Current Postings

February 24, 2015: Lies, Threats and Politics

The situation surrounding the negotiations with Iran and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress daily grows more ominous, more convoluted, and more contentious.
 
I would like to begin with the latest “scoop” – which is supposed to put the lie to Bibi’s charge in 2012 in the UN (complete with that famous chart) that Iran was on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power.
 
As Arutz Sheva described the situation yesterday:
 
“Al Jazeera began publishing Monday night several documents allegedly leaked from the Israeli Mossad – via the Spy Cables database shared with the British Guardian.
 
One of the documents alleged that, just a few weeks after the famous speech Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave in 2012 assessing Iran as being about one year away from building a nuclear weapon, the Mossad sent a confidential report to South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) stating that, in their estimation, ‘Iran does not engage in the necessary activities required for the production of weapons of mass destruction.’  (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191748#.VOyL4pv9nIV
 
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Ah ha! went the cries of those opposed to Bibi’s speech – See, he exaggerated, he misrepresented, he’s not to be trusted. 
 
No so, my friends.  And please do not take my word for this. 
 
Today I contacted Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, until recently the director-general of the Ministry of Security Affairs.  There is no contradiction between the alleged Mossad report and what Bibi said, Kuperwasser explained:
 
The Mossad was talking about weaponization. And it’s true that in 2012 Iran was not involved in the weaponization process – they had already done this before 2003.  (I note that by 1998 Iran was domestically producing the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, and by 2003 the Shahab-3 – ballistic missiles being one part of the weaponization.)
 
What the prime minister was talking about, said Kuperwasser, was the enrichment process: Iran had stocks of uranium enriched to 20%, and were in the position of being able to follow through to do enrichment to 90+%, which is what is needed for weapons purposes.
 
What must be made clear, however, is that in bringing the uranium to 20%, 90% of the enrichment effort has already been expended. That is, the hard part is getting it to 20%.  To move it from 20% to 90+% – which is weapons grade uranium – is a relatively quick and simple process. This is the danger Netanyahu was warning the world about in 2012.
 
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But there is even more, which I ask you to note as well, from Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent, writing in the JPost (emphasis added):
 
“After promising to release a bombshell of leaked secret Mossad cables, Al Jazeera’s publication of documents later Monday fell short of that mark...Al Jazeera did not obtain an original and authenticated document from the Mossad...
 
“What they published was a South Africa Sate Security Agency (SSA document that is based on a briefing given to them by the Mossad.  The document from 2013 contains no secrets and any reader, or follower of public reports on Iran’s nuclear program, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is familiar with the facts written in that document.
 
“The Mossad provided details in its briefing, such as the quantities of Iran’s enriched uranium at its two levels – 3.5% and 20% – about the development of Iran’s nuclear reactor at Arak, and its statement that Iran is ‘not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.’
 
“That assessment was correct – it isn’t possible to utilize fissile material for a bomb only with 20% enriched uranium – an enrichment of 93% is required – and Iran did not have it at the time of the document’s writing, and doesn’t have it now.  Certainly it doesn’t present any evidence of a wedge between the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to Iran’s nuclear program...
 
Israeli intelligence estimates are that Iran is working to be a nuclear power – a few months way from the ability to assemble the bomb – but not capable of building it now.
 
More than anything, Iran wants the international community to lift the economic sanctions.
 
Israeli intelligence researchers know that Iran is already on the verge of becoming a nuclear threshold state.  It has the know-how, technology and materials to construct the bomb in a matter of a few months or perhaps a year, if and when the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives the order.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Al-Jazeeras-release-of-Mossad-cables-falls-short-391976
 
And so please, my friends, do not believe everything you read and hear in the current effort to discredit Netanyahu.
 
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Please see, as well, yet another piece – “Now we know who to believe on Iran,” by David Horovitz, editor of Time of Israel (emphasis added):
 
“The Obama administration claimed Israel was misrepresenting its deal with the ayatollahs.  Reports from Geneva indicate Israel’s concerns were all too accurate...
 
“After anonymous sources in Jerusalem leaked to Israeli reporters in recent weeks the ostensible terms of the deal being hammered out, various spokespeople for the Obama administration contended that the Netanyahu government was misrepresenting the specifics for narrow political ends. They sneered that Israel didn’t actually know what the terms were. And they made the acknowledgement — the astounding acknowledgement for a United States whose key regional ally is directly and relentlessly threatened with destruction by Iran — that the Obama administration is consequently no longer sharing with Jerusalem all sensitive details of the Iran talks.

And yet among the terms of the deal being reported by the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday are precisely those that were asserted in recent weeks by the Israeli sources, precisely those that were scoffed at by the Administration. Centrally, Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for an end to intrusive inspections in some 10-15 years. If anything, indeed, some of the terms reported by the AP are even more worrying than those that were leaked in Jerusalem: ‘The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement,’ the AP said, ‘gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program and slowly easing economic sanctions.’ There is also no indication of restrictions on Iran’s missile development — its potential delivery systems...

It goes without saying that this weekend’s developments in Geneva have only bolstered Netanyahu’s determination to sound the alarm before Congress next Tuesday. It’s also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query his motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/now-we-know-who-to-believe-on-iran/
 
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“It is also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query [Netanyahu’s] motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”
 
Keep this in mind, please, as you read the hysterical accusations against Bibi. And I ask that you do something else.  Speak out with the facts.  You know the routine: do talkbacks on the Internet, letters to the editor, call-ins on talk-shows, put this information on your FB pages and websites, put it up on group discussion lists, etc. etc. Here is an opportunity to help Israel.
 
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Yet another charge that is being leveled at Netanyahu is that the unrest he is “causing,” the tension he is generating politically in the US, will result in a reduction of American support for Israel.
 
The only problem with this charge is that it’s not true. A Gallup poll conducted between February 8 and February 11 indicates that seven in 10 Americans continue to view Israel favorably, and there has been no significant change in that number from a year ago.

“According to Gallup’s explanation of the results, these numbers suggest that neither the friction between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama nor last summer’s conflict in Gaza significantly impacted on the US public’s perceptions toward Israel or the Palestinians.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Gallup-poll-US-public-support-for-Israel-not-hurt-by-Iran-flap-391934
 
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And then this piece of news:
 
Two Democratic Senators, Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), have written a letter to PM Netanyahu, inviting him to meet with Democratic lawmakers while he is in Washington next week. Their intention is to “maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/democratic-senators-invite-netanyahu-to-meet-in-washington/
 
I have no more information at this point, but this seems a positive turn of events.
 
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The negotiations in Geneva?  Terrifying. Rushing at break-neck speed to something disastrous.  News about how the deal is shaping up, and other indications that it might not come together.
 
I will be writing about this in up-coming posts, needless to say, but hope also to touch some other bases.
 
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© 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/2015/3/1/february-24-2015-lies-threats-and-politics.html

 

 

Posted on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 01:32PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 26, 2015: Wearisome

My friends, how long can we monitor the current political situation without feeling weary to the bone – no, even more, revolted – because of what is taking place.

Here in Israel, the left is using Bibi’s upcoming speech in the Congress as a weapon with which to attack him.  For shame.  Buji Herzog declares that he is as much against a nuclear Iran as our prime minister is, but he would handle matters differently: He would cancel the talk in Congress and meet privately with Obama. 

Given this information, we must ask: Is he enormously naïve and self-deluded?  That is, does he really think he might sway the president in the slightest? Or is he a poseur – knowing the reality well enough but pretending in order to lend the impression that he could handle the relationship with the US in a manner that would reduce current tensions and still achieve our essential security goals?

Labor Party chairman MK Isaac Herzog leads a party meeting in the Knesset on February 03, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)
Credit: Flash 90
 
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Part of what makes me crazy is that, according to the polls, there is some percentage of the Israeli electorate that actually sees him as the best candidate for running the country.  Well less than 50%, it is true. But still...

And there is something else that makes me crazy.  According to those very same polls, the percentage of the electorate that would want him to be prime minister is smaller than the percentage that says it would vote for Labor...I mean, the Zionist Camp.

But hey, guys, if Labor/the Zionist Camp gets the most mandates (Heaven forbid!) and is able to put together a coalition, Buji would BE prime minister.  Is this not clear to the people answering the polls? 

Here we have a picture of Tzipi Livni, Buji’s running mate in the Zionist Camp campaign, listening to him speak. She is definitely not one of the swiftest of the candidates, but here I begin to wonder if she’s on to something:

Livni missed out on the chance of a lifetime to become prime minister because she stayed away from deals. Herzog was not afraid to get his hands dirty and emerge with an achievement (Photo: EPA)

