Obama’s Friendly Pass to Turkey’s Erdogan

US President Barack Obama has made some interesting friends in office. Those friends get some special attention, and often more importantly, benign neglect.

Among the five world leaders that Obama highlighted as his best friends was the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Over Obama’s tenure as president, Erdogan served as both the Turkish Prime Minister and President.  This weekend, elections in Turkey could help cement his power as he attempts to remake the country’s constitution.

One would normally congratulate Obama on aligning himself with such a powerful leader, particularly one with a significant presence in the Muslim world. Such an ally could help the United States advance American interests in the volatile Middle East.

erdogan obama
US President Barack Obama talks with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a family photo at the G20 Summit in Cannes on Nov. 3, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Turkey’s “Help” in The Middle East

Turkey sits geographically as a bridge between the European and Asian continents.  Turkey borders the volatile countries Syria and Iraq, both of which are consumed by war, where Obama has expressed a US interest.

Turkey’s geographic position and large army make it a potential important ally for the US in the fight against the Islamic State.  However, despite the good terms between Obama and Erdogan, Turkey has not been a good partner in this regard.  As relayed by The Guardian October 2014: “The US is especially angry with Turkey because it is a Nato ally and yet it has refused to provide even basic logistical assistance to the US-led coalition.” It took many months for Turkey to agree to even begin training Syrian forces in Turkey to fight ISIS.  Turkey’s efforts continue to be minimal.

Erdogan’s Values

If Turkey hasn’t been so helpful to American interests, perhaps Obama’s friendship is based on shared values.

As reviewed in “The Churlish Turkish Leadership“, Erdogan has moved his country to the far right into the deep religious Islamic sphere. He has curbed the freedoms of press and expression dramatically over his tenure. Are those shared American values? Obama’s values?

A Friend With Benefits: Erdogan

Despite Erdogan’s lack of assistance to America and suppression of human rights, Obama has treated Erdogan rather nicely:

  • There were no ramifications to Turkey from withholding support in the fight against ISIS
  • There were no ramifications from Erdogan’s suppression of human rights
  • Obama has issued no statement about Turkey’s illegal occupation of northern Cyprus since 1974, which is deemed illegal by the United Nations and not recognized by any country other than Turkey.
  • When Erdogan said the “Zionism was a crime against humanity” in February 2013, the White House merely condemned the statement, but did not threaten any action against Turkey.
  • In May 2015, in the week before elections, Erdogan stated that he sought Turkish unity (with the Kurds) in liberating Jerusalem just as our forefathers went together to liberate Jerusalem with Saladin, we will march together on the same path“, in a comment that did not even get a response from the Obama administration.

It would appear that Obama is fine with Erdogan despite the lack of Turkish support for American policies or values.

A Friend without Benefits: Netanyahu

Obama’s relationship with Erdogan is in sharp contrast to the way Obama treats the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

While Obama claims that the US and Israel are strong allies, his policies appear to be based more on personal friendships.  For Obama, friendship is showing he works for them and not what his friends do for the US. “I think that if you ask them — Angela Merkel, or Prime Minister Singh, or President Lee, or Prime Minister Erdoğan, or David Cameron would say, we have a lot of trust and confidence in the president. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests,”

Obama will likely continue to show benign neglect to the demagogic statesman from Turkey who makes vile attacks against allies and quells the rights of the people in Turkey.  Conversely, Obama has demonstrated that he will berate and lecture the Israeli leader about “values” and take actions that threaten the country’s existence.

Troubling trends based on personal preferences.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Turkish Hypocrisy – Erdogan’s Line of Defense

New York Times Talking Turkey

Advertisements

Obama’s “Values” Red Herring

On May 21, 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic published an interview with US President Barack Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Israel. Here is a review of Obama’s comments on Israel and his deliberate attempt to minimize his threats to Israel. It would appear that the president needs a reminder that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life.

 obama the atlantic
Photo of President Obama from The Atlantic May 2015

 

OBAMA’S CLAIM OF JEWISH SUPPORT AND
PRO-ISRAEL POSITIONS

  • 1)  Obama stated that he enjoys broad Jewish support.I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.

Comment: Obama’s Jewish support has declined considerably. Obama received weaker Jewish support than any of the recent Democratic candidates for president (going back to the loser Michael Dukakis in 1988).

  • 2012 Obama 69%
  • 2008 Obama 78%
  • 2004 Kerry 76%
  • 2000 Gore 79%
  • 1996 Clinton 78%
  • 1992 Clinton 80%
  • 1988 Dukakis 64%

Obama’s poll numbers continued to collapse among Jews, especially during the six months prior to the interview. The latest Gallup poll had Obama’s approval rating among Jews at 54%, only 8% above the national average. That was the narrowest gap ever in Obama’s presidency. This precipitous drop-off coincides with Obama’s decision to encourage 58 Democratic loyalists to walk out on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress

  • 2)  Obama said “political” opportunists are portraying him as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish because he questions Israel’s policy regarding Palestinians. there has been a very concerted effort on the part of some political forces to equate being pro-Israel, and hence being supportive of the Jewish people, with a rubber stamp on a particular set of policies coming out of the Israeli government. So if you are questioning settlement policy, that indicates you’re anti-Israeli, or that indicates you’re anti-Jewish. If you express compassion or empathy towards Palestinian youth, who are dealing with checkpoints or restrictions on their ability to travel, then you are suspect in terms of your support of Israel. If you are willing to get into public disagreements with the Israeli government, then the notion is that you are being anti-Israel, and by extension, anti-Jewish. I completely reject that.

Comment: Obama’s critics and his collapsing poll numbers are about OBAMA’s policies regarding Israel, not Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians. Obama’s poll numbers among Jews were fairly consistent during his first term, but with a downturn which could be attributed both to his criticisms of Israel’s permitting Jews to live anywhere they choose as well as the Democrat’s gutting of their pro-Israel platform in 2012. The more precipitous drop in Jewish support for Obama had to do with his Iranian nuclear negotiations and his treatment of the Israeli PM during that time.

Comment: Obama is being a hypocrite by stating that his “public disagreements with the Israeli government” should not be construed as anti-Israel, while Netanyahu’s public criticism of Obama’s policies were attacked. Obama has criticized Israel repeatedly on the world stage for Israel’s handling of disputed lands. However, when Netanyahu disagreed with Obama, it was over a matter that was an existential threat to Israel. Yet Obama chose to belittle Netanyahu’s argument and berate the Israeli leader.

  • 3)  Obama believes that Israel is simply a safe haven for Jews.There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law. These things are indivisible in my mind

Comment: Obama has never internalized that Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people. There has always been an important and significant disconnect that Obama has about Israel: Israel is not simply a safe haven where Jews are “free of discrimination and persecution.” Such a safe space could have been created in Uganda too. Israel is not just “a homeland” as if Jews had been self-governing in many other places on earth for centuries; as if the Jewish religion did not have an exclusive and unique relationship with the holy land. Israel is THE homeland of the Jewish people as it has been for 3700 years. That is why the San Remo Conference in 1920 specified Palestine for the Jews.

