Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’

Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel

July 29th, 2012 Comments off

The trip of Republic Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Israel is in bad taste for lots of reasons.

1. He is holding a fundraiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. It is distasteful for an American political candidate to hold a high profile fundraiser abroad, implying a commitment to a foreign country as a means of reaching out to American interest groups (in Romney’s case, Christian Zionists among the evangelicals and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican).

2. It is distasteful that Romney has broken his pledge of transparency and declared the fundraiser off limits to the US press.

3. It is distasteful that Romney won’t explain why he has abruptly gone back on his word, and closed the Jerusalem event to the press.

4. There is a convention in US politics that you don’t criticize the sitting president, even if you are an opposition politician, while on foreign soil. Romney clearly intends to slam President Obama while in Israel.

5. It is distasteful that Romney is clearly holding the event in some large part to please casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who first bankrolled Newt Gingrich and now is talking about giving $100 million to elect Romney. Adelson is a huge supporter of far rightwing Likud Party Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and published a free newspaper in Israel to support all things Bibi all the time. Adelson is under investigation for allegedly bribing Chinese officials in Macau in reference to his casino empire there. Since Adelson is potentially an agent of Chinese influence and is a partisan of one of Israel’s most rightwing parties, Romney’s indebtedness to him is disturbing.

6. It is distasteful to have Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu interfering in an American domestic election by openly favoring Romney over Obama.

7. It is distasteful that Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W. Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilized the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives, and damaged American power, credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the United States of America continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: “Just say no.” Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad!

8. It is distasteful that Romney will not meet with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestine Authority, who actually was elected by Palestinians, but only with an appointed and toothless ‘prime minister’ known for cooperation with Israel’s Likud.

9. It is distasteful the Romney will not commit to a two-state solution within 1967 borders or demand Israel cease illegal squatting on and unilateral annexation of Palestinian land. If he is going to this Middle East hot spot, why doesn’t he visit a Palestinian refugee camp so as to understand the nub of the dispute, instead of hobnobbing with the uber-rich in Jerusalem.

10. It is distasteful that he is holding the fundraiser in the King David Hotel, which was famously blown up by the Zionist terrorist organization in 1946, in a strike that killed 91 persons and wounded dozens, many of them innocent civilians. Irgun leader Menachem Begin (later a leader of the ruling Likud Party) hit the hotel because there were British security offices there, which were tracking violent organizations like his own, during the British Mandate period of Palestine. He maintained that he called ahead to warn of the bombing, but that is just propganda to take the edge off the deed– who in 1946 would have taken such a call seriously? When current Israli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders attended a commemoration of the bombing, the British Foreign Office sent over a sharp note of protest. I guess Romney is not finished with insulting London.

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Israel’s Netanyahu faces coalition crisis

July 3rd, 2012 Comments off

An Israeli soldier prays next to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City. Monday, July 2, 2012. Israel's prime minister on Monday dissolved a high-profile committee assigned to reform the country's military draft law to spread the burden among more sectors of society, conscripting ultra-Orthodox Jews and requiring Israeli Arabs to do civilian service. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)Israel's prime minister on Tuesday moved to contain the first major crisis in his newly expanded coalition government after his most significant partner threatened to quit in a dispute over how to overhaul the country's military draft.

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Time Magazine Cover asks if Bibi Netanyahu will Make Peace… 1996

May 18th, 2012 Comments off

h/t @Amirmizroch

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"We have no ‘Plan B’"

May 12th, 2012 Comments off

MEPGS/ Excerpts:
The grand coalition formed by the Kadima party in Israel joining the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu may have caught almost all outsiders by surprise, still, in the view of well-placed Israelis, this new “wall-to-wall” government will not be willing nor able to significantly alter current policy.  “Sure, it gives Bibi greater room to maneuver at home,” says one well-placed Israeli, who knows the Prime Minister well, “But it still is the same old Bibi and his same old policies.”  This “same old Bibi” has been a thorn in the side of two US Administrations.  While the coolness between the Israeli leader and President Obama is well known, during his last term in office, the more politically adroit President Clinton was known privately to be as exasperated with Netanyahu behavior both personally and politically during the latter’s first term of office. An example cited by a veteran US official, who, at one point was tasked with listening as the two leaders spoke by phone, reported that Netanyahu jauntily opened the conversation with “How’s Hillary?”  This uncalled for familiarity caused the President to turn “a number of shades of red” as he struggled to control his reaction….
?Psychological musings aside, Israeli officials see a relatively simple political calculus behind Netanyahu’s last minute deal with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.  “Bibi is buying time,” says one official.  Although election will now not take place in September and does not have to occur before autumn 2013, many observers believe Netanyahu will call for them early in the spring when the grand coalition has served its purpose of boosting the Prime Minister both at home and abroad.  
?Even the addition of Mofaz, a former commander in chief of Israel’s armed forces and a public critic of a unilateral strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, will not change  Netanyahu’s thinking on what he calls “the existential threat” posed by Iran obtaining nuclear capability.  To begin with, Israeli analysts says that Mofaz staked out that position as part of an effort to wrest leadership of the Kadima party and is just as likely to change to a pro-attack view in the future.  More important, it still is Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak (whose seat in Parliament probably was saved by the postponement of a fall 2012 election) who, in the view of most analysts, still hold the key to an ultimate decision whether to resort to a military option.  “I can list nine good reasons why Bibi won’t launch a strike, starting with domestic opposition to going it alone and going on to the risk of military failure to the certainty of international opprobrium,” says one key US official.  “On the other side of the ledger, I need list only one –Bibi’s messianic drive to be “the savior of the Jewish people.”
?If matters ever come to a head on military action, it will be because the new set of negotiations between Iran and the P-5 +1 (US, Britain , France, China, Russia and German) fail.  At the first session last month in Istanbul, the Iranians were surprisingly forthcoming, given the low expectations for the meeting.  However, when the parties next meet in Baghdad on May 23, as one European diplomat puts it, “The paradigm (of whether negotiations are a viable route to halt Iran’s drive towards nuclear weaponry] will be tested.”  This diplomat, if not top Administration officials, credit Israel and its supporters in Congress for forcing Iran back to serious negotiating.  Clearly, Teheran is feeling the pinch of economic sanctions that already are hurting the Iranian economy and beginning July 1, when new EU sanctions kick in, further pain is to be experienced.
?Boding well for the talks is the near total consolidation of power by Ayotallah Khameini mostly at the expense of President Ahmadenejad.  Prospect of concessions to the P5+1 always had the potential of working against a faction of the Iranian leadership which supported a deal.  The bad news, according to long time analysts, is that Khameini is thought to believe that concessions made under pressure only lead to more pressure.  And it is also thought that the “Supreme Leader” is convinced that the West, especially the US, wants nothing less than “regime change” in Iran.  Moreover, few experts doubt, as one veteran analyst put it recently, “The ultimate aim of Iran, in its quest to be the paramount power in the region, depends on what he calls `getting as close as possible to being one screwdriver away from having the capability to assemble a nuclear bomb.”
?For all the attention the Iranian leadership must pay to international pressure against their nuclear program, it has not deterred Teheran from becoming deeply involved in efforts to insure that the Assad regime in Syria prevails…
?Arrayed against Iran and the Assad regime are various international players, who, however, so far have been unable to boost the strength of the internal opposition.  Promises of support from Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have amounted to little more than vocal condemnations, say well-placed US officials.  The key, in the view of many experts, is Turkey.  But the Turkish leadership, beginning with Prime Minister Erdogan, has only made modest steps towards trying alter the balance of power in Syria.  “The Turks need NATO; NATO needs the UN Security Council and the Security Council needs the full throated support of the Arab League,” says one well-placed US official.  So far, Turkey has moved from its original “no issues with neighbors” policy to outright condemnation of the Assad regime; hosted political dissidents and provided some aid and comfort to both refugees and the nascent “Free Syrian Army.”  According to US officials, they have also stepped up their contingency planning and are, in the words of one senior official, “fed-up” with the Assad regime.  There is even the recognition that its strategic interests trump those of Russia, Iran’s other major supporter.  But US officials are convinced that absent some major overnight development on the ground in Syria, the Turks will not act decisively or independently.  And as the UN promoted cease-fire plan sputters, the continued one-side slaughter in Syria leaves US officials frustrated on the sidelines.  As one veteran State Department official puts it, “We have no `Plan B’”

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Israeli Spy Chief Condemns Netanyahu for Iran Hype, Messianism

April 28th, 2012 Comments off

Former head of Israeli domestic intelligence (Shin Bet), Yuval Diskin, said Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are misleading the public about Iran:

“”They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won’t have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race…”

He said he had no confidence in Netanyahu and Barak:

“I don’t believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings…”

He added,

“Believe me, I have observed them from up close… They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event…”

Diskin was frank about Israel’s problem with racism:

“Over the past 10-15 years Israel has become more and more racist. All of the studies point to this. This is racism toward Arabs and toward foreigners, and we are also become a more belligerent society.”

He also expressed anxiety about the Israeli settler movement in the West Bank and its supporters inside Israel:

“Today there are extremist Jews, not just in the territories but also inside the Green Line, dozens of them who, in a situation in which settlements are evacuated… would be willing to take up arms against their Jewish brothers.”

Diskin joins Meir Dagan, former intelligence chief, in blowing the whistle on the erratic unreason of Netanyahu and Barak.

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Rubio Calls for War on Iran, Syria– as Israeli Army Rejects Strike

April 26th, 2012 Comments off

GOP Vice-Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on Wednesday called for unilateral US military action against Syria and Iran and blamed President Barack Obama for declining to send troops to Syria in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. He also said that in addition to sanctioning Iran, “We should also be preparing our allies, and the world, for the reality that unfortunately, if all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran may, tragically, require a military solution.”

So Rubio is campaigning for the vice president slot in the Republican Party by promising to embroil our country in two major Middle East wars, and moreover to do so without the backing of international law. But this step is precisely the mistake George W. Bush made in Iraq, and it meant that the US was mostly on its own in fighting, dying and paying for that war. Syria is 2/3s the size of Iraq, and Iran is 3 times more populous, so Rubio is committing us not only to bear more thousands of war dead and badly wounded but also to spend trillions in distant Middle Eastern deserts.

The US now has a two-party system in which one party is systematically pledged to make the US an international outlaw, with all the immense costs that entails.

Meanwhile, the chief instigator of war with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has clearly lost the fight inside the Israeli security establishment and even among his own colleagues.

First, Israeli deputy premier and minister of intelligence and atomic energy Dan Meridor gave an interview with Aljazeera English in which he admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the face of the map.’

I made the same point in 2005 and was raked over the coals by the late Christopher Hitchens and his Neoconservative friends, and by Likudniks (Meridor is a member of the Likud Party!). My dispute with Hitchens was instanced as a reason I shouldn’t be allowed to teach in the History Department at Yale University, and Likud apparatchik-posing-as-historian Michael Oren also attacked me at that time (he was a visitor at Yale and is now Israeli ambassador to Washington). Ethan Bronner at the New York Times did a hatchet piece on my stance, concluding with no evidence that Ahmadinejad had said the words, and he even implied that I don’t know the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb in Persian. I have been grossly insulted many times in the press and cyberspace, but I mind that one most of all. And the Likudniks complained that I was on Aljazeera or cited it.

So now the deputy premier of Israel, 7 years later, admits publicly that I was right all along, on Aljazeera.

Worse for Netanyahu and Rubio, Israel’s military chief of staff, Gen. Benny Gantz, came out and said that Iranian leaders are rational actors and that they have no current nuclear weapons program, not having decided to go for warheads.

And, of course, I’ve been saying these things for years and vilified for it, but this is the Israeli Army chief of staff speaking now.

It seems obvious to me that Meridor and Gantz are attempting to box in PM Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, whom the Israeli officers and intelligence chiefs consider insane or at least ‘absolutely stupid’ on the Iran issue. Meridor completely pulled the rug out from under Netanyahu, who has quoted ‘wipe off the face of the map’ till he was blue in the face.

What Gantz said echoes the position of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and of US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Netanyahu leaked vicious attacks on Dempsey, a shameful act for a supposed ally. Gantz inevitably depends heavily on the US Pentagon, and appears to have thrown in with Panetta and Dempsey against Netanyahu, both because the Obama administration wants him to, and because Israeli military and intelligence leaders are aware that a strike on Iran would potentially unleash a maelstrom in the Middle East with which Israel may not be well-equipped to deal in the absence of US backing (and Obama has made it clear there won’t be US backing). In part, Gantz’s statement, which undercut Netanyahu, may have been Dempsey’s revenge.

I should underline that I think Iran is often a bad actor in the Middle East, and agree its nuclear enrichment program should be watched like a hawk. I like Israel and Israelis and think they’d be much better off if they’d give the Palestinians the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and stop rampaging around stealing territory and launching fruitless wars. I don’t mind having been slammed for my stances; at least I won’t go to my grave with no one having noticed I was here. But I do mind that my prediction was correct, that unindicted felon and traitor Richard Bruce Cheney (much more guilty than Bradley Manning) has managed to clone himself in the next generation, and that if the Republicans capture the White House we could be back to unilateral wars in the Middle East. Our country is now stuck in a game of Russian roulette, and people like Rubio are the bullet in the chamber.