Credit: EPA

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It was suggested in several quarters that, in order to show a united Israeli front to the world, Buji accompany Bibi to Congress.  Buji declined.  Then he announced that he had been scheduled to speak at the AIPAC convention next week, but was cancelling. He can speak out against a nuclear Iran, he declared, but can do it quite well from here in Israel.  This was supposed to convey the impression that he was more statesman-like than Bibi.  But I think he made a tactical error.  That’s fine.

~~~~~~~~~~

The prime minister has made it crystal clear that he will not be backing down and will indeed speak in Congress on March 3rd, as scheduled.

He has turned down the offer I wrote about in my last posting, to address Democrats privately.  This, he said, would be interpreted as a partisan action, and he intends to do nothing but address the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and radical Islam – to both parties in Congress. There will be nothing partisan in his statements or his actions in Washington.

Last night, at a Likud meeting, he said:

”From the agreement that is forming, it appears that they (world powers) have given up on that commitment (to thwart Iran) and are accepting that Iran will gradually, within a few years, develop capabilities to produce material for many nuclear weapons.  They might accept this but I am not willing to accept this.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-world-has-given-up-in-iran-nuke-talks/
 
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Meanwhile, as would have been expected, Obama and his team of flunkies are doing everything in their power to tear the Israeli prime minister apart.

Let me remind one and all that it is the president who is responsible for the internal party tensions, not Bibi.  All Obama had to do was announce that he felt confident that his negotiating team was taking the correct path with Iran, but Prime Minister Netanyahu was certainly welcome to come and speak on such a significant subject.  Instead, he is sending his team, like attack dogs, to go after our prime minister.

I would further point out, again, that our prime minister was invited by the speaker of the Congress, who had a legitimate right to extend that invitation, and that Congress has a role to play in this critical matter – and thus a right to be as well-informed as possible – even if Obama wishes to circumvent the legislative branch of the government.

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Former US Secretary of Defense (from 2001 to 2006) Donald Rumsfeld declared today in a statement to Israel Hayom:

"I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue. It is more than a distraction, it is unfortunate. It plays into the hands of those people who are not in favor of the relationship [between Israel and the U.S.], who are not in favor of Israel or who are in favor of Iran, and the idea that people are saying what they are saying I find most unfortunate."

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23775

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On Tuesday, we had Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, saying that Netanyahu’s intention to speak to Congress is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” between the US and Israel.

A day later, Secretary of State Kerry was saying not only that Netanyahu was “uninformed,” he was just plain “wrong.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/obama-administration-offensive-against-netanyahu-115517.html

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Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz responded quickly (emphasis added):

Kerry, he said, “might not know everything we know.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/25/senior-israeli-minister-responds-to-kerrys-criticism-of-netanyahu-he-might-not-know-what-we-know/

Love it.

Steinitz explained that, “We know all that we need to know, and we have an excellent picture of the negotiations.”

He explained that Israel is in touch with French negotiators (by choice, the US is apparently out of this loop) who are dealing directly with Iran, and are thus well-versed in the details of the negotiations.

What is more, it is the information that has reach Israeli officials so far that has generated the greatest concern.  Steinitz acknowledged that the friendship with the US is a strategic asset, but “when it comes to the security of the State, we are also ready to fight.”

Steinitz is on the right in this picture, with Yossi Kuperwasser.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz (r) and Yossi Kuperwasser attend a session of the Security and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Knesset, October 16, 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

Credit: Flash 90

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I wrote last about my conversation with Yossi Kuperwasser, and here I present an important new paper he has done for BESA, “The Struggle over the Iranian Nuclear Program”:

It is incumbent on Israel to use all the diplomatic and political tools at its disposal to halt the signing of an accord with Iran that leaves Teheran with the capability to produce nuclear weapons...

“Thus Iran: continues to develop its arsenal of missiles; avoids providing information about its weapons activity and achievements; continues to enrich uranium using around 9,000 centrifuges of a relatively low-yield model, including at the Qom facility; maintains around 10,000 additional centrifuges that have been installed but are not yet active, most of them of the same type, but some more advanced; continues to develop different types of more advanced centrifuges, which it will be able to make operational should it need to do so; and continues to hold some 7.5 tons of enriched uranium to a level of 3.5% (which represents around half the investment in enrichment required for military-grade material). Once brought up to a 90% enrichment level, this would be sufficient fissionable material to make four or five atomic bombs...

It is possible to say that the fact that Iran has not yet developed nuclear weapons, in spite of the 27 years in which it has been trying to do so, is due in no small part to Israel’s efforts...Thus the claims made that Iran’s success in proceeding towards the attainment of nuclear weapons represent an Israeli failure, are themselves worthy of ridicule. Without Israel’s actions, Iran would have obtained nuclear weapons several years ago, and moreover, it is thanks to Israel’s actions that Iran is unlikely to obtain nuclear weapons for many years to come, even if an agreement is reached that does not meet Israeli expectations... (Emphasis here and below added.)

Western leaders, with Obama at their forefront, believe in the almost exclusive use of dialogue as a means to address disagreement. They believe that Muslim perspectives in general, and Iranian perspectives in particular, of the West as a historical oppressor that has wrought great harm to the region, contain an element of truth that needs to be acknowledged. They are convinced that the burden of proof as to the good intentions of the parties to the current negotiations falls first and foremost on the West, and in accordance with their liberal outlook, believe that all people share essentially similar and equally worthy values and aspirations.

On the other hand, the leaders of Iran, who are driven by a sense of mission that is both Islamic and revolutionary Iranian-nationalist, believe that it is their duty to bring about a wholesale change in the world order, using a combination of cunning, force, and daring, and making the most of the freedom of action afforded to them by the reined-in West. They are convinced that the West has no values whatsoever, and is unworthy of its current preferred status in international affairs.

As a result, the talks between the powers and Iran are not conducted in a manner reflecting the true balance of power between them, but rather the exact opposite. It is Iran that dictates the agenda, while America and the West attempt to placate the other side, and are hesitant about bringing up issues that they fear Iran will refuse to discuss, lest they be accused by Iran of lacking serious intent in the negotiations...

http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=7e381afc91d1b09aec08b492b&id=267a1ae9af&e=b64dce4bd6

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I end with an amazing video, showing who we are, in several different respects (with thanks to Chana G.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZzQLxN-pTQ&feature=youtu.be

(I am recommending this video only, having not reviewed what follows automatically.)

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© 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/2015/2/26/february-26-2015-wearisome.html

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 02:42PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 22, 2015: How Ugly Can It Get?

Before I get to the ugly stuff, let me begin with a lovely scene: Jerusalem in the snow. 
 
The snow fell this past Thursday night, accumulating to the better part of a foot and enfolding our beautiful city in a mantle of white.   It is gone now because of heavy rains over Shabbat.


 

Credit: thejc.com
 
The windmill you see in this picture is a Jerusalem landmark.  Built in the Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood – the first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City - in 1857, it was restored to working order a couple of years ago.
 
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From the sublime – the beauty of Jerusalem in the snow – to the ridiculous.  Because ridiculous is how I see the current political hoopla, which, yes, is also very, very ugly.
 
The issue is the scheduled talk by Prime Minister Netanyahu on March 3 in the Congress, on the subject of the negotiations with Iran. Should he go?  Is he damaging Israel’s relationship with the US by doing this?  Has the focus on Iran been lost because of the politics?  Is this a partisan issue in the US, pitting Democrats against Republicans? And on and on and on... 
 
Now it has been announced that Obama and Biden and Kerry may boycott the AIPAC conference, which is being held at the time Netanyahu will be in Washington.
 
And I doubt we’ve seen the end of this yet.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I am not going to belabor every step of this on-going maneuvering.  It would be a waste of my time and yours.
 
For all who have eyes to see, the situation that underlies this is quite clear: Obama is seeking to throw up a political smokescreen.  He wants to make things difficult for Netanyahu – to make him look small and less competent, to seem to be a trouble maker - because he desperately does not want the Congress or the American people to give credence to what our prime minister is going to say.  For what Bibi intends to say stands a reasonable chance of undercutting the negotiations.
 
This is not about personal animosity between Obama and Netanyahu, it is about an existential issue
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It is not really a partisan issue, dividing Democrats and Republicans, either.  A piece written in Algemeiner last week estimated that 98% of the Senate and 95% of the House of Representatives will attend.  “Despite two weeks of intense anti-Netanyahu leaks, insults, and pressure, the White House has so far succeeded in persuading only a handful of Democratic members of Congress to stay away from the speech.”
 
http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/18/obamas-boycott-of-netanyahu-is-collapsing/
 
I would say it is more an issue that divides the Congress from the White House.  Which is why Congress should be given the courtesy of having Netanyahu share directly the information he has.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to damaging our relationship with the US...  In the end, what is being damaged is our relationship with one particular president, not our relationship with the US. Both Congress and the American people are with us.  Note that just today Israel announced the purchase of 14 additional next-generation US-made F-35 fighter jets, to be delivered in 2016.
 
Were Israel to adhere to whatever Obama wanted of us now, it would be suicidal.  In Hebrew we say, ein breira – no choice.  Obama has to be challenged. Netanyahu has made the point repeatedly now that we have displeased American presidents several times over the years, and yet have sustained a solid relationship with the US.  It started, our prime minister reminds us, with Ben Gurion, who flouted President Truman’s wish that he not announce Israeli independence when he did.
 
I am one of those who believes Netanyahu absolutely must not back down now – rescheduling his talk or changing the venue. There can be no backing down at this point.  There has been so much talk about how politicized this issue has become. But for Bibi to decline to speak to Congress as scheduled would also be a political act, because of how the situation has been framed.  He would be seen as weak, and Obama as the winner. And he would be letting down those who have spoken out for him to come.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Senator Marc Rubio (R-FL) makes yet another point: it is exceedingly important for Israel’s enemies to see that the Congress stands with Israel, for if they believe Congress is not with Israel as strongly as was once the case, they will be emboldened.  He implores all members of Congress to be present, to provide the support that Israel deserves.  They must not be distracted, he says, by the minor issues such as the way Boehner extended the invitation. Israel has been the most loyal of allies, and is in trouble now – and the members of Congress must provide public backing with their presence.
 
Please, see and then widely share Senator Rubio’s extraordinary speech:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODjcm7U4lo0#t=148
 
It has been a tough year for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. 2014 will be a big key how bright his future really is.

Credit: Newstalkflorida
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The public figure who most recently voiced support for what Netanyahu is doing is former NY City mayor, Rudy Guiliani.  In an interview with Israel Hayom, he said (emphasis added):
 
"Netanyahu's speech is absolutely essential. If I had been in his position, and the third most important person in the U.S. [the speaker of the House of Representatives] invited me to speak before Congress to explain the danger of a nuclear Iran -- of course I'd accept the invitation and come. You have to understand that I, as an American, fear a nuclear Iran no less than the prime minister of Israel and no less than the people of Israel. Think for a moment -- a bad agreement with Iran would give a group of irrational and insane people nuclear capability. If I were Netanyahu, I would go to the ends of the earth to discuss Iran's nuclear program -- on any stage I was given and in every situation. In our case, it's the Congress....
 
"I met with Bibi privately on two occasions two weeks ago. I told him I would be doing the exact same thing if I were him. I told him that the American people respect him and agree with him, even if Obama and his administration are trying to paint a different picture. Netanyahu is doing exactly what he needs to do: to come and speak out against a bad agreement, even if the government doesn't like it. Most Americans agree with Netanyahu on the Iranian issue."
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23673

 

Credit: AP
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In the course of this on-going political melodrama, we have just learned that Netanyahu has been accused of “leaking” information about the negotiations.  In fact, Obama has now admitted that he has been withholding information about the negotiations from Israel. 
 
http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/ari-lieberman/obama-withholds-iran-negotiation-info-from-israel-1/
 
Obama’s claim is that Netanyahu would “cherry pick” the information he wished to leak without placing it “in context.”  He claims that Israel does not know the full context of negotiations, and thus is in no position to critique what’s going on.  But truth lies elsewhere: Obama does not want anyone to know how bad the deal is. 
 
As to not having full context, there are certain elements of what is going on that have been made public and are clear: that the infrastructure for enriching uranium would be left in place, that there are no restrictions on building of the missiles that would deliver a nuclear warhead, etc.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Key here is the matter of a confidential report from the IAEA, which has been obtained by AP and Reuters.  Any deal with Iran that lifted all sanctions is supposed to be predicated on the ability of the IAEA to monitor its program. But, says, the IAEA, Iran is being “evasive and ambiguous” as it tries to do a full assessment of the Iranian nuclear program. 
 
In the face of this evidence of the unreliability of Iran, world powers should not be wooing Iran for a deal, declared Netanyahu.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-stop-courting-an-iran-thats-refusing-to-come-clean-on-its-nuke-program/
 
Not exactly “cherry picking,” is it?
 
~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
I note with more than passing interest that Sunni Arab states have been voicing concern to the US about the impending deal with Iran.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/arab-nations-said-deeply-concerned-over-nuclear-agreement/
 
What I wonder is whether these states would be speaking out if Netanyahu had not done so first. 
 
Of course, they are not saying explicitly that they agree with the Israeli prime minister.  Perish the thought.  But this is implicit in what’s happening.  And as I see it, it shifts the dynamic.  While Obama is prepared to come out swinging when the critic is Netanyahu, his tone is more deferential with the Arabs.
 
In fact, we’re hearing something now that we haven’t heard in a while.  For some time Obama has been saying that a deal is close, is possible.  But yesterday, Kerry declared that there were “significant gaps” and that the US was prepared to walk away if terms were not satisfactory.  Doesn’t mean they don’t still intend to push ahead (they do), but this is a different tone.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4629230,00.html
 
That the US is pushing ahead was made evident as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry were meeting today for “intensive talks.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I end with this piece, “Divided over that speech, not over a lousy deal with Iran,” by David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel (emphasis added):
 
“It is time to reframe the dispute. We are not witnessing what is being widely depicted as a battle between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government over the timing, content and ostensible partisan implications of the prime minister’s scheduled March 3 address to Congress over Iran. We are, rather, watching the collapse of trust between the two leaderships over the critical issue of thwarting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
 
“The looming deal is similarly inexplicable to the political rivals of Netanyahu who are campaigning to oust him in general elections on March 17...
 
”Where [Zionist camp head Bujie] Herzog and other Israeli party leaders differ with Netanyahu is over his handling of the crisis. Like Herzog, centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid does not underestimate the Iranian threat. They just both think that Netanyahu is acting counterproductively and for domestic political reasons by preparing to lobby publicly against Obama in Congress, when they say he ought to be working to shift the administration more discreetly, behind the scenes.
 
“Of course, party leaders like Herzog and Lapid have to publicly criticize and castigate the prime minister; we’re less than a month from elections, and their entire domestic political goal is to undermine Israeli public confidence in his leadership so as to unseat him...”
 
No, no.  There is no “of course” here!  Horovitz elaborates on this point:
 
”In truth, it can hardly be doubted that Netanyahu has tried to impact the president’s stance in years of one-on-one conversations and in the endless top-level contacts between his officials and the Obama administration. The nature of the imminent deal — whose terms cannot be independently verified, but are profoundly troubling to such diplomatic veterans as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz — would indicate that private argument and entreaty have failed...

 
In these final weeks of the election campaign, the face-off with Obama has become one more issue for the challengers to use against Netanyahu...
 
”Three years ago at a graveside in Jerusalem, the prime minister eulogized his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, for having ‘taught me, Father, to look at reality head-on, to understand what it holds and to come to the necessary conclusions.’


“The prime minister says it would have been unthinkable to turn down the invitation to set out his concerns in the world’s most resonant parliamentary forum. 

Israel and those who care for Israel should not be blindsided by the battling between Netanyahu and Obama, or between Netanyahu and his domestic rivals, over the Congressional speech.

They should be sounding the alarm to prevent a deal that would allow Iran to maintain an enrichment capability and other core aspects of its nuclear program.

Those who care for Israel, in short, should look at reality head-on, understand what it holds, and come to the necessary conclusions...”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/divided-over-that-speech-not-over-a-lousy-deal-with-iran/
 
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This, then, is part of the picture of how ugly it can get, and writing about this embarrasses me even as it infuriates me.  The existential issues of a nuclear Iran transcend political election issues.  Or should. Yes, yes, I know about campaigning.  But it seems to me nonetheless that a maximum show of public support for the prime minister as he does battle for the sake of Israel would be in order.  I would suggest that the very fact of how self-serving these candidates – Bujie, Livni, Lapid, et al - are needs to be factored into assessments of their qualifications for office.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

 
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Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 03:02PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 24, 2015: Lies, Threats and Politics

The situation surrounding the negotiations with Iran and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress daily grows more ominous, more convoluted, and more contentious.

I would like to begin with the latest “scoop” – which is supposed to put the lie to Bibi’s charge in 2012 in the UN (complete with that famous chart) that Iran was on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power.

As Arutz Sheva described the situation yesterday:

“Al Jazeera began publishing Monday night several documents allegedly leaked from the Israeli Mossad – via the Spy Cables database shared with the British Guardian.

One of the documents alleged that, just a few weeks after the famous speech Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave in 2012 assessing Iran as being about one year away from building a nuclear weapon, the Mossad sent a confidential report to South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) stating that, in their estimation, ‘Iran does not engage in the necessary activities required for the production of weapons of mass destruction.’  (Emphasis added)

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191748#.VOyL4pv9nIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Ah ha! went the cries of those opposed to Bibi’s speech – See, he exaggerated, he misrepresented, he’s not to be trusted. 

No so, my friends.  And please do not take my word for this. 

Today I contacted Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, until recently the director-general of the Ministry of Security Affairs.  There is no contradiction between the alleged Mossad report and what Bibi said, Kuperwasser explained:

The Mossad was talking about weaponization. And it’s true that in 2012 Iran was not involved in the weaponization process – they had already done this before 2003.  (I note that by 1998 Iran was domestically producing the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, and by 2003 the Shahab-3 – ballistic missiles being one part of the weaponization.)
 
What the prime minister was talking about, said Kuperwasser, was the enrichment process: Iran had stocks of uranium enriched to 20%, and were in the position of being able to follow through to do enrichment to 90+%, which is what is needed for weapons purposes.

What must be made clear, however, is that in bringing the uranium to 20%, 90% of the enrichment effort has already been expended. That is, the hard part is getting it to 20%.  To move it from 20% to 90+% – which is weapons grade uranium – is a relatively quick and simple process. This is the danger Netanyahu was warning the world about in 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~

But there is even more, which I ask you to note as well, from Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent, writing in the JPost (emphasis added):

“After promising to release a bombshell of leaked secret Mossad cables, Al Jazeera’s publication of documents later Monday fell short of that mark...Al Jazeera did not obtain an original and authenticated document from the Mossad...

“What they published was a South Africa Sate Security Agency (SSA document that is based on a briefing given to them by the Mossad.  The document from 2013 contains no secrets and any reader, or follower of public reports on Iran’s nuclear program, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is familiar with the facts written in that document.

“The Mossad provided details in its briefing, such as the quantities of Iran’s enriched uranium at its two levels – 3.5% and 20% – about the development of Iran’s nuclear reactor at Arak, and its statement that Iran is ‘not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.’

“That assessment was correct – it isn’t possible to utilize fissile material for a bomb only with 20% enriched uranium – an enrichment of 93% is required – and Iran did not have it at the time of the document’s writing, and doesn’t have it now.  Certainly it doesn’t present any evidence of a wedge between the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to Iran’s nuclear program...

Israeli intelligence estimates are that Iran is working to be a nuclear power – a few months way from the ability to assemble the bomb – but not capable of building it now.

More than anything, Iran wants the international community to lift the economic sanctions.

Israeli intelligence researchers know that Iran is already on the verge of becoming a nuclear threshold state.  It has the know-how, technology and materials to construct the bomb in a matter of a few months or perhaps a year, if and when the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives the order.”

http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Al-Jazeeras-release-of-Mossad-cables-falls-short-391976

And so please, my friends, do not believe everything you read and hear in the current effort to discredit Netanyahu.

