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December 25, 2013: The Only Game in Town

Let me qualify this: The only viable game.  I'm speaking of the Levy Report Campaign. 

I'm not promoting this because I'm working on it. Quite the contrary, I am working on it because I believe it merits enormous promotion.

Why do I call it the only viable game?  Because I see it as the best option for advancing Israel's rights.  It's the hook that provides rationale for Israel's legal grounds, and offers a basis for moving ahead so that the paradigm of thinking can be changed.  No more "occupation."

And so I will continue to talk about this, especially during these terrible times.  As we progress I will ask that you inform yourselves about the Report, share information with others, and otherwise assist us.

For today, a reminder: . Like it, share it, promote it. And a small word of caution: Facebook has a page called "About Levy Report" that has nothing to do with us.  Be careful when accessing the page.


And now, a look at these terrible times. 

If I have a sense of deja vu, it's because all that I will be writing about indeed has happened before, many times, in various permutations.

It is clear as clear can be that the gaps between the two sides (Israel and the PLO/PA) are so huge that the notion of a negotiated settlement is nothing but a figment of the imagination  of those in the US government. 

Three days ago, Abbas is reported to have put out his red lines on negotiations. These red lines, which do not deviate significantly from what he has been saying all along, would completely undercut what Kerry is aiming to do:

[] No recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (a Netanyahu demand)

[] No demilitarization of a Palestinian state (a Netanyahu requirement)

[] Not a single IDF soldier in the Jordan Valley (something Netanyahu insists upon)

[] Control of all of eastern Jerusalem -- by which is meant everything over the Green Line; there is no "East" Jerusalem -- for utilization as a Palestinian Arab capital (when Netanyahu sees Jerusalem as eternally united)


When all of the above is said and done, what is most significant is that the PLO does not want a "two state solution" that means end of conflict and end of claims.  The PLO seeks Israel's destruction, whether in stages or all at once, and nothing less.

Of course, this is all of a piece: the demands put out by PLO leaders are maximalist in part, I have no doubt, to ensure that there is no deal. The other part is the fear that Abbas harbors that his throat might be slit if he were perceived as having caved to the Jews -- and I kid not here.


Add to this the fact that a concession regarding a pull back from Judea and Samaria to make way for a "Palestinian state" is not something that could be readily achieved, no matter how willing Netanyahu might be. 

It would probably spell the end of his government, as the nationalists in several parties, including his own, would walk and the coalition would crumble.  He likes to "play the game," and he might well anticipate this end-result, so that he would only have to throw up his hands and say, "Gee, I'd like to, but I just can't do this, my government will collapse."  That is, as he calculates, he might be depending on the response of his coalition.

What is more, there are some safeguards in place: a referendum would be required, for example, if the prime minister were to attempt to give away (Heaven forbid!) part of Jerusalem: and there is a strong national consensus for a united Jerusalem under full Israeli sovereignty.

One highly knowledgeable source with whom I just checked says that he believes Netanyahu will hold fast on the issue of Jerusalem -- an honorable way of playing it -- and that this will be a deal-breaker, no matter what else he might concede.


So what is the problem?  Are we not "home free," so to speak?  Could be that we are. I fervently hope so. 

According to Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian Arab negotiator, as of this past Sunday, in a statement to Al Quds Al Arabi:

"...bilateral negotiations with Israel have been frozen for weeks, and it is currently underway between the Palestinians and the Americans on the one hand and between the Americans and the Israelis, on the other hand."


But there are these rumors that will not go away. 

Keeping in mind that they ARE rumors, not confirmed directly by all parties concerned, this is what is being said:

"The United States intends to unveil a formal framework peace agreement to Israel and the Palestinian Authority by the end of the month, senior Arab League sources revealed to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. According to these sources, cited by Israeli daily Ma’ariv on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said during a meeting of the League held over the weekend in Cairo that the Americans are trying to salvage the talks between the parties through the framework agreement...

"'The Americans are determined to present an agreement by the end of December and have already chosen a location for the signing ceremony for the framework agreement,' Abbas reportedly told Arab diplomats, according to Israel Hayom."

The Palestinian Arab news agency Maan, citing Arab League sources, says this is due to happen on December 31.  Gil Hoffman of the JPost says this may happen "as early as next month."


Neither the US nor the Israeli government has confirmed this.  In fact, Erekat, in the statement to Al Quds Al Arabi cited above, also said (rough translation):

"...the Americans are still confined to unwritten ideas, noting that this is within the framework of the negotiating style of the U.S. that is based on trial balloons...not written ideas, in order to see trends and test the pulse.  (Emphasis added)

Trial balloons feed rumor.


According to Israel National News just days ago:

"Kerry's staff rented 50 rooms at a luxurious Jerusalem hotel for January, in order to 'attack' Netanyahu and demand that he accept the US plan, reported Yidiot Aharonot on Friday.

Attack? Demand?  Threaten, perhaps?

The main focus of Kerry's demand, according to this report, would be that Israel dismantle all communities in the Jordan Valley.  (More on this below.)


What we are seeing -- and this is apparent on the face of it -- is a persistent Kerry who refuses to pack it in, and is determined at all costs to make something happen that allows the US to appear to have achieved a diplomatic success.

Since even he must see the difficulties (read: impossibility) of attempting to finalize an agreement by April, something interim, in the way of a "framework," might appeal to him.

Never mind that the Palestinian Arab leadership has said it would not accept an interim deal and, furthermore, would not agree to extend the time for negotiations.


For Israel, a "framework" understanding is fraught with dangers.  Israel's policy has always been that nothing is decided until everything is decided.  If, for example (again, Heaven forbid), Israel says at the table, OK, in the context of a final agreement, we will agree to remove from Judea and Samaria all communities that are not part of the major settlement blocs.  Then, if there is no final agreement, the PLO cannot come back to Israel and demand that she remove all communities that are not part of major blocs.

But if there is an interim agreement -- a "framework" -- which, by definition is not a final agreement, then what happens if Israel agrees to something?

Always, in the context of these faux negotiations, there is worry about setting precedents that will come back to haunt us later.


There are a couple of major reasons why the current situation promotes anxiety: The first can be summed up in one word: Coercion.  (As in "demand" above.)

Kerry and Obama both play dirty pool. We know this. And we know that, in the interests of their own diplomatic/ political interests they are quite capable of squeezing Israel and making threats.  So, always, in the back of our minds is concern about what the terms are, what is being said behind closed doors.

And then the companion concern is one of Netanyahu's resilience or lack there of: a concern about his caving under pressure.  Were we confident of his ability to say NO, then there would be less anxiety.

But for all of the talk and worry, we're not seeing a whole lot of caving at the moment.


Yesterday, it was reported that Netanyahu might condition advancing peace talks on the release of Pollard.

According to the JPost, citing a Monday night report by Channel 2 diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal:

"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will ask US President Barack Obama to commute the life sentence of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard at a critical stage of the diplomatic talks with the Palestinian Authority...

"The Channel 2 report, which the Prime Minister's Office would neither confirm nor deny, suggested two possible alternatives for when Netanyahu could insist on Pollard's release: when US Secretary of State John Kerry announces his framework for concluding an agreement...or when Israel releases the final round of 26 Palestinian terrorists in April."

We never should have agreed to release a single terrorist from prison -- the entire procedure is immoral.  But we seem to be on that path to continue doing so, with Netanyahu so far having refused to budge. Should he now predicate the release of the final group on Pollard's release, that would be quite fine.

But, with regard to Kerry's framework, what is suggested here?  Would Netanyahu consider making concessions that should not be made?  This is only talk. But it is worrisome talk, especially in light of what I wrote above regarding the dangers of a "framework" agreement.

At any rate, Obama has since declared that there is no connection between negations and the release of Pollard, who will not have his sentence commuted any time soon.

It's all so amorphous and vague -- a scenario based on unsubstantiated reports and speculation.


To further complicate our attempt to understand this situation, also yesterday, came a report that "Kerry's security proposals accept most Israeli positions."

The "security proposals" are with regard to what Kerry has already advanced. This is not the "framework" deal that is being referred to.

According to this report, which cites army radio, Kerry would give full security control in the Jordan Valley to Israel, at least for some years. Of course, security control for a duration is not the same as retention of residential communities and Israeli sovereignty over this area.

It's all a matter of how the story is framed, isn't it?


With regard to Kerry's security proposals, Caroline Glick provides a very incisive critique in "Kerry's oh-so-'90s security nonsense" (emphasis added):

"Kerry has proffered us security arrangements, which he claims will protect Israel from aggression for the long haul. They will do this, he argues, despite the fact that his plan denies the Jewish state physically defensible borders in the framework of a peace deal with the PLO.

"There are several serious problems with Kerry’s arrangements. But in the context of Kerry’s repeated claims that his commitment to Israel’s security is unqualified, their most glaring flaws are rooted in their disregard for all the lessons we have learned over the past two decades.

"Kerry’s security arrangements rest on three assumptions. First, they assume that the main threats Israel will face in an era of “peace” with the Palestinians will emanate from east of the Jordan River. The main two scenarios that have been raised are the threat of terrorists and advanced weaponry being smuggled across the border; and a land invasion or other type of major aggression against Israel, perpetrated by Iraqis moving across Jordan...

"...first we need to ask whether a threat from across the border would really be the only significant threat that Israel would face after surrendering Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem to the PLO.

"The answer to this question is obvious to every Israeli who has been awake for the past 20 years, since Israel started down the 'land for peace' road with the PLO.

"The greatest threat Israel will face in an era of 'peace' with the Palestinians will not come from east of the Jordan. It will come from west of the Jordan – from the Jew-free Palestinian state.

