Sunday, March 28, 2010

Judaism via video courses by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

NEW- Judaism-via-video courses by me.Go to the blog and watch several brief videos on the subject of the course title Great way to easily get up to speed on Jewish basics with my Judaism-v-a-video courses. Included is one on Israel

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meanwhile iran just keeps going

The insults continue; the snubs continue-and they are far more serious than the gaffe regarding North Jerusalem; that reset button is not working; paper tiger or Bobo doll?

Russia Will Help Iran Launch a Reactor by Summer, Premier Says, a Blow to Visiting Diplomat, U.S. Sanction Efforts

MOSCOW—Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia will help Iran launch its first nuclear power plant this summer, delivering a diplomatic slap to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a blow to U.S.-led efforts to increase financial pressure on Tehran.

Mr. Putin's announcement, made at a conference on Russian's nuclear-power industry in the southern city of Volgodonsk, took Mrs. Clinton's entourage by surprise and drew a swift rebuke. Mrs. Clinton is on a two-day visit to Moscow to work, in part, on forging a united front with Russia on addressing Iran's continuing push to develop nuclear technologies.

Bipartisam objections to Obama on Israel

Have your representatives and senators spoken up yet?

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) described the State Department's tough criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an "irresponsible overreaction" that suggested a pro-Palestinian bias by the administration. "Where, I ask, was the administration's outrage over the arrest and month-long incarceration by Hamas of a British journalist who was investigating arms smuggling into Gaza?" she asked. "Where was the outrage when the Palestinian Authority this week named a town square after a woman who helped carry out a massive terror attack against Israel? It has been
the PA who has refused to participate in talks for over a year, not the government of Israel."
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) embellishing on a brief response over the weekend has weighed in as well:The Administration's decision to escalate its rhetoric following Vice President Biden's visit to Israel is not merely irresponsible, it is an affront to the values and foundation of our long-term relationship with a close friend and ally. The Administration has demonstrated a repeated pattern since it took office: while it makes concessions to countries acting contrary to U.S. national interests, it ignores or snubs the commitments, shared values and sacrifices of many of our country's best allies. If the Administration wants to work toward resolving the conflict in the Middle East, it should focus its efforts on Iran's behavior, including its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its state-sponsorship of terrorism, its crushing of domestic democratic forces, and the impact its behavior is having, not just on Israel, but also on the calculations of other countries in the region as well as on the credibility of international nonproliferation efforts. House Republicans remain committed to our long-standing bilateral friendship with Israel, as well as to the commitments this country has made.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) called on the Obama Administration to support Israel and to avoid dividing strong allies. "It's hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace," Brownback said. "Rather than launching verbal attacks on our staunch ally and friend, it would be far more worthwhile for this Administration to expend the effort planning for the transfer of our embassy to Jerusalem and tackling the growing Iranian nuclear threat."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) "To say that I am deeply concerned with the irresponsible comments that the White House, Vice President, and the Secretary of State have made against Israel is an understatement. In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this Administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends. Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process. ...
While it condemns Israel, the Administration continues to ignore a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region. Where is the outrage when top Fatah officials call for riots on the Temple Mount? Why does the Palestinian Authority get a pass when it holds a ceremony glorifying the woman responsible for one of the deadliest terror attack in Israel's history? Surely, the Administration's double standard has set back the peace process. ...
Israel continues to be a world leader in the fight against terrorism and speak out against the prospects of a nuclear Iran. For this Administration to treat our special relationship with Israel, one of our closest and most strategic Democratic allies, in this fashion is beyond irresponsible and jeopardizes America's national security."
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said the response had been "disproportionate" and added that "we all have to take a step back."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said that while the timing of Israel's announcement was "regrettable, it must not cloud the most critical foreign policy issue facing both counties - Iran's nuclear threat."
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) called for lower voices. "The Administration, to the extent that it has disagreements with Israel on policy matters, should find way to do so in private and do what they can to defuse this situation."
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) "The United States should focus more on Iran's nuclear drive and less on Israeli "zoning issues...I urge the administration to spend more time working to stop Iran from building nuclear bombs and less time concerned with zoning issues in Jerusalem...As Iran accelerates its uranium enrichment, we should not be condemning one of America's strongest democratic allies in the Middle East..History teaches us that a divided Jerusalem leads to conflict while a unified Jerusalem protects the rights of all faiths." Kirk had helped draft a US law calling for moving Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (SEE ALSO JOINT LETTER WITH CHRIS CARNEY)
Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) "At a time when the Palestinian leadership continues to incite violence and threatens to impede negotiations at every step, the United States must stand with its ally, Israel, in its quest for peace. The actions that the Administration expects of the Palestinians may be less measurable than the actions that are expected of the Israeli government; however they are nonetheless crucial to moving negotiations forward. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has fallen short of expectations, and incitement continues. I call on the administration to urge the PA leadership to strengthen their commitment to fighting incitement. Incitement obstructs U.S. efforts to encourage peace in the region and could, understandably, make Israel reticent to negotiate."
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CN)
[The U.S.-Israel relationship is] one of the strongest, most important, most steadfast bilateral alliances we have in the world because it is not based on the temporal, that is matters that come and go, or politics and diplomacy. It's based on shared values, shared strategic interests in the world and unfortunately now on the fact that the United States and the Israelis are also targets of the Islamic extremists, the terrorists who threaten the security of so much of the world... this is "an area of Jerusalem that is today mostly Jewish" and that while the Israeli government contends that Jews have the right to build and live anywhere in its eternal capital, "this particular part of Jerusalem is in most anybody's vision of a possible peace settlement going to be part of Israel."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
McCain asked (from a rough transcript) if it really helps to "have public disparagement by the secretary of state, by the president's political adviser on the Sunday shows," and whether it wouldn't be better to "lower the dialogue, talk quietly among friends, and work together towards the mutual goals that we share." said the escalation "may be giving the impression to the wrong people, the neighbors of Israel have stated time after time that they are bent on Israel's extinction."
Kendrick Meek (D-FL) "What started off as an internal, domestic disagreement within the Israeli government has turned into an unnecessary international dispute complicated by some undiplomatic language from U.S. administration officials...Opponents of peace, nations and terrorist organizations that wish to do harm to Israel will always seize an opportunity to create a wedge between our nation and Israel. They seek comfort watching these recent events unfold. To give our enemies the false impression that the United States and Israel disagree on fundamental issues within the region sets the peace process back. I urge restraint and a resumption of talks that result in a lasting peace that ensures Israel's security."
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) "Since taking the oath of office, President Obama has repeatedly extended a hand of cooperation to our enemies while pushing aside the concerns and interests of our allies. This disturbing pattern has been displayed time and again in our dealings with Israel over the past year. The recent rhetoric by the Obama Administration threatens the stability of Israel at a time when it faces terrorist threats on its borders and the possibility of a nuclear Iran just over its border...The United States of America knows no greater friend in the Middle East than Israel. House Republicans will continue to stand by our most cherished ally, and we will hold the administration accountable for the words and actions it takes toward the people of Israel and their democratically elected government."
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) urges White House to Stop Isolating Israel. "Even close allies will at times have their differences, but the Obama administration's adversarial posture toward Israel defies understanding," said Congresman Price. "The combination of rebukes for Israel and conciliatory words for her enemies sends a very dangerous signal to the world. One has to wonder whether folks in the White House understand just how much damage this type of rhetoric is doing. Isolating Israel will make the goal of peace in the Middle East absolutely impossible. If members of the Obama administration believe otherwise, the likes of Hamas and Ahmadinejad will quickly disabuse them of their falsenotions. It's time the White House stopped condemning our allies and started aggressively cracking down on those who sponsor terrorist groups and are ruthlessly pursuing nuclear weapons."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the ranking Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, states, "U.S. condemnations of Israel and threats regarding our bilateral relationship undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike. I am also deeply concerned about the Administration's softer approaches towards the Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Iran, which are being carried out in conjunction with hard-line tactics against our key democratic ally, Israel. Our nation's security cannot afford a foreign policy which isolates our allies and moves towards appeasing enemies of the U.S.
Rep. Todd Tiahrt,R-Kan. "I call on President Obama to censure Secretary Clinton's rebuke of Prime Minister Netanyahu and reaffirm our longstanding friendship with Israel. Past U.S. administrations have recognized the unique relationship between Israel and the United States and made support for Israel a cornerstone of our foreign policy. The United States has a moral and strategic obligation to support this beacon of democracy in the Middle East. For the Obama administration to question the internal decisions of one of our closest allies is both disrespectful and unhelpful. Prime Minister Netanyahu has the authority and responsibility to care for the people of Israel, and it is inappropriate for Secretary Clinton to openly question these decisions. I hope her statements do not weaken the vital U.S.-Israel relationship. Any attempt to cut or restrict military aid to Israel by the administration would severely damage both U.S. and Israeli security. And any effort to cut aid would lead to fierce resistance in Congress."
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) comes to the point, "The appropriate response was a shake of the head - not a temper tantrum...Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already."

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Christopher P. Carney (D-PN) sent a letter to President Obama calling the U.S.-Israel relationship "an extraordinary relationship unlike any other in American history" and urging the administration to "refrain from further public criticism of Israel and to focus on more pressing issues affecting this vital relationship, such as signing and enforcing the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act when it comes to your desk."