~~~~~~~~~~

Please see, as well, yet another piece – “Now we know who to believe on Iran,” by David Horovitz, editor of Time of Israel (emphasis added):

“The Obama administration claimed Israel was misrepresenting its deal with the ayatollahs.  Reports from Geneva indicate Israel’s concerns were all too accurate...

“After anonymous sources in Jerusalem leaked to Israeli reporters in recent weeks the ostensible terms of the deal being hammered out, various spokespeople for the Obama administration contended that the Netanyahu government was misrepresenting the specifics for narrow political ends. They sneered that Israel didn’t actually know what the terms were. And they made the acknowledgement — the astounding acknowledgement for a United States whose key regional ally is directly and relentlessly threatened with destruction by Iran — that the Obama administration is consequently no longer sharing with Jerusalem all sensitive details of the Iran talks.

And yet among the terms of the deal being reported by the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday are precisely those that were asserted in recent weeks by the Israeli sources, precisely those that were scoffed at by the Administration. Centrally, Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for an end to intrusive inspections in some 10-15 years. If anything, indeed, some of the terms reported by the AP are even more worrying than those that were leaked in Jerusalem: ‘The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement,’ the AP said, ‘gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program and slowly easing economic sanctions.’ There is also no indication of restrictions on Iran’s missile development — its potential delivery systems...

