Saturday, 27 March 2010

Israel Matzav: Where is the press?

Where is the press?

Why wasn't the press allowed at President Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Let's go to the videotape.

That was apparently a Republican party video. Unfortunately, some of the comments on it at YouTube are appalling.

Israel Matzav: Where is the press?

Love of the Land: Bibi’s Predicament

Bibi’s Predicament

Noah Pollak
27 March '10

(While I'm sure I'll be posting additional thoughts on this, there is quite a consensus that this is not a passing phenomenon but something both dangerous and with malice. We're going to need to reach inside and find some real strengths we haven't had to use lately, a lot of effort, a lot of tefilot. Y.)

It should be clear by now that President Obama intends to pursue the “peace process” in the same way that he pursued health care — by ramming it down his opponent’s throat, in this case, Israel’s.

According to news reports, Obama has presented Bibi with a long list of demands, acquiescence to which would “resolve” the immediate Obama-created crisis and “allow” a move toward proximity talks (never mind that Israel has always been willing to hold direct talks). Obama thus places Bibi on the horns of an impossible dilemma: Both accepting and rejecting the demands carries immense costs.

Accepting the demands would be humiliating to Bibi. He would have to roll over and — in front of a global audience – expose his stomach to Obama like a defeated dog. This would surely please our thuggish president, but it would carry severe costs for Netanyahu: 1) He would be vilified in Israel and his domestic position imperiled. 2) Even if he wanted to roll, his government may not allow it; one or several of his coalition partners may abandon him. At a moment of critical national-security threats, the government might descend into crisis. Bibi knows that to allow this to happen in the decisive phase of the Iranian nuclear standoff would be supremely dangerous. And 3) Obama’s vindictive and outlandish behavior raises legitimate Israeli suspicions that the “proximity talks” would actually be a trap — and therefore Israel should reject the immediate demands as a way of forestalling the next round of bullying. Let us recall that just four months ago, the administration hailed the settlement freeze as an unprecedented concession; today Obama pretends that he never made the agreement.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Bibi’s Predicament

Love of the Land: Israel's Unwavering Guardsmen

Israel's Unwavering Guardsmen

Caroline Glick
26 March '10

As the local and international press corps converged on Jerusalem's Old City to cover the Arab riots at the Temple Mount two weeks ago, little mention was made of the fact that Jerusalem was not the only flashpoint. In Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israeli Arab rioters supported by far-left protesters stoned buses. Israeli Arabs firebombed motorists on Highway 443 and on the roads to Beersheba. In the North, cars were stoned.

These little-reported attacks are the consequence of one of the most dangerous emerging threats to Israel's national survival: the rapidly escalating radicalization of Israel's Arab citizens.

Over the past decade and at a frenzied pace since the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, acting at least partially at the direction of the Israeli Islamic Movement and with the active support of the far left, Israeli Arabs and Beduin have launched a massive assault on the state. The relevant national authorities including the courts, the state prosecution, the police, the IDF, the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Lands Authority and the Ministry of Interior have failed to defend against it.

Firebombing Jewish-owned vehicles is small potatoes in comparison to developments at the center of mass of the Israeli Arab onslaught: state land. Over the past decade, Israeli Arabs have seized millions of dunams of state land.

The dimensions of this phenomenon were spelled out in last year's State Comptroller's Report. While the local and international Left pillories Israel when the state tries to demolish a handful of the thousands of illegal Arab buildings in Jerusalem, what goes unmentioned is that by the end of 2007 there were more than 100,000 illegally built structures in Israel. The overwhelming majority were constructed on state land seized by Arab land thieves in the Negev and the Galilee. By the end of 2009, the number of illegal buildings grew to an estimated 150,000. The scope of the theft is so vast that the Comptroller's Report referred to it as a "national scourge."

(Read full article)

If you were inspired by the story of the New Israeli Guardsmen (Hashomer Hahadash) and would like to support their efforts, here is the information you need to contribute.

Love of the Land: Israel's Unwavering Guardsmen

Love of the Land: Biden's knee-slapper

Biden's knee-slapper

Soccer Dad
25 March '10

Stand up comedian: Vice President Biden (h/t The Muqata last week):

"I just got back from five days in the Middle East," Biden said. "I love to travel, but it's great to be back to a place where a boom in housing construction is actually a good thing," he said. Israel announced during Biden's visit that it had approved construction of 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem, a move which the U.S. called an "insult" due to its timing. (Haaretz)

Israelly Cool observed:

That's really funny, especially to those who have lost their homes and may stand to lose their homes in future thanks to the US pressure on Israel.

