Thursday, 25 March 2010

Israel Matzav: Obama treatment of Netanyahu even shabbier than previously reported

Obama treatment of Netanyahu even shabbier than previously reported

President Obama's treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu was even shabbier than has been previously reported according to an account in the Times of London (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

For a head of state to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of.

Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip seen in Jerusalem tonight as a disastrous humiliation.

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

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

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

The White House is not disputing the account of what happened in Washington - apparently Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs all but confirmed it today.

But before everyone assumes that Israel is blaming Netanyahu for what happened, please remember that the Israeli media hates Netanyahu and most of them cannot be trusted to give an objective account of who is at fault. The quote that is being thrown around the most is this one:

“The Prime Minister leaves America disgraced, isolated and altogether weaker than when he came,” the Israeli daily Ha'aretz said.

But Haaretz is known as Israel's most Leftist newspaper - just last week they distorted a poll to try to make it show that Israelis love Obama. And that quote actually came from an opinion column (and not a news story - although in Israel it's hard to tell the difference) by Aluf Benn, one of the paper's most Leftist writers, who last summer urged Obama to go over Netanyahu's head and appeal directly to Israelis (Obama sent Biden here instead - he refuses to come himself). My sense is that while Israelis are upset about what happened, they are unified on Jerusalem, and that it's Obama who is being seen as mostly to blame when it comes to the substance of the issues.

The Times continues:

In their meeting Mr Obama set out a number of expectations that Israel was to satisfy if it wanted to end the crisis, Israeli sources said. These included an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement growth beyond the 10-month deadline next September, an end to Israeli building projects in east Jerusalem, and even a withdrawal of Israeli forces to positions that they held before the Second Intifada in September 2000, after which they re-occupied most of the West Bank.

I guess we're just going to have a crisis for the next three years. It's possible that the freeze will be extended but Netanyahu cannot even consider agreeing to that unless negotiations are going. There won't be an end to Jewish building projects in 'east' Jerusalem. He might give on projects in predominantly Arab neighborhoods (although the Shepherd Hotel project that caused all the fuss and which is in a predominantly Arab neighborhood isn't his to give - it's private), but most Israelis don't want him to give on Ramat Shlomo (for example) or other predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. And a withdrawal of forces is out of the question unless a lot of other things happen first.

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

With the atmosphere so soured by the end of the evening, the Israelis decided that they could not trust the phone line they had been lent. Mr Netanyahu retired with his defence minister, Ehud Barak, to the Israeli Embassy to ensure the Americans were not listening in.

They should have walked out immediately and left Obama the embassy phone number. I did something like what they did once. It's a mistake. You have to stand up for yourself.

Netanyahu made other mistakes too:

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

Irrelevant. Spilled milk. Water under the bridge. You're the Prime Minister, and if you didn't know, you should have known. That doesn't excuse the way Obama treated him, but who the hell is advising Bibi to focus on details like that rather than the big picture?

The meeting came barely a day after Mr Obama’s landmark health reform victory. Israel had calculated that he would be too tied up with domestic issues ahead of the mid-term elections to focus seriously on the Middle East.

Stupid. You ALWAYS come to meetings like that prepared. Whoever made that calculation ought to be fired.

Bottom line: No excuse for the shabby manner in which Obama treated Netanyahu, on the substance Obama is trying to dictate to Netanyahu and ought to be resisted, trying to meet with Obama in Washington was probably a mistake, and the next time Bibi meets with anyone from the American government he must be prepared and not assume that they won't pay attention.

Israel Matzav: Obama treatment of Netanyahu even shabbier than previously reported

Israel Matzav: Alfred E. Newman unendorses Obama

Alfred E. Newman unendorses Obama


Israel Matzav: Alfred E. Newman unendorses Obama

Love of the Land: From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel

From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel

Max Boot
24 March '10

(One has to be careful to always look around before running with a claim. This was a classic, with Max Boot being one of the few with the proper understanding of what was said from the start. The Biden quotes behind closed doors, may also not have been any better, and have been challenged)

Back on March 13, terrorist groupie Mark Perry — a former Arafat aide who now pals around with Hamas and Hezbollah — posted an article on Foreign Policy’s website, claiming that General David Petraeus was behind the administration’s policy of getting tough with Israel. He attributed to Petraeus the view that “Israel’s intransigence” — meaning its unwillingness to give up every inch of the West Bank and East Jerusalem tomorrow — “could cost American lives.” His item received wide circulation though it may be doubted whether, as he now says, “It changed the way people think about the conflict.”

I tried to set the record straight with two Commentary items (see here and here) in which I suggested, based on talking to an officer familiar with Petraeus’s thinking, that Perry’s item was a gross distortion —in fact a fraud. I noted that in Petraeus’s view, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was only one factor among many affecting U.S. interests in the region and that Israeli settlements were far from the only, or even the main, obstacle to peace. I even suggested — again, based on inside information — that the 56-page posture statement that Central Command had submitted to Congress, which stated that the Arab-Israeli conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel,” was not the best indicator of his thinking. Better to look at what he actually told Congress — in a hearing he barely mentioned Israel (until prompted to do so) and never talked about settlements at all.

This brought hoots of derision from commentators on both the Left and the Right, who claimed that I was putting words into Petraeus’s mouth — that I was, in Joe Klein’s phrase, taking a “flying leap.” Predictably piling on were Andrew Sullivan, who said I was “glossing over” what Petraeus said, and Robert Wright, who claimed that, “by Boot’s lights, Petraeus is anti-Israel.” Diana West added a truly inventive spin, by suggesting that Petraeus was a protégé of Stephen Walt, who was his faculty adviser many years ago at Princeton before the good professor won renown as a leading basher of the “Israel Lobby” and the state of Israel itself. It was from Walt, Ms. West claims, that Petraeus imbibed his “Arabist, anti-Israel attitudes.”

So who was off-base here: those of us who tried to explain the nuances of General Petraeus’s thinking or those bloggers and commentators who tried to suggest that he is a strident critic of Israel?