It goes without saying that this weekend’s developments in Geneva have only bolstered Netanyahu’s determination to sound the alarm before Congress next Tuesday. It’s also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query his motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/now-we-know-who-to-believe-on-iran/
 
~~~~~~~~~~

“It is also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query [Netanyahu’s] motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”

Keep this in mind, please, as you read the hysterical accusations against Bibi. And I ask that you do something else.  Speak out with the facts.  You know the routine: do talkbacks on the Internet, letters to the editor, call-ins on talk-shows, put this information on your FB pages and websites, put it up on group discussion lists, etc. etc. Here is an opportunity to help Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

Yet another charge that is being leveled at Netanyahu is that the unrest he is “causing,” the tension he is generating politically in the US, will result in a reduction of American support for Israel.

The only problem with this charge is that it’s not true. A Gallup poll conducted between February 8 and February 11 indicates that seven in 10 Americans continue to view Israel favorably, and there has been no significant change in that number from a year ago.

“According to Gallup’s explanation of the results, these numbers suggest that neither the friction between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama nor last summer’s conflict in Gaza significantly impacted on the US public’s perceptions toward Israel or the Palestinians.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Gallup-poll-US-public-support-for-Israel-not-hurt-by-Iran-flap-391934

~~~~~~~~~~~

And then this piece of news:

Two Democratic Senators, Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), have written a letter to PM Netanyahu, inviting him to meet with Democratic lawmakers while he is in Washington next week. Their intention is to “maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/democratic-senators-invite-netanyahu-to-meet-in-washington/
 
I have no more information at this point, but this seems a positive turn of events.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The negotiations in Geneva?  Terrifying. Rushing at break-neck speed to something disastrous.  News about how the deal is shaping up, and other indications that it might not come together.

I will be writing about this in up-coming posts, needless to say, but hope also to touch some other bases.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 02:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 17, 2015: The Stuff of Heartbreak

It is just short of two years ago that Adelle Biton, then two years of age, was driving in the Shomron with her mother and two older sisters, when Arabs threw rocks at their car, causing it to spin out of control and collide with an oncoming truck.  Her mother and sisters were moderately injured. Adelle, however, incurred severe brain injury.  She spent a long time in a hospital and then time in a rehab center, before she was brought home, still severely disabled, to continue therapies. 
 
Adva, her mother, was remarkable for her constant devotion and her optimism. 
 
Adva and Adelle Biton

Credit: Yoni Kempinsky
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Today, Adelle Biton succumbed to pneumonia.
 
On learning the news, I cried.  Such a painful and unnecessary loss of tender young life.  Such anguish for the family.
 
And so, Baruch Dayan HaEmet.  The Almighty has taken Adelle.  May He grant healing for the hearts of Adva and her husband, Rafi, and other members of the family.
 
As to those who throw such stones (or firebombs or firecrackers), may He allow them no peace. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
An occurrence such as this brings us upright, and sharpens our perspective.  There are issues that truly, truly matter. And others that are imbued with nonsense and pettiness and self-interest.  And I say honestly today that I have precious little patience for the constant flow of nonsense and pettiness and self-interest that passes for “news” these days. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Sadly, there is yet one more death I must report: Minister Uri Ohrbach, 54, passed away yesterday after a battle with an unnamed blood disease.  He had worked as a journalist and author for years, before joining a new Habayit Hayehudi and entering the Knesset.
 
He is being widely saluted as a man of exceptional sincerity, gentleness and wit. What is clear is that this was a man who was greatly loved.
 
Orbach in the Knesset (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
So, let us look at some of the news that does matter (if only people would pay attention):
 
Just a week ago, the IDF and the Shin Bet launched raids in the area southwest of Jenin, uncovering large quantities of firearms, ammunition and knives – sufficient to "strengthen [Hamas’s] grip on the territory."  Hamas does not intend to stop trying, folks.  Let us not forget this.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The IDF has warned the government that the PA could collapse at any time.
 
“In one of the scenarios that the IDF presented, a small localized security incident, like an altercation between settlers and Palestinians, or the throwing of a Molotov cocktail could quickly escalate to rioting in the Galilee and the Triangle area. With the weakened Palestinian Authority a situation like this is liable to lead to terrorist organizations taking control of the West Bank.” 
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/IDF-security-assessment-The-Palestinian-Authority-can-collapse-at-any-moment-390934
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Repeatedly, it has been the case that rumors spread by Palestinian Authority “leaders” regarding alleged Israeli threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque have served as incitement – whipping up the populace to fury and violence.
 
Now we learn from the Palestinian Media Watch that the PA is renewing this incitement:
 
For example, on February 5, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Ida'is warned that since January, Israel has made "over a hundred attacks and incidents of desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs)" and that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in grave and direct danger and that with every sunrise. this danger grows."
 
Similar statements are being made by others.
 
http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=14016
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon, for his part, has leveled another sort of charge at the PA. In a taped address to the annual conference of the INSS - the Institute for National Security Studies, he said:
 
“We tried after [Operation] Protective Edge, with Egyptian agreement, to facilitate the entry of the PA into the Strip, but they didn’t want it,”


“...it was clear that the only way to allow the more open transfer of goods and people in and out of Gaza to Israel and Egypt would be through the stationing of PA troops at the border crossings.

“We created a three-way mechanism – the [Israeli] Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Palestinian prime minister, and the UN representative Robert Serry. What’s left of that today?  The coordinator and Robert Serry. The Palestinians ran away!  They are good at accusing us at the UN and the Security Council and the ICC. But when it comes time to take responsibility, they are nowhere, and this was not the first time.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-lambastes-pa-for-bailing-out-on-plan-to-ease-gaza-blockade/

~~~~~~~~~~

In sharing this accusation by Ya’alon, I am not endorsing the idea of PA officers at the Gaza crossing.  My intent, rather, is to point a finger directly at the PA and to be certain that people understand precisely what we are dealing with.  With the focus on Iran, I hadn’t mentioned Abbas or the PA for several days.

Martin Indyk, who consistently works against Israel’s best interests, has just made a statement regarding what’s going to happen after the elections. There will be increased pressure on Israel to go back to negotiations, he warned, including via a Security Council resolution.

And my inclination is to tell him, and all of his ilk, to stuff it. We are supposed to make “peace” with these guys?  They are going to administer a secure and responsible and peaceful state?  Of course neither Martin or others who think as he does believe a peaceful “two-state solution” is really around the corner. But hey, if Israel can be weakened...

The lesson.  We have to be on our guard in all quarters.

~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, there is also the occasional politician on the far left here in Israel who says it’s time for us to withdraw unilaterally from Judea and Samaria since negotiations don’t work.  Great idea!  I believe they have oatmeal between their ears in place of brains.

~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as IDF Chief of Staff, replacing Benny Gantz.  Eisenkot is described as “cool and calculated, someone who will strike hard and fast – but only if he has to.”  He served in the vaunted Golani Brigade.

We can only pray for General Eisenkot’s wisdom and bravery and cool head, as he faces incredible challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

Credit: Israel Defense

~~~~~~~~~~
 
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations is meeting here in Jerusalem this week.  I close today by sharing a video of the remarks of Prime Minister Netanyahu to this group.  His focus, of course, was his up-coming speech in the Congress on Iran.  Worth a listen.
 
http://www.voiceofisrael.com/netanyahu-conference-presidents-sacred-duty-make-israels-case/?utm_source=ZohoCampaigns&utm_campaign=Feb+16%2C+2015_2015-02-16&utm_medium=email
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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/2015/2/22/february-17-2015-the-stuff-of-heartbreak.html

 

Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 04:34AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 15, 2015: The Good Guys

The good guys give hope and promise for the possibility of better days coming.
 
Many spirits were buoyed on Friday, when the news broke that Elie Wiesel had announced that he would be attending Netanyahu’s March 3rd address in Congress "on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran."
 
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a close associate of Wiesel’s, announced that he would be placing full page ads in the NY Times and the Washington Post that would declare Wiesel’s intention of coming to Congress to hear Netanyahu, and would broadcast his invitation to Obama and others: "Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?"
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191326#.VOC4opv9nIU
 

credit: failedmessiah

~~~~~~~~~~

All I am aware of at this point is that the NY Times ad did appear yesterday.  You can see it here (with my thanks to Cheryl L.):

http://thisworld.us/2015/02/13/nobelist-elie-wiesel-to-attend-netanyahu-speech/

~~~~~~~~~~

In a situation that has become shamefully politicized and partisan, Wiesel brings attention back to the real issue – the dangers of Iran.  Speaking as he has for decades on the horrors of the Holocaust, he is able to draw a direct line to what we face today.  And, very importantly, he does it with a stature that is non-partisan.

Do I imagine that Obama is going to rush to join Wiesel in Congress to hear Bibi?  Of course not.  But I do have hope that this public action will take some of the wind out of the the president’s political sails.  It is clear that Obama has been going on about “protocol” and “elections campaigns” in order to distract from his major concern: Netanyahu’s challenge to the deal with Iran that is currently in the works.  When it is pointed out by someone such as Wiesel that we are confronting a situation that is terrifying, hopefully it becomes just a tad more difficult for Obama to continue with the same obfuscation.

~~~~~~~~~~

Governor Mike Huckabee and his wife are in town now; they will be leading a mission of some 250 people – many coming for the first time – who will be touring the country to learn about Israel’s heritage.

This morning, Governor Huckabee held a press conference.  He has not yet announced that he will be running for president, but there is considerable reason to believe that this will be the case.  And I see this to the good.  As he addressed subjects of major concern for journalists today, he was very much on the mark:

We are, said the governor, in the midst of a crucial historical time, as we face the threat of radical Islam. This is a threat not just to Israel.  Israel is the canary in the coal mine, but is not Iran’s ultimate target – a nuclear Iran would be a huge threat to the US and other nations.

We are not looking at a personal conflict between Obama and Netanyahu, but rather at the question of whether we trust Iran.  The strategy of loosening sanctions is counterintuitive – there should be pressure put upon Iran now to bring it to the breaking point.

It is stupid to declare in advance what we are not going to do. Everything must be on the table. The government of Iran has no credibility – it’s like negotiating with a snake. America’s leading from behind has had disastrous consequences.

