Wednesday, March 31, 2010

dumpster diving and treasures

"Secrets" and Judaism

positive affirmations to get through tough times

using your 5 senses for God

finding meaning #2

our own spiritual stimulus

On good and evil

values series

values 1

values 2

values 3

values 4

values 5

gossip slander

jewish values 6

fib or lie

philosophy of giving

what is enough

bikur cholim visiting the sick

modesty tzniyute

modesty tzniyute

capital punishment

jewish wisdom


hidur mitzvah doing it for God

reflections series

reflections #1

reflections #2

reflections #3

reflections #4

reflections #5

reflections #6

good and evil

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Judaism via video courses by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

NEW- Judaism-via-video courses by me.Go to the blog and watch several brief videos on the subject of the course title Great way to easily get up to speed on Jewish basics with my Judaism-v-a-video courses.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

parashat tzav

Friday, March 19, 2010

US Piling on Israel

In a stunning departure from 62 years of U.S.-Israel relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the Quartet in Moscow to issue a statement which "condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem." There was no condemnation for Arabs building housing units in their neighborhoods.

"Condemnation" is the harshest reprimand in the diplomatic arsenal and usually reserved for sponsors of terror and the worst human rights offenders. The U.S. has never employed this censure to a housing plan.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went against the wishes of his own coalition government to meet President Obama's demands. The Israeli prime minister accepted a 10-month freeze on all development in the West Bank, a step which the U.S. hailed as "unprecedented." Jerusalem was never included in the moratorium.The housing plan which is the subject of such harsh condemnation is in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood between two other Jewish neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem. The Arab population in Jerusalem is growing and their communities in Jerusalem are building to accommodate the growth.

There has been an outpouring of bi-partisan criticism of the administration's escalation of the verbal assault on Israel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama finally softens after real damage

Obama on Israel: Friends Can Disagree - Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama is rejecting talk that U.S.-Israel relations are in a meltdown. Asked in a Fox News interview Wednesday whether the falling out amounted to a "crisis," Obama said flatly, "No."
"Israel's one of our closest allies and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes," the president said. "There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward....[On Tuesday], when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had been reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that it is in their interests to move this peace process forward." (Politico)

But it is phony
Did We Really Condemn the Palestinian Call to Violence?

Jennifer Rubin - 03.18.2010 - 9:13 AM

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

NYT unplugging for Shabbat

And on the Sabbath, the iPhones Shall Rest
Published: March 17, 2010

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THE Fourth Commandment doesn’t specifically mention TweetDeck or Facebook. Observing the Sabbath 3,000 years ago was more about rest and going easy on one’s family — servants and oxen included.
Enlarge This Image
Ben Sklar for The New York Times

DAY OF REST Dan Rollman is the driving force behind this weekend’s National Day of Unplugging.
Enlarge This Image
Robert Caplin for The New York Times

Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue will participate.

But if Moses were redelivering his theophany today — the assembled crowd furiously tweeting his every sound bite — one imagines the frustrated prophet’s taking a moment to clarify what God meant, exactly, by a “day of rest.”

For starters, how about putting down the iPhone? Easier said than done in an age when careers rise and fall on the strength of one’s Twitter prowess. But that’s exactly what a group of Jewish tastemakers is trying to promote this weekend with its first annual National Day of Unplugging.

The experiment, which lasts from sundown Friday, March 19, to sundown Saturday, is the brainchild of Reboot (, a nonprofit think tank of hip, media-savvy Jewish professionals, based in New York, with staff members in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was founded in 2003, and its members include television executives, Web developers, writers, filmmakers and C.E.O.’s: people for whom the act of “unplugging” could well be most difficult — and most needed.

Jill Soloway, a Los Angeles-based writer, television producer (“United States of Tara,” “Six Feet Under”) and mother of two, said that unplugging for a day was “next to excruciating,” particularly since she got an iPhone about a year ago. “Somebody once said to me that a computer fits with anxiety like a lock in a key,” she said. “And that’s exactly right. You have an anxious moment out in your life, or in your world, and you want a little hit, and your e-mail can do that.”

Organizers hope the day of unplugging will draw attention to Reboot’s “Sabbath Manifesto”: a set of 10 “core principles” introduced earlier this year to guide tradition-seekers in ways that are meaningful in an information-driven world. Dan Rollman, president and a founder of the Web site Universal Record Database (, which tracks its own set of “world records,” conceived the manifesto at a 2008 Reboot retreat, in part to “reinvent the Jewish ritual and make Judaism a little more modern and contemporary.”

“The topic that was on my mind was whether there was room for a weekly day of rest within our increasingly hectic lives,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I was feeling like, as we were getting more and more plugged-in, and our interactive experience was getting richer, there was something that was disappearing as well.”

The manifesto’s guidelines were written in broad terms to leave it open to nonpracticing Jews, and even non-Jews, Mr. Rollman said. “Nobody wanted those rules to be like, ‘We should insist that everybody goes back to synagogue.’ ” Instead, the manifesto offers instructions like “avoid technology,” “find silence” and “drink wine.”

“There was a very conscious decision made in creating these principles to write them using the most plain, simple language possible, and to make them open for vast interpretation,” Mr. Rollman said. He cited an example of a person who uses a cellphone to call grandchildren, noting that rules like “connect with loved ones” and “avoid technology” could mean different things to different people.

Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, said the idea of unplugging for the Sabbath was “incredibly important.”

“As a rabbi, and as a contemporary American, never before in my life has there been such an awareness of the way that technology and contemporary culture have a tug at every aspect of our being,” Rabbi Cosgrove said. “I don’t think we’re aware of the manner in which technological innovation is changing the way we think and read, the way we process information, the way we engage in relationships with meaning." Unplugging for a day was “a powerful action in the face of a fast-paced way of living,” he added.

“The Sabbath has some really important lessons for how we live our life and use our time,” said Judith Shulevitz, whose book, “The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time,” is to be published this month.

Ms. Shulevitz said Reboot’s organizers had “done a really good job of boiling down some of the points that are made through Sabbath law for the secular world.” Among them was the contemporary act of unplugging, a rule she and her family strictly observe every Sabbath by turning off all electronic devices.

Reboot’s organizers are promoting the National Day of Unplugging via (what else?) Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. But the manifesto also emphasizes direct personal interaction. As such, Reboot has planned intimate gatherings this weekend in New York and Los Angeles, where members will dine and share their views on the manifesto. Cellphones must be checked at the door, where they’ll “sleep” in miniature sleeping bags.

Mr. Rollman said he estimated a few hundred people around the world would participate in various ways, but hoped the hype would increase those numbers in coming years. Observers are being encouraged to share their experiences online at the Sabbath Manifesto Web site ( once the day is over.

Ms. Soloway, who has tried to unplug on the Sabbath for several years, said there was something about preserving “the dignity of one day” each week that was compelling on an emotional level.

