US Ambassador: If UN recognizes Palestine, Congress will punish UN

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

A little-noticed quote from US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, reveals the depth of the United State’s commitment to Jerusalem’s demands and more important, the enormous effect the Israeli lobby has on American Foreign policy.

H/t to The Progressive Realist for picking up this one (my bold):

Discussing the possibility that a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state could pass the General Assembly in September, she [Rice] said, “And this would be exceedingly politically damaging in our domestic context, as you can well imagine. And I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in congress than such an outcome.”

One should never get tired of repeating this: Without America’s support for it, there would have been no occupation.

(via Ali Gharib)

Poll: Netanyahu, US congress & AIPAC stand to the right of Israeli public

Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, Polls, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

According to Maariv’s poll, 57 percent of Israelis accept the principles outlined in president Obama’s Middle East speech. By being more pro-Israeli than the Knesset, the US Congress indicates that the road to peace and justice in the region cannot pass through Washington

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) speaks at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011. In Israel, Kantor’s view would have placed him in a settler’s party (photo: AIPAC)

In the morning following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress, a poll published by the Israeli daily Maariv indicates that while Netanyahu enjoys considerable support among Israelis, the public is far more inclined than its prime minister to make concessions to the Palestinians.

According to a Teleseker-Maariv poll, conducted last night, a clear majority of 57 percent of Israelis would have wanted Netanyahu to say “yes” (or “yes, but“) to the path to a two-state solution outlined in President Obama’s speech.

(As pollster Dahlia Scheindlin wrote on this site, such figures correspond to previous polls, which show, for most part, the support of most of the Jewish public for a two-state solution based on the ‘67 borders.)

At the same time, if elections were held today, the Maariv poll has Netanyahu’s Likud party receiving 30 seats (it holds 27 today), with opposition party Kadima dropping from 27 to 26 seats. The poll shows Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu rising from 14 to 16 seats.

If those numbers represent the real attitude of the Israeli public, then Netanyahu has presented a false picture in the speeches given during his U.S. visit– he enjoys a stronger coalition than he cares to present, but in rejecting the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations, he doesn’t reflect the views of most Israelis.

My bet is that with time, more Israelis will come to oppose the ‘67-based solution and a compromise over Jerusalem, as the prime minister’s messages increasingly sinks in with some of his supporters, who are now more open to concessions than he is.

What’s even more interesting is how far to the right the Washington establishment is on these issues. If they were Israelis, all of those attacking President Obama on Israel – from the Senate majority leader to the Washington Post’s editorial page – would have been part of the right flank of the Likud, or a moderate settler party. Right now, the Israeli consensus – if such thing exists – is to the left of the beltway (though Netanyahu is working very hard to change that).

If the events of the past few days have taught us anything, it’s that the unique connection between Washington politicians (Republicans and Democrats alike), the Jewish lobby and Israeli hawks is the main obstacle to the termination of the occupation.

Under the current circumstances, the road to justice and peace in the region cannot pass through the U.S. capital.

Pro-Israel event that looks like a tea party

Posted: June 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

When that’s the way your supporters look, you need to ask yourself what has gone wrong. Here is nutcase Rep. Michele Bachmann (1:06) winning applauses from a pro-Israel crowd in a California rally, while Peace Now man (3:25) is booed so hard, the organizers try to calm things down (with very limited success).

Israeli rejectionism?

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recognizes Jewish rights in Israel, and is ready for a two state solution with some borders modifications that will allow Israel to keep some of the bigger settlements.

In a meeting in Washington with 30 Jewish leaders, among them those who supports Netanyahu’s government such as AIPAC and ADL, Abaas declared that if Israel accepts a solution based on the 67′ borders, direct negotiations can resume.

Haaretz reports:

The Palestinian president said during the discussion that he had in the past proposed creating a trilateral commission to monitor and punish incitement, but that Israel did not agree to it.

When asked what he could offer Israelis to show that he was serious about peace initiatives, Abbas reminded the participants that he had addressed the Israeli public in an interview on Channel 10. “Why wouldn’t Bibi go to Palestinian TV and do the same?” said the Palestinian president.

“I would never deny [the] Jewish right to the land of Israel,” Abbas then declared.

A few months ago, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that he is ready to have the Palestinian refugees return to the Palestinian state (rather then Israel), so basically, it can be said that all of Israel’s major concerns have been met by the Palestinians. We need to appreciate the price Palestinian leaders are paying at home for such declarations.

Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to show very little enthusiasm for the diplomatic process, and his senior cabinet ministers keep opposing any concessions. Deputy PM Moshe Yaalon just recently said in an interview to Yedioth Ahronoth that “nobody in the seven ministers cabinet (the Government’s decision making forum) believes we can reach an agreement.”

The reason for Israeli rejectionism lies in the internal political dynamic in Israel. No matter what Palestinians say or do, Israeli leaders have no real incentive to go through the extremely difficult process of evacuating settlements. This is why they are preparing the public for a failure of the negotiations, even though we now have the most moderate Palestinian leadership ever.

UPDATE: Laura Rozan’s report of Abbas’ meeting with Jewish leaders refers to a couple of important issues which Haaretz didn’t mention: PM Olmert’s “generous offer” which the Palestinians supposedly turned down, and the demilitarization of the Palestinian state:

It was his first such public forum speaking event in Washington ever, Brookings’ Vice President and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk noted when he introduced the Palestinian leader, who he said he had known since 1993.


Indyk pointed out that it’s generally understood in the West that Abbas did not accept the proposal Olmert offered, based on 1967 borders and agreed land swaps, but Abbas said they were still negotiating when Olmert stepped down amid an Israeli corruption investigation.

“The man has said in the clearest of terms he accepts Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assessment of a demilitarized state,” former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) told POLITICO Thursday. “He doesn’t want tanks, he doesn’t want missiles, he wants an internal security force.”

Please, stop supporting us

Posted: November 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Read Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer on the damage Israel’s supporters in the US and Europe might be causing us:

(…) The real problem with today’s Israel lobby, in Britain and the United States, is not with its finances and their lack of transparency but with its entire mind-set. The basic fact is that by its actions, the lobby is now causing Israel more harm than good (…) On every level – moral, political, diplomatic, economic, military and religious – this country is being rapidly corrupted and damaged by the continuing occupation of the West Bank. By granting blanket support to all policies of whatever Israeli government happens to be in power, and by branding critics of these policies as either self-hating Jews or anti-Semites, they’re contributing to Israel’s siege mentality and delaying the day when Israelis will finally realize that there’s only one practical and ethical alternative.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for Jews around the world to ask themselves if they want this generation to be remembered as nothing but cheerleaders for the occupation (or as Yoel Marcus wrote,  “5 million Africaners”).

In the tank for McCain

Posted: October 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Barak Ravid had an international scoop yesterday in “Haartz” daily. According to Israeli sources, Ravid reported, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has expressed deep disappointment with Barack Obama’s positions regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Sarkozy had met the democratic nominee during Obama’s visit to Paris last summer, and found his positions are, according to Haaretz, “’utterly immature’ and comprised of ‘formulations empty of all content’”.

I believe Ravid is an excellent reporter, and I don’t doubt the accuracy of his quotes. His sources – probably in the foreign office – might have even reported the French position accurately, though the French embassy denied it later on. But one can’t imagine a more foolish move by Jerusalem than leaking out the information at such a critical time.

Ravid’s source probably knew that such a statement, so close to the election, will be made public world wide almost instantly, and it’s actually surprising that it didn’t get THAT big an attention (I found a report on ABC news and a handful of Internet sites). It should also have been clear to them that this will be perceived by a lot of people as an attempt to interfere with the election at the last minute, just as Americans are headed to the polls. And with Obama on his way for a clear victory, what possible interest would Israel have in starting its relations with the new administration on the wrong foot, and on the most delicate issue of all?

For if Obama does get elected, there will be plenty of time before his inauguration to send him whichever massage Jerusalem wishes on the issue of Iran (and hopefully, in a more diplomatic way). And if McCain wins, the whole thing will only be remembered as a clumsy attempt to influence the election at the last minute – a move that won’t be appreciated by either the Democrats nor by the Republicans.

It is not the first time an Israeli official has hinted that a MaCain victory would serve Israel’s interests better. Danny Ayalon, our former ambassador to Washington, who spent most of his time on the capitol praising President Bush as Israel’s best allay in history (the guy even said in one of his interviews that he bought a pair of boots identical to those worn by the president) has published an article in the Jerusalem Post, stating that “The four years ahead are far too critical for global security to place the presidency of the United States in the hands of a leader whose campaign is leaving us with more questions than answers”. That was in January, at the beginning of the primary season, only a few months after Ayalon had left his office in Washington. Since then, he has joined the extreme-right “Israel-Beitenu” party, and while his motives and believes are now clear, it is inexcusable for Jerusalem to repeat this stupid and arrogant move.


Israeli Mood

Posted: October 22nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

If there is an effective currency in Israeli politics today, it’s Racism. Not any racism – PC does apply when it comes to Jews – but racism against Arabs. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the mayor of Acre, Shimon Lankri, has declared in a synagogue on the holyday of Simchat Torah, that “Acre belongs to us, and will remain ours forever and ever”. By “us” he was referring to the Jews of this mixed city.

Acre has seen five days of clashes between Arabs and Jews two weeks ago, and obviously, Mr. Lankri adopted the right wing narrative of the events, interpreting them as part of an organized Arab effort to take over Jewish land and houses, or in more common words, “to drive us into the sea”. This statement shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the fact that Mr. Lankri has already decided to punish the Arab population of his city by cancelling the Acre theatre festival last week, “to let things calm down” (the festival takes place in the old city of Acre, which is populated mostly by Arabs. It makes the best week in the year for most of the businesses there).

Mr. Lankri is not Liberman. He is a member of Kadima, which is supposed to be a center party. In his actions, he represent the consensus in Israel today, a consensus which allows you to say or do just about anything to Arabs, and not only won’t the public opinion punish you, you might even score some points.

Racism is present in Israel not only in politics but in everyday life. There are organizations calling to boycott Arab businesses, there are racist songs during football matches, and you can find racist graffiti just about everywhere. It even happens in liberal Tel Aviv: A few years ago I was working on one of the holiday editions of my paper. The cover story was supposed to be an interview with a Palestinian woman. Just as we were about to send the paper to print, one of the editors in chief of the paper came to see our first page. “What’s that”, he shouted. “That’s what you are you’re giving the Jewish people on Rosh Hashanah? A picture of an Arab with rotten yellow teeth? Nobody wants so see an ugly Arab on their front page on Rosh Hashanah”.

We changed the cover story.

Racism in Israel is so dangerous today, because it’s a combination of “street level” talk with a growing elite of right wing and centrist writers, politicians and journalists, who regard the Arab citizens of the state as its number one problem. This combination is what makes Liberman ride high in the Polls. The weird thing is that most of this is unknown to the rest of the world. Sure, people hear about the west bank and Gaza, but inside the 48′ borders (what we call “the green line”), Israel is still the picture perfect democracy. Israeli lobbying groups in the US and Europe actually say again and again how wonderful life is for the Arab-Israelis in the only democracy in the middle east, and nobody seems to dispute them.

Maybe they should consider inviting Mr. Lankri to one of their events.

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