~~~~~~~~~~

 
Governor Huckabee absolutely believes Netanyahu should speak in Congress. Speeches of power can have a great impact.  And Netanyahu may be uniquely qualified to deliver that speech.
 
We should remain assured that there is strong Democratic support for Israel in Congress.  Much of the partisan tension we are seeing now is anti-Boehner not anti-Israel.

 

Credit: The Guardian
 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Please see here another very cogent argument regarding the need to counter Obama as vigorously as possible with regard to Iran. This article – “Worse Than No Strategy” - is written by Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (emphasis added):
 
“It seems like only yesterday that President Obama was being criticized for having no strategy to counter the jihadi threat...
 
“Since then, a different perception has been taking root: Mr. Obama does indeed have a strategy – a ‘secret strategy,’ one that is alarmingly misguided.
 
According to this theory, he believes that fighting terrorism requires accommodating the regime long recognized by the U.S. government as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
 
“He may also see the Islamic Republic not as a rival to the Islamic State but as a more moderate alternative -- despite the fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly declared hostility toward America the foundation of the Islamic revolution. The president appears to believe that Sunni jihadis can be countered by Shia jihadis...
 
“Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has not just speculated about Mr. Obama’s ‘secret strategy.’ He has painstakingly combed through the record and produced a 9,000-word report persuasively establishing that Mr. Obama, since early in his presidency, has been in pursuit of a ‘comprehensive agreement’ that would allow Iran to become what the president has called ‘a very successful regional power.’
 
Understand what that means: Iran would be the hegemon of the Middle East....”
 
http://defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/may-clifford-d-worse-than-no-strategy/
 
Is it any wonder that Binyamin Netanyahu has refused to be dissuaded in his determination to address the US Congress on the issue of Iran?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
You might also want to see “Anatomy of a Bad Iran Deal: A Preliminary Assessment,” by Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (emphasis added).
 
A key factor of concern here, as elsewhere is the number of centrifuges that Iran would be permitted to maintain. 
 
“The numbers are important. In a scenario of ‘breakout,’ in which the Iranians race to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for their first atomic bomb, the number of centrifuges largely determines the amount of time the Iranians will need to accomplish this goal...
 
“Iran currently has 19,000 centrifuges, 9,000 of which are running and 10,000 that are installed but not operating. Israel’s position is that Iran should have zero centrifuges. The reason is that if Iran truly needs enriched uranium for civilian purposes, it could import enriched uranium as do roughly 15 other countries, such as Canada, Mexico, and Spain. The Israeli position is in line with six UN Security Council resolutions that were adopted between 2006 and 2010, with the support of Russia and China. 
 
“...at the beginning of the current round of negotiations, the United States was demanding that Iran significantly reduce its stock of centrifuges to 1,500, but in doing so dropped the longstanding U.S. policy that Iran eliminate its centrifuges completely.
 
“...According to multiple press reports, Western negotiators have raised the ceiling for the number of centrifuges that Iran will be allowed to have: they have gone from 1,500 to 4,500, and they now appear to be ready to let the Iranians have 6,000 centrifuges.”
 
When other factors - such as the amount of enriched uranium Iran would be permitted to retain – Iran’s breakout time for producing enough weapons-grade uranium for an atomic bomb would be six months and possibly considerably less.
 
http://jcpa.org/anatomy-of-a-bad-iran-deal/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Last time it was Paris. This time Copenhagen.  Terrifying, but not unexpected.
 
Early yesterday, a gunman shot into a café where a Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, who had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad was speaking. Vilks body guards successfully whisked him away and he hid in a freezer (shades of Paris). Someone else inside the café - Finn Norgaard, 55, a film director, took a bullet and was killed.
 
Today, Dan Uzan, 37, a longtime security guard. and a Jew, was shot dead.  Uzan was guarding a synagogue where a Bat Mitzvah celebration was taking place.  According to reports, he was brought in after the café shooting.
 
The police have pursued and killed someone whom they say they believe was the perpetrator of both attacks. There has been official reluctance to identify him, but Danish media sources are saying it was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a man known by authorities and possessing a record of violence.  He had been released from prison two weeks ago.
 
Could it possibly be, by any remote chance, that a politically correct aversion to fingering a Muslim is behind the police reluctance to officially reveal the terrorist’s identity?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The Danish are deeply distressed that this terrorism has come to their door. They are eager to express their horror, and their readiness to protect all citizens and keep life normal.  Here you see pictures of flowers brought to the synagogue where the shooting took place. 
 

 

Credit:US News

 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Yet, the questions must be asked:  Where next?  And, what normal?
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that this attacks would continue and that the Jews should come home to Israel.  One Danish leader of the Jewish community criticized this, saying that anti-Semitism is not a reason to leave.
 
It’s not?  Not even when the handwriting is on the wall? Note the Israeli flag hung on the synagogue over the flowers.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I close here, then, with a piece on this issue – “After Copenhagen, What Next for Europe?” - written by David Harris, president of the American Jewish Committee. Says Harris (emphasis added):
“...after 15 years of engaging with European leaders to get their attention, help them understand what stares them in the face, and press for sustained action, I'm not quite ready to bet the family farm that the day after tomorrow will be all that different than the day before yesterday.

“Even so, I desperately want to believe that Europe, with all its dazzling achievements since the end of World War II, can still strengthen its resolve, stiffen its spine, and fully understand the stakes involved, however late in the day it is.”

A bit of wishful thinking, given present realities, but what he would wish for is instructive and worth noting.  He calls for the following now:

[] ...”quickly organize a high-level conference to discuss the rise in anti-Semitism...discuss and adopt a comprehensive plan of action, and then implement and monitor it. 

[]  “European leaders must understand, as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has, that anti-Semitism is not only an attack on Jews, but also an assault on Europe and its values. The two cannot be separated

[] “call a spade a spade. For many Europeans, there is no hesitation in identifying the source of anti-Semitism when it emanates from right-wing extremists. But when anti-Semitism, including deadly violence, springs from within a segment of the Muslim population, verbal acrobatics all too often come into play. If you can't name the adversary, how can you effectively fight it? 

[] “stop tying anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, as if the two are Siamese twins. AJC's Brussels office has been trying for months to encourage a European Parliament hearing on anti-Semitism, only to be met with insistence that any such meeting include Islamophobia. Why this demand to join the two together, when the majority of incidents occurs against Jews, when Europe has a particularly ugly history of anti-Semitism, and when the principal attackers of Jews invoke their Islamic faith?

[] “recognize that we confront both a short- and long-term menace that won't be overcome by even the most eloquent of speeches and the most symbolic of acts. Rather, it requires a full-court, sustained effort by individual governments (and, of course, by the EU) using the resources they have the capacity to mobilize, joined by the determined efforts of civil society.
 
[] “connect the lessons of the Holocaust to the present-day threat to the Jews. I've witnessed too many Holocaust-related events where murdered Jews are mourned -- Jews who, tragically, cannot be brought back to life -- but that totally ignore the current dangers to living Jews. A refusal to connect the two quite frankly empties these commemorations of much of their meaning and sincerity.
 
[] don't apologize for European values of democracy, human dignity, openness, and pluralism....It's high time to stand up in defense of these noble values and do everything possible to ensure that newcomers embrace them as well.
 
[] “it is important to understand that the jihadist barbarism which Europe is experiencing first-hand is not much different from what Israel has been facing for decades. Why, then, does Europe continue to try drawing a distinction, when, in reality none exists? The same jihadists who hate Europe detest Israel, and the same jihadists who wish for Israel's annihilation aspire to no less for Europe as we know it.”
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/after-copenhagen-what-nex_b_6688370.html
 
Right on!  This is a reasonably comprehensive list of what’s wrong in Europe today, regarding anti-Semitism and radical Islam.  Now...if only.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

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Posted on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 04:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 11, 2015: Crystal Clear

In case you still had doubts about Obama’s positions regarding jihadi terrorism, I provide here just one more instance that makes it clear how eager he is to deny what is in front of all our faces.
 
Two days ago, in the course of an interview with Matthew Yglesias of Vox.com, the president referred to the Islamic jihadis who shot up the kosher store in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack as “vicious zealots” who “randomly” shot “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
 
The “vicious zealots” are not identified as Islamists.  (They never are so identified by Obama, are they?)  As he sees it, the choice of a kosher deli was just a coincidence.  And the shooting victims were merely “a bunch of folks,” and not Jews, specifically.
 
Mind blowing, really. 
 
You can see the video in which he says this, here: 
 