“The need to be in two places at once, to me, is like the birth of this anxious feeling among everybody in our culture,” she said. “You can take six days for your relentless ambition, but you can take one of those days and say, ‘O.K., I have done enough.’ ”
A version of this article appeared in print on March 18, 2010, on page E6 of the New York edition.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Orthodox rabbis blast Obama

The Rabbinical Council of America wishes to express its astonishment and
dismay at the ongoing response of our elected leaders to the recent
announcement by Israel of plans to continue building in a Jerusalem

The construction in Jerusalem will take place in accordance with the
policies of every past Israeli administration, and in fulfillment of the
existing policies of the current one.

Some may question the wisdom of Israel's decision to proceed at this time
with this long-planned project. Some may find fault with the timing of its
announcement, coming during a sensitive visit to Israel by the Vice
President, himself a long-time friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Some
may even doubt Israel's right to expand the neighborhoods of a united
Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.

But none of that can explain the disproportionate, extraordinary, and
unwarranted response by some spokesmen of the Obama administration in
excoriating, condemning, and publicly lashing out at the duly elected
representatives of the sovereign State of Israel.

There is no justification, neither on moral nor on diplomatic grounds, for
escalating this policy disagreement into what some in the administration
have called (to quote just one such phrase) "an affront to America." This,
even after the Prime Minister of Israel, in unmatched fashion, issued a
public apology to the government of the United States.

Compared to the repeated incitements by leaders of the Palestinian Authority
to mass murder of innocent civilians; compared to last week's official
Palestinian adulation of bloody terrorists; and compared to the refusal by
the Palestinian Authority to hold direct face to face talks to advance the
American-sponsored peace process without preconditions, the US response to
Israel's announcement is difficult to fathom. The public lashing by the
United States of its most dependable ally and friend in the Middle East, in
response to a decision to expand a neighborhood in its capital city, is a
sad betrayal of the promises and understandings, as well as shared values,
that have characterized US-Israel relations since 1948, and that were
so-well articulated by Vice President Biden.

We add our voices to the many that urge the government of our great country
to desist from this inappropriate treatment of a proven democratic ally and

As the largest Orthodox rabbinical association in the world, we pray, as we
do publicly in our synagogues every Sabbath and Jewish holiday, that God
grant President Obama, as well as his advisors and his counselors, the
wisdom and insight to discern and pursue true paths of peace, to distinguish
between the proven friends and allies of these United States - and those
who, in denying Israel's right to live in security and peace as a Jewish
State, would undermine not just Israel, but the interests of the United
States itself.

from Protect Our Heritage Pac


On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden "condemned" (extremely strong diplomatic language) an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage for the construction of 1,600 housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. The Vice President was not comfortable with the timing of the announcement but accepted Prime Minister Netanyahu's apology. Israel thought the incident was over.

In a 45-minute phone tirade to Israel's Prime Minister, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that Israel building in east Jerusalem is an "insult" to the United States, jeopardizes the bilateral relationship, and damages the cause of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Days later President Barack Obama's chief political adviser David Axelrod took to the Sunday talk shows to slam the Israeli construction as "an affront" to the United States. The day after Israel thought that the level of rhetoric had calmed, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. was summoned to a reprimand by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. Oren spoke of his surprise at being summoned after believing that the crisis had ended on Thursday. "Steinberg read to me from the [American] letter of protest, whose content was extremely harsh."

As penance for planning of Jewish homes, Clinton set forth a list of U.S. demands, which include reversing the decision to build in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, withdrawing the IDF from additional areas in the West Bank and removing roadblocks from the Gaza Strip to Israel. Because Israel planned housing which would not be built for another 3-4 years, convicted terrorists should be released and other potential terrorists should be allowed freer access to Israel. The underlying assumption that any area which the Palestinians want to fall under their sovereignty must be ethnically cleansed of all Jewish residents did not seem to be an affront to our State Department.

The U.S. knew all along that Jerusalem was not part of the building freeze. Why is the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem considered an unforgivable offense to the U.S. when Jerusalem was never part of the building freeze area? This housing project falls within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, is a primarily Jewish community with 16,000 Jewish residents, and was never included in the territory of Prime Minster Netanyahu 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria. When under pressure from the U.S., Netanyahu agreed to the building freeze on November 25, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton hailed the Netanyahu agreement as "unprecedented settlement concessions." On November 1, 2009, the U.S. State Department praised the announcement, "Today's announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The same concession that was praised in November is today condemned as a punishable offence.

The U.S. has esccalated a minor difference into what Ambassor Oren describes," U.S.-Israeli relations face their worst crisis in 35 years." America's verbal attacks against Israel will be paid in Israeli and Palestinian blood. After the American barrage against Israel, some prominent Palestinian leaders called for "a march against Jerusalem to protect if from the Jews.' Today, after Hamas called for a "day of Rage" outbreaks of Palestinian violence broke out in parts of Jerusalem with 10 Palestinains and one Israeli injured and more violence expected tomorrow.

The excessively disparaging rhetoric against Israel stopped any possibility of peace negotiations.The Palestinians have no reason to enter into negotiations in which they may have to give up something if they believe they can simply wait for the U.S. president to deliver them all of their demands without their recognition of the Jewish State of Israel. The Israelis feel less confident than ever in their ability to trust the U.S. as an honest broker if after they agreed to U.S. prompted unilateral concessions, their only reward is a demand for even more and even more dangerous concessions.

Obama bent on driving out Netanyahu

The latest news reports make it clear that the Obama administration's campaign of criticism against Israel threatens to do irreparable damage to relations with our valued ally.

* The Washington Post reports that

In an effort to get peace talks back on track, the Obama administration is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to reverse last week's approval of 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem, make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians, and publicly declare that all of the "core issues" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, be included in upcoming talks, U.S. officials said.

The New York Times tells us that the administration is looking to "turn the tables" on Israel's leaders, language more suited to dealings with an enemy than with an ally. The Times' reporting suggests that after a failed, months-long effort to entice the Palestinians into direct negotiations with Israel, the administration now wants Israel to accept the Palestinians' preferred framework - one in which our diplomats would negotiate for them.

And at the, Jeffrey Goldberg reports that Obama's ultimate aim is to destroy Israel's current government in hopes that the current governing coalition would be replaced by a more pliant one.

What happened to the promise made back in the 2008 campaign that during an Obama presidency, "the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel"?

Fortunately, more and more members of Congress are protesting what House Republican Whip Eric Cantor aptly describes as an "opportunistic move by an administration that wants to impose its view... onto our ally."

At first, most of those speaking up were Republicans. But now more Democrats have begun to break with the administration.

At this point, Obama and his lieutenants are isolated. Yet they show no signs of admitting their error.

We need to encourage more members of Congress to speak up, so that the administration will stand down.

Please take a moment to call or email your Congressman and two U.S. Senators. Urge them to speak out against the Obama administration's pressure campaign against Israel.

Information about how to contact your Congressman can be found at (you will be directed to a site where you can identify who your Representative is and send him or her an email) -- or by calling 202-224-3121.

Information about how to contact your U.S. Senators can be found at -- or by calling 202-224-3121.

Key points to emphasize:

It is outrageous that the Obama administration is attacking an ally even as it coddles hostile nations like Iran and Syria.