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel

Israel Matzav: Fiorina shoots ahead of Campbell in California, Boxer vulnerable

Fiorina shoots ahead of Campbell in California, Boxer vulnerable

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has shot ahead of Tom Campbell in the race for the Republican nomination for the Senate in California. And Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer is looking vulnerable.

The surprise is in the Senate race, where Carly Fiorina has shot up in the polls and now edges out Tom Campbell: “The Republican primary race for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat has tightened since January, when Tom Campbell led both Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore among Republican likely voters (27% Campbell, 16% Fiorina, 8% DeVore). Today, Campbell and Fiorina are in a close race (24% Fiorina, 23% Campbell), and DeVore’s level of support is unchanged (8%).” In short, Fiorina is up eight and Campbell down four since the poll’s January survey. And in the general election matchup, Barbara Boxer is in a one-point race with both Campbell and Fiorina.

It’s perhaps not surprising that Campbell’s lead has vanished. Part of that advantage was name recognition, since Campbell has been a familiar figure in California politics for over a decade. But Fiorina has had a good run — wacky, high-profile ads, a strong showing at the California Republican convention, and pounding away at Campbell’s tax record. And then there is the Israel issue. Given the focus over the past two weeks on the president’s Israel-bashing, pro-Israel voters have every reason to be concerned that Campbell seems to be rather sympathetic to the Obami approach to Israel. (Campbell previously voted against resolutions confirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and voiced support for it as the capital of both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.)

But the real shocker here is Boxer’s vulnerability. This is not the only poll to show that the race is in a virtual dead heat. It is perhaps indicative of a strong anti-incumbent sentiment that is sweeping the country.

Let's hope that anti-incumbent sentiment works for the White House in 2012.

Israel Matzav: Fiorina shoots ahead of Campbell in California, Boxer vulnerable

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

IDF Women

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

Love of the Land: "Sanctions with bite," Said Hillary. But There Are No Teeth In The Bite. Just Mushy Old Gums. Go To A Periodontist.

"Sanctions with bite," Said Hillary. But There Are No Teeth In The Bite. Just Mushy Old Gums. Go To A Periodontist.

Marty Peretz
The New Republic
25 March '10

Hillary Clinton told the AIPAC conference this past Monday that, after fifteen months of his presidency, President Obama was about to launch, with our allies, "sanctions with bite." I commented on this earlier in the week. But a top front-page dispatch in this morning's Wall Street Journal tells us just how little pain Iran would incur when the political psychodrama finally unfolds at the Security Council. The fact is that the Obami have been courting Russia and China all this time unsuccessfully while, in the meantime, Tehran is make steady advances in the acquisition of nuclear weapons and even steadier advances in destabilizing SP the Middle East.

Now, you have to understand that the president needed to make a choice. He couldn't push Iran too hard while he was relentlessly bludgeoning the State of Israel. And, by the way, he was already bludgeoning the Jewish state even before Jerusalem had foolishly stumbled further into two neighborhoods, one already Jewish and the other on the road to the Hebrew University, Hadassah Hospital, and the Mount of Olives. Why shouldn't Jews live on this road?

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: "Sanctions with bite," Said Hillary. But There Are No Teeth In The Bite. Just Mushy Old Gums. Go To A Periodontist.

Israel Matzav: UNHRC demands that Israel compensate Gazans for Cast Lead damage

UNHRC demands that Israel compensate Gazans for Cast Lead damage

Give these people an inch and they take a mile. Remember back in January when Israel paid UNRWA $10.5 million in compensation for damages done to UNRWA facilities that were being used by terrorists. Remember how I said it was a bad move? The other shoe has dropped.

The UN 'Human Rights Council' has demanded that Israel pay individual Gazans 'compensation' for damages sustained during Operation Cast Lead. The vote was 29-6 with 11 abstentions. The US was one of the six.

The resolution was proposed by a paragon of 'human rights': Pakistan. And of course, there is no requirement that Hamas pay compensation for the 8,000 rockets it shot into Israel before Operation Cast Lead.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: UNHRC demands that Israel compensate Gazans for Cast Lead damage

Israel Matzav: Bibi over Obama

Bibi over Obama

Quin Hillyer is a senior editorial writer at the Washington Times and senior editor of The American Spectator. Here's a great comment on the Netanyahu v. Obama knockdown dragout.

After yesterday's meetings between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, for the first time in my life I quite literally feel more allegiance to the head of a foreign state than I do to the president of the United States.... Let me change the word "allegiance" to "trusting respect," and let me say also that this means I believe Netanyahu's words, trust his judgment, and feel more secure in his motives, more than I believe, trust, and feel more secure with Obama....

I write this not as a Jew, but as a cradle Episcopalian, or a sort of hybrid Anglo-Catholic. In short, not based on faith, but on reason. If the Jewish state can't allow free people to build housing in Jerusalem, then the Irish state may as well not let Irish build in Dublin. And if the American administration tries to tell the Jewish state that it is wrong to merely advance by one mid-range step along a multi-step process towards permitting those buildings, then the Jewish PM has every right to tell the American administration the same thing Dick Cheney told the execrable Patrick Leahy.


Israel Matzav: Bibi over Obama

Israel Matzav: Report on AIPAC convention

Report on AIPAC convention

Here's a PBS report on Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington. The report was aired on Tuesday night before Netanyahu met with Obama.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Most of this is nothing new, but one gets the impression that Clinton was beating her head against the wall. Unfortunately, when it comes to budging Obama, Netanyahu seems to be beating his head against the wall too.

Israel Matzav: Report on AIPAC convention

Israel Matzav: Why there won't be a national unity government for now

Why there won't be a national unity government for now

At least two MK's (that I saw) called for a national unity government on Thursday - Zevulun Orlev (HaBayit HaYehudi) and Otniel Schneller (Kadima).

I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. The pressure for a national unity government is only going to grow and Tzipi Livni is going to play it for all it's worth. For now, at least, I don't believe she'll go in without getting a rotating Prime Ministership - something Netanyahu is not likely to give her.

The polls show Kadima has lost about 30% of its support since the elections while Likud has lost very little (much of the gain has accrued to a secular party that does not yet exist, but that has to do with domestic considerations here and not with foreign policy).