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/02/09/obama_legitimate_for_americans_to_be_concerned_about_violent_zealots_who_randomly_shoot_people_in_paris_deli.html
 
~~~~~~~~~
 
Ah, but there is more that illustrates how Obama perceives matters – or purports to perceive them at any rate.  It is “legitimate,” he says, to be concerned about these vicious zealots and to devote resources to dealing with them, just as a big city mayor acts to cut crime.
 
This too indicates an obfuscation of the genuine underlying problem that we are confronting: that problem being the ideology of radical Islam.  Dealing with street criminals is not parallel at all. This analogy serves to underplay the seriousness of what is threatening the free world right now.
 
Lastly, I mention this, more for a laugh than anything else.  Obama says it is good to allocate resources to dealing with these “zealots,” but it is important to also devote attention to “future threats” such as “global warming.”
 
Is this man for real?  I am certain that all of my readers across the east coast of the US have spent inordinate amounts of time this winter worrying about the imminent threat of global warming.  (Actually, satellite data indicates there has been no global warming for about 20 years.)
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
A great deal of energy was expended following these remarks by Obama, in attempts to justify what he meant. 
 
White House press secretary Josh Earnest, for example, explained that: “the individuals who were killed in the terrible tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be."
 
This is pathetic sophistry.  No, the victims of the massacre were not singled out by individual identity.  But does anyone imagine that the terrorists’ selection of an establishment where kosher food is sold, on a Friday afternoon when Jews would be shopping for Shabbat preparations, was just random?  Is there anyone even half-way honest who truly believes that the fact that it was Jews who were killed was purely a random happening?
 
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also dealt with this. She was asked the question: “Does the administration believe that this was...an attack on the Jewish community in France?”
 
She replied: I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation at play here...”
 
The questioner persisted: “But if a guy goes into a kosher market and starts shooting it up, he’s not looking for Buddhists, is he?  Who does the administration expect shops at a kosher (store)? ...I’m not sure I can understand how it is that you can’t say this was a targeted attack.”
 
Her response:  “I don’t have more for you...it’s an issue for the French government to address.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191210#.VNtbBpv9nIU
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
After the attack at Hyper-Cache, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “How can we accept that in France, we still hear about the death of Jews? How can we accept that people are killed because they are Jewish?"
 
What I ask is how we deal with this: that the French prime minister was able to accept an ugly reality, while the American president and those who speak for his administration dance around it?
 
I see this state of affairs as alarming.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Meanwhile, Prime Minster Netanyahu continues to make it clear that he intends to speak to Congress and the American people about a matter that is existential for Israel.  He will speak in Congress, because the Congressional role may be important, and he will speak before March 24th. (He has clarified this in response to suggestions that the venue of the talk or its timing be changed.)
 
You can see a short video of his statement here (all emphasis following is added):
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23451
 
At a time when there are those who are dealing with protocol and politics, a bad deal is being put together in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence.”
 
Israel’s survival is not a partisan issue.  Not in Israel, nor in the United States...
 
"I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with [U.S. President Barack Obama], but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country."
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
"Disagreements over Israel's security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the Left and from the Right and American presidents from both parties.

"None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States. In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.

[He refers here to some major US-Israel disagreements over time.]


"But we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran. This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel's survival. This is a regime, Iran, that is openly committed to Israel's destruction. It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.


"This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the president appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel."

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Bibi is diligently seeking to separate out the political accusations from genuine security concerns. And yet, those opposed to what he has to say (read, those supporting the Obama administration) continue to try to delegitimize his efforts to speak out on Iran by accusing him of playing politics, making the matter partisan, etc.
 
Once again, I urge that if you are in the US, you contact your elected representatives in Congress. Tell them that Iran’s threat to Israel is not a partisan matter.  Encourage them to listen to what Israel’s prime minister will be saying on March 3.  And most especially, urge them to support the Kirk-Menendez bill.
 
For your Congresspersons: 

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ 

For your Senators: 

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

~~~~~~~~~~ 

One of the accusations made early on, regarding the Netanyahu talk in Congress, is that it was planned without (it was claimed) prior notification to the White House. This was said to be a serious lapse of protocol.  Well...I thought I’d take a minute to look at how Obama observed protocol when he was here here in Israel. 

As Aaron Lerner of IMRA describes the situation: 

”Back on 21 March 2013 President Barack Obama declined to address the democratically elected Knesset and instead chose to speak to a crowd that was screened by the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to preclude Israelis who did not share Mr. Obama's outlook on Arab-Israeli affairs. The White House termed this selected group ‘the People of Israel.’”
 
Ruby Rivlin, who was then Speaker of the Knesset, called the situation “worrying”:
 
”Three American presidents have spoken on the Knesset stage, as well as [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and leaders from Europe.  President Obama should speak to the people of Israel through its elected representatives.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Rivlin-slams-Obama-for-not-visiting-Knesset-307083
 
Obama only focuses on protocol when it suits him. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Zahava Gal-On, head of the far left Meretz, had hoped to prevent the broadcasting of Bibi’s speech here in Israel, on the grounds that it constituted electioneering, two weeks before the March 17th election. 

Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said, however, that there is no reason to block Israeli media outlets from carrying the speech, which “has a very clear news value...;” is “substantially related to the prime minister’s work, so that one cannot say it enters the realm of electioneering;” and “will deal with important matters relating to Israel’s foreign policy and which hold interest for the public.”


~~~~~~~~~~
 
As to what is going on regarding the negotiations with Iran, let’s take a look at the latest:
 
John Hannah, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, writes (emphasis added):
 
Iran appears to be working systematically to advance all three of the elements essential to its nuclear weapons program: 1) the ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade (by developing more powerful centrifuges); 2) a nuclear explosive device...; and 3) a delivery vehicle (the ballistic missile program). The Iranians have been using the breathing space provided by the interim deal to improve parts of their weapons program that aren't yet quite up to snuff. In terms of sheer technical capability, Iran will be in a better position to breakout to a bomb in the aftermath of the interim deal than before it took effect.
   
The pretense that this process was about compelling a rabidly anti-American theocracy that has been at war with America for four decades to surrender permanently its nuclear weapons ambitions is now out the window. In its place, what remains is the quixotic pursuit of some form of grand bargain, a rapprochement that - while leaving the bulk of Iran's nuclear infrastructure in place - will somehow work over time to tame the Islamic Republic.

We see today an Iran on the march throughout the region, plotting terror attacks in the Western Hemisphere, and actively seeking to advance key elements of its nuclear program in the middle of a negotiation whose very purpose is to end that program.”
 
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/10/how-congress-became-the-fall-guy-for-obamas-iran-deal/
 
This title presents its own commentary.  Read it, my friends, and weep, or, far better stand up and scream bloody murder.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following comment after emerging from a closed-door briefing on the status of negotiations with Iran (emphasis added):

"It's evident that these negotiations are really not P5+1 negotiations anymore.  It's really more of a bilateral negotiation between the United States and Iran."

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191195#.VNtxp5v9nIV
 
This has been obvious for some time to anyone who has been watching closely. But now it’s being said publicly.  And this is scary as hell.  Do you realize how much power this gives Obama?  And how critical it is that Netanyahu address the Congress?
 
The way I see it, those P5 + 1 powers that are not actively participating in negotiations have abdicated their solemn responsibility to be involved.  I know that France, at least – and perhaps others as well - has been discontent with the Obama position, which is seen as too lenient.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And let’s see just how lenient the US is.  As Omri Ceren provided a review of the situation two days ago:
 
“As always there are two things at stake: process and substance. Process is about the technicalities of the next few months: when are scheduled talks, what are deadlines for various agreements, etc. Substance is about what will ultimately be acceptable to the parties: the structure of the deal, centrifuge capacity, plutonium-production capability, etc.

“The American stance on process is that there's a March deadline for a political agreement and a June deadline for a technical agreement. The stance on substance is that the West will trade phased sanctions relief for Iran meeting confidence building benchmarks.”

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had given a speech laying out the conditions he would consider acceptable in negotiations. It took a bit of time for careful translation to proceed.  This is the heart of what Ceren reports regarding the Ayatollah’s positions:

(1) Process - rejects political agreement - "I do not favor remarks that we should agree on some principles and later on details. I dislike it when they say that there should be a deal on general principles at one stage and then we can talk about details. Given our experience with the other side, they will use this as a tool for repeatedly making excuses regarding details. If they want a deal, they should cover both generalities and details in a single session, instead of leaving details for later and separating generalities which are vague and leave room for different interpretations. This is not logical."

(2) Substance - rejects phased lifting of sanctions - "[T]hese are all meant for taking away the weapon of sanctions from the hands of the enemy. It is good if they can do this. However, the sanctions must literally be taken away from the hands of the enemy. The sanctions must be lifted. This kind of a deal [is favored]. Otherwise, if they achieve no success in this regard, the Iranian nation, statesmen, the honorable government and others have numerous ways and they must certainly take this path in order to nullify the weapon of sanctions."

“So,” writes Ceren, “while it's technically true Khamenei pressed for ‘progress,’ what that actually means is he rejected the US's understanding of how talks should move forward. And while it's technically true he embraced a ‘fair’ deal, what that actually means is he rejected the US's understanding of how a deal should be structured.”

Khameni has been widely quoted as saying no deal is better than a bad deal, and that for him, a good deal means one that is good for his nation.  In other words, he is not predisposed to compromises. He wants what he wants.

~~~~~~~~~~

Fast forward one day.  When Jen Psaki, our good old State Department spokesperson, was asked about the March deadline, she responded:

“Yes it is a goal, it remains a goal, but the secretary has been very vocal about that.  We’ve never called it a deadline.  We’ve called it a goal of when we want to achieve the political framework.”

The problem with this is that the date has been consistently called a deadline by US spokespersons.  For example, on January 28th, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said, “...the president has made clear the importance of the end-of-March deadline...”

What we see, then, is that while Iran may be inflexible, Obama’s desire to seal an agreement is so strong that he will be unendingly flexible.

~~~~~~~~~~

I’m going to end here with a good news story of no particular consequence except for the fact that it is charming, and, I think, says something heart-warming about how we operate.
 
Last week, a mobile intensive care unit of Magen David Adom was driving from Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem when something hit the vehicle’s windshield and fell to the ground.  Paramedic Nati Haron got out to investigate and found a baby fruit bat that had been knocked unconscious by the impact. He fed her sugar water and she regained consciousness.
 
“I looked at her, and she looked back at me. I tried to release her twice in the Ma’aleh Adumim area, but I saw she couldn’t fly. I took her home and called the zoo.”
 
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo took her in, and she is being cared for until she recovers, at which time she will be released back into the wild.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Health/Israeli-paramedic-saves-life-of-baby-fruit-bat-after-painful-windshield-collision-390668
 
Baby fruit bat saved by Magen David Adom paramedics

Credit: Magen David Adom

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 
© 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/2015/2/12/february-11-2015-crystal-clear.html

 

 

Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 01:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 9, 2015: Outrage

The Obama administration is very close to sealing the parameters of a deal with Iran. 

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Kerry, meeting with Iranian Secretary of State Zarif on the sidelines of a conference in Munich, encouraged Iran to move forward on finalizing those parameters by March 24 (the deadline a group of Democratic Congresspersons had given Obama before considering sanctions).  Following this, details would be ironed out by the June 30th final deadline. 

http://www.voanews.com/content/kerry-zarif-to-hold-nuclear-talks/2631469.html

Both Zarif and Kerry have agreed that there will be no more extensions of the final deadline.  After Kerry pressed him on the issue, Zarif concurred: "I do not believe another extension is in the interest of anybody. We're reaching the point where it is quite possible to make an agreement ...”

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/kerry-rules-extension-iran-nuclear-talks-article-1.2107417

“This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity," concluded Zarif.  Of course, this was after Zarif had warned that a failure to clinch a deal would undermine President Hassan Rouhani.  
 

 


Credit:  oxiran
 
~~~~~~~~~~

The parameters of the deal are horrendous.