The cause of peace is set back when Israel's foes are led to believe that significant diplomatic gains can be achieved through American pressure - and without reciprocal concessions.

The Obama administration's obsession with the peace process - even when the Palestinians demonstrate by their actions that they are not ready to make peace - has become a distraction from the effort to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Thank you for weighing in on this urgent and timely matter. This is the moment when we need to raise our voices!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

in Illinois? call

Israel needs us right now to speak to our elected representatives and tell them that they need to speak up immediately to defend the Israel-US relationship. We must let them know that we love Israel, and that America is committed to our best and most reliable ally in the Middle East – no matter what our differences might be. We must not allow the lies they are spreading about Israel's right to build in east Jerusalem, on Israel's willingness to make peace and the Arab/Muslim hostility to peace with Israel to continue.

I would suggest to ask them to send a personal letter to President Obama and to allow that letter to be released to the press – that is what we expect from our elected officials.

Please call today. If we tie up the lines, that's OK too!
For contact information for other Senators and Representatives go to

Jan Schakowsky (D-9)

Other E-Mail:

Work: 773 506 7100
Work: 847 328 3409

Washington office:202 225 2111

Work Address: 5533 N. Broadway, #2, 60640,
820 Davis, #105, Evan 60201
2367 Rayburn HOB, Wash 20515
202 225 2111
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Durbin, Richard J. - (D - IL) I
(202) 224-2152
Web Form:

More anti Obama for attacking Israel

Obama Isolated

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:39 PM

More and more Democrats are stepping forward to slap down the Obami. Among the more terse was from Rep. Anthony Weiner: “The appropriate response was a shake of the head — not a temper tantrum. Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already.” Among the more eloquent was Rep. Eliot Engel from the House floor:

We should not have a disproportionate response to Israel. We need to be careful and measured in our response, and I think we all have to take a step back.

The relationship remains rock solid. The Obama administration and the administration of Prime Minister Netanyahu have been cooperating on a number of things: containing Iran, the Goldstone Report, and making sure that Israel retains its qualitative military edge in the region. And there has been good cooperation between our two administrations, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu administration. But to seem to question the very nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship and to put it in personal terms in a very public way will not contribute to peace in the Middle East. Rather, it’s the contrary. It will cause the Palestinians to dig in their heels, thinking that the Americans can just deliver the Israelis.

Last year, when there was public pressure being put on Israel not to expand settlements, there was no simultaneous public pressure being put on the Palestinians, and we saw that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just sat back, didn’t make any concessions, didn’t say that he would do anything positively to further peace talks, and just thought that the United States would wring concessions out of Israel.

The fact of the matter is that the Israelis have been welcoming peace talks with the Palestinians. The Israelis have said they would sit down and have face-to-face talks for peace with the Palestinians. That’s what you do when you have peace. Instead, the Palestinians have refused to sit with the Israelis, and Senator Mitchell is proposing to shuttle back and forth between the Palestinian side and the Israeli side to have negotiations, but not direct negotiations.

We need to be careful. If we criticize Israel for doing what we think was wrong, then we need to also criticize the Palestinians when they do things wrong. Just recently, the Palestinians named a square in Ramallah for a terrorist who killed 30-some-odd Israelis. I didn’t hear any criticism of the Palestinian side. When the Palestinians dig in their heels and say they won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, I didn’t hear any criticism of Palestinians.

Let me say that harsh words are never a replacement for working together, but I think that harsh words can sometimes make us understand that only by working together can we confront the things that we both know need to be confronted–the scourge of terrorism, the thing that all nations understand emanates in the Middle East from radical forces, and those are the kinds of fights that Israel has every single day fighting terrorism. We learned about terrorism on this soil on 9/11. Israel has to deal with it every day.

So all I am saying, Madam Speaker, is that we need to not only reaffirm the strength of our ties between our two countries, but we also need to understand that in a relationship between friends, as in family, there will be some disagreements. We need to be careful about how we voice those disagreements in public.

Let’s put it another way: not a single Republican or Democratic official has come forward to defend the administration. J Street cheers them on, as one can imagine from the never-enough-venom-directed-to-Israel lobby. The National Jewish Democratic Council is hiding under the bed. But actual elected leaders? Not one of them. On this the administration is totally isolated.
There Are a Lot of Angry Evangelicals

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:06 PM

Christians United for Israel has swung into action; an alert went out to its very large mailing list (which includes pastors who in turn contact their church members). Spokesman Ari Morgenstern tells me: “The strong response of the Christian Zionist community on this issue reflects their steadfast commitment to standing with Israel. Christian friends of Israel are capable of distinguishing between temporary disputes between friends, and the deeper ties that bind our two countries.” What kind of response did they get? “Just 90 minutes after CUFI’s action alert was distributed, more than 5,000 of our members sent e-mails to the White House asking the president to ‘end this unnecessary crisis, return to a more productive approach, and stand with our ally Israel.’ As of last count we are averaging an e-mail every second, and I see no indication that this will slow down anytime soon.”

Many liberal, largely secular American Jews have been wary of, if not downright hostile to, evangelical support for Israel. Perhaps they should reconsider and figure out who the friends of Israel really are. They’re the ones sending, not receiving the e-mails
A 2012 Preview

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:02 PM

Obama’s assault on Israel is drawing fire from potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Sarah Palin (who, as I’ve written quite a bit about, had a rocky start with American Jews) is out with a lengthly statement, pointing out the contrast between Obama’s outreach to despotic regimes and our treatment of Israel, which reads, in part:

Last October, Secretary of State Clinton recognized Israel’s desire for peace in the Middle East and praised Israel’s “unprecedented” concessions for agreeing to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, a concession that did NOT include halting construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem. Even last week after planned construction was announced, Vice President Biden still expressed “appreciation” for the “significant” steps taken by the Israeli government to address this minor issue. Now, however, we see the Obama Administration has decided to escalate, make unilateral demands of Israel, and threaten the very foundation of the US-Israel relationship. This is quickly leading to the worst crisis in US-Israel relations in decades, and yet this did not have to happen. More importantly, it needs to stop before it spirals out of control. Vice President Biden should rein in the overheated Obama Administration rhetoric and chill the political spin masters’ fire as they visit the Sunday media shows to criticize Israel.

Mitt Romney’s spokesman e-mails me: “Governor Romney believes that President Obama spends way too much time placating our enemies while undermining our friends. Israel is one of our greatest allies, and has made many concessions for peace over the years, yet the Obama administration exerts pressure on Israel to stop its settlements while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians.”