We write today to reaffirm our strong commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship - an extraordinary relationship unlike any other in American history.The unbreakable bond that ties theUnited States and Israel roots itself in our shared democratic values of personal freedom and political liberty. In a region filled with brutal dictatorships and terror-sponsoring regimes, Israel stands with the United States on the frontier of freedom -two nations bringing a spark of hope to a region darkened by the despair of repression. And we know that no entity - from Gaza City to Ramallah to Damascus to Tehran - can ever hope to undermine the US-Israeli friendship. In reaffirming our extraordinary relationship, we recommit ourselves to the following principles:
1. The State of Israel remains the preeminent democracy in the Middle East;
2. The United States has no stronger ally in the Middle East than the State of Israel;
3. Under the J~rusalem Embassy Act of 1995, official United States policy
recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State ofIsrael;
4. The national security of the United States is directly tied to the strength and security of the State ofIsrael - ensuring Israel's continued military qualitative advantage in the region and completing the U.S.-IsraellO-year Memorandum of Understanding for military assistance remains a key American national security priority; and
5. A nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the United States, Israel and democracies around the world - collective action to counter this emerging threat remains the most important issue of our time.

As we write today, Iran's uranium enrichment and ballistic missile programs are accelerating. A nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize the Middle East and pose a direct threat to both American and Israeli citizens. Meanwhile, Iran continues to sponsor global terrorism, undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and transfer advanced weapons to its proxies in Syria and Lebanon.

US Piling on Israel

In a stunning departure from 62 years of U.S.-Israel relations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the Quartet in Moscow to issue a statement which "condemns the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in east Jerusalem." There was no condemnation for Arabs building housing units in their neighborhoods.

"Condemnation" is the harshest reprimand in the diplomatic arsenal and usually reserved for sponsors of terror and the worst human rights offenders. The U.S. has never employed this censure to a housing plan.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went against the wishes of his own coalition government to meet President Obama's demands. The Israeli prime minister accepted a 10-month freeze on all development in the West Bank, a step which the U.S. hailed as "unprecedented." Jerusalem was never included in the moratorium.The housing plan which is the subject of such harsh condemnation is in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood between two other Jewish neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem. The Arab population in Jerusalem is growing and their communities in Jerusalem are building to accommodate the growth.

There has been an outpouring of bi-partisan criticism of the administration's escalation of the verbal assault on Israel.

Need a job? Make aliyah

Unemployed? Jobs Galore in Israel
by Malkah Fleisher

( Thousands of jobs are opening up as Israel's economy continues to expand.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported Tuesday that available jobs reached 43,600 in February, 8.2% higher than in January.

Manufacturing, sales, and transportation and communication were the fields with the most availability. Particularly in demand were sales representatives, sales advisors, retail salespeople, waiters, and bartenders. Electricians and electrical installers saw a gigantic job availability rise of 120% from January.

Demand for high-tech workers also rose for the tenth consecutive month in February, up 5.4% from January and 31% higher than February 2009.

According to Manpower Information Technologies, the demand for high-tech workers may soon surpass the number for October 2008, a peak period prior to the economic crash set off by the U.S. economic breakdown.

February high-tech jobs were especially plentiful for experienced Java programmers, software development project managers, cellular operating systems developers, and mobile internet service developers.

Starting salaries also rose 5-7% in February.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

in sum

During the last few days, the state of U.S.-Israel relations has been a source of much discussion. Below are statements from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, encouraging the U.S. and Israel to renew their commitment to diplomacy in order to achieve common goals regarding Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.

JCPA Statement

In advance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled visit to Washington , DC next week, the American Jewish community has united to encourage the United States and Israel to jointly resolve any tensions and to reassert their shared interests in the fight against extremists, to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and in moving forward with a viable peace process.

Conference of Presidents Statement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to the United States, coming shortly after Vice President Biden's visit to Israel, provides an important opportunity for long time allies to reassert their shared interests, including the fight against extremism, the necessity of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability and the importance of moving forward expeditiously on a viable peace process. During his time in Israel , the Vice President forcefully affirmed that the bond between the United States and Israel was unbreakable, and that progress in the Middle East peace process can only be made when there is no daylight between Israel and the United States when it comes to the security of Israel .

The controversy which has arisen regarding Israel's planning process for future development in its capital city in the form of the construction of 1600 new housing units within the declared municipal boundaries of Jerusalem was addressed during Vice President Biden's trip by Prime Minister Netanyahu's apology and Vice President Biden's statement of understanding and recognition of the importance of a continuing close relationship. The unusually harsh comments made since then by members of the Administration have resulted in increased tensions. The interests of all concerned would best be served by a prompt commencement of the proximity talks that had been previously agreed to by all parties, and all parties should act in a manner that does not undercut such talks. We urge the United States and Israel to resolve the controversy with the use of language reflecting their historic friendship.

Israel has consistently stated that it is prepared to return to direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions, and recently has agreed to enter into proximity talks that would lead to face-to-face discussions. The Palestinians also had agreed to such proximity talks. Notwithstanding that apparent sign of progress, the Palestinians and their supporters in the Arab League have repeatedly looked for ways to avoid discussions that might lead to a peace agreement and have imposed conditions never demanded of previous Israeli governments. Despite this, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government have declared an unprecedented settlement freeze in the West Bank and have taken important steps to remove roadblocks and to otherwise promote conditions to improve life in the Palestinian territories. This conduct by Israel , supported by the United States , together with action undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, has resulted in tangible improvement for those living under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The United States of America should capitalize on these improved conditions and insist that the Palestinians operate in good faith and live up to their commitment to begin new talks.

The recent disclosure by Israel of its intention to build additional housing units in eastern Jerusalem at a future date does not contradict its announced commitment to freeze settlement building for a limited period, and a cessation to building in Jerusalem was never a condition of the proximity talks. Israel has always claimed a right to build in its capital city. The apparent refusal by the Palestinian Authority to avoid discussions now until the plans regarding the 1600 future units are withdrawn is yet another instance of the Palestinians missing an opportunity to move toward a resolution of the conflict. The true test of peaceful intentions is the willingness to engage in negotiations.

Israel's commitment to participate in proximity talks is in sharp distinction to the continued incitement by the Palestinian Authority and its public relations organs which have consistently acted in violation of its agreements with Israel . Only last week, coincident with the visit of Vice President Biden to the region, the Palestinians went ahead with the dedication of a public square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who was responsible for the massacre of 37 Israelis and American photographer Gail Rubin in 1978. It is such conduct which merits the attention and condemnation of those who seek to achieve peace.

For more information, please visit:

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Conference of Presidents

Palestinian murderers still firing rockets

Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Palestinian Rocket Fired from Gaza Kills Thai Worker in Israel - Shmulik Hadad
A 30-year-old Thai foreign worker was killed Thursday after a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit a greenhouse compound in Netiv Ha'asara in Israel in the third such attack in the last 24 hours.

Obama finally softens after real damage

Obama on Israel: Friends Can Disagree - Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama is rejecting talk that U.S.-Israel relations are in a meltdown. Asked in a Fox News interview Wednesday whether the falling out amounted to a "crisis," Obama said flatly, "No."
"Israel's one of our closest allies and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes," the president said. "There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward....[On Tuesday], when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had been reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that it is in their interests to move this peace process forward." (Politico)

BUT it is a phony comparision
Did We Really Condemn the Palestinian Call to Violence?

Jennifer Rubin - 03.18.2010 - 9:13 AM

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

Disapora on Israeli security and religious freedom

Israel Diaspora Relations – A New Equation

A Statement from Rabbi Julie Schonfeld

Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly

March 18, 2010 ( New York , NY ) – Israeli officials faced “coalition challenges” on three fronts this past week: (1) US-Israel relations; (2) the cohesion of the governing coalition; and (3) Diaspora- Israel relations. A seismic shift took place this week that should not be missed. The Diaspora community, that has been too silent on issues of religious freedom when challenges to Israeli security and internal political unity were present, strongly spoke out.

The US and Israeli governments are working through a major crisis in the wake of the controversial settlement announcement during Vice President Biden’s visit. At the same time, on a different issue, the coalition government seemed at risk of crumbling under the weight of the intransigent ultra religious parties. The catalyst was the Rotem Conversion Bill that began as an effort to open the system of religious conversion courts. The bill suddenly expanded to include possible changes to the Law of Return and further disenfranchisement of the majority of world Jewry.

As events unfolded, a shift occurred in the third coalition: Israel and Diaspora Jewry, which may come to be recognized as the most significant outcome of this week’s developments. The Diaspora community has become progressively more marginalized on issues of religious status and identity over the past two decades. As tiny ultra-Orthodox parties have become both more extreme in their religious outlook and more powerful in their political maneuverings, we deliberately restrained ourselves. Yet by doing so, we allowed fundamentalism imposed by the ultra-Orthodox to be enforced by the Israeli government.

By holding our tongues in the name of unity, we have become ever less unified. But this week, faced with the possibility of the Rotem Bill passing, Diaspora leaders looked at the familiar equation: SILENCE ON RELIGIOUS COERCION = UNITY = SECURITY and saw it doesn’t add up. The net result of this equation is that the younger generation sees Israel as an increasingly oppressive and fundamentalist society. We must act to reverse the growing disaffection among young Diaspora Jews who will not accept a society that allows a religious minority to treat their core Jewish values with contempt.