The Washington Post – hardly a right wing publication – ran an editorial on this issue last week.  It is instructive to consider its major points (emphasis added):

“First, a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.

“Second, in the course of the negotiations, the Obama administration has declined to counter increasingly aggressive efforts by Iran to extend its influence across the Middle East and seems ready to concede Tehran a place as a regional power at the expense of Israel and other U.S. allies.

“Finally, the Obama administration is signaling that it will seek to implement any deal it strikes with Iran — including the suspension of sanctions that were originally imposed by Congress — without a vote by either chamber. Instead, an accord that would have far-reaching implications for nuclear proliferation and U.S. national security would be imposed unilaterally by a president with less than two years left in his term...

“Where it once aimed to eliminate Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the administration now appears ready to accept an infrastructure of thousands of Iranian centrifuges. It says its goal is to limit and monitor that industrial base so that Iran could not produce the material for a warhead in less than a year. As several senators pointed out last month during a hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee, the prospective deal would leave Iran as a nuclear-threshold state while theoretically giving the world time to respond if Tehran chose to build a weapon. Even these limited restrictions would remain in force for only a specified number of years, after which Iran would be free to expand its production of potential bomb materials...

“Former secretary of state George P. Shultz cited Iran’s regional aggression in pronouncing himself ‘very uneasy’ about the ongoing negotiations. ‘They’ve already outmaneuvered us, in my opinion,’ he told the Armed Services Committee.”

Please, see the entire editorial here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-emerging-iran-nuclear-deal-raises-major-concerns-in-congress-and-beyond/2015/02/05/4b80fd92-abda-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~

The current situation has spawned a host of commentaries, many very grim. Observed Michael Ledeen, for example, "Obama entered the White House with the intention of forging an alliance with our most dangerous enemy in the Middle East.  That fact has to be the baseline of any serious analysis of our government’s policies."

http://pjmedia.com/michaelledeen/2015/02/03/we-still-dont-know-why-obama-wants-deal-with-iran/

The unease voiced by Shultz, above, regarding Iran’s expansionism and promotion of terrorism, is echoed in many quarters.  What complicates the situation enormously is the Shia Iran vs. Sunni ISIS situation – with Obama seeking Iran’s “help” in countering Sunni jihadists.  His desire to weaken ISIS has moved him even further into forging ties with Iran.  Action against Sunni jihadists actually strengthens Iran’s position.      

~~~~~~~~~~

Is this a fait accompli?  Close, but no, not yet.  Although it may be about five minutes to midnight, there is still time to counter what seems to be coming down the road.  Were sanctions to kick in again, it would weaken Iran significantly and might shift the dynamic. 

Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said (emphasis added):

The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel.
 
We will continue to take action and to lead the international effort against Iran's arming itself with nuclear weapons. We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement that will place a heavy cloud over the future of the State of Israel and its security.”
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4624318,00.html

Pretty clear and direct.

~~~~~~~~~~

There is no one reading this who doesn’t know that Netanyahu has been invited by Speaker of the House John Boehner to address Congress on the issue of the dangers of Iran; that speech is scheduled for March 3. 

And here we come to the heart of the matter.

Netanyahu has devoted himself for years to the issue of the dangers of Iran: There is likely no world leader better able to address the issues; at this juncture, what he has to say has deep import.  And there is no more significant venue in which he might speak than the US Congress – for it is the members of Congress who will make hard decisions regarding sanctions. 

As Boehner has said: “...there's nobody in the world who can talk about the threat of radical terrorism, nobody can talk about the threat that the Iranians pose, not just to the Middle East and to Israel, our longest ally, but to the entire world, but Bibi Netanyahu."

Should have been a simple matter – with Congress prepared to hear what he has to say.

But, of course, it wasn’t a simple matter. For Obama is determined to get his agreement with Iran, and is not content to allow an upstart Israeli (an Israeli!) throw a monkey wrench in the works.  He does not take interference with his plans lightly. 

Thus did the charge go out that Netanyahu was meddling in US politics: It was now a political issue, rather than a matter of diplomacy and security.

First came the lament that protocol was ignored, as the president should have been told about the invitation and was not. But Boehner countered this, saying that he had informed the White House.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Boehner-denies-blindsiding-White-House-with-Netanyahu-invite-388988

Then came the attempt to stonewall Netanyahu: Obama has said he will not see him when he’s in the US.  The reason given – that it’s too close to Israeli elections – feels bogus to me in light of how similar situations have been handled.  Not only that, Kerry has said he will not be present, and now Biden has discovered that he will be unable to hear Netanyahu speak, as he will “be out of the country.”  Some numbers of Democratic members of Congress will decline to be present for the talk, as well – undoubtedly pressured by their president.

All of this is an outrage. A rudeness to a head of state deeply concerned about the security of his state, and the world.  People have forgotten that the issue is security, however, since it has all been so politicized.

~~~~~~~~~~

And here in Israel, in my opinion, the situation is worse.  For I expect nothing – less than nothing – from Obama. But here we are talking about our own people.

We are facing a severe security situation – not only with Iran threatening us directly, but with Iran arming and inciting Hezbollah and Hamas.  Our prime minister is seeking to address the matter of Iran with seriousness. But we are in the middle of an election campaign, and the opposition on the left sees this as an opportunity to make points.  Thus, rather than supporting Netanyahu, rallying around him at this time, the issue has been improperly politicized.

Fingers are being pointed at Netanyahu: See! Goes the cry.  He makes trouble with the president of the US by pushing himself into the Congress.  We need the US, and this is a bad thing he is doing.

Anyone interested in a reality check would be reminded very quickly that the prime minister was invited, he did not push his way in.

~~~~~~~~~~

But we are not done yet. “Bugie” Herzog, co-chair with Tzipi Livni of the so-called Zionist Camp (formerly the Labor Party), was in Munich for a security conference, as was Vice President Biden.  In the hallway, they stopped to speak to each other.  This interval is being billed as an “informal meeting.”

Whether it was really much of a meeting – a meeting that Biden should not have permitted if there is a policy of not meeting with candidates before an election – or a very brief greeting and no more, I cannot say.

But the Zionist Camp is parlaying it into a real meeting.  Wrote Shelly Yachimovich that night:

”His meeting this evening with Vice President Biden in Munich, after Biden announced that he would not attend Bibi’s speech to Congress, is proof that the only bridge to harmonious and proper communication in the international arena is Herzog as prime minister.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/likud-says-herzog-crossed-red-lines-at-munich-summit/

This is a low blow that is nothing short of disgusting.  The main issue here is not who can be Obama’s best friend, but who can best guard Israel’s security.  It happens at present that the two are mutually exclusive – that is, the leader most eager to keep Obama happy is least likely to protect Israel.  Bugie Herzog would give away our security and our land.  (Heaven forbid that he should have the opportunity to do so.)

~~~~~~~~~~

But still this is not the end of the story.  At that security conference in Munich, Herzog also said that Netanyahu should cancel the March 3 speech “for the sake of Israel’s security...My talks with leaders from Europe and the U.S. indicated they were furious that Netanyahu had diverted the debate on a nuclear Iran for political purposes and made it into a confrontation with Obama.”

What? What?

First of all, Bibi didn’t “make” the confrontation, Obama did.

Second, Herzog is conflating security with being on good terms with Obama – when in fact, as I have pointed out above, these are two different issues.  He makes it sound as if he, the one who would have the better relations with Obama, would thus automatically guard Israel’s security better.  Nonsense, balderdash, and worse.

And last, there is an understanding here in Israel that criticism of the government is kept in house – inside Israel – and not voiced outside  On the outside, the government is supported.  What Herzog did, was done for political purposes. And it was vile and obscene: to weaken Israel’s position internationally for his own electoral gain.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Herzog “crossed all the lines.” MK Miri Regev (Likud) said that “[Herzog] is being exploited by the international community. He’s cooperating with them against Israel and putting the security of the state at risk.” 

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/02/08/steinitz-labor%E2%80%99s-herzog-%E2%80%98crossed-all-the-lines%E2%80%99-by-criticizing-israeli-government-in-munich/

I fully agree, and I grieve that the situation has been reduced to this.

I want to believe that the Israeli electorate can see through Herzog.  But I fear that some percent (what percent?) may be comforted by the notion that it would be easier to have a prime minister who is friends with Obama. I tremble at this thought, and at the sort of self-serving propaganda that promotes it.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
There are all sorts of suggestions flying about, regarding ways that Netanyahu might mitigate some of the political tensions when he goes to Washington.  My best understanding is that he still intends to speak.  I salute him for his courage and pray that he will.  He cannot back down now.

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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/2015/2/9/february-9-2015-outrage.html

 

Posted on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 04:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 8, 2015: Hypocrisy Writ Large

Hypocrisy is all around us, but I will focus today on the very significant information that the Israeli NGO Regavim has uncovered regarding the EU:
 
The Europeans protest long and loud about “illegal Israeli building” in Judea and Samaria. But what it turns out is that they have been supporting illegal Arab building in Area C.  The Oslo Accords assigned full control (civil and military) of Area C to Israel.  This is apparently irrelevant to the EU, in spite of the fact that the EU was a witness to (and according to international lawyer Alan Baker) a guarantor of the Oslo Accords.
 
The building is being done in Ma’aleh Adumim and near E1 (a region that stretches between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem).  Clearly, this is intended to establish facts on the ground, by way of supporting a Palestinian state.  
 
As the JPost reported last week (emphasis added):
 
“According to Regavim, European Union support for the Palestinians has in recent years moved from ‘passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2000, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.’ 
 
”This week, prior to the release of its latest report, Regavim took journalists to look at a number of Beduin encampments straddling E1 as well as the Jerusalem-Jericho road. They are not temporary tent encampments as they were in years past, but rather clusters that – in addition to tents and tin shacks – also include modular structures with cement floors bearing the EU logo.

”According to Ari Briggs, Regavim’s international relations director, the EU logo is placed on the structures in the belief that this will prevent Israel from demolishing them. Israel is not likely to take down a building with an EU logo, due to concerns over both public relations damage and the harm it could cause to relations with the EU, he said...
 
“The EU-funded structures, according to Meir Deutsch, the director of Regavim’s policy and government relations department, are being placed illegally on state land, and in some cases in restricted nature reserves.
 
“When Regavim appealed to the High Court in 2008 to compel the state to demolish illegal buildings in the area, it ruled that this could not be done until an alternative living arrangement was found for the Bedouin living there. Israel then began planning a city – called Ramat Nueima – north of Jericho for some 12,000 people, a plan now adamantly opposed by the Palestinians and the EU.
 
“In November, a meeting of EU foreign ministers issued a statement that, in addition to their usual condemnations of land expropriation and settlement construction, also slammed plans to ‘displace Bedouin in the West Bank and the continued demolitions, including of EU and member states funded projects.’”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-EU-building-hundreds-of-illegal-structures-for-Palestinians-in-Area-C-of-West-Bank-390184
 
Charges Briggs:
 
“This is great hypocrisy.  Any time a building goes up for Jews, they raise an outcry, call it illegal and say it endangers peace. They are building illegal houses for Arabs.”
 
According to Deutsch, from 2012 to 2014, the EU spent millions of euros in putting up more than 499 structures.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
An excellent story on the Regavim report, complete with a large collection of Regavim photos and maps, has also been put out by the Daily Mail (emphasis added).
 
Official EU documentation reveals that the building project is intended to ‘pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C’... “Locally, the villages are known as the ‘EU Settlements’, and can be found in 17 locations around the West Bank.”
 
Because the Daily Mail is in the UK, it has an emphasis that is different from that of the JPost: Concern is expressed about European tax money being spent on this illegal venture.
 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2874883/EU-funding-illegal-building-West-Bank-says-report.html
 
Notable among the pictures is one of a man in an EU uniform threatening Israeli soldiers with a rock.
 
A structure in Area C bearing an EU flag:
 
A still shot from footage taken by Israeli NGO Regavim showing a school in Area C bearing an EU flag. (Photo credit: Regavim)

Credit: Regavim
 
And the full Regavim Report here:
 
http://regavim.org.il/en/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Position-Paper-European-Building-in-Area-C-US.pdf
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The staff of Regavim has worked hard to produce this scrupulously researched material.  Now, as always, it falls to us to spread this information as broadly as possibly. Truth must be exposed.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Already we have seen one positive outcome to this report. 
 
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to move forward with a plan to demolish some 400 Palestinian structures built in the West Bank with European funding, Israeli media reported Friday. “

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-orders-demolition-of-eu-funded-palestinian-settlements-in-west-bank/
 
