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/

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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/

 

Obama and the Saudis

obamaabdullah

His foreign policy is like putting diesel into a car instead of gasoline.”
-satire of KSA King Abdullah on US President Obama’s foreign policy

The United States maintained a strong tie to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for decades due to its stable monarchy and enormous supply of oil on which the US economy (and its allies) depended.  Many US administrations looked past the KSA’s human rights abuses to keep the relationship on solid footing.

That warm relationship between the countries existed until US President Obama began to change the traditional order of foreign relations.  Obama did not favor stability; he did not reward allies.  Instead, he advanced a new foreign policy paradigm in which he would undermine allies and try to build bridges to enemies.  He would favor public opinion over the rule of law.

Obama’s “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in 2009 was indeed a new beginning.  Within two years, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, began calling for removing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power.  Shortly thereafter, the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power in a democratic election, just as the MB’s Palestinian branch, Hamas, won elections in 2006.  The stability of the monarchies and dictators throughout the Middle East soon began to implode, and the “Arab Spring” shook the stability of the region.

As Saudi King Abdullah watched Egypt, his ally and neighbor to the west collapse with the assistance of the United States, he watched Obama establish warmer relations with his enemy, Iran to the north.  Remarkably, Obama seemed content letting the Iranians obtain nuclear weapons.

In Syria, Abdullah watched Obama let Iranian ally Syria prance right through a bright red line that Obama had drawn loudly and publicly, after Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons in his civil war.  Was this an ally to be trusted in the volatile Middle East?  How long before he turns on his kingdom to reform and open elections to the masses?

More importantly for him, how long before Obama’s actions enable a firestorm in the Middle East that destroys his kingdom?


Sources:

King Abdullah hated Obama: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/397044/nbcs-engel-king-abdullah-could-not-stand-president-obama-brendan-bordelon

White House “New Beginning” speech in Cairo: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/NewBeginning/

Fouad Ajami on the Arab impression of Obama: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703499404574558300500152682

Related First One Through article:

Obama’s confused foreign policy: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/obamas-foreign-policy/

Seeing Security through a Screen

 The 44th US President is surrounded by high walls
and peers out at the world through pretty screens.

In November 2014, “someone” in the Obama Administration chose to belittle the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The choice of expletives aside, the call was not just revealing about how much Barack Obama and his administration disliked Netanyahu, it reflected a smugness and cluelessness of the US Administration about living in the dangerous Middle East.

America at Peace

America has been blessed with peace on its shores. While the country has waged many wars over the past 70 years, the actual fighting was on foreign lands including: Europe; Iraq; Vietnam; Korea; Japan; Libya; Kosovo; Somalia and many other countries. Other than two attacks on American soil, the US has been spared fear and death at home.

  1.  Points in Time: There were only two days that the USA had foreigners attacking the country: December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001. America has not faced a prolonged attack on its shores for centuries.
  2. Troops Trespassing: Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks were done via airplanes. Foreign warriors did not walk the streets of America.
  3. Families Threatened: The two attacks were on military installations (the navy fleet and the Pentagon) and financial center (World Trade Center).   America did not face an enemy that threatened homes and families.
  4. Existential Threat: America is a superpower, armed with firepower that can destroy the world many times over. It has not engaged with an enemy that could threaten the very existence of the country.
  5. Peaceful borders: America is lucky to have only two borders despite its enormous size. Both neighbors are friends, allies and trading partners of the USA.

None of these facts are true for Israel. Israel is surrounded by several enemy countries. These neighbors have stated their intention to wipe Israel off of the map and have repeatedly gone to war and fired directly into civilian population centers over and over again through the decades of Israel’s existence.

Lawyers as Commanders-in-Chief

America’s peaceful existence has enabled it to calmly elect presidents with no military experience over the last several decades. When America fought its great wars such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II, the American people elected the respective generals to become the Commanders-in-Chief in the following years (George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower).

  1. Never in battle. The recent US presidents and vice presidents (particularly the Democratic ones) including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton had no military experience at all. George HW Bush fought in World War II, while George W Bush served in the National Guard but was never in battle. Al Gore served as a military reporter for a short stint.       Other than HW Bush, these men never faced true fear or saw friends die in battle. They led the world’s largest military machine as Commanders-in-Chief without appreciating the danger and fear of deadly combat.
  2. No draft. America no longer has a draft so every person that serves in the military does so as a volunteer. Such a system can mask the decision of deploying troops for a military commander. Each soldier is a volunteer and trained professional. This “professional army” is very different than “citizen armies” that pull people out of the workforce and touch every corner of a country. As such, American presidents fight wars without the same direct economic and emotional impact that face other countries.
  3. The infrequent visitor. President George W Bush launched the Iraq War in response to the attacks on 9/11 and President Obama invested heavily in the War in Afghanistan. Each president made only four short trips to the regions despite deploying well over half a million troops in each war over many years.

