Obama, Sarkozy are right to not believe Netanyahu

Posted: November 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

This week, when the American president was attacked for his “open mic” rants with French president Sarkozy over the Israeli PM’s character, it was hard not to remember this video from 2001, in which Netanyahu bragged on how he manipulated the Clinton Administration and stopped the Oslo Accords.

[By the way, this clip was discovered and aired by Channel 10. Last week, it was revenge time for Netanyahu: The PM ordered all coalition members to oppose a new arrangement on the the channel's debts. As a result, Israel's second commercial channel - known for its aggressive and critical news desk - has announced it will cease to exist in 2-3 months.]

This is from Richard Silverstein’s transcript of the video:

Woman: Aren’t you afraid of the world, Bibi?

Netanyahu: Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.

Child: They say they’re for us, but, it’s like…

Netanyahu: They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.

Child: On the other hand, if we do some something, then they…

Netanyahu: So let’s say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It’s absurd. We have that kind of support and we say “what will we do with the…” Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.

In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:

Woman: The Oslo Accords are a disaster.

Netanyahu: Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…

What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.” “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?

Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.

Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.

Woman: Right [laughs]…The Beit She’an Valley.

Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter — to me and to Arafat, at the same time — which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.

New Knesset bill on banning Burqas / it’s not feminism, it’s racism

Posted: April 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, racism, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) is proposing a new Knesset bill that will make it illegal for women in Israel to wear Burqas (the Islamic dress coveting the entire body and face) or Niqabs (a veil covering the face).

“I just came back from a visit to southern France and I was shocked to see so many Muslim women entirely covered in black, with only their eyes seen,” said MK Solodkin. “I congratulate president Sarkozy and all the European administrations who believe that in the 21st century there shouldn’t be a place for an outfit which so terribly humiliates women, and I want to initiate something similar in Israel… I am not anti-Muslim and I intent for this law to be imposed on Jewish women as well.”

This law is aimed against the Arab-Israeli minority. There isn’t but one group of a dozen or so Jewish women who cover themselves with Burqas, so it’s obvious that this law, if passed, is meant to deal with the Palestinian population.

I don’t really get MK Solodkin’s logic: if she saw all these terrible Burkas in southern France, why does she want to present her bill here? Burkas are not that common in Israel, especially not in mixed towns, so why take such extreme measures? By the way, even France didn’t ban Burkas altogether (yet), but only in schools.

But the most important thing is that Israel is not France or the Netherlands, for two reasons:

First, the Palestinians here are a native minority, meaning that they were here before the state was born. The common belief is that native minorities should be allowed to hang on to their culture and customs, even when they differ from those of the majority. There might be some logic in forcing immigrants to accept the customs of the country they came to – this is debatable as well – but there is certainly no reason to impose these ideas on a native minority, except in extreme cases.

Second, the attempts to ban Burkas in Europe are rooted in the French republican model, which is nothing like Israel’s. In short, the idea is that any immigrant can become as French as Napoleon as long as he knows and accepts the local culture, speak French, believes in individual freedoms, etc. But Israel is different: the base for citizenship and rights here is Judaism, and an Arab cannot become a Jew even if he gives up the Burka. Unlike in France, Palestinians here are not asked nor expected to be integrated. In this context, forcing them to give up their customs is nothing but another way of harassing them; showing them “who is in charge”.

And one last point: Hasidic women from eastern European origins are expected to shave their hair and wear a wig from the day they are married. Isn’t that diminishing? But don’t expect MK Solodkin to do something about it. Her feminism applies only to Arabs.

Goldstone Report presents real opportunity for the US

Posted: October 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Shmuel Rosner writes in Maariv that the UN Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the Goldstone Commission Report in Geneva on Friday might be the end of the Obama initiative and the effort to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. PM Netanyahu took a similar stand before the vote in Geneva, declaring that endorsing the report will bring the end of the peace process, as it will reward terrorism and strengthen the Hamas (strange to hear this from Netanyahu, who did just about everything in his power to humiliate Abu-Mazen and consequently, help Hamas).

Rosner writes (my Italic):

The administration has three major concerns regarding this report: the Americans understand that Israel is under enormous pressure, and that Goldstone could be the last nail in the Obama initiative’s coffin; at the same time they understand that Abu-Mazen is under great pressure as well, and that it is impossible to ask from him anything that will be seen as a surrender to the US or Israel’s orders; and they also have political concerns: Obama can’t confront the international institutions or to discount and ignore them the way the previous president did.

I disagree. While it is clear the Abu-Mazen is in troubles, I think that the report gives the US a good opportunity to apply effective pressure on Netanyahu, and finally get some sort of declaration on a limited settlement freeze and renewed negotiations, in exchange for an American support for the Israeli position when the report is brought before the UN Security Council.   Read the rest of this entry »

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.