And then there's the larger issue of what the administration is trying to accomplish. Israel Matzav wrote two weeks ago:

Because Jerusalem rent is so expensive, young families are trying to move out of the city. But the places that are cheaper that would be attractive to ultra-Orthodox families who would like to be near Jerusalem - Kiryat Sefer and Beitar Ilit - are over the 'green line' where the government has implemented a 'settlement freeze.' So they are looking for solutions in Jerusalem.

People have to live somewhere. Unfortunately, most of the 'international community' would rather that we just leave.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Biden's knee-slapper

Love of the Land: Obama’s Humiliation of Israel May Only Be Getting Started

Obama’s Humiliation of Israel May Only Be Getting Started

Jonathan Tobin
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

After days of a news blackout about the details of the meeting on Tuesday between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Britain’s Telegraph has broken a story with details about what can only be described as an attempt to humiliate the Israeli.

According to the Telegraph’s account, the meeting began with the president presenting a list of 13 demands to Netanyahu. These included a complete freeze on Jewish building in eastern Jerusalem. When Netanyahu did not immediately accede to this diktat, Obama left him saying he was going to go eat dinner with his wife and daughters. Netanyahu and his party were left to wait for over an hour for Obama’s return. The paper claims that as Obama left, he told the prime minister to consider “the error of his ways.” Yediot Ahronot reported that Obama merely said, “I’m still around. Let me know if there is anything new.” A second brief meeting followed, which apparently consisted of the president restating his demands. As a punishment for Netanyahu’s failure to immediately bend to Obama’s ultimatum, there was no joint statement issued about the meeting and no press coverage of the visit. Friday’s Ma’ariv describes the scene thusly: “There is no humiliation exercise that the Americans did not try on the prime minister and his entourage. Bibi received in the White House the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea.”

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Obama wants an answer to his demands by Saturday so he can then present them to a meeting of the Arab League going on in Libya so that ineffectual body can endorse the so-called proximity talks in which the Palestinian Authority refuses to directly negotiate with Israel.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Obama’s Humiliation of Israel May Only Be Getting Started

Love of the Land: Analysis: The Legacy of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Analysis: The Legacy of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Jonathan Spyer
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

Wherever departed Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is now, he is presumably (I don't share this presumption. Y.) enjoying the considerable trouble the nature of his exit is causing his Israeli enemies.

The British decision to expel an unnamed Israeli diplomat following the conclusion of an investigation into the alleged use by Israel of cloned British passports in an assassination operation probably does not signal the onset of a general crisis in relations between London and Jerusalem. Still, it is not an everyday act, and the language used by the foreign secretary in announcing the expulsion was notably harsh.

This affair has so far traveled along similar lines to the last major set-to between the UK and Israel over the issue of Israeli intelligence activities overseas. In 1986, a number of forged British passports were discovered in an Israeli diplomatic pouch in West Germany. This incident was followed a year later by the apprehending of a Palestinian employed as a double agent by Israeli intelligence, together with a cache of weapons, in a northern English town. The result was the expulsion from Britain of Arie Regev, an official at the Israeli Embassy. Regev was widely regarded as the chief of the Mossad station in the UK.

Then, as now, the anger of senior British officials was real, not feigned. And the public revelations of the events meant that a response of a public nature was also inevitable. But the substantive response was a managed one. Cooperation between Israeli and British intelligence services suffered for a while. But channels of communication stayed open via Washington. Information of really crucial importance continued to be shared.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Analysis: The Legacy of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Love of the Land: Novel on exodus from 1956 Egypt and Hungary

Novel on exodus from 1956 Egypt and Hungary

Jewish immigrants from Port Said arriving
in Israel in 1958 (Jewish Agency)

Point of No Return
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

A new novel examines the parallel dislocation in two Jewish refugee stories of 1956, and their resettlement in Israel: one from Egypt and one from Hungary. Adam Kirsch reviews Haim Sabato's novel, 'From the Four Winds', in The Tablet:

It is billed as a work of fiction, but for its first few chapters, From the Four Winds, the new book by the Israeli rabbi and novelist Haim Sabato, reads like a memoir. Sabato begins conversationally, recounting his early memories as a young immigrant to Jerusalem in the late 1950s. In a kind of modern-day Exodus, the Jews of Egypt were expelled after the 1956 Sinai War, and they made their way to Israel by roundabout stages, passing through Italy and Greece along the way. When the Sabatos arrived, they were assigned to a housing project in a new neighborhood in West Jerusalem, which the novelist refers to by its traditional name of Beit Mazmil, though by the time he lived there it had already been renamed Kiryat HaYovel.

