Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Netanyahu: sanctions a joke even as Obama waters them down

Posted: 29 Jul 2012 03:14 PM PDT
(Paul Mirengoff)
Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu have had their share of, shall we say, differences of opinion. The latest concerns the efficacy of sanctions against Iran. This morning on ABC, President Obama’s mouthpiece Robert Gibbs claimed that “we have made progress in delaying [Iran's] nuclear program.” “Our goal,” he added “is to prevent Iran from having a nuclear program and I think we’re making progress on that.”
But Netanyahu, the world leader with the biggest stake in making real progress on this front, doesn’t see any. He stated:
We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. And that’s why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation.
So who is right, the man whose country faces the prospect of a devastating Iranian nuclear attack or the man who needs to persuade American voters that he’s tough on Iran?
Well, let’s see. The Washington Post has declared that “The danger Iran will become a nuclear power is growing, not diminishing.” And the Wall Street Journalreports that the Obama administration has granted waivers from sanctions to all twenty of Iran’s major trading partners, including China. As the Journal explained:
Though economic sanctions still haven’t slowed or stopped Iran’s nuclear drive, the Obama Administration has decided to make them even weaker. The Iran sanctions regime is looking like the U.S. tax code—filled with loopholes. It’s so weak, in fact, that all 20 of Iran’s major trading partners are now exempt from them. We’ve arrived at a kind of voodoo version of sanctions. They look real, insofar as Congress forced them into a bill President Obama had to signin December. The Administration has spoken incantations about their powers. But if you’re a big oil importer in China, India or 18 other major economies, the sanctions are mostly smoke.
But at least Obama is consistent. He attempted to water down the congressionally mandated sanctions before they were enacted. Now, he’s undermining them by granting waivers.
So I think we should take the word of Netanyahu, who has real skin in the game, not the word of the perenially duplicitous American president, whose only skin is political. The sanctions have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. Nor, Netanyahu could have added, was Obama ever serious about setting that program back.

shutting their eyes to investigating Muslim jihdist penetration

wish World Review July 24, 2012/ 5 Menachem-Av, 5772
Anderson Cooper crosses the line
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com |Anderson Cooper closed one of five segments of his weeknight CNN show that he recently devoted to attacking principally Rep. Michele Bachmann with a genuflection toward an iconic newsman, Edward R. Murrow. He deployed against her the gauntlet Murrow threw down to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in March 1954: "The line between investigating and persecuting is a [very] fine one." If anyone has stepped over that line, however, it is Mr. Cooper himself, rather than the Minnesota congresswoman.
Night after night during the week of July 16, the host of "Anderson Cooper 360" failed to meet even the most basic standards of investigative journalism. The irony is that, in his ill-concealed persecution of Mrs. Bachmann, Mr. Cooper has serially engaged in precisely the practices he pillories her and others for using, by his account, to destroy the reputation of a Muslim-American woman named Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let us count the ways:

  • Mr. Cooper insists that Mrs. Bachmann failed to do her homework. He singles her out for most of his criticism, despite the fact that she was but one of five members of Congress to raise concerns not only about Ms. Abedin's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but those of a number of others the Obama administration has enlisted as officials, advisers and liaisons to "the Muslim community." Yet, Mr. Cooper repeatedly showed his ignorance of the extensive evidence cited by the legislators, even as he mentioned the website where some of it resides: the Center for Security Policy's online video course at MuslimBrotherhoodInAmerica.com.
  • As he accused Mrs. Bachmann of playing fast and loose with the facts, Mr. Cooper repeatedly mischaracterized the nature of the legislators' request for five federal inspectors general to conduct investigations. He or his echo chamber of exclusively like-minded guests complained that Ms. Abedin is accused of being a "spy" and engaging in "treason" and that she has been subjected to a groundless, bigoted and McCarthyite witch hunt. Several of the reporters and interested parties who added color commentary (sometimes repeatedly) further demeaned Mrs. Bachmann by asserting that she is simply engaging in partisan politics and fundraising for her re-election campaign.
  • As with the lawmaker and to a lesser extent her colleagues, Mr. Cooper also made a point of going after this columnist. If anyone is guilty of "McCarthyism," though, it is the journalistic poseur who specializes in shooting the messenger and buying into and tendentiously proclaiming that there are "no facts" supporting the unwanted message -- rather than rigorously examining and accurately reporting on the vast amount of evidence that inconveniently does exist.

