would make here:

Our prime minister did us very proud in Washington – making the case for blocking Iran’s intentions in a manner that may have positive implications for our security.  At the same time, he enhanced our reputation.  At a time when Israel is routinely delegitimized, he accrued honor for us, holding his head high and demonstrating the need for strength.

Thus does it seem right that his nation should now support him. Is he perfect? Far from it.  But he is the best leader we have at present, and merits serious attention from us.

What is more, there is reason to believe that the White House has been behind the scenes in terms of some of the manipulations going on in the campaign – the game playing, engendered by American advisors.  The picture of Obama getting the last laugh, knowing he “fixed” his enemy Netanyahu, even if he couldn’t block him from Congress, is a rather intolerable one.

~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot tell anyone how to vote. What I have done here is lay out a scenario that I believe has significant validity in terms of the current electoral situation.  What I do ask, if you are in Israel, is that you take what I have written here seriously, and then make sure you go out and VOTE.  What is more, I ask that you share this information with others and encourage them to vote as well.

If you are in the US or elsewhere, and have friends and relatives in Israel, I ask that you share this with them and encourage them to vote, as well.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 
See my website at www.arlenefromisrael.info  Contact Arlene at akushner18@gmail.com
 
This material is transmitted by Arlene only to persons who have requested it or agreed to receive it.  If you are on the list and wish to be removed, contact Arlene and include your name in the text of the message.
 
http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/16/march-11-2015-the-election.html

 

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 09:46AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 8, 2015: Nauseating

Before we get to the events that are stomach-turning, I want to circle back just briefly to Netanyahu’s talk in Congress.  I cannot consider every commentary (and there are so many!), but what Charles Krauthammer wrote seems worthy of note here.  He refers to “the libel being perpetrated by some that Netanyahu is trying to get America to go to war with Iran,” which he says is a “malicious calumny.”
 
This is a point that I had not touched upon, and so I am glad to have the opportunity to do so here.  Krauthammer’s response (emphasis added):
 
In its near-70 year history, Israel has never once asked America to fight for it. Not in 1948 when 650,000 Jews faced 40 million Arabs. Not in 1967 when Israel was being encircled and strangled by three Arab armies. Not in 1973 when Israel was on the brink of destruction. Not in the three Gaza wars or the two Lebanon wars.

“Compare that to a very partial list of nations for which America has fought and for which so many Americans have fallen: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and every West European country beginning with France (twice).

“Change the deal, strengthen the sanctions, give Israel a free hand.”

Credit: Free Beacon

As to that free hand, I would add that the US possesses 15-ton bunker busters and the B2 stealth bombers that can carry them, the use of which would complete the job in Iran, but will not give them to Israel.

Krauthammer makes yet another point, however:
 
“Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement.” 
 
http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/03/06/charles-krauthammer-netanyahus-churchillian-warning/
 
It is appeasement that leads to war, not tough stances.  Thus, in fact, what Netanyahu proposes would reduce the threat of war with Iran, for it would render the mullahs weak instead of emboldening them.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
There are reports of the deal with Iran drawing close.  This article from yesterday, for example, refers to the fact that “Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a week of diplomacy in Europe and the Middle East within what many experts say is striking distance of an initial accord with Iran over its nuclear program.”
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/world/europe/after-talks-nuclear-deal-on-iran-is-seen-as-close.html
 
But the very same article reports that French foreign minister Laurent Fabius “complained that the emerging accord did not yet go far enough to constrain Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
 
“’There has been progress but as far as the volume, checks and duration of the envisaged commitments are concerned, the situation is still insufficient,’ Mr. Fabius said Friday. ‘So there is more work to be done.’”