Separately, Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh - who is fairly high up on their list - said that Kadima will back Netanyahu on building in Jerusalem. No one wants to be the party that gives ground on that question. I don't believe Netanyahu can give Obama what he wants even if Netanyahu wanted to give it.

You will see a national unity government if an attack on Iran is imminent. That happened here just before the Six Day War as well.

Israel Matzav: Why there won't be a national unity government for now

Israel Matzav: Britain insisting on public commitment from Lieberman as part of sending new diplomat

Britain insisting on public commitment from Lieberman as part of sending new diplomat

According to London's Daily Independent, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (pictured) is insisting on a public commitment from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Israel will never again use British citizens' official documents as a condition for allowing Israel to replace the diplomat who was expelled from the UK last week. The diplomat is widely believed to have been the Mossad's liaison in London.

The Israeli government has shown no signs so far that it will acquiesce in Mr Miliband's demand that it pledge that "the state of Israel would never be party to the misuse of British passports in such a way". Such a declaration would be tantamount to an admission of Israel's guilt in the killing of Mr Mabhouh, something it denies. Mr Lieberman said: "There is no proof of Israeli involvement in this affair."

However, the Israeli government has also indicated that it will not retaliate by expelling a British diplomat. Officials privately acknowledge that the removal of the Mossad official, although damaging for relations between the two countries, will not impact too severely on the Israeli intelligence agency's work in the UK.

If that last sentence is true, I would consider not complying and not sending a new diplomat. Israel certainly cannot be in the position of admitting to Mabhouh's liquidation and a lack of intelligence cooperation would hurt Britain at least as much as it would hurt Israel. I also have a sense that were it not for all the problems with the US right now, this would not be happening. The corollary of that statement is that when (if) our problems with the US blow over, the passport issues will die down too. But we may have a few more blows to absorb on the passports from other countries first.

How did this happen? I wonder if anyone realized how good Dubai's tracking system was when they planned this operation.

Israel Matzav: Britain insisting on public commitment from Lieberman as part of sending new diplomat

Israel Matzav: US watering down sanctions hoping Russia and China will approve

US watering down sanctions hoping Russia and China will approve

The United States is continuing to pursue sanctions for the sake of sanctions rather than pursuing sanctions that have a snowball in hell's chance of working. That's the upshot of a report in the Wall Street Journal that the United States is 'softening' sanctions in a bid to get Russia and China to agree to them.

The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran’s access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran’s national air cargo and shipping lines, according to the individuals.


The current resolution still would target major power centers in Iran, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s elite military force, according to a person familiar with the draft. It would also stiffen a broad range of existing sanctions, including the search and seizure of suspicious cargo bound for Iran through international waters and a ban on states offering financial assistance or credits for trade with Iran. If approved, they would be the most stringent measures Iran has faced.

Yet the original U.S. draft would have gone much further. The cargo sanctions initially named Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and demand a blanket ban of their airplanes and ships from other countries’ airspace or territorial waters. The revised version calls for interdiction only of shipments that would evade already-existing sanctions.

The earlier resolution would have made it difficult for Iran to insure imports and exports of oil and other essential commodities, by barring foreign insurers from serving international transport contracts from Iran. The new draft calls only for unspecified “additional steps” to enforce current sanctions on insurance.

The previous draft would also have barred Iran’s access to international capital markets by prohibiting foreign investment in Iranian bonds. The country hasn’t traditionally relied on debt markets, but earlier this month a state-owned Iranian bank, Bank Mellat, announced an offer to sell bonds valued at €1 billion ($1.35 billion) to fund development of natural-gas field in South Pars. The new draft makes no mention of Iranian bonds.

The current draft notes “with serious concern the role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard” in “Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities and the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems,” according to a person familiar with its contents.

The U.S. Treasury Department has identified billions of dollars in assets controlled by the Revolutionary Guard in financial and commercial sectors, including at least $7 billion in the energy sector and a controlling stake in Iran’s largest telecommunications provider, Telecommunication Company of Iran.

The draft would force an international freeze on the assets of the entire Revolutionary Guard and “any individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction,” and on “entities owned or controlled by them, including through illicit means,” according to the person familiar with the draft.

If enforced, the proposed sanctions could force the Revolutionary Guard to divest itself of some holdings to prevent major disruptions in the economy.

The Revolutionary Guard’s affiliation with the country’s telecom operator, for example, could prompt foreign partners to stop connecting international calls.

Read the whole thing. President Obama is unable or unwilling to lead without a Security Council resolution, and as a result he is bending over backwards hoping Russia and China will not exercise their vetoes. But the result is going to be sanctions that are far too little and far too late to have any chance of stopping Iran. If Iran is to be stopped, it will have to be done militarily. Is Prime Minister Netanyahu still up to the task after two weeks of Obama beating him up over the 'Palestinians'?

A couple of weeks ago, I drove a close friend and neighbor home from town on a Friday afternoon. We started talking about Iran, and my friend - who is far more worldly than most of my ultra-Orthodox friends - told me that it is clear that our only hope now is God and we must all repent. I told him that I agree with him, but I don't see all of us repenting. I told him that in the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War, many people saw the miraculous victory and repented, but if God had insisted on penitence first, there would be no State of Israel today. We must hope once again that God will accept penitence after the fact. At least there's more chance of that happening than of Obama actually attacking Iran on our behalf.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: US watering down sanctions hoping Russia and China will approve

Israel Matzav: Sounds like good advice for the White House

Sounds like good advice for the White House

At least there's one area where the United States is still backing Israel: The United Nations Human Rights Council.

The US was the only country at the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against all three anti-Israel resolutions, which were approved Wednesday in Geneva.

It was also the only country to oppose a UNHRC resolution in support of the Palestinian right to self determination.

In the last weeks America's relationship with Israel has been strained. But in Geneva, the US took the council to task for its treatment of Israel.

"We are deeply troubled to be presented once again with a slate of resolutions so replete with controversial elements and one sided references that they shed no light and offer no redress for the real challenges in the region," said US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe.

