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July 27, 2008: Still Obama

July 27, 2008

The Jerusalem Post ran an exclusive interview with Barack Obama on Friday.  Along with it the paper ran an editorial on what he had to say.  I would like to cite from that editorial:

“On the question of the fate of Jerusalem…he was confusing.  He wants Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and he wants the parties to work things out for themselves.

“That led us to ask where he stood on borders….on April 14, 2004, President George W. Bush wrote to prime minister Ariel Sharon:  ‘In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the Armistice Lines of 1949…’

“We asked Obama whether he too could live with the ’67-plus’ paradigm.  His response: ‘Israel may seek ’67-plus’ and justify it in terms of the buffer they need for security purposes.  They’ve got to consider whether getting that buffer is worth the antagonism of the other party.’

“Without that ‘buffer,’ the strategic ridges of the West Bank that overlook metropolitan Tel Aviv and the country’s main airport would be in Palestinian hands.  Eighteen kilometers — or 11 miles — would separate ‘Palestine’ from the Mediterranean, the narrow, vulnerable coastal strip along which much of Israel’s population lives.

“While Obama promises to dedicate himself, from the ‘first minute’ of his presidency, to solving the conflict, his apparent sanguinity over an Israel shrunk into the 1949 Armistice lines is troubling.  Half the Palestinian polity is today in the clutches of the Islamic rejectionists in Gaza.  If the IDF precipitously withdrew, the other half ruled by the ‘moderate’ Ramallah based leadership would quickly fall under Islamist control…”


Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA, citing from that Jerusalem Post Obama interview, comments (my emphasis added):

“Obama: ‘I think that Israel should abide by previous agreements and commitments that have been made, and aggressive settlement construction would seem to violate the spirit at least, if not the letter, of agreements that have been made previously.’

“It’s that old ‘spirit’ argument again.

“…since absolutely none of the agreements Israel has with the Palestinians prohibit settlement construction (if anything, the wording of the Oslo agreements facilitates ongoing settlement activity) opponents of construction talk about ‘spirit’.

“…But what’s wrong with this ‘spirit’ approach?

“[It] enable[s] parties to unilaterally change the balance of the requirements and obligations of the deal. And that’s a dangerous precedent.”


And then there is this.  On July 24, Senator Obama delivered a major speech in Berlin.  In that speech, he said:

“This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York.”

This was called to my attention by something sent out by Steve Kohn, whom I thank. Steve wrote the following:

“After spending 24 hours in Israel the day before, speaking in front of rockets that had fallen on Sderot, and staying at a hotel on a street subject to a terror attack hours before his arrival, the senator…shows his true beliefs—that terror against Jews somehow is less heinous, violent and meaningful than that inflicted on others. How appropriate that he omitted Israel from his list of terror targets when speaking in Berlin.”

Obama’s full speech is at:



More bad news with regard to Hezbollah.  It is now being reported that this Shiite terrorist group has been recruiting Sunnis in south Lebanon, in villages opposite the Shaba Farms.  This is a bid for control of the area.  “The Future Movement” is the name of the Sunni group with which Hezbollah is vying for power.


MEMRI, which monitors and translates what Arabs are saying in Arabic, has several excerpts from TV programs in which Samir Kuntar has been interviewed since his release. 

See http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD199908

I cite here just one:

“Allah willing, I will get the chance to kill more Israelis.”


Columnist Sarah Honig, writing in Friday’s Post, has it right, I think, when she says terrorists such as Kuntar should receive the death penalty here (only Eichmann has ever been executed in Israel), thereby precluding kidnappings to try to secure their release.

“It’s at least slight solace to know that the most heinous of butchers won’t get the last laugh on us and won’t in the interim enjoy our hospitality, be well fed by Israeli taxpayers, will further their education, pursue hobbies, receive conjugal visits, procreate and even commission and coordinate more terror onslaughts.”


On Thursday, the IDF arrested seven terror suspects in Judea and Samaria.

Early today, in an arrest operation in Hebron, we took out Shihab Na’atsha, the explosives engineer from Hamas responsible for assembling the bomb belt used in the suicide attack in Dimona in February, which killed one person and injured 40.

And the PA wants us to stop doing these operations?


A half a dozen times, I began a posting on the situation with regard to Iran, and a half a dozen times I have found myself side-tracked.  But even more so, I have found it close to impossible to be coherent on the subject, so swiftly do reports shift. 

McCain’s recent statement on the subject was this: 

“I think we have a lot of options to explore before we seriously explore the military option, and I don’t think we have exercised those enough.

“I would hope that would never happen [that Israel would feel the need to attack Iran]. I would hope that Israel would not feel that threatened.” 

He said the US and Europe could impose “significant, very painful sanctions on Iran, which I think could modify their behavior.”

“But I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust.”


While Obama, while here, said:

“What I can do is assure that I will do everything in my power as president to prevent Iran attaining nuclear weapons. And I think that begins with engaging in tough, direct talks with Iran, sending a clear message …and elevating this to the top of our national security priorities, so that we are mobilizing the entire international community…

“One of the failures, I think, of our approach in the past has been to use a lot of strong rhetoric but not follow through with the kinds of both carrots and sticks that might change the calculus of the Iranian regime.  But I have also said that I would not take any options off the table, including military. “


Last week during his visit in Washington, Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi urged a blocking of Iranian aggression.
Israel has been stunned by the reversal in former American policy as the US has begun to attempt direct contact with Iran — as last week a high-ranking State Department official was sent to join the European delegation meeting Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, without noticeable effect.   If reports are accurate, there is even the possibility of a US diplomatic presence at the consular level in Teheran. Always, this is announced with threats also implicit. 

Dr. Gerald Steinberg, a conflict resolution expert at Bar Ilan University, has offered the opinion that the current combination of combined US diplomacy and threats might work.  Bush is gambling that Iran might suspend nuclear aspirations, which would accrue to his administration’s credit, but that if Iran is obstinate, there is greater national justification for the military option.


Iran is making ever more grandiose threats that are discounted in many quarters. Ephraim Halevy, the previous Mossad chief who now heads the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is now on record as saying that “Iran is not 10 feet tall.”

It is his opinion that Iranian retaliation would not be as serious as many imagine and that our defense systems would take out most of it.

Meir Javedanfar, a respected, Iranian-born writer and analyst, says that more rational leaders within the Iranian — who have greater authority than the president — are reining in Ahmadinejad.

Halevy agrees:  “I don’t detect an appetite among the Iranians to bring about a catastrophe.”

This is a different message from what we’d been hearing before.

Menashe Amir, a key Iranian analyst, was cited recently as saying that while Iran appears on the surface to be united in its nuclear drive, “there is a debate in Iran.  [Some] say: We are being offered a fantastic, generous incentives package. Let’s accept it…we cannot withstand the international pressure. The sanctions are widening, and the danger of a US or Israeli attack is growing. Let’s not miss this chance…”

He says that among the Iranian politicians holding this opinion are former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, parliament speaker and former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, and former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani. 



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