  • 4)  Obama has hung all of his pro-Israel credentials on his support of Israel militarily.I have maintained, and I think I can show that no U.S. president has been more forceful in making sure that we help Israel protect itself, and even some of my critics in Israel have acknowledged as much.

Comment: Obama’s goal for Israel is not particularly unique. Obama has stressed that the Iraqi government needs to protect Iraq; the Afghani government needs to protect Afghanistan, and so on. Obama has sought to pull American forces out of conflict zones and put the onus on the local governments to protect themselves. That is a broad Obama policy decision – with which one can agree or not regarding America’s role as the world policeman.

What is not subject to debate, is that the policy is not unique and is hardly the great shining example for Obama to underscore as his complete bona fides in being pro-Israel. His stance for Israel’s security is part-and-parcel of his broad position regarding military support and cooperation around the region.

 

OBAMA’S DOUBLE STANDARDS
AND THREATS

  • 5)  Obama was highly critical of Netanyahu’s comments as being counter to Israel’s democratic laws. Obama came out forcefully against Netanyahu’s comments to get out the vote when Bibi feared he was losing the election. “what I [Obama] did say is that when, going into an election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said a Palestinian state would not happen under his watch, or there [was] discussion in which it appeared that Arab-Israeli citizens were somehow portrayed as an invading force that might vote, and that this should be guarded against—this is contrary to the very language of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that all people regardless of race or religion are full participants in the democracy. When something like that happens, that has foreign-policy consequences.

Comment: Obama was curiously selective in focusing on certain comments which portrayed Netanyahu only as an extremist. Obama chose to focus on Netanyahu’s comments on election eve when Netanyahu was worried he was going to lose the elections and was trying to rally groups to get out and vote for him. Obama ignored Netanyahu’s later comments which back-tracked and explained his intentions regarding election night. Obama ignored the many years that Netanyahu negotiated with the Palestinian Arabs (Netanyahu ran three prior Israeli governments). Obama ignored Netanyahu’s handing over cities to the Palestinian Authority in showing his willingness to swap land-for-peace.

Comment: Obama ignored comments from repressive regimes. Obama is putting forward sanction reliefs for Iran while the regime chants “Death to America”. Obama has back-tracked from his no nuclear capability for Iran pledge, while Iran chants “Death to Israel”. Obama pushed Israel to negotiate with acting President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and to release Arab terrorists convicted of murder, while Abbas celebrated the killers of innocent Israelis.

Comment: Obama ignored undemocratic regimes. Obama’s reference to Israel’s Declaration of Independence suggested that he only treats countries with liberal values as allies. How does Obama send billions of dollars to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is one of the most repressive regimes in the world?

Comment: Obama threatened Israel. While Obama ignored the many statements and long history of Netanyahu negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, and ignored the actions and statements of surrounding Arab governments, he threatened Israel. Threatening a country is a far cry from having a difference of opinion or being upset with momentary excited statements from an individual. When Turkish leader Erdogan called Zionism a “Crime against Humanity”, the White House denounced the statement but never threatened Turkey. When Erdogan called for Muslims to conquer Jerusalem, the White House was silent; no threats were issued. Indeed, Obama considered Erdogan one of his closest friends among world leaders.

As detailed in FirstOneThrough “International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu”, the relationship between Israel and the United States is both unique and not one of peers. Israel relies on the US on many levels. Therefore, Obama’s double standards for Netanyahu, coupled with Obama’s global pronouncement that he will punish the entire country of Israel, is an abuse that has angered Israel supporters around the world.

  • 6)  Obama has no issue criticizing Israel on the global stage, as he stated: “the one argument that I very much have been concerned about, and it has gotten stronger over the last 10 years … it’s less overt than the arguments that a Sheldon Adelson makes, but in some ways can be just as pernicious, is this argument that there should not be disagreements in public

Comment: Obama has double standards about criticism in public. Obama lectured Netanyahu that Bibi’s election eve comments and actions ran counter to Israel’s laws. Would Obama feel it is appropriate for Netanyahu to lecture him about America’s ongoing use of the death penalty which most of the western world abolished? Would Obama care to hear about Netanyahu’s views on how the US should treat gay marriage or gays in the military as running afoul of America’s foundation documents? Or would Obama feel that such comments have nothing to do with Israel and that he doesn’t need to listen to a lecture about his own country’s laws from a foreign leader?

Yet, when Netanyahu criticized Obama’s negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program – which poses a direct existential threat to Israel – Obama did not just get offended, but rallied his Democratic loyalists to boycott Netanyahu’s speech in D.C.

 

OBAMA’S “VALUES” RED HERRING

  • 7)  Obama received talking points from liberal rabbis. Obama’s interview was peppered with remarks specifically intended for a Jewish audience: “we creating a safe Jewish homeland, but also we are remaking the world. We’re repairing it.” Obama also said “when you show intolerance and when you are persecuting minorities and when you are objectifying them and making them the Other, you are destroying something in yourself,”

Comment: Obama learned only half a lesson from the rabbis. The phrases used by Obama are uniquely Jewish referring in English to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and “Acher”, the Other. The choice of language was so out of place that it would be the equivalent of a Jewish person littering a conversation with “Grace”. The Atlantic’s Goldberg even made the comparison stating “Obama, when he talks about Israel, sounds like a rabbi in the progressive Zionist tradition.” The aggressive Obama sales tactic was clearly courtesy of a progressive rabbi to parrot to a Jewish audience.

Regrettably, Obama only learned (or was taught) half of the lesson. The most important Jewish value of all is the preciousness and sacredness of life. Protecting life supersedes almost every other commandment. It is precisely for that reason that Jews have turned against Obama and his poll numbers have dropped. Enabling Iran to get a nuclear weapon threatens millions of people in Israel. Obama’s threats to suddenly withhold support for Israel at the United Nations risks putting Israel’s border security and economic viability at risk.

  • 8)  Obama has higher expectations for Israel. it’s true, I have high expectations for Israel, and they’re not unrealistic expectations, they’re not stupid expectations, they’re not the expectations that Israel would risk its own security blindly in pursuit of some idealistic pie-in-the-sky notions”

Comment: Obama has double standards for Israel. There is no crime in having high expectations for someone; indeed, it is often thought of as a compliment. However, if one uses those higher expectations to punish the party, that is a form of discrimination. For example, Obama cannot make demands on Israel for preconditions for final status talks but make none on Palestinian Arabs. Obama cannot wage wars thousands of miles from his shores against enemies who cannot possibly destroy the US, while berating Israel for fighting against an enemy on its borders that threaten to destroy Israel.

  • 9)  Obama thinks there is nothing unique about Jewish values or a Jewish State.Goldberg question: you want Israel to embody Jewish values. Obama: I want Israel, in the same way that I want the United States, to embody the Judeo-Christian and, ultimately then, what I believe are human or universal values that have led to progress over a millennium”

Comment: There is one Jewish State called Israel and its Jewish Values stress the sanctity of life. Obama managed to roll Judaism into Christianity and ultimately human and universal terms. While I am sure that he intended this as a compliment, it also undermined the uniqueness of Israel.

By way of comparison, does Obama have dreams that Turkey will embody Judeo-Christian values? How about Norway or Greece? Costa Rica? He probably does, but he would never make such a statement as those countries have distinct Islamic or Christian characters. To state that he wished they embody several cultural values does several things:

  • It minimizes the difference between the religions
  • It suggests that the country does not live up to those values

Regarding the first point, Obama minimized the fact that there is only one Jewish state. While Israel has religious freedom for all, it is the Jewish homeland. Israel’s goal is not to embody Obama’s dream of a Star Trek-like future of universalism.

Regarding the second point, Obama needs to be re-educated by the progressive rabbis that coached him, about the paramount Jewish value of the sanctity of life. It is precisely for that reason that Netanyahu came to address the joint session of Congress to talk about the Iranian nuclear threat. That exact value and speech that Obama boycotted.

  • 10)  Obama thinks Jewish Values are about freedom and human rights. Obama continued from his comments above about Judeo-Christian and universal values: “The same values that led to the end of Jim Crow and slavery. The same values that led to Nelson Mandela being freed and a multiracial democracy emerging in South Africa. The same values that led to the Berlin Wall coming down. The same values that animate our discussion on human rights and our concern that people on the other side of the world who may be tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping—the same values that lead us to speak out against anti-Semitism. I want Israel to embody these values because Israel is aligned with us in that fight for what I believe to be true. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t tough choices and there aren’t compromises. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have to ask ourselves very tough questions about, in the short term, do we have to protect ourselves,

Comment: Obama doesn’t know that Israel is the most liberal country from Greece to Singapore to South Africa.  What was this Obama rant? Was there an insinuation that Israel is an apartheid state (why mention Jim Crow or Nelson Mandela)? Was there a suggestion that Israel’s Security Wall which it built to stop Palestinian terrorism in 2002 is like the Berlin Wall? Does he think that people are being tortured or jailed for speaking their mind or worshipping in Israel? Israel is a thriving liberal country in the heart of a backwards Middle East. What were these bizarre comparisons? Why does Obama say that he “wants Israel to embody these values” rather than acknowledge that it DOES embody those values?

Should Netanyahu wax about his dream for America to not shoot unarmed black people?

  • 11)  Obama claimed to understand the need for protecting Jerusalem.  As he stated above and continued: “I was the first one to acknowledge that you can’t have the risk of terrorists coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations

Comment: Obama lied about understanding security for Jerusalem. If Obama understood the need for security for Israel’s capital, how can he condemn Jews LIVING in Jerusalem? Why did Obama condemn Jews moving into homes they legally purchased?

How can Obama state that Israel’s development of E1 which protects Jerusalem from the east, is a bad idea that hinders a final agreement?  Obama in March 2013 to Palestinian Arabs: “You mentioned E1, in particular.  I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution.”  E1, which connects Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, a city which every Israeli Prime Minister has always insisted on retaining, is the exact solution for keeping “terrorists [from] coming up right to the edge of Jerusalem and exposing populations.

  • 12)  Obama thinks he is a better at Jewish Values than Netanyahu.  Obama concluded the thought above with “So this isn’t an issue of being naive or unrealistic, but ultimately yes, I think there are certain values that the United States, at its best, exemplifies. I think there are certain values that Israel, and the Jewish tradition, at its best exemplifies. And I am willing to fight for those values.”

Comment: Obama continued to move the discussion away from defending Israel’s security to defending its values.  In a fitting conclusion of delusion, Obama placed himself in the center of defending Israel.  How is he doing it? By enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons and withholding support for Israel at the United Nations.  Doesn’t seem logical to you?  Well, let me explain the Obamian logic:

  • Since Obama said he has Israel’s back, you must believe him.  Just ignore that his words about preventing Iran to get nuclear capacity have been meaningless; that the Syrian red line was crossed without consequence; that Obama has ignored US’s treaties to support Ukraine and let Russia take over half of the country.
  • Since Obama said he is willing to fight for Jewish Values, you must believe him. Just ignore that he doesn’t understand that the primary Jewish value is the sanctity of life. Ignore that he thinks Israel isn’t the most democratic and humane country for thousands of miles in every direction.

Obama clearly does not appreciate the values that Israel lives each day.  If he did, he would be doing the opposite of his current actions by nixing a bad Iranian deal and by standing proudly next to Israel in international fora like the United Nations.

 

OBAMA UPSET AT BEING CRITICIZED BY ISRAEL SUPPORTERS

  • 13)  Obama knows that double standards are wrong.you should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora”

Comment: Obama hasn’t internalized his own double standards for Israel.  Obama spoke about Israel’s history and the history of anti-Semitism even until today which makes it easy to align himself with Israel.  However, his personal higher expectations of Israel and the unique role that the United States has in defending Israel in international for a has made him use double standards for the country.

  • 14)  Obama feels his moral convictions and role as defender of Jewish values can let him criticize Israel without being hostile.we can have a debate, and we can have an argument. But you can’t equate people of good will who are concerned about those issues with somebody who is hostile towards Israel

Comment: Threats and actions that have dire consequences are not debates.  Of course anyone can debate and disagree (in a democracy!) The two questions are 1) how do you do it and 2) what are the ramifications.

Regarding how one disagrees, the notion of being publicly hostile and rallying party loyalist to blacklist the Israeli prime minister is NOT the way to disagree. When the animosity is so public that fellow world leaders would approach you and share their disgust with Netanyahu (French PM Sarkozy in 2011), you have clearly let it be known to the world that you seriously despise the man. Politics is an art of subtlty and getting things moivig along. Mission Failed.

To the second point, on the ramifications of disagreeing, in a civil society, people just go back to their corners and disagree. However, in this situation, the disagreement leads to Iran – which has sworn to destroy Israel – obtaining nuclear weapons. Here the disagreement has led to the threat of the US not siding with Israel at the United Nations to make Israel become a pariah state and subject to various sanctions.

This is not simply “it’s OK to disagree”. Those disagreements will seriously harm the very viability of the State of Israel. And to somehow suggest that putting Israel in grave risk REPEATEDLY should not lead anyone to question the “good will” of those people is puzzling.  To argue that the actions themselves are not “hostile towards Israel” is absurd.

 

While Obama may have won over some Israel-supporters with his heavily coached- discussion on values, the red herring he is marketing is foul.

Related First One Through Articles:

International-Domestic Abuse: Obama and Netanyahu

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

For Obama, Israeli security is not so time-sensitive

Bugs Bunny on Obama’s credibility in Negotiating with Iran

Red Herrings on the Red Line

Finding Mr. Right-Wing

Summary: US President Obama seemed fixed on select comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an effort to portray the Israeli leader as a right-wing extremist who is a regional threat to peace. Not the Iranians who seek nuclear weapons. Not the Palestinians who support Jihad.

 

Many articles have been published about US President Obama’s bizarre focus on select statements from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu in the heat of elections. Articles point out the hypocrisy of Obama who himself made many statements during his elections from which he later back-tracked. Obama is also duplicitous in ignoring Iran’s chants of “Death to America” in the middle of nuclear negotiations.