It is, as the two Republicans point out, all of a piece. The Obami have, as Palin puts it, reached out “to some of the world’s worst regimes in the name of their engagement policy,” and averted their eyes to violations of UN agreements and to gross human-rights abuses. It took days for Obama to speak out in the wake of the June 12 Iranian election, and even then only in tepid terms. Yet, with the announcement of a housing complex in Jerusalem, all guns are blazing from the West Wing. We can expect to hear more from those Republicans eyeing 2012 on this subject. It is frankly both good policy and good politics to take on the Obama foreign-policy trainwreck.
Re Re: Obama and Israel: Not Smart

John Podhoretz - 03.16.2010 - 1:45 PM

A plugged-in friend emails:

I think the Obama administration’s blow-up wasn’t about the “insult” at all. That was just a convenient excuse. The issue is that Obama has zero to show for his first year in office in the foreign policy realm. His one arguable success is the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (even if I’d call it a self-inflicted failure created by his outrageous public scolding of Israel in May 2009 on a total settlement freeze that limited PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’ ability to maneuver). The Palestinians are constantly — and tactically — looking for any excuse to walk away from negotiations to cause Israel to better its offer. When the housing announcement was made during the Biden visit last week, the Arab League jumped all over the State Department and the Obama people saw the entire Mitchell “proximity talks” project as being at risk. The wild overreaction was a deliberate effort to shock the Israelis to make more concessions, of course, but more so to impress upon the Arab League that it should not withdraw its support for the proximity talks. A tactically foolish approach, as it will hurt, not help, forward movement on the talks — which will go nowhere soon anyway. But not just a fit of pique

America equipping Palestinian army vs Israel

America's Shiny New Palestinian Militia

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
March 16, 2010
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"The stupidest program the U.S. government has ever undertaken" – last year that's what I called American efforts to improve the Palestinian Authority (PA) military force. Slightly hyperbolic, yes, but the description fits because those efforts enhance the fighting power of enemies of the United States and its Israeli ally.

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces.
First, a primer about the program, drawing on a recent Center of Near East Policy Research study by David Bedein and Arlene Kushner:

Shortly after Yasir Arafat died in late 2004, the U.S. government established the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator to reform, recruit, train, and equip the PA militia (called the National Security Forces or Quwwat al-Amn al-Watani) and make them politically accountable. For nearly all of its existence, the office has been headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. Since 2007, American taxpayers have funded it to the tune of US$100 million a year. Many agencies of the U.S. government have been involved in the program, including the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Secret Service, and branches of the military.

The PA militia has in total about 30,000 troops, of which four battalions comprising 2,100 troops have passed scrutiny for lack of criminal or terrorist ties and undergone 1,400 hours of training at an American facility in Jordan. There they study subjects ranging from small-unit tactics and crime-scene investigations to first aid and human rights law.

With Israeli permission, these troops have deployed in areas of Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus. So far, this experiment has gone well, prompting widespread praise. Senator John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) calls the program "extremely encouraging" and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discerns in the U.S.-trained troops a possible "Palestinian peace partner for Israel" taking shape.

Looking ahead, however, I predict that those troops will more likely be a war partner than a peace partner for Israel. Consider the troops' likely role in several scenarios:

No Palestinian state: Dayton proudly calls the U.S.-trained forces "founders of a Palestinian state," a polity he expects to come into existence by 2011. What if – as has happened often before – the Palestinian state does not emerge on schedule? Dayton himself warns of "big risks," presumably meaning that his freshly-minted troops would start directing their firepower against Israel.

Palestinian state: The PA has never wavered in its goal of eliminating Israel, as the briefest glance at documentation collected by Palestinian Media Watch makes evident. Should the PA achieve statehood, it will certainly pursue its historic goal – only now equipped with a shiny new American-trained soldiery and arsenal.

The PA defeats Hamas: For the same reason, in the unlikely event that the PA prevails over Hamas, its Gaza-based Islamist rival, it will incorporate Hamas troops into its own militia and then order the combined troops to attack Israel. The rival organizations may differ in outlook, methods, and personnel, but they share the overarching goal of eliminating Israel.

Hamas defeats the PA: Should the PA succumb to Hamas, it will absorb at least some of "Dayton's men" into its own militia and deploy them in the effort to eliminate the Jewish state.

Hamas and PA cooperate: Even as Dayton imagines he is preparing a militia to fight Hamas, the PA leadership participates in Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas about power sharing – raising the specter that the U.S. trained forces and Hamas will coordinate attacks on Israel.

The law of unintended consequences provides one temporary consolation: As Washington sponsors the PA forces and Tehran sponsors those of Hamas, Palestinian forces are more ideologically riven, perhaps weakening their overall ability to damage Israel.

Admittedly, Dayton's men are behaving themselves at present. But whatever the future brings – state, no state, Hamas defeats the PA, the PA defeats Hamas, or the two cooperate – these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel. When that happens, Dayton and the geniuses idealistically building the forces of Israel's enemy will likely shrug and say, "No one could have foreseen this outcome."

Not so: Some of us foresee it and are warning against it. More deeply, some of us understand that the 1993 Oslo process did not end the Palestinian leadership's drive to eliminate Israel.

The Dayton mission needs to be stopped before it does more harm. Congress should immediately cut all funding for the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Christians condemn Obama for fued with Israel

Christians United for Israel is not usually in the business of issuing press releases. But these are no ordinary times. In a written statement, the group declares that it is “deeply concerned about the Obama Administration’s escalating rhetoric,” and continues:

CUFI concurs with statements made by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and other Israeli leaders that this announcement was ill-timed. And CUFI notes repeated press reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu neither knew about this announcement in advance nor hesitated to apologize for it after the fact.

We are therefore surprised that the Administration has chosen to continue to escalate a conflict with one of our closest allies that could have been quickly resolved.

Timing aside, the fact remains that the Israeli policy behind this announcement — to continue building in existing Jewish neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem — is not new. When it comes to Israel’s bargaining position, nothing has changed. It is therefore difficult to understand why this long-standing disagreement over policy — which has never been a barrier to negotiations with the Palestinians– is now the source of such tension with the US.

We remind the Administration that Israel has been a committed partner for peace and has taken repeated risks for peace in recent years. We further note that the Netanyahu government has made important gestures to the Palestinians, including an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction and repeated calls for the resumption of direct negotiations. The Palestinians, on the other hand, continue to refuse direct negotiations.

So the ADL and CUFI, Steve Israel and Eric Cantor, and a host of other organizations and politicians along the political spectrum are telling the Obami: bullying Israel will garner no support and quite a lot of domestic opposition. The administration may not be pro-Israel in any meaningful way, but clearly Americans are

AJC blasts Obama

AJC Urges U.S. Administration to Halt Public Denunciations of Israeli Government

March 15, 2010 – New York – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) today urged the Obama Administration to call a halt to its public denunciations of the Israeli government and return to the use of language befitting the close relations between Washington and Jerusalem.
“Israel made a serious mistake last week in announcing a controversial Jerusalem housing project during Vice President Biden’s visit,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “It should not have happened. We fully understand the White House dismay, but Vice President Biden accepted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apology. The shared values that bind the U.S. and Israel, as the Vice President stated during this visit, should be much stronger than any policy dispute.”
AJC today is deeply concerned that the sustained harsh criticism of Israel by senior Administration officials is unprecedented and could leave the impression of a cooling of our nation’s relationship with Israel, one of America’s closest and most reliable allies. In his visit to Israel last week, the Vice President laudably sought to emphasize the enduring strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance and the common interests of the two democracies.
“Ideally, differences with allies, which do occur even between the closest of friends, should be discussed and resolved in private,” said Harris. “We urge the White House to reconsider its latest, repeated verbal assaults on the Israeli government. It is not beneficial to pummel Israel with language that has rarely been used in U.S. foreign policy. And it may, however unintentionally, send the wrong signal to Israel’s adversaries in the region, further complicating an already complex landscape.”

