‘U.S. furious over Israeli incitement against Obama’

Posted on October 9, 2009. Filed under: Israel | Tags: , , , , |

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

The U.S. administration is furious over Israeli incitement against President Barack Obama, Democratic congressmen close to Obama told an Israeli source who returned from a visit to Washington this week.

The congressmen even hinted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been personally involved.

The source, who met in Washington with administration officials and members of Congress, told Haaretz he was stunned by the level of anger there over attempts to portray Obama to the American public as an enemy of Israel because of his efforts to restart peace talks and freeze settlement construction.
“There are people here who are playing with fire by damaging our relationship with the U.S.,” the source said.

Last month’s summit in New York between Obama, Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also reduced Washington’s expectations of a speedy resumption of final-status talks between Israel and the PA. While U.S. envoy George Mitchell will meet Netanyahu again Friday, the meeting is not expected to resolve the crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Meanwhile, King Abdullah of Jordan warned Washington recently that Israel’s settlement policy in East Jerusalem is undermining the stability of Israeli-Jordanian relations.

He also ordered the Jordanian embassy in Israel to submit an official protest to the Foreign Ministry over a plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood on lands belonging to the East Jerusalem village of Walaja.

Finally, he warned against opening the Mughrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount after the Jewish holidays end next week, and against using planned renovations to change the status quo on the site.
A senior official in Amman told Haaretz this week that the clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem are causing unrest throughout Jordan and encouraging extremists. During Israel’s operation in Gaza this January, he said, there were no fewer than 600 anti-Israel demonstrations in Jordan – several times the number registered in the West Bank during those same weeks.

Abdullah himself sought to use his his exclusive interview with Haaretz to rouse Israeli public opinion from its apathy about the freeze in the peace process and the government’s support for rightist groups that seek to deepen Jewish control over Jerusalem’s Old City and its environs. Amman is concerned that Abbas’ growing weakness, along with the lack of progress despite Mitchell’s many visits to the region, will increase pressure on the Arab League to suspend the peace initiative it adopted in March 2002.

More great articles on Haaretz.com

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Compare and Contrast

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

As we wend our way through the first year of the Obama administration, it is hard not to notice a stark contrast in style between the American president and another democratic leader who has been in power for almost the same amount of time: Binyamin Netanyahu. The political trajectories of the two men have been almost perfectly opposite. Obama started off his presidency blessed by great popularity only to see his fortunes plummet, while Netanyahu began under a cloud of public uncertainty and suspicion yet today enjoys healthy public-approval numbers. More than anything else, the leadership styles of the two men explain their divergent fortunes.

The most obvious difference between the two is in the level of public exposure that each has pursued. Obama seeks to place himself in the headlines of newspapers and to lead the television news broadcasts on a daily basis, achieving an omnipresence unprecedented in American politics. He has given scores of speeches, each heralded to be of great consequence to the nation and the world. He has staked much of his presidential power on the sheer force of his personality, giving little consideration to the sustainability of such a strategy or whether so much narcissistic pageantry is becoming to a national leader. His public pronouncements are astonishingly self-absorbed: to take one example, in their speeches to the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen, the First Couple used the first-person pronoun 70 times in 89 sentences.

Obama’s permanent publicity blitz has rendered his pronouncements banal and is helping to create an impression that he is all talk, no results. Who can recall with any precision what the president says from one day to the next? Why bother trying when another speech is moments away? CBS News’ White House correspondent noted on July 13 that Obama had already delivered his 200th speech — on his 177th day in office.

Netanyahu has taken a completely different approach. He goes days without making public statements, often only commenting on events at his weekly cabinet meeting, and even so, by making the tersest of remarks. His response to the Goldstone Commission report was delivered without fanfare in a cabinet meeting and consisted in its entirety of a 330-word statement. Netanyahu has given only two major speeches during his premiership: the June address at Bar-Ilan University, where he rebutted Obama’s Cairo speech and laid out Israel’s terms for the peace process; and his UN General Assembly speech, where he shamed the “international community” for its indulgence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read more on Commentary Magazine

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Leaving Israel With No Choice?

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

By Michael Gerson

WASHINGTON — On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s and F-16s took off for the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, after the pilots were emotionally briefed that “The alternative is our destruction.” In fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin had no idea if the raid would stop the Iraqi nuclear program or merely slow it. But slowing it was reason enough.

Since the George W. Bush administration, the American military has assessed that an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities would only delay the development of its program. “The reality is,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, “there is no military option that does anything more than buy time. The estimates are one to three years or so.

“But for several months, high-ranking Israeli officials have been telling American visitors that buying time may be worth it. The Osirak raid, after all, turned out to be an unexpectedly decisive blow. And who knows what political changes might take place in Iran during a few years of nuclear breathing space? Not many Israelis would need to be convinced by this argument — a recommendation would go from the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to the security cabinet and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Perhaps a dozen people could shake the world.

Clues of Israeli desperation are now so obvious that many have missed them. Netanyahu’s recent speech at the United Nations was generally reported as part of a rhetorical tit for tat with Israel’s bombastic enemies. But perhaps Netanyahu’s impassioned warning against the world’s first Holocaust-denying nuclear state should be taken at face value. Former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Dov S. Zakheim thinks Netanyahu might have been “setting the stage to say to the world after a strike, ‘I told you so.'”

There is More- Read Real Clear Politics

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