"The council is too often exploited as a platform from which to single out Israel, which undermines its credibility," said Donahoe.

"The US strongly encourages the council to seek an alternative to highly politicized resolutions and a permanent agenda item focused on one country," said Donahue.

That last clause sounds like good advice for the White House, doesn't it? Get off your obsession with Israel.

Israel Matzav: Sounds like good advice for the White House

Israel Matzav: Krauthammer's take on Obama's treatment of Netanyahu

Krauthammer's take on Obama's treatment of Netanyahu

Here's Charles Krauthammer on President Obama's treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington this week (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

There's a striking oddity here. This is a president who bows deeply to the king of Saudi Arabia, who's in a photo-op with the dictator of Venezuela, and will not allow the press in when he has a meeting with the prime minister of the only democracy in the Middle East and the strongest American ally in the Middle East.

It is odd, indeed.

It's worse than that. Name one other visitor that Obama has treated as shabbily as he treated Netanyahu. The only one I can think of that came close was the Dalai Lama. Even Professor Gates got his photo opportunity.

This is on a level as insulting as what our own Deputy Foreign Minister did to the Turkish ambassador to Israel in the wake of a blood libel shown on Turkish television. And it was totally undeserved. If I were Netanyahu, I would not go back to the White House again without assurances that I'd be treated as a head of state. Let Obama see how he can have a Middle East policy without dealing with Israel.

What happened this week was disgusting.

Israel Matzav: Krauthammer's take on Obama's treatment of Netanyahu

Israel Matzav: Being Jewish in Abu Dhabi

Being Jewish in Abu Dhabi

From an email I received today:

Last night we took a friend of ours for dinner. She's visiting family for two weeks for the holiday while on vacation from Abu Dabi. We had a a great time catching up but what she told us about the recent situation is Dubai was chilling.

"Oh, the Mossad assassination? It was highly, highly amusing - NOT!

"Once the Dubai police chief announced they would be instructing police to identify Jews entering in the country; let me tell you, everyone keeps a low profile.

"Oh, we're fine but it's pathetic - I mean, really, most of the Israeli's you meet in Dubai are as dark as the Ay-rabs. What are they going to do - arrest their own people?"


Israel Matzav: Being Jewish in Abu Dhabi

Israel Matzav: How to flood Europe with terrorists

How to flood Europe with terrorists

This ought to give pause to those of you who live in or travel in or through Europe. I guess that includes me, since most of my trips to Boston involve a change of planes in Europe.

Gates of Vienna reports on a Turkish espionage operation in which the Turkish secret service broke into German government offices in Berlin seeking to steal German passports and travel documents. The idea is to enable Turks to travel to Germany and from there to other European countries via the EU's open border policies among its members.

To date, Turkey is not known as a country that harbors a lot of terrorists, however.... In September, Turkey and Syria signed a pact to end the visa requirement for people traveling between their two countries, and just last month Turkey and Lebanon lifted their visa requirements as well.

Although it appears likely that Turkey will not be admitted to the EU, the theft of EU country travel documents would be an alternative means of allowing persons to cross from Turkey into the EU.

On top of that, just last week Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Turks living in Germany not to integrate, and on Wednesday he called for Turks living in Germany to be granted dual citizenship.

Turkey has always viewed itself as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Unfortunately, the steps it's taking now are likely to facilitate terrorists crossing that bridge into Europe.

And from there to the United States by way of all the countries whose citizens are not required to have visas to enter the US?

What could go wrong?

The picture at the top is Turkish demonstrators burning an Israeli flag in October 2009.

Don't forget to read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: How to flood Europe with terrorists

Israel Matzav: What Israel gives the US military

What Israel gives the US military

In the face of a concerted effort to paint Israel as a strategic liability to the United States, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold reminds us of some of the intelligence that Israel has supplied and continues to supply to the United States.

Netanyahu argued at AIPAC that Israel has actually helped save the lives of Americans. Historically, he is absolutely correct to paint Israel’s strategic partnership this way. In August 1966, the Mossad succeeded in recruiting an Iraqi Air Force pilot who flew his MiG-21 to Israel.

The intelligence on the MiG-21 was shared with Washington and would prove to be extremely valuable, considering the fact that the MiG-21 was the work-horse of the North Vietnamese Air Force in the years that followed.

Israel supplied the Americans with many other Soviet weapons systems, from 130mm artillery to T-72 tanks. Gen. George Keegan, the former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, was quoted in the New York Times on March 9, 1986, saying that the intelligence the U.S. received from Israel could not have been obtained if the U.S. had “five CIAs.”

Keegan went further: “The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence.”

Even after the Cold War, Israel continues to be a vital American strategic partner. In 2007, the U.S. ambassador to Israel revealed that Israeli technology was being used by the U.S. armed forces in Iraq to protect them from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that were responsible for most U.S. casualties in the Iraq War.

In short, Israel was helping save American lives in Iraq.

On March 15, 2007, the commander of EUCOM, Gen. Bantz Craddock, told the House Armed Services Committee that “in the Middle East, Israel is the U.S.’s closest ally that consistently and directly supports our interests.”

During his AIPAC speech, Netanyahu disclosed: “Israel shares with America everything” that it knows about their common enemies, especially intelligence.

Gold goes on to argue that because of Israel's strategic relationship with the United States, the Obama administration has a special responsibility to ensure that tensions between the United States and Israel don't spill over into that relationship.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: What Israel gives the US military

Israel Matzav: Video: Petraeus: 'I never said Israel endangering US troops'

Video: Petraeus: 'I never said Israel endangering US troops'

During a March 24, 2010 press conference at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Gen. David Petraeus responds to a question from the American Spectator's Philip Klein over the recent debate over his position on how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects the broader U.S. objectives in the region.

Guess what: Petraeus never said that Israel is endangering US troops.

If you note, he refers to the Perry piece (that's the blog) right at the beginning, and says that Perry got all three items wrong. And he mentions the Max Boot piece and says that Boot got it right. And he backs US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell (Perry claimed Petraeus wanted Mitchell replaced).

Let's go to the videotape.

So we can cross David Petraeus off the list of people out to get Israel.


Related post from Philip Klein (who asked the question in the video) here (Hat Tip: Lenny B).

Israel Matzav: Video: Petraeus: 'I never said Israel endangering US troops'

Israel Matzav: Naming names

Naming names

The Likud believes it knows who is behind the embarrassing timing of (notifications of) housing approvals that has made Prime Minister Netanyahu's life difficult over the last couple of weeks: Kadima consultant Eyal Arad.

In the Likud party the belief is growing that political strategist Eyal Arad, is behind the crisis with the U.S. Likud officials point out that Arad, who serves as a consultant to both the Kadima party and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, had all the capabilities and reasons to embarrass his nemesis Netanyahu.

And I will tell you that I think the Likud is wrong on this, because I don't believe Arad opposes Jewish building in 'east' Jerusalem.

I believe someone else - whose name I have never mentioned on this blog as far as I can recall - is responsible for the leaks. I'm not going to put his name in print because if I do and I am wrong I could subject myself to a libel suit (yes, they do things like that in this country and even public figures can win them). But the person I believe is behind the leaks is a Jerusalem city employee who I believe is ideologically opposed to Jewish housing in 'east' Jerusalem.

If any of you want to speculate, please do it in private email - I won't let comments through that name names.

Israel Matzav: Naming names

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' pushing Dayton out

'Palestinians' pushing Dayton out

I have discussed many times on this blog the so-called 'Dayton forces,' the 'Palestinians' trained by US General Keith Dayton to 'fight terror.' Ultimately, of course, there is little doubt that the Dayton forces will constitute the nucleus of a 'Palestinian army' and will be used to fight Israel.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) reports that the 'Palestinians' are now trying to move the process of converting the Dayton forces into an army along. The 'Palestinians' have marginalized Dayton, and are now trying to bring American training and supervision to an end altogether (of course, without ending American funding). The 'Palestinians' want to use their army as they see fit.

Fairly authoritative sources have noted that Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. Army general responsible for training Abu Mazen's Palestinian security force/army, has become increasingly marginalized by the Fatah government. Last summer his staff was reportedly no longer directly involved in training or planning and had been "expelled" from the Palestinian Authority (PA) "Strategic Planning Department." Then came news that American DynCorp International's contract for training and mentoring Palestinian forces had not been renewed. Now, another shoe has dropped.

According to Janes' Defence Weekly as reported by wire services, the PA has drafted a plan to end American training and supervision of the force entirely. "Dayton's role would be limited to bringing money and equipment for the security forces. He would not deal with PA operations or deployment," a Palestinian official was reported to have said. "Officials said the PA leadership...determined that U.S. intervention was hampering security force development and undermining the legitimacy of the regime."

We suspect that Lt. Gen. Dayton would retire rather than be in that position, but that would suit the PA as well. He has already done the job they wanted done. He's built their army and now they want to use it as they see fit.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinians' pushing Dayton out

Israel Matzav: The Orwellian 'peace process'

The Orwellian 'peace process'

George Orwell warned that the corruption of public life begins with the corruption of language. Nowhere is this more evident in today's public life than in the 'peace process' between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' Rick Richman looks at some of the distorted terms in which that 'process' is described.

“Peace process,” “peace partner,” “intifada,” “side by side in peace and security,” “accelerating” — these are all Orwellian terms designed to mask the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected a state in order to pursue the Orwellian “right of return” — an alleged “right” not given to the millions of other 20th century refugees (including the 820,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands), much less to those whose refugee status resulted from their decision to reject a two-state solution in 1948 and start a war instead.

Even the term “refugee” is Orwellian, since it has been deemed to mean not only the 700,000 people who left the area in 1948 (a large proportion of whom moved out to make way for the invading Arab armies) but also three generations of descendants who have never lived in Israel. It is a definition not applied in the case of any other refugees. The rest of the world’s refugees decrease each year as they are resettled in other countries; only in the case of the Palestinians does the number of “refugees” increase every year — by definition.

The Obama administration has not been in office long but has already made its own Orwellian contribution. Six weeks after he took office, Benjamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama and offered immediate negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions; Mahmoud Abbas rejected the offer. The administration is now trying to get Abbas to agree to “proximity talks” — the Orwellian description of a non-talk process in which the Palestinians employ George Mitchell to convey their demands for pre-negotiation concessions to the nearby State of Israel.

Read the whole thing. Rick forgot one other term that is also Orwellian: 'Palestinian.' And you all wonder why I use scare quotes so much....

Israel Matzav: The Orwellian 'peace process'

Israel Matzav: Australia likely to expel an Israeli diplomat

Australia likely to expel an Israeli diplomat

With Britain having expelled an Israeli diplomat, it now appears likely that Australia will follow suit.

Only Australia and Britain sent their own investigators to Israel to look into the forged passport allegations, and as a result it is expected that Canberra, too, will need to publish their findings in a report, and the Australian government will need to draw conclusions.

“This issue is now a rolling stone,” one official said of the British government’s decision on Tuesday to expel an Israeli diplomat, believed to be the Mossad’s representative in London.


Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith would not say on Wednesday, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio, whether Canberra would take action similar to that taken by the British government.

“To make any commentary or remarks about what the United Kingdom government has done would necessarily cut across our own investigation and what decisions we might make,” Smith said. “Suffice to say we are treating this matter very seriously. Israel understands that and when I receive the report, we’ll make judgments which will be in Australia’s national interest.”

There's also a roundup of British press reactions to the expulsion. The sin wasn't killing Mabhouh or using the passports - it was getting caught. Assuming the Mossad did it, I am sure they didn't intend to be caught and that they will make sure they are not caught the next time. Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Australia likely to expel an Israeli diplomat

Israel Matzav: Iran hoarding gasoline

Iran hoarding gasoline

Management consultant Booz Allen Hamilton reports that Iran has been hoarding gasoline (via Laura Rozen).