As tensions rose throughout the last several days on issues of US government relations and internal coalition stress, the Conservative and Reform Movements continued to issue calls for letters to Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Jewish Federations of North America sent a high level delegation to meet with MK David Rotem and others. Natan Sharansky, in his official capacity as Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel , spoke publicly of his alignment with the Diaspora on this issue and the necessity of Israeli consultation with us in the formulation of laws that affect world Jewry on conversion and the law of return.

Last week represented a sea change in Diaspora-Israel relations. Diaspora leaders recognized that any threat to our relationship with Israel is a threat to the strength and security of the Jewish state. We said no to religious coercion-- not despite Jewish unity and the priority of Israel ’s security-- but because of it.

The vast majority of world Jewry cannot relate to the Judaism of the ultra-Orthodox minority. During this eventful week, Conservative and Reform leaders, along with the Jewish Federations of North America, called out the Israeli government on the coercive power that coalition arithmetic has granted to the Orthodox. We proclaimed that it so harms Israel-Diaspora relations as to name it for what it is: a security threat. We set aside our other agendas and spent our week on this issue. We treated it with the level of seriousness and focused attention that we, as stalwart lovers of Israel , treat any threat to her security.

Diaspora Jewry derived a new axiom this week: ISRAEL’S FUTURE = SECURITY + RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

As over 100 Conservative Rabbis, over half of the total rabbis in attendance, prepare for the AIPAC Policy Conference, an annual highlight for supporters of Israel from across North America , we have ordered 1,000 blue wristbands with four simple words: ISRAEL * SECURITY* RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Ask us for one. Help us carry the message.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Orthodox rabbis blast Obama

The Rabbinical Council of America wishes to express its astonishment and
dismay at the ongoing response of our elected leaders to the recent
announcement by Israel of plans to continue building in a Jerusalem

The construction in Jerusalem will take place in accordance with the
policies of every past Israeli administration, and in fulfillment of the
existing policies of the current one.

Some may question the wisdom of Israel's decision to proceed at this time
with this long-planned project. Some may find fault with the timing of its
announcement, coming during a sensitive visit to Israel by the Vice
President, himself a long-time friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Some
may even doubt Israel's right to expand the neighborhoods of a united
Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.

But none of that can explain the disproportionate, extraordinary, and
unwarranted response by some spokesmen of the Obama administration in
excoriating, condemning, and publicly lashing out at the duly elected
representatives of the sovereign State of Israel.

There is no justification, neither on moral nor on diplomatic grounds, for
escalating this policy disagreement into what some in the administration
have called (to quote just one such phrase) "an affront to America." This,
even after the Prime Minister of Israel, in unmatched fashion, issued a
public apology to the government of the United States.

Compared to the repeated incitements by leaders of the Palestinian Authority
to mass murder of innocent civilians; compared to last week's official
Palestinian adulation of bloody terrorists; and compared to the refusal by
the Palestinian Authority to hold direct face to face talks to advance the
American-sponsored peace process without preconditions, the US response to
Israel's announcement is difficult to fathom. The public lashing by the
United States of its most dependable ally and friend in the Middle East, in
response to a decision to expand a neighborhood in its capital city, is a
sad betrayal of the promises and understandings, as well as shared values,
that have characterized US-Israel relations since 1948, and that were
so-well articulated by Vice President Biden.

We add our voices to the many that urge the government of our great country
to desist from this inappropriate treatment of a proven democratic ally and

As the largest Orthodox rabbinical association in the world, we pray, as we
do publicly in our synagogues every Sabbath and Jewish holiday, that God
grant President Obama, as well as his advisors and his counselors, the
wisdom and insight to discern and pursue true paths of peace, to distinguish
between the proven friends and allies of these United States - and those
who, in denying Israel's right to live in security and peace as a Jewish
State, would undermine not just Israel, but the interests of the United
States itself.

Questions from a Rabbi to Dem Maj leader re Israel

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer from Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, who argues against the notion that the housing announcement (”an administrative error made by a low-level bureaucrat, and for which Prime Minister Netanyahu has now apologized no less than four times”) was some great insult or affront to Obama. The rabbi recounts:

Why was Assad’s meeting with Ahmadinejad the day after the US announced that we were sending an ambassador to Syria ignored by the State Department and not deemed to be an “insult and affront” to the United States?

Why is Palestinian Authority incitement of rioters in Jerusalem and elsewhere not condemned by this administration and not an “insult and affront” to the United States and the Vice President?

Why is the naming of the main public square in Ramallah by Abbas in honor of Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 38 Israelis – 13 of them little kids not an impediment to the peace process and not an insult and affront to the US and Israel????

Not to mention – why does this administration insist on viewing construction in a vacant piece of land, adjacent to existing housing seen as thwarting the two state solution?

The answer is that Obama seeks to ingratiate himself with the thug-ocracies and put the screws on Israel. The answer is that Obama views Israeli actions not in the best possible light, as one would expect a valued friend to do, but in the worst possible light. And the answer is that neither Obama nor his administration can think through the implications of their actions (Will acquiescence work with Syria? Will bullying win over the Israelis?) or appreciate the moral distinction between a democratic friend and a rogue state. They are both morally obtuse and politically (domestically and internationally) tone-deaf.

If there is a silver lining in all this, it is that a number of groups and individuals have been compelled to restate the case for the U.S.-Israel relationship, review the past history of Palestinian rejectionism, and clarify some basic facts (for example, what’s a “settlement?”). It’s a beneficial development to the extent that the mainstream media have been obliged to recount some of these arguments. And to the extent that this controversy has made it crystal clear to the Obami how little stomach there is in America for Israel-bashing, this is helpful. But these are small consolations indeed. All in all, we’d prefer an enthusiastically pro-Israel president whose moral instincts are as sharp as Rabbi Weinblatt’s. Well, that’s perhaps too much to ask for

even Sen. Spector got it wrong

Democrats who posit themselves as friends of Israel are now in a quandary: remain silent or try to drag the administration back into the bipartisan consensus on Middle East policy?

The newly Democratic Arlen Specter tried his best in a floor speech. He got off to a very poor start, misrepresenting that “there are 1,600 new settlements in East Jerusalem in violation of Israeli commitments.” To the contrary, the apartment complex is not a “settlement,” nor is this part of an Israeli commitment. The Israeli government never pledged to forgo building in its eternal and undivided capital. He concedes, “that Prime Minister Netanyahu was blindsided by the announcement. It is further acknowledged that the Israeli Minister of the Interior is a member of the ultra-conservative Shaos party whose participation is essential to the continuation of the coalition government.” And he implores the administration to get a game plan:

These matters need to be thought through before making public pronouncements that could significantly damage the U.S.-Israeli relationship and give aid and comfort to the enemies of the Mideast peace process. The rock solid alliance between the United States and Israel has withstood significant disagreements for six decades. The mutual interests which bind these two countries together have always been stronger than the most substantial differences. The United States needs to respect Israeli security interests, understanding that Israel cannot lose a war and survive. The United States has many layers of defense to protect our security interests and survive.

from Protect Our Heritage Pac


On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden "condemned" (extremely strong diplomatic language) an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage for the construction of 1,600 housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. The Vice President was not comfortable with the timing of the announcement but accepted Prime Minister Netanyahu's apology. Israel thought the incident was over.

In a 45-minute phone tirade to Israel's Prime Minister, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said that Israel building in east Jerusalem is an "insult" to the United States, jeopardizes the bilateral relationship, and damages the cause of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Days later President Barack Obama's chief political adviser David Axelrod took to the Sunday talk shows to slam the Israeli construction as "an affront" to the United States. The day after Israel thought that the level of rhetoric had calmed, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. was summoned to a reprimand by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. Oren spoke of his surprise at being summoned after believing that the crisis had ended on Thursday. "Steinberg read to me from the [American] letter of protest, whose content was extremely harsh."

As penance for planning of Jewish homes, Clinton set forth a list of U.S. demands, which include reversing the decision to build in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, withdrawing the IDF from additional areas in the West Bank and removing roadblocks from the Gaza Strip to Israel. Because Israel planned housing which would not be built for another 3-4 years, convicted terrorists should be released and other potential terrorists should be allowed freer access to Israel. The underlying assumption that any area which the Palestinians want to fall under their sovereignty must be ethnically cleansed of all Jewish residents did not seem to be an affront to our State Department.

The U.S. knew all along that Jerusalem was not part of the building freeze. Why is the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem considered an unforgivable offense to the U.S. when Jerusalem was never part of the building freeze area? This housing project falls within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, is a primarily Jewish community with 16,000 Jewish residents, and was never included in the territory of Prime Minster Netanyahu 10-month building freeze in Judea and Samaria. When under pressure from the U.S., Netanyahu agreed to the building freeze on November 25, 2009, Secretary of State Clinton hailed the Netanyahu agreement as "unprecedented settlement concessions." On November 1, 2009, the U.S. State Department praised the announcement, "Today's announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The same concession that was praised in November is today condemned as a punishable offence.

The U.S. has esccalated a minor difference into what Ambassor Oren describes," U.S.-Israeli relations face their worst crisis in 35 years." America's verbal attacks against Israel will be paid in Israeli and Palestinian blood. After the American barrage against Israel, some prominent Palestinian leaders called for "a march against Jerusalem to protect if from the Jews.' Today, after Hamas called for a "day of Rage" outbreaks of Palestinian violence broke out in parts of Jerusalem with 10 Palestinains and one Israeli injured and more violence expected tomorrow.

