Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 11, 2010

RE: RE: What Is Obama Up To?

The reaction to the report regarding an international investigation of the flotilla and then the confirmation from the administration that it is searching for some type of international element have indeed caused an immediate push-back. From Minority Whip Eric Cantor:

It would be naïve to assume that the United Nations intends to give a fair and balanced account of the flotilla incident. As we saw with the Goldstone Commission, these so-called investigations are designed to demonize Israel and strip it of its right to self defense. The Obama Administration should not lend America’s stamp of approval to a witch hunt against a democratic ally who stands on our side in the battle against terrorism – lest one day American troops become the target of a similar smear attack. I hope that these reports are untrue and that the Administration makes its position known by standing with our friend and ally Israel.

And Josh Rogin ably explains the stakes:

While it’s true there is no specific resolution expected, sources close to the issue say, what pro-Israel leaders like Kristol are worried about are continuing calls for tougher measures against Israel, such as the vote in the Human Rights Council, and whether or not the administration will really oppose them with vigor. That point is made clearly in the first line of a letter addressed to the president that is currently being finalized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the two Senate leaders are calling on Obama not just to oppose new efforts to isolate Israel at the U.N., but to openly declare America’s support for the Jewish state. …

“Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted,” they wrote. “In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing. . . 

“We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations,” the letter reads.

Why should this be such an ordeal for the administration? In any other administration, the Reid-McConnell letter would never have been necessary. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Jewish groups — would assume that the administration would never entertain a witch hunt of this type and that it would be pressing for an investigation of the terrorists instead. But this is an administration like no other, and Israel supporters must devise a new approach to it in these troubled times.

UPDATE: Perhaps this is the way to go. A letter signed by 78 Republican House members was sent to Bibi Netanyahu affirming American support for Israel and for the maritime blockade. It is what Obama should be saying, but won’t.

The reaction to the report regarding an international investigation of the flotilla and then the confirmation from the administration that it is searching for some type of international element have indeed caused an immediate push-back. From Minority Whip Eric Cantor:

It would be naïve to assume that the United Nations intends to give a fair and balanced account of the flotilla incident. As we saw with the Goldstone Commission, these so-called investigations are designed to demonize Israel and strip it of its right to self defense. The Obama Administration should not lend America’s stamp of approval to a witch hunt against a democratic ally who stands on our side in the battle against terrorism – lest one day American troops become the target of a similar smear attack. I hope that these reports are untrue and that the Administration makes its position known by standing with our friend and ally Israel.

And Josh Rogin ably explains the stakes:

While it’s true there is no specific resolution expected, sources close to the issue say, what pro-Israel leaders like Kristol are worried about are continuing calls for tougher measures against Israel, such as the vote in the Human Rights Council, and whether or not the administration will really oppose them with vigor. That point is made clearly in the first line of a letter addressed to the president that is currently being finalized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. In a rare show of bipartisan comity, the two Senate leaders are calling on Obama not just to oppose new efforts to isolate Israel at the U.N., but to openly declare America’s support for the Jewish state. …

“Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted,” they wrote. “In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing. . . 

“We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations,” the letter reads.

Why should this be such an ordeal for the administration? In any other administration, the Reid-McConnell letter would never have been necessary. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Jewish groups — would assume that the administration would never entertain a witch hunt of this type and that it would be pressing for an investigation of the terrorists instead. But this is an administration like no other, and Israel supporters must devise a new approach to it in these troubled times.

UPDATE: Perhaps this is the way to go. A letter signed by 78 Republican House members was sent to Bibi Netanyahu affirming American support for Israel and for the maritime blockade. It is what Obama should be saying, but won’t.

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Going the Distance in Afghanistan

A popular impression seems to be building that the Marine offensive into Marja, a center of narco-traffickers and the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, has already failed. In truth, as C.J. “Chris” Chivers, a former Marine turned New York Times correspondent, reminds us, it’s too early to tell. In a first-class report from the scene, he notes signs favorable and unfavorable. Among the good indications:

Most of Marja’s civilians returned after moving away ahead of the initial assault. Most of them remain. Compounds that were empty in February are inhabited. Roads once quiet are busy. Fields are thick with crops. Shops in some bazaars have reopened. Afghan units participate visibly in dangerous missions.

Yet the district is far from fully pacified. As he also notes:

Each day, American foot patrols move through farmers’ fields and irrigated villages. And each day some are ambushed or encounter hidden bombs. The patrols turn into gunfights in withering heat, or efforts to dismantle the bombs or treat the wounded.

What does this mean? Simply that counterinsurgency is a lengthy, difficult undertaking that cannot be completed overnight like an armored blitzkrieg. The Marines have only been in Marja since February. That may seem like a long time, but not in counterinsurgency warfare.

Remember Fallujah? That city in Iraq’s Anbar Province was first entered by U.S. troops in 2003. In 2004, the Marines staged two major offensives into Fallujah; the first failed, the second succeeded. But even after the ostensible success of the second Fallujah operation, the city did not become really secure until 2008, when the Anbar Awakening was in full swing. Yes, it can take five years to truly secure valuable real estate when it’s located in the enemy’s backyard.

That’s an important point to keep in mind as coalition troops ramp up for  an “offensive” — a word they now studiously avoid — into Kandahar, southern Afghanistan’s largest city. Defeating the Taliban is hardly impossible, but it will take a lot of patience. The question is whether President Obama, who has set next summer as the deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops, will show the patience needed to succeed.

A popular impression seems to be building that the Marine offensive into Marja, a center of narco-traffickers and the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, has already failed. In truth, as C.J. “Chris” Chivers, a former Marine turned New York Times correspondent, reminds us, it’s too early to tell. In a first-class report from the scene, he notes signs favorable and unfavorable. Among the good indications:

Most of Marja’s civilians returned after moving away ahead of the initial assault. Most of them remain. Compounds that were empty in February are inhabited. Roads once quiet are busy. Fields are thick with crops. Shops in some bazaars have reopened. Afghan units participate visibly in dangerous missions.

Yet the district is far from fully pacified. As he also notes:

Each day, American foot patrols move through farmers’ fields and irrigated villages. And each day some are ambushed or encounter hidden bombs. The patrols turn into gunfights in withering heat, or efforts to dismantle the bombs or treat the wounded.

What does this mean? Simply that counterinsurgency is a lengthy, difficult undertaking that cannot be completed overnight like an armored blitzkrieg. The Marines have only been in Marja since February. That may seem like a long time, but not in counterinsurgency warfare.

Remember Fallujah? That city in Iraq’s Anbar Province was first entered by U.S. troops in 2003. In 2004, the Marines staged two major offensives into Fallujah; the first failed, the second succeeded. But even after the ostensible success of the second Fallujah operation, the city did not become really secure until 2008, when the Anbar Awakening was in full swing. Yes, it can take five years to truly secure valuable real estate when it’s located in the enemy’s backyard.

That’s an important point to keep in mind as coalition troops ramp up for  an “offensive” — a word they now studiously avoid — into Kandahar, southern Afghanistan’s largest city. Defeating the Taliban is hardly impossible, but it will take a lot of patience. The question is whether President Obama, who has set next summer as the deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops, will show the patience needed to succeed.