How and why are some statements glossed over while Obama gives others great attention?

Obama is using Netanyahu as the straw man for the Iranian nuclear talks and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama has orchestrated a narrative where Netanyahu is the belligerent, right-wing, war-mongering leader, and not the Iranians or Palestinians.

IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

  • The Concern: A right-wing, global sponsor of terrorism which has publicly and repeatedly declared its desire to destroy the United States and Israel is being allowed to develop nuclear weapons under Obama’s negotiations
  • The Israeli Position: Don’t threaten to destroy us; don’t have arms to carry out your threat; we will protect ourselves, as needed. We will make peace with you, if possible, on terms that do not undermine our security or viability.
  • The Obama position: Israel is a right-wing, war-chanting, racist country that doesn’t believe in a negotiated solution. The Iranians are-who-they-are and this is the best we can expect from them, and the best deal that can be achieved at this time.

Obama has said throughout his presidency that Iran should not get nuclear weapons and that he will make sure that they cannot get such weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). However, he has softened his tone and position significantly and acquiesced that Iran will be able to keep various plants and operations to make such weaponry. He believes that Iran has already advanced too far in its knowledge and infrastructure. Further, he thinks the rest of the P5+1 parties in the negotiations will not go along with a sanctions to enforce a better deal. Therefore, he capitulates to the Iranians as Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote.

But why trash Netanyahu?

The Israeli Prime Minister believes the contemplated deal is a fiasco and has made his opinion known. He made clear that the deal assures the Iranians protection from attack while it continues to advance its nuclear research and development. The contemplated deal is not a nuclear deal, but simply a basis for the US to establish a new relationship with Iran and China. This same Iran, that threatens to destroy the US and Israel while it hangs gays in the streets. The same China, that executed three times the number of people as the rest of the world combined in 2014.

Netanyahu’s chant that “the emperor has no clothes” makes it hard for Obama to sell the failure. Obama has no response to tough questions about the nature of the deal, or about the nature of Iran itself. As such, he has enlisted his party hacks to skewer Netanyahu to draw attention away from the failure to keep his promises about Iran.

Obama and liberal loyalists have attempted to paint Israel as the right-wing fanatical country, not Iran. They portray Netanyahu as a hard-liner, not Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who is described as a moderate trying to fight his own Iranian “hard-liners. Netanyahu is described as a “racist“, while Rouhani is described as a “relative moderate“.

These characterizations are both an inversion of the truth and a red herring. But it serves to rally Obama’s liberal base in selling the Iranian non-nuclear deal: a right-wing fanatic (to them it has become Israel) is attacking a liberal country (magically, this has become Iran). Obama’s media minions mystically transformed the threat of the terrorist state of Iran being granted WMDs under Obama, to the right-wing rogue state of Israel attempting to block the moderate Iranians establishing ties with America. The deal’s numerous failures are ignored and the focus is diverted onto Netanyahu.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

  • The Concern: The most anti-Semitic people in the world that has repeatedly gone to war to destroy Israel, continue to seek its destruction. A straw man without the people’s support nor power to enforce a peace deal, is labeled as a “moderate” for only seeking an end to the conflict on terms that undermine Israel’s peace and viability.
  • The Israeli Position: Don’t threaten to destroy us; don’t have arms to carry out your threat; we will protect ourselves, as needed. We will make peace with you, if possible, on terms that do not undermine our security or viability
  • The Obama position: Israel is a right-wing, war-chanting, racist country that doesn’t believe in negotiations. The Palestinians are-who-they-are and Israel cannot wait forever for the Palestinians to become moderate.

Obama made a specific calculation to build bridges to the Muslim world which he felt were damaged under President George W Bush. He began his presidency with an international trip to Egypt where he gave his famous “New Beginning” speech to the parliament in Cairo. (He did not use the opportunity of being in the region to visit Israel). Indeed, when he finally came to Israel in 2013, he snubbed Netanyahu’s invitation to address the Israeli parliament and instead used that time to speak to select Israeli students that support his weltanschauung.

When it came to America’s involvement in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Obama dictated various terms and conditions upon Netanyahu which had never been instituted in any of the various peace talks between the parties. It included a ten month freeze on constructing new homes east of the Green Line (EGL) and releasing dozens of convicted Palestinian terrorists. Netanyahu did both. These actions were on top of his handing control of EGL cities like Hebron to the Palestinians.

So why trash Netanyahu?

The Obama administration has not been able to extract a single concession from the Palestinians. They pushed to join the ICC against US wishes. The sought membership in UN agencies against US wishes. And they have spent the last several years continuing on a path that undermines any chance for peace with the Jewish State:

  • Inciting violence against Israel
  • Repeated wars against Israel
  • Insisting on a “right of return” for people who are not refugees, but “SAPs” (Stateless Arabs from Palestine) who are children and grandchildren of Arabs who sought the destruction of Israel
  • Never agreeing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State
  • Declaring a new Palestinian state must be free of Jews
  • Stating that no peace deal would happen without the eastern half of Jerusalem as a capital

Obama concluded that the Palestinians are forever stubborn and he has minimal influence over their actions.  He therefore feels he must exert greater pressure on Israel.

That left Obama in the uncomfortable position of pressuring its ally which has the strong support of the American people over an antisemitic people that preach Israel’s destruction. He concluded that the best way to convince the American people was to invert reality and portray the Palestinians as desperate moderates who only seek peace, and the Israelis as belligerent racist occupiers.  His left-wing megaphones were happy to pick up the line.

The New York Times has called the Palestinians “desperate” and full of “discontent” about their situation. They are constantly labeled victims (consider the coverage of “The War in Gaza” as opposed to “The War FROM Gaza“). The injured Palestinians in the 2014 conflict were covered on the front page of the Times for many days (consider that no pictures of the three murdered Israeli teenagers or victims of Saudi attacks in Yemen, US drone attacks, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and others have ever appeared on the front page).

Conversely, Netanyahu is portrayed as being racist and opposing peace.  His election night get-out-the-vote comment about Arabs was described as racist, even though he had an Arab on the Likud ticket. His comment about the unlikelihood of a two state peace deal in light of the Palestinian positions and Arab Spring were painted as anti-peace by the Obama administration, even though Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his support and has taken actions towards a two-state solution.

Obama’s team attacks Netanyahu in an effort to extract greater concessions from Israel, because of its failure to extract anything from the Palestinians. It attempts to force a peace treaty that offers no peace for Israel. It is an attempt to further US relationship with the Arab world.

 

Netanyahu has become the convenient scapegoat for Obama’s failure to negotiate with Islamic Iran and the Palestinian Arabs. In the case of Iran, Netanyahu is a diversion from the terrible deal. He is a straw man that the only alternative to his bad deal is a call for war rather than a better deal.  In regard to the Palestinians, Obama is attempting to portray the straw man Abbas as a real moderate negotiating partner by disparaging Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s refusal to engage in a bad/false treaty is portrayed by Obama as anti-peace.


Six years ago, US citizens hoped Obama’s outreach to the Arab and Islamic world would create an opportunity to advance global peace.  Instead, Obama continues to undermine global peace to foster a better relationship with the Arab and Islamic world.