The excessively disparaging rhetoric against Israel stopped any possibility of peace negotiations.The Palestinians have no reason to enter into negotiations in which they may have to give up something if they believe they can simply wait for the U.S. president to deliver them all of their demands without their recognition of the Jewish State of Israel. The Israelis feel less confident than ever in their ability to trust the U.S. as an honest broker if after they agreed to U.S. prompted unilateral concessions, their only reward is a demand for even more and even more dangerous concessions.

Jews will die becase of Obama's hostility to Israel;

And Now the Blood Flows

Jennifer Rubin - 03.17.2010 - 11:57 AM
The headline reads: “Mideast Flap Hits Jerusalem’s Streets.” Another equally apt headline would be: “Obama Gambit Sets Off Palestinian Riots.” That, after all, is what is going on. The report notes: “Protests Tuesday moved the dispute into the streets, in the most widespread unrest in Jerusalem in years. Palestinian protesters, many responding to a call by the Hamas militant group for a ‘day of rage,’ hurled Molotov cocktails and stones, set tires ablaze and blocked roads.” And why might Palestinians think it opportune to revert to violence? Well, perhaps the Palestinians — whose warnings of violence were never condemned by the U.S. — have figured out that the Obami are so desperate for those proximity talks and so alienated from the Israelis that now, anything goes. They can have violence and proximity talks. They can have America’s Israel-bashing and a new intifada:
“We are calling for the third Intifada to be sparked now,” said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, referring to Palestinian uprisings against Israel.
Peace talks are now in limbo, though U.S. officials said special Mideast envoy George Mitchell hoped to return to the region in the coming days. The diplomatic flap has plunged the longtime allies into one of the worst chills in relations in decades.
You see, in his frenzy to return to the peace process, Mitchell will now turn a blind eye toward the Palestinian violence. And the Palestinians know it. I wonder how the Axelrod-Emanuel-Clinton-Mitchell-Obama brain trust feels about its handiwork now? It has, predictably, torn asunder the U.S.-Israel relationship and emboldened the proponents of violence — the worst possible result. But then this is the worst Middle East policy team we’ve ever seen."

and this is ASIDE FROM THE MILLIONS WHO WILL DIE because Obama forbids Israel to
strike Iran

Obama bent on driving out Netanyahu

The latest news reports make it clear that the Obama administration's campaign of criticism against Israel threatens to do irreparable damage to relations with our valued ally.

* The Washington Post reports that

In an effort to get peace talks back on track, the Obama administration is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to reverse last week's approval of 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem, make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians, and publicly declare that all of the "core issues" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, be included in upcoming talks, U.S. officials said.

The New York Times tells us that the administration is looking to "turn the tables" on Israel's leaders, language more suited to dealings with an enemy than with an ally. The Times' reporting suggests that after a failed, months-long effort to entice the Palestinians into direct negotiations with Israel, the administration now wants Israel to accept the Palestinians' preferred framework - one in which our diplomats would negotiate for them.

And at the, Jeffrey Goldberg reports that Obama's ultimate aim is to destroy Israel's current government in hopes that the current governing coalition would be replaced by a more pliant one.

What happened to the promise made back in the 2008 campaign that during an Obama presidency, "the United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel"?

Fortunately, more and more members of Congress are protesting what House Republican Whip Eric Cantor aptly describes as an "opportunistic move by an administration that wants to impose its view... onto our ally."

At first, most of those speaking up were Republicans. But now more Democrats have begun to break with the administration.

At this point, Obama and his lieutenants are isolated. Yet they show no signs of admitting their error.

We need to encourage more members of Congress to speak up, so that the administration will stand down.

Please take a moment to call or email your Congressman and two U.S. Senators. Urge them to speak out against the Obama administration's pressure campaign against Israel.

Information about how to contact your Congressman can be found at (you will be directed to a site where you can identify who your Representative is and send him or her an email) -- or by calling 202-224-3121.

Information about how to contact your U.S. Senators can be found at -- or by calling 202-224-3121.

Key points to emphasize:

It is outrageous that the Obama administration is attacking an ally even as it coddles hostile nations like Iran and Syria.

The cause of peace is set back when Israel's foes are led to believe that significant diplomatic gains can be achieved through American pressure - and without reciprocal concessions.

The Obama administration's obsession with the peace process - even when the Palestinians demonstrate by their actions that they are not ready to make peace - has become a distraction from the effort to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Thank you for weighing in on this urgent and timely matter. This is the moment when we need to raise our voices!

Facts vs fiction

Fact: The United States never has placed its embassy in Jerusalem despite the fact that the capital of Israel is in Jerusalem.

All of this flows from the fact that the West is intimidated by the Arab world.Only the Arab world is not intimidated by the West.They can say anything outrageous (eg. the Syrian officials who discuss matter of factly that Israel went into Haiti to collect human organs and body parts to sell around the world or that Israel carried out the events of 9/11) and do anything they want without jeopardizing their status.

2.Israel never harmed the Al Aksa Mosque and immediately after the Six Day War proclaimed unanimously in the Knesset that all the holy places will be respected and have done so...but have been blamed for being the occupiers....yet the Jordanians destroyed the Jewish quarter and the Hurva synagogue, desecrated the Har Zetim Cemetery and put a hotel on top of graves. Grave stones were used as sidewalks, and
sacred places of the Jews have been destroyed again and again.The biblical origin of Hebron is denied and Israel is delegitimized.The Wakf under the PA has destroyed all the archeological evidence of the Jewish temple under the Al Aksa mosque. The world stood by in silence.

The Palestinian leadership, in my humble opinion, never intend to have a to state solution.They believe time is on their side and Obama is unaware of how he is playing into their hand which will work to further delegitimze Israel. The case of the 1600 housing units benefits the PA only, unless Obama and friends recognize that the background situation in the PA and Hamas is the real problem.

A0 Israel has swung from the Left to the Right and back again, and back again, and no Israeli govt. has been acceptable to the Palestinians or the Arabs or the Muslim world. Land swaps have been offered, normal relations have been offered, peace dividends of business opportunities have been offered, but each has been rejected.

Jews were kicked out of Muslim countries, no one complained about the mistreatment of the Jews. Only the Palestinian refugees in refugee camps controlled by Jordan and Egypt raised a moral outcry against Israel! How much money have the Palestinians received to help their "poor" refugee brothers? How much has gone to benefit the poor of Gaza or the West Bank? Yet the Jews are blamed for their mistreatment.

Why was the Wall of separation built? To create an Apartheid state? Or to keep out suicide bombers? Yet, the Jews are blamed for creating an A=
partheid state. Let's keep our sanity even if the world doesn't see it this way.

Dem Rep Klein to Obama stop Israel bashing

Ron Klein to White House: Enough with the Israel criticism

By Ami Eden · March 16, 2010

Rep. Ron Klein of Florida lines up with the enough-is-enough crowd saying the Obama administration has gone too far with its criticism of Israel. As noted in this news brief, Klein has something in common with many of the other Dems taking that same line -- he represents a heavily Jewish district. We're watching to see if this line of argument starts winning over others in the Democratic caucus.

Here is Klein's statement:

“The United States has invested immense political capital in restarting negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Although last week’s announcement on new housing in East Jerusalem may have been ill-timed, I am deeply disappointed that even after the Israeli government apologized, State Department and White House officials have sustained their condemnations against the State of Israel, using harsh terms that do not befit the special relationship that the United States and Israel share. Israel has proven its willingness to make sacrifices for peace, but in order to continue to do that Israel must have confidence in the process.

“The U.S. and Israel share an entrenched bond, with unbreakable connections, and this spat will not change our deep and abiding friendship with the people and government of Israel. The democratically elected government of Israel, serving its people and its national interest, has made painful sacrifices for peace and should be commended. The Netanyahu government’s recent announcement to freeze settlement construction should have hastened the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

“At a time when the Palestinian leadership continues to incite violence and threatens to impede negotiations at every step, the United States must stand with its ally, Israel, in its quest for peace. The actions that the Administration expects of the Palestinians may be less measurable than the actions that are expected of the Israeli government; however they are nonetheless crucial to moving negotiations forward. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has fallen short of expectations, and incitement continues. I call on the administration to urge the PA leadership to strengthen their commitment to fighting incitement. Incitement obstructs U.S. efforts to encourage peace in the region and could, understandably, make Israel reticent to negotiate.

“We must find common ground and move on. The security threats that the United States and Israel face are too great and too urgent to be overwhelmed by a disagreement among friends. Stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is the most important matter at hand. That must continue to be our main focus as we move ahead.”

Sp;ector, Cantor, Ros-Lehtinen attack Obama

Critics Accuse Administration of Exploiting Israel Dispute, Aiding "Enemies"
The Obama administration is drawing fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle for appearing to take dead aim at U.S. policy toward Israel by exploiting a dispute that began as a mere bureaucratic blunder. "These matters need to be thought through before public pronouncements can significantly damage the U.S.-Israeli relationship and give aid and comfort to the enemies of the Mideast peace process," Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) said Tuesday. (FOX News)
See also More Congressional Reaction - Uriel Heilman
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.): "While it condemns Israel, the Administration continues to ignore a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region." Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): "Our nation's security cannot afford a foreign policy which isolates our allies." (JTA)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

in Illinois? call

Israel needs us right now to speak to our elected representatives and tell them that they need to speak up immediately to defend the Israel-US relationship. We must let them know that we love Israel, and that America is committed to our best and most reliable ally in the Middle East – no matter what our differences might be. We must not allow the lies they are spreading about Israel's right to build in east Jerusalem, on Israel's willingness to make peace and the Arab/Muslim hostility to peace with Israel to continue.

I would suggest to ask them to send a personal letter to President Obama and to allow that letter to be released to the press – that is what we expect from our elected officials.

Please call today. If we tie up the lines, that's OK too!
For contact information for other Senators and Representatives go to

Jan Schakowsky (D-9)

Other E-Mail:

Work: 773 506 7100
Work: 847 328 3409

Washington office:202 225 2111

Work Address: 5533 N. Broadway, #2, 60640,
820 Davis, #105, Evan 60201
2367 Rayburn HOB, Wash 20515
202 225 2111
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Durbin, Richard J. - (D - IL) I
(202) 224-2152
Web Form:

More anti Obama for attacking Israel

Obama Isolated

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:39 PM

More and more Democrats are stepping forward to slap down the Obami. Among the more terse was from Rep. Anthony Weiner: “The appropriate response was a shake of the head — not a temper tantrum. Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already.” Among the more eloquent was Rep. Eliot Engel from the House floor:

We should not have a disproportionate response to Israel. We need to be careful and measured in our response, and I think we all have to take a step back.

The relationship remains rock solid. The Obama administration and the administration of Prime Minister Netanyahu have been cooperating on a number of things: containing Iran, the Goldstone Report, and making sure that Israel retains its qualitative military edge in the region. And there has been good cooperation between our two administrations, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu administration. But to seem to question the very nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship and to put it in personal terms in a very public way will not contribute to peace in the Middle East. Rather, it’s the contrary. It will cause the Palestinians to dig in their heels, thinking that the Americans can just deliver the Israelis.

Last year, when there was public pressure being put on Israel not to expand settlements, there was no simultaneous public pressure being put on the Palestinians, and we saw that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just sat back, didn’t make any concessions, didn’t say that he would do anything positively to further peace talks, and just thought that the United States would wring concessions out of Israel.

The fact of the matter is that the Israelis have been welcoming peace talks with the Palestinians. The Israelis have said they would sit down and have face-to-face talks for peace with the Palestinians. That’s what you do when you have peace. Instead, the Palestinians have refused to sit with the Israelis, and Senator Mitchell is proposing to shuttle back and forth between the Palestinian side and the Israeli side to have negotiations, but not direct negotiations.

We need to be careful. If we criticize Israel for doing what we think was wrong, then we need to also criticize the Palestinians when they do things wrong. Just recently, the Palestinians named a square in Ramallah for a terrorist who killed 30-some-odd Israelis. I didn’t hear any criticism of the Palestinian side. When the Palestinians dig in their heels and say they won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, I didn’t hear any criticism of Palestinians.

Let me say that harsh words are never a replacement for working together, but I think that harsh words can sometimes make us understand that only by working together can we confront the things that we both know need to be confronted–the scourge of terrorism, the thing that all nations understand emanates in the Middle East from radical forces, and those are the kinds of fights that Israel has every single day fighting terrorism. We learned about terrorism on this soil on 9/11. Israel has to deal with it every day.

So all I am saying, Madam Speaker, is that we need to not only reaffirm the strength of our ties between our two countries, but we also need to understand that in a relationship between friends, as in family, there will be some disagreements. We need to be careful about how we voice those disagreements in public.

Let’s put it another way: not a single Republican or Democratic official has come forward to defend the administration. J Street cheers them on, as one can imagine from the never-enough-venom-directed-to-Israel lobby. The National Jewish Democratic Council is hiding under the bed. But actual elected leaders? Not one of them. On this the administration is totally isolated.
There Are a Lot of Angry Evangelicals

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:06 PM

Christians United for Israel has swung into action; an alert went out to its very large mailing list (which includes pastors who in turn contact their church members). Spokesman Ari Morgenstern tells me: “The strong response of the Christian Zionist community on this issue reflects their steadfast commitment to standing with Israel. Christian friends of Israel are capable of distinguishing between temporary disputes between friends, and the deeper ties that bind our two countries.” What kind of response did they get? “Just 90 minutes after CUFI’s action alert was distributed, more than 5,000 of our members sent e-mails to the White House asking the president to ‘end this unnecessary crisis, return to a more productive approach, and stand with our ally Israel.’ As of last count we are averaging an e-mail every second, and I see no indication that this will slow down anytime soon.”

Many liberal, largely secular American Jews have been wary of, if not downright hostile to, evangelical support for Israel. Perhaps they should reconsider and figure out who the friends of Israel really are. They’re the ones sending, not receiving the e-mails
A 2012 Preview

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 2:02 PM

Obama’s assault on Israel is drawing fire from potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Sarah Palin (who, as I’ve written quite a bit about, had a rocky start with American Jews) is out with a lengthly statement, pointing out the contrast between Obama’s outreach to despotic regimes and our treatment of Israel, which reads, in part:

Last October, Secretary of State Clinton recognized Israel’s desire for peace in the Middle East and praised Israel’s “unprecedented” concessions for agreeing to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, a concession that did NOT include halting construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem. Even last week after planned construction was announced, Vice President Biden still expressed “appreciation” for the “significant” steps taken by the Israeli government to address this minor issue. Now, however, we see the Obama Administration has decided to escalate, make unilateral demands of Israel, and threaten the very foundation of the US-Israel relationship. This is quickly leading to the worst crisis in US-Israel relations in decades, and yet this did not have to happen. More importantly, it needs to stop before it spirals out of control. Vice President Biden should rein in the overheated Obama Administration rhetoric and chill the political spin masters’ fire as they visit the Sunday media shows to criticize Israel.

Mitt Romney’s spokesman e-mails me: “Governor Romney believes that President Obama spends way too much time placating our enemies while undermining our friends. Israel is one of our greatest allies, and has made many concessions for peace over the years, yet the Obama administration exerts pressure on Israel to stop its settlements while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians.”

It is, as the two Republicans point out, all of a piece. The Obami have, as Palin puts it, reached out “to some of the world’s worst regimes in the name of their engagement policy,” and averted their eyes to violations of UN agreements and to gross human-rights abuses. It took days for Obama to speak out in the wake of the June 12 Iranian election, and even then only in tepid terms. Yet, with the announcement of a housing complex in Jerusalem, all guns are blazing from the West Wing. We can expect to hear more from those Republicans eyeing 2012 on this subject. It is frankly both good policy and good politics to take on the Obama foreign-policy trainwreck.
Re Re: Obama and Israel: Not Smart

John Podhoretz - 03.16.2010 - 1:45 PM

A plugged-in friend emails:

I think the Obama administration’s blow-up wasn’t about the “insult” at all. That was just a convenient excuse. The issue is that Obama has zero to show for his first year in office in the foreign policy realm. His one arguable success is the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (even if I’d call it a self-inflicted failure created by his outrageous public scolding of Israel in May 2009 on a total settlement freeze that limited PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’ ability to maneuver). The Palestinians are constantly — and tactically — looking for any excuse to walk away from negotiations to cause Israel to better its offer. When the housing announcement was made during the Biden visit last week, the Arab League jumped all over the State Department and the Obama people saw the entire Mitchell “proximity talks” project as being at risk. The wild overreaction was a deliberate effort to shock the Israelis to make more concessions, of course, but more so to impress upon the Arab League that it should not withdraw its support for the proximity talks. A tactically foolish approach, as it will hurt, not help, forward movement on the talks — which will go nowhere soon anyway. But not just a fit of pique

More on Rotem conversion bill

The Conversion Bill

This is an update, and a thank you.

As a result of the strong feelings expressed by so many, includin=
many of you, the bill in the Knesset which would have affected conversion
and the Law of Return has been sidetracked, at least for now.

Our Masorti/Conservative community, along with our colleagues in
the Reform movement, took the lead in identifying the problems, and then th=
Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee and
others weighed in very forcefully. Credit goes to all, though it is a pity
we even have to wage such battles.

MK Rotem has stated the bill will not be acted upon this week
before the Knesset recesses for several weeks. He also said that on any
issues involving conversion or the Law of Return, there would be
consultation with Diaspora Jewry.

While the most objectionable provisions of the proposed
legislation, which treat converts differently from those born as Jews, may
be dead, we still need to be alert to provisions that would further enhance
the power of the State Rabbinate. Our colleagues in Israel believe
this fight is very far from over.

Court Jews Emanuel and Axelrod

Next year in….´ An open letter to Rahm Emanuel & David Axelrod

David Wilder

March 15, 2010
Nisan 1, 5770, 3/15/2010

Dear Rahm and David,

I'm writing this as I sit and watch, via live internet, the ceremony marking the rededication of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem, in the area you would classify " east Jerusalem", disputed territory, or perhaps, ' occupied territory' over the 'green line' adjacent to ' Temple Mount.'

Before asking a few questions, I'd like to describe to you several men who took part in tonight's celebration.

First, there is Reuvan 'Ruby' Rivlin, presently speaker of the Knesset. A seventh generation Jerusalemite, Ruby is a 'Rivlin' from both his mother and father's side, descended from both Rebbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov and the Gra, the Gaon, Rebbi Eliyahu from Vilna.

Rivlin, a seasoned politician, had trouble controlling his voice as he
spoke, his words quivering with emotion, as he repeated the words of his great-grandfather, who spoke at the rededication of the destroyed Hurva shul a hundred and fifty years ago.

Also speaking briefly was former Prisoner of Zion, former minister, and present chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, who described how, in 1992, he convinced the entire Israeli government to unanimously approve reconstruction of the Hurva, destroyed by the Jordanians following their occupation of the Jerusalem in 1948.

But the man who most impressed me was David Rabinovitch, an Israeli Russian, who contributed heavily to the renovation of the Hurva. Rubenstein spoke briefly, albeit in Russian, and announced that he and his partners, whose financial fortunes built the Hurva, would participate in rebuilding the nearby Tiferet Yisrael synagogue, also destroyed by the Arabs during the War
of Independence. These men, who grew up without any Jewish background, and who today barely speak Hebrew, are investing their life's fortunes in synagogues, in Jerusalem.

And you, Rahm and David, what are you investing your lives in?

Rahm, it is said that you are the cornerstone of your boss' policy towards Israeland the Middle East. Since this administration took office, you are quoted, time and time again, as forcing a ' two-state solution' on Israel. "Israel now faces a moment of truth - it can either acquiesce to international demands and in return have its most serious threats dealt with, or maintain the status quo and have those threats persist." In other words, Israel's future, as a state, and in large part, the continued existence of the Jewish people, is dependent on Israel 'towing the line,' obeying US policy, and acquiescing to US-Arab terrorist demands.

And David, just a few days ago you publicly turned Israel over your knee and paddled her, saying, "What happened there was an affront,…It was an insult. ... This was not the right way to behave." This, of course, in reference to the announcement that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.

Is this the behavior of two good Jewish boys, who, it is said, love Israel?

Rahm, truthfully it's very difficult to understand your actions. You belong to an orthodox synagogue in Chicago. You grew up in a Jewish home, with a strong affinity to Israel. Your father was born in Jerusalem and your uncle, for whom you were named, was killed by Arabs in Jerusalem. But you still support a position forbidding Jewish building in Jerusalem!?

And David, you too are no stranger to Judaism. Born on the Lower East Side in New York, you always knew you were Jewish. Yet you see fit to push your own people into security situations which jeopardize the continued existence of the Jewish State.

How is it that two men whose lives have always been saturated with Judaism do not comprehend simple truths understood by others who grew up in Soviet Russia, knowing almost nothing about their Jewish roots.? Even your names reflect your Jewish souls: David - dating back to King David - the eternal
King of Israel; and Rahm - meaning 'high,' hinting at the Creator, and in your case, a form of the word Rachamim, meaning mercy. Upon who do you have mercy, Mr. Emanuel? Perhaps both of you should repudiate your names, changing them, as did Hellenistic Jews in Israel during the time of Greek occupation of Israel. How can you carry such " Jewish names' yet, at the same
time, assist in pushing your people to the brink?

I have one other question for both of you men. Tonight marks the first day of the new month of Nisan, the month of Geula, of redemption from Egypt. In exactly two weeks we will begin the Passover holiday, commencing with the Seder, the first Pesach meal, when we relate the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt.

It is said that last year, both of you were invited to the President's
Passover Seder, but skipped it, preferring to eat Matza with your families, at home. Very touching. But why?

What I really want to know is not how you begin your family Seder, rather, how you end it. Normally, Jews finish the night's ceremony declaring " Next year in Jerusalem" or Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem."

Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod:







Isn't it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem where you too can stand proudly at the Kotel and recite, as Jews have for eternity "Next year in [Jewish] Jerusalem".


My Israel curriculum

Questions, website, blog, videos below

1.Why did the Palestinians not accept the UN vote to partiton Palestine into Jewish and Arab state 60 years ago? There could have been a Palestinian State for 60 years?
2. Why do the Palestinians raise their kids to commit suicide by killing innocent Israeli civilians?
3. Why do they teach Jew hatred in primary grades and that all of Israel is occupied territory?
4. Why are their summer camps terrorist training camps?
5. Why do they send missiles to try to blow up schools in Israel daily?
6.Why do they try and run guns from ambulances?
7. Why did Jordan not set up a Palestinian state from 1948-1967 when they controlled the West Bank?
8. Show me one source about an Arab Palestinian people in history prior to 1930? Palestine was the name the Romans gave the area and Palestinians were Jews.
9. Israeli Prime Minister Barak told Arafat he could take 98% of the West Bank and Gaza and Arafat walked out and started infada 2.
10. Israel is on record willing to create a Palestinian state but not to peeople who won't accept her existence and openly say they want to destroy her.
11. Why are there no churches in Saudi Arabia?
12. Why do Muslim societies tolerate honor killings where fathers and brothers can murder their daughters and sisters for dating?
13. Why can UN member, the dictator of Iran openly call for the destruction of a UN state, Israel and not be expelled?
14. Why does the world sit by and watch and do nothing while the Iranian leadership talk about how Israel will be destroyed?
15. Jordan is 2/3rds of ancient Palestine. It is 75% Palestinian population. Why do they need 2 Palestinian states?
16. In what way is Israel the most successful nation in the world today despite all the above challenges?
What is Israel to do?

Basic Information website
and blog

Videos Curriculum

Basic Info
Israel's 59th birthday Happy birthday JewU 75
Israel: the greatest country JewU 32
The Israel Test Gilder A Must read Jewu 529
Israel songs Jewish songs #7 Jewu 417 Rabbi Jonathan Gins
Disconnecting Jews from Israel via Khazars Jewu 521

Pro Israel Action
AIPAC Crucial for America and the World JewU 81
Responding to those protesting Israel Jewu 522
What can we personally do to help Israel JewU 78
Bond to Israel with Israel Bonds JewU 266
Has the American Rabbinate abandoned Israel? JewU 515
Travel with us to Israel JewU 138
J Street exposed- new "pro" Israel group? Jewu 517
Leftist bizarre anti_Israel views Jewu 495
My report from the AIPAC proIsrael conference Jewu 418 R

Israel and Palestinians
Apartheid week? Promote Arab terrorism week Jewu 535
Palestinian refugees "return" wrong JewU 86
Israel settlements obstacles to peace? Jewu 498
Palestine/Israel peace challenge Rabbi Jonathan Ginsbur
Gaza Hamas trying to kill Jews Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
Gaza Aftermath Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg Jewu 476
Mearsheimer/Walt -shoddy and anti-semitic? JewU 239
Refuting Kristof's March 17 NYT piece on Israel JewU 25
Zionism-The Jewish people's right to Israel JewU 243
It's Not Israel's Fault JewU 19
What's Wrong with Jimmy Carter's Book? JewU 97
Shameful British Boycott JewU 99
40 seconds for al jazeera on Hamas Terrorist killed

US Israel relations
Disgusting Obama administration tilt to murderers Jewu
Obama's Cairo speech good and bad Rabbi Jonathan Ginsbu

Times shows bias against Jewish tie to Jerusalem jewu

Catholic Israel relations
Pope's disappointing visit to Israel Jewu 489
Catholic Jewish relations reversing? Rabbi jonathan G

UN -Israel
UN Goldstone report on Gaza predictably biased vs Isra

Stop this knesset bill from hurting converts Jewu 534
Rotem Knesset bill on conversion update Jewu 538
Rabbinate hurts Israel by thwarting converts aliyah jewu

Treating Israel horribly

Ramat Shlomo and Obama's Latest Snit?

The Jerusalem municipal planning commission announced the approval of a plan, and the American administration went ballistic.

Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist who writes what Americans like to read, regardless of the merit of his analysis, suggested that Vice President Biden should have gone straight to the airport. Apparently Mr Friedman thinks international diplomacy should be handled the way teenagers react to being told they can't have the car.

It strikes me that, viewed a little more objectively than from the pages of the New York Times, the incident might be appraised differently.

First, Let's bear in mind that the decision to build in Ramat Shlomo is not a deviation from Israel's express policy, a policy of which the Obama administration is well aware, and that Secretary of State Clinton recently praised as an unprecedented step toward advancing the peace process. And let us not forget that Ramat Shlomo is a Jewish neighborhood in a Jewish area of Jerusalem.

So, a municipal planning commission made an announcement that it had approved a plan that is entirely in keeping with declared government policy -- a policy which the US administration has praised, but of which it does not entirely approve due to its traditional refusal to accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem (in defiance of Congress). This happens when the Vice President is in town.

This can be seen as a little embarrassing, since it might have put Mr Biden in a slightly awkward position, but it was clearly not an orchestrated attempt to insult. Surely it was not like, say, inviting the Dalai Lama to the White House, which President Obama clearly did with wilful premeditation, intending to smack the Chinese in the teeth, knowing full well that no previous President had extended such an invitation.

It wasn't even as embarrassing or as nasty as say a Congressional committee declaring that a NATO ally -- Turkey -- committed genocide, after Turkey made it clear to the President that such a declaration might prompt a break in diplomatic relations.

This was just a case comparable to Ehud Barak being told by the TSA to take his shoes off at Dulles International Airport, or Shaul Mofaz being told he couldn't have a visa to the US because he was born in Iran. A little embarrassing. maybe a little dumb, and to be treated accordingly.

So, how did the US react to the discovery that the Prime Minister doesn't have absolute control over municipal planning commissions?

The Vice President showed up an hour late to a state dinner with Israel's Prime Minister -- a petulant, childish act intended solely as a personal insult to the PM. The protocol in such cases is, I believe, to tell the guest: "I'm sorry, you are late. The PM is no longer available. He has a tight schedule..." That is probably how Mr Biden would have been treated by any other PM of any other country. But Mr Netanyahu decided to overlook the insult.

But rest assured, Mr Biden would never have even considered showing up two seconds late to dinner with the PM of England, Canada, France, Russia or even Fiji.

Then, Mrs Clinton called PM Netanyahu to upbraid him. Again, as a matter of proper protocol, Mr Netanyahu should probably have told Mrs Clinton that if the President wished to speak with him, he had the phone number, and then he should have hung up. The unelected advisors of the President have no business telling off the heads of foreign governments. If the President wishes to do so, he may. The Secretary of State can call in Israel's ambassador to Washington to express her displeasure. She even might go as far as calling the Foreign Minister to discuss a matter of concern with him, while showing the respect and deference due a minister of a foreign government, but she has no business calling the Prime Minister of Israel to speak her mind. Rest assured, she would not allow herself that liberty with the PM of any other country.

So, I think maybe the US administration has taken a little gaffe that should have been overlooked, and deliberately used it with a heavy hand to show that it really really isn't Israel's friend, that it holds Israel in utter contempt and does not owe its government the minimal respect it would show to any other state.

I truly hope that that was what was intended, because the alternative is that the foreign policy of the United States is currently in the hands of people who think that the best way to handle a diplomatic setback is to stomp up the stairs and slam the door.

Avinoam Sharon

Point of Biden's visit was to let Israel be destroyed by Iran

It was made quite clear from the outset that the reason the VP was sent was
to discuss the threat from Iran, and to convey a message cautioning Israel
not to act unilaterally against Iran. The visit was not meant to "proclaim"
anything. It was planned to be "low key" and no public meetings were
scheduled. Biden's pre-visit statements focused upon the Iran issue.

Silent for murderers, condermns aparetments

Richard Baehr
Murdered Jews and Jewish apartments: Obama evidently finds the latter more repellent than the former. Then again, Obama was silent on the mass murder of hundreds of Christians in Nigeria by Muslim marauders. Never will an unkind word be said about Muslim murderers or Palestinian killers that might detract from his charm offensive to the Muslim world, the one that so far has accomplished only a projection of weakness, and cowardice, and a loss of any ability to weigh competing claims fairly.

America equipping Palestinian army vs Israel

America's Shiny New Palestinian Militia

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
March 16, 2010
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"The stupidest program the U.S. government has ever undertaken" – last year that's what I called American efforts to improve the Palestinian Authority (PA) military force. Slightly hyperbolic, yes, but the description fits because those efforts enhance the fighting power of enemies of the United States and its Israeli ally.

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces.
First, a primer about the program, drawing on a recent Center of Near East Policy Research study by David Bedein and Arlene Kushner:

Shortly after Yasir Arafat died in late 2004, the U.S. government established the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator to reform, recruit, train, and equip the PA militia (called the National Security Forces or Quwwat al-Amn al-Watani) and make them politically accountable. For nearly all of its existence, the office has been headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. Since 2007, American taxpayers have funded it to the tune of US$100 million a year. Many agencies of the U.S. government have been involved in the program, including the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Secret Service, and branches of the military.

The PA militia has in total about 30,000 troops, of which four battalions comprising 2,100 troops have passed scrutiny for lack of criminal or terrorist ties and undergone 1,400 hours of training at an American facility in Jordan. There they study subjects ranging from small-unit tactics and crime-scene investigations to first aid and human rights law.

With Israeli permission, these troops have deployed in areas of Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus. So far, this experiment has gone well, prompting widespread praise. Senator John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) calls the program "extremely encouraging" and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times discerns in the U.S.-trained troops a possible "Palestinian peace partner for Israel" taking shape.

Looking ahead, however, I predict that those troops will more likely be a war partner than a peace partner for Israel. Consider the troops' likely role in several scenarios:

No Palestinian state: Dayton proudly calls the U.S.-trained forces "founders of a Palestinian state," a polity he expects to come into existence by 2011. What if – as has happened often before – the Palestinian state does not emerge on schedule? Dayton himself warns of "big risks," presumably meaning that his freshly-minted troops would start directing their firepower against Israel.

Palestinian state: The PA has never wavered in its goal of eliminating Israel, as the briefest glance at documentation collected by Palestinian Media Watch makes evident. Should the PA achieve statehood, it will certainly pursue its historic goal – only now equipped with a shiny new American-trained soldiery and arsenal.

The PA defeats Hamas: For the same reason, in the unlikely event that the PA prevails over Hamas, its Gaza-based Islamist rival, it will incorporate Hamas troops into its own militia and then order the combined troops to attack Israel. The rival organizations may differ in outlook, methods, and personnel, but they share the overarching goal of eliminating Israel.

Hamas defeats the PA: Should the PA succumb to Hamas, it will absorb at least some of "Dayton's men" into its own militia and deploy them in the effort to eliminate the Jewish state.

Hamas and PA cooperate: Even as Dayton imagines he is preparing a militia to fight Hamas, the PA leadership participates in Egyptian-sponsored talks with Hamas about power sharing – raising the specter that the U.S. trained forces and Hamas will coordinate attacks on Israel.

The law of unintended consequences provides one temporary consolation: As Washington sponsors the PA forces and Tehran sponsors those of Hamas, Palestinian forces are more ideologically riven, perhaps weakening their overall ability to damage Israel.

Admittedly, Dayton's men are behaving themselves at present. But whatever the future brings – state, no state, Hamas defeats the PA, the PA defeats Hamas, or the two cooperate – these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel. When that happens, Dayton and the geniuses idealistically building the forces of Israel's enemy will likely shrug and say, "No one could have foreseen this outcome."

Not so: Some of us foresee it and are warning against it. More deeply, some of us understand that the 1993 Oslo process did not end the Palestinian leadership's drive to eliminate Israel.

The Dayton mission needs to be stopped before it does more harm. Congress should immediately cut all funding for the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Christians condemn Obama for fued with Israel

Christians United for Israel is not usually in the business of issuing press releases. But these are no ordinary times. In a written statement, the group declares that it is “deeply concerned about the Obama Administration’s escalating rhetoric,” and continues:

CUFI concurs with statements made by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and other Israeli leaders that this announcement was ill-timed. And CUFI notes repeated press reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu neither knew about this announcement in advance nor hesitated to apologize for it after the fact.

We are therefore surprised that the Administration has chosen to continue to escalate a conflict with one of our closest allies that could have been quickly resolved.

Timing aside, the fact remains that the Israeli policy behind this announcement — to continue building in existing Jewish neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem — is not new. When it comes to Israel’s bargaining position, nothing has changed. It is therefore difficult to understand why this long-standing disagreement over policy — which has never been a barrier to negotiations with the Palestinians– is now the source of such tension with the US.

We remind the Administration that Israel has been a committed partner for peace and has taken repeated risks for peace in recent years. We further note that the Netanyahu government has made important gestures to the Palestinians, including an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction and repeated calls for the resumption of direct negotiations. The Palestinians, on the other hand, continue to refuse direct negotiations.

So the ADL and CUFI, Steve Israel and Eric Cantor, and a host of other organizations and politicians along the political spectrum are telling the Obami: bullying Israel will garner no support and quite a lot of domestic opposition. The administration may not be pro-Israel in any meaningful way, but clearly Americans are

AJC blasts Obama

AJC Urges U.S. Administration to Halt Public Denunciations of Israeli Government

March 15, 2010 – New York – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) today urged the Obama Administration to call a halt to its public denunciations of the Israeli government and return to the use of language befitting the close relations between Washington and Jerusalem.
“Israel made a serious mistake last week in announcing a controversial Jerusalem housing project during Vice President Biden’s visit,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “It should not have happened. We fully understand the White House dismay, but Vice President Biden accepted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apology. The shared values that bind the U.S. and Israel, as the Vice President stated during this visit, should be much stronger than any policy dispute.”
AJC today is deeply concerned that the sustained harsh criticism of Israel by senior Administration officials is unprecedented and could leave the impression of a cooling of our nation’s relationship with Israel, one of America’s closest and most reliable allies. In his visit to Israel last week, the Vice President laudably sought to emphasize the enduring strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance and the common interests of the two democracies.
“Ideally, differences with allies, which do occur even between the closest of friends, should be discussed and resolved in private,” said Harris. “We urge the White House to reconsider its latest, repeated verbal assaults on the Israeli government. It is not beneficial to pummel Israel with language that has rarely been used in U.S. foreign policy. And it may, however unintentionally, send the wrong signal to Israel’s adversaries in the region, further complicating an already complex landscape.”

Obama getting hammered from all sides vis-a-vis Israel

he Climb-Down?

Jennifer Rubin - 03.16.2010 - 8:00 AM
Perhaps a mini climb-down has begun by the Obami. After all, they encountered a “firestorm” of criticism from Jewish groups and a bipartisan selection (although many more Republicans) of elected officials and candidates. Rep. Steve Israel is the latest Democrat to weigh in, declaring: “Israel is a close friend and ally and our relationship is based on mutual interests and benefits. We need to reaffirm the American-Israeli relationship as Vice President Biden did at Tel Aviv University last week. The Administration, to the extent that it has disagreements with Israel on policy matters, should find way to do so in private and do what they can to defuse this situation.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand issued a more mild statement, but one expressing concern nevertheless: “The close bond between the United States and Israel remains unbreakable, and America will continue to show unyielding support for Israel’s security. While the timing of the East Jerusalem housing announcement was regrettable, it must not cloud the most critical foreign policy issue facing both counties — Iran’s nuclear threat. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I am focused on strengthening international pressure on Iran’s regime to derail its pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Republican Tom Price also issued a stern statement imploring Obama to stop “condemning our allies and started aggressively cracking down on those who sponsor terrorist groups and are ruthlessly pursuing nuclear weapons.”
So maybe someone in the administration took all that in and decided that allowing David Axelrod to play Chicago bully on the Sunday talk shows was not a good idea. As this report explains:
The Obama administration pledged Monday that Israel remained a US ally as congressional rivals rallied behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a feud over the construction of settlements. …
“Israel is a strategic ally of the US and will continue to be so,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. “Our commitment to Israel’s security remains unshakeable.”
He also declined to comment on Netanyahu’s remarks to his Likud Party that construction would go ahead, saying that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was waiting for a “formal” reply to a tense telephone call on Friday.
“When she outlined what she thought appropriate actions would be to the prime minister, she asked for a response by the Israeli government. We wait for the response,” Crowley said.
Without prompting from reporters, Crowley criticized unnamed Palestinians for their remarks on Israel’s reopening of a landmark synagogue in Jerusalem’s walled Old City that had been destroyed in fighting 62 years ago.
Message received? Well, if so, then who’s running our Middle East policy and how did things escalate to this level? Certainly, a climb-down is preferable to continued escalation, but after a week of this, the Obami amateur hour leaves Israel, the Palestinians, Obama’s domestic supporters, the American Jewish community, and every nation looking on (some with horror, others with delight) baffled. If there is a game plan here or a set of permanent concerns and interests at play, it’s hard to discern. In the feckless and reckless Obama foreign policy, uncertainty is the order of the day. Allies should be forewarned: they may be on thin ice at any time. And our foes? Well, they must marvel that the U.S. is so cavalier with its friends and so willing to adopt the rhetoric and positions of its enemies. And for those nations on the fence, why would they have confidence in the U.S. administration? Being a “friend” of the U.S. is a dicey business these days

Why is Obama doing this?

Explaining the U.S.-Israel Crisis

By Barry Rubin*
March 16, 2010

It is important to understand that the current controversy over construction in east Jerusalem is neither a public relations' problem nor a bilateral policy dispute. It arises because of things having nothing directly to do with this specific point.

What are the real issues involved:

1. The U.S. and most European governments are determined not to criticize the Palestinian Authority's (PA) sabotage of the peace process. The facts are clear: The PA rejects negotiations for fourteen months. No reaction. The PA makes President Barack Obama look foolish by destroying his September 2009 initiative saying there would be talks within two months. The PA broke its promise to Obama not to sponsor the Goldstone report. In the end, the PA still won't talk directly. Yet during fourteen months in office the Obama administration has not criticized the PA once. The point is clear: The U.S. government will never criticize the PA no matter what it does. (We'll talk about why this is so in a moment.)

2. Same thing regarding Syria. Dictator Bashar al-Assad supports terrorists who kill the United States in Iraq; kills Lebanese politicians; openly laughs at U.S. policy; and invites Iran's president immediately after a major U.S. concession. Yet the Obama Administration makes no criticism and in fact offers more concessions.

3. The United States will criticize Iran but will not take a tough and vigorous stand against it. Now it is mid-March and no higher sanctions. Indeed, the administration's sanctions' campaign is falling apart.

4. On whom can the Administration's failures be blamed? Answer: Israel. Since it is a friend of the United States and to some degree dependent on it, no matter what the Obama Administration does to Israel that country has no wish or way to retaliate. It is safe to beat up on Israel.

5. By doing so, the Administration gets Europeans to go alone easily and can say to Arabs and Muslims: See we are tough on Israel so you should be nice to us.

6. What does the U.S. government want? A lot of things. An easier withdrawal from Iraq; popularity; quiet; nobody attacking it verbally or materially (at least not so its constituents will hear the attacks); an ability to claim success or at least claim it would have been successful on the peace process if not for Israel; supposedly, Arab support for its doing something on Iran; hopefully, less terrorism; and so on.

7. There is also an ideological aspect given the Administration's general worldview, which need not be repeated here at length. But large elements in the government apparently have so accepted the manifestly untrue idea that everything in the region is linked to the Arab-Israeli conflict that high-level officials have reportedly remarked that the construction of apartments in east Jerusalem jeopardize the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or that Arab states won't cooperate with the United States because of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The argument that U.S.-Arab relations rests on U.S.-Israel relations has been repeated for a half-century and repeatedly proven wrong. American attempts to resolve the conflict have rarely received help from the Arab world, and often been bitterly opposed. At the same time, Arab states have repetedly functioned on the basis of their own interests to seek U.S. help because they recognized American power: to convoy tankers and deter Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, to reverse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, to protect them from Iran and revolutionary Islamists today, and in dozens of other cases. They may say that everything depends on Israel but that is propaganda.

By the same token, if the Arab world--that is the relative moderates--isn't being helpful to the United States now, this is due to the fact that such action is often against the interests of states and precisely because they do not view America as a strong and reliable power today. That is the result of Administration policies.

No matter what the Administration does to Israel, these things won't change. In short, the Administration is falling for the oldest trick, the most venerable con-game, in the Middle East book: Move away from Israel, pressure Israel, solve the conflict, and all the Arab governments will love America and do what it wants them to do.

What makes this even more ridiculous is that now the United States is focusing on Iran and Afghanistan, places where Israel-Palestinian issues clearly have zero effect on events. Sunni and Shia Iraqis aren't in conflict because of Israel; Sunni insurgents aren't attacking American troops because of Israel. Al-Qaida and the Taliban aren't fighting to seize power in Afghanistan and Pakistan because of Israel. And al-Qaida isn't seeking to overturn all Arab regimes, create an Islamist government, and destroy any Western role in the Middle East because of Israel.

And even if the Israel issue may be one factor affecting the attitudes of Arabs toward revolutionary Islamism it is only a single factor among many. The people prone to supporting revolutionary Islamism won't interpret an American conflict with Israel as showing the goodness of Obama but the weakness of Obama and the coming triumph of Iran in the region.

8. The handling of this issue is also counterproductive because it ensures Israel-Palestinian talks won't get going again. After all, if the United States is so angry at Israel why should the PA and Arab states defuse the crisis? They will raise their demands because they win either way: If the United States forces Israel to make more concessions then they get something for nothing. But if Israel doesn't make those concessions then it gets blamed for the impasse and the Arab side profits from reduced U.S. support for Israel. As for the radical forces--Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah--they aren't going to become pro-American or support a real peace process no matter what happens.

Consequently, just as with the original demand for a freeze on construction, the Administration has once gain shot itself in the foot. The chances for even indirect talks in 2010 has gone to virtually zero as a result. Israel didn't do it; the U.S. government did. Ironically, the United States will end up losing more from this than Israel because nothing much is going to be altered regarding Israel-Palestinian issues but a great deal is changing in the larger regional situation.

Why is this all not more worrisome for Israel? This is so for several reasons. First, the Administration is not going to do much or anything against Israel in material terms. It is not a tough government and doesn't want confrontations. Its goal is not to injure Israel but to make itself look good. Moreover, it knows that pushing harder won't bring any reward since Israel won't yield and the peace process is going nowhere.

Second, Israel is protected by a very strongly favorable American public opinion and by Congress. At this point, Congress is no longer cowed by Obama. Indeed, the Democrats are angry with him for endangering their survival by the unpopular actions he is pressing on them. They know that the November elections look very bad for them. Taking on Israel will make things even worse. And they also have a better understanding of the radical forces in the region and the threat they pose. In other words, they are not so far left as is the White House. After the November elections, the Administration will be on even weaker political ground, especially vis-à-vis Israel.

Third, the Obama Administration's strategy won't work. The radicals will become more aggressive; the more moderate Arabs know that the Administration won't credibly defend them. Sensing blood (albeit mistakenly) the PA will raise its demands higher. The PA could only exploit the opportunity if it demanded final status talks-something it would never do-and try to get the best possible peace agreement with U.S. support. But since they won't deliver for the Administration, they won't collect much from it.

Eventually, the extremism of Iran, Syria, the Iraqi insurgents, Hamas, Hizballah, Libya, and to a lesser degree the PA will force a shift in U.S. strategy. Either the Obama Administration will adjust accordingly-at least partly-or will not survive its own electoral test. (This is not to underrate economic factors, which remain the highest priority for Americans, but it is unlikely that these will "save" the Administration, quite the contrary. A continuing economic mess plus foreign policy disasters would make its situation worse.)

This current crisis will blow over when the Administration grows tired of it and has wrung all the benefits it can from the issue, and not before.

Optional notes: This is not to underrate the importance of the bad timing by an Israeli ministry, letting the PA pretend that Israel wrecked a negotiating opportunity. The one thing a politician can never forgive is someone else making him look bad. Unfortunately, this Administration is only concerned about friends making it look bad, letting enemies get away with it repeatedly.

But a more serious U.S. government would not have let that game happen and would have been more even-handed in attributing blame. Such a government would have seized on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology, asked that the building be postponed, and pushed the two sides together to talk. Instead, the Obama Administration just accepted the PA walk out as if it were powerless to do anything.

I have been informed that on a number of occasions that my criticisms of the Obama Administration have led to my being denied certain opportunities regarding projects and writing venues. I can only repeat that my criticism is a response to the government's policies. I'd be far happier if they had a better policy and more competent implementation so that it would be possible to praise the government of the United States rather than have to criticize it.
*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to