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RE: What Is Obama Up To?

As expected, the administration is denying the report — sort of. The response is telling, and not only for its gratuitous nastiness. First, the administration plainly thinks it’s achieved a grand success by toning down the UN resolution and downgrading it to a statement. And it lets on that, once again, some “compromise” is under consideration. Moreover, it only denies that the UN will not debate the resolution “next week.”

What is missing is any determination to rule out an international investigation. Indeed, it advances the notion that an Israeli investigation would not be “credible.” No mention is made of, and there seems to be no interest in, investigating Turkey or the terrorists.

What better justification for supporting Rep. Peter King’s Stand with Israel Act? It seems essential to stop the administration from doing what it so obviously longs to do.


As expected, the administration is denying the report — sort of. The response is telling, and not only for its gratuitous nastiness. First, the administration plainly thinks it’s achieved a grand success by toning down the UN resolution and downgrading it to a statement. And it lets on that, once again, some “compromise” is under consideration. Moreover, it only denies that the UN will not debate the resolution “next week.”

What is missing is any determination to rule out an international investigation. Indeed, it advances the notion that an Israeli investigation would not be “credible.” No mention is made of, and there seems to be no interest in, investigating Turkey or the terrorists.

What better justification for supporting Rep. Peter King’s Stand with Israel Act? It seems essential to stop the administration from doing what it so obviously longs to do.


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What Is Obama Up To?

Bill Kristol reports that the administration is telling foreign governments that it will back an international panel’s investigation of Israel concerning the flotilla incident:

The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.

While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one official stressed, of course the president’s. The government of Israel has been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.

In any other administration this would be unthinkable, as would the kosher-panel remark. But with this team anything is possible. Recall that this week Obama himself spoke about an international board of inquiry. And other sources confirm to me that, indeed, this was Susan Rice’s recommendation. (This may explain why the U.S. was mute when Israel was condemned by the Human Right Council.)

But this brain storm might be a bridge too far, even for timid Democrats on the Hill. So (like the leaks about an imposed peace plan from James Jones meeting with such illustrious characters as Zbigniew Brzezinski), this may be an idea that the Obama administration really, really wants to pursue but doesn’t know if it can pull off. Test the waters, make Israel nervous. Turn up the heat. Show the Arabs what good guys we are. But if the game plan is exposed and a firestorm erupts, well, then — retreat. Deny that was ever the intention and come up with a plan that is less offensive — another “compromise.”

There is another alternative, of course. Veto (if it should come to the Security Council) and/or refuse to cooperate with any UN investigation. Support an Israeli investigation. The administration can and should do both. Perhaps the revelation that Obama is playing footsie with the UN (again, and as he did with the NPT group), will cause the administration to sound the retreat (as the Obama team was forced to do regarding the trial balloon on an imposed peace plan). But Obama can never bring himself to wholeheartedly embrace Israel and say no to the international community. Let’s see if he can manage to do that this time around.

Bill Kristol reports that the administration is telling foreign governments that it will back an international panel’s investigation of Israel concerning the flotilla incident:

The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.

While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one official stressed, of course the president’s. The government of Israel has been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.

In any other administration this would be unthinkable, as would the kosher-panel remark. But with this team anything is possible. Recall that this week Obama himself spoke about an international board of inquiry. And other sources confirm to me that, indeed, this was Susan Rice’s recommendation. (This may explain why the U.S. was mute when Israel was condemned by the Human Right Council.)

But this brain storm might be a bridge too far, even for timid Democrats on the Hill. So (like the leaks about an imposed peace plan from James Jones meeting with such illustrious characters as Zbigniew Brzezinski), this may be an idea that the Obama administration really, really wants to pursue but doesn’t know if it can pull off. Test the waters, make Israel nervous. Turn up the heat. Show the Arabs what good guys we are. But if the game plan is exposed and a firestorm erupts, well, then — retreat. Deny that was ever the intention and come up with a plan that is less offensive — another “compromise.”

There is another alternative, of course. Veto (if it should come to the Security Council) and/or refuse to cooperate with any UN investigation. Support an Israeli investigation. The administration can and should do both. Perhaps the revelation that Obama is playing footsie with the UN (again, and as he did with the NPT group), will cause the administration to sound the retreat (as the Obama team was forced to do regarding the trial balloon on an imposed peace plan). But Obama can never bring himself to wholeheartedly embrace Israel and say no to the international community. Let’s see if he can manage to do that this time around.

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Democrats Heap Scorn on Obama

Fareed Zakaria has become an all-purpose apologist for Obama. First it was on the flotilla.  A colleague passes on the latest one. It seems he’s now shilling for Obama on his response to the oil spill. Last time, Zakaria was dismantled by Elliott Abrams. This time it was James Carville:

Zakaria, a Newsweek editor but also host of Fareed Zakaria GPS, recently wrote a defense of Pres. Obama’s response (actually he criticized the President for his overreaction).  … King read from Zakaria’s recent column, which said “what worries me is that we have gotten to the point where we expect the president to somehow magically solve every problem in the world, appear to be doing it and to reflect our anger and emotion. This is a kind of bizarre trivializing of the presidency into some kind of national psychiatrist-in-chief.”

Carville, smiling – but only at first – responded strongly:

“Yes, he talked about an offensive linebacker. And when I read that I wanted to hit him with a football bat, okay? This guy, there’s some kind of a breakdown here, because this is a very smart man. And I don’t think that he understands exactly what is going on down here. I don’t think he understands that an entire culture is at risk, an entire way of life that there is an invasion going here and he is whining about the fact that the president had to cancel a trip to Indonesia to do something about what’s going on in Louisiana. . … If that thing was in the Long Island Sound, I guarantee you Fareed Zakaria and all his friends would be going nuts out there.”

This tells us a few things. First, we should be wary of “experts” who peddle their foreign-policy lines while reflexively defending the administration across the board. Second, Obama no longer can command respect or discretion, let alone affection, from Democrats. Granted this is Carville, whose Clinton loyalty is well known and who has likely not let bygones be bygones. But if you turn on MSNBC, you will hear plenty of Democrats heaping criticism on Obama.

Again, as I and many others have pointed out, accidents — including big and awful ones — are not necessarily the president’s fault. But neither was 9/11 Rudy Giuliani’s.  But he grabbed the crisis by the throat. He was candid, informed, and informative. He did not whine or complain. He did not treat it as a PR problem but as a civic emergency. It is the failure of leadership and of executive competence that has exposed Obama. The closet analogy is not Jimmy Carter but the emperor who had no clothes. And now everyone notices.

Fareed Zakaria has become an all-purpose apologist for Obama. First it was on the flotilla.  A colleague passes on the latest one. It seems he’s now shilling for Obama on his response to the oil spill. Last time, Zakaria was dismantled by Elliott Abrams. This time it was James Carville:

Zakaria, a Newsweek editor but also host of Fareed Zakaria GPS, recently wrote a defense of Pres. Obama’s response (actually he criticized the President for his overreaction).  … King read from Zakaria’s recent column, which said “what worries me is that we have gotten to the point where we expect the president to somehow magically solve every problem in the world, appear to be doing it and to reflect our anger and emotion. This is a kind of bizarre trivializing of the presidency into some kind of national psychiatrist-in-chief.”