Sources:

Obama on Abbas March 2014: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/remarks-president-obama-and-president-abbas-palestinian-authority?v=1362363401000%3F

Related First One Through articles:

Germany 1933, Gaza 2014

Recent Abbas comment on the Holocaust https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/frightening-new-york-times-42714-article-on-mahmoud-abbas-shifts-on-holocaust/

 

Israel: Security in a Small Country

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Israel as “a small country, one of the smallest”. That is true, but only part of the story. As Bibi added “Israel is strong, but it’s much more vulnerable [than the US].

Bibi Boehner
Netanyahu addressing US Congress,
March 2015

Size: Israel is about 20,000 square kilometers, using the 1949 Armistice Lines, or 22,000 including the eastern part of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It puts it on par with El Salvador, ranking 153rd in terms of land size.

Shape: Israel is very narrow along a significant stretch of its commercial center – only 15km across. Indeed, the slender, jagged shape of the country yields over 1,000km of borders. The ratio of land size to borders ranks Israel as the 15th smallest country in the world.

Neighbors: Most of the very small countries have very few neighbors. The smallest countries and territories, the Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein, St. Martin, Andorra, Gibraltar and St. Maarten only border one or two countries. However, Israel has SIX neighbors: Lebanon; Syria; Jordan; “West Bank”; Egypt; and Gaza. By way of comparison, most countries with six neighbors are much larger (such as Argentina, which is over 130 times as large). Just beyond Israel’s borders, Turkey and Qatar openly support the Jihadist Hamas party in Gaza.

Status: Israel is unique in having a hostile relationship with most of its neighbors. All six of the surrounding countries are part of the Arab world and have launched wars against Israel at various times since the founding of Israel in 1948. Gaza (run by Hamas) openly calls for Israel’s destruction. Syria (and its puppet state Lebanon) have been in an ongoing state of war with Israel for years. Both countries are supported by Iran which has also called for Israel’s destruction and is on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. Syria itself was also building a nuclear facility before being stopped by Israel.

Other small countries with six bordering countries, like Oman, have not been repeatedly attacked by its neighbors.

Capital city: Israel is unique in having its capital questioned by the global community. While much of the world recognizes the western part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, countries have not moved their embassies to the city. No countries recognize Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Israel is also unique (except Nicosia, Cyprus which is also a contested capital city), in having its capital sit on the border of another territory. Compare the small countries of Belize and El Salvador, whose capital cities are 50km and 80km, respectively, from the closest neighboring countries. By way of comparison, the entire width of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is only 75km.

Israel is small and narrow, surrounded by countries that have repeatedly gone to war against the country and have threatened its existence. Its capital city is besieged by the global community that doesn’t recognize it, wants to divide it and place it on an international border, which all countries in the world avoid for security reasons.  Such a vulnerable country needs particular protections.

Security in a Vulnerable Landscape

For a country like Israel to have security and remain a viable country, a number of items would need to be established, if a Palestinian state were to be created:

  • No military for such Palestinian state, only local police
  • Israel would maintain full control of air space for its air force
  • Israel controls the borders
  • No division of the capital Jerusalem, and Israel further annexes land to the east of the city through to Ma’ale Adumim
  • Israel annexes land to the security barrier, which has helped maintain security over the past decade
  • Very limited land given from Israel to Palestine (the 1949 armistice Lines were arbitrary so there is no reason to maintain a quid pro quo in swapping land) as the Israeli landscape and topography are already too vulnerable
  • Hamas must be expelled from the Palestinian government and banned as a political party
  • Palestinian Authority must assume control of Gaza and EGL (East of the Green Line)
  • No negotiations with Syria on the Golan Heights for at least a decade after a Palestinian state is created. No negotiations if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon and/or continues to threaten Israel

While Israel has built an incredible democracy and thriving economy in the midst of a turbulent region, the size, shape and neighborhood require ongoing safeguards.


Related First One Through articles:

A Viable Palestinian State

Israel cannot solely rely on treaties – witness Ukraine in 2015

Obama’s cavalier approach to Israel’s security 

Obama does not consider Israel’s security to be time sensitive

Liberals and conservatives on Iran’s WMDs

Missing Netanyahu’s Speech: Those not Listening and Those Not Speaking

Summary: The media highlighted the Democrats that snubbed the Israeli Prime Minister’s address to Congress. They failed to mention the coalition of countries that Bibi represented. Will the world’s safety rest with those that party-with-their-party or those that bomb-the-bomb?

US President Obama made a deliberate attempt to marginalize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his address to Congress in March 2015. Obama aired a number of complaints about the nature of the invitation and later said that Netanyahu didn’t offer any new ideas in dealing with Iran. His efforts to turn public attention away from the incredibly important topic to a sideshow of partisanship was sad on many levels.

Obama no
Obama and Biden skipped Netanyahu’s Address to Congress,
March 2015

There were many people who were not at Congress on March 3rd: Democrats that didn’t listen, and Arab States that echoed Netanyahu’s message.

Those not Listening: Democrats Partying with their Party

The Obama administration managed to convince 58 members of Congress to skip Netanyahu’s speech. All were his fellow Democrats. They were:

SENATE – 8 members

  • Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)

HOUSE – 50 members

  • Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
  • Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)
  • Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)
  • Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)
  • Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas)
  • Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)
  • Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)
  • Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)
  • Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)
  • Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)
  • Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
  • Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)
  • Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
  • Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)
  • Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
  • Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
  • Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)
  • Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)
  • Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)
  • Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)
  • Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
  • Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)
  • Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)
  • Rep. Donald Payne (N.J.)
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
  • Rep. David Price (N.C.)
  • Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
  • Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

 Holmes
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D, DC)

It is wrong to say that these Democratic Congressmen are anti-Semites for skipping Netanyahu’s speech. They are just small-minded, petty, partisan politicians.

Those who were seen not Speaking: Arab States agree with Netanyahu

While Israel is in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime which has singled out the country for annihilation, several Arab countries are also very against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.  They supported Netanyahu’s position and address.

el sisi
Egyptian President Fatah El-Sisi calling to reform Islam,
January 2015

The difference between the absent deaf audience (Democrats) and the silent approving chorus (Arab states) is a contrast between politics and policy. The difference between Obama and Netanyahu regarding Iran is between hope and action.

Those Talking and Hoping: Obama and Kerry

Obama has essentially articulated that US intelligence is flawed, so the best solution for managing the Iranian nuclear program would be to rely on the Iranians’ openness. His negotiation tack will conclude with faith that the Iranians:

  • will disclose the entirety of their nuclear program;
  • will provide full access to all of the facilities; and
  • will not covertly move towards nuclear weapons.

It can best be called a policy of “hope”.

Kerry Iran
US Secretary of State John Kerry negotiating with Iran,
March 2015

Those Acting: Israel Bombing the Bomb

If Israel is convinced that the Iranians are good on their word, than they have reason to be concerned as Iran has threatened to destroy Israel.

Israel has long taken the approach that hope is not a policy.  It sits in too volatile a region to believe in the good faith of its neighbors that have declared war on the country. Peace is something that is fought for and defended.