... The government has reduced the amount of gasoline rations (the amount of gasoline available for purchase per vehicle at subsidized prices) it allots to the population, in order to curb consumption. Gasoline rations were reduced from 100 to 80 liters per vehicle per month last fall, and to 60 liters per month beginning March 21 of this year.

Between the Iranian calendar year 1387 (March 2008 – March 2009) and 1388 (March 2009 – March 2010), gasoline consumption declined by just under five percent.

As a result of gasoline rationing, first implemented in June 2007, the percentage of the country’s domestic consumption supplied by imported gasoline has decreased. That figure has fallen from 40 percent in 1385 (March 2006 – March 2007) to between 32 and 36 percent in the past three years.

Increasing Gasoline Reserves

Between November 22, 2009 and February 19, 2010, Iran’s gasoline imports increased by over 1,500 percent in weight, compared to the same period last year. The government has been, in effect, hoarding gasoline.

Iran’s gasoline imports jumped 150 percent between 1387 (March 2008 – March 2009) and 1388 (March 2009 – March 2010).

The Iranian government says it increased its gasoline stocks by 58 percent in 1388 over the previous year. ...

The obvious takeaway here is that Iran is concerned about its gasoline supplies being cut off. I wonder why.

Israel Matzav: Iran hoarding gasoline

Israel Matzav: White House correspondents nail Gibbs on lack of Obama - Netanyahu pictures; UPDATED WITH VIDEO

White House correspondents nail Gibbs on lack of Obama - Netanyahu pictures; UPDATED WITH VIDEO

There's probably video of this somewhere, but I'm too lazy to find it right now. This exchange with White House Press Secretary Gibbs is priceless.

TAPPER: Robert, you mentioned that the president asked Netanyahu for confidence-building measures with the Palestinians, and you mentioned that they have areas of agreement and disagreement. Can you be any more specific on that?

GIBBS: No. Not right now.

TAPPER: When you -- when the president holds events and does not allow photographers in, it implies that the president is hiding something, is not -- is embarrassed --

GIBBS: I -- I --

TAPPER: -- is embarrassed about something --

GIBBS: I would --

TAPPER: -- is uncomfortable for photographs of that event to be made public…

GIBBS: I disagree with all three of those characterizations.

TAPPER: Well, what's your response to people who say that the way that the president has welcomed Netanyahu to the White House has been as if he's embarrassed to be seen with Netanyahu, with -- not even allowing one of (White House photographer Pete) Souza's photographs of him? And the --

GIBBS: Again, we were very comfortable with the coverage for last night's meeting. They had a --

TAPPER: There wasn't -- There was no coverage.


GIBBS: We were comfortable with that.

(Cross talk.)

CHIP REID, CBS NEWS: You’re pleased when there's no coverage?


REID: What -- you're pleased when there's no coverage?

GIBBS: We're pleased that -- we were pleased with the way we set up the coverage for last night. Not every -- I knows this comes as a great shock to both you and to me but not everything the president does is for the cameras and for the press.

(Cross talk.)

It's something that --

TAPPER: Do you see no contradiction at all when the secretary of State goes before AIPAC and says that the U.S. has no stronger, no closer ally than Israel and then the president won't even allow a photograph of him and the Israeli prime minister --

GIBBS: No, I don't -- I don't see a contradiction at all.

TAPPER: …as if he's embarrassed to be seen with him?

GIBBS: I'd -- that's your characterization, not mine.

TAPPER: Is the president concerned about photographs of him and Netanyahu being seen in the world?

GIBBS: No, we've -- I'd -- I forget Mark Knoller's statistics, but I think there have been many pictures of -- and --

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Never of a one-on-one --

MR. GIBBS: -- many --

CHUCK TODD: -- not a -- not a single one-on-one.

GIBBS: No, that's not true. There was --

TODD: There was just the trio pictures.

MR. GIBBS: There -- no, that's not true. There was a spray in the Oval Office with just the two of them.

TAPPER: That's right.

CHUCK TODD: But not -- not the last time -- this is two times in a row --

GIBBS: No, that's true. Right.



Now that I'm awake....

Here's video of that press briefing. It's a long video, but luckily this is almost the first item on it. There's an exchange that starts at the 2:00 mark and ends at the 7:30 mark when he moves on to financial reform. The reporter with an accent is of course an Israeli (I'm not sure who it is). He goes back to it briefly at the 9:00 mark and then at the 11:30 mark they get into the exchange above and the pictures, which lasts until 13:45. They go back to it again around 19:30 until about 21:15 and again from around 28:00 until around 30:00. They get back into Israel again at 32:30 or so and it lasts until 33:45.

Let's go to the videotape.

Gibbs looks a little uncomfortable, doesn't he?

Israel Matzav: White House correspondents nail Gibbs on lack of Obama - Netanyahu pictures; UPDATED WITH VIDEO

Israel Matzav: The return of Pallywood

The return of Pallywood

We have a new instance of Pallywood, where 'Palestinians' fake death and injury for which they blame Israel. The details are here.

Israel Matzav: The return of Pallywood

Love of the Land: Netanyahu Can Say "No"

Netanyahu Can Say "No"

Ephraim Inbar
Perspectives 103
25 March '10

EXECUTIVE SUMMERY: The Obama administration’s attempt to force Israel to accept the division of Jerusalem as a prerequisite for peace talks is astonishing. Despite the obvious reluctance to confront an American president, Prime Minister Netanyahu can effectively resist such American pressure on Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is the issue on which Netanyahu can best make a stand against Obama.

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

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

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

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

(Read full paper)

Love of the Land: Netanyahu Can Say "No"

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt's top archaeologist really hates Jews

Egypt's top archaeologist really hates Jews

Zahi Hawass is the general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. As Barry Rubin recently pointed out, he was quoted in the New York Times as saying "I love the Jews, they are our cousins!"

Which would be great, except that MEMRI translated an a TV interview he gave last year:

Zahi Hawass: "For 18 centuries, [the Jews] were dispersed throughout the world. They went to America and took control of its economy. They have a plan. Although they are few in number, they control the entire world."