The hardships of the Mizrahi immigrants to Israel are more widely known today than they once were, though for American Jews, who are mostly of Ashkenazi descent, the early history of the Jewish state is still more often viewed through the eyes of Eastern European pioneers. Sabato introduces us to this hardscrabble immigrants’ world through the eyes of the child he then was, never certain that he really understood the folkways of his new country. For instance, he is bewildered by the enthusiasm of his fellow second-graders, mostly native Israelis, who are planning their Purim costumes:

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Novel on exodus from 1956 Egypt and Hungary

Love of the Land: UN propagates Israeli organ theft allegation

UN propagates Israeli organ theft allegation

Just Journalism
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

The International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), a Libyan-founded non-governmental organization, has submitted a document to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council--the body that commissioned the Goldstone Report, which alleged Israel was guilty of war crimes in Gaza--to investigate allegations that 'Israeli physicians, Medical Centres, rabbis and the Israeli army' may be stealing the organs of 'dead, kidnapped and killed' Palestinians for sale on the black market. The document has been circulated by the Human Rights Council as Agenda item 7 for the body’s thirteenth session (A/HRC/13/NGO/23), and although it has been covered by the Jerusalem Post and Canada’s National Post, no British media outlet has so far reported on it.

EAFORD was accredited as an NGO by the UN in 1981, and its focus, judging by its website and publications, is on equating Zionism with racism and South African apartheid.

Its present submission had been screened for publication by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a post currently held by Navanethem Pillay, and granted the certified logo of the United Nations.

By way of introduction, EAFORD accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing and massacres' against the Palestinians, 'occupy[ing] the rest of Palestine,' creating 'largest open-air prison in the world,' whose 'consequences amount to an act of siege and economic genocide.'

EAFORD then proceeds to state the following:

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: UN propagates Israeli organ theft allegation

Love of the Land: Rachel Corrie Wasn’t the Only ISM Member Playing Chicken with a Bulldozer That Day

Rachel Corrie Wasn’t the Only ISM Member Playing Chicken with a Bulldozer That Day

Lenny Ben-David
25 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

At least two of her colleagues had placed themselves under the tractor's maw on that day in 2003. Russian roulette was apparently the group's strategy.

G-d, sometimes we Israelis are idiots. Leave aside the colossal fashla (you call it a snafu) of the ill-timed announcement of the expansion of the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood that sent the Obama administration into a hissy fit. What we’re doing with the latest “lawfare” case against Israel, the trial brought by Rachel Corrie’s parents, is another beaut.

In March 2003, a young American woman named Rachel Corrie was crushed and killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza. And now her parents are in Israel, suing Israel. Last week, the Israeli newspaper Yediot portrayed her as a saintly martyr and featured a false photo of the incident, taken at a different time and with a different bulldozer. The anchor of Israel Radio’s morning commute show rebuked Israel’s actions, and the Israeli YES cable network presented Rachel, a two-hour paean to Corrie and an indictment of Israel.

We’re nuts.

We overlook the fact that Corrie’s death took place in the midst of the “intifada” terrorist onslaught against Israel and that she was working for a Palestinian-led organization as the first line of defense against Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield to stop terrorist suicide bombers. Just ten days before Corrie’s death, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa, a few miles from the courthouse where the Corrie parents are suing Israel. Seventeen Israelis died in the attack, many of them teenagers.

Today, the parents of the dead are outraged by the attention Rachel Corrie is getting and by the chutzpah of the Corries embracing Israeli courts to rail against the country Rachel Corrie loathed.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Rachel Corrie Wasn’t the Only ISM Member Playing Chicken with a Bulldozer That Day

Love of the Land: Obama’s Disgraceful Conduct Toward Israel

Obama’s Disgraceful Conduct Toward Israel

P. David Hornik
26 March '10
Posted before Shabbat

On Wednesday night in Washington Israeli and American officials worked feverishly—but failed—to produce a document stating Israel’s commitments regarding proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority. The U.S. was reportedly supposed to take the document to the Palestinians and then to the Arab League meeting in Tripoli, Libya, this weekend.

