Tag Archives: Benjamin Netanyahu

A ‘sign of weakness’? Seriously, Mr. President?

Donald Trump told Israeli officials that admitting two Muslim U.S. congresswomen into their country would be a “sign of weakness.” So, Israel has blocked the entry of Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

In doing so, Israel has allowed itself to be sucked into an ugly, messy and intemperate U.S. domestic political dispute between the Republican president and two freshmen members of the House of Representatives.

The weakness, therefore, was demonstrated when Israel succumbed to Trump’s latest Twitter tirade against these women with whom he has been waging a distasteful war of words and will.

Omar and Tlaib have been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians; Tlaib is of Palestinian descent. Trump, though, accuses them of “hating Jews” and “hating Israel” and, oh yeah, of “hating” the United States of America.

Now the Israelis have become a party to this ridiculous internal dispute.

Trump’s good pal, Israelis Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would seem to want to avoid being pushed around by the U.S. president. However, the way I see it, that’s exactly what has happened here.

Disgraceful.

Israelis PM seems intent on stirring conflict

As if the non-Jewish neighbors surrounding Israel need any more pretext to feel anxious about the country’s treatment of its Muslim and Christian citizens.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted that Israel is a “national state” only to its “Jewish citizens.” The rest of the country, which is surprisingly diverse in its religious and ethnic makeup, doesn’t matter to the Israeli government, or so Netanyahu has implied.

Hold on a minute, Mr. Prime Minister.

Ten years ago I had the honor of visiting Israel for a month. I lived in Israeli citizens’ homes, talked to them candidly about life in that beautiful land and got to understand something I always thought was a source of pride among Israelis. It is that they treat all their citizens — Christians and Muslims as well as Jews — with respect and honor.

Netanyahu is saying something quite different.

According to National Public Radio: The prime minister’s comment set off criticism, debates over Israel’s true nature — and observations that with Israel’s legislative elections now less than a month away, Netanyahu’s provocative language might be calculated to help his Likud Party at the polls.

The Likud is considered one of the hardest of the hard-line parties in Israel. Netanyahu has come to embody Likud’s attitude toward the Palestinian Authority and its occupation of the West Bank.

In a sense, I understand and appreciate Netanyahu’s fear that non-Jewish residents might rebel. Indeed, Israeli armed forces are continually forced to put down resistance in places such as Gaza, which is governed by a party linked closely with Hamas, the infamous terrorist organization.

It is troubling to hear Netanyahu declare that Israel wants only to be the “national state” for its Jewish citizens. The implication is that the Israeli government cares much less about its Christian and Muslim citizens. That clearly is not the message I heard continually in the spring of 2009 while I toured the Holy Land.

It’s provocative. Indeed, the region needs little impetus for violence to erupt. Benjamin Netanyahu, of all people, should understand what such provocation can bring.

Time of My Life, Part 25: Trying to score a huge interview

News about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pending indictment on corruption charges brings to mind an interview that didn’t occur, but one that I worked real hard to get.

While I was working as editorial page editor of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, I received a life-changing opportunity: I would be allowed to lead a Rotary International Group Study Exchange team to Israel; we spent four weeks there, meeting with professional peers and living with host families who showed us one of the world’s most fascinating countries.

I went there as a member of Rotary, but I did not forsake my professional responsibility.

So, with that I sought to score an interview in May-June 2009 with Benjamin Netanyahu. How did I make the effort? I got in touch with the Israeli consulate in Houston and became acquainted with the consulate’s press officer.

I asked him if it was possible to meet with the prime minister. He wasn’t very receptive. I kept working on him.

I told the young man that since I was going to be in Israel for four weeks that I could take some time away from my schedule as a Rotary team leader to meet with the prime minister. I didn’t require a lot of time. Maybe a half hour would suffice. An hour would be better.

Indeed, in the weeks prior to our arrival in Israel, the Israelis were putting down an armed rebellion among Palestinians living in Gaza. There was some concern from our Rotary district that the State Department would disallow us to travel there. It’s too dangerous.

Well, the Israelis put down the rebellion. Gaza settled down.

I wanted to talk to Netanyahu about all that and wanted to discuss Middle East security in general. Who better to talk about that with an American journalist than the Israeli prime minister?

The consulate’s flack then asked me about the circulation of the newspaper that employed me. I told him that the G-N was part of a group of newspapers that circulated to many thousands more readers. The interview could get significant coverage in all the papers. Just allow me to speak to the prime minister and I would arrange to get the Morris Communications news bureau to distribute it among all the papers within our group.

I didn’t get the interview, which saddened me greatly. The Israeli flack said Netanyahu would be in-country while we were there. He just didn’t have the time to meet with me.

That all said, my position at the Globe-News allowed me to join a Rotary club in Amarillo, which led to my being allowed to lead this team of young professionals to the other side of the world. I’ll have more to say about that journey later on.

The Benjamin Netanyahu interview was a near miss, but I had a blast trying to secure it.

Peace seems to slip away in Israel

They dedicated the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem today.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was all smiles. So were Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. So was mega Republican campaign donor Sheldon Adelsen. And so were others in the large crowd.

But …

There was a good bit of unhappiness at this occasion. Palestinians died today while trying to enter Israel from Gaza. There were riots. Protests mounted all across the country and the region.

The way I see it, peace between Israel and the Palestinians appears farther away — not closer together.

Donald J. Trump vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem while he ran for president. Once elected, he delivered on the campaign pledge. This move, though, flies in the face of what most of our allies wanted.

Jerusalem happens to be a holy city for Jews, Christians and, oh yes, Muslims. Go to the Old City and you find it divided into four quarters (the Armenians comprise the fourth quarter of the walled city).

Inside the old walled city you find the Western Wall, the Church of the Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock. All three sites symbolize the three great religions I just mentioned.

The symbolism of the embassy relocation has inflamed tensions between Jews and Muslims.

Which makes me wonder: What in the world did the president expect would happen when the day arrived finally for the embassy to open for business?

Isn’t the presidential son-in-law, Kushner, supposed to be the lead guy on this peace initiative? How in the world does the region achieve the long sought after “two-state solution” with an independent Palestine function alongside Israel with this kind of violence erupting?

I am afraid today’s events have taken the world a large step away from peace in the Holy Land.

What in the world? GOP lining up in favor of Iran deal?

I do believe that hell has frozen over. It’s official, I’m tellin’ ya!

U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry has said out loud that he “would advise against” Donald Trump pulling out of the deal that seeks to prohibit Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal.

That’s right. Thornberry, who usually stands foursquare behind the president’s idiocy, is now sounding downright reasonable and rational in urging the president to back off his threat to pull out of the Iran nuke deal.

Thornberry said this on Fox News Sunday: “Secretary (of Defense James) Mattis talked about the inspectors that are in there. Does Iran kick those inspectors out so that we lose what visibility we have there?” he asked. “The Europeans are not going to reimpose sanctions. So where does that leave us and Iran? You need to have a clearer idea about next steps if we are going to pull out, and especially given the larger context of Iran’s aggressive activities in the Middle East.”

This comes from a lawmaker who initially opposed the Iran deal. Why? Well, beats me. Maybe it was merely because it was struck by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to NBC News: Other Republicans have said they are hoping that the Trump administration modifies the agreement so that it addresses certain holes such as not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Thornberry is far from the only former deal critic to take another look at it.

Trump says he plans to announce Tuesday whether he is pulling out of the deal. I hope he modifies his initial blanket opposition, despite the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who calls the deal a disaster and an invitation for Iran to go to war with Israel.

As for Thornberry’s change of heart, I certainly welcome whatever influence the Clarendon Republican might wield with a president who, um, listens to nobody.

Abbas utters shameful anti-Semitic rant

The long-sought “two-state solution” to a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East might have been given a critical punch in the gut because of hideous remarks from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Holocaust, Abbas said, was partly caused by the behavior of Jews. According to The Hill: Abbas pointed to the Jews’ “social behavior” and “their social function related to banks and interest” in a speech on Monday to the Palestinian National Council.

“From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews — who moved to western and eastern Europe — were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? They say: ‘It is because we are Jews,’ ” Abbas said.

Abbas’s remarks have drawn worldwide condemnation. This came from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who said, via Twitter: These comments are wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker. No excuses for antisemitism: words to be condemned, not explained away. 

And this came from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, gave another anti-Semitic speech. With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest.

Indeed, the Abbas’s comments disgrace the cause of the search for peace.

The Holocaust was caused solely by the evil intent of a regime that took control of a sovereign country, Germany, and sought to eradicate Europe of citizens merely because of their religious faith.

For Mahmoud Abbas to somehow lay part of the blame on Jews because of their “social behavior” is like blaming a child for the beating he gets from an adult because he cries too much.

Disgraceful.

U.S.-Israeli friendship set for big test

Donald J. Trump is likely going to find out just how strong — or fragile — is the friendship and alliance between the United States and Israel.

The president has concluded a successful visit to Saudi Arabia. He will fly to Israel. My trick knee tells me the reception he gets will be publicly joyful and perhaps privately a good bit chillier.

You see, Trump made a mistake back home, in the White House. He was visiting with two Russian dignitaries when he blurted out something of great interest to his Russian guests: it involved some classified information regarding the ongoing fight against the Islamic State.

The information, though, had been obtained by U.S. intelligence authorities from another source. That source, dadgummit anyway, happened to be Israel.

The president was boasting to the Russians about the “great intel” he gets. Then out it came. He blabbed when he shouldn’t have.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster later issued a sort of non-denial denial, in which he said the president didn’t reveal any tactical or operational secrets to the Russians. Big bleeping deal! They’re smart and sophisticated enough to cobble together pieces of information and develop their own strategies based on what they hear.

Reports have been circulating since then that the Israelis’ spies working within Iran might be in danger, given that the Russians and the Islamic Republic of Iran are close allies. The Israelis have deep-cover agents working throughout the Middle East, scouring their sources for intelligence regarding the sworn enemy of civilized nations around the world. That would be ISIS.

Just how angry are the Israelis? How ticked off is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Publicly, he hasn’t much. It well might be a different matter when the two men meet in private.

I think we ought to look for words like “frank” and “candid” when U.S. and Israeli flacks describe the closed-door meetings between Trump and Netanyahu. If either description surfaces, my hunch is that Netanyahu will have given the U.S. president a major-league tongue lashing.

Bibi shows his petulant side

netanyahu.si_

Readers of this blog know — at least I hope they know — that I am a fervent advocate for the U.S.-Israel alliance.

I want it to be strong. I have long understood the Israeli point of view as it regards the war against international terror. I got to spend a month in Israel in May-June 2009 and saw up close the proximity with which the Israelis deal with nations that want to destroy their country.

I get that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to protect his country with all the might he can muster.

Why, though, did Bibi cancel his planned visit to the United States without telling the White House? Why does he keep wanting to stick it in President Obama’s eye?

The White House stands firm on its belief that Netanyahu showed bad manners when he canceled his trip, which was supposed to include a meeting with the president.

Yes, the two men have had a frosty relationship, although they’ve both spoken of their nations’ commitment to each other. President Obama has been clear: We’re going to stand with Israel always when violence erupts. How much clearer does he have to make it?

But the prime minister is still fuming over the Iranian nuclear deal that seeks to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Several nations worked diligently to craft an agreement that seeks to create a safer Middle East.

Bibi isn’t buying it. Oddly, though, I get his reluctance. Iran has stated it wants to destroy Israel and the Israelis aren’t willing for forget that blatant threat.

A meeting, though, between two heads of government need not have been canceled because of it. If anything, Netanyahu could have come here and voiced his displeasure to Barack Obama’s face, in private, with no one else in the room.

He didn’t do that. He chose instead to make a grandstand play.

Maybe it’s all part of the political climate these days. Those Republican presidential candidates have been a pretty petulant pack themselves these days. It must be rubbing off on Bibi.

 

Netanyahu says it’s ‘not my job’ to dictate Iran vote

FILE - In this March 3, 2015, file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as  he speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, listen. Relations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have hit a new low. There has been little direct communication between Obama and the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill since Republicans took full control of Congress in January. Obama has threatened to veto more than a dozen Republican-backed bills. And Boehner infuriated the White House by inviting Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the administration first.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — I dare say — is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

He told a delegation of congressional Democrats visiting him in Israel this week that it’s “not my job” to tell them how to vote on the Iran nuclear deal hammered out by Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives of five other world powers.

However, that doesn’t quite square with what he did earlier this year when, at the invitation of Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Netanyahu stood before a joint congressional session and — yep — told them in effect how they should vote on a deal designed to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Lawmakers visiting Netanyahu said the prime minister was respectful and frank.

He doesn’t like the deal. In many ways, I understand Netanyahu’s reluctance to deal with the Iranians. Their regime has declared its intention to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. The Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t to be trusted at any level, according to Netanyahu.

But President Obama, Kerry and all the participants say the same thing about the deal: It blocks “every pathway” Iran has to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Congress is going to take up the issue next month. A resolution calling for defeat of the deal is likely to pass. It’s also likely to lack the votes to overturn an expected veto from the president.

Never mind, though, that the Israeli prime minister isn’t telling members of Congress how to vote.

Wink, wink.

Actually, yes he is.

 

Too early to judge Iran nuke deal

Listen to the mainstream media on both ends — conservative and liberal — and the Iran nuclear deal is either the precursor to World War III or the agreement that will bring a comprehensive peace to a region that’s never known it.

Fox News this morning was having its usual fun blasting the “liberal mainstream media” for gushing all over the deal that seeks to block Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon. The caption on the screen as the “Fox and Friends” talking heads were blathering on noted “liberal bias” in the media’s coverage of the agreement. That stuff just slays me, given that Fox never recognizes its own conservative bias.

Whatever.

I’m not going to draw any firm conclusions about the deal just yet.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/obama-team-split-over-next-steps-with-iran-120130.html?hp=lc1_4

I remain cautiously hopeful that the deal will produce the desired result. One of the Obama administration talking points is that it “blocks all pathways” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Israeli officials — led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — say it’s dangerous in the extreme, as it doesn’t prevent Iran from making mischief in the Middle East.

The economic sanctions? They’ll be lifted over time, giving Iran needed money to rebuild its shattered economy — which was made that way by the sanctions.

What if Iran cheats? What if the Iranians don’t do what they say? The sanctions return.

Is the deal perfect? No. Is it the disaster that congressional Republicans predict it will become? No.

The mainstream media — all of it all along the political spectrum — need to take a breath and listen intently to the debate that’s about to unfold.

Assuming, of course, that the debate isn’t overtaken by hysterical politicians.