Once President Obama made the phone call to secure the safe release of staff caught in the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, it was a sure thing that this would be utilized by pro-Obama elements as evidence of Obama’s strong support for Israel.
What seems imminently clear to me is that this action by Obama — rather than being evidence of his solid feelings of friendship for Israel, which, until that point in time, we apparently had failed to perceive — represented a prudent attempt to avert a disaster that would have had serious repercussions for the Middle East, and for the US.
Obama did the right and responsible thing, and saved (or helped to save) Israel from having to deal with a crisis of major proportions. Thus was it appropriate that Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the president. And thus was it that I viewed with relative equanimity the political promotion of this act by Democrats in the US.
Yesterday, however, my equanimity flew out the window. That’s when a posting by the left-learning Israel Policy Forum appeared in my mailbox. It touted what Obama had done as “Leadership of Historic Proportions.”
How’s that again?
What made the entire matter worse was that it was former director of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy, participant in a Forum symposium, who was quoted. What happened, he opined, was “a seminal event…in the history of the Middle East.”
“And the President of the United States, without having much time to consult with Congress, and with the media, and with the analysts and with all of the other people who have to be consulted on major and grave decisions. He took a decision to take up the telephone and get on the line with the powers that be in Egypt…”
Well… as far as I know, Obama took no action with regard to Egypt, such as declaring a war or forging a treaty, that would have required the input of Congress. And the media? Since when does the media “have to be consulted” by any president before decisions are made?
Most certainly Halevy is aware of all of this. Which means that this is worse than playing politics. His statement is disingenuous. And outrageous. He should hang his head low.
And the Israel Policy Forum? What excuse does it have for promoting such poppycock?
I have taken the time to discuss this not only in order to refute what has been said, but to focus on the depths to which so-called political discourse has sunk these days. Beyond shameful.
What is more, I will note before moving on, it is not at all clear exactly what Obama did, or how much he did. His involvement, to the best of my understanding, came after the ambassador and diplomatic staff had left. The issue was the remaining six security officers — still a grave matter.
A State Department spokeswoman explained on Monday, “It was a very serious incident. That’s why not only the US, but governments around the region swung into action to try to restore calm.” Other US officials besides Obama were involved, as well — especially the American Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson. And we should not fail to acknowledge the involvement of Israel’s ambassador, Yitzhak Levanon, who worked in his way after leaving Cairo, to get the Egyptians to bring out the security staff.
Which is not to deny for a moment that Obama “did good” here. I aim only for a reasonable perspective.
Netanyahu is pushing for a quick return of Ambassador Levanon to the Embassy in Cairo. I believe the hold-up has to do with establishing adequate security parameters and understandings. The prime minister feels that the longer our ambassador is out of the country, the easier it will be for the Egyptians to fall into a mindset of not allowing him to return.
The IDF is continuing to bring additional forces into the south, along the border with the Sinai. Latest to deploy was a battalion from the Kafir Brigade, which has a specialization in counter-terrorism. Chief of Staff Gantz is also working to bolster intelligence inside of the Sinai so that the presence of terrorists can be tracked.
Netanyahu just paid a visit to the region of the Sinai border, and has pledged that the fence that is to be built along that line will be completed in a year.
For a very different take on Obama from that of Halevy, see Dan Senor, writing in the Wall Street Journal on “Why Obama Is Losing the Jewish Vote.”
“Mr. Obama has made some meaningful exceptions, particularly having to do with security partnership, but overall he has built the most consistently one-sided diplomatic record against Israel of any American president in generations. His problem with Jewish voters is one of substance, not messaging.”
Directly connected to the entire issue of Obama’s relationship with Israel is the Tuesday electoral victory of a Republican, Bob Turner, in a solidly Democratic (and strongly Jewish) district of Brooklyn/Queens. In a race with Democrat David Weprin to fill the Ninth District Congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner (who resigned in disgrace), winner Turner had to have received votes of many Democrats and independents. There had not been a victorious Republican in that district in 90 years.
One activist sent an e-mail, cited by the Examiner, that seems worth sharing:
“The vote, no matter how spun, was a repudiation of Obama’s policies toward Israel, the U.S.’s staunchest and most reliable ally. While the Court Jews are in full force pointing out nice things said about Obama by PM Netanyahu and Ambassador Oren, one need only look to the polls within Israel, where 4% of the population believes Obama is pro-Israel, to get the truth.”
This election is being viewed as a bellwether of what is coming down the road a little more than a year from now.
Also predictable was a recent statement by Jordan’s King Abdullah, to the effect that Jordan is not going to become the Palestinian state. Actually, what he said was that the Hashemite Kingdom would never allow Jordan to become the one and only Palestinian State.
Reference to the Hashemite Kingdom hit the heart of the matter: The Hashemites are a minority in a country that is some 70% Palestinian Arab. The king is hanging on to his throne by a thread.
In light of the recent situation in Egypt, Israel considered it prudent yesterday to evacuate the Israeli Embassy in Jordan: A march organized on Facebook is calling for “No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory.” In Amman, which is closer to Israel than Cairo, Israeli diplomats don’t bring their families, but instead return home on weekends, and so the number of persons to be dealt with was much smaller.