Decisive action has led to extended windows of peace for Israel. In 1981, Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor that was due to go live.  In 2007, Israel bombed the Syrian nuclear reactor that was being constructed with the help of North Korea. In 1967, Israel acted preemptively to thwart the attacks of Egypt and Syria which enabled a very quick victory.  When Israel decided to remain passive, such as the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the country was almost overrun.

Netanyahu has pleaded for very tough sanctions against Iran. It has used malware and cyber-attacks against Iran. Israel has reportedly assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists (to the chagrin of the United States). It has advocated for putting all options on the table, including military force as it used against the facilities in Syria and Iraq.


The way forward with Iran has two very different paths:

  • Obama has advocated a policy of hope and has enlisted a quorum of party loyalists who will not listen to alternatives.
  • Israel has deployed policies of actions and has an eclectic group of Arab neighbors that support its position.

Will the future safety of the world belong to those that party-with-their-party or those willing to bomb-the-bomb?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Fairness versus Safety: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-gap-between-fairness-and-ramifications-wmds-in-iraq-and-iran/

Obama’s Iranian Red Line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/obamas-iranian-red-line/

Red Herrings on the Red Line

Summary: Obama’s anger at Israel’s Netanyahu was about Netanyahu’s anger at White House policy on Iran. All of the other excuses that Obama threw out proved inaccurate. However, Obama’s actions have introduced a partisan split over Israel into DC politics.

 obama netanyahu
Netanyahu and Obama

US President Obama took umbrage with Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. Obama aired a number of reasons, which all proved to be red herrings:

  1. Break in Protocol: Obama initially criticized the break in protocol of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepting an invitation without consulting the White House. A report later came out that the White House was informed about the invitation before Netanyahu accepted. The White House anger should have been directed at Boehner, not Netanyahu, even if this reason held any truth.
  2. Israeli elections: Obama offered another excuse to skip Netanyahu’s address: Obama said that it was US policy to not invite a foreign leader to address Congress in an election season as it would be seen as influencing the elections of another country. In fact, US President Bill Clinton invited then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to speak to Congress one month before the Israeli election. Further, the timing was a function of Secretary of State John Kerry’s announced Iranian deal deadline on March 24, not the timing of Israeli elections.
  3. Bi-partisan Support: The Obama administration then offered another reason why he and members of his cabinet would leave town during Netanyahu’s visit to D.C.: that Netanyahu was playing partisan politics. The reality is detailed below.

clinton peres
President Clinton and Israeli PM Shimon Peres,
Before Israeli elections in 1996

Israel and the United States have been strong allies regardless of the party in the White House. Israel’s relationship with Bill Clinton (D) was much better than with George HW Bush (R); and better with George W Bush (R) than with Barack Obama (D). There is no benefit or desire for an Israeli leader to choose one party over the other as Netanyahu reiterated in his remarks in the US in March 2015. The dynamics of particular leadership personalities play a role in the tone, but not the substance of the overall relationship between all of the elected US parties in government and the Jewish State.  Netanyahu and Obama have dealt with each other for six years where at times they’ve agreed or disagreed on a variety of issues; in each case, the parties in Congress maintained their support of Israel.

At this moment, Netanyahu strongly disagrees with Obama’s position in the Iranian nuclear negotiations.  It happens to be that Republican leadership also disagrees with the Obama administration. It was solely on that topic that Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress – a major “existential” issue of direct significant impact on Israel.

The difference in opinion about a particular policy does not mean that Netanyahu or Israel now prefer Republicans to Democrats, nor should it mean that elected Democrats or Republicans should treat Netanyahu or Israel any differently. However, the Obama administration made the claim that this was partisan politics, and kept members of the administration from meeting with Netanyahu and asked Democratic party members to stay away from the address, thereby creating a partisan issue.

That may very well have been the goal of Boehner. But the Democrats seemed all too willing to take the bait and insult Israel and Netanyahu by snubbing him. Democrats decided that a distorted idea of party loyalty was more important than hearing the concerns of an ally that has been threatened with annihilation by the very country with which the administration is creating a pathway for nuclear weapons.

Bibi Boehner
Netanyahu addressing Congress about Iranian nuclear weapons,
March 2015

The gulf in the support of Israel between the right and left of the American public is not new. Republicans support Israel by almost a 2-to-1 ratio compared to liberals around the country. Liberals support opening warmer relations with Muslim countries by over a 2-to-1 ratio over conservatives. But those statistics are in the general population of the United States. Obama has now brought that partisanship into the legislative branch of government in D.C. itself. At the administration’s urging, 58 Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. No Republicans missed the address.

Perhaps Obama used Netanyahu’s speech to pivot the party into a closer position with his loyal base of liberal Americans. If so, the implications for Israel will be very negative.

The only silver lining to the shattered red lines of Iran’s nuclear program will likely be that the Palestinian Arabs might return for peace talks with Israel as they will never have such an advocate in the White House as President Obama. What price will Obama make Israel pay? How much will it matter in the coming nuclear tinderbox of the Middle East?


Related First.One.Through articles:

On accepting invitations: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/on-accepting-invitations/

Liberal preference for fairness and conservatives preference for safety: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-gap-between-fairness-and-ramifications-wmds-in-iraq-and-iran/

Obama’s Iranian red line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/obamas-iranian-red-line/

On Accepting Invitations

Summary: While Obama can pretend to be insulted by Netanyahu’s failure to follow protocol in accepting an invitation to speak to a joint session of Congress, Obama did much worse to Netanyahu in 2013. It shows that if you are a friend, you forgive, and if you want to be angry, you can always find a cause to validate your anger.

bibi congress
Israeli PM Netanyahu addressing US Congress May 2011

There is a brouhaha over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepting an invitation from US Speaker of the House John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress in March 2015 about Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons. The complaint, according to the White House, is about a failure to follow protocol – one would imagine, a forgivable error. However, the comments from an unnamed senior source at the White House fumes that accepting the invitation was a direct insult to the president, and that Netanyahu “spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.

Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation specifically addressed to him, to discuss a topic that he considers an existential threat to his country, to speak to an incredible audience that also cares deeply about the subject of Iran doesn’t seem to be a snub to Obama at face value. However, if one considers that the audience does not agree with the president’s current course of action, and that Netanyahu’s opinion does not fit squarely with the president’s approach, well, that’s a different story- that could theoretically have been a snub and attempt to bypass the president that is…what’s the word? Familiar.

Obama Declined Invitation to Speak to the Israeli Knesset

In March 2013, Israel invited US President Barack Obama to visit Israel and speak to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Both of the two previous US presidents, Bill Clinton (1994) and George W Bush (2008) addressed the Knesset while they were in office. Obama declined the invitation.

clinton knesset
Present Bill Clinton Addressing Israeli Knesset 1994

This US administration wanted to bypass the Israeli government and address the Israeli citizens directly, saying that Obama had a speech for “the Israeli public and that really was our priority.” The White House arranged to have an audience of students from Israeli universities (except he did not allow students from schools on the West Bank of the Jordan) to hear his remarks.

