Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Concerns About Obama's Anti-Israel Speech

The following comes from a message from a PRIMER activist using the pen name Iam Yuno. PrimerPrez still has hopes President Obama is not deliberately sabotaging both Israel and the virtually non-existent prospects for peace in the foreseeable future and may at some time in the future ease off his counterproductive policies, but Iam Yuno is right on the mark in his analysis of those current policies.

Concerns About Obama's Anti-Israel Speech

Iam Yuno

I have a quote from Obama's speech to the United Nations yesterday in which he talks about Israel. Would anyone now try to argue Obama is a friend of Israel? (Or even Jewish people?) Would anyone care to argue Obama does not prevaricate liberally and side heavily with the Islamacists?

"We continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued israeli settlements. The time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues – security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security. A jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis and a viable independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."

"Continued Israeli settlements." Now Mr. Obama's is a highly intelligent man. We need not debate this. Can you not see he is now questioning ALL Israeli settlements, NOT just the "expansion" of settlements he previously complained about. Are we talking about an insistence on Israel returning to unsustainable 1967 borders? Since when did Israel lose the right to live within its own borders? Are we giving back Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to Mexico? Actually, ALL of America is occupied territory if put to the same test Obama uses for Israel.

His suggestion that negotiations proceed "without preconditions" is a joke isn't it? Are we supposed to laugh? Has he not set out a hardline Arab stance right here, in angry tones in fact, with preconditions - no, DEMANDS he's making of one side - Israel? What is he demanding of the Palestinians? (Nothing.) Where is the finger pointing at the Palestinians for all the innocent civilians they've killed in innumerable terrorist attacks on Israel? (Nowhere.)

He uses the word "refugees." These are the Arabs who, on the order of the invading Arab nations in 1947, fled Israel to join with the Arab armies in an attempt to destroy Israel; kill all the Jews there. These people now, according to Obama, have the RIGHT to return to a country they attempted to destroy? If they return to Israel, by the way, the nation becomes a defacto Arab nation. And do you not think Obama understands this? The refugee issue has never been a part of U.S. peace plans and could never be. No President has ever said it should be - before Obama.

"Jerusalem." He's now effectively making that a demand - the surrender of half of Jerusalem to the Arabs.

"Contiguous territory." CONTIGUOUS? Look at a map. Is Gaza anywhere near the West Bank? What is he now suggesting? That we DIVIDE ISRAEL, make it non-contiguous, so the Palestinians can have one bigger piece of territory, halving Israel? Are we now gifting the Arabs land no one has ever claimed they deserved?

"Occupation." What history lessons did Mr. Obama learn about 1967? He's too smart NOT to know the Arabs engaged in war against Israel and that the territory he says is "occupied" was in fact lost by the Arabs in a war to destroy Israel.

Would anyone care to argue that our President has not only set down numerous "preconditions" in his speech unilaterally aimed at hurting Israel's negotiating stance? Does anyone think peace negotations can now proceed toward a solution? Has no one noticed the Palestinians taking a hardline stance echoing Obama's? (And who could blame them, now that Obama has essentially told them to.)

Would anyone care to argue that his views are NOT very similar to those held by the Muslims with whom he grew up in Indonesia and Kenya?

Would anyone care to explain why he makes Israel out to be the bad guy has not a stitch of rebuke for the Palestinians and their bloody ways? Why in his recounting of history did he not point out the many wars the Arabs initiated to obliterate Israel? Do the Arab transgressions vis a vis warfare and violence not greatly outweigh the complaints Obama has against Israel? Why is he so morally lost in this equation? Why is he such an apologist for the Muslims and Arabs? Will he support or sell out Israel in the next war (which HE predicted would break out next year; he said the King of Jordan told him it would occur unless Israel caved to the Arab demands)?

I feel it's time all Jews realized the truth and brought pressure to bear on Washington (and the Democratic leadership) to stop the anti-Israel Obama train before it's too late.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sins of Commission and Omission

On Saturday, September 26, The New London Day published this letter under the title "Palestinians must have own state."

The letter "A new Palestinian state won't promote peace," published Sept. 15, states that there is no occupied territory in Palestine since no one can name a Palestinian king or ruler.

Palestine never had to put up a "vacancy" sign. It was conquered and governed by the many empires that rose and fell over several thousand years.

It was always populated and as a political entity was governed by chosen officials of the rulers in Rome, Constantinople and other empires.

The last empire, the Ottoman, was broken up after World War I and a mandate was given to the British to prepare Palestine for independence.

After World War II the UN was formed and because of the brutal treatment of Jews by the Nazis, support for a Jewish homeland grew. Israel declared its independence in 1948. It resulted in the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.

Peace activists and human rights workers have reported on the restrictions on travel to schools, hospitals and work so that life is continuously made more difficult for the Palestinians.

This occupation is misnamed. It is a plan by the Israelis for the removal of the Palestinians from their land by making life unbearable.

Sameer S. Hassan
Quaker Hill

It's amazing how many misleading assertions the writer was able to pack into such a short letter. Let's pick it apart, section by section.

The letter "A new Palestinian state won't promote peace," published Sept. 15, states that there is no occupied territory in Palestine since no one can name a Palestinian king or ruler.

Palestine never had to put up a "vacancy" sign. It was conquered and governed by the many empires that rose and fell over several thousand years.

It was always populated and as a political entity was governed by chosen officials of the rulers in Rome, Constantinople and other empires.

This is correct, but misleading. Hassan is clearly trying to make the reader believe the Palestinian Arabs have been there all this time, omitting the fact that the land was conquered and taken from the Jews, who still maintained a continuous presence in the land since Biblical times, and the Palestinian Arabs are relatively newcomers.

The last empire, the Ottoman, was broken up after World War I and a mandate was given to the British to prepare Palestine for independence.

Another misleading omission: Britain was given a mandate for Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

After World War II the UN was formed and because of the brutal treatment of Jews by the Nazis, support for a Jewish homeland grew. Israel declared its independence in 1948. It resulted in the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.

It was not Israel's independence which caused the Arabs, who at that time insisted they were not Palestinians, a term at that time understood to refer to the Jews, which led to hundreds of thousands of Arabs leaving their homes; it was the refusal of the Arabs to accept the United Nations Partition Plan, their invasion of the recreated Jewish state and the war they started, along with their admonitions to their brethren, which led to the creation of the Arab refugee problem. Very few Arabs were forced from their homes.

Peace activists and human rights workers have reported on the restrictions on travel to schools, hospitals and work so that life is continuously made more difficult for the Palestinians.

The terror offensive launched by the Palestinian Arabs when they rejected peace, along with the establishment of their own independent state, back in 2000 forced Israel to take measures to protect the lives of its citizens. It is that terror offensive which is the cause of all of which Hassan complains.

Hassan is also contradicted by the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas/Abu Mazen, who has said things are pretty good in the disputed territories and he has no need to rush into negotiations.

This occupation is misnamed. It is a plan by the Israelis for the removal of the Palestinians from their land by making life unbearable.

The first sentence is correct; the second is nonsense.

Legally, there never was an "occupation" by Israel, since the territory was not captured from a sovereign over it. In practical terms, any so-called occupation ended early during the Oslo Experiment, when the Palestinian Authority took over the governance of the disputed territory in which about 95 percent of the Arabs live.

Obama's "Enormous Progress"? Why Can't You Think of Any?

Barry Rubin

You know someone isn’t doing a great job when his main cheerleader tries to come up with a list of accomplishments and can’t do so. In fact, everything they mention is more a minus than a plus.

You also know that when somebody’s arguments are so obviously empty, contradicting, and even self-damning, they've stopped listening to the opposite viewpoint, even if only to improve or balance their own.

That’s what has just happened with the New York Times and President Barack Obama. The editorial of what was once a great newspaper and now isn’t, explains:

“President Obama, in his first visit to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, made progress… wringing a concession from Russia to consider tough new sanctions against Iran….”

Get it? They are considering sanctions. Well, they’ve been considering sanctions for years. The question is whether they will ever support tougher sanctions!

Meanwhile China is making it clearer that it won’t support stronger sanctions. It will be at least one year after taking office—and maybe not even then—when Obama will get around to actually doing something material to pressure Iran. This is the man who says, regarding domestic legislation, that everything must be done instantly.

Any other foreign policy accomplishments? Well here's the best the Times can do:

“Let’s be clear: Mr. Obama has made enormous progress in the short eight months since he took office. He has overturned some of the most odious Bush-era policies: banning torture and pledging to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He has persuaded the world once again to hear, and to listen to, what America has to say, but he is still figuring out how to fully capitalize on that good will and credibility.”

See what I mean? Does this qualify as “enormous progress?” Obama has pledged to close a prison—what else is to be done with the prisoners? Well he hasn’t gotten that far yet—but it is still only a pledge and doesn’t seem like it’s going to be fulfilled any time soon. And he’s persuaded the world to listen to America, not to do what it wants, mind you, but they’re listening.

But even on Guantanamo, the Times is, as they used to say, "whistling Dixie" or "whistling in the dark," which means trying to put a good face on a bad situation. Here's what the September 25 Washington Post has to say about this great "success":

"With four months left ot meet its self-imposed deadline for closing the [prison], the Obama administration is working to recover from missteps that have put officials behind schedule and left them struggling to win the cooperation of Congress.

"President Obama's top advisers settled on a course of action they were counseled against: announcing that they would close the facility within one year. Today, officials are acknowledging that they will be hard-pressed to meet that goal."

Are you laughing yet? This is what is happening on the same day the Times is announcing the closing as a success!

This is starting to remind me of a joke based on something President Dwight Eisenhower once said about Vice-President Richard Nixon. Asked what he thought of Nixon having claimed great achievements as vice-president, Eisenhower supposedly replied: "Give me a week and I'll try to think of one."

Keep trying:

“With his speech to the United Nations General Assembly…President Obama took another step toward repairing America’s battered image. There was no bombast and bullying, but he still managed to challenge other countries to take more responsibility and this country to ask more of itself.”

Ah, the image! That’s what this is all about. But if this is repairing America’s battered image, Obama’s approach rests on two principles.

The first is, regarding America’s detractors and enemies: If you can’t beat them join them. Show you are on their side. Go after Israel, at least rhetorically, that’s always good for applause.

The second is: The easiest way to become popular is to agree with everyone else. Unfortunately, in this case the “everyone else” consists largely of dictatorships, on one hand, and, on the other hand, those afraid of confronting them without leadership or due to reluctance to take risks.
Every word Obama uttered at the UN—and much of the rest of the time--is an attempt to say he’s just one of the gang.

“Mean old” George W. Bush had more than his share of faults but he tried—like Bill Clinton and George Bush and Ronald Reagan, among others—to show leadership in the world. Nowadays, American leadership is equated with arrogance.

Acting as a leader and combating enemies makes you unpopular. Obama’s international popularity is often a sign of failure on his part. Those previous presidents defined enemies and tried to foil them. That is now equated with a counterproductive confrontational approach.

As for bombast, Obama has a very high quotient of it. While I find his voice a nice combination of the silky and certain (he always reminds me, strangely enough, of the staccato-speaking actor Jack Webb), I, apparently alone in the world, have never been impressed by his speaking style, which strikes me as nothing but bombast.

As for bullying, that’s the least of our problems. Only with Israel (and a bit with the Palestinians for balance) does he portray such a mode, and even then it isn’t backed up with anything.
Here are the lines of the speech which have generally received the most praise, as presented by the Times:

“Mr. Obama was right when he said `those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.’ After eight years of President Bush’s unilateralism, that is a particular relief. The world is also looking for clear American leadership.”

Lots of countries are still chastising America. And what about those afraid that the United States
won't protect them from bad guys?

But the Times has become so intoxicated with ideology that it doesn’t even notice the contradiction in what it’s saying.

On one hand, it says, they can’t stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.

Translation: No decisive American leadership. Washington will wait for consensus, will be constrained by dissonant and timid allies, and be paralyzed without agreement

On the other hand, it says, they are looking for clear American leadership.

Clear American leadership? That’s precisely what they’re not getting from Obama.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jimmy Carter: The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

It's hard not to laugh at Jimmy Carter complaining about alleged racism regarding criticism of President Obama and his health care plans.

On NBC Nightly News, Carter said:

I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American.

At Emory University, Carter elaborated:

When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds.

I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American.

It's a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States.

Undoubtedly, some of the criticism of President Obama is motivated by racism, some of it is more vociferous because of racism, and some of the opposition to his health care plans may be influenced by racism, but our nation's disgraceful health care system has been a divisive issue for more than half a century. Indeed, there is clearly far less criticism of Obama's plans than there was of the very carefully thought out proposals made by the Clinton Administration.

The irony is that Carter is an active leader of those who unfairly and attack attack Israel because it is the Jewish state, holding it to a double standard, denying it the most important obligation of any sovereign state, the protection of its citizens.

Those Israel-haters, pandering to the basest instincts of anti-semites, have no shame in falsely accusing Israel of that which its enemies are guilty. (As just one example, Carter falsely but proudly associates Israel with apartheid, despite the fact that Israel is the only state in the Middle East that actually gives equal rights to all its citizens while one of the goals of even the so-called "moderates" in the Palestinian Authority, making Judea and Samaria judenrein, is far worse than apartheid. Indeed, in his support for the removal of Jewish communities in the disputed territories, Carter himself promotes ethnic cleansing.

While racism is a minor aspect in criticism of President Obama's health care plans, anti-semitism lies at the heart of most criticism of Israel. In being on the opposite sides in these two issues, Carter is being hypocritical.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Memoriam: Assaf Ramon

By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Israelis were shocked on Sunday to learn that 20-year-old Assaf Ramon, son of the late air force pilot and astronaut Ilan Ramon, had been killed in a training accident when his air force plane crashed in hills south of the West Bank city of Hebron.

Ilan Ramon died along with six other astronauts in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. In 1981 Ramon, who was the son of a Holocaust survivor, was the youngest of eight pilots to take part in Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Baghdad.

Assaf, 15 when his father died, announced soon after that he intended to follow in his tracks. Before enlisting in 2006 he said: “I want to be a pilot in the air force. But I really want to be an astronaut one day. This desire became very strong after the Columbia accident. I want to share my father’s experience, and to understand what he felt. I think I’ll feel closer to him that way.”

Just three months ago Assaf graduated (see footage here) from his pilot-training course as valedictorian of his class.

On Sunday night, as leading military and political figures gathered at the home of Ilan’s widow and Assaf’s bereaved mother, Rona Ramon (Assaf also leaves three younger siblings, one of whom, a brother, is also in the IAF), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated: “This is a dreadful tragedy for Rona Ramon, the entire Ramon family, and the entire nation. It is rare that a private tragedy pierces the heart of the nation with such strength. Today we all grieve the death of Assaf, who fell from the heavens like his father Ilan. There is no comfort, only tears.”

There are precedents regarding sons of leading Israelis who died in air force training accidents. In 2000 Yonatan Begin, son of cabinet minister Benny Begin, died along with his navigator in a crash in the Mediterranean. In 1987 Gil Ivri, son of former IAF commander and ambassador to the United States David Ivri, died in a crash in southern Israel. In 1981 Yoram Eitan, son of the late chief of staff and cabinet minister Rafael Eitan, died in a crash also in southern Israel.

The difference in this case was that Assaf Ramon already came from a bereaved family, and as such Rona Ramon had to grant her approval—which she did—for her son to serve in a combat unit. Asked in a Monday-morning radio interview about his conversation with her the night before, Netanyahu—whose brother Yonatan died in 1976 in Operation Entebbe—said: “I think she is going through hell right now. Something I have seen and experienced up close. It is double bereavement, which is almost a biblical tragedy of a father and son following their love for the skies, and ascending to the heavens in iron chariots, and coming back down in chariots of fire.”

This disaster, the focus on the air force, the reminder of Ilan Ramon’s role in 1981, come at a time when the Israeli air force may again be the only thing standing between the country and destruction.

President Barack Obama’s decision to accept Iran’s offer to hold talks, based on Tehran’s submission of a five-page letter that did not even mention its nuclear program, means giving Iran additional months—even before imposing sanctions that are also certain to fail—to complete work on its bomb.

As Israeli intelligence minister Dan Meridor told Reuters on Saturday, “The time is now. There is no more time to waste [on Iran], and that’s not only the Israeli perspective, it’s much more general.” The problem is that his was a lone voice.

Assaf Ramon was buried next to his father in a military cemetery on Monday afternoon, in the village of Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley. The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the Ramat David air force base.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Creating Positive Facts on the Ground …

… rather than negative facts at the negotiating table.

Yesterday, August 31, 2009, I had the pleasure of attending one of those rare events that gives one some hope for an eventual Arab-Israeli peace.

The event was a press conference featuring the mayor and deputy mayor of Gilboa and the governor of Jenin. It was held at the offices of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

(Attending there was also nostalgic for me, since according to my sister, my father's office had been directly across the street until he had to move a block away when that building was torn down. He then moved to a location a block away until that building was also torn down, at which point he moved a few doors farther away.)

The change in the relationship between Afula (the "capital" of northern Israel) and Gilboa, which is adjacent to Afula, and nearby Jenin borders on the astounding.

Jenin had been the terror capital of the Palestinian Authority's territories, with Afula and Gilboa the primary targets.

When my wife and I visited in 2002, we woke up our first morning in Gilboa to the sound of sirens, which we later learned were in response to a suicide bombing at a nearby junction, one which we had driven through the night before.

