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May 19, 2009: Looking OK from Here

July 7, 2009

Photo: AFP

I was not pleased today with the carping from certain quarters: Well, Netanyahu hesitated at one point during the press conference. He called Obama a great leader and that was obsequious. And so on, and on.

Give this man a break! Sitting next to someone of huge power and influence who wanted him to say certain things, he never-the-less refrained from saying them. He held his own and spoke in Israel’s best interest.

We can live in peace with the Palestinians, he said. If they agree to end of conflict, and recognize us as a Jewish state, and permit us the means to protect ourselves, and teach their children peace (which means new textbooks). Not bad.

He also said that this is an historic moment because it’s the first time that Israelis and Arabs see a common threat (i.e., Iran).

And I noticed that Obama spoke about a US commitment to Israel’s security as a Jewish state, and conceded that a nuclear Iran threatened the US as well as Israel. Well, then…


I thought these comments by Scott Lucas, writing on the website “Enduring America,” with regard to the Netanyahu-Obama press conference were interesting:

“Obama didn’t get it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his high-profile visit and engaged in two hours of discussions with the President. And after those talks, there was no sign that Netanyahu had given any ground on the US showpiece demand: two-state negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

“And Obama, or at least his advisors, may not get it. That very public refusal of the Israeli Prime Minister is likely to damage, if not sink, far more than the American position on Israel-Palestine. The bigger casualty may be Obama’s strategy towards the Middle East and the Islamic world.

“The outcome is the result both of flaws in the Administration’s Palestine approach, which has never been comprehensive but rests on the narrower illusion that peace rests on an agreement between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority and — more importantly in the short term — the tactical error of announcing an Obama talk from Cairo on 4 June…

“The problem is that a lot of folks, maybe not in Middle Eastern Governments, but amongst populations in and beyond the region, are going to ask the Emperor if his clothes are real when Obama speaks in Cairo. And I can’t see where the cloth is coming from…”

Lucas is professor of American studies at Birmingham University and founder of the website. (I discovered the site when searching for video of the press conference.)

You can find that video of the Netanyahu-Obama press conference, as well as a transcript, and a link to the article above, here:



Oh! and then there’s the subsequent press briefing held by Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs. One of the reporters asked, “Didn’t Netanyahu get more out of this than Obama?” (Thanks Doris M.)


The contact information for Prime Minister Netanyahu is repeated here, so that you have the opportunity to express your satisfaction with the way he handled himself and let him know you’re behind him as he stands strong. I am convinced that it’s important to do this.

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)

Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)

E-mail: pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore between pm and eng)


There were no leaks today regarding what was said between Netanyahu and Obama privately yesterday — there is no further content to analyze. Obama now moves on to meetings with Abbas and then Mubarak, and we’ll see what transpires as a result of these. The PA has to be sorely disappointed in Obama for not “forcing” Netanyahu to embrace a “two-state solution.” They were counting on that.

After meeting with the president yesterday, Netanyahu meet with Secretary of State Clinton; Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and House Minority Leader John Boehner.

How tiresome and irritating Clinton is when she harps on the “you can’t expect help in fighting Iran unless you make peace with the Palestinians first” line. Obviously Netanyahu — who spoke about the common threat shared by Israel and Arabs — hasn’t bought this. And it seems she didn’t notice that her president had just conceded that a nuclear Iran was also a threat to the US and to Middle East stability. She’d best stop pretending that any nation that helps with Iran is simply doing Israel a favor.

Both Clinton and Kerry emphasized the need to halt settlement activity.


Today Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that there is “no chance for an effective peace process so long as Hamas rules Gaza…Hamas will never give up control of Gaza, and the PA will not concede power in Judea and Samaria.”

This follows the breakdown of one final meeting yesterday between Fatah and Hamas regarding the formation of a unity government. This is no more than was expected.


Hamas had rejected a proposal by Fatah that they form a joint security force. And the mere fact that this is being discussed illustrates the total insanity of the entire situation. For the Fatah security forces, at least in theory, are supposed to be trained (with help from US General Dayton) to combat terrorism (or, as a Hamas spokesman put it, “uproot resistance”). Talk about schizoid.


Today Abbas swore in a new PA government, compromised mainly of Fatah people and headed by Salam Fayyad (an independent) as prime minister. Hamas calls it not legitimate.


When Defense Minister Ehud Barak ruled recently that Zion Road in Hebron would be opened to Arab traffic soon, it caused a furor in the Hebron Jewish community and adjacent Kiryat Arba. This road, which runs from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs), is traversed by thousands of Jews annually. (Jews walk from Kiryat Arba to the Machpelah to pray on Shabbat and holidays.)

It had been closed to Arabs for some time because of a series of terror attacks, and there was real fear that this decision would result in the loss of life.

Earlier, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) had voiced opposition to the opening of the road. Yesterday, the four MKs of Ichud Leumi (National Union party) — chair Ya’akov (Ketzelah) Katz, Aryeh Eldad, Uri Ariel, and Michal Ben Ari — toured the area under heavy guard, seeking a better understanding of the situation.

Today the community of Hebron released an announcement:

“Israel’s security chief…Yuval Diskin opposes opening of the road. As a result of his position, the road will (for now) remain closed.

“The decision to reopen the road, beginning with Defense Minister Ehud Barak…was not security-related. Israeli lives were not taken into account when [the] decision was made. Rather, the decision was politically motivated, in keeping with the idea that ‘easing Palestinian lives’ is more important than protecting Jewish lives.

“Hebron’s Jewish Community calls on the Defense Minister to admit his error, to accept the opinion of … Yuval Diskin, and officially end attempts to reopen Zion Road. It’s time that Ehud Barak stops playing politics with Israeli lives!”


“The Good News Corner”

In the course of recent City of David excavations being done by the Israel Antiquities Authority, a seal was found engraved with Hebrew letters. Made of bone, this seal dates to First Temple times (8th century BCE) and clearly bears the name of its owner, Shaul. When examined in conjunction with another seal and three bullae (stamped pieces of clay), all previously discovered in the area, it has considerable significance for the study of the development of the use of seals in ancient times.

Today the Knesset presidium headed by Knesset speaker Ruby Rivlin visited the National Park at the City of David in anticipation of the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim, which begins tomorrow night.

The seal was displayed for the first time for this visit, a reminder of our ancient roots in the city.

The City of David (Ir David) was the original Jerusalem, on a hillside outside of today’s Old City walls. When David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple, he moved up to the high spot above the city.



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