  • Was declining an invitation to speak to the Knesset a nice thing to do? It is not something Israel extends to most world leaders.
  • Was it appropriate to use that same time slot to speak to “the Israeli public” instead? Did Obama not realize that Israel is the democracy and the politicians are elected by the people and represent the people? (As opposed to his “New Beginnings” address to the Egyptian government in 2009.
  • Obama cherry-picked his “Israeli public” to be those young people who may have been more receptive to his remarks than an audience that truly represented the broad opinions of the citizens of the country and the Knesset.

How did Netanyahu react to these insulting actions of the White House? Did he take umbrage? Did he refuse to see Obama and did Bibi direct members of his political party to ignore Obama on his visit? Not at all. He acted like a perfect host.

Note that these various 2013 actions of Obama were not a single failure to coordinate as it was for the 2015 Netanyahu invitation. Obama carefully scripted the entire Knesset-snub, direct-to-some of-the-people message.

In Obama’s opening remarks to the student body he said: “any drama between me and my friend, Bibi over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet (an Israeli comedy show)”. I wonder how Obama will react if Bibi opts to make a similar joke about his buddy “Barack” in his address to Congress in March.

obama israelUS President Obama speaking to Israeli STUDENTS 2013

And what was the crux of Obama’s speech in March 2013? Why did he feel the need to give a cold-shoulder to the Knesset and Netanyahu?

On the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama argued that a “strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons….But Iran must know this time is not unlimited.  And I’ve made the position of the United States of America clear:  Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.“ Words that sounded nice to a generation that believed “hope” was a policy.

Obama knew that the Israeli Knesset and Prime Minister Netanyahu were very skeptical about Obama’s push to curtail sanctions on Iran. Obama therefore opted to bypass them and speak to a select audience that would applaud his vision.

Netanyahu Accepts Invitation to Speak to US Congress

Now, two years have passed and Iran is closer to nuclear weapons. Obama scaled back Iranian sanctions and has continued to delay the timetable he laid out to stop their nuclear program. The majority of Congress doesn’t like the situation and they don’t agree with Obama’s process.

As such, the House Speaker asked a close ally which is in the crosshairs of the Iranian regime to call out the president for the failed process. Netanyahu’s response: “As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel. This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel’s position and in order to defend its future and its existence.”

Does Obama really lack complete sensitivity to Israel’s fears about a nuclear Iran that he would inflate a matter of protocol over an invitation to such a degree?  Or is it just a ploy for Obama to influence Israel’s elections by trying to put downhis friend Bibi”?



 Emily Post Five Points on Accepting an Invitation

There are a good number of people who have suggested that Netanyahu should cancel his March speech. Of course, they include his political opponents in Israel, but they also include some Democrats in the US Congress and leaders of Jewish organizations.

Emily Post, the expert of etiquette, suggests five key steps to responding to an invitation:

  • “RSVP: reply promptly”: done
  • “Reply in the Manner Indicated”: done, but partially outside of normal protocol
  • “Is that Your Final Answer?” SEE BELOW
  • “May I bring…?”: not relevant
  • Say “Thank you”: done

According to invitation etiquette, there are very few instances to change a response:

  • Changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of: illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately.” Vice President Joe Biden and some Democrats seem to be manufacturing this excuse for not attending now.
  • Canceling because you have a “better” offer is a sure fire way to get dropped from ALL the guest lists.
  • Being a “no show” is unacceptable.
  • Changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements.”

In short, it is inappropriate for Netanyahu to turn down the invitation at this time. It would be up to Speaker Boehner to consider changing the date of the invitation, should he choose to smooth this inflated side-issue to get everyone focused on the main issue.

The Churlish Turkish Leadership

Under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has continued to slide further and further into the extreme right towards militant Islam. It has (coincidentally?) also pushed the country closer to US President Obama and further from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

erdogan hitler

Turkish leader Erdogan on magazine cover

In terms, of the continued suppression of freedom and liberty in Turkey:

The Turkish leader has also led his country into repeated confrontations with Israel due to his adamant support for the terrorist group Hamas, a group sworn to the destruction of Israel:

erodgan netanyahu

The strong rightward shift has not changed the relationship between Erdogan and Obama.

obama erdogan

  • Obama considered Erdogan in his top five friends among international heads of state (January 2012)
  • Obama used his relationship to coerce an apology from Netanyahu to Erdogan for the assailants killed on the flotilla (March 2013)
  • US continued to contort itself to make Turkey happy as the US tried to help Kurdish fighters against ISIS, while Turkey did almost nothing in the fight, as it despised the Kurds (October 2014)

As described above, the Netanyahu apology to Erdogan did nothing to repair relations between Israel and Turkey and nothing slowed Erdogan’s crackdown on freedom in Turkey.  The Obama administration twisted itself every-which-way to excuse terrible Turkish policies (whether its treatment of the Kurds, failure to support war on ISIS, suppression of freedoms at home…) while it picks on Israel for matters of protocol.

To listen to liberal media and democrats these days, you would think that it was Israel that was acting “churlish” for matters of protocol as opposed to specific attacks on Israel.

Here is the satirical music video by First.One.Through about the sad state of the world, where victims must apologize to the aggressors (music by Joe Cocker):


Related First.One.Through articles:

NY Times support of Erdogan over Netanyahu: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/new-york-times-talking-turkey/

 

Failing Negotiation 101: The United States

One Party that can deliver

US Secretary of State John Kerry invested heavily in Israel-Palestinian Authority peace talks from July 2013 to March 2014. In the wake of the failure, many people looked to blame one of the two parties for the talks’ failure. A recent New York Times article quoted Israeli left-wing politician Tzipi Livni as blaming the Palestinians for the collapsed negotiations (a surprising statement, as in Israeli election season she only criticizes her political opponent Benjamin Netanyahu.)

In reality, it was the US that was to blame.

The US did not fail for lack of effort. It did not fail in trying to find creative solutions. It failed because the entire basis of having negotiations in the current format was a fool’s errand.

The process was doomed from the outset because Secretary Kerry deliberately ignored Negotiation Rule 101: negotiations between parties that can deliver. A negotiation between parties without authority is meaningless. A person without authority or control could theoretically promise anything – but deliver nothing. That was precisely what Secretary Kerry insisted upon when he pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate with a straw man named Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has no mandate. Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four year term as president of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005. After his term expired in January 2009, no new elections were held. He no longer has a mandate.

Abbas has no backing. The reason that no new elections for the PA have been held is that everyone knows that Abbas and his Fatah party would lose. One year after Abbas won the presidency, his Fatah party was trounced in legislative elections. Hamas won 58% of the parliament. Every poll taken since then has shown that Abbas would lose in a presidential election.

Abbas has no control. Gaza, with its population of 1.7 million people, is under complete control of Hamas. Hamas routed all PA forces in 2007 and Abbas has no ability to control any activities from the region. Hamas controls thousands of missiles which it fires at Israeli population centers with or without Abbas approval. Therefore, what “peace” can Abbas deliver?