Carville, smiling – but only at first – responded strongly:

“Yes, he talked about an offensive linebacker. And when I read that I wanted to hit him with a football bat, okay? This guy, there’s some kind of a breakdown here, because this is a very smart man. And I don’t think that he understands exactly what is going on down here. I don’t think he understands that an entire culture is at risk, an entire way of life that there is an invasion going here and he is whining about the fact that the president had to cancel a trip to Indonesia to do something about what’s going on in Louisiana. . … If that thing was in the Long Island Sound, I guarantee you Fareed Zakaria and all his friends would be going nuts out there.”

This tells us a few things. First, we should be wary of “experts” who peddle their foreign-policy lines while reflexively defending the administration across the board. Second, Obama no longer can command respect or discretion, let alone affection, from Democrats. Granted this is Carville, whose Clinton loyalty is well known and who has likely not let bygones be bygones. But if you turn on MSNBC, you will hear plenty of Democrats heaping criticism on Obama.

Again, as I and many others have pointed out, accidents — including big and awful ones — are not necessarily the president’s fault. But neither was 9/11 Rudy Giuliani’s.  But he grabbed the crisis by the throat. He was candid, informed, and informative. He did not whine or complain. He did not treat it as a PR problem but as a civic emergency. It is the failure of leadership and of executive competence that has exposed Obama. The closet analogy is not Jimmy Carter but the emperor who had no clothes. And now everyone notices.

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Obama Accepts the Unacceptable

Obama has given up on stopping Iran’s nuclear program. It’s an open secret that there is no U.S. military option. The New York Times reports that covert operations and efforts to steal away Iranian scientists aren’t up to the task of thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Ask the designers and executors of these programs what they all add up to, and the answer inevitably boils down to “not enough.” Taken together, officials say, they may slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, which has already run into far greater technical slowdowns than anyone expected. If the pressure builds, Iran might be driven to the negotiating table, which it has avoided since Mr. Obama came to office offering “engagement.”

But even Mr. Obama, in his more-in-sadness-than-anger description on Wednesday of why diplomacy has so far yielded nothing, conceded “we know that the Iranian government will not change its behavior overnight” and went on to describe how instead the sanctions would create “growing costs.”

Nor can the administration bring itself to fully embrace the option of regime change. (“The administration has continued to support Iran’s opposition groups, but treading carefully for fear of appearing to meddle in internal Iranian politics.”) There is much fretting. (“Some top officials in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies say they wonder whether the White House has truly grappled with the question of how far Iran can be permitted to go, and what kind of risks Mr. Obama is willing to take beyond sanctions.”) But there is little action to come up with a plan that is viable. You’d think pro-Israel members of Congress or Jewish groups would be alarmed. But no — ho-hum. Next up are the EU sanctions. Everything is on track.

And meanwhile, at the World Expo in Shanghai, Ahmadinejad (who seems not very isolated at all) was on a roll:

It is clear the United States is not against nuclear bombs because they have a Zionist regime with nuclear bombs in the region. … They are trying to save the Zionist regime, but the Zionist regime will not survive. It is doomed.

It is a telling reminder that each assumption of the Obami has been incorrect. The regime is not one that can be engaged. Our 18 months of diplomacy or whatever we’ve been doing have not left Iran isolated. And this is not a regime that will be less aggressive once it gets the bomb. It is also a reminder that those who thought Obama was serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear plans were duped.

Obama has given up on stopping Iran’s nuclear program. It’s an open secret that there is no U.S. military option. The New York Times reports that covert operations and efforts to steal away Iranian scientists aren’t up to the task of thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

Ask the designers and executors of these programs what they all add up to, and the answer inevitably boils down to “not enough.” Taken together, officials say, they may slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, which has already run into far greater technical slowdowns than anyone expected. If the pressure builds, Iran might be driven to the negotiating table, which it has avoided since Mr. Obama came to office offering “engagement.”

But even Mr. Obama, in his more-in-sadness-than-anger description on Wednesday of why diplomacy has so far yielded nothing, conceded “we know that the Iranian government will not change its behavior overnight” and went on to describe how instead the sanctions would create “growing costs.”

Nor can the administration bring itself to fully embrace the option of regime change. (“The administration has continued to support Iran’s opposition groups, but treading carefully for fear of appearing to meddle in internal Iranian politics.”) There is much fretting. (“Some top officials in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies say they wonder whether the White House has truly grappled with the question of how far Iran can be permitted to go, and what kind of risks Mr. Obama is willing to take beyond sanctions.”) But there is little action to come up with a plan that is viable. You’d think pro-Israel members of Congress or Jewish groups would be alarmed. But no — ho-hum. Next up are the EU sanctions. Everything is on track.

And meanwhile, at the World Expo in Shanghai, Ahmadinejad (who seems not very isolated at all) was on a roll:

It is clear the United States is not against nuclear bombs because they have a Zionist regime with nuclear bombs in the region. … They are trying to save the Zionist regime, but the Zionist regime will not survive. It is doomed.

It is a telling reminder that each assumption of the Obami has been incorrect. The regime is not one that can be engaged. Our 18 months of diplomacy or whatever we’ve been doing have not left Iran isolated. And this is not a regime that will be less aggressive once it gets the bomb. It is also a reminder that those who thought Obama was serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear plans were duped.

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Obama’s Wasted Chance with Iran

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent Iranian elections, which led to a popular uprising against the regime that was brutally put down. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami offers this scorching indictment:

There is no guarantee that categorical American support would have altered the outcome of the struggle between autocracy and liberty in Iran. But it shall now be part of the narrative of liberty that when Persia rose in the summer of 2009 the steward of American power ducked for cover, and that a president who prided himself on his eloquence couldn’t even find the words to tell the forces of liberty that he understood the wellsprings of their revolt.

For an American president to have been on the wrong side of this struggle — he lost his voice during this crucial moment, when the Green movement represented genuine hope and change for Iran — is shameful. And unfortunately, Obama’s actions fit into a perfectly predictable pattern. He has shown himself largely indifferent to the human-rights struggles of people around the globe. That message, having been sent, has also been received. Dissidents, and the cause of liberty, are paying the price for it.

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent Iranian elections, which led to a popular uprising against the regime that was brutally put down. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Fouad Ajami offers this scorching indictment:

There is no guarantee that categorical American support would have altered the outcome of the struggle between autocracy and liberty in Iran. But it shall now be part of the narrative of liberty that when Persia rose in the summer of 2009 the steward of American power ducked for cover, and that a president who prided himself on his eloquence couldn’t even find the words to tell the forces of liberty that he understood the wellsprings of their revolt.

For an American president to have been on the wrong side of this struggle — he lost his voice during this crucial moment, when the Green movement represented genuine hope and change for Iran — is shameful. And unfortunately, Obama’s actions fit into a perfectly predictable pattern. He has shown himself largely indifferent to the human-rights struggles of people around the globe. That message, having been sent, has also been received. Dissidents, and the cause of liberty, are paying the price for it.

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Israel Needs PR Help from Overseas Jews

The flotilla crisis once again highlighted Israel’s public-relations failings. It’s mind-boggling, for instance, that only two days after the crisis broke did the government finally realize that it needs a permanent “virtual situation room” where people overseas can get up-to-date information about any breaking crisis. Yet while drastically improving Israel’s own efforts is essential, it’s not sufficient. Israel also needs more help from American and European Jewish organizations.

Many such organizations already do yeoman work, but more can and should be done. In an interview with Haaretz last month, for instance, Judea Pearl, who teaches at UCLA, noted that the anti-Israel movement on U.S. campuses is “nationally orchestrated.” Its leaders “act quickly and uniformly all over the campuses” and train “new cadres every year.” Hillel, in contrast, “thinks it can act locally, so they don’t have a national program to train people, send them to campuses and teach them how to respond.” He said he occasionally gets e-mails asking him to speak out on Israel issues, but only from small organizations — never from Hillel or any other “major Jewish organization.” That is a travesty.

Overseas Jewish groups are vital to the information effort because even people who genuinely care about Israel often lack the time and energy to amass relevant information. Two examples illustrate the problem. Sometime after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, I mentioned to my mother that ever since the withdrawal, Israel had suffered daily rocket strikes from Gaza. Having a daughter there, she clearly cares greatly about Israel. Yet she was shocked. “I had no idea,” she said. “That’s never reported in the American media.” And indeed, it wasn’t.

Example two: a European diplomat accredited to the Palestinian Authority once asked me why, when the anti-terror Mahmoud Abbas replaced the pro-terror Yasir Arafat as PA leader, Israel had not seized the opportunity to make peace. As part of my response, I e-mailed him a list of every Palestinian terror attack committed during Abbas’s year in sole control of the PA, before Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006. He was shocked; he hadn’t realized that terror continued under Abbas. Yet as a diplomat, he certainly knew more than most Europeans and certainly cared more; most Europeans don’t correspond with right-of-center Israeli journalists in an effort to obtain maximum information from multiple viewpoints.

In both cases, anyone who regularly read an Israeli paper online would have known the relevant facts. But most people don’t, and won’t. And that’s where Jewish organizations come in: by amassing and distributing information — to community rabbis, student organizations, and many others to whom they have far better access than Israel’s government — they could serve as vital intermediaries.

Information matters. The excellent information AIPAC gives Congress, for instance, undoubtedly contributes to Israel’s strong bipartisan support there. Better information also explains why many European leaders are far less anti-Israel than their publics. But Israel, though it needs to do much more, can’t do it alone. Faced with a massive worldwide delegitimization campaign, it desperately needs overseas Jewish groups to do more as well.

The flotilla crisis once again highlighted Israel’s public-relations failings. It’s mind-boggling, for instance, that only two days after the crisis broke did the government finally realize that it needs a permanent “virtual situation room” where people overseas can get up-to-date information about any breaking crisis. Yet while drastically improving Israel’s own efforts is essential, it’s not sufficient. Israel also needs more help from American and European Jewish organizations.

Many such organizations already do yeoman work, but more can and should be done. In an interview with Haaretz last month, for instance, Judea Pearl, who teaches at UCLA, noted that the anti-Israel movement on U.S. campuses is “nationally orchestrated.” Its leaders “act quickly and uniformly all over the campuses” and train “new cadres every year.” Hillel, in contrast, “thinks it can act locally, so they don’t have a national program to train people, send them to campuses and teach them how to respond.” He said he occasionally gets e-mails asking him to speak out on Israel issues, but only from small organizations — never from Hillel or any other “major Jewish organization.” That is a travesty.

Overseas Jewish groups are vital to the information effort because even people who genuinely care about Israel often lack the time and energy to amass relevant information. Two examples illustrate the problem. Sometime after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, I mentioned to my mother that ever since the withdrawal, Israel had suffered daily rocket strikes from Gaza. Having a daughter there, she clearly cares greatly about Israel. Yet she was shocked. “I had no idea,” she said. “That’s never reported in the American media.” And indeed, it wasn’t.

Example two: a European diplomat accredited to the Palestinian Authority once asked me why, when the anti-terror Mahmoud Abbas replaced the pro-terror Yasir Arafat as PA leader, Israel had not seized the opportunity to make peace. As part of my response, I e-mailed him a list of every Palestinian terror attack committed during Abbas’s year in sole control of the PA, before Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006. He was shocked; he hadn’t realized that terror continued under Abbas. Yet as a diplomat, he certainly knew more than most Europeans and certainly cared more; most Europeans don’t correspond with right-of-center Israeli journalists in an effort to obtain maximum information from multiple viewpoints.

In both cases, anyone who regularly read an Israeli paper online would have known the relevant facts. But most people don’t, and won’t. And that’s where Jewish organizations come in: by amassing and distributing information — to community rabbis, student organizations, and many others to whom they have far better access than Israel’s government — they could serve as vital intermediaries.

Information matters. The excellent information AIPAC gives Congress, for instance, undoubtedly contributes to Israel’s strong bipartisan support there. Better information also explains why many European leaders are far less anti-Israel than their publics. But Israel, though it needs to do much more, can’t do it alone. Faced with a massive worldwide delegitimization campaign, it desperately needs overseas Jewish groups to do more as well.

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Jimmy Carter: Role Model?

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer makes this point:

Three Iran sanctions resolutions passed in the Bush years. They were all passed without a single “no” vote. But after 16 months of laboring to produce a mouse, Obama garnered only 12 votes for his sorry sanctions, with Lebanon abstaining and Turkey and Brazil voting against.

So nothing good came of Obama’s Bash-America Tour, in which he traveled to foreign capitals to criticize America for sins committed long ago or imaginary. Indeed, the premise of Obama’s approach to international affairs — that America’s problems in the world were caused by America’s sins, and Obama’s charm offensive would overcome any obstacles between us and our enemies — has been eviscerated.

In a wonderful essay in COMMENTARY in February 1981, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in reviewing the failures of the Carter presidency, wrote about the ideas that animated it, including:

The political hostility which the United States encountered around the world, and especially in the Third World, was, very simply, evidence of American aggression or at least of American wrongdoing… If the United States denied itself the means of aggression, it would cease to be aggressive. When it ceased to be aggressive, there would be peace – in the halls of the United Nations no less than in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

Moynihan went on to write about the Carter administration’s “fateful avoidance of reality” — “a denial that there is genuine hostility toward the United States in the world and true conflicts of interest between this nation and others – and illusion that a surface reasonableness and civility are the same as true cooperation.” He warned about the “psychological arrogance that lay behind the seeming humility of our new relations with the Third World – it was we who still determined how others behaved.” And Moynihan concluded his essay this way:

With the experience of the last four years, we should at least have learned that foreign policy cannot be conducted under the pretense that we have no enemies in the world – or at any rate none whose enmity we have not merited by our own conduct. For it was this idea more than anything else, perhaps, that led the Carter administration into disaster abroad and overwhelming defeat at home.

President Obama and his White House aides would be wise to reflect on Moynihan’s words and warning, which are as apposite now as they were then. There are a lot of presidents Obama could model himself after; Jimmy Carter shouldn’t be one of them.

In his column today, Charles Krauthammer makes this point:

Three Iran sanctions resolutions passed in the Bush years. They were all passed without a single “no” vote. But after 16 months of laboring to produce a mouse, Obama garnered only 12 votes for his sorry sanctions, with Lebanon abstaining and Turkey and Brazil voting against.

So nothing good came of Obama’s Bash-America Tour, in which he traveled to foreign capitals to criticize America for sins committed long ago or imaginary. Indeed, the premise of Obama’s approach to international affairs — that America’s problems in the world were caused by America’s sins, and Obama’s charm offensive would overcome any obstacles between us and our enemies — has been eviscerated.

In a wonderful essay in COMMENTARY in February 1981, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in reviewing the failures of the Carter presidency, wrote about the ideas that animated it, including:

The political hostility which the United States encountered around the world, and especially in the Third World, was, very simply, evidence of American aggression or at least of American wrongdoing… If the United States denied itself the means of aggression, it would cease to be aggressive. When it ceased to be aggressive, there would be peace – in the halls of the United Nations no less than in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

Moynihan went on to write about the Carter administration’s “fateful avoidance of reality” — “a denial that there is genuine hostility toward the United States in the world and true conflicts of interest between this nation and others – and illusion that a surface reasonableness and civility are the same as true cooperation.” He warned about the “psychological arrogance that lay behind the seeming humility of our new relations with the Third World – it was we who still determined how others behaved.” And Moynihan concluded his essay this way:

With the experience of the last four years, we should at least have learned that foreign policy cannot be conducted under the pretense that we have no enemies in the world – or at any rate none whose enmity we have not merited by our own conduct. For it was this idea more than anything else, perhaps, that led the Carter administration into disaster abroad and overwhelming defeat at home.

President Obama and his White House aides would be wise to reflect on Moynihan’s words and warning, which are as apposite now as they were then. There are a lot of presidents Obama could model himself after; Jimmy Carter shouldn’t be one of them.

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What’s the Purpose of Pro-Israel Jewish Organizations?

In her primary, Democrat Jane Harman prevailed against Marcy Winograd, an avowed Israel-hater and great supporter of the terrorist flotilla. Her website proclaimed that she wanted to pursue “war crimes” prosecutions in Gaza and southern Israel, end the Gaza blockade, and remove Israeli settlements. She favors a “one or two state solution.” OK, pretty far out there, right? She got 41% of the vote. And to be clear, her Israel-bashing was not an incidental part of the campaign.

Elections like this and ample polling concerning the partisan divide in support for Israel should provoke some soul-searching in mainstream Jewish organizations. It would be swell to maintain a bipartisan pro-Israel coalition. It flourished for decades, to the benefit of our and of Israel’s national security. But that requires two parties fully committed to that coalition. With a Democratic president summoning an international inquiry to investigate Israel and slow-walking toward “containment” of a nuclear-armed Iran — and a Democratic Congress unwilling to cross him — this is quite hard.

It’s admirable to strive for bipartisanship to provide the widest possible support for Israel. But with a Democratic Party that has a significant number of Israel-haters (remember that 54 congressmen signed on to the Gaza letter) and others who cheer the lowest common denominator in every situation to avoid  annoying their leftist colleagues and base (fake sanctions, wish-washy letters to the president), the result is not a robust bipartisan coalition but an ineffective one, which merely legitimizes the Obama assault on the Jewish state. In less than two years of this administration, “Israel’s last line of defense against false claims and promises—the United States—has made itself indistinguishable from the United Nations and Amnesty International and all the other NGOs and religious denominations that have declared virtual war against the Jewish State.” That’s a statement on Obama’s mendacity and on American Jewish leaders’ impotence, if not irrelevance.

I can attest to the schizophrenia this causes among Jewish leaders. Publicly and in the presence of Obama or other members of his administration, they are restrained, polite, even enthusiastic about the president’s actions. In private they grouse and fret — why did he carve out Russia from sanctions? How in the world could he support an international inquest of Israel? Perhaps they think they are doing good, working “behind the scenes,” they say, to persuade and cajole the administration. But look at the results. Obama’s behavior toward Israel is getting worse, not better, even as he tries to “charm” the Jewish community. If the result of “working behind the scenes” is a Swiss-cheese sanctions agreement and administration support for an international inquest on the flotilla, it’s time to concede that the strategy is a failure. And those who argue that it could be “worse” delude themselves. It is not their good offices but rather the financial and electoral support that Jews afford Democrats that provides the only restraint on the administration. And that isn’t much considering the Jews’ “sick addiction” to the Democratic Party, which Obama exploits to the hilt.

Mainstream Jewish organizations have to decide: lose their patina of  bipartisanship (most are avowedly Democratic in membership) and their insider status (which comes with never rocking the boat all that much) — or risk losing their souls and their mission. They are there to promote a robust Israel-U.S. relationship, not to work against Israel’s interests for the sake of comity. If they can’t  fulfill their mission, it is time to either drop the “bigger the bipartisan coalition, the better” mentality or frankly to close up shop. “Never annoyed Barack Obama” is not a legacy to be proud of, nor is easing the consciences of lawmakers who can’t bring themselves to give full-throated support to the Jewish state.

In her primary, Democrat Jane Harman prevailed against Marcy Winograd, an avowed Israel-hater and great supporter of the terrorist flotilla. Her website proclaimed that she wanted to pursue “war crimes” prosecutions in Gaza and southern Israel, end the Gaza blockade, and remove Israeli settlements. She favors a “one or two state solution.” OK, pretty far out there, right? She got 41% of the vote. And to be clear, her Israel-bashing was not an incidental part of the campaign.

Elections like this and ample polling concerning the partisan divide in support for Israel should provoke some soul-searching in mainstream Jewish organizations. It would be swell to maintain a bipartisan pro-Israel coalition. It flourished for decades, to the benefit of our and of Israel’s national security. But that requires two parties fully committed to that coalition. With a Democratic president summoning an international inquiry to investigate Israel and slow-walking toward “containment” of a nuclear-armed Iran — and a Democratic Congress unwilling to cross him — this is quite hard.

It’s admirable to strive for bipartisanship to provide the widest possible support for Israel. But with a Democratic Party that has a significant number of Israel-haters (remember that 54 congressmen signed on to the Gaza letter) and others who cheer the lowest common denominator in every situation to avoid  annoying their leftist colleagues and base (fake sanctions, wish-washy letters to the president), the result is not a robust bipartisan coalition but an ineffective one, which merely legitimizes the Obama assault on the Jewish state. In less than two years of this administration, “Israel’s last line of defense against false claims and promises—the United States—has made itself indistinguishable from the United Nations and Amnesty International and all the other NGOs and religious denominations that have declared virtual war against the Jewish State.” That’s a statement on Obama’s mendacity and on American Jewish leaders’ impotence, if not irrelevance.

I can attest to the schizophrenia this causes among Jewish leaders. Publicly and in the presence of Obama or other members of his administration, they are restrained, polite, even enthusiastic about the president’s actions. In private they grouse and fret — why did he carve out Russia from sanctions? How in the world could he support an international inquest of Israel? Perhaps they think they are doing good, working “behind the scenes,” they say, to persuade and cajole the administration. But look at the results. Obama’s behavior toward Israel is getting worse, not better, even as he tries to “charm” the Jewish community. If the result of “working behind the scenes” is a Swiss-cheese sanctions agreement and administration support for an international inquest on the flotilla, it’s time to concede that the strategy is a failure. And those who argue that it could be “worse” delude themselves. It is not their good offices but rather the financial and electoral support that Jews afford Democrats that provides the only restraint on the administration. And that isn’t much considering the Jews’ “sick addiction” to the Democratic Party, which Obama exploits to the hilt.

Mainstream Jewish organizations have to decide: lose their patina of  bipartisanship (most are avowedly Democratic in membership) and their insider status (which comes with never rocking the boat all that much) — or risk losing their souls and their mission. They are there to promote a robust Israel-U.S. relationship, not to work against Israel’s interests for the sake of comity. If they can’t  fulfill their mission, it is time to either drop the “bigger the bipartisan coalition, the better” mentality or frankly to close up shop. “Never annoyed Barack Obama” is not a legacy to be proud of, nor is easing the consciences of lawmakers who can’t bring themselves to give full-throated support to the Jewish state.

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A Bump in the Road to Palestinian Democracy

Reuters reports that the Palestinian Authority has indefinitely postponed next month’s local elections “due to divisions in the Fatah party over who would run.”

In a brief statement, the cabinet, which is stacked with Fatah members, did not say why it had decided to put off the election that had been scheduled for July 17, but the officials said it was because Fatah could not agree a unified list. … Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, had already said they would boycott the vote. …

A senior Fatah member added: “What’s happening inside Fatah is that there are people who are running against each other. We need some time in order to solve these internal problems.”

Elections are tough to organize when there are people who are running against each other. The good news, however, is that once you solve the internal problems with a unified list, it is relatively easy to re-schedule the election, since there will be only one party in it. So this is probably simply a bump in the road to the vibrant democracy a Palestinian state would bring to the Middle East (along with peace), as Western-backed Mahmoud Abbas enters the 66th month of his 48-month term.

Reuters reports that the Palestinian Authority has indefinitely postponed next month’s local elections “due to divisions in the Fatah party over who would run.”

In a brief statement, the cabinet, which is stacked with Fatah members, did not say why it had decided to put off the election that had been scheduled for July 17, but the officials said it was because Fatah could not agree a unified list. … Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, had already said they would boycott the vote. …

A senior Fatah member added: “What’s happening inside Fatah is that there are people who are running against each other. We need some time in order to solve these internal problems.”

Elections are tough to organize when there are people who are running against each other. The good news, however, is that once you solve the internal problems with a unified list, it is relatively easy to re-schedule the election, since there will be only one party in it. So this is probably simply a bump in the road to the vibrant democracy a Palestinian state would bring to the Middle East (along with peace), as Western-backed Mahmoud Abbas enters the 66th month of his 48-month term.

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The Erratic President

Now Obama looks like a fool and a liar. When confronted by Matt Lauer about why he hadn’t yet met with BP’s CEO, you could see the wheels clicking — excuse, excuse, what’s the excuse? — and Obama with a straight face said it would do no good to talk to the CEO, because he was just going to get spin from Tony Hayward (“[H]e’s going to say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words, I’m interested in action.”) Even Chris Matthews was appalled.

So within days, Obama announces — he’s going to meet with the BP Chariman! Oh good grief. So forget the part about not needing to speak with BP. That was just a … um … er … hmm … lame excuse he cooked up on the spot.

There is a reason why the public is upset with Obama. It’s not merely a function of the unrealistic expectation that the president can solve all problems. The president looks fickle, confused, and erratic. Let’s have a drilling ban. No, let’s lift it and make BP pay for all the people we threw out of work! It becomes alarming with each passing day as we see how out of his depth the commander in chief (oh yes, he commands the armed forces too) is.

Harvard Law Review and a crease in the pants don’t signal readiness to be president. The voters have found out the hard way the price of electing someone who thought governing was just like campaigning and who had never run a city, a state, a military unit, or a profit-making firm.

Now Obama looks like a fool and a liar. When confronted by Matt Lauer about why he hadn’t yet met with BP’s CEO, you could see the wheels clicking — excuse, excuse, what’s the excuse? — and Obama with a straight face said it would do no good to talk to the CEO, because he was just going to get spin from Tony Hayward (“[H]e’s going to say all the right things to me. I’m not interested in words, I’m interested in action.”) Even Chris Matthews was appalled.

So within days, Obama announces — he’s going to meet with the BP Chariman! Oh good grief. So forget the part about not needing to speak with BP. That was just a … um … er … hmm … lame excuse he cooked up on the spot.

There is a reason why the public is upset with Obama. It’s not merely a function of the unrealistic expectation that the president can solve all problems. The president looks fickle, confused, and erratic. Let’s have a drilling ban. No, let’s lift it and make BP pay for all the people we threw out of work! It becomes alarming with each passing day as we see how out of his depth the commander in chief (oh yes, he commands the armed forces too) is.

Harvard Law Review and a crease in the pants don’t signal readiness to be president. The voters have found out the hard way the price of electing someone who thought governing was just like campaigning and who had never run a city, a state, a military unit, or a profit-making firm.

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Bravo, Finland

If you despair that the world has gone mad and that Israel is friendless, take a look at this report and the wonderful accompanying photos:

While Israeli flags are being burned in many European capitals in the aftermath of the dead flotilla raid, thousands of people took part a pro-Israel rally in Helsinki on Thursday. The Finnish capital’s streets were filled with Israeli and Finnish flags as participants marched towards the port while chanting slogans in support of the IDF and waving banners protesting what they claimed was the biased media coverage of the flotilla raid. The protestors also sang “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem (We Brought Peace Upon You).”

Keep in mind that there are only about 1,500 Jews in Finland. You may recall Finland’s conduct during World War II. Although occupied by the Nazis, Finland continued to afford full citizenship to its Jews and did not turn over any of them to the Nazis. Finland did deport eight Austrian Jews, an act for which the Finnish government formally apologized in 2000.

It’s shameful that Finland’s European neighbors evidence no such affection for Jews these days. With the example Obama is setting, that’s not likely to improve anytime soon.

If you despair that the world has gone mad and that Israel is friendless, take a look at this report and the wonderful accompanying photos:

While Israeli flags are being burned in many European capitals in the aftermath of the dead flotilla raid, thousands of people took part a pro-Israel rally in Helsinki on Thursday. The Finnish capital’s streets were filled with Israeli and Finnish flags as participants marched towards the port while chanting slogans in support of the IDF and waving banners protesting what they claimed was the biased media coverage of the flotilla raid. The protestors also sang “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem (We Brought Peace Upon You).”

Keep in mind that there are only about 1,500 Jews in Finland. You may recall Finland’s conduct during World War II. Although occupied by the Nazis, Finland continued to afford full citizenship to its Jews and did not turn over any of them to the Nazis. Finland did deport eight Austrian Jews, an act for which the Finnish government formally apologized in 2000.

It’s shameful that Finland’s European neighbors evidence no such affection for Jews these days. With the example Obama is setting, that’s not likely to improve anytime soon.

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Marco Rubio Gets It

Marco Rubio addressed a gathering of Jewish Republicans in Florida on Thursday. The entire speech should be read in full. It is frankly the best speech on Israel since George W. Bush went to the Knesset.

A few points are most noteworthy. First, he understands that the flotilla incident is part of a larger history and that America in the past has responded quite differently when Israel was assaulted for defending itself:

Support for Israel by the United States in a time of crisis has been a given for over 60 years. And yet, lately, there is the emerging sense that this long-standing relationship isn’t what it used to be. We are in the midst of an all out, concerted global effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. The recent flotilla incident and the reaction of many in the international community is nothing more than a part of that effort. In no way can the U.S. allow a path to be cleared that would enable the United Nations or any international body to discredit and diminish our democratic friend and partner. If Israel’s right to self-defense is undermined by efforts to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza, which serves to stop Hamas from arming itself with deadly weapons, there will be lasting consequences not only for Israel, but also for the U.S. and the entire world.

Second, he understands that Israel and the U.S. are joined in facing common foes:

Israel’s enemies are or will soon be America’s enemies as well. They are emboldened every time they sense any sort of daylight between the United States and Israel. Now more than at any other time, it is important America have a firm and clear relationship with Israel.  . . Israel is a valued American ally, our closest and most reliable friend in the Middle East, and the only democracy there. Living in a democracy, Israel’s Arabs enjoy fundamental human rights and liberties that are limited or virtually non-existent in majority-ruled Arab countries.  Israel is not a problem or obstacle to peace and should not be treated as one. In every incident, every pronouncement and every action related to Israel, enemies like Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah look for signs of weakness in America’s support as an invitation to undermine Israel and move one step closer to her destruction. The stronger the U.S.-Israel alliance, the stronger the moderate, pro-U.S. elements in the Arab world will be. If the U.S. shows itself to be an unreliable ally to Israel, moderate Arab states will take note that they cannot trust the U.S. to be a reliable friend for them either.

Third, he understands that the obstacle to peace is not Israel and that the U.S. has no business imposing a peace deal:

So long as other governments mercilessly criticize Israel, so long as the Palestinians ignore the problems of their own society and blame everything on Israel, and so long as Palestinian extremists are emboldened by extremist forces across the region, a two-state solution almost certainly can’t happen. … We should always remember that the obstacle to peace isn’t Israel; it is Palestinian extremists and Islamic terrorists who will not accept the Jewish State.

Next he pushes back against Obama’s Jerusalem-housing obsession and his fetish for a West Bank settlement freeze:

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, as the U.S. Congress has repeatedly recognized. The U.S. should work toward the goal of moving our Embassy there. We should stop condemning or punishing Israel for allowing Jews to build homes in their capital city, one to which Jews have an historic and religious attachment. … [C]onstruction activity in West Bank settlements has never before prevented negotiations, and a “construction freeze” should not be a precondition for them. Israel has shown — in Sinai, Gaza, and the West Bank — the willingness to remove settlements and their inhabitants. The Government of Israel, under several prime ministers, has made clear its understanding that a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians will require removal of many West Bank settlements. The U.S. must continue to support the position expressed by President Bush in a 2004 letter to Prime Minister Sharon, which stated that there would be no return to the 1949 armistice lines and that those lines would have to be adjusted to reflect changes on the ground since 1967 — major new settlements where thousands of Israeli families live.

Then he goes after Obama for the administration’s conduct in international bodies:

In recent weeks, tensions have heightened in the Middle East with the confrontation provoked by the Turkish Flotilla. It was outrageous for the United States to abandon Israel at the UN, and support a Security Council statement condemning the acts that led to bloodshed, including Israel’s need to defend itself. There will be world-wide consequences if the United States continues to pressure Israel to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza. Iran and its terrorist surrogates are the only ones who will benefit. …

It is also important to highlight the outrageous actions of the Obama Administration in supporting the UN resolution – passed at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Conference – just three days before the Flotilla incident. … I am deeply concerned that the U.S. chose to support a UN resolution that undermines Israel’s security, while giving Iran a “free pass.”

He concludes by addressing “the singles greatest threat” to Israel and the U.S. — a nuclear-armed Iran. He argues for stronger sanctions, pointing out the absurdity of allowing a carve-out for Russia’s S300 sale to Iran. And he includes something we have never heard from Obama:

Military action against Iran is undesirable. However, a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Ultimately, we must use all means at our disposal to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. And if Israel needs to act to prevent this we should give her our full support.

This is what we should demand and expect of every candidate and official who styles himself as “pro-Israel.” And it is an embarrassment that the finest explication of these issues and statement of determination does not come from Jewish leaders, who still scurry here and there trying to reconcile two irreconcilable realities (i.e., Obama’s stance toward Israel and defense of the Jewish state). When a new occupant enters the White House, he or she would do well to pull out Rubio’s speech and use it as the foundation for America’s Israel policy.

Marco Rubio addressed a gathering of Jewish Republicans in Florida on Thursday. The entire speech should be read in full. It is frankly the best speech on Israel since George W. Bush went to the Knesset.

A few points are most noteworthy. First, he understands that the flotilla incident is part of a larger history and that America in the past has responded quite differently when Israel was assaulted for defending itself:

Support for Israel by the United States in a time of crisis has been a given for over 60 years. And yet, lately, there is the emerging sense that this long-standing relationship isn’t what it used to be. We are in the midst of an all out, concerted global effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. The recent flotilla incident and the reaction of many in the international community is nothing more than a part of that effort. In no way can the U.S. allow a path to be cleared that would enable the United Nations or any international body to discredit and diminish our democratic friend and partner. If Israel’s right to self-defense is undermined by efforts to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza, which serves to stop Hamas from arming itself with deadly weapons, there will be lasting consequences not only for Israel, but also for the U.S. and the entire world.

Second, he understands that Israel and the U.S. are joined in facing common foes:

Israel’s enemies are or will soon be America’s enemies as well. They are emboldened every time they sense any sort of daylight between the United States and Israel. Now more than at any other time, it is important America have a firm and clear relationship with Israel.  . . Israel is a valued American ally, our closest and most reliable friend in the Middle East, and the only democracy there. Living in a democracy, Israel’s Arabs enjoy fundamental human rights and liberties that are limited or virtually non-existent in majority-ruled Arab countries.  Israel is not a problem or obstacle to peace and should not be treated as one. In every incident, every pronouncement and every action related to Israel, enemies like Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah look for signs of weakness in America’s support as an invitation to undermine Israel and move one step closer to her destruction. The stronger the U.S.-Israel alliance, the stronger the moderate, pro-U.S. elements in the Arab world will be. If the U.S. shows itself to be an unreliable ally to Israel, moderate Arab states will take note that they cannot trust the U.S. to be a reliable friend for them either.

Third, he understands that the obstacle to peace is not Israel and that the U.S. has no business imposing a peace deal:

So long as other governments mercilessly criticize Israel, so long as the Palestinians ignore the problems of their own society and blame everything on Israel, and so long as Palestinian extremists are emboldened by extremist forces across the region, a two-state solution almost certainly can’t happen. … We should always remember that the obstacle to peace isn’t Israel; it is Palestinian extremists and Islamic terrorists who will not accept the Jewish State.

Next he pushes back against Obama’s Jerusalem-housing obsession and his fetish for a West Bank settlement freeze:

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, as the U.S. Congress has repeatedly recognized. The U.S. should work toward the goal of moving our Embassy there. We should stop condemning or punishing Israel for allowing Jews to build homes in their capital city, one to which Jews have an historic and religious attachment. … [C]onstruction activity in West Bank settlements has never before prevented negotiations, and a “construction freeze” should not be a precondition for them. Israel has shown — in Sinai, Gaza, and the West Bank — the willingness to remove settlements and their inhabitants. The Government of Israel, under several prime ministers, has made clear its understanding that a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians will require removal of many West Bank settlements. The U.S. must continue to support the position expressed by President Bush in a 2004 letter to Prime Minister Sharon, which stated that there would be no return to the 1949 armistice lines and that those lines would have to be adjusted to reflect changes on the ground since 1967 — major new settlements where thousands of Israeli families live.

Then he goes after Obama for the administration’s conduct in international bodies:

In recent weeks, tensions have heightened in the Middle East with the confrontation provoked by the Turkish Flotilla. It was outrageous for the United States to abandon Israel at the UN, and support a Security Council statement condemning the acts that led to bloodshed, including Israel’s need to defend itself. There will be world-wide consequences if the United States continues to pressure Israel to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza. Iran and its terrorist surrogates are the only ones who will benefit. …

It is also important to highlight the outrageous actions of the Obama Administration in supporting the UN resolution – passed at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Conference – just three days before the Flotilla incident. … I am deeply concerned that the U.S. chose to support a UN resolution that undermines Israel’s security, while giving Iran a “free pass.”

He concludes by addressing “the singles greatest threat” to Israel and the U.S. — a nuclear-armed Iran. He argues for stronger sanctions, pointing out the absurdity of allowing a carve-out for Russia’s S300 sale to Iran. And he includes something we have never heard from Obama:

Military action against Iran is undesirable. However, a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. Ultimately, we must use all means at our disposal to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. And if Israel needs to act to prevent this we should give her our full support.

This is what we should demand and expect of every candidate and official who styles himself as “pro-Israel.” And it is an embarrassment that the finest explication of these issues and statement of determination does not come from Jewish leaders, who still scurry here and there trying to reconcile two irreconcilable realities (i.e., Obama’s stance toward Israel and defense of the Jewish state). When a new occupant enters the White House, he or she would do well to pull out Rubio’s speech and use it as the foundation for America’s Israel policy.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Neda: The Cause, the Song

When a revolutionary cause hits the pop charts, it’s a fair indication that the cause is sunk. Pop stars don’t get behind campaigns requiring action, especially evil, American neo-imperialist, military-industrial action of the kind they’d prefer to write protest songs about. (In fact, there are more songs protesting that phantom phenomenon than songs opposing real dangers.) When a human-rights slogan is marketed as a three-minute rhyme set to a 4/4 beat, it means the artist has confirmed that the topic is yielding a safe degree of political inattention. There will be no risk of action beyond the purchasing of some music files. The true last resort in American foreign policy is consumerism.

To continue reading this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

When a revolutionary cause hits the pop charts, it’s a fair indication that the cause is sunk. Pop stars don’t get behind campaigns requiring action, especially evil, American neo-imperialist, military-industrial action of the kind they’d prefer to write protest songs about. (In fact, there are more songs protesting that phantom phenomenon than songs opposing real dangers.) When a human-rights slogan is marketed as a three-minute rhyme set to a 4/4 beat, it means the artist has confirmed that the topic is yielding a safe degree of political inattention. There will be no risk of action beyond the purchasing of some music files. The true last resort in American foreign policy is consumerism.

To continue reading this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.'”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

Now anti-Israel venom is even featured on sports talk. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone (with an assist from Israel-hater Desmond Tutu) calls for a sports boycott of Israel: “In the wake of widespread international condemnation of Israel’s botched commando raid last week that killed nine people on a humanitarian aid flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip — where Palestinians live under what Nobel-prize winning South African Bishop Desmond Tutu … once said is Israel’s apartheid-like thumb — could it not be time for sport to illuminate Israel’s deadly occupation of Palestinians?” (h/t New Ledger)

Now, as Cliff May reminds us, Jew-hatred is quite fashionable elsewhere: “The fever of anti-Israelism seems to be rising too fast to be reduced by the cold compress of truth. Jew-hatred is increasingly acceptable, even fashionable, not just in the Middle East but in Europe and in some of America’s finer salons — and journals and blogs. And now, apparently, interest in a ‘final solution’ — to borrow Hitler’s apt phrase — is emerging as well. Helen Thomas’s sudden retirement is unlikely to significantly slow that trend. The quaint idea that, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, civilized people would ‘never again’ tolerate genocide has become a cruel joke — one repeated in Cambodia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and beyond. Radical anti-Semites of the 20th century had a goal: the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Radical anti-Semites of the 21st century also have a goal: the extermination of the Middle East’s Jewish state.”

Now Obama’s ineffectiveness is so apparent that Joe Biden has become the administration’s principal spokesman.

Now the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers come with a warning label. A small publishing company slaps this on a volume of the documents: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.” Any such parent needs a warning label.

Now Rand Paul is annoying libertarians. But good to know he thinks “there are times when we have to go in and prevent, at times, people that are organizing to attack us.”

Now we have the quintessential un-Obama : “[Chris]Christie has already put the state on a tough new fiscal regimen and set it on course toward being solvent once again. Refusing to raise taxes, he’s challenged the entrenched, vested interests and has dared to take on the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s powerful teachers union. And now he’s out to enact a constitutional amendment creating a 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases. Through it all, he seems remarkably willing to take the flak that’s inevitably come his way. At town meetings across the state he tells crowds: ‘I think I know why you elected me. I know you didn’t elect me for my matinee idol looks or my charm. So, I’m trying to do what you elected me to do.'”

Now all those “Harry Reid bounces back” headlines will have to be rewritten: “Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.”

Now, if we only had a president who believed this: “It’s not just that the Israelis are being held to a different — and immeasurably higher — standard than the rest of humanity. Israel is now being judged in the absence of any objective standard whatsoever. As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week, it seems that Israel is now ‘guilty until proven guilty.’ Sadly, it is no surprise to see angry mobs on the streets of Tehran or London calling for Jewish blood. It seems that we now must accustom ourselves to similar scenes playing out in Istanbul as well. Yet what is far more troubling is that we are now hearing these critiques being echoed right here in the United States.”

Read Less




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