Beyond the Cusp

October 30, 2014

Crisis in American Israeli Relations

 

There is reporting of a crisis in the relations between the United States and Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The American people continue to support Israel by almost three to one. The United States military and other intelligence services and Israeli intelligence services continue to exchange vital information as before. Military to military exchanges between the two powers remain intact. The American Congress and Israeli Knesset appear to continue to exchange mostly friendly exchanges. About the sole rough spot in Israel United States relations is restricted to the Obama Administration’s regards towards Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other leaders from the Israeli coalition. This is not something even remotely a new news as the difficulties first instance of the potential for difficulties was evidenced by the very first phone conversation President Obama chose to make from the Oval Office immediately after his first inauguration in January of 2009. One could have assumed from the fact that that first phone call was with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority which is not even representative of an actual nation, before President Obama made any calls to former friends or enemies. This could be classified as the initial shot across the bow of the Israelis that they were in for some rough times while President Obama remained in the White House. But this was far from the sole action which signaled the difficulties which have only escalated since.

 

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made his initial trips to the White House he was made to enter and leave through side and rear doors and President Obama refused to make a joint press appearance with the Israeli leader during the first half of his initial term. The next notable evidence of trouble with President Obama and his opinions and relations with the Israelis came during an open microphone conversation between President Obama and then French President Sarkozy where President Sarkozy stated commenting on his feelings and attitudes of the Israeli Prime Minister, “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.” President Obama responded in kind stating, “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.” This exchange was not reported initially in the Israeli media or within the United States media both for the identical reason, to protect President Obama and avoid causing any embarrassment or difficulties for the American administration. The initial reports came out of Europe and not necessarily initially the French but then the story spread worldwide. All of these amongst a few others which were more minor indiscretions largely from the White House with an occasional unhelpful retort from members of the Israeli leadership within and even outside of the ruling coalition but never from the Prime Minister’s office. There was also the revelation that the United States had been recording the phone conversations of numerous Israeli government members, particularly Ministers who held portfolios in the Prime Minister’s cabinet. As this became known there were numerous claims released in the American mainstream media reporting suspected Israeli spying on the White House and military leadership which the Israelis mostly refused comment and simply hoped both sides of the crisis in relations would simply pass.

 

During the reelection campaign between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney there were rumors that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was actively supporting Romney against President Obama. These rumors persisted despite Prime Minister Netanyahu consistently telling media sources in response to these accusations that he supported neither side and was ready and willing to work with whoever would become the next American President. This is evident with even the most casual of internet or news source queries. After reelection the relationship appeared to remain thawed as during the lead up to his reelection bid, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu actually began to meet before the media and the Prime Minister was permitted to enter through the main entrance to the White House. This thaw did hit some rough spots. One such was when President Obama refused to allow the arrangement of a meeting in New York when both were to be at the ceremonies for the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations despite the reality where President Obama had time to appear on The View. There have been other dust-ups between the two government leadership and both the President and the Prime Minister have made efforts to minimize their differences and mutual dislike.

 

At no point am I about to claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu has any great amount of ardor for President Obama though I suspect that there are a number of members of the Israeli government who have far less affection for President Obama than does Prime Minister Netanyahu. The recent blow-up has been building for some time and much is based on demands from the American Administration that the Israeli government ignores their people and instead simply complies and simply blindly meets the demands of the Americans even at the risk of the Israeli people or even the existence of the entire nation of Israel. This is the point where Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to enter and relations began to hit what may prove a fatal turn southward. It started with the recent abduction of three Israeli teens and their subsequent murder by three Hamas terrorists. Israel loosed the IDF to overturn anything and everything in their efforts to locate and hopefully, prayerfully find the three teens alive and well. After weeks of searching they finally located the three teens’ corpses in a shallow grave at the periphery of the search areas. Israel released the identities of the men who perpetrated the abduction and murder but the Palestinian Authority refused to arrest and release the suspects to Israel. There was the abduction and murder of a Palestinian youth committed by three Israeli teens led by a mentally challenged youth. All three have been arrested and face potentially life sentences and their trials are to be held. This was followed by steadily increasing barrages of rockets out of Gaza fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and allied terrorists into southern and central Israel as far north as Haifa and including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and their surrounding neighborhoods. Almost ninety percent of Israelis came within the range of these barrages and warning sirens sounded throughout the day throughout Israel. The ensuing conflict lasted fifty days and a final peace has yet to be hammered out.

 

During the repeating ceasefires, which often were refused or broken soon after their initiation by Hamas, United States Secretary of State presented the plan approved by President Obama and the State Department for a final settlement of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and allies. The proposal presented by Secretary Kerry would have granted Hamas virtually every last item they had demanded while granting Israel nothing more than a cease of hostilities. Fortunately for the Israeli public, the Iron Dome anti-missile system produced through extensive Israeli research and development detected and determined almost flawlessly which projectiles would strike populated regions and intercepted approaching or over ninety percent of those determined to pose threats to life. Even more fantastic was one rocket which was determined to strike central Tel Aviv, which would have potentially killed as many as multiple thousands of Israelis, was attempted to be intercepted by Iron Dome with three anti-missile launches which all missed. The Iron Dome crew alerted emergency services and had already given them the area where the projectile was computed to strike. By a miracle the wind apparently gusted sufficiently to toss the projectile miles to the west falling harmlessly in the Mediterranean Sea. Many, myself included, do not believe any amount of wind could send a rocket that far from its course that late in its trajectory and instead fully believe this was a miracle and a blessing. There was no reason to throw away such a sign and even less reason to accept the complete surrender proposed by Secretary of State Kerry on behalf of President Obama and his advisors. Despite it becoming immediately obvious that Israel was not going to agree with the plan presented by Secretary Kerry and supported, if not originating with, Qatar, Iran and Turkey did not prevent the Obama Administration advisors from continuing even to the present to try pushing that plan. What makes this even more interesting was the rejection of this plan by Egypt who, along with Israel, continued to sponsor the only rational peace agreement which slowly Hamas has come to realize that the Qatari, Iranian, Turkish and Obama sponsored plan is dead especially as Egypt also refuses to accept it and they also have a say in this ceasefire as it affects the Sinai Peninsula.

 

Recent news has reported another development which also defines the trouble with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the numerous other terrorist entities in Gaza and Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Muslim Brotherhood, the founding parent organization of Hamas, with the Egyptian leadership. These reports tell of the Egyptians have given thousands of Gazans a matter of hours rather than weeks to move from their homes which are close to the Gaza Sinai Peninsula border as Egypt will be destroying their homes to establish a wider no-go zone in order to prevent further attacks against Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula has recently made the news. The Egyptians are also planning to dig a very deep trench to medial tunnel depth and open the trench to the Mediterranean Sea filling it with water. This is designed to prevent infiltrations into the Sinai and to prevent further smuggling of people and provisions in or out of Gaza from the Sinai. Egypt has also prevented Gaza fisherman from fishing in Egyptian waters. The Egyptians have also presented a ceasefire agreement plan between Israel and Hamas and friends which Israel has accepted and had accepted during the first week of fighting when the death toll was less than fifty Gazans. Hamas insisted on the continuation of the violence and intentionally placed as many Gazan citizens in harm’s way as conceivable leading to the approximate thousand Gazan civilians who died during the conflict as well as the approximate thousand Hamas and other terrorist combatants who were killed.

 

With the Israeli leadership refusing the proposed ceasefire proposal authorized and supported by the Obama Administration the sensitivities were increased and tensions reached new heights. The verbal exchange between administrations can likely be traced to Israeli Minister of Defense who privately stated that he thought Secretary of State Kerry was “obsessive and messianic” which was subsequently leaked to the Israeli media which then rushed to make it known publically and probably internationally. This led to the recent denial for Israeli Minister of Defense Ya’alon meetings with top United States Administration personnel during his recent visit to Washington. Within the week the dustup ran off the scale with a White House nameless high official stating to the media that Israeli Prime Minister was a, “chickens%*t” in addition to other references such as, “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery’,” which was, needless to say, immediately printed and made copy and into the news the next immediate morning. Now the accusations are trapesing their way across the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean between Jerusalem and Washington. This is all on top of the rising ire within the Israeli population over the finally admitted silent building freeze which Prime Minister Netanyahu had been enforcing in response to demands and pressures from President Obama so as to prevent any construction, despite his coalition was demanding, beyond the Green Line or in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally been forced to allow minimal building inside the Israeli Capital City, Jerusalem, both within existing predominately Jewish neighborhoods from a tender which was initially approved back in 2010. These apartments will be made available to Jews, Druze, Arabs, Christians, Muslims or any other Israeli citizen. That does not matter to the American Administration, the mainstream media or the rest of the blame Israel as racist and the source of all worldly problems by various peoples and groups, and their numbers are legion.

 

The one thing I can promise about this escalation, this too will pass, even if it takes another election after the coming midterms. The cooperation between United States and Israeli intelligence agencies will continue, the cooperation for the most part between the United States military and the Israeli Defense Forces will continue, the difficulties with the White House will calm but remain at a heightened level for the rest of the Obama Presidency, but that will prove not to be all that much more evident or as an impediment than it has until now, and there will be more bromides and accusations mostly emanating from Washington but also from Jerusalem, just none attributable to either leader, unless there is yet one more open microphone incident. There may still be another meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu but if so it will be more akin to the earlier child receptions and please use the back door than the openness which existed for the past few years. There will also very likely be an election in Israel before the end of President Obama’s second term and even well before the next election cycle in the United States. The Israeli election may once again see Democrat Party functionaries and electioneering experts in Israel assisting the Labor Party, Meretz Party and any other left leaning Israeli political party with their efforts to replace Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party control. What might work to surprise the United States emissaries on the morning after election day is that if they do manage to hurt the Likud Party sufficiently that it does not gain a plurality and another party is given the nod to try to form a coalition, it just might be a party which is even more conservative and Zionist than Likud has proven under Prime Minister Netanyahu leadership. The efforts might actually prove to put in place a government which will build steadily and consistently placing more and more facts on the ground and there is a potential that the next government may not care what the world thinks such building is doing to the chances for peace as they will tell the world something they already know but refuse to admit, the reason there has not been peace is not because Israel was not ready for peace but because the world kept up the pretense that the Palestinian leadership desired peace and continued to pump money to their cause in the hope they would eventually win the only peace they desire, the destruction of Israel. That is the one statement Prime Minister once got perfectly right when he announced before the Knesset in response to one of the Arab Ministers who claimed that the Palestinians were here before the Jews and would be here after the Jews were gone and he replied the former was inaccurate and the later would never happen.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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October 23, 2012

American Israeli Election Meddling, Setting the Record Straight

There have been claims made lately against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in both the leftist liberal Israeli and American media of meddling in the United States Presidential Elections stemming from the cordial reception given Republican candidate Mitt Romney when he visited Israel during the campaign. The entire affair when looked at objectively was much ado about nothing. Mr. Romney was received with the same treatment given any candidate for such high office visiting Israel during the campaign. Yes, the Prime Minister met with him and they held a short question and answer session before the press. Yes, Mr. Romney was afforded the time and place to make a speech and to campaign in Israel. Yes, Mr. Romney was given the grand tour of Israel, something much more readily accomplished in Israel than in the United States, it would compare to a tour of New Jersey rather than of the whole of the United States. And yes, Mr. Romney was allowed to electioneer in Israel to those holding American citizenship and even to go so far as to hold a fund raiser among American citizens who wished to support him. And all of these events come within reason and closely resemble the exact treatment afforded President Obama when he visited Israel as a candidate before the 2008 United States Presidential Elections; it is all written up in the news accounts of the time and can be compared.

What is true is that there has been a consistent effort to entangle Prime Minister Netanyahu and to have him state a preference for whom he would prefer or thinks would favor Israel in the coming Presidential Election. It is also true that the Prime Minister has consistently answered all of these near endless attempts carefully and with almost word for word the same answer saying something close to, “I will work with whichever candidate wins the American Presidential election and will not interfere, support or state any preference as it is not my place as Prime Minister of Israel to comment or take positions on the election of the United States. Somehow that has been reported as making statements supporting Mitt Romney according to such unimpeachable sources as the New York Times, Haaretz and other news sources of a similar political slant. One can only guess as to why these liberal news outlets would try so consistently to show the leader of Israel or any other country to be supporting the opponent to the candidate they chose to support. It would make more sense if they were to try to imply that Bibi Netanyahu supported the reelection of President Obama as the head of state than have him portrayed as supporting President Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney. Well, that is unless they are casting the support from the elected leader of Israel as a negative rather than a helpful endorsement which opens up a whole can of worms about their views towards Israel and possibly Jews.

But now elections have been called for in Israel and the expectant flurry and positioning amongst the many disparate parties has begun. The expected main parties who will be contesting for leadership of the next Knesset and be allowed first shot at forming a coalition actually whittles down fairly quickly to just two parties, the oldest of rivals, the Labor Party and the Likud Party. This pits Prime Minister Netanyahu as the incumbent against the challenger in the personage of Shelly Yachimovich. There are a number of other parties who will put forth candidates at the head of their tickets as their prospective candidates for Prime Minister but these, unless something unexpected and out of the blue should occur, will simply be those people considered for the most important of cabinet posts when the coalition is formed and such offers made. Some, myself included, find this to be a less than perfect manner to assign positions and responsibilities of cabinet posts as this will not take into account the expertise of each individual to the post which they may be considered. Fortunately, these party leaders normally vie for the position that is closest to their particular political party’s interests which usually implies some amount of expertise, but still not the same as appointing somebody who has worked in a related field to each post as done under other governing systems.

Already, there have been two surprising, if not damning; revelations come forth in this young campaign season. The first we reported on in our recent article titled “Both of Our Fears Confirmed; One in United States and One in Israel,” where we commented on the fact that some of the main players from last summer’s food tent protests, which had been touted as a nonpolitical, grassroots, spontaneous expression of the people who have had enough of the high cost of living, have popped up as candidates offered in the coming elections. These demonstrations which caused disruptions in downtown Tel Aviv and drew significant crowds to Saturday night protests which offered free food and featured some of Israel’s hottest talents in musical entertainment (it always helps to feed and entertain the people to draw crowds) and received rave reviews in much of the liberal press and was even initially well received in conservative and Zionist circles until some events and confrontations where groups representing the residents from Judea and Samaria were summarily dismissed and informed they were unwelcome at these protests. We now realize that these nonpolitical protests were actually initiated by the leftists and the Labor Party as some of the main players and the most enamored of those reporting on the protests somehow showed up prominently on the Labor Party list for Ministers in the Knesset. But wait, there’s more.

As the immortal Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” What had been reported but refuted by the leaders of the tent protests last summer was the presence and presumed assistance given by Stanley Greenberg, a leading Democratic political strategist. Mr. Greenburg has now popped up, much the same coincidence as the leaders and supporters of the protests popped up, to assist and advise the Labor Party in their campaign to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bid for reelection. What makes this all the more disgusting is that this is the same Stanley Greenberg who, along with James Carville and Robert Shrum, helped Ehud Barak defeat Netanyahu in the 1999 elections as the leader of the Labor Party ticket. In those elections their participation as political strategists and advisors was traced back to and attributed to President Clinton. Where it has not yet been determined whether Mr. Greenburg is again representing Bill Clinton or whether he was assigned by the Democrat Party or even President Obama or possibly is simply offering his expertise in political tricks on his own volition, his presence reeks of political interference in Israeli elections by somebody representing the interests of the American political left and possibly the Democrat Party or even the current President. What will be even more telling is if after the November election is over if Mr. Greenburg will be joined by other Democrat Party political strategists to once again work to unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu just as was accomplished in the Israeli elections in 1999. If this effort is proven and traced back and implies that the American Democrat Party or even particular political individuals such as Bill Clinton are behind efforts to effect Israeli politics again, then who is guilty of influencing whose elections? Once bitten is coincidence and one is forewarned, twice bitten becomes subversive perfidy and conspiracy is born. The remaining question is no longer whether there is conspiracy, but simply who is behind the conspiracy and who is moving the political strategist pawns on the playing field.

Beyond the Cusp

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