Tag Archives: Bibi Netanyahu

Trump defies description of low-down policies

There is almost no way any longer to measure the depths of how low Donald Trump can take his assorted presidential pronouncements.

The president’s recent tirade against two members of Congress — both of them outspoken Democrats who happen to be Muslim — simply lowers the bar to a level I cannot define.

Trump urged Israeli government officials to deny entry into Israel of Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. They are members of Congress, duly elected to represent their districts. They intended to go Israel on “factfinding” missions. Trump said they “hate” Israel and “hate all Jews,” which of course might qualify as the mother of ad hominem attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to his utter disgrace, approved blocking their entry into Israel. The Israelis then relented on Tlaib, allowing her into the West Bank to visit her grandmother; Tlaib, though, canceled her visit because of the pall this disgraceful conduct has cast on her visit.

For the president of the United States to interfere with two federal lawmakers doing their jobs is reprehensible in the extreme. Moreover, for a foreign head of government to kowtow to this presidential idiocy is a sign of amazing weakness from a man, and a government, that purport to stand for strength in the face of hostility.

I have had a bit of exposure to Israel. I toured the country for a month in 2009 and was told time and again the same thing about that marvelous place: It is a secular state governed by the laws of humanity; and it welcomes all points of view, all forms of peaceful dissent.

Netanyahu tossed all of that aside by adhering initially to the president’s ridiculous admonition. They both should be ashamed of themselves.

I cannot speak for Netanyahu, but I am pretty sure the shameless U.S. president will feel not one bit of regret over seeking to bar two American citizens their right to travel abroad on behalf of their congressional constituents.

How does a ‘one-state solution’ work?

Let’s revisit for a moment Donald J. Trump’s statement that backs away from a decades-old U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution for lasting peace in the Middle East.

The president, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he could support a “one-state solution” if both sides agree to it.

Hmmm. How would that work?

One side would be the Israelis. The Palestinians are on the other side. A one-state solution, I am going to presume, suggests that Israel would be the sovereign state that would operate under a peace agreement. How do you suppose the Palestinians — who say they want an independent sovereign state — would react to that? My take is that they wouldn’t stand for it.

This is why previous presidents of both parties have supported a two-state solution that would allow Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side.

Yes, there remains a huge hurdle to clear: The Palestinians must accept Israel’s right to exist and they must cease the terrorist attacks — launched by groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah — against Israeli citizens.

If there can be an accord reached, it appears that the only option is for a two-state solution.

Why, then, did the president back away from what all of his predecessors have sought for the embattled Middle East?

Trump: Who needs a ‘two-state solution’?

Donald J. Trump has performed yet another amazing diplomatic deed.

While visiting today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump managed to pull back from the United States’ traditional support for a “two-state solution” in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump now all but indicated he’d support a “one-state solution” that doesn’t allow a Palestinian state that could live peacefully with Israel.


I’ve long sought to give Netanyahu support in his fight against terrorists who keep bringing violence to Israel. I believe the Israelis deserve to protect themselves using any means necessary to defeat the forces of evil that seek to destroy their nation.

However, U.S. presidents of both political parties have been correct for decades in seeking a peace agreement that sets up an independent Palestinian state that would function alongside Israel.

I understand fully the difficulty facing Israel and the Palestinians in achieving a full-fledged peace. Terrorist groups operating in Gaza, which is run by the Palestinians, keep launching rockets and other ordnance against Israel. West Bank operatives keep bringing havoc as well.

However, to deny the Palestinians an opportunity to have their own state is an utterly insane strategy. It is counterproductive in the extreme. It would inflame the terrorists and it would result in continued violence, death, mayhem and heartache.

How do the two sides reach a “two-state accord”? I have no idea. Neither do the principals. However, they must continue the effort.

For the president of the United States — as the premier broker in seeking a lasting peace agreement — to forgo the search for such an agreement is irresponsible to a maximum degree.

Barack-Bibi feud ratchets up seriously

Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanhayu have been anything but BFFs ever since they became leaders of the United States and Israel, respectively.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had a final falling out that seems a bit difficult to understand. I want to share my own perspective on what I believe lies at the core of antipathy.

Obama reportedly instructed the U.S. United Nations delegation to abstain from a resolution condemning Israel over its construction of settlements in what often is called “occupied territory” that Israel took from Palestinians who call that land their own.

The abstention has enraged Netanyahu, who I believe has a point.

It is this: During the entire existence of the Israeli state, the nation has gone to war against its neighbors. None of the conflicts has been of Israel’s choosing. It has responded to attacks from its Arab neighboring nations: in 1956, 1967 and 1973. While the Israeli armed forces weren’t being mobilized for battlefield combat, they have been summoned time and again to put down insurrections in places like Gaza and the Golan Heights.

