Posts tagged ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’

May 28, 2011

Saturday Morning Video: Benjamin Netanyahu Before U.S. Congress

by Vince

Drink your morning coffee, sit back, do your Saturday cleaning, and enjoy Bibi’s pep talk to the U.S. Congress (which gave him 27 standing ovations compared to Obama’s 25 before him. When was the last time this happened and it was labeled anything else but unpatriotic and inciting treason?)

Also, when it’s done, check out this map and see how difficult it would be to establish a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

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May 27, 2011

Obama, Netanyahu, and 2012

by Vince

Obama’s non-original stance on Israel/Palestine has sent shockwaves through the wingnut regions of America. This may not seem that big of a deal to the rationally minded, but this may hurt Obama’s 2012 campaign:

Billionaire financier Haim Saban told CNBC last night that Obama hasn’t done enough to show support for Israel. He also said that he has no plans to contribute to the president’s campaign …

There have been reports that Obama is losing Jewish support after his clash with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week, but this development is the most significant so far. If a key donor like Saban has decided to break with the president, then there are likely others who will follow suit.

Steve Rosen, director of the Washington office of the Middle East Forum, and a former AIPAC official, said that this is part of a trend of Democrats rejecting Obama’s policy toward Israel. “It’s not happening in isolation. It’s happening in a context in which Harry Reid broke with the president in the last two days,” Rosen told me. “I think that Saban is another step in that direction.”

May 26, 2011

What Exactly Are The 1967 Borders?

by Vince

They are mentioned over and over in the media cycle. We might as brush up on the details:

In the end, Obama’s mentioning of returning to 1967 borders shouldn’t be such a bloody surprise. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu issued a joint statement last year agreeing on this:

The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.

In the end, it is questionable if Bibi even wants peace. His refusal to move and thus drag his feet angers Palestinians, thus creating reason for him not to move.

May 26, 2011

The Double Standard When Loving Israel

by Vince

Glenn Greenwald explains:

…the same faction that spent the last decade demanding fealty to the Commander-in-Chief in a Time of War upon pain of being accused of a lack of patriotism (or worse) now openly sides with a foreign leader over their own President.  The U.S. Congress humiliates itself by expressing greater admiration for and loyalty to this foreign leader than their own country’s.  And because this is all about Israel, few will find this spectacle strange, or at least will be willing to say so.

In one sense, the pro-Netanyahu reaction of the GOP is worse, since they spent the last decade accusing anyone who sided with foreign countries over their Commander-in-Chief of being subversive, but in another sense the Democratic reaction is worse, since the President’s own party — especially its leadership — would never, ever publicly criticize him this way on any foreign policy issue other than Israel.  In any event, please remember that you must not speak of the immense power of the Israel Lobby lest you reveal yourself to be a conspiratorial hatemonger.  I hope that’s clear.

This is mind boggling.

May 24, 2011

Fearing Change

by Vince

“The reality, Mr. President, is that change – thanks to which you were elected, and in which you believe – is the thing that Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular fear most. The reality is that the State of Israel has become accustomed to the present situation and does not recognize itself without it. Israel has existed longer with the occupation than without it; it has existed for most of its years with no border and is deathly afraid of change,” – Merav Michaeli.

Hitting the nail on the head.

May 24, 2011

China Bests Israel In Diplomatic Discourse

by Vince

Think about how Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to Barack Obama in comparison to Hu Jintao of China. Who would of thought China would act more civil than Israel? Then again, China has many skeletons in (and outside of) it’s closet (as does Israel):

Think of this contrast: when China’s Hu Jintao came to Washington for a state visit, each of the countries had profound disagreements with the other. (Chinese leadershate the U.S. policy of continued arms sales to Taiwan, much more so than Netanyahu could sanely disagree with any part of Obama’s speech.) Neither China nor America is remotely as dependent on the other as Israel is on the United States. Yet Obama and Hu were careful to be as respectful as possible, especially in public, while addressing the disagreements. High-handed and openly contemptuous behavior like Netanyahu’s would have seemed hostile and idiotic from either side. As it is from him.