Kerry then rushed to give the appearance of unity with France and declared that they were chasing after the same thing.

~~~~~~~~~~

With regard to this matter, what we need to watch for are indications that Netanyahu’s speech may have affected the negotiating dynamic.  The prime minister is now saying that:
 
"After my speech to Congress, we heard from several foreign ministers who don't see a need to reach a deal as soon as possible, and who said they would wait for a good agreement to be reached. (emphasis added)

"I hope these things will be translated into action."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4634562,00.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
On the homefront in the US, according to the WSJ (all emphasis added):
 
“the Senate’s effort to require a vote of Congress on the Obama Administration’s impending nuclear-arms deal with Iran is back on track. With support for the Iran bill now approaching a veto-proof majority, the Administration’s negotiators must now factor in Senate approval for the terms of any deal.
 
“Last Friday Tennessee’s Senator Bob Corker , Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The bill says President Obama must submit the text of any final Iran arms deal to Congress within 60 days to allow time for hearings and a vote.

“In addition to New Jersey’s Robert Menendez , the committee’s ranking minority member, Democrats co-sponsoring the bill included Tim Kaine (Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), plus Maine Independent Angus King.

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s speech to Congress Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would bring the Corker-Menendez bill directly to the floor next week for a vote, bypassing the normal committee markup procedures. An outcry erupted among Democrats...

“On Thursday afternoon Senator McConnell withdrew his intention to move the Iran bill directly to the floor. The result was remarkable: Four more Democrats now support the Iran-vote bill: Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Ben Cardin (Md.).

“Add this group to the Senate’s Republicans and there currently are 64 Senators, three short of a veto-proof majority, who want to vote on the Obama Iran deal.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-senates-iran-test-1425592184
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Not surprisingly, Obama is responding to all this pushback: Now he says that the US will “walk away” if the deal is not acceptable.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-says-us-will-walk-away-from-bad-iran-deal/
 
I am guessing that he sees it as preferable to give the appearance of having exhibited necessary caution, than to attempt to push through a deal and be defeated – humiliatingly for him - by a veto over-ride in Congress or have other members of P5 + 1 refuse to go along.  You will notice that his tone is decidedly less belligerent and more tentative. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And so, on this, stay tuned.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Now as to what is “nauseating.”  Actually, I’m seeing a lot that is, and I bet many readers would agree. But what I have in mind is the election campaign here in Israel.  It has demoralized me, along with a host of others.
 
I imagine that at my core I am naïve  I actually believe that the good of the nation must come first, and not the opportunity to advance oneself in an election.  And so, what I have been seeing has been unbearable for me.
 
For a good part of the campaign, the thrust of what is being called the “Zionist Camp” – aka the Labor Party, headed by Buji Herzog and Tzipi Livni – has focused on the goal of “anyone but Bibi” rather than a positive agenda.  In the course of promoting that goal, charges emanated from the left that were vile for their petty and insipid focus.  The “biggie” was the charge that Sara Netanyahu returned bottles from drinks that had been purchased with State funds (for some official entertaining, presumably) and pocketed the refund monies.  Shock.  Horrors.  THIS is what there was to talk about when the world is on fire?  Turns out that the charges weren’t true, but this seems almost beside the point.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Because of my naiveté - or, better perhaps, my idealism – I also think there are times when it is essential to support the head of the government, even if it means that your own chances of replacing him are thus diminished.  I absolutely believe it was Buji’s place – criticize as he might such other things as housing policy - to state that he stands with Bibi with regard to his talk in Congress, stands with him as one on the issue of Iran, and is proud that the prime minister of Israel would be received as he was.
 
But no, Buji was big on criticizing Bibi for his “rift” with Obama, and suggested that it was wrong for him to leave the country when there is so much here to tend to (just as he, Buji, was busy attending to “things”).
 
Heaven forbid that either Buji or Livni should suggest that Prime Minister. Netanyahu did a good thing in Washington, and just perhaps made Israel a bit safer.  Never mind that he enhanced Israel’s prestige internationally.
 
Tiresome... Sad...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Yesterday, there was a left wing rally in Tel Aviv – officially run by a “two-state” group, and not any party - that was solidly “anyone but Bibi.”  Likud has charged that it was funded by foreign money.  Key speaker was former head of the Mossad Meir Dagan, who has tilted quite left.  According to a JPost report, he said that ‘Our leadership is scarier than our enemies.” While Iran is very scary, the way Netanyahu has handled matters has hurt efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear armament program.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/WATCH-LIVE-Ex-Mossad-chief-headlines-large-anti-Netanyahu-rally-in-Tel-Aviv-393211
 
Excuse me?
 
A couple from Tel Aviv who attended the rally is quoted as saying that among the things Netanyahu failed at was “diplomacy.”
 
Now really.  Is the relationship with Obama the key? Did they not see how Congress responded to him?  Have they not heard that Arab Sunni states support our prime minister? Arab states.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The charge, also made at this rally, that Bibi has failed because he has not negotiated a “two state solution,” thereby ushering in “peace,” is a huge red herring.  Even many of those who would prefer to see a Palestinian state admit that it is not a possibility now and would cause great security damage to Israel.
 
But why bother with the truth, when it’s possible to attack Netanyahu?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
On Friday, the left-leaning newspaper Yediot Aharonot published a document that it said was a list of “drastic concessions” that Netanyahu had been willing to make in August of 2013, in the course of negotiations with the PA. These concessions allegedly included such things as a deal on Jerusalem and full “restitution” to the Palestinian Arabs of land secured in 1967.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu countered that this was a draft, floated by the US: In an attempt to jumpstart negotiations, the Americans had floated a document to which each side could then respond. Netanyahu never agreed to withdrawal to the pre-1967 line nor to dividing Jerusalem, nor to some concession on Palestinian Arab “right of return.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Netanyahu-downplays-concession-document-trumpeted-by-Israeli-media-outlet-393248
 
Dennis Ross, who served as an American negotiator at the time in question, says exactly the same thing: Netanyahu never agreed to any of these terms.
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=24005
 
Yesterday, Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon said that since neither side agreed to the terms of that document that had been floated by the US, the document was “not relevant.”
 
What then, asked Ya’alon, was Yediot’s intention in publishing this document now?  The answer is obvious: to create an impression that Netanyahu was prepared to make huge concessions, thus discrediting him with the very voters upon whom he depends.
 
Likud has charged that Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes has orchestrated a campaign to mislead the public.
 
So here we have a newspaper – if that is what we call it – more interested in the “Bibi must go” campaign than in reporting facts.
 
This too, my friends, I find nauseating.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2015/3/9/march-8-2015-nauseating.html

Posted on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 01:58PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint