Commentary Magazine


Topic: director of the nuclear engineering department

How Bad Can It Get?

The Obama administration has embarked on an assault on our ally Israel that can no longer be chalked up to a minor gaffe or a misunderstanding. The Obami have been unrelenting and consistently hostile toward the Jewish state. The Obama administration started off by ignoring the Bush administration’s agreements on settlements and making a settlement freeze the cornerstone of its Israel policy. That managed to alienate both sides. Last month, the temper tantrum over a routine housing permit was followed by Hillary Clinton’s 43-minute lecture to the prime minister. This was followed by the abusive and inexcusable treatment of Israel’s prime minister at the White House. That, in turn, was followed by leaks of the potential for an imposed settlement plan. No administration has ever treated Israel in this fashion. None.

Now we get this report, as yet unconfirmed from the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, that the Obama administration is denying visas to Israeli nuclear scientists at the Dimona nuclear-research facility. In addition, the paper reports that the U.S. is imposing a defacto embargo blocking the purchase of component parts. This all marks a dramatic change from past U.S. policy:

The Americans are toughening their behavior toward the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona. Workers at the center say that while the Americans are behaving in a conciliatory and non-aggressive way regarding the Iranian nuclear program, President Obama’s people have chosen to behave in a humiliating manner toward a country that is friendly toward them.

Officials of the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona said yesterday that Obama’s government has imposed restrictions and toughened its behavior toward them, as has never happened before in relations between the two countries. For decades, employees of the Nuclear Research Center have traveled to universities in the United States for advanced professional training in physics, chemistry and nuclear engineering. In order to study at those universities, the researchers from the Nuclear Research Center had to request entry visas for the United States, as any Israeli citizen must. Yet recently, several of them encountered humiliating treatment and been refused visas, while their only crime has been that they are employees of the Nuclear Research Center. According to security officials, the people in question are researchers with clean records who have never been in any trouble with the law either in Israel or in the United States, so the new manner in which they are being treated constitutes a severe offense against them and their families.

But the treatment of the employees themselves is not the only thing that has changed. According to officials who are familiar with the details, attempts to purchase certain components from the Americans have also encountered difficulties, with some of the items under a de facto embargo. To put it mildly, officials at the nuclear center are not pleased with the tougher treatment, which did not take place during President Bush’s term. The Americans have asked for a detailed report on the purpose of some of the items that they wish to buy from the United States…

Professor Zeev Alfasi, the director of the nuclear engineering department at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, who is familiar with the circumstances, describes the toughening of the Americans’ relations with the Nuclear Research Center. “Some of the people did not receive visas to the United States because they are employees of the Nuclear Research Center,” he explained. “The United States is not selling anything nuclear to the Nuclear Research Center, and that includes everything. For example, radiation detectors for nuclear research are purchased in France because the Americans do not sell to people of the Nuclear Research Center.

Not too long ago, a report like this would have been greeted with great skepticism. Now? It seems pretty much par for the course. It would be nice to think the U.S. is Israel’s “only reliable friend.” But for now, it’s not. The U.S. is, by each and every action, communicating to Israel that it should fend for itself. And it will have to for now.

The Obama administration has embarked on an assault on our ally Israel that can no longer be chalked up to a minor gaffe or a misunderstanding. The Obami have been unrelenting and consistently hostile toward the Jewish state. The Obama administration started off by ignoring the Bush administration’s agreements on settlements and making a settlement freeze the cornerstone of its Israel policy. That managed to alienate both sides. Last month, the temper tantrum over a routine housing permit was followed by Hillary Clinton’s 43-minute lecture to the prime minister. This was followed by the abusive and inexcusable treatment of Israel’s prime minister at the White House. That, in turn, was followed by leaks of the potential for an imposed settlement plan. No administration has ever treated Israel in this fashion. None.

Now we get this report, as yet unconfirmed from the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, that the Obama administration is denying visas to Israeli nuclear scientists at the Dimona nuclear-research facility. In addition, the paper reports that the U.S. is imposing a defacto embargo blocking the purchase of component parts. This all marks a dramatic change from past U.S. policy:

The Americans are toughening their behavior toward the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona. Workers at the center say that while the Americans are behaving in a conciliatory and non-aggressive way regarding the Iranian nuclear program, President Obama’s people have chosen to behave in a humiliating manner toward a country that is friendly toward them.

Officials of the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona said yesterday that Obama’s government has imposed restrictions and toughened its behavior toward them, as has never happened before in relations between the two countries. For decades, employees of the Nuclear Research Center have traveled to universities in the United States for advanced professional training in physics, chemistry and nuclear engineering. In order to study at those universities, the researchers from the Nuclear Research Center had to request entry visas for the United States, as any Israeli citizen must. Yet recently, several of them encountered humiliating treatment and been refused visas, while their only crime has been that they are employees of the Nuclear Research Center. According to security officials, the people in question are researchers with clean records who have never been in any trouble with the law either in Israel or in the United States, so the new manner in which they are being treated constitutes a severe offense against them and their families.

But the treatment of the employees themselves is not the only thing that has changed. According to officials who are familiar with the details, attempts to purchase certain components from the Americans have also encountered difficulties, with some of the items under a de facto embargo. To put it mildly, officials at the nuclear center are not pleased with the tougher treatment, which did not take place during President Bush’s term. The Americans have asked for a detailed report on the purpose of some of the items that they wish to buy from the United States…

Professor Zeev Alfasi, the director of the nuclear engineering department at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, who is familiar with the circumstances, describes the toughening of the Americans’ relations with the Nuclear Research Center. “Some of the people did not receive visas to the United States because they are employees of the Nuclear Research Center,” he explained. “The United States is not selling anything nuclear to the Nuclear Research Center, and that includes everything. For example, radiation detectors for nuclear research are purchased in France because the Americans do not sell to people of the Nuclear Research Center.

Not too long ago, a report like this would have been greeted with great skepticism. Now? It seems pretty much par for the course. It would be nice to think the U.S. is Israel’s “only reliable friend.” But for now, it’s not. The U.S. is, by each and every action, communicating to Israel that it should fend for itself. And it will have to for now.

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