Interviewer: "Dr. Hawass, you are a great historian and archaeologist. I would like to figure out the mystery of how 15 million people, 5 or 6 million of whom do not share this vile Jewish logic... With regard to Israel and Zionism – we are talking about 7 or 8 million. How is it possible that these 7 or 8 million have taken control of the entire world, and have convinced the world of their cause, while we, over one billion Muslims, cannot convince the world of our cause? How would you explain this from a historical perspective?"

Zahi Hawass: "The reason is that they are always united over a single view. They always move together, even if in the wrong direction. We, on the other hand, are divided. If even two Arab countries could be in agreement, our voice would be stronger. Look at the control they have over America and the media."

Interviewer: "So in your opinion, the secret lies in unity?"

Zahi Hawass: "Yes. It was unity that gave them this power..."

Interviewer: "You mean from a historical perspective?"

Zahi Hawass: "Of course."

In an earlier article in Asharq Al Awsat, he said " "The concept of killing women, children and elderly people... seems to run in the blood of the Jews of Palestine" and that "the only thing that the Jews have learned from history is methods of tyranny and torment - so much so that they have become artists in this field."

Well, this distinguished historian, who pretends to be a type of Indiana Jones on his website, now has another article in the pages of Al Awsat al Asharq, saying something really amazing:

What Israel is doing now is a violation of the rules and values, and the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Mosque of Bilal Ibn Rabah [The Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb] has no connection whatsoever with Jewish history, it is a product of and part of the culture and heritage of Palestine.

He must also think that the Talmud Yerushalmi is also "part of the culture and heritage of Palestine." After all, it is sometimes referred to as the "Palestinian Talmud."

I just wonder what kinds of mental gymnastics Hawass has to go through to claim that the burial places of the founders of Judaism - a fact admitted by Muslims - have "no connection whatsoever with Jewish history." It must hurt.

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt's top archaeologist really hates Jews

RubinReports: Obama Foreign Policy: One-Third of Its Term Done; Not A Hundreth of the Lesson Learned

Obama Foreign Policy: One-Third of Its Term Done; Not A Hundreth of the Lesson Learned

By Barry Rubin

Thinking about the Obama administration’s foreign policy makes me keep coming back to the following joke:

Three men are on a small plane, the pilot, a very important person (various names are used when people tell this joke), and a young hiker. The plane’s motor goes out and it is going to crash. The pilot tells the two passengers: Sorry but we only have one extra parachute.

The celebrity sneers, “I should get it because I’m the smartest person in the world.” He grabs a pack and jumps out of the plane.

“Sorry, son,” says the pilot. “We don’t have any more parachutes.”

“Oh, yes we do,” answers the teenager, “the smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack.”

If I were a cartoonist illustrating the joke in this case, I’d show a smug Obama jumping out of the plane with the backpack labeled, “U.S. national interests.”

This reflection is prompted today by a very predictable story—predicted by me repeatedly—that the administration is now further, and futilely, watering down projected sanctions on Iran in hope of getting Russian and Chinese support. Spring 2010 has arrived and after fifteen months higher sanctions, or indeed any credible U.S. deterrent, on Iran hasn’t.

Note that this is probably the last material effort the West will make to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Even if it takes Tehran a couple of years to do so, it's unlikely--given how long and hard it is to get even some symbollic sanctions adopted--that low administration will-power and international support will lead to anything else being done.

(Incidentally, the administration was supposed to be ready for this step, according toits own statements) in September and then December 2009. That it still hasn't worked out a broadly based plan is a sign of its incompetence. And remember this was a presidency which supposedly enjoyed strong international support.)

Some are saying that sanctions wouldn't deter Iran any way, therefore implying it doesn't matter if nothing much is done at this point. There is some truth in the first part of that statement but not in the second portion. By implementing strong sanctions, an effective president would be forging an international coalition to get tougher down the road, reduce the assets available to Iran in order to slow down their project, scare large elements of the Iranian elite so they would be more cautious even when they get nuclear arms, make the Gulf Arabs more likely to resist Iranian demands and influence, along with other benefits.

That the administration seems to understand none of these points is part of the problem. Here’s a statistic that might shock you: the Obama administration is almost precisely one-third of the way through its term. If it hasn’t learned how to understand the world by now, prospects aren’t good for the remainder of its term. The best hope of improvement--that the administration itself wakes up to the problem--is just about gone.

Let’s put it bluntly: The foreign policy of the Obama Administration, especially in the Middle East, is a disaster and a future of very dangerous problems is completely foreseeable. Indeed, all of this was pretty obvious before the last Election Day.

About the only point the administration and its supporters can claim--even the Guantanamo prison is still open!--is that this administration has made the United States more popular in the world. Actually, the polls don’t reflect that assertion to an impressive degree. Even when the numbers went up, they are Obama’s personal popularity, not that of the United States. And in key countries—Turkey and Pakistan come to mind but there are many others—the changes have not been big ones.

And even then, there is the point that popularity doesn’t get you anything material, as the lack of a consensus on Iran shows. In addition, the country which stands up for its interests is always going to be less popular in many places than the one which asks for nothing and gives away too much.

In the Middle East, U.S. policy is bad for Iranians who want to be free of their oppressive regime; for Turks who don’t want to live under an increasingly Islamist government; for Arabs who don’t want to face Islamist rule, growing internal instability because of a revolutionary challenge, or to bow down to Iranian power.

It is also bad for Israel, but that is scarcely an isolated case. Even if U.S.-Israel relations were perfect every other problem would still be there.

By systematically showing weakness, by favoring enemies over friends, the administration is destroying U.S. credibility in the region. By unintentionally encouraging enemies, the government is inspiring them to strike harder and faster. By unintentionally discouraging friends, the government is signalling them to shut up, back down, and even appease the radicals.

In Iran, the lack of White House support--despite formal statements about repression there--encourages the opposition to give up. In Turkey, the rivals of the regime believe that U.S. policy is on the side of their own government. In the Arabic-speaking world, the process of avoiding trouble with Tehran and its ally Damascus because the United States is not seen as a reliable protector is well under way.