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US & Iranian leaders "satisfied" but Netanyahu is "unimpressed"!

April 16th, 2012 Comments off

“… Both U.S. and Iranian leaders expressed satisfaction with the initial meeting Saturday of talks between Iran and the P5+1 _ the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Both sides saw the agreement to meet again May 23 in Baghdad as a step forward after more than a year of no talks.But Netanyahu was unimpressed…”

Read more here:

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Israel vs. Iran: the lolcats wars

March 19th, 2012 Comments off

The cat pictures are the newest permutations of a social media campaign started over the weekend by two Israeli graphics designers that is called “We Love Iranians,” aimed at raising public awareness against the steady march to war the Likud government has been taking Israel on towards Iran.

The meme has “gone viral” in Israel, and while it’s spawned a number of sensible parodies (such as noting that the same tone was on display for Iraqis to hear – if they could hear over the ack-ack – by George W. Bush in 2003) and is inevitably going to lead to a “slacktivism” discussion, at least it’s demonstrating that public opinion against war with Iran in Israel is growing. Israel is ostensibly a democracy, so the best case outcome is that all those national security specialists and “cultural icons” who have been keeping quiet realize there is a base of domestic support for them to tell Bibi to can the Holocaust references.

More comforting, though, has been news that 1) Mossad once again concludes with the U.S’s intelligence services that Iran has neither the capability nor political will to pursue weaponization now, 2) some Iranian leaders are saying they’re willing to make concessions at the new P5+1 roundtable, and 3) Netanyahu has failed to convince his kitchen cabinet that he knows what he is talking about on Iran, and considering some of the people in that cabinet, that is saying something — not least because one of the skeptics is in fact the Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister, a post Netanyahu’s Likud party established in 2009 to have a kind of go-to-guy looking over Shin Bet and Mossad, a la Dick Cheney.

Still, no one is out of the woods yet, Mossad assessment and grinning Israeli couples’ pinterest tags aside. Netanyahu has deliberately set the bar for Iranian concessions so high it’s difficult to believe progress can be made in talks1 – i.e., asking the Iranians to do things no other NPT signatory is expected to do when Israel itself isn’t even an NPT signatory – and the U.S. has made it pretty clear it will take military action if it feels “compelled” to do so in the region by either an Israeli or Iranian “action.”

  1. Worse, he is now trying to play the 2005 Gaza withdrawal card against what passes as the Israeli political left over Iran – clearly, he wants to shut their tepid criticism down by any means at his disposal.  ?

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‘The US would not contemplate military action unless Iran actually tested a weapon?’

March 18th, 2012 Comments off

“… The problem for Netanyahu is that the Obama administration does not view Iran — even an Iran with nuclear weapons — as an existential threat that is worth starting another war…..  Obama decried what he called the “loose talk” of war and spoke eloquently of the costs of military conflict for a nation that has fought two wars in the last decade. The “most searing” moments of his presidency, he said, had come when meeting the relatives of Americans killed and injured in Iraq and Afghanistan…..
Obama also refrained from using the phrase “nuclear weapons capability” and spoke only of actual nuclear weapons. That suggests that the U.S. would not contemplate military action unless Iran actually tested a weapon. Israel wants to act much earlier but lacks the resources to do as much damage as the United States could do….
recent report[3] by Anthony Cordesman and Alexander Wilner for the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that Israel, which has at least 100 nuclear weapons, poses an existential threat to Iran since it could destroy “five to seven major Iranian cities.” Israel also has three ways of delivering a nuclear bomb: by missile, submarine or plane.
Iran insists it does not intend to make weapons; the Obama administration says that Iran does not appear to have made the decision to build or test a bomb….
With US political polls shifting increasingly toward Obama as the Republican nomination fight drags on, Netanyahu may also calculate that a bigger and more immediate threat to Israel would be to alienate an administration that looks increasingly likely to govern the United States for the next four years.”

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How the Guardian authenticated the emails of Asad

March 16th, 2012 Comments off
The Guardian also consulted Abdul Halim Khaddam“.  Is this not laughable?  They contacted a a guy who split with the regime more than six years ago to provide authentication?  Why not contact Netanyahu and ask him if the emails are genuine?  And did you notice in the explanation of verification they paper was basically able to reach people who contacted Bashshar’s father-in-law but not people who communicated with Asad himself?   Wait. Did the Guardian hire the editor from the New York Times who authenticated Judith Miller’s dispatches about Iraqi WMDs?

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