"The Palestinians don’t give us peace for land. They give us war for land. Whether they support the PLO, Hamas or anything in between, the Palestinians have used every centimeter of land that Israel has given them as launching bases for terrorist and political attacks against Israel...

"Our most peaceful periods have been those in which we have been fully deployed in Judea and Samaria. The more fully we deploy, the more we exercise our legal and national rights to sovereign power in those areas, the safer and more peaceful Israeli and Palestinian societies alike have been.

"The only way to be smart, we have learned, is by being right. The only way to secure peace is by insisting that our rights be respected. We won’t get peace for land. We will get war – not from the Iraqis or anyone else to our east, but from the Palestinians. And since the Palestinians are the people Kerry is intending to empower with his peace plan and his security arrangements, both his peace plan and his security arrangements are deeply dangerous and hostile...

"...US security guarantees are about as useful as a three dollar bill."


Just today we have reassurance that Israel is standing strong, and not caving, with regard to Kerry's proposals.  This addresses the very concerns raised by Glick, and more (emphasis added):

"Israel and the U.S. are divided over security considerations for a future peace agreement with the Palestinians. The U.S. accepts the Palestinian position that their state must be sovereign within its territory, meaning Israel would not be permitted to conduct anti-terror operations in Palestinian cities, as it does now.

"Israel opposes this and seeks to preserve the right to thwart terror and kill terrorists in the future Palestinian state. Israel also demands the right to conduct hot pursuits of 'ticking bombs' within the Palestinian state. In other words, the Israel Defense Forces would be able to enter Palestinian territory to pursue terrorists who are either about to commit a terror attack in Israel or are escaping after having carried out a strike on Israel. The Palestinians oppose this, claiming it would be a violation of their sovereignty.

"The Israeli defense establishment, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, also opposes an Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley. Israeli defense officials say that situating an advanced security apparatus in the Jordan Valley would be useless if Israeli forces were unable to operate on the ground there."


And this is where I'm going to leave us today.  There is a good deal to say, with regard to dangers from across the border in Jordan, should the monarchy fall and Islamists move in.  Ironically, the Jordanian king himself prefers an Israeli presence at his border -- for he is aware of the risks of a radicalized Palestinian Arab state that might move in on him. 

Looked at from either direction, Israel is the stabilizing force that makes peace possible.

We're been enduring a spate of terror attacks, as well, not unrelated to what I have written about here.


But I want to end by noting that my Christian readers and friends today are celebrating (or perhaps have already celebrated) Christmas. To each of you I wish a good holiday and an interlude of peace.



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


December 19, 2013: Levy Campaign Participation

My readers already understand that the Campaign to promote the Levy Report has gotten underway here in Israel, and that it's a major task. 
We will be launching a website very soon, and have just put up our FaceBook page:

If you are FaceBook savvy, I ask, please, that you like this page and share it.  Get your friends involved and ask them to do the same.


The FaceBook project is a key part of the campaign.  It not only broadcasts the issue, it serves as a vehicle for communicating with MKs regarding the importance of their participation.  You will be hearing more about this.

But for now. please begin with putting out the word.  We are looking for thousands of "likes."


The Levy Report was written by a three person committee headed by Justice Edmund Levy; the committee was mandated by Prime Minister Netanyahu with determining the status of building in Judea and Samaria.  The Report was released in July 2012 after a year of extensive research based on law and history:

It concluded that Israel's situation is unique, that Israel is not an occupier in Judea and Samaria, and that the "settlements" are not illegal.  Nor, says the Report, do the Geneva Conventions apply to Israel's situation.

Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted the Report and then, because of pressures, shelved it without even so much as a committee discussion.


Meanwhile, Obama continues to call the communities in Judea and Samaria "illegitimate" and an "obstacle to peace" and Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO continues to promote the lie that Israel must move back behind a non-existent "1967 border."  That alleged border was only a temporary armistice line, and yet the world believes him because the Israeli government is not dynamically refuting him.

We need that Levy Report.  The situation is not going to get better, it will only get worse.  The fact of negotiations, which is most regrettable in any event, is no reason to refrain from promoting the Report. If there must be negotiations, let Israel at least state her rights and negotiate from strength. 


I cite here two recent examples of the sort of thing that occurs regularly, which makes the Report so necessary:

Earlier in December, the American Studies Association (ASA), a Washington DC based group counting some 5,000 members devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The vote was passed unanimously by the association's national council, which voiced protest over “the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law..."


And then, even more outrageous, and outraging:

"Senior European Union members warned Israel Monday that it will be held responsible for the failure of peace talks with the Palestinians if it announces the construction of new settlement housing...

"The ambassadors expressed their concerns that Israel would announce plans for more settlement construction in the West Bank after releasing Palestinian prisoners at the end of the month, in keeping with its commitment to the Palestinian Authority, something Israel did after the previous two rounds of prisoner releases earlier this year.

“'New announcements of settlement activity after the third round of prisoner releases at the end of the month might be a fatal blow for the peace process,' the ambassadors said.

"The stern warning by the major EU powers was coordinated with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has played an integral part in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians over the past few months."

"Settlements" are here, again, considered "illegitimate" and the "stumbling block to peace."  Israel - which had not committed to a building freeze when entering the negotiations -  is accorded no right to build by the EU. 

Not that Israel needs the EU to accord her the right. But it's high time Israel claimed that right unequivocally.


What's outrageous here, of course, transcends even the issue of Israel's right to build: The EU - while saying not a word about PA incitement - is inviting the PLO to quit negotiations and blame Israel.  

The anti-Israel stance of the EU is broadly recognized.  But why make it easier for this group to attack Israel utilizing distorted perspectives?


Regavim has put out the following press conference in response to the withdrawal of former minister Benny Begin in involvement in the Prawer plan for Bedouin land allocations:

"Former Minister Begin’s decision to resign, must be seized by the government as an opportunity to change the Begin plan and make it an improved and more just solution for all citizens of Israel, especially the Bedouins in the Negev.

"We call upon the elected officials of the State of Israel not to cower in the face of extreme pressure of a tiny but violent minority, here in Israel, using the delegitimization of Israel internationally, as a tool to harm the State and distort the discussion.

"The land of Israel is the most important and scarce resource of the State of Israel and we have to treat that dear resource responsibly.

"We have to grab this opportunity and place in the law the necessary amendments in order to deal with the real needs of the Bedouin population and not only serve a small minority of Bedouin with land claims.

"The violence and the threats of the Arab MKs and a small minority of Bedouin against this unprecedented and extremely generous plan of former Minister Begin, proves once again that giving free gifts, sends a message of weakness and enlarges their appetite.

"We call upon the Ministers and Members of Knesset not to discard 7 years invested in finding a just solution and return to the principles as laid out by the Goldberg commission and original Prawer legislation, to continue in the quest to put forward a suitable law that will organize Bedouin settlement in the Negev." 


Elie Wiesel - Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Peace Laureate, and human rights activist - placed a full page ad in the NYTimes yesterday and the same ad in the Wall Street Journal today. Paid for by philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, it was co-sponsored by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.


Credit: NYTimes

Writes Wiesel:

"...should the civilized nations of the world trust a regime whose supreme leader said yet again last month that Israel is ‘doomed to annihilation,’ and referred to my fellow Jewish Zionists as ‘rabid dogs?’"

We must "appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the regime’s public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel. And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met."

You can find the full text of the ad below.  Please share it and refer to it:

Bravo on this!  May he have an impact that causes a ripple effect of ever-broadening protest on Iran.

There will be much more to follow on the subject soon.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 03:21AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 18, 2013: A Bit of a Mess

More than a bit, actually, as Israel is digging out from the snowstorm of the century.  It is the story that has taken headlines in the news for days: 

Remote communities totally snowed in.  Roads blocked by trees that came down (because the snow is very heavy).  Black ice. Power outages.  Babies delivered in cars that didn't reach the hospital in time.  Schools closed in some areas.  Meetings cancelled.

Credit: JPost


We're on the way back to normal. But the progress has been slow because this is such an unusual phenomenon here.  People don't own snow shovels (I wouldn't know where to buy one!) and so many sidewalks remain covered in half-melted snow that is still freezing at night.  What is more, there is insufficient municipal equipment for the clearing of every side street.  This is a function, in part, of the rarity with which the equipment would be used, and, as well, a function of the diverse and more pressing demands made on a limited budget.


But if the equipment for good snow clearing is not the norm in this area, politicizing the situation sure is.  Here's a chance to blame Netanyahu for not being more prepared, in light of the forecast.  Could the government have been better prepared?  I'm not going to go there.  Perhaps. But I also know that the damages caused by a natural event cannot all be anticipated or prevented, and it's foolish to pretend otherwise.

And what do you say about those people (few in number) who were foolish enough to have ventured out - towards Jerusalem, which is uphill - in the height of the storm the other day, with children in the car?  The IDF had to rescue them.  And rescue them, they did.


Even as we dig out, the world does go on - although, I confess, much of what's happening rather makes news of the snow appealing.

But let's start with good news:

You've read, in my last couple of postings, about the land grab in the Negev by the Bedouin, and the fact that former minister Bennie Begin, who had promoted the Prawer Plan, now sought to secure its withdrawal for lack of support within the Knesset.  That plan - which prompted rioting by some Bedouin because they wanted even more than they were scheduled to receive - is not yet law.  It had passed only one reading of three required, and Begin recommended to the prime minister that it be dropped.

Miri Regev (Likud), who heads the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee, however, announced that there would be further discussions on the plan.  Now the news is that Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beitenu) is likely to take over the job of shepherding the plan through the Knesset and implementing it if it becomes law.