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  • While portraying Ms. Abedin as an innocent victim of smears, Mr. Cooper engaged in his own smearing -- occasionally through his rants on the subject, often by citing others who have indulged in ad hominem attacks against the legislator and her team. He repeatedly showcased such attacks by individuals in her own party, even though they were clearly unfamiliar with the actual nature of the legislators' concerns and the abundant grounds for raising them.
  • One of the prominent figures in this televised persecution of Mrs. Bachmann was the man who kicked it off -- her colleague, Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim member of Congress. As it happens, according to the public record (recently brilliantly distilled by counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole at PJ Media), Mr. Ellison has himself been closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood -- a knotty problem Mrs. Bachmann has noted, to Mr. Cooper's horror.
    Accordingly, the "360" host had Mr. Ellison on to help deflect that charge. When the congressman blithely denied that he was a Muslim Brother or, for that matter, that he even knew very much about the Brotherhood, that was good enough for crack investigative journalist Anderson Cooper. Back to the persecution of Mrs. Bachmann, with Mr. Cooper egging on Minnesota's Muslim congressman.
  • Mr. Cooper further discredited his claim to be an independent, let alone exacting, journalist by taking at face value the FBI's assurances that it had not dealt with Muslim Brothers or other "extremists" in the recent purge of its training materials and files. The evidence of that falsehood is readily available. Yet, the FBI statement was presented as gospel by a credulous host whose only skepticism was reserved for why Mrs. Bachmann had been charged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers with investigating the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood's influence operations inside the bureau.
  • Perhaps most distressing was the service Mr. Cooper has provided to the Islamists by promoting the meme that inquiries about specific Muslims with demonstrable ties to the Muslim Brotherhood amount to attacks on all Muslims. This plays into the victimhood mantra Islamists use to justify their jihadism undertaken ostensibly for the purpose of defending beleaguered co-religionists.

Applying Mr. Cooper's logic, every Muslim is to be given an automatic pass -- even those whose associations with an organization such as the Brotherhood that is sworn to our destruction. Such deference would clearly violate the government's own guidelines for security clearances, to say nothing of the oath of office to support the Constitution and defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. That may also be the view of the Obama administration, but it is a formula for disaster for the country.
There is a particular irony to Mr. Cooper's campaign against those who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood. For an avowedly homosexual man, Anderson Cooper is rooting for the wrong team. If the Islamists have their way here, he will not simply be on the wrong side of the line. He'll be toast.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Romney in Jerusalem

Romney not embarrassed nor scared to pick sides in Middle East crises
By Maeve Reston

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Republican challenger to Obama eloquently -- if forcefully - articulates distinctions in Jerusalem

JewishWorldReview.com | 

mERUSALEM — (MCT) On a day that mixed religious symbolism, courtship of financial donors and tough rhetoric, Mitt Romney on Sunday declared in his most aggressive tones to date that the U.S. should stand firmly behind Israel if it chooses military action to thwart Iran's progression toward a nuclear weapon.

Flanked by several dozen Israeli and American flags, with the last glimmers of sunlight illuminating the walls of Jerusalem's Old City behind him, Romney argued in a speech that Tehran's ayatollahs "are testing our moral defenses" and monitoring "who will object" and "who will look the other way."

Accusing Iran of having a "bloody and brutal record," the unofficial Republican presidential nominee said, "We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran's leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions."


The conduct of Iran's leaders "gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material," he said. As they edge toward developing nuclear weapons capability, "preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority."

Romney did not explicitly break with the policy set out by his Democratic opponent, President Obama, who has said that no option is off the table when dealing with Iran. Although Romney has insisted that he would not criticize the president during a three-country tour, he implicitly did so toward the end of his speech.

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"Standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone," he said. "We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel's adversaries."

Romney also drew applause by stating unequivocally that he believes Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, a contentious issue in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Obama made a similar statement four years ago, but according to Romney he has not shown enough public support for Israel's goals while in the White House. Romney has also accused the president of failing to enforce crippling sanctions against Iran soon enough and of undermining Israel publicly.

Obama's campaign has rebutted that point, saying that the Obama administration has offered generous aid packages and expensive, cutting-edge military hardware.

The sundown speech capped a carefully orchestrated visit that was aimed in part at the audience back home — particularly Jewish and evangelical voters disenchanted with Obama — and in part as a retreat for some of Romney's top donors, who filled the first few rows of folding chairs at his speech.

That elite group of fundraisers, many of whom joined the campaign at a recent Park City, Utah, retreat and a top-dollar fundraiser at the Wyoming home of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was greeted with gift bags containing yarmulkes and Israeli chocolates.

Several watched Romney's visit to the Western Wall earlier Sunday, and then dined after the speech with senior aides on a terrace at the King David Hotel overlooking lush gardens and the hotel's Olympic-size pool.

Romney, his wife, Ann, and son Josh spent the evening at the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who invited the Romneys to join him in breaking the traditional fast of Tisha B'Av, a Jewish observance that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples of Jerusalem.

An unusual sighting at Romney's speech was Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who could become the biggest spender of the 2012 campaign. Adelson and his family have directed $36.5 million toward Republican "super PACs" this election cycle — $10 million of which has gone toward the pro-Romney PAC Restore Our Future.

Adelson's first choice for president was Newt Gingrich, but his relationship with Romney seems to have warmed considerably. After shaking hands with many attendees after his speech, Romney leaned in for what amounted to a half handshake and half hug with Adelson, who told reporters that Romney had delivered "a great speech."

Adelson will also attend a Monday morning campaign fundraiser at the King David, but he declined Sunday to reveal his strategy for helping Romney over the next few months. When asked what he planned to contribute to the super PAC backing Romney, he replied, "A kosher dinner."

In the spiritual part of his day, Romney and his wife visited the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites. They wrote out prayers together before they arrived, and then parted ways on the plaza leading to the wall, where a partition separates men and women in accordance with religious tradition.

Romney wore a black yarmulke and was accompanied by the rabbi of the Western Wall. Pressing his palm against the stone, he closed his eyes and bowed his head in silence for 20 seconds before slipping his written prayer into a crevice.

Romney was surrounded by a throng of admirers who crowded around him shouting from the time he stepped out of his motorcade on the plaza. "Here comes the next president," one man shouted. "He is for Israel," another man said.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dangers of Muslim brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood's Patient Jihad

Mohamed Morsi’s recent election as president of Egypt has proved a matter of concern.  A candidate from the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, many fear that Morsi’s victory, along with the Brotherhood’s parliamentary successes, will threaten Egyptian-Israeli peace. More generally, it is unclear whether the Brotherhood, now empowered in its native state, will prove a moderating or destabilizing force in the Arab world.
Morsi the Moderate?  Eric Trager, New Republic. Although Egypt’s new president is trusted by the military establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood chose him as their candidate for his uncompromising ideological integrity.
Means to an End  Raymond Ibrahim,Middle East Forum. Islamists saw the Egyptian election as a form of jihad, or holy war. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t cheat.
What’s Next?  Washington Times. As the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in Egypt, some hopeful foreign observers reinterpret the concept of jihad, but its traditional practitioners aren’t likely to agree.
Strings Attached  Adam Kredo,Washington Free Beacon. Republicans call for tying aid to Egypt to its steadfastness to the peace treaty with Israel; Egyptian officials, in Hillary Clinton’s presence, tie the treaty to alleged Palestinian Arab rights.
Jerusalem Is Our Goal  MEMRI,YouTube. With the candidate looking on, an Egyptian cleric launches Mohamed Morsi’s presidential campaign with a call to establish a united Arab polity with Jerusalem as its capital.
The Islamist  Benny Morris, National Interest. An otherwise credible new book traces the intellectual development of Sayyid Qutb, the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, while skating over his fanatical anti-Semitism.
And so observers listened carefully to Morsi’s inauguration speech, in which he seemed to be addressing these two concerns.  Part of his speech, widely interpreted as a reference to future relations with Israel, emphasized “the state of Egypt's commitment to international treaties and agreements.”  More broadly, he declared that “we carry a message of peace to the world."

Encouraging as these statements may be, in fact they accord neatly with the Brotherhood’s sophisticated strategy for dealing with outsiders. That strategy is laid out comprehensively in Mustafa Mashhur’s Jihad is the Way. Mashhur, leader of the Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996 to 2002, explains the movement’s religious beliefs and aspirations in detail—especially the role of violent jihad in bringing about a world under a unified Islamic Caliphate.  It gives reason to doubt Morsi’s reassurances.

Jihad is the Way defines Israel and Israelis as “the criminal, thieving gangs of Zion,” and Mashhur stresses that the notion of Israel’s foundation on stolen land is not an opening position for negotiations, but a non-negotiable article of “faith and religion.” Further, the land was stolen not only from Palestinian Arabs but from Islam: "Know that the problems of the Islamic world, such as Palestine . . . are not issues of territories and nations, but of faith and religion. They are problems of Islam and the Muslims, and they can be resolved neither by negotiation nor by recognizing the enemy's right to the Islamic land he stole."
How can Morsi commit to keeping his country’s treaty with Israel when his religious beliefs preclude it? 

As for the Brotherhood’s impending effect on the wider Arab world, Morsi’s "message of peace" is also not what it seems. Mashhur explains: "Jihad and preparation for jihad are not only for the purpose of fending-off assaults and attacks against Muslims by Allah's enemies, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state, strengthening the religion, and spreading it around the world."
"Martyrdom for Allah," Mashhur writes, "is our most exalted wish."  Jihad is indeed the way, and not only has Morsi never rejected this ideology—he is now its most senior political representative in Egypt. 

So how are these contradictions to be understood? Why does Morsi talk peace when he explicitly adheres to an ideology of war? 

The answer lies in the fundamental principles of the Muslim Brotherhood—principles largely overlooked in the West. As opposed to the ideology of al-Qaeda, which preaches continuous confrontation and attacks on infidels regardless of the immediate political costs, the Brotherhood places the highest priority on careful preparation and the strategic timing of political and military activity. Jihad is the Way stresses the necessity of timing the eventual jihad prudently; as a prooftext, it cites a Quranic passage in which Muhammad does not rush to fight until the timing is right:
When the Muslims were a persecuted minority, the Prophet Muhammad did not instruct the Muslims to retaliate. Instead, he taught them “Sabr,” patience and resolve . . . and when the conditions were right, permission was given to fight in the words of Allah . . .
Timing, therefore, is an integral part of the Brotherhood’s political and military decisions:
When the Brotherhood sends their youth to jihad at the appropriate time, they are not pushing them towards destruction. Rather, abstaining from jihad at its appropriate time is destruction . . . Similarly, it is not necessary for the Muslims to repel every attack or damage caused by the enemies of Allah immediately, rather [this is required] when ability and the circumstances allow for it.
In this context, Morsi’s statements look more like stratagems.  Standing by Egypt’s international commitments now does not preclude war later; and assurances of peaceful intent do not jettison jihad from the agenda—in fact, as far as the Brotherhood is concerned, they advance it. Morsi does not have to change his opinions, nor does he have to reject the Brotherhood’s fundamental beliefs when he speaks of peace. Since nullifying its treaty with Israel might isolate Egypt politically and bring it economic ruin, Morsi can instead apply the Brotherhood’s principle, as learned from Muhammad: “’Sabr’—patience and resolve.” The necessity to strengthen and stabilize Egyptian society is an adequate priority now—it is, moreover, the very means by which to prepare Egypt to lead the Islamic world and to fulfill Islam’s global destiny.

Peaceful statements released from Egypt over the next few years should not deceive observers into believing that the Brotherhood has abandoned its religious ideology and its comprehensive Islamic vision. Talking peace, while preparing for jihad, is an integral part of jihad.

So when will Egypt break its treaty with "the criminal, thieving gangs of Zion"? Morsi will make the same calculation as Muhammad: when conditions are right.

Itamar Marcus is director and Nan Jacques Zilberdik is senior analyst of Palestinian Media Watch. They are the authors of Deception: Betraying the Peace Process.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2 state solution is dead-annex the West Bank

Why Republicans Must Take the Lead on Israel

Posted by  Bio ↓ on Jul 24th, 2012 Comments ↓

Why Republicans Must Take the Lead on Israel

Posted by  Bio ↓ on Jul 24th, 2012 Comments ↓
There is a truism – “You can’t be more Catholic than the pope” – that is rather scrupulously adhered to in political circles.
With regard to Israel, this bit of political wisdom suggests that it is inappropriate for U.S. politicians, whatever their predilections or convictions, to move to the right of the Israeli government on issues of Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).
However remote the possibility of negotiations between the PLO and Israel – however clear the evidence that the Arabs don’t want a negotiated settlement, but want the Jews gone, the notion of a “two-state solution” continues to be the politically correct mantra in the U.S.
As long as that “solution” remains the official position of the Israeli government, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu persists in his calls for PA president Abbas to come to the table without pre-conditions, Republican members of Congress are reluctant to advance positions to the right of what he is saying.  Republican policy-makers are waiting for the Israeli government to make the first move.
It is time for Republican decision-makers to move beyond this conventional wisdom. For, in fact, a vast historical opportunity awaits them if they are bold enough to seize it.
What we are seeing is a confluence of events in the U.S and Israel that has significant implications:
In Israel, a 90-page report has been released that is surely destined to cause shifts in the political landscape and has already begun to do so.  In January, Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a committee of three to consider the legal status of “unauthorized settlements” in Judea and Samaria.  Headed by Supreme Court Justice (ret) Edmund Levy, the committee also consisted of Tel Aviv District Court Judge (Ret.) Tehiya Shapira and Dr. Alan Baker an expert on international law.
After taking testimonies and doing an extensive examination of a host of legal and historical documents, what they have concluded, in brief, is that:
  • “According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority.  Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”
  • “…considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of ‘occupation’ do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel’s decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria.”
  • “Likewise, the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn’t intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria.”
The Levy Committee has made recommendations in accordance with its findings, but these recommendations are not binding on the government.
The report was released first to the attorney general, about two weeks ago, and then to the prime minister.  He has submitted it to the Ministerial Committee on Settlements for consideration, and in due course it is hoped that there will be an official response from the prime minister and this ministerial committee.
The recommendations might be accepted.  It is possible, however, that the prime minister will decide to sit on the report at present, rather than taking a definitive position.
Be that as it may, there has been a significant shift in the political climate in Israel, and there is no way that matters can return to a “pre-Levy report” situation:
“Two-state” advocates are in despair, and some are saying, “OK, you’ve won. Now what?”
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Nationalists, who believe that the land from the River to the Sea belongs to Israel, have been significantly buoyed by this turn of events and are strongly motivated to continue the quest for the fulfillment of their goals.  A host of initiatives are at work. For example, it is the stated intention of Member of Knesset Tzipi Livni (Likud) to introduce a bill into the Knesset declaring the findings of the report binding on the government.  She says she will persist until she succeeds. There is, as well, talk about annexing Area C of Judea and Samaria – the part under full Israeli control – without undue delay.  Today, that is not yet a possibility, politically. But the talk grows.

The point here is that we are witnessing a process.  And a process takes time.  Yet, it is possible now to see the future, as it seems to be coming down the road.
Prime Minister Netanyahu may well not be at the forefront of this process. There is in fact good reason to assume he will not be, for he is bound by a number of constraints.  For example: a primary concern of his, with valid reason, is the nuclear advancement of Iran. His interest in securing the cooperation of the U.S. in dealing with Iran may make it necessary for him to continue to assume the politically correct “two-state” stance.
In light of this situation, perhaps it is time for Republican leaders to understand that it may be in Israel’s best interest – and their own political best interest – to endorse a position with regard to Israel that moves beyond the constraints that bind the prime minister.
It may be time for them to work more seriously with members of the Knesset, including several from Likud, who are advancing a nationalist agenda.  In point of fact, these Knesset members are eager to secure the attention of Republicans in Congress and those who will be setting policy for the party.
For the other half of the equation here is that the U.S. is in an election year.  This makes it a time for rethinking old attitudes and setting new policies. A statement by the Republican Party that acknowledges the rights of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria would be vastly appreciated in many quarters in Israel.
A letter that provides an explanation of the Levy Report has already gone from members of the Knesset to certain members of Congress. And, as this is being written, Member of Knesset Danny Danon (Likud) is in Washington.  With a full English translation of the report in hand, he will be meeting with potentially supportive members of Congress.
Hopefully this will be the beginning of a constructive relationship.


American-Israeli journalist Arlene Kushner maintains a blog in which she discusses political, diplomatic and military issues affecting Israel: www.arlenefromisrael.info. She currently also serves in a consultant capacity with the Center for Near East Policy Research.

Obama's belated Israel trip won't help

Obama 2nd Term Israel Visit Vow a Mistake

On the eve of Mitt Romney’s foreign tour that will take him to Britain, Poland and Israel, the Obama campaign made a classic mistake. Rightly sensing that Romney’s visit to the Jewish state would highlight not just the fact that the president had never gone there during his four years in office but the fights he had picked with Israel, the Democrats responded by pledging that some time during the next four years Obama would find a few days to go there himself. But rather than one-upping the GOP nominee, the promise merely worsened his difficulties with Jewish and pro-Israel voters. Having conspicuously avoided Israel throughout his first term even while feeling the need to go to Egypt and other places in the region, Obama’s vow is a lame rejoinder to Romney. He would have been far better off merely trying to ignore the Republican. Instead, by saying that if he’s re-elected he’ll deign to go there he’s admitted there’s a problem.
Obama’s supporters are right to respond that visits are symbolic and that the substance of the U.S.-Israel relationship transcends photo opportunities. But their problem is the Romney visit is a reminder this administration set out from its first moments in office to distance itself from Israel as part of its rejection of everything it associated with George W. Bush. Because Bush was close to Israel, they wanted more daylight between the two countries and quickly achieved their goal. Had President Obama not spent his first three years picking fights with Israel over the status of Jerusalem, settlements and the 1967 borders and relentlessly pressuring it to make concessions to a Palestinian Authority that had no interest in peace, it wouldn’t matter if Mitt Romney spent the whole summer touring the country.
It’s true, as the Democrats point out, that the president has not torpedoed the entire alliance. The security relationship between the two countries set in place by his predecessors has been maintained. But to claim he deserves the support of pro-Israel voters because he refrained from destroying the alliance infrastructure is hardly a compelling argument.
Only partisans and those committed to a policy of opposing Israel’s democratically-elected government can pretend that the years prior to the commencement of Obama’s election-year Jewish charm offensive were not primarily characterized by the administration’s determination to tilt the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians. Though his defenders claim there was nothing new about what he did, Obama’s stands on settlements and Jerusalem did more to undermine Israel’s position than any of his predecessors. But the Palestinians not only did not take advantage of Obama’s gifts but predictably, were encouraged by the rift between Israel and the U.S. to avoid negotiations altogether. The result was that Obama took an already bad situation and found a way to make it worse.
The interesting thing about Obama’s worries about pro-Israel voters is that it wouldn’t have taken much from him to convince them he was Israel’s friend. A visit would have helped, but a stopover in Israel would have contradicted the signals he was trying to send to the Arab and Muslim world that he was more open to them than Bush. An avoidance of needless squabbles about settlements, Jerusalem and borders would have cost him nothing, especially as turning these points into major fights didn’t convince the Palestinians to even return to negotiations or win him the friends he wanted in the Muslim world. If the transition to the charm offensive after three years of battles with Israel seemed effortless, it was because there was never any strategic rationale for Obama’s obsession with downgrading the alliance with Israel.
If the president does go to Israel during his second term, he will be welcomed there as any American president would be. But there is no reason to think a belated attempt to rectify the problems he created will be fixed by such a promise. If Romney benefits from his visit, it is because of Obama’s policies, not just because the president has stayed away.';