Beyond the Cusp

March 22, 2013

The President’s Echo Chamber

There will likely be accolades and great fanfare to inform the American people back home over how well President Obama’s speech in the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem was received by those attending. Never mind that only a very select few members from the Israeli government were allowed to attend and that the President refused an invitation to address the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and return the gracious respect shown the United States Congress at every available opportunity by Prime Minister Netanyahu who gladly accepts every opportunity to address American legislators. The news reports will likely not include that not only did President Obama choose to speak solely to university students but he also insisted that one Israeli University specifically be refused any slots to have their students attend the speech. The singled out university is Israel’s newest, Ariel University. There was no reason given but if this is mentioned at all it will be assured that the fact it is Israel’s only university in the “occupied territories” and thus it would be inappropriate for the President of the United States to allow students from a university that is on occupied lands to attend. There are a few things about Ariel and its university that you will not hear. Some of these items in which it stands apart from the other universities are that it has the highest number of Palestinian students attending; the highest number of Arab professors; is in Ariel which is a city of over 20,000 people; Ariel is a mixed community of Jews and Arabs living side by side in peace; the city is home to an industrial plant in which Jews and Arabs, both Israeli and Palestinian, work side by side; and Ariel was one of the first cities to be considered as included in the lands Israel would retain until President Obama gave his sanctification to the idea of complete withdrawal to within the 1949 Armistice Lines in a speech meant to blunt any discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu which was given as the Israeli Prime Minister was boarding his flight to the United States.

The coverage of President Obama’s speech will likely cover in great detail how he received numerous standing ovations, that his statement that the only path to peace for Israel was to make difficult but necessary concessions to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians was one of the best received parts of the speech, and there will be the emphasis that the speech was held in western Jerusalem, Israel’s half of their capital city. This is all quite true but leaves out a few interesting and essential facts. These were not a random set of students but were hand-picked by the President’s team. Almost all of them were leaders in the tent protests which occupied downtown Tel Aviv among other cities two summers past. These students are members of groups so far to the left of the political spectrum that even Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yachimovich, leaders of two of Israel’s left to center-left political parties and Shelly Yachimovich is even the opposition leader in the new Israeli government, would not think of allying with them as they represent sectors of Israeli society well outside political acceptance, and those allowed to cover the President’s speech were also left to a selected group. This will be the sole venue in which President Obama will make any speech other than a short acceptance speech at a State dinner where Israeli President Peres will be awarding President Obama the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest civilian award. This is a reciprocal granting of awards as President Obama had similarly honored President Peres. The only other public speech other than short sound bite type responses such as the one given at the reception at the airport and likely one at the official departure ceremony was a speech given to an equally selective group of Palestinian youth as part of President Obama’s trip to Ramallah. That speech also was not broadcast and for the most part the Israeli public will not be able to hear any of President Obama’s full speaking engagements. This is a definite departure from protocols between the two allies and is a definite departure from visits to Israel by Presidents Bush and Clinton as well as from the usual high profile appearances President Obama has given in Europe and numerous other nations he has visited. Some might wonder what it is that President Obama is avoiding by not speaking to the Israeli public as a whole or even giving the common courtesies to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

In many ways the President’s trip will receive longer and more in depth coverage back home in the United States than he will within Israel. One might be tempted to call President Obama’s visit the Obama stealth tour as he will pass through Israeli and barely be seen and definitively not heard. One might try to be surprised by this treatment of an allied nation but the path traveled by President Obama and Israel has not exactly been a walk in the park. One might rather refer to it as a cross between an adventure hike and a five kilometer run and a game of hide and seek. The one identifying trait of President Obama’s and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s interactions is that it almost spears to have been a game of tag with each one attempting to make the other one “it” and otherwise avoiding contact as much as possible. Unfortunately for Israel, Netanyahu has appeared to have been “it” for the majority of the time as Obama has appeared to have been avoiding him when the two were in the same town or even appearing at the same venue. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been refused meetings with President Obama at a minimum of when both appeared at the United Nations speaking on consecutive days and at an AIPAC Convention where they spoke on consecutive days. The one plus that can be taken from President Obama’s trip was that he did finally include Israel in his itinerary.

The number one question is what can be made of all the peculiarities evidenced in President Obama’s schedule? Taking into account that everything in the Middle East is examined, torn apart, interpreted, and subject to inquisition style questioning attempting to find the hidden meanings and conspirational properties which can be hidden within; Israel’s Arab neighbors will definitely derive many implications which will all point to President Obama placing Israel at arm’s length with a dash of disapproval from the fact that the President refused to address the Knesset. They will find similar meaning from the lack of public appearances made by the President. The withholding of places for students from Ariel University will be an indication that the President recognizes the Palestinian claims to all of the contested lands and as reinforcing Obama’s speech calling for the 67 lines to serve as the start point for negotiations over final borders. The complete lack of condemnation or even mention of the Gaza rocket attack from within Hamas territories on the Israeli town of Sderot which occurred prior to his speech or even his trip to Ramallah will be seen as complicit approval of such terror attacks or at least not an abject rejection of such attacks. There will also be found an equality of respect for the Palestinian people as there was for the Israelis as the President also had a private address with Palestinian youths. Not being quite as proficient at conspiracy theories, though I have been accused of having believed many, I am sure that this list is far from complete and with time the reaction from the Arab and Muslim worlds will become more evident. The one prediction that can be made is that the Palestinians can feel empowered by President Obama’s actions as can much of the Arab world especially the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliates. The first real consequences will be drawn when we can review the results from Secretary of State Kerry’s scheduled talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu for Saturday where Secretary Kerry will likely making certain that whatever points President Obama expected or even insisted of Israel have been understood and the proper and correct actions explained in full. What is up to interpretation is exactly how much weight can be placed on the fact that Secretary of State Kerry has scheduled his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Jewish Sabbath. One might find some level of insult or simply infer that the message is that the administration does not care if Israel is comfortable with the state of things and simply expects compliance and obedience from Israel and nothing more. Then again, it might just be an oversight from the most calculating Presidency in the recent history of the United States.

Beyond the Cusp

March 18, 2013

Israel’s Dilemma Whether or Not to Protest President Obama

For reasons which are not necessarily obvious to all the political persuasions, there are those in Israel who are less enamored with United States President Obama than are others. This has caused for calls to protest the President. The question has been exactly how to protest President Obama when access to him will be under tight security and thus very limited. Obviously such security would shield the President from coming in contact with any demonstrations and their only effect would be whatever coverage they received in the World media, particularly the American media. This also would allow the media to interpret in what vein the protesters would be cast affecting how they would be perceived. The problem then is to find a manner of protest which would make the point that there are some difficulties and differences in opinions and aims between many Israelis and the President of the United States. The protest must also take into consideration that much of their effort will likely be blunted by the massive security which will isolate the President from such influences.


Perhaps the best of protests would be not to protest and instead simply refuse to attend any venue featuring President Obama. Should all of the reports of President Obama during his visit in Israel show minimal audiences and small if any crowds vying to view the American President, this would be the most impressive demonstration. Let’s face the truth; large demonstrations could be shot in one of two manners, either showing them as protests or hiding their true intent and representing them as supportive throngs. On the other hand, you cannot show empty streets as a supportive throng of people cheering the President as he passes from one event to the next. If Israelis simply went about their normal day-to-day business, with the necessary adjustments to accommodate road closures and other security necessities, and simply appeared not to have any reaction, pro or con, to President Obama’s visit, they would make the loudest of statements. The real problem in attempting to protest any visit by United States President Obama is that by doing so one leaves it to the media coverage to carry the message. Does anybody in even their wildest imagination believe that Haaretz, the BBC, AFP or the New York Times and their cohorts would ever report protest against President Obama in any positive light? They would do everything in their power to show the protesters as a disgruntled minority while showing the crowds of adoring fans as the norm and representative of the vast majority of Israelis. They would do this even if it required misrepresenting which pictures were of protesters and which were of supporters which from a distance would be differentiable. Relying on the truth from media has become a bit of a fools game in the new modern age of slanted journalism where opinions are conveyed as facts and facts are considered interpretable.


So, maybe the best path that Israelis wishing to impart a disapproving message to President Obama would do so best by simply doing nothing. Simply let the complete lack of any evidence of approvals or disapprovals make their statement rather than allow for interpretation by the international media. Nothing could make a louder statement to President Obama the man than to have only a paltry few show to cheer his presence as the admiring throngs are one of the benefits of the Presidency which he most treasures. Deny him admiring, cheering crowds and the silence will be the most devastating message that could be sent. Sometimes the best action is inaction.


Beyond the Cusp


February 8, 2013

President Obama’s Trip to Israel Raises Concerns for Many

President Barack Obama is planning to finally visit Israel on his trip through the Middle East in the middle of March. It is rumored that President Obama is seeking to have at least one joint meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas with the press allowed to take pictures and hold a short press conference. Many pro-Israel people who have followed the history of President Barack Obama and his early little surprises which he sprung on Israel likely have the same trepidations as do I. President Obama inventing the now infamous precondition of an Israeli building freeze on all lands beyond the Green Line was only the first insult. Then as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was boarding his plane to fly to Washington for a meeting with President Obama, the United States President gave a short speech where he called for Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks and for the negotiations to utilize the 1949 Armistice Lines, also referred to as the 1967 Lines as President Obama referred to them, as the initial new borders with the possibility of minor adjustments made through mutual land swaps as allowing for East Jerusalem to be ceded to be used as the Palestinian capital. The implication was left that Jerusalem would be divided exactly as it were under Jordanian control before the 1967 Six Day War which would leave all of the Old City, the Temple Mount, and all access to the Kotel and the Western Wall, which is among the holiest of sites in Judaism, inaccessible to Israeli and the world’s Jews. Add the personal insulting behaviors shown Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israelis in leadership positions by President Obama simply adds to the apprehensions that President Obama is planning the joint appearance before the press in order to launch yet another broadside against the Israeli positions thus further aiding the demands by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians of both Fatah and Hamas.

The additional rumors that Jordanian King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein may also be invited to the President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama meeting before the press simply makes suspicions grow to new heights. It is a very unfortunate and telling indicator of the trust which had been built between Israel and the United States has so casually been violated sufficiently in the recent past that a visit by high Administration representatives, especially a visit by the President, would set off alarm bells to be prepared for unpleasant surprises. The larger problem is that among the leaders of the world’s countries, nongovernmental organizations, international justice establishments such as the ICC and the ICJ, and international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, Arab League, Organization of Islamic Countries, Nonaligned Movement or other centers of power represent almost as serious and equally as concerning threats to Israel as are recognized terror organizations such as Hezballah, Hamas, and the international terror cells receiving direction through the IRGC. What makes this situation even more unfortunate is that Israel is almost equally guilty in allowing this situation to fester to the point it has reached largely due to their ignoring and leaving unanswered the persistent and vicious propaganda campaign which has denigrated Israel making her to appear as an evil entity practicing hatreds and racist policies stealing land and continuing in an illegal existence as Israel relied on the rest of the world resisting the accusations due to their lack of factual basis. Unfortunately, the constant battering and nearly incessant denigration of Israel’s reputation has been effective and with the current media accomplices in portraying Israel as such a malicious entity will take even longer to repair and has made any treatment used against Israel to appear legitimate. A good amount of blame for the current situation can be laid at the feet of the Israeli government and the lack of efforts by many of the world’s Jews who have been mostly passive in the war of words and reputation smearing. Thankfully there are some in the private sectors who have finally picked up the charge for defending all that is Israel and that the government has at least recognized the problem and recognizing you have a problem is the first step towards a solution.

The meetings in March will likely get a good amount of coverage here at BTC where we will hopefully have only good news. Since President Obama was reelected his attitude towards Israel has shown some indicators of improvement and hopefully it is actual truth and not a mirage showing me what I so badly wish to see. I would be glad should much of the world simply move on and leave Israel alone for a while rather than making her the central topic and most important issue and invest their precious time in actual instances of human rights violations and let Israel take care of herself. I know it would be too much to ask but if should the world really be interested in furthering a lasting peace between Israel and her Palestinian neighbors, could they just entertain themselves with the difficulties in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Mali and the rest of the places where there is far more violence being perpetrated on the peoples. Who knows, if the Europeans would simply allow Israelis to fund and care for their political groups and decide that they might better use their funds, which amounts to tens of millions of Euros, to address their financial instability and to buttress their sagging economies rather than buttress civil unrest in Israel and surrounding areas, perhaps that might help to solve both problem areas. After all, does Israel meddle in European affairs and fund civil unrest and protests which often resort to attacking law enforcement personnel and uprooting fields after the European farmers have planted a fresh crop? Then perhaps the European governments and the European Union can return that favor and keep their anarchists home. Thank you.

Beyond the Cusp

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