The Israelis feel a direct threat from their neighbors every day. Yes, they have peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt; Syria, of course, presents an existential threat with the presence of Islamic State fighters doing battle with government forces that answer to a dictator who’s also a sworn enemy of Israel.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has vowed to exterminate Israel; the Hamas terrorists who run the government in Gaza also have vowed to destroy Israel. Hezbollah runs wild in Lebanon along the northern border of Israel.

Is there any reason to doubt why the Israelis view their situation with a great deal more alarm than any other state leader can fully appreciate? I’ve been able to peer into Gaza from just outside its border; I’ve been allowed to see damage in Israeli cities such as Sderot by rockets launched from Gaza; I’ve seen the heavily secured border fences along the Israel-Lebanon border; I’ve had the pleasure of obtaining passage through the heavily guarded wall separating Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Thus, in my view the Israelis have ample reason to feel a sense of betrayal by their allies in Washington who over many years have used their U.N. Security Council veto power to quash these resolutions.

The Israelis have never provoked armed conflict with their neighbors, but they certainly have finished it.

Thus, our most reliable Middle East ally is asking itself: Will the United States of America stand with us if the shooting ever starts again? The question, if it’s being asked, is not an unreasonable one.

Obama, Netanyahu part company with bitterness

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu occasionally used to say kind things about each other, despite their differences over how to find peace with the Palestinians.

I am guessing the niceties are finished.

The United States has broken with decades of diplomatic tradition by declining to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Israel over the settlements it is building in occupied territory that once belonged to Palestinians.

Netanyahu is furious and has said so openly and has condemned the U.N. and the United States over what he perceives is a slap at Israel.

This is tough for me to say, given my longstanding support of our president, but Netanyahu has reason to be angry.


The settlements are part of Israel’s effort to strengthen the buffer between its territory and that which it took during the Six-Day War of 1967, a brief conflict that was started by its Arab neighbors. Israel managed to finish it quickly by dispatching forces from Jordan, Egypt and Syria. In the process, it took over land known as the West Bank, which cuts through Jerusalem.

I have had the high honor to see that part of the world up close and I totally understand the Israelis’ concern about future violent outbreaks.

Netanyahu took particular umbrage at the language within the resolution. As the Washington Post reported: “’The resolution is distorted. It states that the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall are occupied, which is absurd,’ said Netanyahu, referring to holy Jewish sites that sit within the Old City in East Jerusalem.”

The Jewish quarter sits within the walled city inside Jerusalem. To suggest that it, along with the Western Wall, are “occupied” is ridiculous on its face.

As an aside, I sought for weeks to obtain an interview with Netanyahu before embarking on a month-long tour of Israel in May-June 2009. I wasn’t able to get one with the prime minister. Had I been able to sit down with him, I would have asked him about the settlements and sought to get a deeper look at the Israeli perspective into why they feel the need to build them in the first place.

Netanyahu now looks forward to working with Donald J. Trump, who will succeed Obama as president in January. My hope is that Trump can find a way to persuade Netanyahu that there must be a pathway toward a permanent peace with the Palestinians, even with the settlements.

I continue to support the so-called “two-state solution,” which would allow a sovereign Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel. The Palestinians, though, need to do a lot more to put down the militant objections within their own ranks to Israel’s own existence.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of this serious breach between the United States and Israel is that it is happening as Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas. Think of it: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is walled off from the rest of Jerusalem and the prospects for that wall ever coming down appear dimmer than ever.

It is my belief that President Obama has made the bigger mistake in declining to object to this U.N. resolution. In doing so, he has alienated our nation’s most trusted ally in a region where we need all the alliances we can muster.

Mitt emerges as State contender; Trumpkins are furious


Mitt Romney’s emergence as a top contender for secretary of state in the Trump administration makes me chuckle.

I might even laugh out loud if Mitt actually gets the call from the president-elect.

Mitt said some pretty harsh things about Donald J. Trump during the election. He called him a “fraud,” a “phony”; he questioned whether Trump was hiding criminal activity by refusing to release his tax returns; he said Trump University demonstrated Trump’s lack of real business acumen.

Now the 2012 Republican presidential nominee is being vetted for the top job a State.

Trumpkins are upset about it. They don’t want this man speaking for the president on foreign policy. They distrust him.

If the 2012 GOP nominee hadn’t said those things about the 2016 nominee, then I would be all for Mitt joining the Trump team. You see, given Trump’s absolute absence of any government experience — at any level — someone such as Mitt could be seen as a leavening influence. After all, he did serve one term as governor of Massachusetts. What’s more, Mitt has considerable exposure to foreign heads of government. Isn’t he a BFF with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu?

A part of me understands the angst that’s boiling up within the ranks of true-blue Trumpkins.

Mitt could be an asset to the Trump team. Except that he did deliver that blistering — and in my view accurate — critique of the president-elect during the campaign.

Which version of Mitt would Trump hire if he chose him to run the State Department?

Pope Francis set to make some uncomfortable

Pope Francis at St Peter's

Pope Francis speaks like a humble man.

His message, though, is lofty beyond imagination.

He’s landed in Cuba, where he’ll tell the communist rulers of the island nation to give the Catholic Church there freedom to preach the word of Jesus Christ.

Then he’ll come to Washington, where he’ll speak to a joint session of Congress and will tell lawmakers that the world mustn’t worship capitalism and, yes, it must deal with global crises, such as climate change.

Pope coming to the U.S.

The Holy Father’s critics call him a Marxist. There’s been some talk that a few Republican lawmakers will boycott the speech on Capitol Hill. That would be a mistake, just as it was a mistake for Democrats to stay away when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint congressional session to argue against the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.

The earthly leader of a great Christian denomination needs to be herd by legislators who help govern the world’s greatest nation, even if he says thing that make them uncomfortable.

The good news, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that the congressional chamber will be full.

Indeed, it’s not every day that the pope comes to Washington.

Welcome to the United States of America, Your Holiness.


Who’s in charge of U.S. foreign policy?


U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., thinks it’s OK to travel abroad and to meet with a foreign head of government for the purpose of undermining a key foreign policy initiative.

It’s not OK. At least it’s never been acceptable … apparently until now in some circles.

Cotton went to Israel and Is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to figure out a way to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the United States and five other great powers.

Cotton’s meeting with Netanyahu now has become the norm, it seems, for critics of President Obama. They forget what they said when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria to meet with dictator Bashar al-Assad. Vice President Dick Cheney reminded us then that only the president can conduct foreign policy.

Except that Pelosi coordinated her visit with Bush administration officials and had made sure she didn’t interfere with what President Bush’s goals were as they regarded U.S. policy toward Assad.

Cotton said: “Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal. I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”

We’ve only got one president of the United States at a time. And at this moment, it isn’t Tom Cotton.


Bibi wins; now, make up with Barack

Barack Obama’s candidate didn’t win the election to become Israel’s next prime minister.

The winner is the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-leaning Likus Party will continue to control the governing Knesset.


President Obama’s critics call this a sharp rebuke of the U.S. president, with whom Bibi has a difficult relationship.

But let’s understand something right off the top: If the bullets and rockets ever start flying in Israel, the United States will be at the side of its most dependable Middle East ally. Of that there can be no question. Netanyahu has acknowledged as much, as has Obama.

So, what’s the big deal with this strained relationship?

It goes most recently to the speech Netanyahu made to Congress without first consulting with the White House. It is centered on Israel’s desire to see greater U.S. sanctions on Iran, with whom we are negotiating a deal to end Iran’s nuclear development program. Obama objected to Netanyahu’s speech, didn’t meet with him when he was in-country — and the Obama foes are raising all kinds of hackles over the frayed relationship.

I don’t buy it.

Here’s what ought to happen: The two men have secured phone lines to each other’s office. One of them — it doesn’t matter who — needs to pick up the phone and start working toward a way to end the public rift.

It’s in both leaders’ best interest. They both know it and my hunch is that they well might already have had that chat.


Hamas inviting disaster

Try putting yourself into the heart and mind of an Israeli citizen.

Imagine living in a country surrounded by people who at one time or another have sworn to eradicate your country from the face of the planet. Imagine that those neighboring countries are so close to each other — let alone to your neighborhood — that a supersonic jet can go from point to point in a matter of a few minutes.

Think also of how you might react if one of your neighbors, governed by a known terrorist group that retains your country’s destruction as its main objective, begins firing missiles into your community. The missiles are targeting civilians, children and their parents.

How in the world would you react if you had the means to respond aggressively? You would use whatever force you had at your disposal to put down the attacks.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. Why? Because Hamas — the governing authority in the Palestinian Authority — has launched attacks on his country.

Netanyahu has made no apology for the ferocity of his country’s response.

I do not blame him one single bit.

Hamas needs to end its campaign to eliminate Israel. Same for Hezbollah, which operates in Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border. How about ISIS, which is waging a civil war in Syria, yet another neighboring country?

They’re all deadly serious about their intent to eradicate Israel.

Should the Israeli government do nothing when its people are being threatened with ordnance falling from the sky from multiple directions?

Not for an instant.