In Israel, every person must serve in the armed forces. Every family deals with disruption to its business and annual routine. Each citizen faces the risks on a very personal level – physical, financial and emotional. Every family in Israel knows someone who died in one of its wars.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served in the elite unit Sayeret Matkal, and took part in a number of military operations, including the 1972 rescue of a hijacked Sebana passenger jet. His brother died leading a raid to free Israeli civilians hijacked in Entebee in 1976. Other members of the current Israeli ruling coalition include Naftali Bennett who served in two elite units including Sayeret Matkal and Maglan. Yair Lapid served as a First Sergeant in the IDF.

Israeli Prime Ministers do not just visit the frontlines in each battle they fight- they can see the missiles standing next to their families from their bedroom windows.

The Obama Detachment

The detachment from reality regarding the fear and adrenaline of battle for an American president is compounded in the case of Obama, who is generally acknowledged to be a “detached” individual.

  1. Constitutional law. President Obama has referred to himself as a professor of constitutional law. His leadership style exemplified this attitude whether on domestic matters such as Immigration Reform or the Targeted Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki when he delved into the nuances of particular laws in large legal briefs. Despite being the Commander-in-Chief, he is most comfortable as a lawyer surrounded by other lawyers sitting around a conference room table; he is clearly not a military leader surrounded by armed forces in the field of battle.
  2. Community organizer. Obama’s background as a community organizer focused on ways to elevate a particular community within the 330 million-population of the United States. He has no background or experience in protecting the entire country, which every leader in Israel has experienced for several years.
  3. Competitive sports. Obama is very proud of his athletic skills and people have noted his deep competitive streak. However, talking dirt about dunks is divorced from the reality of deploying troops in your backyard against enemies sworn to your destruction while the world admonishes your right to defend itself. Beating an opponent on the court has little to do with protecting ones citizens.
  4. Battle by Remote. The best summary of the Obama detachment is in his moniker “The Drone President”. More than any president in US history, Obama has used drones to assassinate his enemies. The pilots of the drones may be hundreds or thousands of miles from the battle scene. Obama’s army drops the missiles and departs, never personally entering the zone of combat and therefore never exposed to danger.
  5. The Ultimate belief in Self. Despite never being in battle, (other than some competitive basketball games), and relying more and more on mechanized drones in the battlefield, Obama has a tremendous sense of his centrality to the war machine.  After US marines assassinated Osama bin Laden while Obama sat and watched on a screen, his speech to the nation the next day was littered with an active “I” to describe the mission.
    1. “I directed Leon Panetta”
    2. “I was briefed”
    3. “I met repeatedly”
    4. “I determined”
    5. “I, as Commander-in-Chief”

Obama and his administration sit in their comfy offices in their calm country thousands of miles from confrontation and peer into the battle through TV screens and simulators.  They watch their orders for assassinations and wars, with laptops and coffee. Their added security blanket of being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, adds yet another shield from any serious global charge. As Mel Brooks once aptly said “It’s good to be the King.

obama screen bin laden
Obama, Clinton and crew watch the attack on Bin Laden on monitors,
May 2011

Remarkably, Obama, the cloistered captain, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt his unloved ally, the besieged Bibi Netanyahu.

The Israeli Prime Minister, the “chick*hit” that the Obama administration referred to, never had the ability to be so smug. His backyard contains a museum memorializing millions of relatives slaughtered for the crime of being a Jew just a few decades ago.  He grew up with a gun in his hand to fight terrorists attacking his neighbors, and armies attacking his country.  He wakes each morning knowing that his house and family are in the comfortable crosshairs of enemies sworn to destroy him, his country and his people.

In addition to his enemies, today Netanyahu has to fight against a world that admonishes him for protecting his people. He has to contend with his greatest ally, the United States, which continues to make it impossible to preemptively attack and destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons.

 

Insults are not a big deal for a leader who has fought for the survival of his people; Bibi has been called worse by members of his own parliament.

The insult says much more about Obama than it does about Bibi.

 


Sources:

The Atlantic on Obama anger at Bibi: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-crisis-in-us-israel-relations-is-officially-here/382031/

Obama visits Afghanistan: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-arrives-in-afghanistan-on-surprise-visit/2014/05/25/7df61452-e41f-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

Bush visit Iraq: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/background-bushs-surprise-visits-to-iraq-afghanistan/

Obama Constitutional Law Professor: http://www.factcheck.org/2008/03/obama-a-constitutional-law-professor/

Obama detached: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/democrats-privately-calling-obama-detached-flat-footed-incompetent_793544.html

Obama competitive sports: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/08/book-obama-driven-by-competitive-streak-/1#.VHMoCLMtCUk

Legal Case for Killing: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/world/middleeast/anwar-al-awlaki-a-us-citizen-in-americas-cross-hairs.html?hp&_r=0

Obama speech on Bin Laden: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-dead