Col. (res.) Jonathan Fighel, a researcher with the Interdisciplinary Center’s Institute for Counterterrorism, spoke at the Center’s annual terrorism conference on Tuesday:
“We’re seeing more and more Hamas flags in Hebron. The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows for the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bombing attacks.”
In light of this, I will say, it would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of the IDF’s continued presence and ability to operate in Judea and Samaria. Any pull-back, any concession that grants greater responsibility for security to the PA forces, would bring with it an increased risk of Jewish deaths.
Hamas is very uneasy about the up-coming UN vote on a Palestinian state, saying that it is “perilous for the resistance” and would ultimately have the effect of acknowledging Israel’s right to exist.
It has also just been announced that a terror cell of five Israeli Arabs, from the village of Daburiya at the foot of Mt. Tabor in the lower Galil, was caught last month. (There is frequently a lag time between arrests such as these and readiness to announce them.) The Arabs were said to be in the advanced stages of planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier and a Border Police officer.
There is a way that this is even more serious than Hamas in Judea and Samaria, for here we are looking at a fifth column, which we dare ignore only at great risk.
We are not, it should be noted, looking at disenfranchised, poverty-striken, bitter young people. (Not that being poverty-striken or disenfranchised would excuse for an instant what they planned to do: but that’s the commonly promulgated myth.) One of those arrested was until recently a student at Haifa University, another is a student at the prestigious Technion. A third — and this is quite disturbing — had moved to the mainstream Arab village of Abu Gosh, near Jerusalem, which many Jewish Israelis frequent for an annual music festival, and for dining.
The members of the group have admitted that they are members of the radical Islamic “Salfiya Jihadiya” movement; it preaches jihad against Israel and the institution of Islamic Shariya law.
Meanwhile, Fatah’s revolutionary council has called for mass marches next week in city centers, in solidarity with the PA move in the UN.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s representative (news reports call him “ambassador”) in the US, Maen Areikat, gave a press conference on Wednesday, during which he said:
“After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated.”
That is, no Jews in the Palestinian state.
Elliott Abrams, a former US National Security Council official, referred to this statement as a “despicable form of anti-Semitism.” This policy, he observed, would make Palestine [as a state] the first to officially prohibit Jews since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was Judenrein.
And yet…and yet…a majority of the nations of the world is apparently set to sanction the formation of such a state next week.
I struggle for the word that adequately describes this situation. Vile? Perverse? Sinful? (As if the world abides by any morality at all.)
Please note the double standard with regard to Arabs inside of Israel. Imagine our pushing them out so that there might be “separation,” and what the world would say.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed Ministry officials to register a formal complaint with the US and the EU with regard to these remarks.
“It is advisable for the world’s nations to take these statements into account when discussing the Palestinian request to establish an independent state,” he said.
The Quartet is launching what must be about its hundredth “last ditch effort” to get the parties to the negotiating table so that the UN bid can be dropped. Last night Netanyahu met with US envoys Dennis Ross and David Hale; Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief remains on the scene at the request of Israeli officials.
They will not be successful. Abbas has made it clear that he intends to go ahead, and he remains intractable in his demands.
My worry, always, is that — even as it’s clear that nothing short of “everything” will satisfy Abbas — pressure will be brought to bear on the Israeli government to make yet more “concessions” to Abbas.
According to Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost, however, “it is not even clear whether the goal [of the meetings] is to prevent the PA from going to the UN…or whether the aim is to convince the Palestinians to bring to the UN a resolution that Israel could live with and that would form the basis for future negotiations.”
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is in Cairo. Attempting to assume the role of a regional Muslim leader, he’s promoting Palestinian statehood, addressed the Arab League, and has met with Abbas. The irony is that, while he seeks to lead the Arab world, as a Turk he’s not Arab.
Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood are not seeing eye-to-eye, what with Erdogan’s call for a secular government in Cairo. And there are signs of other discontents with him among Arab leaders.
While he has been inveighing against Israel, Jerusalem has chosen to remain mum.
The good news is that the UK has announced that it will not attend Durban III. British Prime Minister David Cameron explained:
“No one should be in any doubt. This government is 100 percent commi
tted to tackling racism both at home and abroad. But those aims cannot be met by accepting this invitation.
“[The Durban Conference saw] open displays of deplorable anti-Semitism….That’s why the UK will play no part in the conference.”
Coming from a nation with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism, this is a welcome announcement.
I love it! Even though I don’t agree with all of it. This is the new video with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, “The Truth About the Peace Process.”
See it and share it, please. In very palatable format, it gives some essential facts — the sort of facts that too many people are unaware of. It’s refreshing to see them promoted.
What don’t I agree with? Says Ayalon, the Palestinians have always said no, and Israel has always said yes. And now, Israel will continue to say yes, to a real peace.
My opinion, which is much less politically correct and much more honest: The Palestinian Arabs have shown they have no intention of making real peace. Therefore it’s time for Israel to stop saying yes.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.