Obama getting hammered from all sides vis-a-vis Israel

he Climb-Down?

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 8:00 AM
Perhaps a mini climb-down has begun by the Obami. After all, they encountered a “firestorm” of criticism from Jewish groups and a bipartisan selection (although many more Republicans) of elected officials and candidates. Rep. Steve Israel is the latest Democrat to weigh in, declaring: “Israel is a close friend and ally and our relationship is based on mutual interests and benefits. We need to reaffirm the American-Israeli relationship as Vice President Biden did at Tel Aviv University last week. The Administration, to the extent that it has disagreements with Israel on policy matters, should find way to do so in private and do what they can to defuse this situation.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand issued a more mild statement, but one expressing concern nevertheless: “The close bond between the United States and Israel remains unbreakable, and America will continue to show unyielding support for Israel’s security. While the timing of the East Jerusalem housing announcement was regrettable, it must not cloud the most critical foreign policy issue facing both counties — Iran’s nuclear threat. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am focused on strengthening international pressure on Iran’s regime to derail its pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Republican Tom Price also issued a stern statement imploring Obama to stop “condemning our allies and started aggressively cracking down on those who sponsor terrorist groups and are ruthlessly pursuing nuclear weapons.”
So maybe someone in the administration took all that in and decided that allowing David Axelrod to play Chicago bully on the Sunday talk shows was not a good idea. As this report explains:
The Obama administration pledged Monday that Israel remained a US ally as congressional rivals rallied behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a feud over the construction of settlements. …
“Israel is a strategic ally of the US and will continue to be so,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. “Our commitment to Israel’s security remains unshakeable.”
He also declined to comment on Netanyahu’s remarks to his Likud Party that construction would go ahead, saying that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was waiting for a “formal” reply to a tense telephone call on Friday.
“When she outlined what she thought appropriate actions would be to the prime minister, she asked for a response by the Israeli government. We wait for the response,” Crowley said.
Without prompting from reporters, Crowley criticized unnamed Palestinians for their remarks on Israel’s reopening of a landmark synagogue in Jerusalem’s walled Old City that had been destroyed in fighting 62 years ago.
Message received? Well, if so, then who’s running our Middle East policy and how did things escalate to this level? Certainly, a climb-down is preferable to continued escalation, but after a week of this, the Obami amateur hour leaves Israel, the Palestinians, Obama’s domestic supporters, the American Jewish community, and every nation looking on (some with horror, others with delight) baffled. If there is a game plan here or a set of permanent concerns and interests at play, it’s hard to discern. In the feckless and reckless Obama foreign policy, uncertainty is the order of the day. Allies should be forewarned: they may be on thin ice at any time. And our foes? Well, they must marvel that the U.S. is so cavalier with its friends and so willing to adopt the rhetoric and positions of its enemies. And for those nations on the fence, why would they have confidence in the U.S. administration? Being a “friend” of the U.S. is a dicey business these days

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lieberman and McCain on Obama attacking Israel

Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman on Israel
Jennifer Rubin - 03.15.2010 - 4:56 PM

Friends and colleagues John McCain and Joe Lieberman went to the floor of the U.S. Senate to discuss the Obama offensive against Israel. McCain kicked things off asking (from a rough transcript) if it really helps to “have public disparagement by the secretary of state, by the president’s political adviser on the Sunday shows,” and whether it wouldn’t be better to “lower the dialogue, talk quietly among friends, and work together towards the mutual goals that we share.” Lieberman responded:

[The U.S.-Israel relationship is] one of the strongest, most important, most steadfast bilateral alliances we have in the world because it is not based on the temporal, that is matters that come and go, or politics and diplomacy. It’s based on shared values, shared strategic interests in the world and unfortunately now on the fact that the United States and the Israelis are also targets of the Islamic extremists, the terrorists who threaten the security of so much of the world.

Lieberman then went on to explain that a “bureaucratic mistake” was allowed to become a “major, for the moment, source of division” between the U.S. and Israel. He continued that this is “an area of Jerusalem that is today mostly Jewish” and that while the Israeli government contends that Jews have the right to build and live anywhere in its eternal capital, “this particular part of Jerusalem is in most anybody’s vision of a possible peace settlement going to be part of Israel.”

Lieberman then questioned why the initial flap was allowed to continue on the Sunday talk shows. Singling out David Axelrod, he noted that calling it an “affront” serves nobody’s interests. From there, McCain said the escalation “may be giving the impression to the wrong people, the neighbors of Israel have stated time after time that they are bent on Israel’s extinction.” McCain then praised Hillary Clinton – who, he says, knows all of this too well. (Hmm, are there some Obami tensions to be exploited?) After some niceties about Clinton and Biden, Lieberman was not about to let the State Department off the hook, noting that the Friday news conference in which the Clinton-Bibi conversation was related to the public only served to “dredge up again something that had been calmed and ought to be calmed.” McCain then criticized the administration’s focus on a unilateral settlement freeze, and Lieberman concurred, noting that the focus should be on peace negotiations without preconditions and on the Iran nuclear threat. Lieberman concluded: “It’s time to lower our voices, get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interest but our enemies.”

It was as compelling and informed a discussion on the subject as you’re going to hear in Washington. But the question remains: why did Obama feel compelled to do this, and who is really running foreign policy? Perhaps these are good subjects for congressional oversight hearings.

Pressure got to Rotem-bill is off

At the meeting, MK Rotem expressed his commitment going forward to consult =
with Diaspora Jewry on any issues involving conversion or the Law of Return=
. Explaining that no law will be passed before the Knesset=E2=80=99s Passov=
er break, he also assured the group that no future bill will affect the sta=
tus of conversions outside of Israel . Similarly, Rotem stressed that Prime=
Minister Netanyahu is aware of the importance of these issues for Jews aro=
und the world.

Israel builds houses, Palestinians murder, who is attacked by Obama?