Shamir is a no-nonsense nationalist, concerned with Jewish rights. 

Credit: flash 90


On Sunday, in Monaco, a meeting was held of the World Policy Conference.  Attending were Prince Turki Al-Faisal (shown below), former head of the Saudi secret services and at one time Saudi ambassador to the United States, as well as Israeli officials MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) and Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the US.

According to reports, Al-Faisal publicly shook hands with Rabinovich and spoke openly with Sheetrit. 

In a normal world, this would not be news.  But in our world, it is.  What we're seeing is the hint of a thawing of the Saudi attitude towards Israel.  It does not mean we are about to have full and warm relations with Saudi Arabia any moment now, but it certainly signals something of a shared concern about Iran and Obama's policies.  My take is that this was spontaneous behavior on the part of the prince.

Of course, since the "hint of thawing" is mostly behind the scenes, the Saudi government found it necessary to declare subsequently that it has no relations or contacts with Israel.

Reportedly, Sheetrit invited Al-Faisal to address the Knesset, but the prince declined until such time as Israel accepted the Saudi "Peace Initiative."

But, in veiled criticism of the American administration, Al-Faisal also said that "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas need patronage from a responsible third party and expressed doubts that President Barack Obama could be that responsible party."  (About which more below.)


Credit: theguardian


And the painfully bad news, which cannot be escaped:

Yesterday, Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen, while traveling in his vehicle near Rosh Hanikra, 50 meters from the Lebanese border, was killed by gunfire - some six or seven shots - from across that border. The gunfire, which severely wounded him, ultimately proved fatal.  IDF soldiers returned fire, apparently wounding two Lebanese.

Cohen, 31, of Afula, was a career soldier.  He leaves behind a wife and 11 month old daughter.

Credit: Israel Hayom

There is little thought that Cohen was killed by Hezbollah (this does not have the mark of an Hezbollah operation). Rather, the assessment - apparently based on what was seen from look-out points - is that he was shot by a member of the Lebanese army who acted alone and without provocation.  Protest has been registered with UNIFIL, and Defense Minister Ya'alon has declared that the Lebanese government and the army are responsible.  But given present circumstances, there are no plans for a major response.

There is no information on what will happen to that lone sniper (I would assume that nothing will happen) or what motivated him.  The Voice of Lebanon radio station, which identified the soldier as Hassan Ibrahim, reported that he had fled his post following the incident, but returned to his base on Monday morning.


And then, to the subject that refuses to go away: the "peace process."  Kerry was here briefly during the storm.  He did meet with Netanyahu, and, for a short while before fleeing the weather, with Abbas in Ramallah.

At a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday, Kerry declared that a full and final peace agreement is still possible within the nine months allocated for negotiations.  Talks are now at about half-way mark.

“Our goal remains as it always has been — for the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final status agreement...The core framework, if you want to call it that, which we are discussing with respect to this, centers on the critical issues: Borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition and an end to conflict and to all claims."

In spite of recent Obama suggestions to the contrary, Kerry insists that the US is aiming only for a full agreement, not an interim arrangement.

"Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that....

"We're not talking at this point about any shifts (in the schedule).

The "shifts" refer to suggestions that had been made that the release of the next batch of terrorists from Israeli prison would be held up.  This was offered as a reassurance to the PLO:  26 more are supposed to be released on December 29. Ouch.

"We remain hopeful that we can achieve that final status agreement. Why? Because we are absolutely confident ... that for both sides, and the region at large, peace can bring enormous benefits.",7340,L-4465049,00.html


But wait a second here.  Privately, both sides insist that nothing of substance has been accomplished during the negotiations.

What is more, not only has Abbas rejected the Kerry plan for Israeli security in the Jordan Valley, he reportedly gave Kerry a letter last week that outlined "Palestinian Red Lines," which include "refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state."

While Netanyahu has made it clear, repeatedly, that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a necessary and bottom-line requirement for peace.

And so, no one, not even John Kerry...


Credit: livemint

...not even John Kerry can truly believe that there is the possibility of a final agreement in four months.

And so, if we exclude the possibility that he's smoking something (I believe Naftali Bennett suggested this), then we have to ask where he's coming from.


The Obama administration has had a string of diplomatic failures.  At one point it was plausible to think that perhaps Obama and Kerry were banking on an Israeli-PA agreement to promote as a stunning success.

But there will be no stunning success.  Rather, they run the risk of having to tuck their tails between their legs and run for it. A smart maneuver, if there were any sincerity, would be an announcement that said Obama and Kerry had given it their all, and are proud of having done so. But, if the parties don't want it, they cannot make it happen.

But this is not what Kerry is doing.


There was a time when it was also plausible to hypothesize that Obama was extorting Netanyahu with regard to Iran: cave on the PA negotiations and I'll be tough on Iran.

But since the Geneva interim agreement, he's lost that bargaining chip.


And so? What are they up to? Why are they playing it as they are?

Caroline Glick says that Kerry is forcing "Israel's moment of decision."  The Secretary of State, she says, is planning to bring his own "peace plan" here next month, and intends to push Israel into making concessions up front, before the Palestinian Arabs have agreed to an end of conflict and a final deal.

Thus, she says, Netanyahu must stop trying to wait out Obama and instead extricate Israel from that "two-state trap."

That Kerry is lethal and not stupid is a conclusion that it's difficult to avoid making. 

Notice that before leaving Israel, Kerry said that "both parties are committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table."  This, itself, is a form of pressure, of course.  And, quite frankly, knowing how Netanyahu functions, I find it difficult to believe that he'll walk away (as much as I wish he might).  He tries to "play the game," whenever and however possible. As Glick put it, by "giving the bare minimum of revocable concession possible to keep Obama at bay."

But does a reluctance on Netanyahu's part to walk away from the table - and have the PA label him as the one who was the stumbling block to peace - necessarily mean that our prime minister will concede all that Kerry now seeks? 

I see a resilience in Netanyahu and in our nation that would preclude what Kerry is setting out to accomplish.  Keep in mind that even if Netanyahu were determined to grant all that Kerry sought, it would not be in his power to do so.  For example: eastern Jerusalem is a part of the sovereign state of Israel and cannot be relinquished without a referendum.  What is more, an attempt on Netanyahu's part to surrender Judea and Samaria would unquestionably bring his government down.

This does not mean - not for a second - that I make light of Kerry's intentions!


It is situations such as the one I describe here that have convinced the Levy Report Campaign Committee that we need that Report - with its declaration of Israel's legal rights in Judea and Samaria - now as never before.  Now is not a time for reticence on this score.

There is an enemy in the White House, and it behooves all who care about Israel to be on guard and to fight with full determination for Israel's rights and integrity.


Moshe Arens, writing in Haaretz, says that "The negotiations are not meant to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian clash; all they are intended to achieve is Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank, while leaving the conflict to fester."


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 04:36PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 12, 2013: The Islamic Winter

The big news here in Israel has to do with winter, all right. But most definitely not the Islamic sort (which I'll get to below). 

We've been hit with severe weather.  In Jerusalem, it started with torrential rain and high winds yesterday, and turned to snow overnight.  Bitter temperatures and more snow, probably mixed with sleet, are due in the next two days.  Traffic is snarled, and routines are disrupted - main roads are closed.  In the north, in Gush Etzion, Beit El, Hevron, the Shomron, and other places that are higher, the snow fall has been heavier.


Credit: Jerusalemscenes


From my window right now, it's very lovely, as every branch of every shrub is covered.

And there is yet another benefit to the weather: Kerry was scheduled to meet with Netanyahu today to advance that "peace process" with ever more vigorous plans. But the snow caused a postponement.


What timing!  Yesterday I wrote about the law, know as the Prawer Plan, that had been advanced by former minister Bennie Begin.  Today he pulled the bill for lack of support.

You might assume that the lack of support was a signal that most MKs think it was not fair to the Bedouin, but the contrary is the case.  And Begin said explicitly that this action was not as a result of the riots.

As Arutz Sheva explains:
"The plan gives Negev Bedouin 180,000 dunams (45,000 acres) of state land for free, additionally granting them 'compensation' for the state land many Bedouin are currently squatting on. Arab and left-wing opposition to the bill focuses on it moving 30,000-40,000 Bedouins from illegal outposts and villages, and demolishing 40 illegal settlements...

"About 260,000 Bedouin live in Israel, mostly in and around the Negev in the arid south. Members of this minority regularly settle on land they do not own, and then violently refuse to evacuate it. The Prawer Plan would have offered some of the Bedouin generous compensation for land they had grabbed, and relocated them to communities that could receive proper services from the state.

"The Bedouin leadership refused to accept the plan, which they claimed violates their rights. According to nationalists, this is because the Bedouin know that they have more to gain by continuing to grab land by force."


Regavim, which works to protect Jewish rights to the land, said:

"Now the outline can be amended and the necessary corrections inserted into the bill, so that it truly deals with the problems of the Bedouin population and does not serve a tiny, interested group of ownership claimants, to whom it doles out hundreds of thousands of dunams.

"Land is the most important and least available resource in the state of Israel, and it must not be seen as currency for payment,

"The systematic refusal and violence exhibited by the leaders of the Bedouins and the Arab MKs, vis-a-vis the super-generous plan offered by former minister Begin, proves again that handing out gifts for free projects weakness, and increases the appetite of those who claim ownership." (Emphasis added)


Now to the Islamic Winter:

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Rafi Yisraeli, professor emeritus of Hebrew University, deliver a talk based on his new book, "From Arab Spring to Islamic Winter."

I would like to share a few highlights of that talk.

Not only are we not witnessing a "spring" (a political blossoming) with regard to what's happening in Arab states such as Egypt and Syria, but the phenomenon is not even exclusively "Arab."  Rather, it is Islamic, affecting nations within a swath that encompasses everything from Afghanistan to Mali.  An Islamic Winter.  A period of unrest and violence.

With all of the differences that adhere in these various states, says Prof. Yisraeli, what binds them is an Islamic vision.

Interestingly, one of the things that has sparked violence in some of these nations is a sense that there has been a de facto return to a monarchy.  At an earlier time, in these places, there had been monarchies, which were ultimately overthrown.  Regimes of a totalitarian nature replaced the monarchies, but those regimes held within them the potential for change.  What happened in several instances is that the totalitarian rulers insisted upon being followed by their sons.  This was true in Syria, for example, where Bashar Assad took over from his father, Hafez Assad.  In Egypt, Mubarak wanted to be succeeded by his son as well, and this behavior was manifested in other countries.  This signaled to the people that there was no chance for change, that the country was in the iron grip of a single family. 

Yet another problem that is endemic now to several countries of the region has to do with reductions in the quantity of food being grown - particularly where there are draught conditions - at the same time that the populations are expanding.  The potential for crisis is growing ever greater.


Yisraeli - as those who know him are aware - has a wicked sense of humor. And so I feel free to share here one joke he told, which was so very to the point:  A minister of one of these struggling countries declared in a speech, "When I took office, we were at the edge of a precipice.  But since then we've taken several steps forward."


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 06:01PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 10, 2013: Obama on His Face

Before we get to Obama, who makes me (as most of you) terribly tired, I would like to address other topics.
I have been wanting for some time to write about the issue of Bedouin settlement in the Negev, which has sparked enormous controversy and been used as a weapon against Israel. (So what else is new?)
The core question here is whether Bedouin families will be permitted to remain on land that they have usurped illegally.  Will they be allowed to continue to function as squatters, or must they be required to resettle in towns - complete with full services, please understand - provided for them by the Israeli government according to a plan advanced by Benny Begin, who was a (Likud) Minister in the government at the time the law was drafted. 
What a field day people have had - painting Israel as villainous, heartless in her treatment of Bedouin citizens of Israel.  All the buzz words, such as "apartheid" and "displacement" are invoked. The fact that the truth lies elsewhere is frequently ignored. 
I will say forthrightly that Israel is not faultless here. Her greatest mistake has been to allow the Bedouin to get away with too much, too long.  This has not fostered an attitude of respect for Israeli law in the Bedouin, but, rather, has given them the impression they can get away with what they wish. Thus the great indignation, that this turns out to not be so.
Recently there have been demonstrations over the land issue that have turned violent and required arrests.  What is certain is that the government cannot bend now if there is to be respect for law and proper resolution of this situation.
Israeli Bedouin protest against the state's impending confiscation of lands, in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, in the Negev, June 13, 2013 (photo credit: Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)
Credit: Dudu Greenspan/Flash 90
A thumbnail picture of the Bedouin population of the Negev is in order here: 
The men often practice polygamy.  Islam, after all, permits up to four wives, never mind that this is against Israeli law.  How they do it is to serially marry and then divorce women, so that on the books they have only one wife at a time. With each of their wives they may produce several children, so that in total they might have 15 or 20 children.  They have the highest birthrate in Israel, by far.  As they are unable to support them all, they rely upon the Israeli welfare system to care for these kids.  Remember, they are citizens, entitled to all benefits.
But here's the kicker: while they enjoy the entitlements of citizenship, they are reluctant to assume the responsibilities.  They prefer not to pay taxes. To that end, they try to avoid maintaining normal records that would make them traceable. Their homes - those illegally built ones - most often do not have official addresses. And they try to avoid bank accounts, which would provide a means of tracking their financial status. 
However, as they need to collect their welfare funds for their kids, they go into the appropriate office in the regional capital city, Beersheva, apply in person and secure those funds in cash.  No checks mailed to their homes or deposits made to their bank accounts.  That the system allows this, without requiring normal documentation, is an example of what I mean when I say Israel has responsibility to this situation. 
There was a time when Bedouin were associated with a reasonably high percentage of service in the IDF. They were known as highly skilled trackers and served their country.  That situation is no more: the percentage serving in the army is way down, reflecting a much-diminished sense of loyalty to Israel.
One of the reasons why this is the case is directly linked to the polygamy issue.  As there are not enough local Bedouin women to go around, the Bedouin men in the Negev seek woman from elsewhere: from places not known for their pro-Israel sentiment, such as Gaza.  That is, these Israeli Bedouin children are being raised in some instances by women hostile to Israel.
What I hasten to point out is that this description does not apply to all the Bedouin. Certainly not. But it is, never-the-less, a distressful, unacceptable situation that has caused great civil disruption and requires major correction.
My description, above, I should note, does not encompass all aspects of the situation.  I haven't alluded, for example, to the Islamic Movement of Israel, Northern Branch, which has worked to radicalize the Bedouin population of the Negev, as part of its efforts to undermine Israel. They sometimes come into the Negev to assist in the building of those illegal homes.
Here I would like to recommend an article on the subject - "Bedouin settlement. Are we missing the point?" - by Ari Briggs.
Read this for a clearer picture of the outrage of Bedouin demands.
Briggs is associated with Regavim, an independent, professional Israeli research institute and policy planning think tank that does very fine work.
Ari Briggs
Credit: jwire
The funeral for Nelson Mandela has been held:  Contrary to a misimpression, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and a contingent of MKs were present.  The lauding of Mandela, who was unquestionably a hero for his nation, continues.  And I think it important to provide a balance, as many here in Israel recognize quite forthrightly that he was no friend to Israel.
The best of the articles I've seen, with regard to balance, is this one by Michael Freund:
Now to Obama: I was going to analyze his statements, made at the Saban Forum on Saturday, about the Iran deal.  
And so, I went back and looked at what he said.  ( for full text of his remarks).  It's the same sort of pie-in-the sky, make-it-up-as-you-go-along vision as the one he offered for the "peace process," and I found I hadn't the patience to take it apart one misrepresentation at a time.
Thus, I simply want to share some news items that solidly refute the positive picture he painted.   
And we can start with this:
"The Iranian economy is already showing signs of growth."
"Senior officials in the administration of President Barack Obama have conceded over the past few days in conversations with colleagues in Israel that the value of the economic sanctions relief to Iran could be much higher than originally thought in Washington, security sources in Israel told Haaretz.  (Emphasis added)

"In official statements by the United States immediately after the agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program was signed in Geneva between Iran and the six powers at the end of November it was said that the economic relief Iran would receive in exchange for signing the agreement would be relatively low – $6 billion or $7 billion. Israeli assessment were much higher -- about Israeli assessments were much higher – about $20 billion at least.
Cynic that I am, I will suggest the possibility that the Obama administration just might have had an inkling, even at the beginning, that the benefit to Iran of sanctions reductions was going to be considerably more than the $7 billion they were projecting.
At the same that they were making this excessively low projection, I remind my readers, they were telling Senators (this was Kerry) to “disbelieve everything that the Israelis...just told [us]."
But it's not just Israel that is critical.  Obama is facing considerable resistance in Congress (emphasis added):

"Congressional opposition to the recently announced nuclear accord with Iran reached a critical tipping point [last] week as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle publicly lambasted the deal while pushing for tighter economic sanctions on Tehran.
"As the details of an interim nuclear deal reached last month in Geneva become clear, Congressional opposition has grown, leaving the White House to sell a deal that even its allies have dubbed as worrisome.
"The White House held a classified briefing with members of Congress on Wednesday to push them against passing new sanctions in 2014, giving Iran at least another year of economic reprieve, according to Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.).
"'They want to convince us not to take any action in the first five or six months of 2014,' Sherman said on the House floor during a Special Order on Iran organized [last] Wednesday evening by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.). 'That means, in effect, we are not going to take action in 2014.'
'Let’s take a look at this deal and we’ll see [that] what we get out of it is at least overstated by its proponents,' Sherman said, explaining that the deal does not actually halt Iran’s contested uranium enrichment program, as the administration has claimed.
'They will be making very substantial progress toward their eighth, ninth, tenth bomb' as the deal is carried out, Sherman said. 'This agreement provides that Iran makes substantial progress towards more low-enriched uranium, building its stockpile toward a real collection of nuclear bombs.'"
"...Like others, Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.) said that only new sanctions will push Iran to make concessions 'that would eliminate their enrichment capabilities.'"
Yesterday, Kerry argued that imposing new sanctions now would be an "act of bad faith":
"This is a very delicate diplomatic moment. We're at a crossroads. We're at one of those, really, hinge points in history."
Boy, he's got that right.  It's just that he's racing to take the wrong road at the crossroads.
I rather like the observation by The Israel Project that at one and the same time the Obama administration is arguing that it was stringent sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table, but that sustaining or increasing those sanctions will now drive Iran away from the table.
In recent days, Netanyahu has been less openly disputative with Obama, and sounding somewhat more conciliatory.  It is my guess that he's not only seeking to avoid a break with the US, he's hoping for maximum leverage when it comes to forging the final demands to be placed before Iran at the end of this six-month "interim period."
It is this playing-the-game approach, so much Netanyahu's MO, that I see as responsible for his statements this past week with regard to Israel's commitment to a "two state solution."
While I do not like it, and it's not what I would prefer to see him do, at the end of the day, it remains clear that our prime minister is setting out stipulations for a negotiated settlement that effectively preclude it within the current context.
Netanyahu addressed the Saban Forum on Sunday, via a video link.  He stated then that the "minimal requirement for peace" is the readiness of the Palestinian Arabs to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, who have rights to self-determination equal to their own.
On Monday, at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said:

"Only once Israel's terms are met will there be a peace deal.  I would like to say something regarding the speculation about the coalition on the peace process. I want to clarify: Any deal, if one is reached, will be brought to a national referendum. What will decide whether a deal is reached is not one coalition's dictate or another, but the essence of the agreement.

"We are not standing before a permanent accord. We have a set of specific terms that have yet to be met in the negotiations. ... We are still not there, not even walking down that hall." (Emphasis added)
I end today by sharing a link to a marvelous video about Israeli medical innovations.  (With thanks to Judith N)
See it, share it, please:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 03:27PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 8, 2013: Hocus Pocus as Diplomacy

The question, for starters, is how gullible do Obama and his representatives think that Israel is?  Or Mahmoud Abbas, for that matter.  What the Americans are attempting to do is stitch together a "peace" deal using that hocus pocus.

Kerry came to town last Wednesday for a series of meetings with Israeli and PA officials in order to advance the "peace process."  

On Friday, Kerry announced that he had presented both the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs with "new security ideas":

He had brought with him US Gen. (ret.) John Allen, described by Kerry as "one of the best military minds" in the US.

Credit: khaama

Gen. Allen, according to the JPost,  had been designated by Obama to "assess the potential threats to Israel and the region from a future Palestinian state, and come up with possible security arrangements."

I see this as unmitigated gall: Expecting Israel to rely on a foreign military leader's assessment of Israel's security situation. This could not even be expected to be a disinterested assessment, as Allen is charged with furthering the negotiations.  As a matter of fact, according to Obama, Allen has already concluded that it would be possible to arrive at a "two state solution" that protects Israel's need for security. 

Did we expect Allen to say, "Mr. President, this just isn't going to work"?


According to Caroline Glick, writing on Friday (see more below), the proposal by Allen "involved, among other things, American security guarantees" and "a pledge to deploy US forces along the Jordan River."

Kerry fell all over himself when he was here trying to demonstrate how seriously the US regards Israel's need for security.  In terms of the US negotiations with Iran, he said, "Israel's security was at the top of the US agenda."

Anyone who would buy this has been sleeping for the last several weeks and is probably still asleep.  The US has demonstrated over and again that it cannot be trusted by its allies.

See John Keinon's analysis in the JPost, "A tale of two Kerrys" - about the turn-about in Kerry's position, which hardly inspires confidence.  "Will the real John Kerry stand up."


The Allen plan apparently does involve an Israeli presence at the Jordan River, as well - at least for some interval of time.  And it is for this reason that, according to Reuters, an unnamed Palestinian Arab official has said that the PA rejected the plans "because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation."

While the response from Netanyahu - a reiteration of what has been Israel's position - is that under any peace agreement, Israel "must be able to defend itself, by itself, with our own forces."

Netanyahu "has rejected outright the idea of any third party involvement."  (Emphasis added.)


So, what we're seeing are irreconcilable differences in the positions between Israel and the PA - something that the US will not acknowledge upfront, but that Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman has stated clearly:

"To speak frankly, I don’t believe that it’s possible in the next year, this year, to achieve...some break-through..."

"Trust between the two sides is about zero," said Lieberman, who cautioned about creating "expectations" of a positive outcome to the talks.


Obama, addressing the prestigious Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution in Washington DC yesterday, said that "a framework" could be reached "within the next several months" but his conceptualization was a bit different:

What he has in mind, astonishingly, is a deal with the PA only, that would lead to a deal with Gaza down the road.  Allow me, here, to respond to a few of the comments he made during his talk, moderated by Haim Saban.

(See for the full text of Obama's remarks.)

"I think we're now at a place where we can achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side-by-side in peace and security."

He's either deliberately duplicitous (a distinct possibility) or living in a dream world.

He knows about this "place" in part because, "There are young people, teenagers that I met both in Israel and the Palestinian Territories that want to get out from under this history..."

This is perhaps a small point but, in the interests of addressing distortions of truth, I could not let it pass. When Obama was here some months ago, he spoke to students at the Israel convention center (Binyanei Ha'uma) in Jerusalem.  However, the American Embassy selectively invited students from certain universities.  Members of Ariel University, who tend to be more nationalist, were not invited. 

This is how Obama plays things.  By design, he "met" a certain kind of student only.

As to the picture of "Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side."  Any even remotely serious assessment of the situation would have to address the fact that Abbas is enormously weak and that Hamas is ever-eager to take over, should there be an independent Palestinian Arab state (Heaven forbid).  The only thing keeping Hamas at bay in Judea and Samaria is the IDF - this you've read here repeatedly.

What is more, the PA is Hamas in a suit and tie: the goals of the two groups are the same. Both seek Israel's destruction.  A careful analysis of the words of PA/PLO leaders in Arabic, as well as PA/PLO documents, makes this quite clear.

Add to this a history of the PA security forces turning their guns on Israeli soldiers.

What Obama and Kerry are pushing is pure hype, made-up nonsense.


According to Obama, "We know what the outlines of a potential agreement might look like."

This is a commonly touted myth.  It is not so.  You've seen above how great the differences are.  Whenever this expectation is expressed, it is code for the '67 lines as the basis for negotiations and a divided Jerusalem.  This is what Abbas has always demanded, and what he continues to demand to this day.  Obama embraces this position and acts as if it is a foregone conclusion. 

It is not: Israel will never accept this.


Moderator Saban asked Obama:

"The Palestinians are two people - one in the West Bank, led by President Abbas that is negotiating the deal; and on in Gaza, led by Hamas that wants to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth.  President Abbas, as far as I know, says he won't make a deal that doesn't include Gaza, which he doesn't control.  How do we get out from this?" labyrinth?"

Replied Obama:

"Well, I think this is going to happen in stages...

"...if, in fact, we can create a pathway to peace, even if initially it's restricted to the West Bank, if there is a model where young Palestinians in Gaza are looking and seeing that in the West Bank Palestinians are able to live in dignity, with self-determination, and suddenly their economy is booming and trade is taking place because they have created an environment in which Israel is confident about its security and a lot of the old barriers to commerce and educational exchange and all that has begun to break down, that's something that the young people of Gaza are going to want.  And the pressure that will be placed [on Hamas??] for the residents of Gaza to experience that same future is something that is going to be I think overwhelmingly appealing."

This scenario painted by Obama is so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese appear as solid as a brick wall. 

I don't think it's necessary to parse all of this.  I cannot believe that even Obama believes it: that there will be a settlement and - "poof" - life for the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria will morph into something so fantastic that young Arabs in Gaza will force (force?) Hamas to join the negotiated settlement.

My metaphor of hocus pocus as diplomacy is very apt.  This is nothing but a bunch of words pretending to be a policy.


Lastly, I will mention here with regard to Obama's Saban remarks, that he says it "remains to be seen whether President Abbas, then, is willing to understand that this transition period requires some restraint on the part of the Palestinians as well.  They don't get everything they want on day one. (Does this mean ultimately they DO get everything they want?) And that creates some political problems for President Abbas."

Well, I suppose when you're inventing a scenario you can say whatever you want. But if Obama has even a scintilla of understanding about what's going on, he knows very well that Abbas will not compromise on his demands.  And, in point of fact, cannot, as his regime and very possibly his life would be at risk if he struck an agreement that compromised on Palestinian Arab demands.

My own suspicion is that this babble by Obama about a transition that will lead in time to the inclusion of Gaza is less to address Abbas's concerns than it is to cover his own rear. How do you, after all, actively promote a negotiated settlement when there is still a terrorist Palestinian Arab entity outside of its terms?  This business of transition is Obama's answer.


Please see Caroline Glick, "The politics of subversion," which addresses this entire situation:


As to where Netanyahu stands on all of this...

In his statement following his meeting last week with Kerry, his tone was more conciliatory than it has been for a while.  I have my own theories as to why, which I may address when I write about Obama's statements on Iran at the Saban Conference.  And he did say (which makes me shudder) that "Israel is ready for a historic peace" based on two states for two peoples.

Again, with this? I want to ask him. Again?

But he also made the statement I cited above. In it's entirety: "It is a peace that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, with our own forces against any foreseeable threats."

What is more, he called on the PA to stop finger-pointing and creating artificial crises.  "Israel," he declared, is honoring "all understandings reached in the negotiations that led to the current talks.

Put simply: Stop carrying on about settlements.  We have a right to do what we're doing.


This leads to an enormously important point.  And here I will circle back to the comments by Foreign Minister Lieberman at the Saban Conference, regarding his doubts that anything will come of negotiations. For he said something else as well:

"Israel is not 'occupying' the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]." (Emphasis added)

Mazel tov. This is telling it like it is, and it is about time.

Avigdor Lieberman.
Credit: Oliver Fitoussi

It is not enough to claim security alone, when negotiating.  That means if the US could be trusted, and the Palestinian Arabs were truly peaceful, then, hey, we could pull back to the '676 line.

But this land is ours, legally

Every time Obama makes a statement about the outlines of a agreement being clear, by which he means that Israel is expected to surrender most of Judea and Samaria, there must be forthright refutation from the Israeli government.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 05:17PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 2, 2013: Strength for the Hard Times

A Hanukkah menorah.

Credit: Amit Erez

I give thanks for this Chanukah season, which is buoying me - and I hope many of you! - during a difficult time.


Before moving to the difficult stuff, I begin with links to material that I would like to share:

A poll done on behalf of the organization Regavim, here in Israel, shows that when Israelis who are not predisposed to the "settlements" come to understand that international law gives Israel rights in Judea and Samaria, they may change their minds about those "settlements."

The point here (which I make in the article) is that this shows us why the Levy Report Campaign is so important.  The Arab lies have distorted the thinking even of some Israelis, and it's our task to do the education that will set the record straight:


Directly connected to one of the conclusions of the Levy Report is this piece by Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beitenu): "International law and Judea and Samaria: It’s time to return to the facts."

Writes Minister Shamir (emphasis added):

"The ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] is considered the authority on the Geneva Convention and other parts of international law, and the majority of the international community relies on its interpretation – frequently without rendering its own thorough investigation...

"However, when its claims on the [Israeli-Palestinian Arab] conflict are based on false interpretations, and partial or wholly inaccurate declarations, it does damage – not just to Israel, but also to the cause of peace and reconciliation in our region."

The false interpretations and inaccuracies he is referring to are with regard to the much-touted but erroneous notion that Israel is an "occupier" in Judea and Samaria.  See the entire piece for an analysis.


Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90


Now as to the "hard times."  An understatement, truly, for we are dealing with a situation that defies description.  I want to move past the issue of Iran (it makes me weary in my bones), but my conscience will not permit me to do so.

Following here are a series of links to articles on Iran (with a nod to Daily Alert). This provides my readers with yet another opportunity to connect the dots (all emphasis added):

The deal between P5 + 1 and Iran has not begun yet, and, in fact, the details of implementation still have to be worked out, via meetings that will take place either in Geneva or Vienna. 

"A senior Western diplomat described the implementation phase of the deal as 'extremely complex and difficult.'" 

So why all the hoopla by Obama and Kerry if it's not really a done deal yet?  Obviously, because they expect to make it a done deal. But wait!

"...underlining years of mutual distrust, [Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas] Araqchi said the deal was not legally binding and Iran had the right to undo it if the powers failed to hold up their end of the bargain.

"'The moment we feel that the opposite side is not meeting its obligations or its actions fall short, we will revert to our previous position and cease the process,' [the Iranian state-run news service] Fars quoted Araqchi, a senior member of Iran's negotiating team, as saying. 'We are in no way optimistic about the other side - we are pessimistic - and we have told them that we cannot trust you.'"


Well, now...

Let's look at some of the expectations the Iranians are expressing.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Iranian president Rouhani indicated "100 per cent" that dismantling of nuclear facilities was a red line for his country.

In other words, they have no intention of dismantling. Never.


Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi concurs with regard to no dismantling of nuclear facilities, but he carries it one step further. 

Quoted by the website of state broadcaster IRIB, Salehi declared:

"Your actions and words show you don't want us to have the Arak heavy water reactor which means you want to deprive us of our rights.

"But you should know that it is a red line which we will never cross, likewise enrichment."

The source is AFP:


AFP, citing the official Iranian news agency, also reported on something Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday. 

"Iran will decide the level of enrichment according to its needs for different purposes.

"Only details of the enrichment activities are negotiable." (Emphasis added)


This is a deal? Is there not one leader of integrity or common sense among the heads of P5 + 1???

Not only are the Iranians giving nothing of substance in return for a reduction in sanctions, they declare themselves ready to resume enrichment at prior levels if they should "feel" that the actions of the opposite side "fall short," whatever that means.


Last night, Michael Hayden, who served as director of the CIA during George W. Bush's administration, told Fox news  that "right now, the Iranians are far too close to a nuclear weapon.",7340,L-4460172,00.html


There are glimmers of light, here, however.

According to the Sunday Times, yesterday, which has since been cited in multiple sources, Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered both the Mossad and IDF Intelligence to seek breaches by Iran in the interim agreement that is being forged. 

The world chooses to ignore our prime minister now. But if he had fresh and solid documentation of Iranian duplicity (which might not be terribly difficult to secure, especially in light of the supreme confidence the Iranians have in their ability to run rings around P5 + 1), it would create a new dynamic.

At a minimum, it would generate new sanctions activity in Congress. 

According to one Israeli intelligence official cited:

“Everyone has his own view regarding the Geneva agreement. But it is clear that if a smoking gun is produced, it will tumble like a house of cards.”  (Emphasis added)

If only!

This approach had been anticipated in the first analyses after the accord was announced.  It's a logical way to go  and I hope we'll see some badly needed success here.

But I must make one observation: According to the Times, Israeli sources are saying that "Israeli intelligence was seeking to uncover clandestine activity in three areas of Iran's nuclear program - hidden uranium enrichment sites, ballistic missiles and bomb design." 

Hidden uranium enrichment sites, utilized for enrichment after the accord was in effect, would constitute a breach of the accord. But neither ballistic missile development nor work on bomb design would. To my understanding, that's one of the weaknesses in the accord: the enrichment is supposed to halt temporarily, but continuing work on the platforms for delivering a nuclear device is not prohibited.

Uncovering activity in these areas - if that, indeed, is what Israeli intelligence will be looking at - would demonstrate true Iranian intentions, but not breach of the accord.  Exposing a breach would be more powerful.


I would like to recommend "MEMRI: The Geneva Agreement: The Path To Historic Changes In The Middle East, Lead by the US Administration." 

MEMRI - - is a highly reputable agency that translates and analyzes media of the Middle East.  The authors of this paper are A. Savyon, director of MEMRI's Iran Media Project; and Y. Carmon, president of MEMRI.  The authors consider a context broader than the issue of a nuclear Iran.  (All emphasis added.)

"...The new U.S. policy has geostrategic ramifications for the region, and in this sense it constitutes part of the Middle Eastern reality and is not an isolated, strictly domestic 'American' matter. Rather, it is shaping the Middle East reality that we at MEMRI are reading about in the media of the region.

"...the Iranian regime's threat to the entire region and internationally has never been solely that of a nuclear bomb. Rather, it is a threat because it is an ideological Islamic revolutionary regime, that openly threatens the other regimes in the Middle East with ideological incitement and subversive activity. It does this using military and ideological organizations, out of a desire to export the Islamic revolution and undermine the existing regimes...

"...With regard to this comprehensive threat posed by the Iranian regime, the Geneva agreement constitutes phenomenal reinforcement for Iran's geostrategic might vis-a-vis the countries of the region, and enhances Iran's efforts at subversion in the region and internationally...

"...[the Geneva agreement] creates a much graver multidimensional threat for the countries of the region – all of which are long-time allies of the U.S. The agreement shifts the geostrategic power relations in the Middle East and replaces the Arab-Sunni hegemony, which for decades maintained the pro-Western status quo in the Middle East, with Iranian hegemony, which remains as anti-West as it has always been. As a nuclear threshold state, a hegemonic Iran will in the future threaten Europe and later the U.S. as well.

" contrast to his statements of commitment to traditional U.S.allies, in practice the Obama administration's policy is disregarding the security interests of these allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states – which have for years hosted strategic U.S. military bases – and Israel. The administration is instead forming a new axis, comprising the U.S. and popular revolutionary forces in the Arab and Muslim world, for whom Iran serves an example...

"Within this new axis, the U.S. administration is overturning not only the power relations in the Middle East, but also the perception of who the 'good guys' and 'bad guys' are. Iran's public relations efforts are being upgraded, in a way that erases its worldwide ideological subversion and terrorist activity, and its decade of deception about its nuclear program – the latter of which has led to six U.N. Security Council resolutions against it. Meanwhile, commentators close to the Obama administration are depicting Saudi Arabia and Israel as the source of the tensions and problems in the region...The result is serious damage to the commonality of interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel and the U.S...

"...this historic move by Obama will lead to regional instability. It will not assuage the existing tensions and conflicts; it will only inflame them, and this exacerbation will take the form of violent actions both in the region and outside it."

A very serious assessment by a very serious agency.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 04:46PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 27, 2013: Giving Thanks

Tonight begins Chanukah, which marks two events. 

The victory of the Maccabees over Hellenistic forces that were destroying Judaism. 

And the miracle of the oil in the rededicated Temple that lasted for eight days when it should have been enough for only one day. Thus the lighting of candles for eight days and the use of oil in cooking foods, such as sufganiyot (donuts) here in Israel.

Over the past few days, I’ve gone to four different stores in an attempt to find Hanukkah candles. When I ask about the candles, the clerks look at me like I’ve lost my mind and try to show me other candles I might like to buy. It’s not that they don’t know what Hanukkah is or that candles are involved in it. It’s that their vision of Hanukkah is just Jewish Christmas … so I’m asking them for candles about a month too soon. Except that, this year, Hanukkah begins next week and I need some candles. All of these stores are going to stock their shelves with Hanukkah candles in mid-December and they’re going to be perplexed that no one’s buying them. And then they’re going to order fewer boxes of candles for 2014, assuming that the Jewish community has either left town en masse, has given up on Hanukkah, or is shopping at a different store.
Credit: Kohenari


When we light the candles we say that they are for remembering the miracles and the wondrous victories that were ours in those days, for which we are to be thankful.

Indeed, but miracles and victories are with us always, and always there are reasons for giving thanks.


MK David Rotem, of the Yisrael Beitenu party, is Chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. 

David Rotem
Credit:  Ariel Jerozolimski/JPost

He has now announced that there will be a hearing in that Committee on the Levy Report, which provides the legal basis for Israel's rights in Judea and Samaria.  The Commission had determined, after extensive legal research, that Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is not illegal, that Israel is not an "occupier," and that the Geneva Convention does not apply to those Israelis living in Judea and Samaria.

Rotem's announcement came after a year in which nothing was said in the Knesset about the Levy Report.  The date of the hearing has yet to be announced, but it will be soon.

The JPost carried a story about this today:

And it included this quote by Rotem:

"It’s our duty to ensure that Justice Levy’s report is adopted by the government.”


The theme of thanks, of course, has an additional meaning this year, for tomorrow, the first day of Chanukah, is also Thanksgiving.

And so I say Chanukah Sameach, and Happy Thanksgiving, and end will a lovely little video of the Chanukah classic Ma'oz Tzur:


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.



Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 05:49PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 26, 2013: Betrayed

That Barack Obama has betrayed Israel, the Sunni Arab nations, and his own people is, to my thinking, beyond question. He has capitulated to a dangerous terrorist state.
The media are full of comments and analyses about what he has done, why he has done it, and what comes next.  I will attempt to summarize what is important here, and you will find links to key articles below. But to share all of the various analyses and viewpoints at length would require a book rather than a posting. 
I do not pretend, not for a second, that I am sanguine about any of what is going on.  This is an infuriating, and exceedingly agitating business.

As to why he did what he did...
That he is an enemy of Israel is clear -- no matter what some liberal American Jews who, incredibly, still like him may think.  Did he act to weaken Israel (as Caroline Glick has written) or even destroy Israel, or to attempt to preclude an Israeli attack on Iran (as John Bolton has written), or to avoid having to attack Iran himself, no matter the consequences? Or was he after better oil prices? All these theses have been advanced.
I read today that the deal is not yet finalized, but have not been able to secure further information on this.  From The Israel Project:
"News broke mid-Monday that the final details of this weekend's interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran had not yet been agreed upon, and that the six month period during which Iran is expected to negotiate over a comprehensive deal - and during which U.S. negotiators had committed to preventing the imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions - had not yet started."
The six month countdown will begin, rest assured. That is, if Obama has anything to say about it -- no matter what he has to do to get there.  But the fact that the final details have not been set in place yet is not a small matter.
Netanyahu is sending a team to Washington, which will include his national security advisor Yossi Cohen.  I'll say more about this below, but one of their tasks will be to find out what the details are -- there remains confusion on some fine points. 
This situation exists because the deal was rushed through so quickly. Rushed before it could be stopped.
If there is any way to stop what Obama is doing -- either at this point or down the road -- it is via Congress.  A good number of Senators and Congresspersons -- both Republicans and Democrats -- are angry about what the president has done.
See this:
"...there isn’t much that Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on these days. However, President Obama’s historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions may be just the thing to get lawmakers from both sides of the aisle working together again.
"Unfortunately for Obama, they'll be united against him.

"Within hours of announcing the agreement, the White House was met by stiff opposition from high-ranking Democrats who vowed to move forward with legislation aimed at tightening sanctions against Iran — despite the Obama administration’s concerns that the move could derail the sensitive negotiations for a long-term deal.

"Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), perhaps the most vocal detractor from the president’s own party, denounced the framework set up by his former colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry, to pause Iran’s march toward weapons of mass destruction in exchange for easing sanctions. His chief complaint? That Iran only had to freeze its nuclear enrichment program, while the United States was giving up its most valuable negotiating tool. (The administration insists that the sanctions could easily be resurrected if Iran backslides.)

"'This disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December,' said Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate. 'I intend to discuss that possibility with my colleagues.'"
And this:

"House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called the arrangement 'dangerous' and said it brings Iran 'closer to becoming a nuclear power.' He said the deal 'bodes very, very ominously for the region and U.S. security.' (Emphasis added)

"Speaking to 'CBS This Morning' on Monday, Cantor said the terms of the deal were softer than those already in several U.N. resolutions. He said the deal was 'not worth the paper it's written on. ... Since when do we trust Iran? I believe that the attitude should be mistrust and verify...'

"'All we have to do is listen to our allies, who are most proximate to the threat in the region and who have been saying all along that any kind of deal with this regime in Iran is not worth the paper it's written on,' he said."


What is needed are tough sanctions that cannot be overturned by the president. This works most effectively, I have been given to understand, with specific wording in the legislation:
No presidential waiver can be permitted. (Sometimes legislation calls for a specific action, except as the president, for reasons of national security or national interests deems it unwise -- this sort of terminology must be avoided.)
The wording, additionally, must set out a requirement -- such and such "shall" happen, not "should," or "may."  What an associate of mine with considerable Congressional lobbying experience calls "weasel words" must be avoided.
Lastly, the legislation can carry greater impact if it has a defunding provision: If this and this is not done, then the budget for such and such will be cut.
Congress does not do these things lightly. But they can be done. And if there is sufficient distress and anger within Congress now, they might be done. 
At present, I implore all of my faithful readers to act on this.  Your elected representatives in Congress must hear from you immediately.  In addition to feeling their own distress about the current situation, they will be more motivated to act if they understand that their constituents in large numbers want them to do something about the deal Obama has struck.  
For your Congresspersons:

For your Senators:

Express your anger and ask them to use all of the powers they have to stop what the president is doing with regard to Iran.  The rest must be left to them.

And please, share this very broadly.  Numbers matter so very much.


As to what Netanyahu will do now, it is difficult to say.  His position is close to unbearable.
Some people believe that he has no diplomatic option to attack Iran right now, because of the threats allegedly being made by Obama with regard to this (have no confirmation, only reference to allegations) and the pressure being put on him more broadly.  Obama is not the only one: 
British Foreign Minister William Hague, in the Parliament yesterday, called on Israel  “to refrain from actions that could damage implementation” of the agreement.
John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former US ambassador to the UN, while recognizing the difficult position Netanyahu is in, favors a strike by Israel before long.  Writing in the Weekly Standard, he says (emphasis added):
"...the international climate of opinion against a strike will only harden during the next six months.
"Undoubtedly, an Israeli strike during the interim deal would be greeted with outrage from all the expected circles.  But that same outrage, or more, would also come further down the road.  In short, measured against the expected reaction even in friendly capitals, there is never a 'good' time for an Israeli strike, only bad and worse times.  Accordingly, the Geneva deal does not change Israel’s strategic calculus even slightly...

"Israel still must make the extremely difficult judgment whether it will stand by as Iran maneuvers effortlessly around a feckless and weak White House, bolstering its economic situation while still making progress on the nuclear front, perhaps less progress on some aspects of its nuclear work than before the deal, but more on others...

"So in truth, an Israeli military strike is the only way to avoid Tehran’s otherwise inevitable march to nuclear weapons, and the proliferation that will surely follow. Making the case for Israel’s exercise of its legitimate right of self-defense has therefore never been more politically important. Whether they are celebrating in Tehran or in Jerusalem a year from now may well depend on how the opponents of the deal in Washington conduct themselves."
But while Bolton thinks it will only get worse for Israel, with regard to international reactions to an attack on Iran, there are other perspectives.
One suggestion is that Israel heighten its intelligence monitoring of Iran in order to discover ways that the Iranians will be cheating on the terms of the current interim agreement (shock! they cheat!). Then, going public with this would provide a rational for hitting militarily that might resonate with some international leaders.
The independent Israeli monitoring of Iran's adherence to the deal is particularly important in light of what Zalman Shoval suggests may be Obama's tendency to go lightly on Iranian violations:
"Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval expressed concern that Washington, in an attempt to justify the Western deal with Iran limiting Tehran's nuclear development program, would most likely 'go easy' on Iran when it came to evaluating violations of the agreement."
I alluded above to the fact that an Israeli team is heading for Washington.  One of its purposes, we are being told, is to encourage the Obama administration (work with the Obama administration, ostensibly) to develop the toughest possible terms for the final agreement to be reached (at least in theory).
I read this and found myself bewildered as to what this was about. For I do not believe Iran is going to sign on to a meaningful final agreement and I do not believe that our prime minister thinks so either.
However, if the terms brought to the final negotiations are tough, then it might increase the resistance of Iran with regard to even a semblance of cooperation. And this, too, might reduce international resistance to a military strike.
It is the opinion of Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA that Netanyahu must continue his campaign of alerting the world as to the dangers of a deal with Iran, with all possible vigor (emphasis added):
"By the same token that the interim deal with Iran was driven by a desire to make a deal come-what-may, the same will be the case in six months.

"The issue of enrichment and other elements that place Iran weeks from making a bomb at any time are matters that President Obama is clearly willing to compromise on in the final agreement in order to sign a piece of paper.

"And that is not going to change solely via intimate conversations.

"And it is not going to change because we offer to divide Jerusalem.

"It is only going to change if Obama faces so much pressure, both domestic and international, that he finds himself opting for the right path rather than the easy path.

"And that pressure can only be achieved by continuing, over the next six month, with the campaign to alert the world to just how dangerous an inadequate deal with Iran will be."

All of this is speculative. We do not know how Netanyahu will play it.
And so my friends, especially those of you in the US, I ask that you also write to Prime Minister Netanyahu:
E-mail: and also (underscore after pm) use both addresses

Tell him that you are furious about/ashamed of (you pick the term) the position that Obama has taken in negotiations with Iran -- that you understand how untenable the prime minister's position is and what difficulties Obama's deal causes for him.

Let him know that if and when he makes the decision to hit Iran unilaterally, you would support this action.


For your information, I share here the key implications of the deal with Iran, as put out by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (with emphasis added):

"Unprecedented international recognition of Iran's enrichment program

"...for the first time since the beginning of negotiations in 2003 the international community recognizes Iran's enrichment program and agrees that it will not be rolled back – contrary to a longstanding policy of full suspension enshrined in several UN Security Council resolutions.

"International acceptance of the heavy water reactor in Arak

"The elements of the comprehensive solution mentioned in the Geneva agreement lack any commitment to the dismantling of the Arak heavy water reactor...which is uniquely suitable for the production of military grade plutonium.

"Uninhibited R&D of advanced centrifuges

"The current agreement allows Iran to continue R&D of Advanced Centrifuges. This means Iran will be able to further develop and strengthen its enrichment capacity under the guise of this agreement, and will be in a better position technologically when it decides it is time to further expand enrichment. Therefore, the agreement actually enables Iran to get closer to breakout capability.

"Current stock of uranium enriched to a level of under 5% will remain intact

"Iran is allowed to preserve its current stock of about 7 tons of uranium enriched to a level of 5%...

"Iran will be able to easily reverse the measures taken under the agreement and charge ahead once it is politically convenient – Iran is not required to roll back or dismantle anything. Its nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, enabling it to resume full operations upon decision. [Note: turning 5% into more highly enriched uranium is not difficult]

"The agreement undermines the sanctions regime and provides Iran with crucial relief in economic pressure

"The international concessions in the area of sanctions undermine the sanctions regime and curb momentum for additional pressure on Iran....reducing sanctions without any real concessions on the part of Iran is extremely counter-productive: Iran is now less likely to agree to any significant restrictions on its nuclear program. [Note: once the sanctions regime is weakened, restoring it is very difficult, see below]

"The agreement signals that it is now legitimate to do business with Iran

"The 'interim' agreement might become permanent

"Given the observations made above, this means that Iran will practically be escorted to a nuclear threshold position by the international community."

Does this not make your hair stand on end?  It makes imminently clear why I refer to Obama's betrayal.  This deal can be seen as nothing less.


I would advise my readers to take the advice of Aaron Lerner to heart. For what he says about sounding the alarm about the dangers of a deal with Iran applies first to Netanyahu, but then to each of us individually.

I have armed you with information.  

Write about this -- letters to the editor, op-eds. Tell people. Call in to radio shows. Post on your FaceBook page and send to discussion groups. Let everyone know that this is an exceedingly alarming situation.  Ask them to spread the word, and to contact their elected representatives in Congress.


In the interest of supplying information, I will suggest that you might want to see what Shoshana Bryen of the Israel Policy Center has to say about this horrific situation.  She provides good insights:

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 05:58AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 24, 2013: Horrendous

Perhaps a "disaster" is an even better description of what is going on in the world.

I feel the impulse to apologize for not posting sooner at this critical time. But I know that is silly, as I've been working hard for Israel.  Just know, dear readers, that you are not far out of my mind, even as I consult on Levy Report matters.  With the help of Heaven, good things will come from that work...


But now, in light of the deal struck last night between P5 + 1 with Iran, how could I fail to do at least a short posting?? 

We shouldn't have been surprised -- not even after the fine words by French President Hollande as to how he was going to stand strong against Iran.  And yet, until the end, there was hope, however faint, that the negotiations in Geneva would fall apart.

What evidence do we need of the error of the current deal with Iran other than what has now been said by the Iranian president: According to Iranian Press TV, Rouhani had declared that, "the deal reached with six world powers in Geneva "recognized Iran’s nuclear rights' by allowing it to continue to enrich uranium and that Tehran’s enrichment activities would proceed similar to before."

Yes, disaster is a good word.  There is not such thing as "nuclear rights."  Obama and company have willfully given away the store.


And here we can see how eagerly, how thoroughly, Obama gave the store away (emphasis added):

"The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.

"The discussions were kept hidden even from America's closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.

"But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.

"U.S. President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort -- promised in his first inaugural address -- to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism.

"The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden's top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

"The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran's reform-minded President Hasan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran, said three senior administration officials. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss by name the highly sensitive diplomatic effort."

I might ask which side the man in the White House is working for, but it would be only a rhetorical question.


I have a friend in the US (who will recognize herself here), who just asked me: "Why are they not in the streets over this?"  To her, what is being done is such a horror that nothing less than a major, very vociferous demonstration by the American people is called for.  But she remains part of a sad (and grieving) minority.  Are people asleep?  (I've asked this before, I believe.)  Do they really not grasp what it means if Iran gets the bomb?  Are they so deluded that they imagine themselves safe, no matter what?


Maybe, incredibly, people believe the clown -- yes, I know: a maliced clown, with a dishonorable history, my readers remind me -- who heads the State Department.

According to AFP, Kerry said that "The comprehensive agreement [between the world powers and Iran] will make the world safer ... and Israel safer."

Of course, in the same statement Kerry also alluded to Prime Minister Netanyahu as "a friend of mine," which would be uproariously funny if it weren't so serious.  You see where Kerry is going with this, attempting to smooth over Israeli objections to what he did.  But it won't work.


Netanyahu, at the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning, said that the deal that was struck with Iran was an "historic mistake.":

"For the first time, the world's leading powers have agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran while ignoring the UN Security Council decisions that they themselves led. Sanctions that required many years to put in place contain the best chance for a peaceful solution. These sanctions have been given up in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be cancelled in weeks.

"Implications of this agreement threaten many countries - including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement...

"Today the world has become a more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world took another step towards achieving the most dangerous weapon in the world."

If you open this link, you will find a video of Netanyahu making this statement, with English subtitles.


Then there was the statement by Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi and Economics Minister, who wrote on his FaceBook Page:

"We awoke this morning to a new reality. A reality in which a bad deal was signed with Iran. A very bad deal. This bad deal gives Iran exactly what it wanted: a significant easing of the sanctions while retaining the most significant parts of its nuclear program."

"If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning.

"There is still a long campaign ahead of us.  We will continue to act in every possible way.

"It is important that the world knows: Israel will not be committed to a deal that endangers its very existence."

These comments came soon after he had made similar statements in an interview with Army Radio, declaring:

"Israel is not engaged by the Geneva accord. Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself."  (Emphasis added here and above.)

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett 

Credit: Flash 90


Actually, I'm going to backtrack even a bit more, and share a video of an interview of Bennett done last week with Christiane Amanpour on CNN.  He was in the US lobbying against the UN agreement, and acquitted himself superbly in this interview -- especially with regard to his standing up to Amanpour on the subject of Israeli "occupation."  But what you also get here is a clear explanation of the dangers of the Iranian deal.


Other members of the government reacted with horror to the agreement with Iran, as well. 
MK Ruby Rivlin (Likud) observed that Kerry's remarks about the deal having made Israel safer did not help: "The American attempt to reassure us just makes it more worrying."

And Finance Minister Yair Lapid lamented to Army Radio:

"You stand and shout out until you're blue in the face, and you try to understand why they're not listening. The world wanted an agreement." (Emphasis added)

While Minister of Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said:

“The agreement was, and remains, a terrible deal that will make it harder to reach a suitable long-term solution.
“Israel cannot join the international celebration, which is based on Iran’s misleading and on self-delusion.

“Despite the disappointment we will continue to stick to our position and to work with our friends in the United States and around the world toward a comprehensive solution.”


But whatever Steinitz's words about working with friends towards a comprehensive solution, I trust he is not holding his breath.

The working assumption here in Israel, where most people support Netanyahu's position, is that ultimately we will, and must, hit Iran. This does not mean tomorrow, when Iran is watching and on guard.  It means when our prime minister and his military advisers deem that the time is right.

There is no question but that our hitting Iran now is far more complex from a diplomatic perspective - for the world will accuse us of having intervened with war when the international community was on the brink of resolving everything peacefully.  There are some analysts suggesting that Netanyahu might wait out the six months, until after the "interim" period that is supposed to be followed by a final deal but which is doomed to failure.

With a heavy heart I pray that Netanyahu will cry, "Damn the interim agreement," follow his own counsel and act as he believes he must.  I'm reading in some sources tonight that with all his condemnation, Netanyahu has held off from announcing he will attack (notice, for example, Steinitz's statement about working with friends to strengthen the final deal).  The implication here us that he does not intend to attack. But this is plain foolishness.  If and when we do hit, there will be no advance notice.


Please understand that the "modest" reductions in sanctions that the Obama administration spoke of will amount to $7 billion in sanctions relief -- not small potatoes -- in return for a temporary limit by Iran in its nuclear program to low grade enrichment only and without the need for any destruction of equipment.  Iran, that is, will retain breakout capacity.

What is more, "former Iranian Chamber of Commerce head Alinaqi Khamoushi was quoted in the semi-official Fars News agency saying the Obama administration had allowed Iran to access $8 billion of funds stored in the US.

"Washington froze billions of dollars in Iranian assets in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution."


As Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon observed from Canada, where he was attending a conference:

"[the deal] allows Iran to enter the family [of] nations despite being the most active and flourishing activator of terrorism in the world, which sends its deadly and uncurbed deadly arms across the globe, first and foremost against Western states...

"To leave in the regime's hands capabilities for continuing the nuclear program means that the world today is a less safe place. Instead of rolling the program back, the regime in Tehran has gained time, which will allow it on the one hand to seek a nuclear bomb, and on the other, breathing space due to the lightening of sanctions." (Emphasis added)


If you want to know how thoroughly Obama intends to embrace Iran within the family of nations, consider this startling news tonight:

"Having overseen an interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program, the Obama administration now intends to try to involve Iran in wider Middle East diplomacy, including an attempt to find a solution to the Syrian civil war, Israeli television reported Sunday night."  (Emphasis added)

Iran, the biggest purveyor of terrorism in the world, involved in Middle East diplomacy.  How do you wrap your head around this, or, better, around the reality that Obama apparently thinks this is a peachy keen idea??


More coming soon...


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 05:56PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint