Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

IDF troops attacked on board Mavi Marmara Israeli right-wing human rights group Shurath ha-Deen (aka Israel Law Center) sent an official letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting the latter to start an investigation into US-based ‘Free Gaza’ movement. The group that led an assault on IDF soldier on board the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ last week, backs Gaza-based Hamas and harshly criticized Israel, with some comments bordering on anti-Semitism:

The Free Gaza organization is providing military assistance to Hamas by attempting to break the Israeli blockade while Hamas continues its attacks on Israeli civilians, Darshan-Leitner said. In doing so, it is taking part in attacking a state friendly to America – a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act (18 U.S.C. 960).

The Neutrality Act states, “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." ( Channel 7 News )

FREE GAZA IS known for its anti-Israel stand. As the group set sail for Gaza, it was asked to transfer a package to Israeli POW Gilad Shalit, in exchange for Shalit family’s official support for the sail. The group refused. Later, the group posted a set of testimonies of their website, calling them ‘Survivor testimonies’. According to the radical group, IDF soldiers used violence on all ships, although no evidence of such on vessels other than Mavi Marmara was produces. Moreover, all testimonies discard IDF-posted videos and pictures, illustrating heavily skewed picture. Among other things, the activists claimed the soldiers used live fire prior to landing on the ship and at the moment of touchdown itself. However, Free Gaza failed to explain why its activists are seen strolling on all decks of Mavi Marmara, if the ship was indeed under live fire.

On its Flickr photo stream, the group published most flattering images of themselves, picturing the activists caring for the injured soldiers. Missing from the stream are other pictures – where troops are seen injured, on the floor, with persons holding them at knifepoint. It is propaganda at its best.

Best testimony to Free Gaza’s fervent anti-Israel stance is the GPS map posted on its co-website, WitnessGaza:

GPS map posted on WitnessGaza.Com

Capture2 The map fully ignores Israel (as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for that matter), but details borders and cities in Jordan and Lebanon. The logo promoting the website is a blunt propaganda, showing IDF troops assaulting the ships (from Mi-26, surprisingly), with activists pulling the injured. Unsurprisingly, there’s no evidence of relentless beating the soldiers endured onboard.

 

In the meanwhile, Israel seems to enjoy support in the United States, an additional incentive for Eric Holder, who constantly takes flak over various issues and enjoys relatively little popularity among the American people.

In a most recent expression of such support, Democrat John Kerry countered critics’ accusations of Israel being a ‘liability’ for the US. Democrat Chuck Schumer sent a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton, asking the State Department to investigate linkage between organizations backing the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and various terror groups:

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key player in US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said that "there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies" but that Israel "has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza."

Schumer demanded that the adminisration examine whether IHH provided financial, logistic and material support to any organization included the State Department’s list of terror groups.
According to the senator, IHH funded terror organizations and send rebels to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. He also called for a probe into a French judge’s claim that IHH was involved in an attempt to bomb the Los Angeles Airport in late 1999. ( Ynet )

Fueling further backing of Israeli by Obama administration, recent Rasmussen poll shows only 19% of Americans believing Israel should bear blame for grave outcome of IDF’s Marmara boarding. 32% were not sure, while staggering 49% defended Israel’s actions.

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Pushing both sides. Obama. Undoubtedly, the Americans may renew optimism now, as they say Israeli PM Netanyahu caved on Jerusalem construction:

Crowley says both sides have taken some steps to create an atmosphere conducive to successful talks, including an Israeli pledge of no construction in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo for two years and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ statement that he will work against incitement of "any sort."

"They are both trying to move forward in difficult circumstances and we commend them for that," the State Department said.

(Ynet)

As soon as the news will become public in Israel, it is safe to say Netanyahu would lose a few points. After all, he took a strong stance, saying only several days ago that the construction in Jerusalem would not be halted. Yet, this seems to be exactly what he did.

The move is understandable: with heavy pressure from the Americans and the will to throw the rock back into Abbas’ court, Netanyahu decided to make the move which would “uncover” Abbas’ real face. Israeli PM does not want to be the one seen as reason for talks’ failure, thus he had to backtrack on his promises in order to score points with the Americans. The tactic could prove itself useful, in fact, if it would leave Abbas under Obama’s stern eye, expected to go for concessions.

Abbas can do little, in fact, as one of the first things Netanyahu would demand is recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. With Abbas unable to do so, Netanyahu’s advisers believe, the talks would fail, but Israel would not be the chief reason for the failure.

Seeing the whole picture. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad In a not surprising move, the United States declared no representative of the State would meet Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"Iran knows what our address is – it’s the P5-plus-1," quipped the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, at a press briefing. "If Iran has something to say, it knows where to find us."

Rice was referring to the group that is working towards a fourth round of sanctions against Iran for defying international demands that it stop enriching uranium, a step that could precede nuclear weapons manufacture. The group includes the five permanent members of the Security Council – France, Britain, China, Russia and the U.S. – and Germany, an added party to the talks.

As the only head of state attending the talks, Ahmadinejad has claimed top billing of individual country speakers at the General Assembly opening.

(Haaretz)

AS THE TALKING heads would start rambling about the Americans “snubbing” the Iranians, the plan of the game is clear: the Americans cannot allow themselves to be seen as giving in to Iranians – for the sake of the US and its allies. It is also a signal to Ahmadinejad himself: the longer you stall on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, the longer you will be away from the warm hands of Obama administration.

This tactic, however, is not likely to hurt Iran or its President. A press-release would not hurt Ahmadinejad’s country, its economy or its military power. From the point of view of the average Iranian, nothing changes.

The Obama Administration is being persuaded by the American Right to enact a blockade, bordering on offensive. Mostly Republic representatives back a US Navy-imposed blockade on Iran, blocking Mahmoud’s access to one of most important commodities – fuel. While Iran possesses some of the richest oil fields, the country lacks refineries which could turn it into fuel, thus importing huge chunk of its petrol.

Yet, as Obama’s threats only come in form of vague threats, Iran does not have an incentive to change its tactics.

New anti-Iran web ad

Posted: May 1, 2010 by Jonathan Boyko in International, Iran, Israel, Middle East, US
Tags:

KeepIsraelSafe.Com released a new video, confronting American administration on the issue of Iran:

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Targeting Israel? In an address to American Jewish Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US is firmly behind Israel when it is threatened by Iran and Syria:

Clinton told the group that Israel is "confronting some of the toughest challenges in her history," particularly from Iran, Syria and groups they support like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and reaffirmed US determination to get them to change course.

"Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel," she said.

(Ynet)

Clinton also defended Obama’s decision to send an envoy to Syria, saying it would give the United States additional leverage against the Syrians:

"President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region," she said. "We know he’s hearing from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the potential consequences of his actions are clear."

WHILE CLINTON’S ORATORY is sound with the Administration, it is likely that the Syrians won’t go down easily. While Assad allows Charles Hunter to stay in Damascus, a way from there to accepting pressure coming from the Americans is far off. Clinton’s optimism should be admired; Obama’s plans for Syrian envoy go far beyond simple Israel-related pressure, however.

It is all the more apparent when the Americans are willing to put Israel under much more pressure, promising Palestinians that Obama might abandon his UN veto right in case of condemnation of Israel in the Security Council:

[George Mitchell’s deputy, David] Hale reportedly promised Abbas that the U.S. would consider allowing a Security Council condemnation should such activity continue at a significant level – though he did not clarify what the Obama administration considered significant.

This assurance would mean a U.S. abstention on any resolution, rather than a veto, said The Guardian.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat flatly denied the report. It’s not true," Erekat said. "We are still talking to the Americans."

Meanwhile, senior Israeli officials told Haaretz on Thursday that Obama told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace.

(Haaretz)

Such rumors are spread both to give Palestinians “much-needed hope” and to pressure the Israelis into concessions, as Netanyahu would feel threatened by possible condemnation by the SC.

Obama, however, has limited options vis-a-vis the Israelis. Many Congressmen already declared their support for Israel, and on several occasions sent mass-signed letters to Obama advising him to reconsider his stance on Israel. If Obama would indeed allow Israel to be condemned by the Security Council – as opposed to the General Assembly – he would reach a new step of negativity towards the Jewish state, undoubtedly causing much friction even within his own Democratic party. Thus both Obama and Clinton understand they should proceed carefully. While Hale probably did tell Abbas his bosses might consider vetoing the veto, Palestinian denials come on the heels of an understanding that such a step would cause much distress to the Administration, thus they would prefer to keep this proposition under the radar.

Palestinian rioters (courtesy: LIFE) While closely resembling a rumor, the news still made big news today, with Al-Hayat daily quoting an Egyptian official as saying US President Barack Obama backs establishment of the Palestinian state within two years:

Obama promised Abbas that the United States would make great effort to help see that Palestinian goal achieved, the official told the London-based newspaper.

The official also told Al-Hayat that Israel had rejected special U.S. envoy George Mitchell’s proposal to withdraw Israel Defense Forces troops from Palestinian-occupied sections of the West Bank, as it did on the eve of the Second Intifada in 2000.

According to the report, Israel told Mitchell that it could not guarantee such a move before beginning direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

(Haaretz)

EU’S JAVIER SOLANA is probably ecstatic right about now, as he was the first high-ranking official around the world to offer establishment of Palestine without Israel’s consent. I wouldn’t repeat my previous article on the matter, but would note that currently, establishment of Palestine would likely be a disaster. On the day of the announcement, thousands of Palestinians would take to the streets – especially to the streets of Jewish settlements, which the Palestinians now would call their own. Violent riots would ensue, including use of firearms. The IDF would have to intervene. It is unclear whether the Palestinian security forces would respond, but it is likely as – again – they would consider the land their jurisdiction now. Violent clashes would erupt, resulting in a blood bath. Sadly, neither Solana nor Obama seem to address these issues, instead offering vague dreams.

Moreover, the vagueness does not even begin to address the issue of Hamas and Gaza, with no one having a full understanding or policy what should be done about the violent rule.

A friend of Israel? Obama This one is truly hard not to write about. While our friends from the United Kingdom usually use every opportunity to criticize Israel – especially the press – this time the British Telegraph’s surprised its readers with an article by Nile Gardiner, titled: “Barack Obama’s top ten insults against Israel”. Here is the quick list, sans the elaboration:

1. Obama’s humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House
2. Engaging Iran when Tehran threatens a nuclear Holocaust against Israel
3. Drawing a parallel between Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with the current plight of the Palestinians
4. Obama’s attack on Israeli “occupation” in his speech to the United Nations
5. Obama’s accusation that Israel is the cause of instability in the Middle East
6. The Obama administration’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria
7. Hillary Clinton’s 43-minute phone call berating Netanyahu
8. David Axelrod’s attack on Israeli settlements on “Meet the Press”
9. Hillary Clinton’s call on Israel to show “respect”
10. Robert Gibbs’ disparaging remarks about Israel

(Telegraph)

WHILE SOME OF these points are in the eye of the beholder, it is true that President Obama shifts his views away from America’s traditional allies and unto who until now were considered to be America’s adversaries. In themselves, such steps are a good thing: turning former enemies into friends is a noble goal. However, it is unclear if Obama’s strategy of converting antagonists into protagonists at the expense of friends would bear fruit – in whatever good direction.

The article could not be viewed as a fully objective piece; however, it pulls along a few points which should be considered by the current Administration, particularly: does the US want to alienate its current friends? While many, such as Israel and the UK, currently depend on the United States, after a while they might decide to look for better friends. It would be good short-term news for Left-wing radicals, but clearly the US would lose much power if Israel – or the UK – would fall under influence of other state, such as China or even Russia.