Israel will make the small, relatively costless concessions necessary to maintain normal relations in the hope that this will satisfy an administration that just wants to look good. If the White House proves vindictive beyond rational considerations, Israel will ride that out. Of course, the more the U.S. government bashes Israel, the more it convinces the other side that it doesn’t need to make any concessions for peace. Indeed, it gives them an incentive to be more intransigent, since they know that U.S. frustration at the failure to make any progress in a peace process will be taken out on Israel.

If one were to continue this survey elsewhere in the world, the situation would be parallel if less dire. Central Europeans fear Russia; Latin Americans are annoyed at perceived U.S. favoritism toward Venezuela. China is angry about various U.S. actions and worried about holding so much of the American debt. Russia is almost openly contemptuous.

Yet the pretence continues in all too many places that things are going fine.

A hope that should not be ignored is that the action of radical forces themselves will force the administration to take notice and revise its behavior. No matter what the White House thinks, it doesn’t want to look like a failure having made a big mess, suffered losses, and been defeated.

The next best hope is that a wave of public criticism and congressional complaints—which many think will be intensified by the results of next November’s election—will force the administration to be more restrained. Obama has other items on his agenda, especially domestically, that he does not want to compromise by getting Congress angry with him. The most likely beneficiary of this process would be U.S.-Israel relations but it is unlikely to help a great deal on other issues.

The problem is that such factors can stop the White House from doing mistaken things but cannot force it to take productive steps. Perhaps the best one can hope for is the lack of any big and open crisis in the world, allowing the administration to muddle through and claim that it has kept the United States out of trouble. But some very big trouble is building up, have no doubt about that.

RubinReports: Obama Foreign Policy: One-Third of Its Term Done; Not A Hundreth of the Lesson Learned

Love of the Land: The myth and reality of Jerusalem (guest post)

The myth and reality of Jerusalem (guest post)

Elder of Ziyon
25 March '10

From Zvi, in reaction to my post:

Jerusalem, like the Jewish people and the Jewish state, is the subject of vast and sweeping myths and legends that deeply color how people view it.

Many of the common myths about the Jewish people are monster stories (though some are "positive" myths about business acumen or high intelligence), and when you read opinion pieces, you can often see the myths poking up like rocks at low tide from the sea of opinion - if the opinion pieces are not simply parroting or inventing more lies. There are an awful lot of people out there who find it almost impossible to see us for who we really are; they see, instead, creatures composed of the myths they have learned and the fear, hatred or rivalry that they feel. They are so trapped in their prejudices that it is very difficult for them to escape. It takes a personal, conscious effort, and most people who have deeply bought into the myths have too much invested to make that effort.

Jerusalem, too, is shrouded in veils of mythology. Many people simply do not see it as a living place. They see it as a Beacon or a Cause or a Goal or - for many world leaders - a Problem - not as a place in the real world where 760000 people live their lives. In Jerusalem today, people were born. Kids went to school and played in the streets. People eat lunch together. People worked out. People blogged. They took showers. They met the love of their life. They got drunk and had a fight with their landlords. They proposed. They got divorced. They slept and will wake up in the morning with a hangover. They are raising kids. They will watch the sunset tomorrow. They will drop their laptop by accident this week. They are survivors of suicide bombings and survivors of Auschwitz and survivors of Israel's war of independence and survivors of stroke. They watch television, they paint pictures, they order pizzas, they fix the bathroom plumbing and ultimately, they die.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The myth and reality of Jerusalem (guest post)

Love of the Land: Can the US Contain a Nuclear Iran?

Can the US Contain a Nuclear Iran?

Emily B. Landau
INSS Insight No. 171
24 March '10

With any hope of a new round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran now postponed until June, and the understanding that if at all, these will be weak and ineffective measures, Obama's diplomatic initiative is slowly grinding to a halt. Taking into account Iran's steady progress in developing fissible material, its work on producing a nuclear warhead, and its ever-improving missile capabilities -- together with low expectations that anything in this dynamic will impress upon the Obama administration the need to ultimately take military action -- part of the discourse on this topic is changing track. Instead of focusing on the stinging failure to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, some are arguing that it's now time to move on. They say that in the likely scenario that Iran becomes the next nuclear state, the US will simply resort to its ultimate strategy that has worked in other cases: it will contain a nuclear Iran.

But will the US indeed be able to contain a nuclear Iran? The answer to this question involves two levels: first, US credibility vis-à-vis Iran, and second, what the US will be seeking to contain. On both counts, there is little room for optimism.

Containment (and deterrence) of an adversary necessarily depend on a state's ability to transmit to the adversary credible threats of consequences for certain behavior on the part of the adversary. In this regard, the idea that the US can contain Iran cannot be divorced from what has transpired over the past year vis-à-vis the diplomatic initiative that Obama has pursued from his first day in office. The lesson that Iran has learned from the Obama administration is that while there has been no shortage of threats of consequences, there have been little to no actual consequences. Iran has seen that the US sets red lines and deadlines that in practice are virtually meaningless. The US has undermined its own ability to present a credible threat by saying outright that it has no intention of taking military action because it is overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it has clarified through its actions that broad multilateral agreement is more important than demonstrating resolve to Iran in the economic realm as well. Why should we assume that the US will be any more successful in projecting credibility toward Iran when this state becomes a nuclear state than it has been in the period before Iran crossed this line?

(Read full report)

Love of the Land: Can the US Contain a Nuclear Iran?

Love of the Land: Tel Aviv and AFP's Lousy Synedoche

Tel Aviv and AFP's Lousy Synedoche

Honest Reporting/Backspin
24 March '10

Synedoche is a figure of speech where a part is substituted for its whole. Common examples include:

"All hands on deck" ("all people on deck")
"Boots on the ground" ("soldiers on the ground")
"100 head of cattle" ("100 cows")
"The White House said . . ." ("The Executive Branch of the United States said . . .")

One common synedoche journalists and bloggers use is to refer to the capital city as the government of that country. You'd think the usage would be straightforward enough. Except when the city's not the capital.

Which brings us to AFP, which provides today's example of deliberately lousy usage:

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Tel Aviv and AFP's Lousy Synedoche
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