May 23, 2011

To Engage or Not Engage With Terrorists, Ctd.

by Vince

Peter Kirsanow asks another good slew of questions in related to this discussion.

May 23, 2011

To Engage or Not To Engage With Terrorists

by Vince

Many will say that there is little rational reason for dealing with Hamas. They are a terrorist group that cannot be reasoned with when it comes to a two-state solution for Palestine/Israel. The question I have is this: how much of American/Israeli behavior or ideology has polarized this issue and turned many to extremist stances? In a way, Benjamin Netayanhu needs Hamas to continue to act like lunatics to prop up his stance that there is no need for a two state solution. Land grabs by Israel do much to anger, frustrate, and radicalize Palestinians:

Of course Hamas is a problem, and I have no sympathy either for its terror tactics or for the rabid anti-Semitism and primitive, fundamentalist language of its charter. But research shows that peace can never be achieved by leaving out a major player. Whether we like it or not, Hamas is an integral part of Palestinian society.

The smart way to deal with Hamas is to force it to change its position by strengthening Fatah’s moderate line. Hamas is already under great pressure because of the ongoing changes in the Arab world: they may soon be bereft of any power-base outside the Palestinian territories, hence their hurry for reconciliation with Fatah.

International recognition of Palestine will be credited to Fatah; and if Israel dramatically expands the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, this will further convince Palestinians, that Hamas’ hard-line policies are opposed to their interests.

The problem is that Netanyahu has no motivation to maneuver Hamas into moderation, because an extremist Hamas is really Netanyahu’s best friend. A Hamas that moderates its stance and takes the way of the IRA from a terror organization to a legitimate party in a peace process is an existential threat to Netanyahu’s political future. Without a hard-line Hamas, he would be left with no case against a Palestinian state, and he would have to face open conflict with the hard-line right-wingers in his own party and in his coalition in actual moves towards peace.

Expect Netanyahu to do everything to torpedo recognition of Palestine; expect him to try to weaken Fatah, Abu Mazen and Fayyad, and thus to strengthen Hamas’ extremist wing. As a result, Israel’s legitimacy will indeed come under ever more fire. But let’s face it: this is good for Netanyahu. No right-wing politician ever stayed in power if he didn’t succeed in frightening his electorate to death.

May 23, 2011

Bibi’s Spiel

by Vince

With Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech coming up in front of the U.S. Congress, one wonders what he will say and mean (and even how boisterous a standing ovation he will receive in comparison to other foreign leaders or even our own POTUS):

Netanyahu’s real positions are basically analogous the three Arab “No” in the infamous 1967 Khartoum declaration: He says no to a viable Palestinian state; he doesn’t want an agreement with them; and, ultimately, he doesn’t really want negotiations with them. The whole rest, from the Bar-Ilan speech to his latest statement is make-believe to keep international pressure at bay and claim that he really wants a peace agreement.

But Netanyahu’s international credibility is at a total low. Foreign diplomats, politicians or journalists I speak to do not believe a word of Netanyahu’s rhetoric about the Palestinians as peace-refuseniks. By bogging down peace negotiations with his endless bickering about settlement construction, he was just trying to buy time. This, together with keeping Lieberman in the foreign ministry, has totally eroded his international trustworthiness.

Netanyahu will try to mobilize his last allies, AIPAC and the Republicans in Congress, to put pressure on Obama to torpedo recognition of Palestine. He will give his usual spiel about Israel’s being in existential danger; he will talk about the nature of worldwide terror. Most of all he will warn that Israel’s existential legitimacy is under threat.

May 23, 2011

Obama’s Israeli Policies

by Vince

Glenn Greenwald has a long piece on Obama’s stance towards Israel/Palestine that is worth a full read. Money quote:

I don’t believe Obama is guided in these efforts by any principled concern or moral empathy for the plight of Palestinians or the injustice of the 45-year-old occupation; it seems clear that he isn’t ever driven by considerations of that sort.  But what he is, at least compared to the prior President, is a competent technocrat, a more calculating imperial manager, able to rationally assess costs and benefits with a ruthless analytical stoicism.  And Obama has been surrounded by top advisers — such as Gen. James Jones and David Petraeus — who clearly recognize, and have publicly said, that the festering Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the (obviously accurate) perception in the Muslim world that the U.S. enables Israel, is harmful in numerous ways to U.S. interests in the region.  Especially with largely anti-Israel Arab public opinion starting to supplant easily manipulated, U.S.-serving Arab tyrants, it is vital — for what the U.S. government perceives to be its interests in the region — that Israel reach a peace agreement, and that in turn requires that the U.S. use its leverage to pressure Israel to do things it plainly does not want to do.

