Category Archives: Israel

US Presidents – regarding Israel

JFK_Israel

 

Who would be better for Israel and the United States? Bernie Sanders? Hillary Clinton? Martin O’Malley? Lincoln ChafeeJeb! Bush? Chris Christie? Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? Donald Trump?

This brief survey of statements and actions by various U.S. Presidents on Israel leads to the inexorable conclusion that Democrats are better for Israel than Republicans, therefore Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley or Lincoln Chafee would likely be better than any of the Republicans.    

Truman, D, recognized Israel. 
Eisenhower, R, refused to support Israel, UK, France in ’56, allowed CIA and British MI 5 (or MI 6) to topple 
Mossadegh in Iran, which resulted in Islamic Revolution against the Shah and created the modern Iranian theocracy.  
Kennedy, D, inspired Israel as he inspired the US and the world. And Israel inspired Kennedy. See above. 
Johnson, D, supported Israel in ’67. 
Nixon, R, did not support Israel in ’73.
Carter, D, brought Israel and Egypt to table, Begin & Sadat signed a historic accord. 
Reagan, R, laid a wreath for the Nazi SS at Bitburg and criticized Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear weapons reactor at Osirak. Initiated support for Osama bin Laden and Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Mujahideen transformed itself into Taliban. 
Bush, G. H. W., R, asked Israel for restraint in the face of Iraqi SCUD missile attacks during the first US War in the Gulf. 
Clinton, D, tried to bring Israel and Palestinians to the table. Arafat walked away. 
Bush, G.W., R, despite assertions of his “Love” for Israel, the invasion, occupation and destabilization of Iraq has strengthened Iran immeasurably. However, Pres. Bush may deserve credit for initiating “Operation Olympic Games.” 
Obama, D, may deserve credit for continuing “Operation Olympic Games.” With current negotiations w Iran may deserve credit for acting to stabilize the region.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Israel

Implications of Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show (here) and Roger Cohen in the New York Times (here) discussed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech to the US Congress (Youtube, here).

Jon Stewart, spoke about the “Festival of Slights,” and said, “No one can speak for all Jews … we like to argue.”

He also played clips of Netanyahu’s speeches to Congress.

Netanyahu in 2015, “Iran’s break-out time would be very short… about one year.”

In 1996, “The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran… If this regime or its despotic neighbor Iraq were to acquire nuclear weapons this could presage catastrophic consequences. Time is running out. We have to act.”

In 2002, “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, [you] could very well create an implosion in a neighboring regime like Iran.”

Cohen wrote (here),

Netanyahu … portrays a rampaging Islamic Republic that “now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana,” a nation “gobbling” other countries on a “march of conquest, subjugation and terror.” Then, in the same speech, he describes Iran as “a very vulnerable regime” on the brink of folding.

Well, which is it?

… where is the leverage to secure that “much better deal”?

[Netanyahu] dances over the fact that military action — the solution implicit in Netanyahu’s demands for Iranian nuclear capitulation — would likely set back the Iranian program by a couple of years at most, while guaranteeing that Iran races for a bomb in the aftermath.

What better assures Israel’s security, a decade of strict limitation and inspection of Iran’s nuclear program that prevents it making a bomb, or a war that delays the program a couple of years, locks in the most radical factions in Tehran, and intensifies Middle Eastern violence?

No wonder Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party’s House Leader, saw Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as an “insult to the intelligence of the United States.”

In commenting on the speech, here, Mier Dagan, former head of Israel’s Mossad, was skeptical that Iran could produce nuclear weapons in less than a year. That remark, Dagan said, was “bullshit.” Dagan called Netanyahu’s address “a political speech that caused diplomatic and defense damage to Israel.”

Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu’s opponent in the Israeli elections, said,

“The painful truth is that after the applause, Netanyahu was left alone. Israel was left isolated. And the negotiations with Iran will continue without any Israeli involvement. This speech badly damaged U.S.-Israel relations. It won’t change the administration’s stance but will only widen the rift with our greatest friend and strategic ally.”

Meanwhile this fellow stood outside Congress asking a very simple question:

American Protesting Israeli PM Netanyahu at US Congress, March, 2015. He stands with a sign asking members of Congress if they are loyal to the US or Israel.

American Protesting at US Congress, March, 2015

Netanyahu appeared to have openly supported Mitt Romney in the Presidential election of 2012 (ABC News/CS Monitor/Guardian). Had Mr. Romeny won the Presidency, whether or not he would have changed US policy toward Israel and the Middle East, there might have been the perception that the US was an agent of Israel.  The Republicans in Congress seem to have forgotten Washington’s and Jefferson’s policies about entangling alliances.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Israel, Netanyahu, Obama

Obama on Israel, The Holocaust, and the Palestinians, in Cairo, June 4, 2009.

Obama on Israel, The Holocaust, and the Palestinians, in Cairo, June 4, 2009.

Obama doesn’t tell people what they want to hear; he tells people what they need to know.

Obama understands the ramifications of the Holocaust and the legitimacy of Israel perhaps better than I do. In 154 words (paragraphs 2 and 3, below) the President slammed Achmadinejad, neo-Nazis, other Holocaust deniers and the whole anti-Zionist movement into a brick wall.

Recognizing that the Palestinians have legitimate aspirations and a painful history, even if some of it was “brought about by Israel’s founding” does not minimize or undermine Obama’s support for Israel. Indeed, speaking the facts supports it. In the context of the painful history of the Palestinians, Obama used the phrase “brought about by Israel’s founding.” But this means that Israel’s founding may have precipitated certain events which have come to pass in the history of the Palestinians. This does not mean that Israel or Israelis are directly responsible for those events. If I am driving and I stop at yellow light, knowing it is about to turn red, and someone in back of me rear ends me, they are at fault. I am not at fault, even tho my actions precipitated the collision.

Here’s the excerpt from Pres. Obama’s speech in Cairo, June 4, 2009, published on the Internet at WhiteHouse.gov. (Click here for the full speech)

“The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

“Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

“For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Applause.)

“That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

“Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

“Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

“At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.)

“And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

“And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

“America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. (Applause.) We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

“Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra — (applause) — as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. (Applause.)


(I would, however, argue that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in Judaism and Jewish culture, Zionism started in the time of the Roman exile – long before Hertzl observed the Dreyfus trial in France, long before World War II. However, I would agree that the international political will to support Zionism came about after W W II. And the President was speaking in Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was there to lecture on America and the world today, not Jewish history.)

Peace,

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Filed under Israel, Obama in Cairo, President Obama, the Holocaust, the Palestinians

Israel v Gaza

Just when things were looking good – Obama wins by 8 million votes and 28 to 21 states, the EPA promises to regulate carbon, Franken wins by 200 votes, a Democrat wins Staten Island’s Congressional seat, other Democrats, including some very progressive, win races all over the country – harsh realities come knocking like the grim reaper at an earthquake in a third world country. The stock market loses 1/3 of its value, real estate foreclosures skyrocket, and home values plummet, the Arabs and the Israelis start shooting each other, again.

Actually, they never really stopped. Hamas launched 7,000 Kassam missiles against Israel since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Fortunately most of these Kassam rockets haven’t killed very many people – not because Hamas doesn’t want to kill Israelis – but because Israelis live – eat, sleep, and play – in bomb shelters. Still, while I think this proves that peace is up to the Palestinians, because Hamas seems impotent and the Israelis respond with massive force, and are defended by George W. Bush and the Neo-Cons, the anti-Israel left buys into the claim that Israel is the aggressor.

Israel, according to the anti-Israel left, used “the pretext” of Hamas breaking the cease-fire in order to bomb the crap out of Gaza and invade. They ignore several inconvenient truths:

  • Hamas is the government of Gaza,
  • Hamas publicly executes criminals suspected of collaborating with Israel by shooting them in the head,
  • Hamas, like Hesbollah, locates weapons caches and missile silos in apartment buildings, schools, and mosques,
  • Hamas executes men for the “crime” of being gay and women for the “crime” of being raped,

Both sides have grown incapable of trusting the other. They must be separated and held apart. This could be a U. N. Mission. But when the U. N. stands there and allows Hamas to fire rockets from schools and hospitals, they become culpable, responsible for the violence their mission ought be to prevent.

Personally, I would like to see Iisrael withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank and a bilateral cease fire between Israel and Gaza. I see de facto states in the West Bank and Gaza; I would like to see de jure states that recognize the rights of all; male, female, gay, straight, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem, and athiest. And that state or those states, along with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria must recognize Israel.

If a crazy man points an ineffective gun at me, and I shoot him dead, did I not act in self-defense? When you’re staring down the barrel of a gun you don’t ask yourself if the shooter is competent or the gun works.

The fact that the 7,000 rockets Hamas fired into Israel in the past few years haven’t killed large numbers of Israelis is because Israelis live in bomb shelters and Hamas lacks high tech rockets and good intelligence, not because Hamas doesn’t want to kill Israelis. They have the intent. They lack the capability.

Hamas, Hesbollah, and the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust. However, every Israeli with a parent, grandparent, or in-law with the misfortune of being born in Europe has lost cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, or grandparents in the Holocaust. The Israelis react strongly. How can they not? Beginning 70 years ago the Nazis and their collaborators tried to kill them all – and killed two out of three of the Jews of Europe. The Americans did not allow them in. The British did not allow them refuge into Palestine. The French handed them over to the Nazis. The Poles killed Jews of prewar Poland who survived, and staggered home from the camps or the woods. While the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust, Achmadinejad, who funds Hamas and Hesbollah, denies that the Nazi Holocaust occurred, while simultaneously calling for another shot at finishing the job Hitler started.

So again, if a psychotic points a gun at me, am I supposed to wait until he shoots first? And if he shoots first and misses, or his bullets bounce off a bullet-proof vest, or the air-raid shelter in which I sleep, can you blame me for shooting back? And if I get him right between the eyes, well, don’t point a gun you don’t intend to use.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Palestine, Peace