The disgusting performance of the current American administration towards
Israel continues, as does its fawning support of Palestinian murderers. One
would think Mrs. Clinton would have something to say to her darling, Mahmoud
Abbas, about the naming of the main public square in Ramallah by his
'government' to honor Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 38
Israelis -13 of them little kids. But no, Mrs. Clinton, who has a
selective blind eye, has chosen to talk about Israel's "slapping America" in
the face. Building houses in our capital is a crime, but terrorism can be
honored, is that it, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Biden? Don't you think the
Palestinians should also be chastised for preventing your imaginary "peace
process" from going forward? Guess in
Obama-nation land, things are seen differently.

obama wants to hurt Israel

It took a while, 14 months to be exact, but both the ADL and AIPAC have issued very solid statements condemning the President's new war on israel, and asking for the Administration to curtail the public berating of its supposed ally, and work with Israel, in a more diplomatic fashion on both the peace process and Iran. . What is disgraceful is that so far, exactly one elected Democrat in Congress has done the same- Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada. Sadly, Democrats seem to care far more about passing health care legislation this week, than protecting the US Israel relationship from Obama's assault. It is interesting that David Axelrod, who blasted Israel on network news programs on Sunday, and is a proud standard bearer of the Millard Fillmore label when it comes to the history and politics of the Middle East conflict (for the record, Fillmore headed the Know Nothing Party back in the 1850s) will be honored by the NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council) at a coming event. Axelrod has pretty much a perfect record of having avoided any connection with any pro-Israel or Jewish communal activity in his long political career, with the notable exception of raising money from Jews for Democratic candidates. This Obama does well too. In Obama's case, the handwriting , as to his sympathies in the Middle East conflict (not to be confused with his lies delivered to AIPAC conferences), were pretty well documented well before he was elected- the 20 years he listened in rapture to the sermons of Reverend Wright, all those dinners and babysitting, and chit chats with Rashid Khalidi, and Ali Abunimah, the close friendship with Samantha Power (who sought an international force to invade the West Bank and liberate it from Israel), the years spent in the most anti-Israel hothouses in America - the neighborhoods where elite colleges are located. Marty Peretz has it right that America elected its first third world President, and he is behaving accordingly. His sympathies lie with the Palestinians. He is, after all, a redistributionist on all issues . The flack attacks by Hillary Clinton, other State Department officials and Axelrod, will do nothing to advance the peace process, ostensibly the goal of the Administration. Since Oslo, the Palestinians for over 15 years, spoke directly to Israelis, without intermediation, even during the intifada. When Obama launched his Presidency with a call for for a 100% settlement freeze on all land beyond the green line, including natural growth of settlements, he enabled the Palestinians to avoid coming back for talks without those conditions being met. Why would the Palestinians be more pro-Israel than the White House, and accept less than the White House was demanding of Israel? Now the PA can hang back some more and honor some more mass murderers of Israelis while they wait for Obama to deliver more Israeli concessions before talks begin (prisoner releases, , extending the settlement freeze to Jerusalem, eliminating more roadblocks ,easing the blockade of Gaza. ). Netanyahu is right to let the Americans know that Israel will continue to build in its capital. To please the Americans, and not establish facts on the ground, only new housing for Palestinians would be allowed.
Of course, when the ten month freeze on new settlements in the West Bank was agreed to, Bibi came in for high praise. Bibi specifically excluded Jerusalem from that freeze. The announcement of the 1,600 units in a neighborhood where 16,000 Jews already live, was step 4 in a 7 step approval process, with no construction for 3 more years. . So yes, maybe it was an ill timed announcement, with Joe Biden in town, given how everyone needs to walk on hot coals to avoid giving the PA another excuse to not negotiate even indirectly with Israel. For the Administration to blow up over this, as some grave insult, is ridiculous, but telling. This is a real and deliberate provocation, by Obama, not Israel. This was an opportunity for the Administration, to let Israel know which side Obama backs. Sad to say, even J-Street has been better than Obama this week. The White House had nothing to say (no condemnation to be sure) for the PA honoring a terrorist mass murderer of Israeli Jews last week. Even J-Street said this was a provocation and condemned it. Murdered Jews and Jewish apartments- Obama finds one more repellent than the other. Then again, Obama was silent on the mass murder of hundreds of Christians in Nigeria by Muslim marauders. Never will an unkind word be said about Muslim murderers, or Palestinian killers ,that might deter from his charm offensive to the Muslim world, that so far has accomplished only this- a projection of weakness, and cowardice, and a loss of any ability to weigh competing claims fairly.
Jennifer Rubin on who stands with Israel (add Joe Lieberman no longer a Democrat, to the list):
John Podhoretz on Obama's new approach , which put very simply, is is not very smart. But then again, the ranks of those deluded or dazzled by Obama's supposed brilliance drops every day:
David Horovitz exposing the fragility of US support for Israel in this Administration:
At least the American people still stand with Israel, even if the Indonesian raised are not there :
Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner:
Abe Foxman and the ADL:
Another lie: that Israel's settlement policy is causing American deaths in Pakistan , Afghanisan and Iraq. But of course-, if only there were no building east of the green line, then Al Qaeda and Iran would lay down their arms.
On Iran, the Administration is doing nothing fast. But the Administration is prreparing the ground for explicit linkage- Jerusalem housing will be used to explain the Administration's failure to win UN sanctions, and for Iran getting the bomb.
Wall Street Journal:
Two from Barry Rubin: first- some facts on Jerusalem construction:
Why the PA is smiling:
Melanie Phillips, one of the last remaining voices of sanity in Britain:

RJC responds to Obama

The Republican Jewish Coalition said today that it was deeply upset by the tone and actions of the Obama administration regarding Israel in recent days.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

The Obama administration has used harsh and intentionally undiplomatic language to exacerbate tensions with our ally Israel in the wake of Vice President Biden's visit there. The strident and unwarranted escalation of tension, which has turned a minor diplomatic embarrassment into a major international incident, has raised serious concerns about the administration's Israel policy from a variety of mainstream voices.*

Now Israeli sources report that the administration is pressuring Israel not only to halt construction in Ramat Shlomo but to make a "confidence-building" concession such as releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners (presumably terrorists) or turning over additional West Bank areas to Palestinian control.

We believe the administration's actions are disproportionate and one-sided. It should be noted, there has been no similar official U.S. condemnation of any Palestinian action, including recent rioting on the Temple Mount and official Palestinian plans to name a public square for a female terrorist responsible for the worst single terror attack on Israeli soil.

Moreover, the administration's stance is dangerous to the best interests of the U.S. and Israel. By distancing ourselves from our most important strategic ally in a troubled region, an ally with which we have strong and necessary joint military, intelligence, security, and trade agreements, we weaken the United States. By taking the role of the Palestinians' negotiator in the guise of an "honest broker" and advancing Palestinian demands that should be the subjects of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, not their preconditions, the administration is seriously weakening the security of Israel.

A report in the Politico that Vice President Biden, speaking to Prime Minister Netanyahu behind closed doors, explicitly linked Israeli housing policy with the safety of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is also of great concern. It demonstrates the false linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war on terrorism often used by Israel's enemies to undermine Israel's legitimacy and efforts for security and peace.

We call on the Obama administration to halt immediately its unwarranted pressure against Israel, to take steps to heal the dangerous rift it has created between the two countries, and to return to the policy of its predecessors in supporting Israel's security and well-being as an important strategic ally.

Responses so far

* Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has called it "the worst crisis in 35 years."

ADL National Director Abe Foxman said, "We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States. One can only wonder how far the U.S. is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table."

AIPAC called the "escalated rhetoric of recent days" a "distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done," and called on the administration "to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State."

Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley (D-NV-01) called the administration's moves "an irresponsible overreaction" and "overwrought rhetoric designed to appease Palestinians politicians..."

The Wall Street Journal editors wrote, "Our enemies get courted; our friends get the squeeze. It has happened to Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Colombia. Now it's Israel's turn."

Even the Washington Post reported, "Relations with Israel have been strained almost since the start of the Obama administration. Now they have plunged to their lowest ebb since the administration of George H.W. Bush."