Regardless of Obama’s intentions here — and that remains unclear — a prerequisite to any meaningful change in U.S./Israel policy is the defeat of those who want to suppress the debate entirely.  Those are the people now wildly demonizing the President for his tepid Middle East speech, and it’s why it is incumbent upon anyone who desires real change in this area to defend him from those attacks.  At the very least, the notion that defying the Israeli Government is some sort of supreme evil — and, conversely, that loyalty to that government is a solemn duty — needs to be demolished.

September 2, 2010

Nuclear Crossroads: Israel, Iran, and the USA

by Vince

Moving across a few counties gave me a great opportunity to catch up on my Atlantic reading (thanks Nate Dog for driving). For at least an hour, I read up on Iran, Nuclear Warfare, Henry Kissinger, and the current brouhaha that is percolating over Iran’s soon-to-be nuclear capabilities. Here are some of my thoughts on this article.

There is a “50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by next July”, according to Jeffery Goldberg. The repercussions of such a decision give Israel and the USA no easy answers at all. Each decision (Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear reactors, Israel doesn’t bomb Iran’s nuclear reactors, the US support Israel, the US doesn’t support Israel, the US seeks more negotiations, the UN continues its sanctions) could prove to be disastrous for Israel and the US and even give worldwide sympathy to Iran. The last two, negotiations and sanctions, have proven to be somewhat helpful.

Some high up leaders in Israel believe Iran is taking advantage of Obama’s tendency towards negotiations. That time has allowed for stricter UN sanctions which have cut off Iran’s connects to foreign supplies needed for nuclear bombs. As Goldberg points out, “when they [Iran] make the parts themselves, they are making parts that don’t have quality control.” (When Goldberg mentioned this comment to a senior Israeli official, he said, “We agree with this American assessment, but we also agree with Secretary Gates that Iran is one year away from crossing the nuclear threshold.”)

The move towards nuclear capability has larger-than-life implications (both literally and metaphorically). Robert D. Kaplan quotes Henry Kissinger’s 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy that “by acquiring nuclear weapons, a nation becomes able, for the first time, to change the regional or global balance of power without an invasion or a declaration of war.” “Iran,” Kissinger told Kaplan, “merely by pursuing nuclear weapons, has given itself a role in the region out of proportion to its actual power, and it gains further by the psychological impact of its being able to successfully defy the United Nations Security Council.” The ability for Iran to wield control over its people two summers ago with the faulty election and now with nuclear progress places it in many Christianists apocalyptic sights. After reading Kaplan’s piece, I am left wondering what limited war would look like between multiple nuclear capable countries.

Back to Goldberg. There is skepticism on both sides (Israel and USA) whether Barack Obama would side with such measures taken up by Israel. We have to remember this is not an invasion of Iran (see Iraq and Afghanistan) but the proposed bombing of the Natanz, Qom, Esfahan, and Bushehr nuclear reactors. Add to that the probability of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah and Iran retaliating against U.S. troops or Israel (“Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel.”)

A question that kept popping up in my mind throughout this piece (and as I read a Zionist periodical at the doctors the previous day) was why is there such a stubborn sacredness over this land to the point of nuclear bombing? Before calling me an idiot or ignorant, I can see the promises from G-D to Abraham and his descendent’s that Israel would once again belong to them (possession, not ownership).  The point we are at now is using nuclear bombs and a ballooning U.S. military “stipend” to protect Israel from ever being powerless again (and stopping Iran from creating the new Auschwitz). You are stuck in a messy situation anytime you have a Holocaust denier as your president (Iran) but this stubborn zeal over land by both sides has gotten quite old for me. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted as saying “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome,” he said in April. “In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.”