Days earlier Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had outlined such commitments in a letter to secretary of state Hillary Clinton. It was deemed insufficient and, in Washington, President Barack Obama sent Netanyahu and his accompanying officials back to the drawing board. According to one report, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman advised Netanyahu not to sign any such document that night, and to wait to return home and discuss the matter with the Israeli inner cabinet.

The commitments Obama seeks are variously reported to be: some sort of Israeli undertaking about a construction moratorium in the West Bank (where one is already in place) and East Jerusalem; a promise to engage in such final-status issues as refugees, borders, and Jerusalem in the proximity talks; and “gestures” to the Palestinian Authority such as the removal of additional checkpoints and the freeing of Palestinian security prisoners.

The pressures Obama directed at Netanyahu were severe, in one account even inducing a “panic” reaction in the Israeli leader. The total media blackout that accompanied their meeting led the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl to comment that “Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arm’s length.” Obama was further riled by news about an approval to build 20 apartments for Jews in a compound in East Jerusalem owned by an American Jewish millionaire since 1985—situated in a mostly-Arab neighborhood.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Obama’s Disgraceful Conduct Toward Israel

RubinReports: Some Truths About America’s Anti-Racist History: Portraying the Japanese in World War Two Films

Some Truths About America’s Anti-Racist History: Portraying the Japanese in World War Two Films

By Barry Rubin

This year, my son—who is attending the fourth grade at an American public school—has been subjected to an unending barrage of anti-Americanism, especially around the issue of racism. For some reason the main focus is alleged American racism toward the Japanese in World War Two. In addition, literally not a single positive word has been spoken about America during the entire school year.

At the same time, I have been watching a number of American films about the Pacific theatre during World War Two, not seeking them out but merely because they have been shown on television. The controversy over Tom Hanks’s statement and his new series on that war has added to the interest.

One thing very clear to me is that American films about the Pacific theatre are remarkably free of vicious or “racialist” incitement. On the contrary, it is remarkable how restrained they are. In many films that focus on combat—say, “Wake Island” or “They Were Expendable,” among them--there little talk about the Japanese at all, much less any demonizing of them. They are an enemy who is being fought and, if possible, killed, but there is no racialist message.

Another film, “Bataan,” (1943) showsout Americans and Filipinos fighting together in the early days of the war. The two allies are seen interacting on a basis of equality. Remember that Japanese are not a race and World War Two American stereotypes of other Asians—especially Filipinos and Chinese—are quite sympathetic. About the only characterization of the Japanese in this film is that while hated as foes the American soldiers describe them as very brave and skilled soldiers.

In “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo,” about the first American air raid on Japan, led by Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, there is one remarkable exchange in which a flier says that Americans should not be prejudiced against the Japanese people as a whole. He says that his family employed a Japanese gardener who was a pretty nice guy. While today this might be portrayed as patronizing, the context was that Japanese were human beings like everyone else.

Incidentally, when the plane crews crash land in China, their lives are saved by heroic Chinese, shown as defending themselves against Japanese aggression. They risk their own lives and give of their few possessions to help save Americans. Asians are thus portrayed very favorably.

If you want to see a film that expresses the American self-conception at the time, try "The Human Comedy" (1943), written by the Armenian-American Californian William Saroyan. Many now consider the film embarrassingly sentimental and corny. But it is actually quite noble. (I'd love to see this film being shown as representative of how Americans thought--or at least the standard they set for themselves--during those days.

Mickey Rooney plays a boy working at the telegraph office in a California town who watches his brother go off to war. But he has to deliver telegrams telling families that their sons are killed, wounded, or missing. There is a moving scene when he has to do so to a Mexican-American family (treated very sympathetically) and a truly remarkable one when his boss is driving through the park past all the different ethnic versions of July 4 celebrations, pointing them out as examples of American pluralism. I believe that in a scene of American soldiers heading east on a troop train, there are a couple of Asian-Americans in uniform, though no one remarks on the fact. This film should be mandatory viewing for public school students today to know that their ancestors weren’t neo-Nazi skinheads.