Rep Eric Cantor blasts administration

RE: The Fallout
Jennifer Rubin - 03.15.2010 - 2:36 PM

Republican House Minority Whip Eric Cantor has released a blistering critique of the Obama anti-Israel gambit:

To say that I am deeply concerned with the irresponsible comments that the White House, Vice President, and the Secretary of State have made against Israel is an understatement. In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this Administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends. Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process. …

While it condemns Israel, the Administration continues to ignore a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region. Where is the outrage when top Fatah officials call for riots on the Temple Mount? Why does the Palestinian Authority get a pass when it holds a ceremony glorifying the woman responsible for one of the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history? Surely, the Administration’s double standard has set back the peace process. …

Israel continues to be a world leader in the fight against terrorism and speak out against the prospects of a nuclear Iran. For this Administration to treat our special relationship with Israel, one of our closest and most strategic Democratic allies, in this fashion is beyond irresponsible and jeopardizes America’s national security.

Minority Leader John Boehner, embellishing on a brief response over the weekend has weighed in as well:

The Administration’s decision to escalate its rhetoric following Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel is not merely irresponsible, it is an affront to the values and foundation of our long-term relationship with a close friend and ally. The Administration has demonstrated a repeated pattern since it took office: while it makes concessions to countries acting contrary to U.S. national interests, it ignores or snubs the commitments, shared values and sacrifices of many of our country’s best allies. If the Administration wants to work toward resolving the conflict in the Middle East, it should focus its efforts on Iran’s behavior, including its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its state-sponsorship of terrorism, its crushing of domestic democratic forces, and the impact its behavior is having, not just on Israel, but also on the calculations of other countries in the region as well as on the credibility of international nonproliferation efforts. House Republicans remain committed to our long-standing bilateral friendship with Israel, as well as to the commitments this country has made.

Parasha Vayikra Leviticus begins

US main goal is stop Israel from protecting itself vis-a-vis Iran

US will raise the heat until Israel toes the line on Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 14, 2010, 10:39 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags: Israel Saudi Arabia US-Iran
Barack Obama twists Israeli arms

While exploiting Israel's ill-timed announcement of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem for concessions to the Palestinians, Washington will keep the hullabaloo against Israel at top pitch until the Netanyahu government toes the line on Iran, debkafile's Washington sources report. This issue goes way beyond a campaign to unseat Netanyahu, in which Washington and Israeli elements have happily joined forces. The Obama administration is at odds on its Iran stance not only with Israel but Saudi Arabia, too, as well as the moderate Arab regimes of the Middle East, none of whom buy its new line.
Had Netanyahu's political reflexes been sharper, he could have removed the immediate pretext for the crisis, the Jerusalem housing announcement during vice president Joe Biden's visit, by firing a couple of bureaucrats and apologizing on the spot. But that would not have averted the crisis.
The Obama administration failed to arrest Iran's race for a nuclear weapon in months of diplomacy and was unable to persuade Russia or China to join stiff sanctions. Yet the US president is flat against any military action against Iran's nuclear installations, and will stop at nothing to stop Israel taking matters in its own hands. It is hammering Jerusalem with the bluntest instruments in its diplomatic armory to a degree unheard of against a friendly government.

Never forget Hillary Clintion's betrayal of Israel

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu continued to consult with the forum of seven
senior cabinet ministers over a list of demands that U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton made in a telephone conversation Friday.

Clinton harshly criticized the announcement last week of plans to expand the
Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem while U.S. Vice President Joe
Biden was visiting Israel.

Haaretz has learned that Clinton's list includes at least four steps the
United States expects Netanyahu to carry out to restore confidence in
bilateral relations and permit the resumption of peace talks with the

1. Investigate the process that led to the announcement of the Ramat Shlomo
construction plans in the middle of Biden's visit. The Americans seek an
official response from Israel on whether this was a bureaucratic mistake or
a deliberate act carried out for political reasons. Already on Saturday
night, Netanyahu announced the convening of a committee to look into the

2. Reverse the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building
Committee to approve construction of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat

3. Make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians enabling the renewal
of peace talks. The Americans suggested that hundreds of Palestinian
prisoners be released, that the Israel Defense Forces withdraw from
additional areas of the West Bank and transfer them to Palestinian control,
that the siege of the Gaza Strip be eased and further roadblocks in the West
Bank be removed.

4. Issue an official declaration that the talks with the Palestinians, even
indirect talks, will deal with all the conflict's core issues - borders,
refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements, water and settlements.

Aipac hits back

AIPAC hits White House

The pro-Israel group AIPAC, which had been at pains for much of President Obama's term to downplay tensions between his administration and Benjamin Netanyahu's, is criticizing Obama in the sharpest terms to date after a series of administration officials sharply reprimanded Netanyahu for the announcement of new housing units in East Jerusalem during Joe Biden's trip.

"The Obama Administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State," says the unsigned statement sent out by spokesman Josh Block. "The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests."

The statement criticizes the administration's "escalated rhetoric" as "a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors."

"We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments," the statement says.

The statement reflects a defiant stance from the Israeli government and its American allies. They're confident on the one hand in Obama's unpopularity in Israel and in the popularity of Netanyahu's refusal to compromise on Jerusalem. It's also a gamble that, politically, Obama has nothing to gain from escalating a battle with a key ally as his domestic agenda hangs in the balance and his regional agenda appears to have stalled.

The statement also calls into question any American expectation that Netanyahu -- whose initial reaction was to blame domestic political foes for the announcement -- will move this week to calm tensions.

Full statement after the jump.

Statement from AIPAC:

The Obama Administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.

Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in America's fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region. Those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish State, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.

The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.

The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.

We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.

As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel, "Progress in the Middle East occurs when there is no daylight between the United States and Israel."

Obama hurts peace efforts


ADL chief: Flawed U.S. policy is undermining Mideast peace

Abraham Foxman has headed the Anti-Defamation League since the 1980s, serving often as an unofficial spokesman for the American Jewish community on issues of anti-Semitism and other affairs.

Who is to blame for the current crisis in the U.S.-Israeli relationship?

In the short term Israel is, but in the long term - the U.S. This is a flawed policy that we are seeing in the Middle East, that we were very much concerned about in the beginning of this administration, and that is to what extent this linkage will play in the policy and in the strategy of this administration. There are a lot of people in this administration who had advocated linkage - that all you have to do to resolve all the problems in the Arab Middle East is to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And it's a fantasy and an illusion that has been out there for a long time. But this administration has bought into this concept - even [Vice President Joe] Biden's language, that if we don't resolve this conflict American soldiers will die - that's the worst of that fallacy. When the secretary of state then says that it harms the bilateral relationship - what happens between the Palestinians and Israelis impacts American security. The solution of the problem is in Baghdad, Kabul, Tehran, maybe in Riyadh and Cairo. Not in Jerusalem.


The continuation of the crisis is the fault of the U.S. Whatever happened, the prime minister apologized publicly and privately, issued a statement, the interior minister issued a statement, Israel did an al-het, [Biden] even accepted it. And then to wake up in the morning and to find [State Department spokesman P.J.] Crowley saying these terrible words - and this is not only the secretary of state, this is the president - and what's worse, - with this linkage is also a belief that you can appease the Arabs, that all you must do is to placate them by giving them settlements.

Do you believe that if Netanyahu, as Martin Indyk suggested, announces a stop to all provocative actions in East Jerusalem, it will repair the damage?

So what's the next price? The belief that you can bring peace by placating the Arab position is wrong. Whatever you give, the answer is "no, come back with more." If freezing settlements is not enough, now it's Jerusalem. And then what? I don't understand why the U.S. doesn't say to the Palestinians: "Isn't peace in your interest? Why does Israel have to pay the price for the proximity talks?" Isn't talking to Israel in [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas'] interest so he can see what can or cannot be done?"

It's not the first time Israel's right wing government has embarrassed American officials.

But what troubles me is that the U.S. is sophisticated enough to understand political bureaucracy, the non-functional elements in Israeli democracy. How come they understand it in Pakistan, Egypt - and they don't understand it in Israel? Everybody thought the issue was resolved.

Do you believe with the current level of mistrust between the U.S. and Israel can still effectively coordinate on the Iranian nuclear program issue?

I believe that can be separated, because when we talk about American and Israeli security there are a lot of things that we share and the intelligence world and the military world understand how close that link is. I think there is more trust and understanding in this part of the bilateral relationship than the political. I am not sure that the U.S. and Israel stand on the same page in this issue, but there are some sincere and respectful differences.

The question whether the U.S. will actually do anything in its power to prevent Iran from going nuclear - that's the issue today. That's part of the discussion, and it's not becoming a political issue in this country as well. I do believe that at the end of the day the way to repair is to go back to the bipartisan approach that worked for years. I am concerned that it might become a political football ... I hope it's a temporary crisis."

Some American analysts state that the settlements policy gradually distances the American Jewish community from Israel.

I don't think it's true. The majority of the American Jewish community is not happy with settlements. But it also isn't happy when the U.S. president tells the Israeli prime minister what to do. I think that in the beginning the president received advice that if you take the settlements issue public you don't have anything to lose, because the American Jews don't like settlements, and the Israelis as well, and this is a win-win. But the American Jews don't like the American administration dictating to Israel what it should or shouldn't do. And now it was the U.S. to raise the issue of Jerusalem, and not Israel. The U.S. raised the stakes on Jerusalem. And that's where we are now, and the Palestinians detect weakness in the hope of separating Israel.

During the previous crisis the U.S. administration finally retracted on the settlements issue, and as some described it, left Abu-Mazen out on a limb.

I hope it will happen this time as well. The irony is that if the U.S. wants Israel to make compromises, to take political risks, it needs to be closer to Israel, not to distance itself from Israel. Be careful what you ask for - Biden went [to Israel] because a lot of American Jews pressed this administration that the President must go to Israel and talk directly to the Israeli people. This administration compromised and sent the Vice President. On the one hand the speech is wonderful - but on the other hand what happened on Friday has totally undone all the good work. Because Amr Musa dictated to Abu Mazen to withdraw from the proximity talks and I don't know why the U.S. didn't tell Abu Mazen: "We are your friends and we believe that it is in the interest of the Palestinians, the Americans and the Israelis - rather than go to Israel and say, "You've got to give him something."

I am also disturbed that in this whole year there hasn't been one specific condemnation by the American administration about anything that the Palestinian Authority leadership has done or said. Not once! And how many times was Israel publicly criticized, condemned, in all kinds of places? I found this very troubling, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority goes with the torch to burn Israeli food products, and the American administration doesn't say boo? The president of the Palestinian Authority threatens with religious war - and the states doesn't say boo. They dedicate a stage to the suicide bomber - and the U.S. doesn't say boo, because they believe placating will work - but it doesn't work. They wait for Israel to compromise, to take risks - but the U.S. continues to be the closest friend and ally. And what happened in the last 48 hours put it in a big question."

So do you think Biden is a true friend of Israel?

Yes. I think President Obama is a friend of Israel too. But I think it's a mistaken and counterproductive strategy and flawed analysis of what is in the best interest of the U.S. Support of Israel has served the U.S. interests more than supporting anyone else in the world.

Should Obama visit Israel himself in the near future?

I don't think we should count too much on that. When we made too much of it we got the vice president, and look what happened.

I've heard one analyst suggesting Israelis don't like Obama because of his color and middle name.

I think Israelis are not happy with him because of his policy. I think it has nothing to do with his name or his color.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obama anti Israel

Thursday, March 11, 2010

East Jerusalem Building

hursday, March 11, 2010
Announcing Construction of East Jerusalem Apartments: Stupid, Yes; Proof of Disinterest in Peace, No
Announcing Construction of East Jerusalem Apartments: Stupid, Yes; Proof of Disinterest in Peace, No

By Barry Rubin*

March 11, 2010

There's been a lot of nonsense written about an Israeli government announcement that 1600 apartments will be built in east Jerusalem. The timing was stupid, of course, since Vice-President Joe Biden was in town and didn't like the idea. Moreover, to have such an announcement just when indirect talks were about to start between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) doesn't make Israel look helpful.

But that's about it.

Anyone who knows Israel really well understands this to be what is called locally a "fashlan," that is a stupid mess-up as often happens with the government there. Israel combines the candor of a First World country with the bureaucratic incompetence of a Third World one. The ministry simply didn't think about what the impact would be nor did it consult with the prime minister's office. It was sheer narrow-visioned incompetence.

Of course, though, Israel has announced since 1993, when the Oslo Agreement was signed, that it would continue building on existing settlements. And the government made clear all along that construction would continue in east Jerusalem. The action, if not the timing, was neither a provocation, the establishment of a "new settlement," or proof that Israel didn't want peace.

After all, everyone seems to have forgotten one simple fact: the U.S. government officially accepted Israel's position that it would keep building in east Jerusalem. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton praised the resulting deal. So how all of a sudden can Joe Biden and the U.S. government say they are shocked, shocked to see that construction (in east Jerusalem) is going on when they agreed to that point months ago? (Doesn't it seem rather important for the media to highlight that point rather than make it sound that--aside from the bad timing--Israel did something horrible and unexpected to the U.S. government?)

Actually, it's sort of amusing that with the PA sabotaging negotiations for around 14 months while Israel was seeking them, the PA's behavior isn't taken as some proof that it doesn't want peace while Israel's single action demonstrates the opposite.

What this announcement really shows is that Israel doesn't want or intend to give up all of east Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement, which is not exactly news.

Would it be better for Israel's international position if the announcement had not been made? Yes. Because it allows the United States-which needs excuses for the failure to succeed at peacemaking-and the PA and Arab states-which need some rationale for their own policies to blame Israel

But does it really do any material harm to a peace process which is going nowhere due to Palestinian positions? Or does it make the PA and Arab states, which are supposedly salivating for a peace deal, change their mind? In both cases, no.

So, stupid yes. But deliberate sabotage or proof of warmongering? No.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to
Posted by Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation at 12:28 PM