Despite these enormous glaring flaws, the US pushed forward a peace process that was doomed from the start because of the very essence of one of the negotiating parties. Netanyahu was forced to sit across from a counter-party who could not deliver any compromise that he may have offered. As Netanyahu’s authority was clear, any negotiating point that he made was secure; Abbas could “bank” every concession. However, any compromise that Abbas would theoretically offer, could be negated by the Palestinians. Just as the Palestinians complained that they were never asked about the British Mandate in 1922, they could once again complain that the public was never consulted about the peace process, as a mothballed politician without backing negotiated the agreement.

Further, Abbas’ lack of control meant that he had no means of enforcing the agreement. Israel would be left (at best) with making peace with those parties that accepted the peace agreement, but still be at war with those that rejected the agreement. With Abbas unable to enforce the compromises and the peace, it would continue to fall on Israel to confront those Palestinians that were still at war with the country. Noting how the world reacted to Israel’s defensive operation against Gaza in 2014, could Israel have any sense of security that it could effectively counter-act Palestinian aggression post a mock peace deal?

Secretary Kerry compounded the mistake of the bogus negotiation by building up expectations. His earnest and persistent involvement aggravated the talk’s failure. By investing so heavily in the process, Kerry made the failure that much more pronounced. While there was no direct line linking the talk’s collapse to the July-August battles with Hamas, the environment was poisoned.

 

Abbas gets no R-E-S-P-E-C-T music video (music by Aretha Franklin): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LipAKFsUNq8

 


Sources:

NY Times on Tzipi Livni impression on talks failure: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/opinion/roger-cohen-why-israeli-palestinian-peace-failed.html?_r=0

Related First One Through articles:

Abbas 10-year anniversary for a 4 year term: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/the-disappointing-46-anniversary/

 

 

The New York Times Picture of the Year, 2014

15yearold

The year 2014 was notable for the global escalation in terror and death compared to prior years.

  • Islamic State/ ISIS created killing fields in Iraq, executing and beheading hundreds of people which it recorded and aired on the Internet. The group massacred and destroyed entire villages that existed for centuries.
  • Boko Haram in Nigeria killed hundreds of Christians and abducted hundreds of girls.
  • The ongoing war in Syria had a death toll approaching 200,000 people including over 10,000 children.
  • Israel responded to attacks from Gaza for the third time in eight years as Hamas continued rocket fire into Israeli towns. An advanced Hamas terror tunnel network extending into Israel forced a ground invasion into Gaza which claimed over 2000 lives.
  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, as Ukraine turned to the world for support but received virtually nothing.
  • Wars in Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries continued to claim thousands of lives.

The year also included near break-out race riots in the United States as several unarmed black men were killed by white police officers. In Africa, the deadly disease Ebola killed thousands.

Various news agencies highlighted the most significant news events which ranged from Ebola to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They selected new events that impacted thousands of people in 2014 which had potentially long-term consequences.

The New York Times year-end review posted dozens of pictures of conflicts around the world to encapsulate 2014.  In my opinion, the NYT picture that  summed up a dominant theme in its reporting for 2014 was the picture above, of a 15-year old Arab surrounded by Israeli policemen. For the New York Times, the stories on its cover pages in 2014 repeatedly told the story: that Israel attacks Arab youths.

The large color picture was displayed on its cover page on July 7, 2014. The bruised 15-year old Arab boy was being escorted out of a police station where he had been detained after throwing stones in a riot. There are several things that make the front-page treatment of the teenager note-worthy:

  • On that same day, over 100 people were killed in attacks in Kenya, Uganda and Yemen. Small stories appeared on the inside pages of the Times to discuss the scores murdered.
  • When Boko Haram killed hundreds, it also did not make the front page.
  • ISIS beheadings of journalists did not make the front page.

The beating of an Arab youth by Israeli forces was given more prominence and therefore deemed more important than those other world events.

This New York Times news story came shortly after three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered by Palestinians. The New York Times never placed even a small black-and-white photo of any of the three Jewish teenagers on the front page. Their plight was also not viewed as important by the Times.

Over the course of the next several weeks as Operation Protective Edge unfolded, the New York Times continued to put pictures of Palestinian children on the front page of the paper. Throughout July (July 11, 14, 17, 21, 22, 24 and 29th) the paper had pictures of Palestinians suffering on the front page. It took until July 29 – buried on page A6 – for the Times to write about and post a single picture of the Hamas terror tunnel network that was a main factor in launching the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Further, Palestinian leadership, whether Hamas leaders such as Khaled Mashal or acting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, never were pictured on the pages of the Times during Operation Protective Edge (the only leader to be pictured was Ismail Haniya on September 4 page A10, well after the fighting had stopped). The paper only showed pictures of Arab civilians. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s picture was shown often (July 7 twice; July 22; July 27; July 29; August 7), as were Israeli police and soldiers. The overall message of the New York Times was clear: the Israeli government was attacking Palestinian youths and civilians; it was not a war between opposing government authorities.

The Times news stories and editorials built additional narratives onto this theme, regardless of inaccuracies. In attempts to make the Israeli government seem callous to the conditions of Arab youth, an article and editorial on July 7 and July 8 stated that “days of near silence” passed before Israel Prime Minister spoke about the killing of an Arab teenager by Israeli radicals. This was completely untrue and it took days for the NYTimes to print a correction (below).

The NYT editorial board led with a piece on July 19 entitled “Israel’s War in Gaza”.  It was not called “Hamas’ War against Israel”, nor was it called the “War Between Hamas and Israel”.  The Times continued to paint the battle as an aggressive Israeli action against a populace.

In case there was any confusion in the New York Times message to its readership, it included another small picture of Netanyahu near its large picture of the year. (By way of comparison, did you ever see the NYT post a picture of US President Obama near an article about drone strikes or deaths in Afghanistan that he specifically ordered and oversaw?)


The New York Times tried to defend its coverage of the Gaza conflict by printing an editorial on November 23, 2014 entitled “The Conflict and the Coverage”.  Not surprisingly, it attempted to defend its poor media coverage and that it tried too hard to offer “symmetry” in the conflict. It claimed that the paper has “baseline beliefs that Israel has a right to exist and that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” The charitable Times board believing that “Israel has a right to exist,” clearly doesn’t extend to: believing that Israel has a right to defend itself; that it was reluctantly pulled into a battle in Gaza; that it sought to minimize Arab casualties; that Hamas is rabidly anti-Semitic; that Hamas leaders are intent on destroying Israel and killing Jews; and that Arab leadership was responsible for the war and deaths of both Israelis and Palestinians.


Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/07/jodi-rudoren-new-york-times-_n_5564067.html

Times moved picture down in online of story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/07/world/middleeast/israel-palestinians-muhammad-abu-khdeir.html

Every Picture Tells a story: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/every-picture-tells-a-story-dont-it/

Bibi as a killing monster: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/every-picture-tells-a-story-part-ii/

The NYT buried pictures: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-new-york-times-buried-pictures/

 

NY Times Correction: July 9, 2014

An article on Monday about the arrest of six Israelis in the killing of a Palestinian teenager referred incorrectly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. On the day of the killing, Mr. Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying he had told his minister for internal security to quickly investigate the crime; it is not the case that “days of near silence” passed before he spoke about it. The error was repeated in an editorial on Tuesday.”