Especially interesting is the 1944 film, “Destination Tokyo.” It’s about an American submarine crew given a mission to sneak into Tokyo Bay with a Japanese-speaking American officer to gather intelligence for the raid mentioned above. So how did this wartime movie, chosen pretty much at random, deal with the Japanese? Is it an example of American racism and chauvinism, like schoolkids are taught nowadays?

There are two scenes in which the Japanese come up and they are both pretty remarkable. Remember the war was at its height when this film was made. In the first scene, the submarine is passing through the Aleutian islands when it is attacked by two Japanese planes. It shoots both of them down—perhaps an unreasonable amount of heroics but necessary to the plot since the mission would have to be cancelled if they are spotted.

One of the Japanese pilots parachutes and the captain orders him to be taken aboard for questioning. I think this is most unrealistic since they couldn’t go on a long mission with a Japanese officer on board. If it had happened in real life, they probably would have done nothing and he would have been dead of hypothermia in those icy waters within a few minutes.

But following orders, Mike, one of the most popular crew members, tries to pull him aboard. The pilot stabs him to death and is immediately machinegunned. This is not unrealistic since Japanese soldiers—especially officers—rarely surrendered and did use such tactics on many occasions.

At any rate, this could have been the basis for a real hate-Japanese diatribe. Instead, though, the speeches made by a crew member and by the captain (played by Cary Grant) to the crew are remarkable.

One crewman, who has earlier made clear his ethnic pride in being a Greek, to which he then proudly adds, "Greek American," (in the kind of American pluralist statement so common in wartime files), doesn’t attend the funeral. The other crew members are angry at him but he explains that he doesn’t think he’s earned the right to do so because he hasn’t made any contribution to avenging those already dead. Back in Greece, he recounts, his uncle, a professor, was killed by the Nazis:

“Because he had brains. Because everybody’s got to be their slave and those who won’t, like my uncle, they kill….So I don’t forget my uncle. I read where an American flier gets killed and I think of my uncle. I see pictures of little Chinese kids getting bombed and I think of my uncle. I hear about a Russian guerrilla getting hanged and I think about my uncle. And I see Mike lying in there dead from a Jap killer and I think of my uncle.”

Again, many would see this as contrived and mawkish but it is hardly a chauvinistic American rant. His inclusion of the Chinese, who like the Japanese are Asians, makes it pretty PC by any standards. It also points out once again the very strong pro-Chinese feeling in the United States at the time. Overall, it wasn't a bad way to explain the war in both terms of freedom and human connections.

A short time later, the captain says:

“Mike was with me on my first patrol. I was his friend. I know his family….I remember Mike’s pride when he bought his first roller skates for his little five-year-old boy….Well that Jap got a present, too, when he was five, a dagger….The Japs have a ceremony that goes with it….At thirteen he can put a machine-gun together blindfolded . So as I see it, that Jap was started on the road twenty years ago to putting a knife in Mike’s back. There are lots of Mikes dying now, and lots more will die. Until we put a stop to a system that puts knives in the hands of five-year-old children. You know, if Mike were here to put it into words right now that’s just about what he died for: more roller-skates in this world, including some for the next generation of Japanese kids because that’s the kind of a man Mike was.”

This isn’t a sophisticated lecture on the samurai class. The machine-gun part is silly, of course. But what does the speech say? That a terrible system in Japan has created people who inevitably act in a certain way and that this system must be democratized, not only for America’s sake but for that of the Japanese as well so that they can enjoy a better life.

This is a remarkable prophecy of the post-war American occupation policy and successful transformation of Japan. Such sentiments are the opposite of a racist interpretation, which sees such behavior as innate and certainly doesn’t care about the lives of the enemy. One can’t help thinking of parallels in a system which teaches children to become suicide bombers today, programming them to hate and to want to commit genocide.

Yet there is even more here. While racism--mainly against those of African descent--was long a terrible feature of American life, there are powerful counter-ideas also in American history. Americans believed that people were not merely the outcome of innate, genetic determinism. What better description of the American world view is there to say that a peasant, the descendant of generations of peasants, could get off the boat and become a prosperous and respected citizen? And there would be little or no prejudice against the children of those immigrants because of their background.

True, each new wave of immigrants was hazed, and those from Africa faced by far the longest and greatest mistreatment. Yet ultimately it was because racism was contrary to the American system and world view that it could not survive.

Returning to the film, in a later scene, the captain asks the intelligence officer about Japanese society. While the conversation may not be accurate, it is also explicitly anti-racialist. The officer explains that there was a democratic movement in Japan but the leaders were assassinated. The people have no power and are downtrodden, “No unions, no free press, nothing.” Most of them “believe what they’re told. They’ve been sold a swindle and they accept it.” it is explained that Japanese people live in appalling poverty in a way that stirs sympathy for them and that “females are useful there only to work and have children.”

Again, it is not that the Japanese are innately evil or inferior but merely that the people have been deprived of rights. They, too, are victims. There were heroic Japanese who wanted democracy but they were repressed. Note also that the oppression of women is an important issue, like today, in the mix which is said to make for an authoritarian society.

Of course, this is the Hollywood version of events, not what was going on in the field. But that’s precisely the point. This was the kind of thing Americans in their millions were being told: hate the Japanese as an enemy but not as a people or as a “race.” And, again, a very clear differentiation was being made among Asians based on nationality.

I’m not saying that these films are great art necessarily or accurate about how the war was fought. But inasmuch as there is an ideological statement in them, it is something Americans today can be proud of and it is also evidence that the rewriting of American history into a series of hate crimes is a lie.

RubinReports: Some Truths About America’s Anti-Racist History: Portraying the Japanese in World War Two Films

RubinReports: Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?

Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?

As things heat up in the Middle East, with major developments daily, please be subscriber 9,740

By Barry Rubin

Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?

Up to now my view has been that the U.S. government didn’t want a crisis but merely sought to get indirect negotiations going between Israel and Palestinians in order to look good.

Even assuming this limited goal, the technique was to keep getting concessions from Israel without asking the PA to do or give anything has been foolish, but at least it was a generally rational strategy.

But now it has become reasonable to ask whether the Obama White House is running amuck on Israel, whether it is pushing friction so far out of proportion that it is starting to seem a vendetta based on hostility and ideology. And if that's true, there is little Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any Israeli leader can do to fix the problem.

A partial explanation of such behavior can be called, to borrow a phrase from the health law debate, a "single-payer option" as its Middle East strategy. That is, the administration seems to envision Israel paying for everything: supposedly to get the Palestinian Authority (PA) to talks, do away with any Islamist desire to carry out terrorism or revolution, keep Iraq quiet, make Afghanistan stable, and solve just about any other global problem.

What makes this U.S. tactic even more absurd is doing so at the very moment when it is coddling Syria and losing the battle for anything but the most minimal sanctions on Iran.

During his visit to Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to defuse the tension. His partners in government, we should never forget, are Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labour Party, and President Shimon Peres, who has done more to promote Middle East peace than any other living Israeli leader.

But according to reliable sources, Obama went out of his way to be personally hostile, treating Netanyahu like some colonial minion who could be ordered around.

It is not entirely clear what demands the White House has made on Israel. Those most often mentioned are the release of more Palestinian prisoners, the permanent end of construction in the West Bank, and the permanent end to construction in parts of Jerusalem over the pre-1967 border.

Palestinian prisoners: It is ironic, given U.S. statements that Israel must "prove" its commitment to peace, that there have been so many prisoner releases in the past. Thus, Washington is not giving Israel credit for these. Moreover, many of those arrested have committed terrorism against Israeli civilians in the past and may well do so in future. Finally, releasing prisoners will not bring any gratitude from the PA or increased willingness to negotiate. If such a release is forced, the PA will merely assume that it doesn't matter if Palestinians attrack or kill Israelis because Washington will secure the release of those captured in future without the PA having to do anything.

West Bank and Jerusalem Construction: Only five months ago, the U.S. government agreed to a temporary halt to construction and Israel's government agreed. If this did not prove Israel's commitment to peace--and the White House broke the deal--why should Israel assume that it will get any credit for this step either? What is its incentive for such a big concession? Such construction should give the PA an incentive to make a deal faster. But, again, if this goal is achieved by U.S. pressure, why shouldn't the PA presume that all settlements will be removed in future by a similar mechanism without its having to make full peace and any concessions?

I won't take space here to restate all the arguments regarding Israel's claims to areas of Jerusalem under Jordanian rule before 1967. Note that President Clinton, in the Camp David and Clinton plan proposals in 2000, supported Israeli rule over much--though definitely not all--of east Jerusalem.
Why should the administration believe that it can press Israel to make big concessions, a: with no PA concessions; b. with its U.S. ally showing itself so unreliable that it is unlikely to credit Israel with concessions it does make or to keep agreements based on Israeli concessions; and c. at a time when the U.S. government is not workin very hard to stop Iran's nuclear weapons campaign?

The one answer the administration gives is so factually inaccurate as to call into question--if I may coin a phrase--its analytical sanity.

Judging from the evidence, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC speech, the administration thinks it can force Israel's government to give in because it knows better what Israelis want than do Netanyahu, Barak, and Peres.

Actually, a poll by the highly respected Smith Research company for the Jerusalem Post, found that only 9 percent of Israeli Jews considered the administration pro-Israel, while 48 percent said it was more pro-Palestinian. To understand these figures, you have to know that most Israelis are very reluctant to say anything critical of the United States, out of genuine respect, concern not to damage relations, and speaking on the basis of their hopes.

So does the administration want to resolve this issue or to break Israel's willpower? Is it going to keep piling on demands in hope of giving the PA so much that it will agree to talk about getting itself even more unilateral Israeli concessions? Is the goal to overthrow Netanyahu—which isn’t going to happen—or turn him into a servant who will follow orders in future—which also isn’t going to happen?

Doesn’t this U.S. government understand that if it proves itself hostile that will destroy any incentive Israel has to enter negotiations with Obama as the mediator? If he's this much acting solely based on PA interests now, does any Israeli government want to make him the arbitor of the country's future, deciding on its borders, security guarantees, and other existential issues? Of course not.

By the same token, can't he comprehend that he is giving the PA every incentive to keep raising the price, especially since it doesn't want to talk any way?

Is there no real sense--probably not--that if this administration undermines Israel's trust in Washington it will push the whole country further to the right. If the U.S. government politely asks to stop building in east Jerusalem in exchange for some tangible benefit and for a limited time, lots of Israelis would be willing to agree. But if this happens in a framework of enmity and threat, with the "reward" being no benefit and even more concessions to follow, even doves will grow sharp beaks.

It seems as if the Obama Administration has chosen just one country in the world to try to pressure and intimidate. And it has picked the worst possible target in this respect, both because of how Israelis think and also given very strong domestic U.S. support for Israel (especially strong in Congress).

Won’t it see that if it bashes Israel while ignoring the PA’s commemoration of a major square in honor of a terrorist who murdered a score of Israeli civilians, with Clinton even claiming this was done by Hamas and not the PA? And as the administration betrays Israel’s main priority—failing to put serious pressure on Iran to stop building nuclear weapons—why should Israel want to do big favors and take big risks for this president?

Finally, since this administration has already unilaterally abrogated two major U.S. promises—the previous president’s recognition that settlement blocs could be absorbed by Israel as part of a peace agreement, and the Obama administration’s own pledge to let Israel build in east Jerusalem if it stopped on the West Bank—why should it put its faith in some new set of promises?

So the Obama Administration will have to decide, and do so in the coming days.

Does it want to try to get some limited concessions from Israel to use as capital in trying to get talks started, using these to brag--futilely, of course--to Arabs and Muslims how they should be nicer to the administration in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Or does it want to live up to the negative stereotypes held by its worst enemies while simultaneously committing political suicide and destroying U.S. credibility in the Middle East. We will know the answer pretty soon.

RubinReports: Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?

Israel Matzav: Obama in Israeli television interview: 'Let them eat cornflakes'

Obama in Israeli television interview: 'Let them eat cornflakes'

Latma becomes the first Israeli television network to interview President Obama, and we have the full interview, so let's go to the videotape.


Israel Matzav: Obama in Israeli television interview: 'Let them eat cornflakes'

Israel Matzav: Why has Obama treated Bibi so rudely?

Why has Obama treated Bibi so rudely?

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting post on why President Obama treated Prime Minister Netanyahu so rudely at the White House this past week. This is Glenn's theory (Hat Tip: Memeorandum):

But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.

It's an interesting thought, but I really doubt it would work. Since I'm convinced at this point that there is no way in the world that Obama will attack Iran, I'd be happy at this point if Obama would just stand down and let the IAF do the job. But if he thinks that we're going to attack Iran and they won't retaliate against the US, I'm afraid he's fooling himself.

I also wonder whether an attempt by Obama to disassociate himself from an Israeli attack will also mean going along with all the inevitable UN condemnations, cutting off arms sales to Israel (to the extent not cut off already), etc.

William Jacobson (who sends me lots of readers by the way - thanks!) has some interesting thoughts on why Americans have been very affected by the way Obama treated Netanyahu (yes, fellow Israelis, this has been big news in the US too).

Part of it certainly is that the foreign leader in question was the leader of Israel, which is tremendously popular with Americans. In Israel the clear majority of Americans see a democratic nation surrounded by implacable enemies who also are our enemies, doing what it takes to survive and thrive. In so many historical, religious and political ways Israel is our kindred spirit, more than just one among many nations.

But that cannot explain the intensity of the reaction. Obama has shown disrespect for our British friends, with whom we share an even more intense historical relationship. There are very, very few countries in the world whose soldiers would die for us, and Britain is one of those countries. Yet the reaction to Obama's treatment of Britain has been muted.

I think the reaction to Obama's treatment of Bibi Netanyahu hits home because it was so personal in nature, and because it epitomized how the American people have been treated by Obama and the Democrats, with arrogance and disdain.

Hmmm. I wonder how many Jewish Democrats have been woken up by this past week. But I'm glad to hear that so many Americans feel all warm and fuzzy about Israel.

I spent the last day or so in Samaria in what some of you might call a 'settlement.' This is the first live post I've done since about 2:00 Friday afternoon, so for those of you who are wondering where your comments disappeared to, they should be up shortly.

Israel Matzav: Why has Obama treated Bibi so rudely?

Israel Matzav: Makan attacked for coming to Israel

Makan attacked for coming to Israel

Kaspian Makan, the fiancee of Iranian martyr Neda Soltan, is under attack at PBS's Tehran Bureau page for coming to Israel (that's him pictured with President Shimon Peres).

It is not clear why Makan chose to journey to Israel, let alone meet with a top Israeli power. Neda's mother, Hajar Rostami Motlagh, has made public her futile attempts to dissuade her once-to-be son in law. According to a report, she told him, "If Neda were alive, she would not have gone to Israel. I don't see why you should." Motlagh accused Makan of "misusing Neda's name" and "wrongly calling himself a representative of the Iranian nation." She added, "Makan had no right in doing so... and I told him you ruined your image by going to Israel as Israel does not have any respect (or place) among Iranians....please let Neda's soul be at peace."

Makan introduced himself to Peres as a representative of the Iranian nation. For a man so silent on political and post-election issues, it is not clear how he could establish himself as ambassador to the entire Iranian nation. Especially while visiting Israel, a move seemingly designed to incite his compatriots given the sensitivity to Israel held by many Iranians, both reformist and hardliner. Until Makan comes out and explains his motives and the details of his trip to Israel, a great many important questions about his trip, not to mention its potential consequences, remain unanswered.

A few non-Jewish Iranians daring to travel to Israel returned to face IRI's wrath, most notably the famous blogger Hossein Derakhshan. While Derakhshan did not meet Shimon Peres or other ranking Israelis, it is widely believed that his trip to Israel was one of the factors behind his detention upon his return to Iran. He has been in prison without a court hearing ever since, and according to his brother, "Our family does not even know of any official charge against him."

Knowing the efforts of the Iranian government to cast doubt over Neda's death, it is hard to believe that Makan went to Israel to raise positive publicity for the Iranian Green Movement, or on behalf of the Iranian people. One can only assume that he was aware of two facts: first, that Neda's name and image are internationally iconic for opposition movement. Second, Israel is not a good place to discuss issues of freedom and human right abuses occurring in Iran unless you are siding with the enemy of your own country. Taking these points into account, the task of deciphering a conceivable explanation for what impelled Makan to Israel, except for perhaps the insanity of hubris, becomes ever more difficult.

Read the whole thing.

So who is more representative of how the Green's feel about Israel? Makan or his detractors?

Israel Matzav: Makan attacked for coming to Israel

Israel Matzav: Who holds the moral high ground?

Who holds the moral high ground?

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

John Hinderaker tears apart an AP 'analysis' on Israel and the 'Palestinians' here. It's worth taking the time to read.

Israel Matzav: Who holds the moral high ground?
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