~~~~~~~~~~.
 
© 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/2015/2/8/february-8-2015-hypocrisy-writ-large.html

 

Posted on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 03:00PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 5, 2015: Response and Defense

My mother used to say, “Enough is enough, and too much is plenty.”  Well...we passed the “plenty” mark a long time ago where terrorism and threats by terrorist entities are concerned. But what I see is that the excesses of terrorists are beginning to stiffen backs a bit.  In the face of acts that are increasingly obscene, there is a growing recognition that tough stances are necessary.  Not nearly enough yet, mind you, but growing.
 
The most obvious example at the moment of a nation being pushed to a new stance by terrorist excesses is Jordan.  As most of my readers undoubtedly know, ISIS has executed a Jordanian pilot by locking him in a cage and burning him alive; this was captured on videotape.  Jordan is part of the US-led alliance against ISIS, and their pilot, Lt. Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, was captured when his plane went down over Syria.  There are no words for the inhumanity of what was done to him, and the Jordanians are beyond furious.  Thus have critics of action against ISIS now joined the chorus of rage.
 
The first thing Jordan did was to execute (apparently by hanging) two al-Qaeda connected Iraqi prisoners – already convicted and, as I understand it, sentenced to death, but being held long term in prison.  Now King Abdullah is quoted as saying:
 
“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground."   
 
And a Jordanian government spokesman has spoken about intensifying “efforts to stop extremism and terrorism to undermine, degrade and eventually finish Daesh [the Islamic State]."  (Emphasis added)       
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4623133,00.html
 
Rhetoric in part, perhaps, because honor is involved. But a welcome perspective, none the less. And Jordan is already increasing bombing.
 
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Here at home, I’ve noted a number of ways in which the responses of our government seem to me to be increasingly tough.  These responses have nothing to do with declarations of war, and may seem relatively minor, but are not.  They send an important message regarding our strength, our rights, and our readiness to take action to protect ourselves.  Constant vigilance is required on a number of fronts:
 
Israeli-Arabs who leave Israel - apparently getting into Syria via Turkey - to join ISIS are being tracked and arrested on their return. In ISIS camps they are trained in torture and weapons use. After being interrogated, they are indicted, and, if found guilty sentenced.  Although it appears from news reports that sentences remain too lenient, European nations might take a lesson from this practice.
 
See here, for example:
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4595249,00.html
 
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And speaking of ISIS, seven Arab Israelis were arrested recently for attempting to set up an Islamic State cell in the Nazareth area. 
 
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Last month, the Shin Bet and a special police unit, working together, identified and then closed down three Israeli NGOs that were funneling money to activities
intended to “inflame tensions on the Temple Mount.” 
 
These groups were established last October by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel “with the purpose of funding activities meant to disrupt the security of visitors to the Temple Mount and in order to inflame tensions and cause disturbances, while harming the sovereignty of the State of Israel at the site.” 

 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-police-Shin-Bet-close-three-Islamic-charities-for-causing-unrest-on-Temple-Mount-387507


There are groups of Arabs – often women – who have been paid to come up on the Mount and harass Jews both verbally and physically.
 
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Last Saturday night, an IDF unit in the Shomron came upon Palestinian Arabs throwing firebombs at on-coming cars.  The army opened fire on them, and one of the Palestinian Arabs was killed.
 
It is critical to consider the attacks upon cars – whether by firebombs or rocks and bricks, all of which can maim and kill – with utmost seriousness.
 
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This is a very modest response (TOO modest a response, in my opinion). But, as it is a first, it is a step in our asserting ourselves: The Israel Electric Company is now cutting back on service to the PA areas because of the enormous unpaid electric bill.  Service will be cut in half for two hours every day.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4620683,00.html
 
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The organization Im Tirtzu – “if we will it,” from Herzl – is staunchly Zionist, and prepared to expose those who are not.  B’Tselem, on the other hand, is an Israeli NGO that poses as a human rights group, but is in fact enormously politicized, and anti-Israel.  B’Tselem just released a report, allegedly documenting “war crimes” committed by Israel during our recent war with Hamas, Operation Protective Shield.  Their findings will be used by what was at least until this week referred to as the Schabas Commission, which has a UNHRC mandate to “investigate” Israel’s behavior during the war (more on Schabas below).
 
Now Im Tirtzu has exposed the fact that B’Tselem received funding for this report from Ramallah, from “a Palestinian foundation that, among other things, finances organizations related to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
 
Says Im Tirtzu: “Israeli citizens and the international community who will read B’Tselem’s report have a right to know that this report does not represent an objective investigation of truth with justice as its guiding principle. Rather, this is the result of a political agenda and the negative attitude toward Israel.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190804#.VM9kvpv9nIV
 
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On Monday, William Schabas – the Canadian legal academic who had been appointed to head the UN Human Rights Council investigation on Israel’s “war crimes” in Gaza this past summer – resigned. He had been exposed:
 
Turns out that in 2012, he wrote a legal opinion for the PLO and was paid for doing so. 
 
He apparently did not see this as a conflict of interest that would disqualify him.  In fact, he declared, all innocence, that “this work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.” He assumed the position, he maintained, with full commitment to “act with independence and impartiality. I have fully respected that undertaking.”

As Anne Bayefsky, who directs the Touro College Institute on Human Rights, wrote, “"Yea, right.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Analysis-The-indelible-stain-on-the-UN-committee-once-chaired-by-William-Schabas-389928
 
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The UNHRC might have scrapped the work of the investigatory commission, but that would have been expecting too much.  One day later, Schabas’s successor – former NY judge Mary McGowan Davis – was appointed.  Davis, already a member of this commission, had served as well on the Goldstone Commission, the findings of which were subsequently repudiated by Goldstone himself.
 
As Bayefsky points out (emphasis added):
 
“Israel’s achievement in this whole affair...is not that it brought to light damning information about Schabas that compelled him to step down.

”Rather, the achievement is that, now that he has stepped down because of incontrovertible evidence of bias, it will be easier for Israel to dismiss the report as completely one-sided and useless when it does come out.

”This incident also provides real-time evidence to those tired of hearing Jerusalem argue that it does not get a fair shake in international organizations, that – indeed – it does not get a fair shake in international organizations.

”...Schabas has lost his credibility, and as a result so has the commission that he chaired, even before the paper it is working on even sees the light of day.”
 
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This is unreal, but not unexpected:
 
Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, is in Europe to discuss better relations with the EU.  He was scheduled to meet with European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, which is responsible for “maintaining and developing Parliament’s contacts and relations with the Knesset.”
 
The invitation to Parliament members said that his visit presented an “excellent opportunity to carry an open dialogue, as well as raise issues of mutual interest.”  But that visit never happened.  In the face of objections by left wing members, it was cancelled.
 
”Portuguese parliamentarian Marisa Matias, from the European United Left–Nordic Green Left grouping, was quoted as saying that ‘giving him [Mordechai] a platform to host a lecture would legitimize his violations of international law and human rights. Rather than giving a warm welcome to those who stand for repression and apartheid, the EU institutions should pressure the Israeli government to abide by the rules of international law and UN resolutions. We must bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.’”

 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Leftists-in-European-Parliament-torpedo-meeting-with-visiting-IDF-Major-General-390032
 
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Sigh...
 
What this tells me is that the Legal Grounds Campaign has quite a task to do, to set the record straight. There is no such thing as “the occupied Palestinian territories.”  Nor is Israel remotely apartheid. These are terms bandied about for political purposes with less than no respect for truth.
 
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© 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. 
 
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Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 03:10PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint