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Middle East analyst Martin Kramer, writing at Commentary magazine, notes that the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel has always stood the Jewish State apart among the nations of the world – save for the United Kingdom. Under the present administration, however, “special relationship” has possibly come to mean something different:
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President Obama does refer to the “special relationship” with Israel, but coming from him, the phrase means a bit less than it once did. That’s because he’s upgraded Britain to something even higher. On the eve of Obama’s visit to Britain in May 2011, he and British prime minister David Cameron published a joint op-ed in the London Times that included this sentence: “Ours is not just a special relationship, it is an essential relationship—for us and for the world.” (The headline: “Not Just Special, But An Essential Relationship.”) Suddenly, the word “essential” started cropping up in references to the relationship with Britain (see also two of the Kerry quotes above). “Essential” is now the new platinum card in relations with the United States, and Britain alone holds one.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Stand For Israel
As we reported in this morning’s SFI Daily Dispatch, Israeli television reported unusually harsh comments from unnamed “senior White House officials” calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “desperate and weak” and saying they are “not perturbed by his vocal opposition” to the recent U.S. deal with Iran.
First, let’s deal with the comments. Prime Minister Netanyahu is not weak – not politically, militarily, or personally. The declaration otherwise demonstrates how much this official knows about Israeli politics. Netanyahu is desperate, but that’s because a country that has threatened to wipe his own off the map is closing in on its goal of developing a nuclear weapon and Israel’s Western allies just gave the mullahs a big green light. His desperation would be understandable to this unnamed White House official if the official cared at all to think outside of the Washington, D.C. Beltway. The official, obviously, doesn’t know very much about the situation but has some sort of personal dislike of the Prime Minister.
And that’s really what this comment is about – the Obama Administration simply doesn’t seem to like Netanyahu. It’s important to note that this phenomenon is not unique in U.S.-Israel relations – it was fairly well known that Presidents Carter and Reagan disliked Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The first President Bush disliked Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Israeli Prime Ministers who lead during difficult times and stand up for Israel’s interests on the international stage often find themselves disliked by other world leaders, simply because standing up goes against the grain and ruffles the feathers of Arab countries and other countries hostile to the Jewish state. But what is a leader for if not to make the difficult decisions that must be made to protect a country’s people and ensure its future?
If the report about these comments is true, it’s a disheartening look into the way that Prime Minister Netanyahu – and the broad Israeli political consensus he represents – is viewed in the White House. But…Read More » Comments (55) »
Monday, December 2nd, 2013 at 8:59 AM | Stand For Israel
Time after time, events in the Middle East have resulted in the unlikely pair of Israel and Saudi Arabia giving the same advice to the United States. And Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes that, time and again, the Obama Administration has decided not to listen:
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From the Saudi and Israeli perspective, any agreement that does not require Iran to cease the enrichment of uranium and dismantle its facilities, including its heavy-water reactor at Arak — which will be capable of producing plutonium, an alternative source for nuclear weapons — will allow the patient and wily Iranian leadership to take the final steps necessary to secure the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Stand For Israel
On this, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we remember not only Kennedy’s life being so tragically cut short, but also the good things he was able to accomplish during that life. One of these was Kennedy’s friendship with Israel. Not only he Kennedy create the security relationship that the U.S. and Israel still share, but he also ended the arms embargo on Israel that the Truman and Eisenhower administrations had enforced.
While still a U.S. senator and campaigning for the presidency, Kennedy spoke to the Zionists of America Convention in August of 1960. JFK’s words not only ring true today, but show that he stood for Israel:
For Israel was not created in order to disappear — Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom; and no area of the world has ever had an overabundance of democracy and freedom.
Remember this great man and the friendship with Israel he helped set in motion, but also remember that so many of these same issues still exist over half a century later.Comments (12) »
Friday, November 22nd, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Stand For Israel
Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is not generally given to partisan rhetoric. That makes this article all the more disturbing, as any regular reader of Satloff knows he would say the same about any president whose policies troubled him so. And, while Satloff believes the U.S. and Israel will make it through this disagreement, he’s worried about the scars it will leave:
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In terms of the details of the “first step” agreement, administration officials argue that early sanctions relief for Iran will be marginal and limited, and that the core oil and banking sanctions will remain in place until a comprehensive accord is reached. This, however, is a promise that no administration can guarantee since sanctions are only as strong as their weakest link. No one can predict how other countries, some greedy for trade with Iran, will react to the imagery of a “first step” deal, but it is not fanciful to suggest that the sanctions regime may begin to erode once the interim agreement is reached.
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 at 8:51 AM | Stand For Israel
Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary magazine, tells us that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a rough day with Senators of both parties. The pro-Israel movement has strong, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and Kerry had the tough assignment to go convince them to believe him and not the Israeli government:
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Throwing down the gauntlet on Israel in this fashion in a Congress where a wall-to-wall bipartisan coalition in support for the Jewish state exists may have been a stunning miscalculation. Kerry has dared the Senate to call him out for a campaign of feckless diplomacy that seems motivated more by a desire to achieve détente with the Islamist tyrants of Tehran and resentment of Israel than concern about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Stand For Israel
Dennis Ross, former U.S. negotiator in the Middle East, writing at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, lays out the thinking (some would call it wishful thinking) by U.S. and Israeli officials about the deal brokered in Geneva on the Iranian nuclear program – a deal that may still be adopted:
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Notwithstanding our claims that the sanctions architecture will remain in place, there is a widespread belief in the Israeli security establishment that many governments and their private sectors will see an opening and will be convinced that they can and will be able to start doing business again. As they start approaching the Iranians, the Iranians will see that the sanctions are going to fray and they simply need to hang tough and concede no more. From the Israeli standpoint, the first step will thus be the last one and the Iranian program, even if capped, will be at such a high threshold that Iran will have a break-out capability.
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Stand For Israel
Shmuel Rosner, writing at the Jewish Journal, notes the real differences between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to Iran and – regardless of how myopic U.S. policy is – reminds us that the relationship between the two countries periodically diverges. Seldom has it done so in a way that Israel considers to be so critical to its very survivial:
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A less colorful but more sober assessment of the nature of “crisis” begins with the real differences of opinion and with the real gaps in the understanding of the situation, and with the fact that the U.S. and Israel are not one – these are two countries, and the leadership of these countries have two sets of interests and priorities. So yes, the U.S. would like Iran to halt its nuclear program, if the cost for achieving such an outcome is not too high and if the issue doesn’t become too disruptive when considering other priorities. But no, for the U.S. the Iranian issue doesn’t seem like an existential issue. And no, for the U.S. the threat from a nuclear Iran is not as grave as it is for Israel
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 at 8:40 AM | Stand For Israel
As the United States begins to give away the store to Iran in the nuclear talks in Geneva, and the Saudis decide whether or not they want to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan (both news items are in today’s SFI Daily Dispatch), and thousands continue to die in Syria, and journalists continue to be arrested in Turkey, Secretary of State John Kerry is doing exactly what you’d expect an American diplomat to do – haranguing Israel about making concessions to the Palestinians.
And, yesterday, Kerry made a statement that we’re more accustomed to hearing from Palestinian leadership:
“What is the alternative to peace? Prolonged continued conflict. The absence of peace really means you have a sort of low-grade conflict, war. As long as the aspirations of people are held down one way or another … as long as there is this conflict and if the conflict frustrates once again so that people cannot find a solution, the possibilities of violence increase.”
First of all, that patronizing rhetorical question is so typical of Western peace processors. Obviously, the alternative to peace is war. One needn’t be a diplomat or former U.S. Senator to figure that out. But some wars we choose and others are thrust upon us by enemies intent on our destruction. The total failure on Kerry’s part to draw that distinction is as galling as it is mystifying.
But what is really alarming is the implicit shoulder shrug at a third intifada. Kerry seems to suggest: What else are the Palestinians supposed to do? And to what “aspirations” does Kerry refer? Certainly not for a state. A state must be governed – not by gunmen and bomb-makers but by leaders and responsible adults. The Palestinian leadership has never evinced any aspiration to govern a state – only to tear down the one built by the Jews.
Implicit in Kerry’s statement is the assumption that, if Israel fails to make the right choices –…Read More » Comments (45) »
Friday, November 8th, 2013 at 8:49 AM | Stand For Israel