When we visited in 2006, security had improved in Israel, primarily because of the anti-terror barrier for which Gilboa mayor Danny Atar had worked so hard, but we were still advised to not drive along the most scenic road on Mount Gilboa because it was too close to Jenin.

The article, along with others that have appeared dealing primarily with the improvement in law enforcement in Jenin, give only a small glimpse current relationship between the people on the two sides of the seam line.

Regarding the implications for peace: The cooperation needs to continue and the lives of people on both sides, but particularly on the Palestinian Authority side, need to improve. Qadoura M. Qadoura, the governor of Jenin, referred to 58 percent unemployment in Jenin. I disagreed with some of the things the governor said, but such unemployment is intolerable - even if the primary cause was the rejection of peace by Yasser Arafat in 2000 and the launching of a terrorist offensive instead.

If the cooperation continues, and if the llves of all become normal, and if these improvements become a model which spreads throughout the Palestinian Authority territories and the nearby Israeli areas, it will be to the benefit of all and bring about the possiblity of a negotiated peace within a few decades.

The half-empty part of the situation is the following: It appeared to me that even the mayor and governor who are now friends and are working together to improve the lives of all on both sides would not now be able to agree even on the parameters of a peace agreement.

Efforts today to reach a peace agreement are not only doomed to fail, but are counterproductive. Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, not to mention the greater Arab nation of which the Palestinian Arabs are a part, are much further from peace than they were at the start of the Oslo Experiment. It will take years of successful endeavors, such as those now being promulgated in Gilboa and Jenin, before the sides are no farther apart than they were in 1993.

When that point is reached, the sides will be in sight of meaningful negotiations that can result in a real peace rather than destroying chances for peace.

And peace will get that much closer when this reality is recognized by the current American president whose misguided pressure is so counterproductive.

This is the article as it appeared in The Jerusalem Post.

The article may be viewed on the Post's web site at www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1251145166763&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull.

Gilboa region leaders and Jenin governor visit US to promote Jewish-Arab coexistence

Aug. 31, 2009

E.B. SOLOMONT, Jpost correspondent in NY , THE JERUSALEM POST

Over traditional Middle Eastern fare, the Jewish chairman of the Gilboa Regional Council and his Arab deputy broke bread on Monday with the Palestinian governor of Jenin in New York City.

In the United States to promote their unique social and economic partnership, the trio shared more than good food: They promoted their grassroots cooperation as a bridge to broader Israeli-Palestinian relations.

"We are sitting now on one table," said Qadoura M. Qadoura, governor of Jenin, as he sat alongside Danny Atar and Eid Saleem.

Finding a "common language," they said, is imperative to peace and stability in the region. Of the Gilboa region's 30,000 residents, 60 percent are Jewish and 40 percent are Arab.

"We understand together the special needs of the Palestinians and everything that is connected to improving their lot in life," Atar said. "We are witnessing that our future in the state is a good future."

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which hosted the Monday meeting, said the fact that 20 percent of Israel's population is not Jewish showed the need for such partnerships.

"It is not to change policy as much as it's to help identify needs," he said. "What appears to be impossible is possible."

The visit was spearheaded by a Connecticut federation that for the past decade has supported programs to foster coexistence among Israelis and Palestinians. On Sunday, the Israeli and Palestinian officials headlined a federation event.

"It's simple, real simple," said Robert Zwang, executive director of Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut. "The organized Jewish community in North America needs to be introduced to the concept that the only solution to this conflict is a two-state solution."

He said it is not just an issue of security, but one of Jewish values and morals.

"They need to begin to support this," Zwang said.

At a midday news conference Monday, the three visitors described to reporters the main components of their partnership, including a new industrial zone that will provide jobs to thousands of Palestinians and Israelis; a security paradigm; and educational tools that promote coexistence.

Asked if Palestinian schoolbooks, which incite violence, have been removed from schools, the leaders said no. Instead, they have focused on training teachers to promote coexistence.

"We sat them down for a whole year," Saleem said of the teachers. "The teachers would be people who would believe in the curriculum."

But Qadoura offered his own perspective on the challenges they face.

"No two people can coexist next to each other where one has luxury and the other has a bad economy," he said. "No two people can coexist where one is occupied and one is not occupied."

Atar said the partnership reflects a process that is not complete. Many details make up the partnership, he noted.

"Most important is hope for a better future," he said. "The minute we decided to do this, we believed in everyone's sincerity."